Warhammer Army Project/Dark Elves
- 1 Dark Elves: Warhammer Army Project, 9th Edition Tactica
- 2 Why Play Dark Elves
- 3 Notable Changes from 8e
- 4 Army Rules
- 5 Lore of Dark Magic
- 6 Equipment
- 7 Unit Analysis
- 8 Building Your Army
- 9 Tactics
- 10 External Links
Dark Elves: Warhammer Army Project, 9th Edition Tactica
Created by Mathias Eliasson, this project was a homebrew attempt at giving many of the nations and factions that never got Armybooks of their own (and those left behind and never got one in 8th Edition) such a thing.
It should also be noted that Eliasson is constantly updating his work, so don't expect this page to stay current forever. If anyone wishes to actually update this page and the items that need it later on, go ahead.
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 toughness 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 lots of retold, and lightning quick attacks. 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.
Notable Changes from 8e
- Hekarti's Blessing provides +1 to cast any lore of magic. With +1 being much harder to get in 9th edition, this is a huge buff.
- With changes to magic, a level 1 sorceress of Dark Magic always have both signatures spells, plus whatever spell they choose.
- Your Druchii Warriors have a slightly better armour save.
- Cheaper combat characters.
- Got the invitation to the Warrior Priest party in the form of the Disciple of Khaine.
- Stronger/cheaper magic item choices.
- Sea Dragon Cloak has no impact on close combat or magic, making it significantly worse.
- Cost increases for almost all of your troops.
- Loss of near-universal ASF.
- Hydra is 40pts more expensive, less durable and moved to rare.
- Black Guard moved to Rare without Malekith to revert them to Special.
- Executioners price increased by two and lost a point in leadership.
- Witch Elves moved to special. (One pack becomes Core for each hag)
- Khainite units can only join other Khainite units, which can throw a wrench in unit synergy.
Elven Grace: With universal ASF being no more, but your high Initiative scores now manifest as a 6++ Dodge Save when your Initiative is greater than or equal to that of your opponent. That's right, you get your dodge against other elves as well!
Eternal Hatred: Unit always gets the Hatred hit re-roll every turn. While not available to all models, Malekith, Malus, and the Black Guard can still savor this old cheese.
Hatred (High Elves): What most of your men get now.
Hekarti's Blessing: +1 when casting all magic, no longer just Dark Magic.
Khainites: only Khainite units can only be joined by Khainite characters, and Khainite characters (except Hidden assassins) can only join Khainite units.
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 (except Warbeasts) has this.
Lore of Dark Magic
- Lore Attribute: Spiteful Conjuration: Any Hex, Direct Damage, or Magic Missile that isn't dispelled and cast on a double scores 2d6 S3 hits on the target, with triples adding another d6. This all happens after the spell's cast so you can definitely throw it as a surprise against an unlucky wizard.
- Signature: Power of Darkness: (8+) augment Gives a unit within 12" +1 strength and gives the caster +d3 power dice but rolling a natural 6 deals a save-negating wound to the caster.
- Signature: Doombolt of Kharaidon: (6/12) magic missile Nerfed hard to only dealing d6 S5 hits (2d6 on augment), but much easier to cast, thus putting it on tier with Soul Quench.
- Nagaelythe the Chillwind: (5+) Another magic missile that now deals its -1 to BS on any unit it wounds rather than kills. While most low-toughness models won't feel the difference, it will give you a chance to actually do something against high-toughness models if you feel ballsy.
- Chroesh - Word of Pain: (9/12) Ohh, is this a doozy. Initially, it slaps -d3 to an enemy's WS and BS, which is helpful for edging over your boys. But then you notice the augment also puts it on S and I, letting you render units helpless before you.
- Bladewind: (9+) Forcing each model in a unit to test WS or eat S4 piercing 1 hits? That just screams horde-shredder.
- Shroud of Despair: (10+) Robs every unit within 12" of Inspiring Presence and Hold Your Ground while inflicting -1 Ld for every Ld check they fail. This is an incredible set-up to a devastating crush.
