Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Dark Elves
Why Play Dark Elves
Do you want your Elves to take the next logical step in their belief of 'we're better than everyone' over to 'so we should be allowed to kill them?' Do you want to troll your enemy mercilessly and drink their tears? Then Dark Elves are for you.
In the long long ago, in the before time, in 6th edition, Dark Elves were a finicky and difficult army. Limited unit choices, overpriced and underpowered units and difficult to use tactics made them a favorite of smart and tactical players. Then came the 7th edition update and they rocketed up to being the 2nd best army in the game (behind Daemons) and while the 8th edition book has balanced things a bit, they remain a powerhouse army.
Dark Elves are not for people who expect all their units to have the staying power of Lizardmen or Dwarves, or the hitting power of Chaos Warriors or Ogres. Yes, the Dark Elves have units that hit like a ton of bricks (Hydra most notably) but they are the minority. Dark Elves excel at having cheap infantry with good stats and solid staying power. You will have to combine units, weaken enemy elites, whittle away at them and receive a lot of charges as Dark Elves. But don't mistake them for weak: Your enemy will do that and then they will LOSE.
Eternal Hatred : Grants Hatred, and gives its benefits every round, not just the first. Awesome rule, Black Guard and several characters have it.
Hekarti's Blessing : +1 when casting Dark Magic Spells.
Murderous Prowess : Re-rolls all to wound rolls of 1 when making close combat attacks(does not affect a model's mount). Every model in the army(save warbeasts) has this.
Lords & Heroes
- Malekith, the Witch King: It's good to be the King. Malekith cost's 510 points vanilla (JUST keeping him out of games under 2000, what a tease) but you get your money's worth for it. He's a Highborn with higher WS, S and T. He's also a level 4 Wizard (who has to use Dark Elves' special lore), magic armor that gives a 2+ ward against mundane attacks and makes him immune to multiple wounds and being killed outright, a magic weapon that lets him break enemy magic items (allowing him to get rid of those pesky magic weapons that can harm him), a shield that gives him Magic Resistance (2) and causes magic spells aimed at him that are dispelled to rebound for an S6 hit on the caster unit per dice, a crown that gives him an extra power and dispel dice per phase and his inspiring Presence is 18' instead of 12' (24' on his Black Dragon). And he still has hatred and comes with Immune to Psychology. Inhale. He costs a bucket-load but can easily turn entire games around. His mount options include Cold One (mediocre), a Cold One Chariot with a 3+ save (quite good for smaller points games) and a Black Dragon (requires a game of 4000 points or more and you don't get ANY other Lords, but can wreck entire units on it's own). Malekith is an expensive powerhouse. The combination of killer stats, great special rules and magic items and being a powerful caster in his own right make him more than worth his rather expensive entry cost in a casual game. Still lives with his mom.
- Morathi, the Hag Sorceress: Morathi is a little schizo about her role. Her abilities and stat increases seem to indicate that she's intended for combat, which is the exact opposite place from where you want her. She's more expensive than an upgraded Supreme Sorceress, but a much better than a generic Supreme Sorceress on Dark Pegasus. Her enchanting beauty rules is decent. In all fairness, Dark Magic is a good damage lore (traded off loremaster to mix in spells from the lores of Shadow and Death), Morathi has the mobility to use it, and she's reasonably cheap for all her goodies at 375 points. If you're taking a Supreme Sorceress on Pegasus, forget her and take Morathi.
- Crone Hellebron: Hellebron is a fundamentally ideal combat lord. Okay, she costs ~155ish skaven slaves and comes with little protection. But she has I9, 4A base, combined with paired weapons (+1A) witches brew (gives her and her unit +2A) and cry of war (+D3A) for anywhere from 8 to 10 S10 attacks combined with ASF which means she's almost guaranteed to re-roll hits (and wounds thanks to murderess prowess) which equates to her being essentially guaranteed to wipe out an entire rank. Any hit against her rolling a one cause an S4 hit on her attacker, Oh and she and any unit she's with gets +4 to dispel rolls for any spells cast at them. Yeah. She can also take a Cauldron of Blood. Put her in a unit of Witch Elves, Sisters of Slaughter or (your best option in my opinion) with a unit of black guard with a cauldron of blood within 6" (which gives the aforementioned ability to re-roll all failed to wound rolls) and send them charging into the enemy; that equates to your Black Guard unit having 4A each, at S4, ASF, Eternal Hatred and re-rolling failed to wound rolls. Malekith just pooped a little. Take her, but keep her in a unit, she is the prime example of a glass cannon.
- Malus Darkblade: You've read his books, now put him on the tabletop. He costs nearly 300 points and is a Lord choice now, so gained the appropriate stat boosts. has a couple nifty abilities. Using Tz'arkan makes him more powerful, but makes him attack his own unit on hit rolls of one; remember, with ASF and Eternal Hatred he can re-roll failed hit rolls, so this mitigates the damage somewhat. Spite is still the best cavalry mount in Warhammer Fantasy with no stupidity for him or his unit and gets eternal hatred. Should be seriously considered for any cold one heavy army.
- Shadowblade: Almost double what a properly kitted out Assassin would cost. Took a hit since he can no longer hide among the enemy. Even if you get him to reveal himself when he needs to, where he needs to, if he gets killed he could just as easily damage your own unit, which keeps him from being set up like a regular Assassin. Does come with all 3 poisons so has killing blow, +1 to wound and gives -1 to enemy leadership per wound caused. Unless you're after a fluffy army, you're much better off with a generic assassin
- Tullaris Dreadbringer: Now a hero, Costs a little over double Master. Gives every model in any unit he joins frenzy for FUN times. His sword now killing blows on a 5 or 6. This guy in an executioner unit makes sword masters wish they were this awesome.
