Warhammer 40,000/5th Edition Tactics/Dark Eldar
Why Play Dark Eldar
Do you want to be a unique snowflake? Do you like drugs, excessive body modification, pillaging and raping? Do you like instilling fear into your opponent with lightning fast speed and devastating weaponry at the expense of armor? (Glass cannon) Then DE are for you. This is 40k on hardcore mode. If things don't go Just as planned you'll be going down like a ten dollar hooker. This is not a forgiving army and not for the faint of heart; it is riddled with drawbacks and is damned tough to play. If things go your way, however, your opponents will be torn to shreds in record time.
Welcome to the world's most elite club.
Penis jokes aside, the Dark Eldar are indeed one of the (if not the) least-played armies in games and table-top - and it's not hard to see why. Up until the recent edition upgrade, they were even more unforgiving of mistakes in gameplay than the Eldar were, had exceedingly fragile armor for the bulk of their forces, and focused almost entirely on a mix of blinding speed and raw, balls-out firepower. They packed dozens of ways to fuck up an enemy's morale and plenty of weaponry that sprayed massive barrages of undiluted rape in the general direction of their opponents, but this really wasn't enough to make them all that viable until more recently.
After 12 years (or 7, if you choose to count the revised edition), Games Workshop finally gave the Dark Eldar an update. And what an update it was.
The new codex, simply put, was a godsend, giving their forces much-needed staying power and considerably higher flexibility. Whilst most of the Dark Eldar remains pretty fragile, they can field significantly tougher army lists with much more durable troops, too - almost every unit, barring a few of their Special Characters, can find at least some use in a competitive Dark Eldar army, in no small part because of their ability to load anti-tank weapons in anti-infantry transports - and vice versa, backing this with versatile fast-attack and heavy support choices that can attack damned near anything to some degree. This compartmentalized army design means that the new Dark Eldar lessens how severe losses used to be for this army, and generally makes it more consistent (previously it was an army that either steamrolled you or got curb-stomped).
Creating a solid Dark Eldar army is a balancing act, and involves setting things up so that you have redundant units and failsafes. The general gist is that this ensures that if you lose a squad, you're still in the fight. Paired with the Dark Eldar's heavy firepower, this makes them a daunting thing to face.
One last thing of note is the sheer quality of their models - Dark Eldar models of both Infantry and Vehicle flavors are amongst the best that Games Workshop makes, period, and they have some truly stunning and impressive designs. When contrasted to the ramshackle look of the Orks' vehicles, the boxy look of the Imperium's vehicles, or the simple elegance of the Eldar or Tau's vehicles, the Dark Eldar vehicles have sleek, predatory looks and their models have this cruel look that all-but-oozes with malevolence. Their army also offers a wealth of customization options, and just-as-many conversion opportunities. In a great many ways, this is the army for those who want to boast both a tough army to use and one that looks just as good.
Note: Taking a Haemonculus opens up Wracks as a troop choice (which is good). Taking Baron Jerkface makes Hellions a troop choices (which is decent). Wyches are now an automatic troop choices (but are still meh at it).
- Archon - The core commander of most players' Dark Eldar armies. Solid overall, with tons of Wargear options. Shadow Field is borderline-mandatory and goes in practically every Dark Eldar army list - almost everything else is up to you to pick, though power weapons, as always, are good ideas. An Agonizer is also a good choice (and if you end up in a situation where it's not worth it, IE against Grots, you've used the unit entirely wrong). If you really want to you can add a retinue from the choices below - but you're often better off keeping him as an IC - bear this in mind. IMPORTANT: If you intend to give your Archon a retinue, he needs at least one of each type (for a total of 75 points). This is not inexpensive. It adds a lot to his survivability, however.
- Medusae - Assault flamers. Have randomized AP and strength but are fuckcheap as template weapons go for the Dark Eldar (and the one time you get S7 AP2 Flamers will be worth it).
- Lhamaeans - Even cheaper unit that has 2 attacks and wounds on a 2+. Her poison buff to Archon means he isn't using a power weapon, so ignore it.
- Ur-Ghuls - Decent on the charge but pretty fail in every other regard. Take them only if you need warm bodies and lots of regular attacks in your retinue. Modeling Note: Vampire Count Crypt Ghouls make EXCELLENT Ur-Ghuls, so if you have some extra bases lying around, you should probably go for those instead, especially if you play VC or know someone you can sell the extra 5 to. Even if you just end up throwing the extras away, the whole box still costs less than 2 Ur-Ghul models.