- Anchan-Rogar the Soul-Stealer: (11/14) Magical artillery that deals weak blows, but each wound gives back health.
- Arnzipal's Black Horror: (15/25) A roving vortex that forces S checks on those it passes over or else they get sucked in. When combined with the augmented Word of Pain, you then notice the horror you can potentially unleash.
- Repeater Crossbow: 24" Crossbows with S3 Piercing 1 but can shoot twice a turn. You'll be needing all those shots to punch holes in armies.
- Repeater Handbows: Half the range, and Quick to Fire, but loses piercing.
- Sea Dragon Cloaks: Your means of protecting your troops from missiles without needing shields. Each offers a 5+ save against missiles or adds +2 to an existing one. Not affecting close combat nerfed this item hard.
Gifts of Khaine
Being a sadistic cult of murderfuckers, the Witch Elves, Hags, and Assassins all have their own items to use.
- Rending Stars: 25pts. Your assassin gets shurikens, chucking three S4 attacks each turn, which is slightly better than the handbow, but more expensive.
- Dance of Doom: 30pts. Incredible defense. All missiles have to re-roll to hit your units, which is a big plus when your units tend to be naked.
- Touch of Death: 20pts. Killing Blow.
- Rune of Khaine: 25pts. Add +d3 attacks to a model, making more on top of a total frenzy of blades.
- Witchbrew: 25pts. Death Hags and Hag Queens only. Gives them and any unit they're with perma-Frenzy (or a bonus attack if they already have it) but will never pass Berserk Fury checks. This is an old standby that allows a pack of witches to absolutely go ballistic.
- Hand of Khaine: 20pts.Robs -3 WS from one enemy in b2b, but it's meaningless against those with Immunity (Psychology). To those that aren't though, this makes you all the more able to dominate the enemy.
- Cry of War: 15pts. All enemy models in b2b with this model must test Ld or only be allowed to hit on a 6 during the first round of combat. Thankfully, this isn't a psychology effect.
- Dark Venom: 25pts. Adds Multiple Wounds (d3) to make more out of your attacks.
- Manbane: 10pts. Restores the old poison rule, that is, auto-wounding on 6s.
- Black Lotus: 5pts. Characters wounded by this suffer -1 to Ld for each wound. If you pull off a combat and do well in a challenge, this can bust a line.
The Black Armoury
- The Hydra Blade: 50pts. Adds +d6 attacks. Considering that the Sword of Bloodshed gives you a guaranteed 3, you'd be hard-pressed to test your luck for this.
- Chillblade: 35pts. This sword auto-wounds with ice attacks and each unsaved wounded inflicts -1 attack until next combat. Now, this is a better sword and for cheaper than the Hydra Blade.
- Armour of Living Death: 45pts. A heavy plate that adds +1 to toughness and wounds, but makes the wearer stupid (Riding cold ones makes it worse as passing stupidity must be re-rolled). Considering how good your men are at Leadership, you might see this as a worthwhile risk for durability.
- The Black Amulet: 60pts. A 4++ Ward Save that deals armour-ignoring wounds for each save made in a challenge. Why yes, this can make you kill even faster!
- Ring of Hotek: 50pts. Adds magic resistance(3), while making wizards that cast on the wearer within 6" suffer miscasts for rolling double 1s and double 6s.
- Black Dragon Egg: 25pts. Gives a turn of S/T 6 and a Black Dragon's Noxious breath (S3 breath weapon and injured units suffer -1 to WS/BS until the end of the following turn). The former is quite nifty, the latter's only really going to matter to risk the weight of blows.
- Cloak of Twilight: 30pts. Grants a 3++ Ward Save against magic and missiles.
- Gem of Spite: 25pts. Each miscast your sorceress suffers deals an S6 wound to other wizards within 24". Each wound can be negated, but it requires them to spend a dispel die. In the event that you ever feared a miscast, you now have an excuse for exploiting it for free reign.
- Sacrificial Dagger: 25pts. Allows your sorceress to sacrifice a model for a chance to grab a free power die to add to a casting, even letting them surpass their typical limit.