- Kouran Blackhand: Like Tullaris is now a hero, Just shy of 200 points for a Master statline, but with WS9! His Crimson death no longer always strikes at S6 but gives +2 strength. his armour now only activates when hes hit. But does slap his attacker at S5. Also stick him in black guard they become UNBREAKABLE.
- Lokhir Fellheart: An effective enough combat hero, if a bit on the pricey side. He can no longer get an absurd number of attacks, but the extra hundred points for no stat upgrades means he's limited. A master is probably better. Will actually do incredibly with a big corsair unit and shadow magic buffs. Sadly, he can no longer destroy any Skaven army with 10+ ranks, since his swords don't do that anymore. He can make a unit he joins Unbreakable but only if he's in a challenge or kills a character, which is what he's suited for with ASF, Hatred High Elves and re-rolling failed wound on the offense, with a 2+ armour save, regeneration and terror on the defense. Also with his new rules he can attack any character in the same combat without moving to them. So can more easily hide from the nastier lords while still attacking them.
While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
NOTE: No Master or Highborn's Armor Save should EVER be below 3+. It costs less than 15 points to give them Heavy Armor and Sea Dragon Cloak which instantly gives them a leg up on 99 percent of most enemy heroes and lords.
- Dreadlord: Your workaday combat lord. He's cheap and effective and can be highly nasty when given the right equipment. There are many equipment options that will be covered in the equipment section. Better than the High Elf equivalent in close combat, as they have better access to armor saves and re-roll wounding rolls of 1 while sharing ASF. Overall, he's cheap with some good stats (WS7 and I8 is nothing to sneer at) and he can be quite effective in the right circumstances. Just don't put him in fights he can't win.
- Supreme Sorceress: Supreme Sorceresses (and Sorceresses for that matter) excel at one thing: Blasting the almighty crap out of everything. You can fling absurd amounts of dice around if you're unafraid of miscasts and have access to some impressively destructive Lores. The Dark Elves signature Lore consists of almost nothing but ways to blast the shit out of people. Aside from that, They can now use all eight Battle Lores (toughness 7 Witch Elves? Fuck Yeah!). To keep in the spirit of the fluff, Death is good for some targeted hero killing and Shadow can home unit Synergy, if you're willing to throw a lot of dice at it. Bringing a Level 4 Supreme Sorceress will almost always pay off. Life is good for several things, such as those Toughness 7 Witch Elves, but that doesn't feel like Dark Elves (well this codex is Matt Ward's work...). In closing, a very versatile offensive caster and just as good a choice for general as the Dreadlord, though with different uses.
- High Beastmaster: Comes in at over double a Dreadlord in points. With one less A and I, light armour, cloak and spear, but lets one beast per turn within 3" gain +D3 attacks and must take a manticore or a scourgerunner chariot for free. May take the usual 100 points of magic Wargear but has no standard options. Take only for fluffy reasons.
- Black Ark Fleetmaster: He's a Lord worth ~75ish skaven slaves and has a sword for a leg. Needless to say a kick to the crotch from this guy is to be avoided at all costs. Seriously though, Master stats with +1 wound. Whenever he is in a challenge (and alive) or kills an enemy character at all he makes his unit unbreakable for the turn. It's a cool rule, and he's got a nice flavor, but he's just not worth the points. Take a Dreadlord for less points and get more usefulness out of him. More for fluff and fun games and seems really out of place as a lord choice (especially when you consider that his rough equivalent, the Sea Helm is a cheap Hero).
- Sorceress: Sorceresses are cheap and effective. Level 1s can bring a small effective spell to the table (Notable Dark Magic's signature spell is one that shooting heavy armies HATE!) and bringing a level 2 could provide valuable support when things go tits up for your Supreme Sorceress, especially if you're willing to for alternate Lores (Fire works well for basic Sorceresses). Not as powerful as a Supreme but well worth taking. Remember, they can now use all eight Battle lores.
- Master: Masters are among the best cost for ability heroes in the game. For 70, plus an extra 10 for the Sea Dragon Cloak and Heavy Armor, you'll get a guy with M5, WS/BS6, S4, T3, W2, I7, A3, LD9 and a 3+ armor save, plus ASF and Murderous Prowess. A Master is a great choice to add some oomph to a unit and probably the better choice for a BSB since you can very easily have him have a 2+ Armor save, without a mount or magic equipment.
- Death Hag: Death Hags cost 15 points more than a master for 2 hand weapons, Frenzy, Poisoned Attacks aaaand...the loss of any kind of saves beyond a 5++, which only comes from a Cauldron of Blood. Not batting 1000 here. Gifts of Khaine are more expensive for them but they can take a single Magic Weapon up to 50 points.
- Cauldron of Blood: 190 point chariot, gives the unit you put it in a 6++(5++ for witch elves), lets all friendly units with murderous intent within 6 re-roll all failed to wound. and has a bound spell that makes a unit frenzied(+2 attacks instead of 1 if they were already frenzied). The kit can also make a Bloodwrack Shrine and gives you Hellebrone. So you can make a Cauldron of Blood (a chariot), a Bloodwrack Medusa (Monstrous beast) as an independent unit and Hellebrone (a special character)... all for just $80. I suppose it's rather pathetic we've gotten to a point where $80 AUD seems like a good deal for three models, but we are talking a good deal by GW's ridiculous standards.
