Saturday, October 9, 2010

What's good in Dark Eldar

I know.. I haven't posted in forever.  If you worked as much as me you'd understand, but thank god most people don't have to.  Anyways, I finally managed to drag my ass into my LGS and check out the Dark Eldar codex in person.  I have to say; I'm impressed.

First, I have some notes I want to share with you.  Like most of you already know, my brain only works one way:  I go through a codex and point out what I consider to be the best, top tier, the most cost effective yata yata and discard the rest.  Well, I didn't get too much time with the book since there was a good number of people in there, but I do have what I consider to be the "gist" of it.  In short, the entire army is fast -- much faster than Blood Angels.  That's perfectly fine, I mean for god's sakes they're elves.  I can't imagine my High Elves being slower than Empire, hell no.

First, a list of things I like to call a unit bucket.  Then I'll express why I feel these units belong in a competitive Dark Eldar list.

Duke Sliscus the Serpent
Lelith Hesperax
Asdrubal Vect
Kabalite Trueborn
Hekatrix Bloodbrides
Harlequins vs. Incubi
Voidraven Bombers

OK, let's start with the HQs.  First of all, the Archon is pretty damn cheap at 60 points.  He comes with WS7 BS7 I7 4 attacks, 5 if you include his off-hand pistol and some pretty handy upgrades.  For 35 points, you can give him a Huskblade that causes ID on any wound.  For some points cheaper (20), you can just give him an Agonizer for a power weapon on a 4+.  I would probably do that plus a Shadow Field for an amazing 2+ invulnerable until you you lose it.  That comes out to something like 110 points for Agnoizer and Shadow Field for a really good combat monster that other ICs should be afraid of.

Another guy that I want to look at is this Duke person.  He's 150 points and comes with some good rules.  He can make all your Raiders and Venoms come in as DS, but since Venoms suck and Raiders are better, the choice for that unit is quite clear.  He also makes one of your units that have Splinterifles or use splinter type weapons inflict poison on a 3+ instead of the regular 4+.  I find that to be extremely awesome considering his tendency to run with Trueborn or just normal Warriors.  For 150 points, I think he's really cost effective for what he do.  In close combat, he always wounds on a 2+ and on a 5+, he ignores armor saves with his rolls to wound.  That's pretty awesome too.  Another thing that he can do is grant combat drugs on 2 dice and you pick which to apply to the unit.  I'm pretty sure this is what I read but its been a couple of hours and I was speed reading.  Not to mention this guy comes with Shadow Field for a 2++ invulnerable.

Lelith Hesperax is actually 175 points.  That puts her at the same points as Pedro Kantor and Vulkan He'stan.  At that point cost, it means that she's a pretty affordable option.  Now, she has a invulnerable save of 4++ normal and 3++ in close combat, so that means the best place to put her is in someone else's face.  She's WS9 and has 5 attacks base (+CC weapons).  Vs. someone thats WS5, she will get +4 more attacks for a total of 9 attacks at WS9 I9.  Most targets are going to feel the pain really quick although she's only S3, but she does get Strength Through Pain.  I would recommend putting her in a unit of Wyches and through them in a Raider.  Drive it up to the enemy after you've popped some vehicles and go to town on them.

Lastly, I want to talk about Vect.  The guy's 240 points, the same points as Ragnar but he offers a ton for your army.  The first thing you want to note is that he seizes the initiative on a 4+.  That means your entire army gets to shoot first again any unlucky bastard who deployed and that most of your shit already turbo-boosted in front of his face.  This ultra-omega alpha strike opening is what Dark Eldar players are going to crave.  Going first with this army is so game-changing that I think Vect will see a good amount of play.  As if that isn't enough, the guy is WS8 BS8 I8 with 5 attacks (6 with CC) and 4 wounds.  He comes with Shadow Field and a Power Weapon that always wounds on 3+.  He counts as a Archon and thus benefits from the Court of the Archon rules and has it pretty good vs. Eldar/Dark Eldar since he gets to re-roll wounds vs. them.  For +200 more points, he gets to take a AV13/13/13 Raider which is pretty cool, but then again, its going to cost 440 points for him and the Raider alone.  Personally, I would just take something cheap (like one of the Archons listed above).