- Sslyth - Meatshields. Similar to Ur-Ghuls except they can carry shardcarbines, the only thing that makes them even remotely worth their exorbitant price tag.
- Haemonculi - Cheap 50 point HQs that can be customized specifically for the troops you want them to lead. Not as cheap as their 4E equivalents, but they now serve the invaluable role of starting a unit with a pain token (and by extension feel no pain. You can also take 3 of these per HQ choice. So take 3 of the motherfuckers and put them in Warrior or Wych squads, increasing their survival rate by umphteen billion. Surprisingly tough and with access to some pretty heavy-duty wargear, they are especially valuable because they enable you to use Wracks as a troops choice.
- Haemonculi Ancient - +1 WS, BS, Wound, Initiative, Attack, and Leadership for an additional 30 points. Worth it if you have the points to blow, since this succeeds in making him considerably nastier than the Haemonculus already was. Points-hungry, but overall decent, especially if you stick him in a close combat based unit. Like the standard version, its biggest advantage isn't even its wargear (though that is impressive), but the fact that it lets you field Wracks as a troops choice.
- Succubus - At a glance, the Succubus is kind of weird; she has poor armor, though with a damned fine statline befitting a Wych - but she has rather poor limited options, with the best ones being Agonizers and Electrocorrosive Whips (both of which are decent; agonizer preferable). Her biggest advantage, by far, is the ridiculously small amount of points she costs to get out; even fully-kitted out she's unlikely to break 100 points. Worth taking if you plan to use Wych cults, especially as Lelith costs roughly 3 times as much if you take a Succubus as-is. Also, unlike Lelith, she has combat drugs - on a lucky roll of a 6, she and her unit of wyches begin the game with two pain-tokens, becoming an absolute murder factory right off the bat.
The following are special characters:
- Baron Sathonyx - The dark space elves' skateboard punk capo. Yea his statline is garbage, he doesn't have a power weapon, and doesn't get drugs. But on the other hand he's fuckcheap, gets a nice strength bonus on the charge, and gives out deployment and stealth bonuses like candy (Stealth applies to any unit he's attached to, not just Hellions, so try him out on a four splinter cannon Scourge unit and troll the fuck out of infantry from behind 3+ cover). Stick him with his boys and win the claw game every fucking turn. With Stunclaws. As an aside, he makes hellions troop choices. This is good for exactly one squad: The Baron's. For anyone else, it's mediocre.
- Lelith Hesperax - High Weapons Skill and an amazing special rule make her a giant fire magnet, which is mostly offset by her 4++ save (3++ in close combat!). She makes your opponent sweat, since any squad she reaches close combat with is comprehensively screwed - unless she starts hammering away on something she'll have difficulty actually hurting (such as Plague Marines). On the plus side, her special rule even makes her a great "fuck you" against tarpits, meaning your Wyches will spend less time mulching conscripts and more time focusing on actual threats. Her lack of combat drugs is also irritating due to how useful those buffs would be on her...though it's all worth it when you split her off from her unit and send her into a Fire Warrior blob. The mental images are priceless.
- Kheradruakh - He's a T3 HQ killer that can't assault on the same turn he
deepstrikesGOES MARBO, guess how this is going to end? If you've actually got the ceramite balls to use this guy deploy him directly into cover and watch as your opponent dedicates truly retarded amounts of firepower to his removal. Or they hit him with a Dreadnought. He pretty much has to join a pre-existing combat too, since he doesn't get grenades... And the real dealbreaker is the easy-to-overlook lack of Independent Character, meaning he can't join a unit of mandrakes and make them playable.
- Duke Sliscus - The ultimate utility HQ. Seriously. He gives your dedicated transports deep strike capability, allows your Wyches to roll twice for drugs and take your choice (never get a 1 again!), makes a Warrior squad's rifles wound on 3+ (fun for objective sitters), has a Blast Pistol and a 2++ save, and has 2+ poisoned CC attacks and combat drugs. Oh, and rolls to wound of 5+ are power. Always bet on Duke.
- Drazhar - An expensive beatstick. If an Incubi Squad can get him and even a single pain token they will become all but unstoppable. Actually, he's better without the squad, or at least splitting from the squad prior to assault. The reason for that is his Darting Strike. It looks innocent enough, but the ability to wave-dash across the map is comedic. Play DBZ music as he jumps around, ganking models while avoiding anything which could realistically hurt him.