- Assassin: When kitted out right, Assassins can end the life of any Hero and some Lords. Its frankly ABSURD WS and I mean that it can put the whammy on anyone dumb enough to get into close combat with it. And here's the kicker: because of the Hidden rule, people don't know if they're getting into combat with it. Very good in either your rank units (to help them hold up when a powerful unit tries to use them) or in your flank units (to up your kill count when you charge). An example of a good Assassin is additional hand weapon and Potion of Strength; other combinations will be discussed later. Assassins often end up on suicide detail after a round of combat or two, so don't throw too many points into them. Oh and don't forget to write down what unit it's in, or people will accuse you of cheating. When you can spare the points, always take one.
- Dark Steed: The cheapest option. M9 will put him out away from the rest of the army, except for Dark Riders and Doomfire Warlocks, but why would you want a character to join them? Because you're awesome and gave him a Ring of Hotek and a posse of 14 other Dark Riders or 5 Doomfire Warlocks. gives the character the fast cavalry rule?!
- Cold One: The traditional mount of a Highborn/Master and with good reason. M7 is quite reasonable, stupidity is unlikely to cause problems at LD9 and S4 and +2 to armor saves are always nice. If you want a mounted hero without shelling out for a big expensive mount, this is where to go.
- Dark Pegasus: Pegasi used to be in kind of a weird position, but since the FAQ hit, they've got significantly better, since they become one model and inherit the Pegasus' toughness. You NEED to make sure your rider has a good armor save and probably a ward too, or it'll get to shot to death (so don't give it to Sorceresses).
- Manticore: Don't have the points for a Black Dragon, but want something big and scary? Then come on down to
Clar Karond'sKAROND KAR'S Manticore Emporium. The in between option and a damned good one at that. If you want people to cry cheese, try mounting your Master on one of these. Can now be given a 4+ scaly skin save and can be upgraded with a Blind fury rule. it gains +D3 attacks each combat phase but enemies get +1 to hit.
- Black Dragon: The Dark Elves best mount, a middle tier Dragon (better than Sun Dragons and Manticores but not as good as Star Dragons and Greater Daemons) who's effectiveness is often linked to how good the rider is. A powerful mount, perhaps a tiny bit overpriced, but worthwhile. We will cover what items to take and not take later, but a remember that your Dragon is huge and scary, so it will be getting shot at by everyone who doesn't want to see it crashing into their lines. Keep it out of sight of cannons.
- Dreadspears: Basic Spearmen...well Spearelves. Good M, WS, I and LD, average everything else, Spears, Shields, Light Armor. 9 points a pop. With ASF and Murderous Prowess, they can be a pretty nasty unit, especially on the defense. Probably going to be one of your mainstay units, so get used to them. Best in units of 50-60, good for holding ground.
Alternate Opinion: Depends. If you want killing power go for these, if you want durability go for Bleakswords.
- Bleakswords: Same stats as Spearmen, but Swords and Shields instead of Spears and Shields. Probably better in smaller units, used on the offense. Not as generally useful as Dreadspears, but still a pretty solid unit.
- Darkshards: The other mainstay core unit, and again they kick ass. Between good range, armor piercing and multiple shots, these guys shred light to medium armored units like they're not even there. Have them concentrate fire with Bolt Throwers and Shades (if you have them) to damage your enemies important units. Again, you always give them shields, as they will be absorbing a lot of S3 and S4 return fire.
- Black Ark Corsairs: Don't let the 9 points cost fool you, they need to take either an extra hand weapon or a Handbow for an extra 2 points. But that's not so bad, as they're back to being a reliable core choice again. With 2 hand weapons and a 4+ armor save, they're rock solid and can be quite difficult to damage under a lot of circumstances. Don't take them in huge blocks like Dreadspears, take them in smaller aggressive units of 15-20.
Alternate Opinion: These guys can work in hordes, but only 40+. As they are tougher than Dreadspears, take them if you aren't sure of yourself, or if your opponent likes the DAKKADAKKADAKKADAKKADAKKKADAKKA
- Witch Elves: Witch Elves are the first in the series of nasty flanking units, AND NOW THEY'RE CORE UNITS, KICKASS! The benefit is you can stock up on these lethal ladies and still have points free to allocate to Special units. They have an absurdly high volume of attacks (40 poisoned attacks for 2 ranks of 10), high Initiative, ASF and cheap. As for upgrades, you can't go wrong with Witchbrew. Be careful with them though, they're about as hard to shoot to death as Goblins (more resistant to Panic though, thanks to Frenzy) and are easily led out of position. Use them by all means, but be careful. Also, there's the fact that they are half-nude women sooo... yeah, I guess at $60 for a ten pack ($70 in Aus), sex must really sell. These are also counterparts to the BAC, the BAC not hitting quite as hard, but being the most durable of all the core Infantry.
Alternate Opinion: NEVER, EVER, EVER take these in hordes. (yes contrary to WD, he was RIDICULOUSLY lucky to get away with that!) You don't want a 400+ points cost unit running around the board chasing fast cav doing the Cantabrian Circle the entire game, just because you forgot to bring or fire your shooting at the right target. You could make it work with Shades but it would: A.) Have to be timed perfectly as cav move faster than Shades (maybe Harpies. . . ) and B.) A smart general will see this coming a mile off if he or she has heard anything about us.
