THIS POST HAS NOT YET BEEN EDITED FOT 6th ed. Hopefully, once I've got to grips with the new rules, I'll edit it, to make it relevant for 6th. This might take a while.
It must be true, Father Christmas must exist. I’m sitting in my home with a copy of a NEW Dark Eldar codex. Hmm, let’s check. No I am not very drunk, nor have a taken an array of recreational drugs. I am not delusional. So it must be real!
Open the cover, and here we go…
An Overview and Analysis of the units of the Dark Eldar (DE)
Please not that this post is not a Tactica, but does include information you can use when thinking about your strategy and tactics.
My first impression is that unlike the last batch of Codexs, ours is not a super-powered game breaking one. Don’t think you are getting a codex which is going to dominate Blood Angels, Space Wolves or the Imperial Guard, because you’ll be disappointed if you do.
What we do have is an up to date advancement of the last DE Codex. We have lost quite a few things, and gained a good few new things, the most obvious of which is Power From Pain. Whether this is a game breaker remains to be seen, and only time will tell how potent this turns out to be. My gut says than in a standard 5-6 round game, it won’t be the all singing all dancing power from hell, but will help.
A few things of note:
1). Our HQs have lost their Reavers and Hellions…… aaargghhh! I get that Reavers and Hellions are kinda Wych based, so Archons and Haemonculi losing them makes some sense, but why take them from the Succubus, a Wych cult leader?
So much for my patient conversions, for my Reaver Archon, Reaver Haemonculus and three Hellion Haemoculi.
The Eldar Auturchs, Fareseers and Warlocks can have jetbikes, and I thought that the Dark Eldar are supposed to be the kings of speed.
The lack of personal ‘transport’ for our Independent Characters (IC) is a real pain and will change the way some of us play. I used to use 2x squads of 4-6 Reavers with tooled up Succubi, each with a Reaver Drachon or Haemonculus. The Succubus + IC with reasonable armour saves and great Initiative were able to defeat many enemy units in Assaults. This tactic is no longer available to us.
2). Some DE players are going to be very disappointed as there’s very little in the new Codex which causes Pinning.
3). Even with a quick read through before I sat down to study and analyse the book, I can see a few paragraphs of rules that are badly written and may cause arguments. I just don’t understand how GW continue to let these things through. At the front of the Codex there are seventeen people listed as Book Design, Hobby Team and Games Development; surely between all these people they can recognise the potential for players to read different interpretations into the sentences they write. GW you need to give me a job!
I have noted these situations in the relevant sections below.
4). It would seem that, despite all the fluff in the codex saying what an organised bunch we are when we go raiding, compared to the Eldar, Tyranids and the Guard, we ain’t so good. What I mean by this is that all those armies have models which give +1 to their Reserve rolls, and hey guess what? Yep, you got it, we don’t. As the Guard have their chappie which gives us -1 to our rolls too, fighting Guard is going to be a pain in the donkey.
DE List Building
I will only make a few points in this regard:
1). You need as many DE models shooting and assaulting as possible. DE are fragile and die easily. Therefore you must not be tempted to pile upgrades on to your units. Take only what you absolutely need to make your plans work, and no more.
2). How does your army win? Essentially you have two options: the first is that in Objective games you will try to win by claiming Objectives; the second is that in Objective games you will try to win via a ‘Wipeout’ – killing ALL the enemy’s units. Choose before you write your list.
In the first I think you should have at least 1 Troops unit per 500 points, in the second you only need to field the minimum Troops and can then field anything you like.
The second choice is probably harder to achieve, but can be a hell of a lot more fun.
3). Rapid fire slaughters DE in droves as we have poor Toughness and poor Armour saves. This means that you will have to have a plan to deal with basic enemy infantry. You will not always win a shoot vs. shoot against the enemy. As we have very good close combat units, you should consider using these to remove enemy infantry.
4). As DE have poor Strength if you get involved in a close combat with an enemy unit of T7+ or 10+ vehicle armour you will be in trouble. Whenever possible take a close combat weapon which can wound T7+, Poisoned weapons and Agonisers spring to mind. Also you will need to be able to damage Walkers, so Haywire grenades can be a good idea.
5). Multiple Small Units (MSU). This is a concept well known to Fantasy Battle players, and means that your army is built of many small units. In some ways our new Dark Eldar could make good use of this way of playing, however there is a downside. In Annihilation games MSU is a disaster, as your small units will get blown away all too easily.
