Tuesday is game day here at spalanz.com, and today I wanted to share some of my attempts to get to grips with my new army for Warhammer 40k: the Dark Eldar! I’ve been building and painting up these guys since New Year now, and have been trying to get together my 200-point kill-team sorted, which has involved a bit of a learning curve on what I need to do with these space pirates.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll probably know how much I love my Necrons, and while I’ve hardly been prolific with them, they are the only army that I’ve played the game with. Having a 4+ armour save, and a 5+ Reanimation Protocols save, means I’ve never been too fussed about being out in the open with my regular troops or even my warlord and so on. Not having a Night Scythe, I’m usually walking about the board, soaking up hits and losing comparatively few models (as much as I’m bad at rolling dice, for some reason I’m usually very good at making Reanimation Protocols rolls) before I make it into close combat with my Lychguard, where they tend to tear up the battlefield really effectively.
All of this has now changed, of course, as I read through the Codex and listen to the various tactics advice blogs and videos online. Indeed, having spent the best part of January watching a whole host of Dark Eldar tactics videos on youtube, I keep hearing the same things repeated: they’re one of the fastest armies in the game, but they’re riding around in wet paper bag-armoured vehicles; they’re a finesse army, etc etc. There’s also some contradictory advice out there, as some folks refer to them as the close-combat version of Eldar, while others advise against getting any closer than rapid-fire range.
I can’t really comment on any of these tactics, as I’ve yet to play a game with them. However, something that is overwhelmingly said of the army is to bring everything in vehicles for the speed, and to hug cover like there’s no tomorrow. That’s really going to change up my playstyle, as I’ve mentioned with the Necrons, and I think it’s going to be interesting to be fielding an army that is potentially deployed entirely as vehicles at the start of the game, rather than having units on foot.
Aside from the aesthetics of the army, something that has really drawn me to Dark Eldar is how they seem quite straightforward in terms of the mechanics. Their standard weaponry is Splinter guns, which all seem to cause poisoned shots, most often 4+. What this means is, they wound on 4+ regardless of the model’s Toughness, which I think is a very welcome change from trying to remember – or having to ask – what I wound on whenever I shoot at a target. The Kabalite Warriors have BS4, so hit on 3s and wound on 4s – that, I can remember! Splinter rifles are only AP5 though, so pretty much everything I’m likely to be shooting at will be making armour saves. But I suppose you can’t have it all!
Furthermore, a lot of people in my local area seem to play Guard, which involves a lot of tanks. Even Marines players have a lot of tanks. And poison weapons have no effect against vehicles, which does leave me at something of a disadvantage. The best anti-vehicle units in the Codex seem to be Scourges, though I have to admit that I find the models a bit silly. Nevertheless, I’ve got two boxes of them to start my anti-tank offensive!
I’m starting with kill-team, as I mentioned above, and my army list for this looks as follows:
– 1 unit Kabalite Warriors, with a Sybarite equipped with an agoniser;
– 1 unit Wyches, with a Hekatrix, inside
– 1 Venom, upgraded with a splinter cannon.
This comes to 200 points exactly, though I have been debating a lot about whether to include those troop upgrades, or instead just keep them as basic units and spend the points on adding more bodies. I don’t think it would be particularly the best idea for kill-team, as every model acts independently, but if I were playing something like a more regular game of 40k, I would most likely not bother with, say, the Hekatrix upgrade, and the same for the Sybarite. It does slightly bother me that I’ve modeled both within the units, and I feel a strong attachment to WYSIWYG armies, but I suppose that’s a ways off yet.
For the kill-team, my Leader is the Sybarite, because he’s such a grand-looking model. I’ve made one of the warriors a Weapon Specialist (Expert Shot), and another an Indomitable Specialist (Feel no Pain), and one of the Wyches is a Combat Specialist (Killer Instinct). My thoughts for all of this are that the Sybarite might hang back and wait for folks to come for him, while the warriors act as something of a loose bodyguard. The venom will fly about and drop off the Wyches so that they can deal with anything as it comes up, hopefully their Dodge ability can keep them alive in close combat, anyway!
That’s my vague plan, so I suppose we’ll just have to see whether it works out! Kill-team seems to be quite popular at my local GW, and I’m hoping to get up there one Friday night soon for a game, so will be reporting back once that happens!
Looking ahead, I think the next logical step, for me, is to expand into Combat Patrol. 400 points, and you can take an HQ choice for this one, I think I’d like to see what I can do with more warriors at first, maybe have an Archon and lots of Raiders. Initially, I’d sworn off moving into Covens, but I’ve recently had a bit of a splurge and gotten myself all manner of good stuff for the force, including the supplement, a haemonculus and a pain engine. That’s still going to be a long way off, as I want to continue building along the Kabalite/Cults route for the time being. While I did build the contents of the Start Collecting box in short order, and have been focusing on painting the kill-team, I’ve since been building some Hellions from Gangs of Commorragh to try out that game, so I can start to branch in that direction, as well.
I’ve heard a lot about providing a bodyguard for the Archon based on Incubi, though I try to stay away from finecast as much as possible. That said, I’ve since started to invest in building a Court of the Archon, starting with a Lhamaean – she has poison 2+ and can cause Instant Death, which is certainly attractive! Of course, getting her into close combat is going to be the problem, and I think a Venom with the Archon and his Court inside would be too much of a distraction and attract all the shots, which is a bit of a concern!
This leads me to something of my favourite tactic for playing games like this, the Distraction Carnifex. Basically, the idea is to have something that looks threatening and will absorb all of your opponent’s attention, allowing the rest of your army to take care of business. Initially, I’d been struggling to find anything sufficient to form such a massive distraction, but I’m now weighing up the options of either just going for a Ravager (unfortunately, this model is out of stock at the moment), or else the Dark Artisan formation from the Covens book (which will require an additional pain engine). I basically want something big and dangerous to distract from the fact that the rest of my army is actually running around in really weak armour, and that will cause serious damage if it is ignored!
At some point, I also want to invest in the Tantalus from Forge World – which is a huge model that is just as weak as the rest of the army – now there is a distraction!!
It’s a tactic that I’ve used fairly well in the past with both a unit of Canoptek Wraiths and, oddly, a Catacomb Command Barge. Oddly, because the barge was ignored in favour of killing the rest of my army, so it just flew around the battlefield popping tanks all over the place…
Another tactic that I like the sound of is using the Dark Eldar as a bit of a swarm army. Of course, they won’t be anywhere near swarming like Tyranids or Orks, but at just 40 points for a unit of five Warriors, I think there’s potential to really spam the board with bodies, and present as many threats as possible. It’s a bit of a nascent tactic, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
However, a lot of this is going to be quite a ways off yet, as I’m a really slow hobbyist in general! Getting things built and painted is forever a challenge, which is why I’m looking more towards the small-scale games first, while I build up my force to a more sizable battle.
If you’ve got any Dark Eldar tips you’d like to share, please do so in the comments! I’m always keen to hear opinions on how to play with these guys!