- Dark Riders: Actually they are incredible now. 20 points each once you get shields and crossbows. And you don't lose Fast Cavalry when you buy shields. SO move 9, 4+ armour, with spears and crossbows… and of course the Vanguard move. You can easily get away with taking nothing but these guys for your core choice as they can outmaneuver damn near everything.
- Shades: Lots of players have mixed opinions about Shades. I personally like to keep the windows open. While they might seem expensive they are really mobile with decent stats and scout rules (they can even march and shoot). In low point games they will pretty much win your battles for you. Shades should be used as machine and lone wizard hunters. They can also be used to harass enemy flanks, but sending them into combat is a dicey proposition, since the enemy can split their attacks, but it can help turn important combats around. 5 man units will generally fail, but 10 man units can do wonders against the right opponents.
- Harpies: Harpies got a serious kick in the cooch in this version. They can panic units now and their job as warmachine hunters/charge blockers is done better by Shades and Dark Riders. Their only real use is if you need maneuverable chaff, otherwise skip them. Their only uses are charge redirectors or harassers, just keep them away from the main part of your army.
- Executioners: Chaos Warriors getting you down? Bretonnians resisting all your attempts to move them? Need someone with high Strength to knock out a monster? Then take Executioners. High Strength and Killing Blow make these guys a powerful flanking unit, just don't try to use them as a rank unit. Be careful where you put them though, at T3, with a 5+ save, they can be very easy to shoot to death. With the update, ASF cancels out Great Weapons, allowing them to strike at S6 at I5. Oh and re-rolls of 1 to wound is pretty brutal for a unit that'll be wounding anything T4 or below on a 2+. So yeah, these guys are now some of your best shock troops
Alternate Opinion: Throw out Dreadspears, take all Darkshards and Black Riders as core, then use a block of 40-50 of these guys, same size unit of Blackguard with both characters and drink your opponent's tears. Just don't put your Sorceresses in them!
- Cold One Knights: A good enough flanking unit when the chips are down and can even charge smaller units head on in a pinch. Cheap Heavy Cavalry is always welcome. They're 30 points a model, but the riders gained ASF and Murderous Prowess while the mounts gained an extra attack so it sort of balances out. It helps that their models are GORGEOUS (they ride fucking DINOSAURS) and they have an exceptionally brutal statline, with LD9 more than making up for Stupidity. Be careful though, Heavy Cavalry took the hard end of the Nerfstick in 8th edition, so don't send them straight into a ranking enemy unit. Also, Stupidity makes a unit Immune to Psychology, so don't forget it. Take in small units for flanking and they'll reward you with your enemies' blood and your opponents tears.
- Cold One Chariots: Quite good as far as Chariots go. It's highly resistant to damage and while, once in a while Stupidity will prevent you from making that charge you need to, it's low cost and high LD keep that from happening too often. Keep it someplace it can't be charged and use it to flank in a tight moment. Not precisely the Black Coach as far as Chariots go, but can be extremely useful. Also, it's a chariot pulled by DINOSAURS. Take if you can spare the points, or can't spare points for Cold One Knights.
- Black Guard: The only Rank choice that isn't a core choice. They're easy to damage unfortunately, but they hit hard (15 always rerollable S4 attacks for 2 ranks of 5) and they. Do. Not. Break. They cost 15 points a model now, but gain ASF and can re-roll failed wound rolls of 1 with Murderous Prowess, so they hit even harder than before. They also have no upper limit to unit size to sweeten the pot. For a 15 point magic banner from the main rulebook they can be LD10 Stubborn and there's nothing funnier than giving a Tower Master the Ruby Ring of Ruin. Take a flaming banner on them and they WILL take off an abomination or a hydra on the charge. A great anvil unit, apart from T3 and 5+ armor, buff them if you can. If you can fit them in and already have executioners, do it.
- Reaper Bolt Thrower: Often ignored, but a solid choice in it's own right. As will all Bolt Throwers it's good at taking out Heavy Cavalry and low wound monsters. Unlike all other Bolt Throwers (except for High Elves, who have the same exact unit) it can also be pretty good at taking out infantry. Stick it next to your Repeater Crossbowmen and help them shred units one at a time. Almost mandatory to only-refuse-them-if-you-want-to-lose in any Dark Elf army.
- War Hydra: Any bitch-fest about Dark Elves will bring up these guys. 160 points. It's attacks are equal to 3 plus it's remaining wound total. So at full wounds it's pumping out 8 attacks, and a thunder-stomp after that. 5 wounds. S and T 5. Thunderstomp. Can buy a breath weapon with S4 and a Ranged attack with 8" range with number of shots and S being its remaining wounds. Lost its regen but now rolls a dice at the end of your turn for each lost wound and regains it on a 4+. This thing EATS. UNITS. Your ultimate flanking unit and you can take 2 in a 1500 point game if you want to drink your opponent's tears. Any unit charged by this should roll for anal circumference. The Dark Elf solution to hordes, use them against infantry to bring the pain, and take one whenever you can. 3 of these also running straight down the centre could be very useful in an all horse list. . . or most lists for that matter!