- Banner of Nagarythe: 50pts. Grants your Dark Elves Hatred. However, if you run into High Elves, this turns into Eternal Hatred, meaning you'll always be applying that good shit on them.
- Standard of Har Ganeth: Exclusive to Executioners. This gives them Terror, meaning that fuckers really shouldn't try getting close to them unless they have good Ld. Shame it's expensive though.
- Blood Banner: 50pts. Grants Cold One Knights immunity to their mounts' stupidity. Take if you 100% ABSOLUTELY need one of them to be guaranteed to lead the rush, but at Ld9, that's not bound to pop up often.
Lords & Heroes
- Malekith, the Witch King: No longer lives with his mom. It's good to be the King. Malekith costs 515 points vanilla (which is obviously meant to JUST keep him out of games under 2000. What a tease!) but you get your money's worth for him. He's a Dreadlord with higher WS, S and T. He's also a level 4 Dark Magic Wizard with Hekarti's Blessing, magic full plate that gives a 2++ Ward against mundane attacks and makes him immune to Multiple Wounds and Killing Blow, 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 glove that gives an extra S6 attack that bypasses armour, a shield that gives him Magic Resistance (2) and causes spells aimed at him that are dispelled to rebound on the caster unit for D6 S6 hits, a crown that gives him an extra Power and Dispel die per Phase and his Inspiring Presence is 18" instead of 12" (24" on his Black Dragon). And he still has the old perma-Hatred, comes with Immune to Psychology, and lets Black Guard become special choices. 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 2+ save (quite good for smaller points games, though you'll mis that other body) and Seraphon the Black Dragon. 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. Do note that against magical weapons he has no Ward save. At all. This won't usually come into play in close combat thanks to Destroyer, but against ranged magics that aren't dispelled (Irresistible Force comes to mind) or against Dwarfs with too many magical cannons he can find himself getting pretty fucked up.
- 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 much better than a generic Supreme Sorceress on Dark Pegasus (regardless of the fact that she's over 100 points more) considering that she can get spells from a mix of Dark Magic, Shadow, and Death lores like Alarielle and be a damage powerhouse. New to this edition is the ability to always count as General when using Khainite units. Her Enchanting Beauty rule is decent. Morathi has the mobility and ability to abuse it (usually getting +7 to cast any spell with it), and she's a bit costly for all her goodies at 375 points before buying her pegasus.
- Malus Darkblade: You've read his books, now put him on the tabletop. With his cost dropped to 215 points before grabbing Spite, and still well under 300 after, his usability has gone up. Has a couple nifty abilities. Using Tz'arkan makes him more powerful, but no one can use hit Ld and makes him attack his own unit on hit rolls of one. Spite is still the best Cold One mount in Warhammer Fantasy with no stupidity for him or his unit. Should be seriously considered for any Cold One heavy army.
- Crone Hellebron: Hellebron is a fundamentally ideal combat Lord (or rather Lady), the epitome of the Death Hags. Okay, she costs ~155ish Skaven Slaves and comes with little protection (ie she has no saves unless mounted). But she has Initiative 9, 4 Attacks base, combined with Paired Weapons (+1 Attack) Witches Brew (gives her and her unit +2 Attacks) and Cry of War (+D3 Attacks) for anywhere from 8 to 10 Strength 10 Attacks combined with Murderous Prowess which equates to her being essentially guaranteed to wipe out an entire rank. Any hit against her rolling a 1 causes an Strength 4 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 (whom she makes Core now) or Sisters of Slaughter. If you take her, keep her in a unit: she is the prime example of a glass cannon.
- Rakarth, Beastlord of Clar Karond: He's basically an improvement on all Beastmasters and gets to ride a black dragon on top of this. He lets all monsters benefit from Hold Your Ground, which is actually quite surprising since that lets his monsters keep standing. He's also a bit of an interesting choice, as he has a 1+ armour save and has a weapon with S+1 that gives a bonus ASF attack that, if successful at wounding but not killing a model, forces them to only hit him on 6s.