- Lady Malys - Another low cost special character with a vanilla Archon statline. She works best in a gunline DE army, because realistically, since going first means your opponent deploys second, being able to shift lance squads around so they aren't out of range on the first few turns is golden. Making squads pysker immune is situational.
- Urien Rakarth - A super-Haemonculi. He starts the game with a pain token, and lets you bring wracks as a troop choice like a normal Haemonculi, and he regenerates one wound a turn. Only take in a Haemonculi themed army.
- Asdurbael Vect - Great in close combat, preferred enemy against fucking everything, rerolls wounds against both races of Eldar, and he seizes the initiative on a 4+, which is amazing...Seriously, there are reports of this guy fucking over entire armies on his own, this guy is one of those few who can go toe to toe with the Swarmlord, Imotekh, or Abaddon in melee combat and hope to win. I mean I once charged this guy into a full squad of khorne berserkers and he slaughtered them all without much trouble. But sweet fucking Christ he's expensive at 240 points, and everyone who's heard of him knows how deadly he is, so he will attract fire as if he had the world's biggest bullet magnet on his head with a bullseye painted on his chest for good measure. Put him on the Dais of Destruction with a bunch of trueborns and bring him if you think you can somehow bring Dark Eldar to an Apocalypse game and win.
- Wracks - The article for these guys should really be written under "Troops" as that is almost always where you'll see them anyway. Cheap, extremely effective, and outright deadly if used right, they're almost as tough to kill as the standard Space Marine - and are a lot better at ganking them in assault; the moment they grab their second token... Stuff is going to die in a horrible fashion. There are several ways to use them; either a minimal squad as a "scoring upgrade" for a Raider, as well as a token for an IC to gank, a 5-+Liquifier escort for a Haemonculus, or a 10-strong unit in Raider, going full-turkey. As a rule, the Acothyst is too expensive for his cost, especially since with dual poison blades, the assorted melee options are that much less attractive.
- Grotesques - 'Ogryn Syndrome' at its worst. They're slow, lack power weapons, clog up transports, and have chance to go full retard if you don't leave a Haemonculus to babysit them. In an Urien Rakarth led webway portal army they could hypothetically be of some use, but practically anything else would be a better use of your elite slots.
- An Alternate Take: You only need 3 of these guys and a Haemonculus anyway. The unit wound-allocates like crazy and has a lot of high-strength attacks and the ability to double-tap a unit with Liquifiers, giving a secondary means to punch out tanks that suffer stuns/immobilized results against the lances in your army. The fact they can only take a Raider is not too much of a concern either, since they do opposing roles. Against the right armies (Chimera-spam Guard come to mind), while having them explode is a situational bonus, hilariously useful when it goes off according to plan.
- Incubi - The best assault troops in the army, with the best saves, and power weapons that give them +1 strength. Unlike the old codex, they still have fleet despite their good armour saves, and they lack the shooting capacity of the Tormentor Helm - but they cost 3 less points, and you can get them locked in combat on turn 2. They are basically MEQs (actually, Terminator-equivalents after a short bit) and act like Eldar aspect warriors (Striking Scorpions with a bit of Howling Banshees thrown in, which is weird because Banshees will butcher Incubi), but the Klaivex (the Exarch analogue) really isn't worth it unless you are using the unit for assassination duty ("That Runepriest is going down!"). Onslaught can also be worth it for dealing with larger units, and the Demiklaive and Bloodstone can allow for some amusing combinations, but only if you have points to burn. Along with Trueborns, the best Elite choices for Dark Eldar. Take them.
- Mandrakes - An assault unit that does better shooting than in actual CC. Yeah. Unfortunately, their models are fucking awesome, leading to the long running joke: "So what do your Mandrakes count as?"
- Harlequins - Why would you do that? Incubi are the same slot, same cost, have power from pain, and can actually take transports. (Note: The real answer is if you need a unit to act as an escort to a Webway Portal character if you don't want to take a venom for some reason; it's a very specific case but still).
- Kabalite Trueborn - At first glance their +1 attacks and leadership appear deceptively lackluster. The Trueborn's real strength is their access to some of the DE's shiniest bits. Take a small squad loaded for bear, stick them in a Venom, and let the hunt begin. Time has proven these guys to be the best of the elite choices, with only the Incubi and the Wracks (which are troops, anyway) as viable competitors. They really force you to ask yourself, "why am I taking ___ instead of trueborns (or incubi)?"