I lied, really quickly, I want to touch upon the 1-3 Haemonculi per HQ slot.  Each comes with a free Pain Token which you can distribute across the units in your army so I can immediately see FNP Wyches running around on the field.  The Ancient Haemonculus also gets to take some crazy artifacts from a long list of artifacts that I didn't really get a chance to read.  I know that one of them is a flame template that does S4 AP D6 and one of them causes all enemies within 3d6" to make a Ld. test or get their WS reduced to 1.

So enough about HQs, what about units?  Let's start with troops first.  Dark Eldar Warriors are freakin' 9 points.  Did you see that right?  Yes, for 9 points, you get WS4 BS4 troops that rapid fires poison rounds.  When you have 5 guys, you can give them a Blaster which is a 18" S8 AP2 Lance Assault 1 weapon or a Shredder which is a 12" S6 AP- Blast template.  I mean seriously, a S8 AP2 Lance from 18" is going to threaten Land Raiders from massive range.  At 10 guys, you can give them a Dark Lance or one of those poison Splinter Cannons.  Splinter Cannons shooting out Assault 4 Poisoned or Heavy 6 shots is pretty tasty. If you think that's awesome, their elite version known as Trueborn are truly ridiculous.  For a mere 12ppm, aside from having an extra attack in melee, 4 of these guys can carry Blasters.  Yes, for a squad that's 5-10, 4 of them can carry S8 AP2 Lance weapons that can move and shoot at targets 18" away.  How ridiculous is that?  They're like a moving Devastator squad.  As if that isn't enough, in addition to the 4 Blasters (or Shredders) they can take, they can also take 2 more Dark Lances or Splinter Cannons.  Absolutely ridiculous for the price.  The best thing about Warriors and Trueborn is that they can both upgrade up to Agonizers on their champs, or even take Phantasm Grenade Launchers which makes the unit count as having offensive and defensive grenades.  For +20 points, I think these are great on Trueborn since you're already spending the points.  I'd hold off on upgrading Warriors to be super hardcore since they're supposed to be cheap and cost effective anyway.

Wyches are dirt cheap at 10 ppm.  They still have their lovely Plasma Grenades and Combat Drugs.. it's just that you can take so many of them for such a cheap price.  At 5 of these girls, you can take a Shardnet and Impaler, Hydra Gauntlets or Razorflails (I think that's the name).  Personally, I would take Razorflails any day of the week because it makes the Wych re-roll all hits and wounds.  That's much better than Hydra Gauntlets at +D6 attacks since I like to roll 1s all the time.  The elite version for these girls get +1 attack and can take special weapons for every 3.  They only go up to 10 so you can pack 3 special weapons in one pack.  The cost for them is 13ppm.. which is still affordable for Dark Eldar.

So I came to a special section in the book that compared two elite assault units:  The Harlequins and the Incubii.  Harlequins need no introduction since everyone and their mother knows what it's like to be on the sucking end of a Harlequin's Kiss.  Incubii are like a mix between Striking Scorpions and Banshees.  They have WS5, S3, I5 and 2 attacks a piece.  The great thing about them is that they have 3+ armor saves and have Exarch powers such as Onslaught and Murderous Assault.  Onslaught is the only one you should care about because for every wound roll of a 6, you get an extra attack.  This can tally up quite quick once you reach combat with S4 Power Weapons (+1S on their Klaives).  Since the entire army has Fleet, getting these guys into combat shouldn't be too hard considering how everything is open-topped and your ships go vroom vroom.

OK, so what exactly am I complaining about here?  They're both elite choices, they're both 22 ppm (Harlequin + Kiss), and they're both dedicated heavy assault units.  The plus about the Harlequins is that they virtually ignore terrain and can do a pretty good job footslogging across the field whereas the Incubii need a dedicated transport.  I mean it will certainly help that Harlequins have a dedicated transport as well, but with a Shadowseer doing Veil of Tears, I think they have it OK.  Either way, both units are extremely good at counter-charging the enemy and both units can tear up MEQ like nobodies' business.  I bet some super nerd will eventually figure out which unit does more wounds vs. MEQ and GEQ, but for the purposes of this demo, I can assure you that both are very different units but have the same functionality.