- 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 - though having the kamikaze option exists, it's only S3 on a small blast. Does come with all 3 poisons so has killing blow, +1 to wound and gives -1 to enemy leadership per wound caused but unless you're after a fluffy army, you're much better off with a generic Assassin (or two).
- Tullaris Dreadbringer: Now a Hero. Costs a little over double of a regular Master and loses his Frenzy for an ability to add to Combat Resolution for each Killing Blow (which triggers at 5+) made. This guy in an Executioner unit makes Sword Masters wish they were this awesome, so take him if you're going heavy on Executioners.
- Kouran Blackhand: Like Tullaris he 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 (so you're free to buff his strength beyond S6, not that you need to). His armour now only activates when he's hit, but does slap his attacker at S5 (though given how he only has 2 Wounds it isn't likely to cause that much damage, since if they hit they're likely to Wound his T3). Stick him in Black Guard they become UNBREAKABLE. However, he's overcosted so stick with regular Masters. Black Guard are likely to stay with Ld9 and Stubborn, more so if they're within the General's Ld10 or given the Standard of Discipline to make them Ld10. If there's also a BSB in range then the chances of them breaking are so low that it's not even worth worrying about.
- Lokhir Fellheart: An effective enough combat Hero, if a bit on the pricey side. He can no longer get an absurd number of attacks and the extra hundred points for no stat upgrades means he's limited. 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. A Master is probably better though he can do incredibly with a big corsair unit and Shadow Magic buffs (but for his cost you could just get more Masters who will do the same job better, or get a Dreadlord who can do the same job but also better). Like a Fleetmaster 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 Hatred of High Elves and re-rolling failed wound on the offense, with a 2+ armour save, 4+ regeneration and terror on the defense.
While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
- 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, re-rolling Wounding rolls of 1. 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/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, Sorceresses can now use all most of the battle lores (excepting Life and Light, two lores the High Elves support in spades with their Everqueen). 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. In closing, a very versatile offensive caster and just as good a choice for General as the Dreadlord, though with different uses.
- Black Ark Fleetmaster: He's a Pirate Duelist Hero with 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, he is a lightly armored Master. He gives his Corsairs a re-roll on 1s to hit while challenges let him re-roll his hits and double the wounds dealt for Combat Resolution.
- Master: Masters are among the best cost for ability Heroes in the game. For 60 points, plus an extra 6 for the Sea Dragon Cloak, Heavy Armor and Shield, you'll get a guy with M5, WS/BS6, S4, T3, W2, I7, A3, LD9 and a 3+ (1+ vs shooting) armor save, plus Elven Grace and Murderous Prowess. A Master is a great choice to add some oomph to a unit. Also super viable to Cowboy, For cheaper than a unit of Dark Riders or Cold One Knights.
- Hag Queen/Death Hag: More built-in killy on an Elf but costs a little more than a base Dreadlord/Master, getting 2 hand weapons, Frenzy, Poisoned Attacks aaaand...the loss of any kind of saves beyond Wards as well as the ability to join your better-protected units. Not batting 1000 here. In addition to magical Items, they also have a separate Gifts of Khaine allowance, letting them double up on killing power.
- Assassin: When kitted outright, Assassins can end the life of any Hero and some Lords. It has 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 won't know if they're getting into combat with it until it's too late. Very good in either your ranked 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.
- Beastmaster: Demoted to Hero, and thus made tremendously cheaper. With one less A and I, light armor, cloak and spear, but lets one Beast per turn within 6" gain +D3 attacks and can take a Manticore or a Scourgerunner Chariot. This Manticore with +2D3 attacks (get Blind Rage) can definitely help him earn his points back, even against the enemies elites as 8 (or 9 if he gets Frenzy) S5 attacks + Stomp + Killing Blow is nothing to sneer at, and that's all before the Beastmaster attacks!
- Disciple of Khaine: Warrior Priests, being a consistent thing with many of the armies, are also found among the Dark Elves. These guys are on par with Beastmasters, but each knows three different PL4 bound spells and add +1 to the casting roll (Max +3) for each unsaved wound you make. All of these prayers are cast upon himself and his Khainite team. Witches and Melusai will love them.