- Hekatrix Bloodbrides - Just what you were afraid Trueborn were. Ever so slightly beefed up Wyches with a slightly higher concentration of heavy weapons. Nothing that a Wych couldn't do cheaper or an Inucbi couldn't do better.
- Kabalite Warriors - You know them, you love them. They're your cheap scoring, your anti-tank, and your source of Raiders and Venoms. Taking a Splinter Cannon and adding in the Duke can be fun too if you're facing Tyranids. The big question is whether to take them in 5-man Venom or 10-man Raider squads - the 5 man squad puts out 17 poison shots (and 22 in rapid fire range) and costs between 100-125 points on average, while the 10 man puts out 10 or 20 poison shots at 155-200 points, but has access to a splinter cannon and to-hit re-rolls from the splinter rack upgrades. Any size squad can take blasters, but the presence of the Raider's Dark Lance helps the 10 man squad edge out on an emergency tank-hunting roll, but if they're forced into that wasteful situation, you've fucked up badly anyway. Take 3-4 venom squads in an Alpha strike list so you can put out 36-48 poison shots on the first turn backed by up to 4 blasters, and keep them hidden behind Ravagers or stationary cover for much of the game, because when a venom falls the squad inside is useless, and you're giving the opponent 6-8 easy kill points. If you want somewhat (we're talking relative to the DE here) more durability and objective-camping ability in exchange for less initial fire power, take a pair of kitted-out raider squads.
- Wych Squad - Good for tying up hard hitting combat units while a hekatrix murders them. Be sure to use these strategically and send the wracks to do your grunt work as their weapons are pricey and they're quite fragile outside of CC, so take them in units of about 7 or 8 to assure they wont butcher a unit in assault then gunned down the next turn. Hydra gauntlets are a standard choice for spamming attacks, shardnets are less useful in general combat but really shine in neutering elite enemy troops.
- One interesting and overlooked attribute of the Wyches are their ability to take haywire grenades, brilliant against tricky shit like Blessed Hull Land-Raiders. These are immune to the melta rule (rendering heat lances useless), and immune to lances (meaning that only the Void Lance can achieve a penetrating hit, and only then on a 6). Haywire grenades though, can absolutely spam glancing hits and score a penetrating hit on a 6. As nobody takes Bloodbrides, and it's rarely a good idea to take Trueborns in squads large enough to reliably roll a 6, Wyches are awesome against that shit.
- Hellions - The street gangs of the Dark Eldar. They pretty much require hopping from cover to use, for they're fragile as all-get. If they do get into melee, they hit about as hard (arguably harder) than the average Blood Angel assault marine. They also die rather quickly if you don't give them cover and/or Feel No Pain. The Baron turns one of his units into a proper cover-generator for any further units you wish to take (remember only 50% of models have to be in cover to get the cover bonus. You can afford to string your guys out a bit). As Fast Attack, they're passable though fairly underwhelming.
- An Alternate Take: Whilst Hellions seem statted as a light/crap melee unit, what they can do quite well is fly around double tapping small units like Devastators or small Firewarrior teams with Twin-Linked Splinter Pods and then assault the crap out of the unit as if they were faster moving Wyches with better pistols. Using big swarms of Hellions is a terrible idea but 8-10 of them will provide a nice harassing unit that achieves its goal if 2 or more enemy heavy weapon units fire on it instead of your Venoms or Raiders that turn.
- Scourges - Formerly one of the most inefficient Heavy Support choices in all of 40k, Scourges have gotten pumped up considerably and moved to fast attack where they can see some actual use. They're quite versatile; they can easily shred lighter units with their default weapons, and can be deployed in smaller squads with Dark Lances or Splinter Cannons for troubleshooting vehicle, infantry, or independent character targets. As tempting as it may be to take dark lances, they should be ignored. The dark lance will rob you of your mobility and force you to either move or shoot. Fast attack choices that don't move are worthless. Point being, take the heatlances or blasters for tankbusting (and their mobility and good accuracy does support this), but the short range of these weapons mean that you will be quite vulnerable - and at the points-cost Scourges are, that's not a risk you really want to take. On the plus side, they've got excellent armor for Dark Eldar, with a 4+ armor save and 6+ Invulnerable save due to their Ghostplate armor. With their mobility, they can be complete pains in the ass - just bear in mind that they are expensive at 22 points a piece.