Lastly, I want to touch upon the armor I see from Dark Eldar.  There are 3 ships that stand out to me and for good reason.  First, the 60 point Raider and the fact that it can transport 10 troops across the map at a really fast rate and with plenty of firepower to boot.  Each one comes with a Dark Lance, and if it has Warriors inside, can shoot out more weaponry on the move.  It can be upgraded with Night Shields that decrease the range of all weapons shooting at it by 6" and it can be given Flickerfields which gives it a 5++ invulnerable save.  These are going to be the bread and butter of most lists as the limited carrying capacity of the Venom leaves it far behind my list of needs/wants.  Oh, and yes, another amazing thing about them is a 5 point upgrade called Aethersails or something like that.  It gives your ship the ability to move +2D6" when it flies with the downside that units can't fire from and out of it (disembarking) next round.  Well, who the F cares when your sole purpose is to unload angry Wyches in your face.

For Heavy slots, you have something like 4-5 options but I'm only going to talk about 2.  The Ravager is the Raider variant with AV11/11/10 and comes with 3x Dark Lances that it can shoot on a 12" move.  Now imagine it's 105 points (because it is) and put three of them in your list with Vect.  You go first.  You also have 9 Dark Lances shooting out in first turn from these guys alone.  Good times ahead, yes?  The answer is Yes and I can definitely see Ravagers as pretty good buys in the DE book.  So what is this other unit I'm looking at?  It's none other than the Voidraven Bomber.  First, it's priced at a ridiculous 145.  It has two Void Lances (not Dark) and it fires at S9 AP2 Lance.  It also comes with a Void Mine that it can drop anywhere within 6"after moving with the Bomber and it blows up for S9 AP2 Lance 3" blast.  To make things even sexier, it can be upgraded with Night Shields and Clonefields and can carry some seriously dangerous missiles.  The one missile that really stood out for me is the Shatter-something missile (I forgot the name, but it said Shatter something).  I read the fluff a little bit and it basically said the missile hits first, sucks all the heat out of the area before exploding it with fire.  That's why it's a S7 AP- Large Blast with re-rolls to wound.  Why is this extra sexy compared to say.. the Necrotoxin Large Blast 2+ Poison missile?  Because S7 is a strength value and it can damage vehicles, instant-gib Farseers and you're most likely going to be wounding on 2s anyway.  I would probably give these guys 2x Shattercombo missiles and call it a day.  They cost 10 each for every missile except for the Implosion missile.. which is 30 points and is a major waste of money.  You only get 4 missiles and I don't think anyone should be spending 30 points on one.. especially if it has a small blast template.  I guess it depends on your metagame, how dumb your opponents must be to group things together, and how much you like to noobstomp with fluff lists.

Oh, and before I forget, I would take the Bomber over the figher anyday.  Yes, they both cost the same, and yes the Figher comes with 4 missiles already installed, but you still have to upgrade to missiles to be worth a damn.  That and the fact that S9 Lances are so much better than S8 Lances.  The difference is you penning that Land Raider on a 4+ instead of a 5+.  When you stretch it out over the course of a game, this is very important and will save you a lot of headache.  Besides, if your Bomber is in danger and is going to die anyway, just suicide bomb it into something for a S9 AP2 3" blast of I-Love-You.

Right, so there you have it.  I looked at the other HQs and they either sucked ass or aren't good enough for my standards.  The Succubi is cool in theory, but the Archon can do pretty much what she can do plus be a lot more survivable because of Shadow Field.  Warriors are dirt cheap and should be given a Champ with Agonizer and that's it.  Take a Blaster and Dark Lance so you can shoot from your Raiders and be done with it.  Wyches are affordable and good and you can run them in squads up to 20.  The Elites are pretty good as I already outlined and the best of the heavies are already there.  Keep in mind that this is just my opinion and I didn't have too much exposure to the book.  I have a feeling those Reaver Jetbikes are going to be pretty scary because of the Heatlances and the Cronos might be good with infantry-buff-heavy lists.  There's too much theory on those units so I stuck to the ones I know will preform admirably.  Comments, questions, concerns, please post them here.  Keep in mind that I can only absorb so much in such limited time!