- Restore Essence: Gain a 5+ Regen.
- Fist of Khaine: Re-roll all hit and wound rolls in cc. This is a dream of witches.
- Rend Soul: One unit in b2b takes d6 S3 hits and lose -1S for the turn. If you need to even the playing field a bit, you can cast this, or you can use it to bully a sad unit of swordsmen.
- Dark Steed: The cheapest option. M9 and Fast Cavalry will put him 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.
- Cold One: The traditional mount of a Master/Dreadlord and with good reason. M7 is quite reasonable, Stupidity is unlikely to cause problems at LD9 and S4 and a default 6+ Natural Armour Save with the option for free barding is always nice. If you want a mounted Hero without shelling out for a big expensive mount, this is where to go.
- Cold One Chariot: extra durable for your character with more attack, having T5, Sv 2+, but slower to M6".
- Scourgerunner Chariot: let you Beastmaster keep up with your mounted Manticore or Dragon so they get more attacks. It also includes a harpoon gun.
- Cauldron of Blood: makes naked Hags durable with T6 and 4++ ward, inaction to bosting the killing and not dieing of your units.
- Dark Pegasus: Pegasi used to be in kind of a weird position, but they're significantly better since the rider inherits the Pegasus' toughness and their Impact Hits are a little better. You NEED to make sure your rider has a good Armor Save and probably a consistent 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 (worth it).
- 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) whose 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 to take later, but 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, Medium Armor. 10 points a pop.
- Bleakswords: Same stats as Spearmen, but swords and shields instead of spears and shields. Better in smaller units, and not as generally useful as Dreadspears, but still a pretty solid unit. A 4+ Armor Save followed by a 5+ Ward Save (Dodge from Elven Grace stacks with a regular parry, anything with a shield gets a 5+ if they have Elven Grace) can give them okay durability, but they're not going to stand against everything. Elites and generally everything S4 and up will crush them provided they're able to strike back.
- 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 enemy's important units. You should always give them shields, as they will be absorbing a lot of S3 and S4 return fire.
- City Guard: This is the lovechild of Darkshards and Dreadspears. Half Darkshards, Half Dreadspears, so you can have a line of crossbows to lull a sense of security before the enemy remember the spears behind them, poking all the holes from all the ways back. Lets you comfortably keep crossbows upfront without worrying they will die when charged.
- Black Ark Corsairs: At 9 points, you get an ambush unit of handbows or cheap double weapons DPS. But that's not so bad as they're back to being a reliable Core choice again. Not so protected now as Bleaksword. Still decently protected with a 4+ save against missiles, and are 6+/5++ in melee (from elven grace and parry) with Two-hand weapons. They now fill a role as cheaper Witch Elves or Shades. They work in either smaller aggressive units of 10-15 (20-30 attacks) with a Fleetmaster rerolling their hit rolls of 1 (remember prowess dose the same for wounds) or go ranged harasser with 5-10 man Skirmishers with their shorter range hand Repeater Crossbow.
- Dark Riders: Actually they are incredible now. 21 points each once you get shields and crossbows. And you don't lose Fast Cavalry when you buy shields. So move 9, 4+ armor, 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.
- Slaves: You now have a unit of disposable, Vangarding expendable units. They will die to anything but will cheapy screen your more expensive elves.
- Harpies: Harpies got a bit of a pick-me-up as they regain Expendable, thus making their chaff rule more worthwhile than the slaves. Their job as Warmachine hunters/charge blockers is still done better by Shades and Dark Riders. Use them as maneuverable chaff, otherwise, skip them. Even so, they did get moved to core and have a 3 pt price reduction.
- Bloodwrack Medusa: A monstrous creature were if you meet its gaze makes you bleed to death from every pore and orifice on your body. This is represented by a multi-shooting attack that Ignores Armour saves and Killing Blow but doesn't affect Animated Constructs. Also Every enemy model in base contact takes the same kind of attack at the same time as Impact Hits. At 50 points with no save, it's not worth the hassle when competing with the impressive Kharibdyss unless you're up against a very low I army (like Undead or Dwarfs). Great for killing enemy 1 wound knights, like Cold Ones or Empire Knights or Bretonnians or whatever.