- Beastmasters - Cool and deadly. As beasts, they move 24" a turn, but unlike the rest of the Fast Attack choices, they take Difficult Terrain tests. They wound allocate like crazy, can bring a lot of rending attacks, but most importantly are one of the few Invulnerable saves you get. Need mobile cover? This is your unit. Need to discourage people from exiting their metal boxes? This is your unit (among many others of course). Do you want to go to town converting monsters? This is your unit again.
- Clawed Fiends are OK, decent at dishing out strength 5 attacks and absorbing wounds (but only take one at most, it's an expensive beatstick), Khymerae are decent filler and not bad on the charge, but the MVP of beasts are the Razorwing flock - 5 rending attacks and 5 wounds are amazing when taken in large numbers.
- Reaver Jetbikes - ZOOOOM, motherfucker! Their most obvious application is Bladevaning infantry units, which is a risky tactics that can be greatly rewarding in the hands of a skilled player - reavers with cluster caltrops are extremely fragile for their price, but can hit harder in a single phase - the movement phase, mind you - than most units can do in an entire day. Out of the anti-tank options, the Heat Lances are cheaper and, being a melta weapon, have the potential of doing lots more damage to vehicles, but having to get your bikes within 9" to do so makes them much more vulnerable to an enemy counterattack if not done correctly. The boring-old Blasters are safer, the extra effective range letting you pop in and out of cover to fire more easily. Squads of 6 or 9 with 2 or 3 Lances/Blasters are ideal, with 3 Reavers being both unreliable and extremely fragile. The Arena Champion is optional but nice, the extra leadership being useful for standing versus tankshocks, and for the extra Venom Blade, though you should find a way to get a pain token before you consider assault with them. Remember they get 3 attacks on the charge per model, 4 for the champ, because they remembered to bring their knives...add in Eldar Jetbike movement, and Skilled Riders (so they don't die in cover), and you've got a rather useful toolbox unit.
- Both transports are open-topped, and meant to take on one type of target. Raiders provide an anti-tank shot, Venoms provide a *lot* of anti-infantry shots. Venoms get their Flickerfield for free, while Raiders to buy them so in the end, they cost about the same. The rule of thumb is to take transports not based on squad size, but based on what your passengers are doing. For example, a mech army can ignore Wracks in a Venom, but not if they're in a Raider. They can't ignore Blaster trueborn in a venom, for similar reasons. Aside from that, there are some additional notes.
- In terms of vehicle upgrades, Flickerfields are generally regarded as the best, as they give an added hope of survivability to raiders. Nightshields are controversial, but many disparage them as useless and expensive because many anti-tank weapons in other armies are 46", and DE vehicles can get glanced to death by bolters. If any vehicles in your army need Nightshields, they are the Ravagers, Razorwing Jetfighter, and the Voidraven Bomber. Aethersails are also controversial due to unreliability and restrictions, and only advised on Wych Squads; Splinter Racks are great, but only for vanilla Warrior squads in Raiders. Shock-prows are fun as they turn your army into a supersonic demolition derby game, but require great skill and care to use are only recommended for certain playstyles -awesome ones. Retrofire jets are OK on Trueborn squads in venoms, but if you want to deepstrike, man up and take Duke Sliscus and put It's Rainin' Men on your iPod. The other upgrades are either too limited or too situational.
- Raider - You'll want these for assault troops for one simple reason. Raiders are *long* models. What this means is if you deploy them parallel to your table edge, you can rotate them at the start of your turn for an extra 2" inches of "free" movement. That, and most DE assault units are primarily anti-infantry. Of the upgrades they get that Venoms don't, Shock Prows are the most general-purpose, as tank shock has a lot of utility.
- Venom - In addition to their normal AT bits, that they're smaller makes them better for Sliscus lists. Less chance of mishap and whatnot. Always pay the points to jack up your Splinter Rifle to a Splinter Cannon. They're Defensive Weapons either way and it must be said, the look on an Ork players face when your Transport pumps 12 Poisoned Shots into his unit is priceless.
- Dais of Destruction - In case you want an HQ that takes up half to a quarter of your points (and who doesn't!) Vect can take this as a dedicated transport. Round armor 13 and three lances is potent, but will probably be a waste in all but the largest games. If you really want to give Vect an insane clown posse, one should note that this is the only dedicated transport that you can load up with Harlequins, and the Vail of Tears is pretty nice to have with Vect. Fuckin' fire magnets, how do they work?