Dimitri Del Castillo said...

That cuts it. I'm getting the codex as soon as it comes out... might have to start pre-ordering some ravagers too.

Quaade said...

Just a few things you remembered wrong:

Incubi are WS5 with WS6 for the Klaivex
Raiders are 60 point base.

Also, I can't believe you neglected the fast attack, it's utterly amazing.

Scourges: run a full unit with 4 splinter cannons together with Slisken. That's 10 guys with 4+/6++ 18, R18" AP5 poison(4+/3+ if you use Slisken on them) and 16/24 shots from the splintercannons wounding on the same, more than enough to make anyone's day miserable.

If you want them tankhunting you can give them Heat Lances, Blasters, Haywire Blasters or a combo of them to really make armour suffer.
I especially like the Haywire Blaster as it shoots Haywire Grenades at vehicles.

Reavers are awesome with their Bladevane attacks, if you upgrade to d6 S6 attacks and can get them to hit from the side or rear of a tank, they can open it literally like a can of tuna by slicing it up. You can also give them a Heat Lance for additional armour smashing.
Not to mention a unit of 6 can fly over an unengaged unit and deliver 4D3 S4 hits + 2D6 S6 hits without fear of retaliation.

With Hellions you can make so much disruption, give their Helarch a Phantasm Launcher, pull an IC out of a unit and force the attached unit forward to save him leaving them stranded nomatter what happens in the next turn.

Mandrakes, infiltrate them 14½" into the table, fly a Hemo into coherrency with them, move them forward and take the paintoken with them as well, suddently you have a unit with Stealth, FNP and a R18", S4, Ap4, Assault 2 ready to roll.

I must say that after having read trough the codex, I am unable to find a single bad unit entry in it, everything has it's uses and the synergy within the codex is rife.

A unit of Wraks, awesome statline, starts with FNP, access to 2 Liquifiers when max size. Bring a hemo and they are troops, add him to it and they have FC as well, bring a Cronos (love the Guillamo del Toro ref there), pop a third token on them for Fearless.

There's just so much awesome going on in that book, to date I'd say this is definetly Phil Kelly's finest work.

J said...

Why no talk about the fast attack choices?
Forgot or were they all just crap?

HERO said...

Thanks Quaade for the contribution! The Fast Attack options are pretty decent from I remember.. but sadly that's all I remember!

Dimitri Del Castillo said...

"A unit of Wraks, awesome statline, starts with FNP, access to 2 Liquifiers when max size. Bring a hemo and they are troops, add him to it and they have FC as well, bring a Cronos (love the Guillamo del Toro ref there), pop a third token on them for Fearless."

Thanks Q, this is exactly what I needed to hear. They have CC pwnage in the troop FoC with FNP like orks. Kelly is the master of FoC manipulation and making lists from his codex' are pure joy. This book will continue this trend.

HERO said...

Hey Q. Can you go a little more in depth of the fast attack choices that you mentioned? How much are the units you proposed and what do they add that's greater than spamming the units presented above? Lastly, you say this is Phil Kelly's greatest work. How does this book compare to Space Wolves in terms of raw power?

Quaade said...

Reavers are a bit on the expensive side, but with being able to turboboost 36" AND being able to hurt your opponent at the same time, that's a reasonable price to pay, they also have skilled riders.
If you can keep them out of flamer's way, only 5+ save now, they will make their cost back.

Scourges are one of those units that don't look amazing on paper, but in reality will be. Lots of firepower concentrated into one fast unit that for a DE has a pretty good save. The amount of firepower also means that they can get paintokens real fast.
They also pay the lowest price for heavy weapons in the codex.
They can also get a cover save a lot easier than the other spam options.
I can't remember the basic cost of a scourge, but it's not that expensive.

Hellions have gone down in price compared to the old one, gotten a 5+ save and lost their invul, they gained Fleet instead.
They have combat drugs as well, which is only bonus now. They have an assault 2, R18" splinter built into the skyboards and the hellglaive adds +1S and +1A all the time now instead of only on the charge.
The option to pull IC's out of their units is a weapon upgrade for the Helarch, so no Agoniser if you do.
That makes it a choice of either anvil or messing with your opponents battleline, both which are very much in playstyle.
The Helarch can also buy a Phantasm Launcher.
Again, Pain tokens will take this unit from good to hardcore.