- Shades: elven outcasts that are skill in dual-wielding blade and repeater crossbow. Lots of players have mixed opinions about Shades. 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 Warmachine 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 opponent especially when welding Additional hand weapons or Great weapons.
- Witch Elves: Witch Elves are the first in the series of nasty flanking units. one may become a core unit for each Hag in your army. They have an absurdly high volume of attacks (40 Poisoned Attacks for 2 ranks of 10. Nope, you get thirty, models not in the first rank make supporting attacks, and infantry can only make one each, therefore all the extra attacks of any infantry with multiple attacks in the second rank and so on are wasted, which makes all of them not as good as they appear), high Initiative, and are 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) but they're no longer 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 Corsairs, the Corsairs not hitting quite as hard but being the most durable of all the Dark Elf Core infantry.
- Har Ganeth Executioners: Heavy armoured, great weapon wielding, killing blow elite infantry. Lost a point in leadership and cost 2 points more than 8th on top of the universal ASF loss. However they gained a point in armour (3+ Sv). Probably the special choice that got hit the hardest, but rightfully so. Still has Khanite so can get all those Khaine exclusive buffs. With S6 re-rolling 1's unless you're attacking a star dragon, anything you hit is likely to feel it.
- Cold One Knights: A good enough flanking unit when the chips are down and can even charge smaller units head-on in a pinch. Viscous heavy cavalry is always welcome. They're 31 points a model, the riders lose Elven Grace but still have 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 ranked 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 opponent's 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, its low cost and high Ld keep that from happening too often or hurting too much when it does. 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.
- Reaper Bolt Thrower: Often ignored, but a solid choice in its own right. As with 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 by the rank. Almost mandatory to only-refuse-them-if-you-want-to-lose in any Dark Elf army.
- Scourgerunner Chariot: a whopping 60pts less than 8th edition. It's shot went from S7 to S5 but gained armour pierce (1). Still a mobile 24" bolt thrower that can drag monsters 1d6 inchs and if it moves more than three does an extra armour ignoring wound. Went from being 80pts more expensive than a bolt thrower to only 20pts more. May find usage, although no one has the models for them.
- Melusai: Horrific snake-elves who were freed from Slaanesh's influence (read: Ported from AoS), these are some truly scary things to pitch exclusively against Slaaneshi units as they have Hatred (Slaanesh) and can keep up with all but the Seekers with their M7 and Swiftstride. They're loaded out with either S5 halberds to channel their 2 Killing blow attacks, making them mobile Executioner flankers or give them S4 longbows with Killing Blow which makes them good at sniping lone character and elite units, which is a very niche role. Decent shock troops, but nothing much else to write home about.
- Being Khainites, they also hit harder and/or get a 4++ ward, at the cost of a hag or Cauldron of Blood slowing them down.
- Khinerai: Creepy elves with wings. With Ambushers, their role as harassment is pretty cemented, whether you go in melee or with javelins. Of note is their shields, which deal a wound with Killing Blow if they roll a 6 to parry. Good for killing artillery and light cavalry/skirmishers, or lone characters, but too expensive and fragile against large units.
- Sisters of Slaughter: They're Dark Eldar Wyches not on drugs, imagined into Warhammer Fantasy. They are professional Gladiators compared to Frenzied Khainite witches. They are better defensively with a Shield and dodge 4++ 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 the potential to punch against heavily armored units bt adding +1 to hit and wound rolls. They also have the ability to negate the rank bonus for combat results, which is pretty frightening against mobs.
- Cauldron of Blood: This is your one-stop-shop for protecting your Witches. It gives them all a 6++ Ward Save for joining it (this usually becomes a 5++) while being decently protected with a 4++ ward of its own. Units within 6" can re-roll wound rolls and it has that bound spell to give frenzy that stacks with existing frenzy (though not with Witchbrew). Makes an excellent and even must have Force multiplayer for any list.