- Ravager - The old reliable Ravager can now move at cruising speed and fire all it's weapons - but with a 36" range, you don't need to move that deep in the field. If you're taking a Raider/Venom/Fast Attack heavy army, these are the preferable Heavy Support option, unless you're in a game with high enough points that a Voidraven becomes an option. Disintegrator cannons got nerfed hard because they killed the shit out of Space Marines, and we can't have that. Splinter cannons are better for infantry murder, anyway.
- Talos Pain Engine - The classic Dark Eldar Monstrous Creature. Upgraded from its previous edition with a nice slew of customizable options, the Engine can be kitted out for infantry-hunting, tank-slaying, or any variant thereof. However, it's slow...in a Dark Eldar army. It's *tough* as far as Dark Eldar units go, but unlike most of the other Heavy Supports, does not pack lances. If you do take these guys, bring enough Jetbikes or similarly-sized models to keep them able to claim cover, as they don't like being hit by anti-tank weapons. Since you are taking a hit anti-tankwise when bringing these models, and are not fast enough to really benefit from the Heat Lance, the Haywire Blaster is a fair prospect for this torture-device. Half of Dark Eldar shooting is keeping enemy vehicles from firing as you move into position anyway.
- Chronos Parasite Engine - A mini-Talos that distributes pain tokens to nearby units. Good, but all your other units may be out of range by the time this monstrous creature starts feeding on souls. Like its big brother, the Talos, one of the best ways to get it into place quickly is in a Haemonculi Army with a webway portal carrier.
- Razorwing Jetfighter - Two Dark Lances and an available Splinter Cannon make the jet a very strong option for both tank and infantry hunting, and the four free Large Blast missiles are excellent against infantry squads; the Necrotoxin missiles are recommended, as is the disintegrator upgrade, because this vehicle works best as an infantry killer. It has the built in ability to deepstrike, so keep it in reserve against mech-happy lists until your Ravagers and Blaster Trueborn crack the vehicles. The disembarking and explosion rules mean they are clustered nice and easy for a pair of missiles to nuke them. Deploy it quickly against footsloggers and horde armies - four necrotoxin missiles, a splinter cannon, and 6 disintegrator shots supporting swarms of trueborn and warrior venoms can cripple an Ork or Tyranid army in one turn and table them in two. For the cost, it's a rather flexible model.
- Voidraven Bomber - AV 11 on front and sides. Two strength 9 weapons. A Blast Strength 9 weapon. This thing's going to draw a lot of fire very fast, and for good reason. For added fun, toss on Implosion Missiles and watch Terminators weep. Note that there's no logical reason for you to take Monoscythe Missiles with it, because Necrotoxin Missiles cost the exact same and are so much better it's actually crazy.
- Reaper ([Forgeworld]) - Forgeworld made a model for the Dark Eldar. And now the Horsemen are riding. At 135 points with a built in aethersail, this heavy support option is halfway between a Ravager and a Raider - no transport capacity, but a single heavy weapon that functions like a cross between a 3rd edition Disintegrator canon (2 firing strength options) and a haywire blaster. It also has a rule that functions somewhat similar to rending. It is an interesting variant, but probably not worth the price (both points and pounds) compaired to the more-likely-to-hit Ravager option.
- Tantalus - our second horseman of the Forgepocalypse, and apparently the last Dark Eldar model that FW will be putting out for the foreseeable future due to sculpting difficulties (Dark Eldar vehicles made from the standard Citadel plastic are fragile, so one made of Forgeworld resin must be about as sturdy as a rice cake), the Tantalus is a gigantic dual-hulled raider. With Av 12 12 10 and a flickerfield, it is a little bit more survivable, but only a little bit, probably not enough to make up for a 200+ point investment. It is able to put out a respectable 12 disintegrator shots, has aerial assault, and has the reaver-like ability to do D6 S7 AP2 hits to a single unit with a toughness value or a single S7 hit to a vehicle it goes flat out over. It also has a very awkward Transport capacity of 16, ruling out what could have been a strong 20 Warriors with 2 Splinter Cannons/Dark Lances unit. 15 Warriors and the Duke still sounds tempting, but 14-15 Wyches with Lelith/a Succubus/an Archon, and/or a Haemonculus may be preferable. Want to put all your eggs in one expensive, open-topped basket? Go ahead. Or fuck all reason and have fun with a Haemonculus and 7 Grotesques.
