Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising

Hey everybody,
It’s been out for a while now, but I’ve been wanting to talk about the new Psychic Awakening series of books for Warhammer 40k since the event kicked off a couple of weeks ago, so what better time to start than now?! The series is meant to have massive ramifications for the 40k universe as a whole, and back when it was initially announced, we were promised something new for every faction. I’m sure we’ve had such promises before, but so far, we’re three books in at the time I’m writing this, with a fourth on the way, and it looks like they are actually looking to deliver on this!

Psychic Awakening Phoenix Rising

Book One, Phoenix Rising, deals with all things Aeldari, and the book is actually really quite interesting to delve into. The first thing that you notice about it is that it isn’t anywhere near as weighty a tome as the Vigilus campaign books from last Christmas. That is probably because the book functions more like a mini Codex, than a true campaign book, and there is correspondingly less in the way of lore.

It’s still there, for sure – I read somewhere that this series is meant to bring the Imperium as a whole up to the same point in time as the Vigilus stuff, which sort of functions as the “current” timeframe. That would seem to be correct, as the fluff here goes right back to the Gathering Storm in places, chronicling the rise of the Ynnari and putting that into the wider context of the Aeldari races as a whole. That does sort of make sense, as that earlier series was a 7th edition thing, so it’s good for new fans to have the same sort of context as the rest of us.

The fluff is followed then by a series of narrative missions to play, three Echoes of War missions that recreate some of the storyline in the fluff section, such as the Drukhari attack on the Ynnari, using manipulated forces of the Astra Militarum. Each of these missions has its own suite of stratagems that can be used, and there are also a couple of additional rules for Theatres of War, giving ongoing effects for the whole battle. Theatres of War is something that I don’t see used a great deal, but could be fun to play with if you wanted a really intense game of 40k!

This first book in the series was released alongside a box set, Blood of the Phoenix, which repacked several Craftworld and Dark Eldar kits, as well as providing plastic miniatures for Jain Zar, Howling Banshees, Drazhar and the Incubi. I’m not a Craftworld expert, but the Drazhar model went all the way back to 1992, I believe, and so was really quite desperately in need of an update. I’d been hoping for plastic Incubi for almost as long as I’ve been a Dark Eldar player, so this box was highly anticipated! I mean, look at a comparison with their older models:

Jain Zar and Drazhar old models

Unfortunately, the box set was really quite overpriced – I think it was something like £150 retail, which is fine when you think the characters will probably be £25 each when released separately, and the new units will be around £30 or maybe £35, if the Chaos Marines release is anything to go by; it means you’re getting a whole bunch of the older stuff for about £30, which is a big saving. A lot of people weren’t too impressed, though, as the older stuff it was packed alongside has been out for years now, and people tend not to want that stuff. It was the sort of box that might be great for new folks getting into the hobby or wanting to start these armies, but for those of us who have been waiting for these plastics, it was a hard pass. As it stands, I picked up Drazhar on a bits site, and would be fine to wait for the plastic Incubi kit to hit retail, having already bought and painted up the finecast models if I wanted to use them in a battle before then.

New Drazhar is an incredible model though, I really liked him a lot!

Anyway, following the missions, the book sort of splits into three, as we get the new rules sections. First up are the Craftworld lot, which have the rules for Jain Zar and the Howling Banshees, as well as three pages of additional rules for other aspect warriors such as Dire Avengers and Striking Scorpions. It’s really quite an interesting little rules update in this respect, although I’m no Craftworld expert to know whether they’d be of any use!

The Drukhari section is a little smaller, having new rules just for Drazhar and the Incubi – I say new rules, they’re more like tweaks, really. Drazhar gets a bit beefier and now has the Lethal Precision rule the Incubi had, and the Klaivex can take demi klaives like Drazhar.

Both flavours of Eldar get new ways to create their own brand of chapter tactics with new Obsessions and Attributes. From a list of different abilities and effects, you get to choose two (unless otherwise stated) which give you your own custom rules for your chosen army type. I suppose it compensates for not having your own Stratagems and Warlord Traits by getting to pick two. There are four pages of Craftworld Attributes, while the Drukhari get a page of Obsessions for each of Kabal, Cult and Coven. Some of them are quite decent, as it happens, and I’ll talk about them a bit more shortly.