- Scourgerunner chariot: Lighter chariot ridden by 2 beastmasters and pulled by horses. Comes with a ravager harpoon. A S7 bolt thrower that can be fired on the move, but no multi shot. If it causes an unsaved wound to a monster it gets dragged D6" towards the chariot. If it goes over 3" it takes a second wound with no saves. Note, many of the monsters you want to kill with it are more maneuverable as they can fly. It cannot stand and shoot with the harpoon, but a Beastmaster can make it BS7. As is, it's overpriced for what it does and competes with other much better choices. Leave it out unless it's a fluffy army, and then its use is only recommended to veteran Dark Elf players.
- Doomfire Warlocks: Warlocks cursed by Malekith, Fast Cav with 2 poisoned A each. And a 4+ ward, unless the attacker is a Slaanesh unit (Daemons and marked warriors)in which case they have their 6+ mounted save because slaanesh wants them. The unit knows the Doombolt and Soulblight spells at a LVL of 2. and gains +1 to cast for each rank of 5. up to a max of +3. At only 25 points a model, any army can do with a unit of these unless versing Chaos armies of Slaanesh, especially if you want a Dark Steed mounted Sorceress. Units of 5 are ideal.
- Sisters of Slaughter: They're pretty much Dark Eldar Wyches transplanted into Warhammer Fantasy, without the fancy weapons or combat drugs. More easily shot to death than Witch Elves (as they lack Frenzy unless buffed by a Cauldron of Blood or joined by a Death Hag with Witchbrew, and Witch Elves get a better Ward Save from the Cauldron), though they get a 6+ armour save and 4+ ward save against close combat attacks. Alright for tarpitting elite units in combat, but not as good on the offensive as Witch Elves, their Trial of Blades rule has potential but lacks the punch against heavily armoured units. They also have the ability to negate the rank bonus for combat results and parry saves. A decent choice, especially for flank charges, but overall outshone by the one above and below.
- Kharibdyss: The Dark Elves get a deep-sea monster in their army. It doesn't have the Aquatic or Strider (water) rule as fluff-wise it would out-swim its handlers and escape the moment it entered water. It's got a high strength of 7 and if all its attacks hit against a single model it does an additional D6 S7 hits, at WS5 this may happen a lot. Alongside I4 and poisoned attacks, this makes it a better monster killer than the Hydra. Also has Abyssal Roar meaning that enemies in base contact re-roll successful Leadership tests, making it a great unit for flank charges as well, making enemies re-roll successful break tests (drools)... unless they have Fear, Terror or Immune to Psychology. A bargain at 160 points. Note it only has a 4+ Scaly Skin and T5 with 5 wounds protecting it, so not as good on the defensive. Worth taking, especially if your opponent has lots of monsters or is playing Ogre Kingdoms.
- Bloodwrack Medusa: A monstrous creature which if you look it in the eye you will more or less be turned to stone and die (According to the fluff, meeting the Bloodwrack's eyes makes you bleed to death from every pore or orifice in your body. Makes you wonder how this would work on undead who have one or several of the following; don't need their blood, don't have blood, don't have eyes, don't have physical bodies). It's low, LOW leadership (2!) means if it loses Frenzy it's even more cowardly than a Goblin and with frenzy it's easy for the enemy to lead around. At 90 points with no save, it's not worth the hassle when competing with the amazing Doomfire Warlocks, the impressive Kharibdyss and decent Sisters of Slaughter. Don't take it unless it's a fluffy army.
- Bloodwrack Shrine: Chariot that amplifies the Bloodwrack Medusa's power. Don't bother taking it.
Building Your Army
Buying Your Army
The army is expensive as fuck. If you buy a Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine, always make the Cauldron of Blood. You get Hellebrone (a special character), the Death Hag (a Hero), the Bloodwrack Medusa (a monstrous beast) and the Cauldron. Spearmen and Crossbowmen got dearer, so be careful with core units. Also, Witch Elves, Executioners and Dark Riders(what are you Talking about? They cost just as Much as cold one knights, the models look sexy as f*** AND Its a double kit) became WAY overpriced because of the excuse that the one kit can make two different units. They're plastic models that cost as much as they did when made of metal.
Cold One Knights are still fairly reasonably priced, and the Hydra got cheaper while also gaining the option of making the Kharibdyss. Bolt Throwers are as expensive as they ever were, but still a good unit.
To save money with a Dark Elves army, you'll have to get creative.
Buy some basic High Elf models from GW (or Mantic if you're not playing in GW-run games), remove their more High Elven bits and replace them with Dark Elf bits or spikes. Then paint them in Dark Elf colors and in the fluff pass them off as defectors from Ulthuan (or Athel Loren) gone over to Naggaroth (For example; Spearmen become Dreadspears, Glade Riders become Dark Riders).
Corsairs are good for conversions and can be used to make other units.
- For example, take a box of Corsairs (using Aus prices that's $55). Take two away and use them to buff an existing Corsair unit. As for the remaining 8, take 5 Corsairs and with some modeling putty and tools convert 5 of them into Shades. Take the Standard Bearer and give him the same treatment, he becomes a BSB Master. Another Corsair can become either a Master on foot, a Dreadlord on foot or a Fleetmaster. The final Corsair, with the same method, can be converted into an Assassin. Buying GW's Shades, two Masters and an Assassin model would cost $125, but with this idea you save $70! (NOTE: IF you're already into conversions you won't have to worry about buying modeling putty or tools, and get them from crafting stores, not GW). Since Warhammer is more expensive with Aus prices, imagine how much cheaper this method would be for gamers in the US or UK (prices in other parts of the world vary but fall between these price ranges).