Here are examples of some very useful small DE units:
• 4-5 Trueborn with 4x Blasters, in a Venom
• 4-5 Trueborn with 4x Shredders, in a Venom
• 3 Trueborn with 2x Splinter Cannons in a Venom
• 4-5 Trueborn with 2x Splinter Cannons
• 4-5 Trueborn with 2x Dark Lances
• 3-4 Grotesques with 1x Liquifier Gun – as a bodyguard for an IC
• 5 Wracks with 1x Liquifier Gun – as a bodyguard for an IC
• 5 Incubi including a Klaivex with a Bloodstone, in a Venom
• 6 Bloodbrides with 2x weapon upgrades including a Syren with Agoniser, in a Raider
• 3-5 Scourges with 2x Blasters
• 3-5 Scourges with 2x Heat Lances
• 3-5 Scourges with 2x Haywire Blaster
• Beastmaster (Agoniser or Venom Blade) with 5 Khymerae
• 2 Beastmasters (Agoniser or Venom Blade) with 4 Razorwing Flocks
• 5 Harelquins including a Death Jester, 2x Fusion Pistols
Power from Pain (PFP)
On paper this special rule looks fantastic, but it comes with issues, primarily that your unit has to finish off an enemy unit to get a Pain Token. This means that you must think very carefully about the order in which you attack your enemy’s units, to make sure that the units you want get the Pain Tokens.
I think that PFP may change the way we play our DE, and that the ‘Wipeout’ rule (see main 40k rulebook pg9 may be very useful to us. It takes a lot of skill to achieve a Wipeout, but if your opponent is focussed on getting his Troops onto Objectives, you can focus on destroying his units. You better have a good plan if you choose this route to victory.
Don’t get so hung up on getting your units Pain Tokens, that you lose your games. Stay with the program and win the Missions.
On the sweet side of the fence, the ability for an IC to join and unit and then re-assign Tokens can be used very cheesily; and there’s nothing wrong the mighty cheese.
Fearless: there is a serious issue with gaining Fearless, namely ‘No Retreat’. As many DE units have very good Initiative we are much less likely to be destroyed by Sweeping Advance. With No Retreat we take extra Wounds, and most of our units have poor saves.
Feel No Pain: FNP can make the difference between success and failure during Assaults, and will definitely help against Rapid Fire, however for most DE units Feel No Pain will not work against S6+ weapons.
Remember to use your Feel No Pain when vehicles get destroyed and your guys take wounds from this.
Night Vision: I find it rather strange that we got Night Vision and all the Space marines don’t have some kind Acute Senses/Night Vision, considering that they have augmented senses and tech-enhanced helmet vision and audio. Anyway, I’m not complaining.
Remember that in the ‘Dawn of War’ deployment, the first round uses Night Fighting rules.
Because Poison ignores Toughness, enemy units with high Toughness are best dealt with by shooting at them with poison weapons. With our poor Strength, engaging them in close combat can be a bad idea. Of course poison close combat weapons and things like Agonisers work fine against them too.
Poisoned Shooting Weapons: Please remember that any Poisoned shooting weapons without a Strength do not get re-rolls to Wound.
Splinter Rifles are now very nice weapons, and the idea of destroying Tyranid monstrous creatures with Splinter Rifles is very appealing. In the previous codex they were very ineffective against T5+, now they rock.
At they end of the day 10 Warriors with a Splinter Cannon and Blaster, Rapid firing at MEQs will on average kill 2.75, so they aren’t exactly game breaking when they shoot. Note well, this is why you need to think carefully about which of your units will try to kill particular enemy units. Like the Eldar, DE work best when they work together, supporting each other.
10 Hellions shooting at a unit of MEQs will on average, kill 2.2, but can then Assault them afterwards.
The cool sounding 5 man Trueborn squad with 2x Splinter Cannons, in a Venom with 2x Splinter Cannons, shooting at 24” (assuming the Venom moved 6”) will have 23 shots, killing 2.5 MEQs. What I’m a bit concerned about, is that this squad costs 145pts. Is 2.5 MEQs a round really worth it. If they shoot not having moved, they have 27 shots = 3 Kills. In 5 rounds they might just make their points back, maybe….
I’m trying this out with a 3 man squad, and giving the Venom a Night Shield.
In the previous Codex we had really good cheap options for breaking up enemy vehicles, but things have got more complex now. We have lost ‘Sniper’ squads, Wych Blasters and mini three Reaver tank buster squads, though Ravagers are definitely better. Pity we didn’t get squadrons for them. Voidravens look good too, though the models are going to cost big time. It’s nice to see that Scourges got a much wider choice of weapons too.
The Lance Rule
Although Lance weapons are nice, they are hardly game breaking. GW have rebalanced the Blaster vs. Meltagun cost by giving the Blaster an extra 6” of range. I would have to disagree with them over the cost of the Blast Pistol though. The marine Infernus Pistol is a far better weapon for the same cost.
What I am very annoyed with, is the ridiculous cost of Dark Lances for our infantry squads.
A standard SM squad pays 15pts less for a Lascannon than our Warriors pay for the Lances, and their Sternguard pay 10pts less than our Trueborn. So is this because the Dark Lance is a superior weapon? I think not.
The Dark Lance has 12” less range than the Lascannon, but has the Lance rule. The Lance rule makes the Lance more efficient against vehicle armour 13 and 14, but against all other vehicle armour (i.e. most troop transports) it has no effect. The more limited range of the Dark Lance means that a defensive squad deployed deep in our deployment zone has much less chance of targeting enemies across the board.
The Dark Lance should have been 15pts at most. I can only assume that they have done this because our Raiders have Lances too. But they are 20pts more than a Rhino and have terrible armour, so they have well paid for their Lance.