Finally, the book closes out with a reprinting of the Ynnari “Codex” that was featured back in a White Dwarf earlier this year. There is all of the lore, the rules, stratagems, psychic powers and warlord traits, so it’s nice to have that reproduced again here for convenience, and to ensure that Ynnari players can have those rules without resorting to trying to find the White Dwarf on ebay, or something.

All in all, it’s a pretty nice book, with a lot of different parts that you can pick and choose from. Obviously, Eldar players are the demographic for this, as Space Marines players will find nothing of interest here. But I do like these sort of books, which have a bit of story/background to them, some new rules, and then some missions and stuff to choose from, as well.


Yesterday, I played my final game of 40k for the year, a three-player game against Chaos and Necrons, for which I brought my own Drukhari – the first time they have had an outing since about May, I think!

It was a pretty casual game, with armies floating around the 1000 points mark. My buddy JP had had the Start Collecting Chaos Marines for Christmas, as well as more Havocs, so was keen to get those out. Matt was playing Necrons, in what was I think his second game of 40k (certainly his second game of 8th edition). We were using the multiplayer rules from the core rule book, so nothing too fancy, but I think it definitely helped that we were all very much into it not being a case of ganging-up on one player, but we were all trying to achieve our own objectives while attacking everybody else.

It was also really nice to finally get all of my terrain out and on the table!

I’ve been thinking a lot about doing away with Obsessions entirely, and playing lists more like I used to in the Index days, but instead decided to try out the new build-your-own with a Raiding Party force. Pretty much everything about the Drukhari army caused raised eyebrows from my opponents, and with good reason – they’re the sort of army where so many things just shouldn’t be the case, and yet they are. I’m particularly fond of the Hexrifle on my Wracks here, because nobody expects a fairly-dedicated close combat unit to include a sniper rifle, after all!

Wracks were possibly the star players here, taking out the Daemon Prince warlord for 1VP, followed closely by the Ravager which, over the course of my turn, finished off the Havocs unit before it could do anything.

However, I was very often forgetting a lot of rules – standard operating procedure, for sure, but I think the sheer number of moving parts to this army when you have all three subfactions present is just bonkers.

So for my Kabal, I took Disdain for Lesser Beings, which allows me to only ever lose one model to Morale (forgot about that, and lost two of my Warriors this way), and Toxin Crafters, which adds one to the damage characteristic of a poisoned weapon on a natural 6 to wound. I don’t honestly know if this would have made a difference (I forgot about the open topped rule for my Raiders for at least one turn), but there you have it. I normally use Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, giving me +6 to the maximum range of weapons, and I think I would usually prefer this to anything else, as I want to keep my Kabal gunline as far away from anybody as possible.

The Kabal rules in Phoenix Rising aren’t particularly game-changing, they are just some interesting alternatives if you don’t want to use those from the Codex.

Wych Cults are still a subfaction that I don’t know enough about, having only used them once previously. I mean, I use Reavers a lot, but the rest of them… I’d gone with Precise Killers, which improves the AP of a weapon on a natural 6 to wound, as well as Slashing Impact, which allows me to inflict 1 mortal wound on a 5+ when I finish a charge move. These are nice bonuses, and there are some interesting things in the book that I think could do with further investigation. I probably need to play more Wych Cults to get the gist of things, though.

I will say, as well, that I had an incredibly lucky roll on my Hekatrix’s blast pistol, and one-shot killed the Master of Executions! Given that the last time JP and I played, his Master of Executions took out my entire Grey Knights Purifier Squad in a single swing, I feel that has given me justice!

Combat Drugs are still a mystery to me, however…

Finally, for my Haemonculus Coven, I went with Experimental Creations, which increases the Strength of everyone in the unit, as well as giving a +1 to wound rolls when attacking units with lower toughness. That didn’t really come into it as much as I thought, but the +1 Strength was very handy! With Wracks being S3 but T4, you want them in combat, but their effective power is quite limited with just basic weapons. Anyway! My second Obsession for them was Masters of Mutagens, which means a natural 6 to hit against anything other than vehicles or titanic units is an auto-wound. That did come up quite a bit, which helped me to get rid of the Chaos Sorcerer, at which point there were no more Psychic shenanigans to endure.