Dark Elf Warriors and Crossbowmen are the mainstay of your army. Whenever possible, give your Crossbowmen shields, for that better armor and parry. With Dark Riders as a Core Unit, a fast army is once again an option for Dark Elves.
Black Guard and Warriors make great supporting Ranked units, and Black Guard make good flank protectors being hard to shift. Witch Elves and Executioners are great flanking infantry, to be used against Hordes and armored elites respectively. Cold One Chariots and Cavalry are good too and are generally cheaper, but they don't generate as much static CR.
War Hydras are brutal, under any circumstances but are best charging on the flanks. The Kharibdyss is a good flank charger as well, especially against hordes where it can use its Abyssal Roar to good effect. It also makes a decent monster hunter in a pinch.
Harpies make great a disruption and drawing unit, as well as good war machine hunters, but can panic your Dark Elves now so be careful. Crossbowmen and Bolt Throwers are great for softening up important enemy units.
- Magic Weapons:
Hydra Blade Now adds +D6 attacks. In addition, causes a leadership test with a -2 modifier. If passed nothing happens. If failed, the wielder has -5 to their weapon skill (to a minimum of 1) but gains the Heroic Killing Blow rule until the end of the round. At 100 points, it takes your full magic item allowance, making it an iffy prospect. If you take it, make sure someone in the army has the Lore of Light (for the spell Speed of Light) or Lore of Shadow (for Mindrazor), which would make this a viable option for a offensive lord and the BANE of Ogre Kingdoms armies.
Chillblade Now wounds automatically. Any unsaved wounds cause a toughness which, if failed, cause -3 to the attacks characteristic of the model. Costs the same. Better against high toughness opponents than the pervious version, but worse against low toughness opponents.
The Black Amulet Same as the previous version, except it only rebounds wounds in a challenge and costs 60 points. Use only on a character intended for challenges.
Ring of Hotek Now costs 50 points. Grants Magic Resistance (3), makes any enemy wizard casting spells at the wearer or a unit within 6' miscast on a double 1 as well as a double 6 without making the double 1 Irresistible force. Surprisingly not as cheesy or prone to backfiring as the previous version. Worth taking if you can spare the points.
- Enchanted Items:
Black Dragon Egg Similar to the previous version, except it's 50 points, and the breath weapon is S2 with no armor saves. Still good, but pricy.
Cloak of Twilight 3+ ward save against shooting attacks and spells. Gives the wearer Killing blow and Multiple wounds (D3) in the first round of any close combat. For 50 points, a good item, but make sure it's used to its fullest potential on a combat character (preferably a Dreadlord or an Assassin).
- Arcane Items:
The Gem of Spite Inflicts a S6 hit on every enemy wizard in 12 when the bearer miscasts. Any wounds can be mitigated but your opponent must sacrifice a dispel dice for each wound. A good item for a close-range Sorceress, especially a Supreme Sorceress.
The Sacrificial Dagger Now only grants 1 extra power dice on a 4+,
and only one sacrifice can be made per spell which must be rolled if successful and then procedes into the dispel attempts and spell resolution, but if failed can be attempted again with another sacrifice of the unit in which the sorceress is part of (and as many times as wished until she is the last one standing - she can't sacrifice herself now can she). Same points cost. Not as viable as it used to be Quite a nice boost to help pimpslap the enemy with dark magic (not to mention more chance of the dark magic lore attribute kicking in), just be careful you don't go overboard on sacrifices and hamper the unit's effectiveness. For max use have a sorceress in a large squad - this will provide plenty of corpses and will also help keep her even more safe from harm. The previous version was slightly better as that extra dice kicked in automatically instead of on a 4+, though you could still do multiple sacrifices.
Tome of Furion The Seerstaff left the High Elves and migrated to the Dark Elves. For 25 points, a wizard can choose one of their spells instead of rolling for them if they're using the Lore of Dark Magic. If you're taking a wizard who's using Dark Magic, don't leave Naggaroth without it.
- Magic Standards:
Banner of Nagarythe Makes all models in the unit with it and any Shadow Warriors (including Alith) within 12' unbreakable. Now costs only 100 points, though the previous version was still better.
Dark Elf Sorceress have access to all 8 lores and their specific Lore, Dark Magic. While every lore has its use, some are particularly good. These are;
- Life: Cheesy as it is in a Dark Elf army, this Lore could only be more awesome if it shat rainbows and was on fire. Throne of Vines lets you ignore all miscasts from Life wizards on a 2+ (this includes a miscast from casting ToV itself, so go for broke) and beefs up the rest of your spells, Regrowth brings back dead models, Flesh to Stone will make your T3 Elves less fragile (especially good for Witch Elves), Shield of Thorns is a welcome buff, and The Dwellers Below makes all models in a targeted unit make a Strength test or die with no saves allowed (perfect to get the drop on the Dark Elves wussy cousins). And every time you successfully cast, you heal a wound, which can be on any model within 12". Seriously, take this Lore, and take it for the highest-level wizard you have.