Note that the Lance rule has no effect on the ‘Living Metal’ armour of Necron Monoliths, which is another reason that Lascannons are better than Dark Lances.
So how we kill Monoliths? Well our Melta weapons and Monstrous creatures are useless against it, and all our S8 shooting weapons need 6s to Glance. At least Void Lances can penetrate on 6, but how many of us will field Voidravens? Bizarrely it looks like Haywire Grenades and Haywire Blasters are our best bet. ( I especially like the bird men for mounting these)
The chance to Glance or Penetrate any armour with each Haywire Blaster shooting at BS4 is 55%.
Walkers in close combat
Walkers have anywhere between 10 and 13 vehicle armour these days. As our base Strength is 3, even armour 10 poses us serious problems. Walkers don’t care about our poison, and S3 power weapons, and even our grenades have a hard time against them; though mass Haywires sounds like a plan. Against 10 armour, our S4 weapons can Glance. What this means is that the second Pain Token is going to be very important to some units. It also means that it is very important that you kill enemy Walkers before they can engage our units in close combat.
While you need 6s to hit Walkers in close combat, each Haywire grenade has a 2.7% chance of Penetrating and an 11% chance of Glancing, so there is very little chance of Destroying the vehicle. Each successful Pen/Glance hit has a 33% chance of Stunned or Immobilsed; therefore each Haywire has a 4-5% chance of achieving this. If you Stun or Immobile it however in the next combat round you have a lot more chance to damage it. These odds aren’t good, but they are a lot better than none at all.
There is one major change in the rules for Webway Portals, which very definitely changes how we can use them. We can still bring fast moving units out, which can Assault in the round that they enter through the portal. This means that Reavers have a 12”+6” ‘charge’ move from the outer edge of a Portal. Hellions are even better having a 12”+1d6”+6” ‘charge’ move as do Scourges. This totally changes the way we see Scourges even though they are probably still 2 points too expensive.
Please note that some players, especially those who played much earlier editions of the 40k rules, still keep on insisting that bikes are vehicles. They are not, so don’t let anyone convince you that your Reavers can’t deploy from a Webway.
Where to place portals: remember that 40k is now a game played in the round, with enemies regularly appearing on your flanks and deep striking all over the place. This means that there’s no harm in placing a Webway somewhere slightly closer to your board edge, than to the enemy’s. This can be used to move Reserve units out which can move towards the enemy or to protect your own Objectives etc. You would only want to consider this option if you have two Webways to place.
If you have units with dedicated transports, the transport can move on-board separately from the unit, so they can enter via a Portal and the transport can come on from your board edge or deep strike (if is it able).
There is a critical point to note with Webways.. , i.e. that if your deployment strategy is based on Webways, you must have two in the army list. If you only have one, and the model dies before deploying it, you are in trouble.
Note that you can not deploy a Webway if the model has Run during the shooting phase.
One of the benefits of Portals is that you can deploy units on foot directly from them, but I strongly recommend that you only use them for units with Fleet.
A very useful aspect of Webways is the fact you don’t have to tell your opponent before play starts, exactly which of your units will deploy out of them. As the only models in our army which can carry them are Haeomonculi and Archons, I assume that smart enemy players will just focus all their attention on them.
There are only two models that can have Webways, so we need to consider how to get them to where they need to go safely. In many Objective based games, it’s likely that you will need to place at least one in the middle third of the board. This is usually a very dangerous place to be because many of the enemy’s shooting weapons can reach out and touch you.
With this in mind I think you will need to have the Character with some kind of meat-shield, in a Raider or Venom with Night Shield and Flickerfield. If you are going first then you can usually set up your vehicle so it can move 12” straight towards where you wish to place the Webway, then dismount your Character + squad 2”, then place the Webway touching the Character. Theoretically this means you can place your Webway at 26” across the board (with the far side of the portal at 29” as the marker is 3 inches across). Remember though that your Character + squad is likely to get shot to pieces.
On way to protect them would be to move two vehicles up, so that they end their movement touching each other, with the Character using them as a wall to hide behind while he places his Webway. The reason I say two, is that if he uses his own vehicle as a wall, as our Raiders are wide, he will only be able to place the Webway at around 21” across the board.
If you are going second, deploy the ICs vehicle behind Cover, or use another vehicle to hide behind. Place the Webway if you can during your first round.
It is a perfectly valid concept to begin with your whole army in Reserve, though you might not want to try this against armies which can mess with your Reserve rolls, Imperial Guard being the obvious example.
If you do fancy this idea, your whole army needs to be mounted in vehicles, and you should choose Skimmers for all your Heavy choices.
All in Reserve can be wonderful or a disaster. If the dice gods decide they hate you, you won’t see half your units till round4 and your enemy will blast the few units you bring on into little pieces. However, there is a fantastic advantage to all Reserves; you get to choose where to deploy all your units as the game progress. It’s true that this means that you are wholly reactive rather than being proactive, but it can work very well, and really irritates the enemy if they are going first, as they have nothing to shoot at in round 1 or round 2. Please note though that you opponent will be able to make great use of cover while you are getting going.