It was a good game, and didn’t feel too much like a 1v1 with a bystander, though the Necrons just kept reanimating while Chaos and Dark Eldar were dying all around, meaning the final round was a bit one-sided. But we got to 5 rounds, so all was well!


I feel like Phoenix Rising is definitely going to be worth getting for Craftworlds players, and Ynnari too, but if you’re a Dark Eldar player looking for new ways to play the army, I think there is limited good stuff here. Possibly not worth it to the more competitive players, as nothing in there seems particularly game-destroying – and I’m guessing the more competitive dark kin won’t want to give up Agents of Vect so easily, anyway!

Path of the Renegade

Path of the Renegade is the first of the Path of the Dark Eldar trilogy, something almost sacred among us denizens of the Dark City, as it is one of the scant novels that actually deals with the Dark Kin in anywhere like detail. I’d not read the book before, but it was getting to the point where it was almost embarrassing for me to have not read it!

The story deals with the plot of three Archons against the tyrant Asdrubael Vect, the current ruler of Commorragh. Central to the story is Archon Nyos Yllithian, whose plan to overthrow Vect involves reviving one of Vect’s early nemeses, El’uriaq, the self-styled emperor of the dark kin. In order to do so, Yllithian conspires with the haemonculus Bellathonis, acquiring a “pure heart” in the form of an Exodite Worldsinger. The plan works too well, El’uriaq being so charismatic that he manages to overtake Yllithian’s plans.

While there is an intriguing storyline of plots and more plots against Vect, the novel mainly seems to serve as a vehicle to showcase Dark Eldar society, with the story strung out across these major points of interest. We get to see life in the twisting catacombs of a haemonculus coven, the thrilling fights in the arenas of the wych cults, and so forth. It almost feels a bit like a parody, as we have these huge set-pieces interposed within the narrative. Even when the story really gets underway, we still seem to slow down as we get to see this sort of showcase, and it can be quite tedious.

I suppose it didn’t help that I read this book in its re-issue as part of the Path of the Dark Eldar omnibus, which was seemingly riven with spelling mistakes and dropped words. My overall feeling is that it was a little bit disappointing, though I suspect that part of that might be due to having seen it hyped on the Drukhari facebook page for so long.

Having now read it, though, I feel that Nightbringer was a much more interesting Dark Eldar novel than this one…

More Drukhari thoughts

Hey everybody!
Following on from Tuesday’s very rambling post, where I dissected my match against Deathwatch, I thought I’d come back here with some more thoughts on the dark kin. I mentioned in that post how I was thinking about moving away from the now-established Codex army builds, separating my Cult, Coven and Kabal forces, and instead going back to the blended approach from the Index days. Well, I’ve given this some more thought, and I’ve come up with an army list that I’m surprisingly really excited to try out!

The list is at its core a battalion, with five troops choices and two HQs – it’s just that the second HQ is a Haemonculus rather than a second Archon, breaking the Obsessions. I could technically get away with having it as two Patrol detachments, one for the Coven and one for the Kabal, but then I still have the Wych Cult elements to account for and, having no HQ or troop choice in there, this becomes a bit more difficult. So I’ve not bothered.

I’m still getting 8 command points here, and still have the basic Warlord Traits and Relics to choose from, along with a suite of 22 stratagems that I can use, based on the units in the list. When I was thinking about this idea, I mooted it on the Drukhari facebook group, and was kinda shot down for the very notion of even trying it. Some folks did seem a little more open to the idea, but the initial response seemed to be a hearty “no”. I think this is primarily because of people not willing to give up on Agents of Vect, but having never played Black Heart in my life, I think this is hardly a selling point for me to stay within the standard builds.

Between Gangs of Commorragh and all the older Start Collecting boxes I bought, I have a lot of Reaver Jetbikes, which was kinda the starting point for me wanting to do this idea in the first place. A lot of my Index Drukhari lists were primarily Kabal and Coven with some bikers along for the ride, and I found they provided an interesting bit of combat difference for the rest of the army. Especially tooling them up with their specialist wargear, allowing them to dish out mortal wounds when they charge into a unit, or fall back from that unit. So I definitely wanted to include some of these mad biker gangs in there, and thus decided to just break with the whole Obsessions thing and see what happened.