And I wouldn't say it's better than spamming, they just fullfill the same role, but in different ways.
Every unit you take will add some and take away some in comparison to spam.
But overall by not spamming you will be better equipped to deal with multiple situations and also be really hard to meta against.
If your regular opponents finds a way to deal with one thing, you can put it on the table again in another form which they can't deal with.

I won't guess on the powerlevel compared to Space Wolves, not untill I've seen them on the table, but I believe that in the hands of a skilled player this army will be a nightmare to play against, while in the hands of a new player they will still be able to show teeth, but be much easier to handle.

The greatest strenght of this book, and why I say it's his best work to date, is that there is no unit that is "bad" or worse than the others.

There's no Greyhunter Vs Bloodclaw for example.
You have many options and you will be able to find many ways to get a list of different bits to work. Even changing one unit for another will change your playstyle without diminishing your overall powerlevel.

You will be able to put all the units on a dartboard and just throw randomly and get something that can work as there are no obvious nobrainer choices. On the other hand, no unit is obviously overpowered either, instead they rely on the other units you bring and the synergies you can make.

Make no mistake, the army is a glasshammer and in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to wield it, it will break apart.
Give the same army to someone who can use it, and he will show you why glass is one of the strongest materials in the world right up untill it breaks.

Anonymous said...

Q & OP, thanks for the incredible analysis & info.

A joy to read.

Anonymous said...

I would like to note that Venoms are not bad. In fact, they're very good.

For 65 points, you get a transport that can move 12 inches and shoot 12 poison shots out to 36 inches, and has a 5++ save. That's a ton of anti-infantry firepower for very cheap.

If you take a unit of Trueborn 3 strong with 2 Splinter cannons, that's 121 points for 24 poison shots when standing still, 20 when moving upto 6, and still 12 when moving 12. All with 36 inch range. If you can park it somewhere in your backfield, you're dealing 8 wounds a turn on average to any unit with Toughness in the game, from outside the range of all but a few weapons. And 10 wounds average if you took the Duke and the Trueborn's cannons are wounding on 3+ instead of 4+.

And if they do shoot at it? You might be out 121 points, and they're not shooting at your lance/blaster carrying units.

Venoms are also the ideal transport for small blaster-armed Trueborn or Warrior squads. This gives you a tactically flexible unit. The squad can use the blaster(s) to open up a transport, and then the venom adds 12 poison shots to anything that fell out.

From a modelling standpoint, there's no venom conversion, but most people build them out of Vyper kits, with a troop platform replacing the gun mount. That makes them somewhat smaller than raiders, and easier to hide behind LOS blocking terrain. Small advantage, but when your vehicles are that fragile, it can add up over the course of a game.

HERO said...

Agreed. Given a week since I wrote this first post, I think Venoms are indeed pretty decent for their price. The reason I say decent is because they're still AV10 open-top and they can only hold 5 dudes. I think it all depends on what you're using them for! I also changed my mind on the bikes and I think they can match Scourges for cost effectiveness at this point. Take a look at my more recent posts to see what I think.. and thanks again for contributing :)

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that Razorwing fighters are not completely useless, in fact they are very useful imo in small point games. DE stuff is so cheap that even in a 1500/2000 point game you can fill all 3 heavy slots and still get out a crap load of infantry with anti-armour capabilities. With that being said, at a lower point value like 1500 i don't see the use of having 3 heavies dedicated to killing armour because with 6 lances from the ravagers, another 2 from the voidraven won't be very useful. The razorwing gives you the option of switching the darklances to 2 disintegrator cannons (str5 ap3 3shots each) for free and a hull-mounted twin-linked splinter rifle you can switch to a splinter cannon(heavy 6 poison) for 10pts, along with buying shatterfields at only 5pts a piece. A razorwing equipped like this literally shreds through anything with a save of 3+ or higher and can even do a decent job saturating terminators. Again it depends on the amount of vehicles your opponent can field, but the razorwing has definite viability as an infantry killer (I would never take it with the lances as the voidraven is better)

Anonymous said...

And yes i realize this thread is really old haha.

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