- Metal: A good choice, it really comes into its own against enemies with high armor values (Warriors of Chaos, Bretonnians and so on). Glittering Scales gives one unit a +2 scaly skin armour save buff, making most Dark Infantry (except corsairs who already have scaly skin saves) have a 3+ or 4+ armour save (or 5+ for Witch Elves), while Chariots become 1+. The souped up version gives all friendly units within a 12" bubble the same effect, so if cast by a sorceress in the middle of your army it can be fantastic - High Elf archers cry when confronted by 3+ armour saving Dark Elf infantry hordes. Final Transmutation is great for thinning hordes and dealing with foes that have silly ward saves, and its stupidity rule can stop entire low leadership armies in their tracks. Enchanted Blades of Aiban - which gives +1 to hit rolls, AP and magic weapons - will now be very handy for Executioners, now that they have lost their first round to hit re-rolls. Plague of Rust is as useful against foes with a 5+ or 6+ save as it is against those with lower saves, and Transmutation of Lead is an all round debuffer. The two anti-armour spells - Searing Doom and Golden Hounds of Ghenna - can be used against the one or two high armour saving throw enemies that most armies have, including monsters with scaly skin saves (also meaning Lizardmen aren't safe from this lore).
- Light: Not a priority choice but it gives you some of very nice buffs (Speed of Light) and debuffs (particularly Net of Amyntok). Due to the nearly army-wide Always Strike First, Speed of Light is preferred to Bjona's Timewarp. Yet Bjona's Timewarp can be useful for those few units that don't have ASF (Such as the Kharibdyss; You get an extra attack, but when you get re-rolls to hit, it increases your chances of all attacks hitting, making a Feast of Bones more likely against enemy monsters. Combine with Speed of Light for extra cheese), and don't forget it doubles your base movement, so your charge range just got even better. A very good lore, especially considering the fact that it's statistically the easiest lore to cast and Dark Elves can gain extra power dice.
- Death: A good choice, with buffs and debuffs, though you've got to be pretty close to an enemy for the latter. Doom and Darkness synergizes well with your Fear and Terror causing units, especially the Kharibdyss, while Aspect of the Dreadknight is good for Cold One Knights/Chariots. Purple Sun of Xereus is great due to the Dark Elves high initiatives meaning your elves have only a 1 in 6 chance of dying from this if it goes astray, except your monsters so be careful with them. In addition, the lore attribute synergizes well with the Dark Elves ability to gain extra power dice.
- Shadow: Has a lot of very good debuffs and can make one guy a flier, the latter being great for Sorceresses on foot and assassins. It also comes with a semi-cannon ball initiative test spell sand a blast initiative test spell which can destroy your enemy's tougher units. The best spell in this Lore is Okkam's Mindrazor, which replaces a unit's Strength score with its Leadership when rolling to wound, which means that the unit you cast it on will essentially have at least 8 Strength (except for Harpies and some monsters) in close combat. The best choice for this spell is Black Guard; Black Guard with Okkam's Mindrazor EAT UNITS! They become STRENGTH 9, with ALWAYS STRIKES FIRST, RE-ROLL ALL FAILED ROLLS TO HIT (ETERNAL HATRED/WARRIOR ELITE), WOUNDING MOST THINGS ON TWOS AND RE-ROLLING ONES WITH MURDEROUS PROWESS! Nearly anything in combat with that, from Ironbreakers to Bloodthirsters, will suffer critical existence failure.
Dark Magic remains a popular choice, due to it's technique of blasting the crap out of things. Fire is less popular, but it's low casting values means that it works well on a Level 1-2 Sorceress (don't bother putting it on a Level 4 though). Death is a solid lore, with a lot of damaging spells and ways of slicing heroes of out units. Shadow is a powerhouse lore under a lot of circumstances, but it has very little synergy with the other Lores and unlike Death, Fire or Dark Magic requires you to devote a Level 4 to it to operate at peak efficiency (as most of it's powerful spells would require silly numbers of dice for a Level 2 to cast reliably). But if you've only got 1 Level 4 Wizard, it can work well on it's own. Metal is only useful against a handful of enemies and is not even exceptionally useful against them.
A pair of Sorceresses with Dark Magic and Fire/Death can knock out small enemy units that would normally get in the way of things, allowing you to focus your shooting on more important targets, and a single Supreme Sorceress with Shadow can boost your center quite a lot, which are the two primary setups for a tournament level list. If for whatever reason you want to play a defensive list, Lore of Life will save the day, and Lore of Light will wipe the smiles off the faces of undead or daemon armies.
So your Lore and by no means a bad one. It's the dark cousin of the High Elf pussy Lore, but meaner and more direct in blasting the crap out of anything. It's sometimes difficult to cast but some realy good spells are affordable with a 12 or less, so even a lvl 2 sorceress can get much out of it. But still the Lore is not easy to use, since many spells have a small range or buffing the unit of the sorceress, so it would e best if the sorceress would be near the frontlines, even if that is not genreally advised. But give The Black Amulet to a lvl 4 and take a few challenges with a bit of luck it can be great, and remember if you did right you will only have one round of combat anyway.
Attribute Your attribute makes more damage every time you target an enemy unit and roll doubles or triples, with 2d6/3d6 S1 armor piercing hits. Read carefully the damage of the Lore Attribute is taken after the actual spell, this don't seem important but it is. Imagine Teclis running with a bowelf unit of 15. Imagine further you cast the great version of your second signature Spell on this unit. Now imagine all high elves dead (anyone get a warm feeling by this words?) but of course Teclis is still standing because he can't be hit by your spell, as long as 5 normal Bowelves are standing. But now no Bowelv is there and there is the Lore Attribute kicking in and kicking Teclis right out of game with a bit of Luck. So never forget the Lore attribute.