- Raven - An old as balls FW model. Used to be a dedicated flyer (and can still serve as one in apocalypse), but is now a fast, supersonic, aerial assaulting skimmer with deep strike, and it can reroll the scatter if it's within 12" of another skimmer (or flyer in apocalypse games. Mounts a twin-linked dark lance and a heavy 10 splinter cannon. A cheap craft for 125, though fragile with only AV10 all around.
Building your Army
- If you’re not giving your Archon his own retinue, put him in a squad of Incubi (do this anyway).
- Cover is your best friend. Leave cover, get chopped into haggis.
- Fleet is useful, but it’s better to have either a Webway portal or Raiders for moving your troops around.
Oh, sorry, actual tactics. Take as many Warriors as you can, stuff them in as many Raiders as you can, have an Archon and some Incubi or Trueborn in a Venom (or two), and add Haemonculi to taste. Normally you don't need to worry about objectives (you're playing Dark Eldar, you're here to kill), but if you feel it's absolutely necessary, then take some Wracks in a Raider with a Haemonculi leader, and you'll have a decently hard-to-kill and hard-hitting unit to sit on an objective and distract the opponent from the rest of your army.
Zoom around the table, shooting the tanks with dark lances and the troops with splinter weapons. Destroy everything. Bathe in pain tokens. Rinse. Repeat.
This list virtually guarantees that somebody will be reduced to tears by the end of the match. You start out with two to three (never one, life will be sad) Haemunculi with small wrack bodyguards, stick them in Venoms, and send them out to deploy their portals as close to the enemy line as possible. Once the portals are up you are free to vivisect the opponent's line with a stream of Wyches, Talos, Chronos Engines, or any number of other units that shouldn't have any place in a Dark Eldar army. For added fun take Sliscus and have your WWP carrying Venoms deploy directly into position.
Haemonculi, retarded amounts of Wracks, portals, Beastmasters for wound allocation shenanigans, Scourges. Its dead hard with all the FNP, immune to anti-tank with WWPs, and actually more effective than you'd think.
Venoms: Fucking The Win
Simple list design, a single Haemonculus for HQ requirements, then get 3 units of 4 Trueborn with Blasters mounted in Venoms with Double Splinter Cannons, 6 units of 5 Warriors with a Blaster mounted in Venoms with Double Splinter Cannons, 3 Ravagers with default Triple Dark Lance setup and Flickerfields. After that you should probably get any of the following: the Baron for the deployment advantage, Beastpacks for a "fuck you" Assault unit that can nearly keep pace with the boats, 10 Scourges with 4 Splinter Cannons because nothing says asshole like unit that will hose IG power blobs and MCs in a single turn, 10 Scourges with 4 Haywire Blasters to stunlock shit into next year, or Reavers if you're playing in a tournament where comp is taken seriously (applies only to Aussies and Kiwis because of whining players and TOs being too pussy ass to let half-good armies hit the table without being penalized to the point of being unable to possibly take a top 20 spot).
This list includes anything that puts your opponent's smile upside down as he sees his tanks being blown up by a lone squad of reaver jet bikes. Take an archon with a full court, a kabalite squad with a dark lance, a wych squad with a venom as a transport vehicle, a squad of six reaver jet bikes with two heat lances, a squad of hellions with a stun claw for extra trolling because it pulls independent characters away from any squad it was with, and a squad of scourges. Because they're dark eldar and because it fucks with any and all armies that attempt to draw line of sight or even assault, abuse the living FUCK out of the rule known as Fleet. Turbo boost your jet bikes to get within range of assaulting or to run away after successfully blowing up a tank. Hellions should just keep fucking with squads of infantry and keep attack any lone HQ choices just to hear your enemy scream Motherfucker as you constantly drag his precious baby across the terrain. Scourges are there to take out any remaining tanks that the reavers missed the first time around. Kabalite squads should do the following: run, shoot, laugh, run, shoot, laugh. Wyches should follow the kabalite squad, assaulting anything that comes within 6' of them and with haywire grenades for only two points per model should make tanks run in fear. The song known as trololo is required when using this list. And remember the power from pain rule, because who doesn't want fearless and feel no pain rule on Wyches?
Do it at your peril.