- Avatar of Khaine: After so fucking long and one misleading appellation, you now inherit a giant fiery incarnation of your god from the distant future/alternate continuity...except metallic instead of fire. He's a rather modest beast, inheriting 6s for most stats, but a sad I3 and 5 Wounds and Attacks each. These attacks all come with Hatred and KB that grants extra attacks for each one that's scored. Unfortunately, his only protection is a Fullplate armour and a 5+ Magic Resistance, meaning any war machine worth its salt can easily fuck it over, even if you're now an Animated Construct.
- Black Guard: Elitest holding warriors of the Dark elves. Moved to rare and cost 16 points. But are now the only elf unit that re-rolls to hit. 4+ Armour and Elven Grace make them tankier than ever. Put the Razor Standard, Standard of Shielding or Banner of Discipline on them depending on your needs. Taking a 25 of them prevents you from taking a Hydra or Doomfire Warlocks in a 2000pt game.
- Deathstar: 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 3 Attacks each, at Strenth 4, and re-rolling failed to hit and wound rolls. And that before magic and banner buffs. Malekith just pooped a little.
- Doomfire Warlocks: 22 points per model and just as deadly. With the Changes to Wizards, this unit can get a +4 to cast while Level 4 Wizards only get a +3. Combined with Doombolt's CV being cut in half, a unit of 9 can cast Doombolt on one dice 2/3rds of the time. On the other hand, Hydra and Black Guard got moved to Rare so, you're likely going to have to leave one of these units at home.
- War Hydra: Wow this unit got the shafting. increased to 200pts and moved to rare. Has regular regen instead of growth of heads. Still T5 S5 Sv 4+, regen 4++, with lots of attacks and stomp, but now you have to accompany some bloke to not die quickly. No longer broken and under-cost. It can only take one in a 2000pt game and will hamper your ability to field Blackguard. Can choose between a Breath attack or spitting fire for a big coverage attack or to consistently pelt an enemy unit.
- Kharibdyss: The Dark Elves get a deep-sea monster in their army. At a 210pts monster with frightening I4, Strength of 6 + Poison, and deals Multiple Wound(d3) for each wound roll of 6, this makes it a better monster killer than the Hydra. It 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. It only has an Sv 4+ and T6 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 with Monstrous Infantry (read: Ogre Kingdoms). He's also accompanied by a beastmaster, but don't expect him to do much.
- Bloodwrack Shrine: A Bloodwrack Medusa trading single entity speed for shrine protection and break any enemy you face, costing the same as a Dreadlord. In close combat, the Medusa losses its frenzy attack but has 2 attendants. the main draw is that it grants all friendly MODELS within 6" +1 Ld and all enemy MODELS within 6" -1 Ld in addition from the -2 from Terror. This is important to note since if an enemy unit extends out of that 6-inch bubble they will not care about the leadership penalty since some models in the unit will be unaffected. "Avert Your Gaze" is way better on the Shrine than the lone Medusae because of the Shrine's much better Toughness/Wounds and large base size. This ability pairs very well with Miasma from the Lore of Shadow which is good lore to consider for Dark Elves under any circumstances.
- A super-secret troll technique involving the Shrine is to run one with a unit of 10-15 Sisters of Slaughter with a standard bearer with a War Banner and a champion. Run the unit with only 2 Sisters (champ and banner) with the shrine. Your opponent is unlikely to be able to get much combat resolution. You will have 3 ranks, a banner, and a War Banner for 5 static combat resolution in addition to any wounds you do. You cancel your opponent's Rank Bonus and they also will take their break test, should they lose combat, on a -1 LD from the Shrine.
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 Black Guard became WAY overpriced because of the excuse that it's a double kit, since 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--but only if you like owning ugly ass minis), 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).
Alternate take, buy some dark eldar. They are currently one of the cheapest armies of 40k and they have great kits that you can convert with relative ease.
- A pair of Sorceresses will serve you better than a single Supreme Sorceresses unless you need Mind Razor or Purple Sun.
- Pair a Sorceress with the Sacrificial Dagger and a large unit of Bleakswords for even more dice.
- Keep your BSB and most expensive mage in separate Dark Rider or Warlock Bunkers.