- Spell 0 - Power of Darkness
Your first Signature Spell and an old friend to any Dark Elf player. It was awesome before and now it remains awesome, but in another way. First the whole unit the Sorc is in gets +1 strength. For Elves this is a very very good thing. And like last edition you get extra power dice (d3, but you take a wound on 3). As such, always equip your sorceress with a ward save. For a single lvl 2 it's probably not worth it, but if you have 2 Sorceresses with this spell you will be dominating the magic phase no matter the winds.
- Spell 0.2 - DOOMBOLT
DOOMFUCKINGBOLT is your second Signature Spell is the big brother of the High Elf Soul Quench (with 2 exceptions). With S5 and a higher casting value, this spell can wreck whole units by itself. It's a giant dark lightning bolt of FUCKING DOOM, always take it when you can.
- Spell 1 - Chillwind
Your old signature Spell nerfed pretty bad, making 2d6 S2 hits with -1BS when you kill something. Still against enemies with high toughness, in combo with the Lore Attribute, probably still worth it. Fortunately an easy spell to cast, good against low toughness units and will help you against shooting armies (especially Wood Elves, who don't like winter).
- Spell 2 - Word of Pain
Now this Spell's gone from good to great. At first it doesn't look so, but look at the greater version of it (never ever cast the lesser one) it lowers the WS,BS,I AND S of an unit per D3. So in this single spell you get the Miasma and the Enfeeble in one spell (and perhaps a bit of damage) for a laughable 12. Always take this.
- Spell 3 - Bladewind
Going from anti Warmachine to anti Horde, probably against Skaven and Goblins a good spell, against the rest its more unlikely that it will do much damage. If you can cast Spell 2 on the target unit first, then this spell goes from good to incredible. Watch your opponent cry as his WS4 T3 infantry gets dropped to WS1 and then slapped in the face with Spell 3.
- Spell 4 - Shroud of Despair
The new spell in this edition and boy it's a good one. A Hexspell targetting every enemy in 12 inches making them unable to use Inspiring Presence or Hold Your Ground!, and even lowering their leadership if one of the units miss a morale check. Great combos are possible with the warcry of Khaine, the Kharibdyss and even the Bloodwrack Shrine. Unless youre playing against undead or daemons this spell is always worth considering, as it can break a few units at once.
- Spell 5 - Soul Stealer
Getting weaker but therefore getting a higher range this spell is still good against anything with high armor, espacially if you remember that your soreceress will be on the frontline and can make a use of a few wounds she gets with this spell. On a lvl 4 this is always a good idea, it combines well with Power of Darkness, getting extra dice and restoring wounds.
- Spell 6 - Arnizpal's Black Horror
Your magic Black hole, identicall to the purple Sun, but with strength tests instead of Initiative. So its best used against hordes of weak opponents but also good in combination with your second spell. Be wary of the 1 in 6 chance of rolling a misfire, because this drops the template on top of your sorceress's head, after which it scatters randomly. Given that Strength tests are the worst nightmare for most Dark Elf units, it can be worth making sure your sorceress is casting from a little way away from the rest of your army if you are going to give this spell a go. Good fun and a nightmare for hordes and low strength armies.
The most important rule, never, ever, EVER forget your ASF re-rolls of missed to-hit rolls, the ones from Eternal Hatred or High Elf Hatred and Murderous Prowess re-rolls of 1s on your to-wound rolls. NEVER. These re-rolls are your biggest lifesaver.
Say it with me: Rank. And. Flank. Draw your enemies onto your big ranked units (usually Warriors and Black Guard, though Corsairs and Executioners can work in a pinch), hold out for a turn and then charge them on the flanks with the big scary units. Dark Elves do this better than any other army in the game. Their Ranked units have high enough WS, I and LD to hold out for a little while and their flanking units hit brutally hard. They also have units that are exceptionally good at drawing enemy units out of position and just generally causing problems. (Harpies do this job exceptionally well, but Shades and Dark Riders do okay).
Now with army wide Always Strikes First. Playing aggressively is an option, but it can hard to back up under a lot of circumstances, and should only be attempted if you're battling a highly defensive list (Dwarves for example). But you will eventually, so you need to know how to play aggressively. Put frankly, it's why you take Hydras/Cold One Knights/Chariots/Witch Elves, aside from their uses as flanking units. You're going to need to charge early and often with your fast units, concentrating them on one flank to try and force it to collapse so you can sweep across the center. This strategy has a lot issues (mostly that you're going to have trouble combining charges, and unsupported head on attacks with your COKs and Chariots are risky) so if you're playing an army that's even slightly aggressive you should focus on rank and flank, or a variation. But there will be times when your opponent won't want to charge, so you'd better handle it.
Your shooting units, combined with your magic users can often cause significant damage to enemy units, but it's best to have them concentrate fire on a single unit to try and devastate it, instead of trying to spread it around.
You can have all-cavalry armies with mounted characters, Dark Riders, Cold One Knights, Chariots and Doomfire Warlocks, and Harpies for chaff.
Magic spam is possible with Supreme Sorceresses, Sorceresses and Doomfire Warlocks. In larger games you can bring Malekith as well.
Dark Elves have many ways they can really mess with the heads of a non-undead or non-daemonic army, with numerous fear and terror causing units, a spell that cancels the enemy General's Ld and the Kharibdyss' abyssal howl.
They also have better offensive combat potential than High Elves.