- If on a budget a Master in a unit with the Standard of Discipline is a cheap way to a general to leadership 10.
- A Master on a Darksteed, with Heavy Armour, Sea Dragon Cloak, Shield, Lance, Repeater Crossbow and DragonBane Gem clocks in at 96pts with a 1+ save vs shooting and immunity to Fireballs and Searing Doom. This is who you’ll use to hunt that wizard hiding with archers.
- With needing a hag for each Witch Elves or Hellebron, Hordes removed and Witchbrew not stacking with Cauldron Witch Elf focused list are out, but still a powerful DBPs unit with all the Synergy's that still have and gained.
- Corsairs are cheaper but went from being the best armored to the worst armored core unit.
- Dreadspears and Bleakswords are still a mainstay and unless you're taking a mounted only list, two or three should be included. Take one big unit if you're using the Sacrificial Dagger.
- Dark Riders are ever so slightly worse but still mandatory.
- Darkshards can win lots of shooting matchups with medium armour and shields. And unlike bows, can be double tapped on the move. Also, they're no pushovers in melee and if given shields perform identically to Bleakswords.
- Take as many Bolt Throwers as you can, one cost the same as 6 Darkshards. You’ll get half the shots at +1 strength, twice the range and hitting on 3s vs 4s and 5s.
- Cold one knights hit hard on the charge with the inclusion of impact hits. With Hydra’s moved to rare this is the unit you’ll be flank charging with.
- Executioners you need a unit of these, especially if you opt not to take Black Guard, they’re here to kill anything that needs to die.
- With Hydra, Doomfires, Cauldron and Black Guard all competing for rare now, something is going to be left at home. If going the Cauldron Route, you should mount a Hag Queen on it so it counts in character. Now you have two choices to keep rare under 500pts. Hydra w/upgrade (220) + unit of 10 Warlocks w/champion (230) = 450. Or, a 25 man unit of BlackGuard Full Command and Razor Standard (460).
Dark Elf Sorceress has access to all Fire, Metal, Heavens, Beast, Shadow, Death, and Dark Magic. While every lore has its use, some are particularly good. These are;
- Fire: Your standard DPS option.
- Heavens: Makes enemy harder to hit you, and lightning ignore armour
- Beast: turn pansy elves into Swollen & hairy men.
- Metal: With Cold-Ones, Executioners and Black Guard having Heavy Armour, and all of your core having some armour, it is extremely easy to cast Glittering Robe or Enchanted Blades to give your units that edge in close combat. The bubble version Glittering Robe will keep your whole army in tip-top shape against shooting. With natural armour stacking, even your Hydra can get some love. Searing Doom is as powerful as ever and can help your bolt throwers destroy heavy cav.
- 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 synergize 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 and 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 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: It's 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 really good spells are affordable with a 12 or less, so even a lvl 2 sorceress can get a lot out of it. Still, though the Lore is not easy to use since many spells have a small range or rely on buffing the unit the sorceress is in, so it would e best if the sorceress would be near the frontlines, even if that is not generally 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, you hit them with 2d6/3d6 S3 hits. Read carefully the damage of the Lore Attribute is taken after the actual spell, this doesn't seem important but it is. Imagine Teclis running with a unit of 15 archers. Imagine further you cast the great version of your second signature Spell on this unit. Now imagine all high elves dead (anyone gets a warm feeling by these words?) but of course, Teclis is still standing because he can't be hit by your spell. But now the archers are dead the Lore Attribute kicks and kicks Teclis right out of the game with a bit of Luck, so never forget the Lore attribute
Dark Magic remains a popular choice, due to its technique of blasting the crap out of things. Fire is less popular, but its 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 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 its 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.
The most important rule, never, ever, EVER forget your Murderous Prowess re-rolls of 1s on your to-wound rolls. 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).
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(they're infantry).
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.
I feel like this is important, a section for fighting High Elves. They are squishy but can hold out better than you can, But use their defense to multi-charge and just crumble individual units. Use highly offensive magic to do damage because they will win an augment fight but if you're aggressive then you can send them all running.
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