Interestingly, when I mentioned this on the facebook group, someone suggested trying a unit of Kabalites with a blaster inside a Venom – but we’d be looking at well over 100 points for this, whereas the Reavers clock-in around 70ish points.

Having broken this spell, I started looking around a bit more freely at what I would like to include in the list, and struck upon the Beasts. I’d had a Beastmaster and Clawed Fiend hanging about since last year, and had also picked up a Razorwing Flock recently, so decided to go down that route, which proved to be quite easy on the points, as it happens! Much like the Court of the Archon stuff, there is a lot of weird stuff in the Drukhari Codex that I just love, and so decided to go for a real carnival of weird feel to this army list!

The Beasts are a bit of a weird situation in Matched Play games, because you’re basically forced to take them all as one unit, not being able to take Beasts without a Beastmaster, and when you do so, the Beasts don’t take up a force org slot. I suppose it’s there to prevent spamming a lot of the cheap stuff to fill a brigade detachment, but we’re not quite there yet…!

The idea behind my army, then, is to have a Drukhari drive-by style of army, with the Archon and Medusae flying around inside their command Venom, followed closely by the Venom containing a Sybarite with blast pistol and agoniser, sort of acting as the bodyguard. If the threat level requires it, there is the second Venom with a blaster inside to act as a secondary bodyguard, while the main force flies about in Raiders.

I’ve got Haemonculus Coven stuff and the Beasts to work in melee, hopefully destroying a fair few things once the targets have all been softened up by the shooting attacks. Then there are the Reavers to just flit about the field and shoot anything they like, charging into close combat with the rest.

Where Next?
It’s always a little difficult to think about the next steps for these things, when I’ve not even played with this army yet, but I do quite fancy seeing how I could perhaps get some Scourges into the list. I’ve already got a squad of five built up since 7th edition, so I think that’d be good to actually get on and finish these chaps for the table.

Drukhari Scourges Solarite

The jump infantry of the Dark Eldar, Scourges are an interesting choice to me for the sheer amount of fancy weaponry they can take. Coming stock with a shardcarbine, up to four of them can trade that in for a choice of dark lance, heat lance, splinter cannon, haywire blaster, blaster or shredder. The Solarite is also the only model in the army who can take a power lance, which is mainly taken because it looks cool, from what I can gather! I built mine with a dark lance and a splinter cannon, along with two shardcarbines, and the Solarite wielding a splinter pistol and a piece of wargear with no codex entry, the weighted flail. I’m using it as a venom blade, so my squad of five comes in at 92 points. I think I’d probably look at swapping these bird-men in for the Kabalites with a blaster and their venom before I look at increasing the points of the overall list.


Drukhari are very likely going to be a big focus for me as 2019 moves along. It’s an army that I’ve loved since the very first game I had against Blood Angels, and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue and try to improve with. This year, I’ve got quite a few momentous events happening, between hoping to move house at some point over the summer, then the birth of my firstborn due in October – I doubt I’ll have much time to go as wide with the hobby as I have been up to this point!!!!!

Deathwatch vs Drukhari: a postmortem

Hey everybody!
Had a very disappointing game against Deathwatch yesterday, so thought I’d come along here and ramble about it for a bit. Because, y’know, why not?

I was playing at my local store against a guy I’ve played before, albeit with different lists. While in our previous match I’d been Necrons, he’d also included a different line-up and it was a smaller-scale game (1250 points, I think). We’d upped things to 1750, and I thought it was about time I brought out the Drukhari, given that I’ve not been playing them nearly as much since the Codex came out, and it’s really time to get my head around all the stuff they can do!

Firstly, then, my list:

It’s a list that I’ve used in similar configuration before, when I had a game back in December against Orks. I’d initially considered using Wych Cult models alongside the Kabal portion, similar to what I was talking about last month, but in the event I wasn’t going to get all of the models that needed painting finished in time. We both went over a bit, mainly because he was bringing Knights to the party, so I felt no shame in squeezing in a second haemonculus to make it two battalions for 13 command points. I made one of the haemonculi the warlord, putting both in their own Venom, then used the Kabal as the main thrust of my army.  The plan was to use the Kabal as a main threat and keep everything at range, while the Coven portion went up the sides and attempted to create a melee charnel house.

Deathwatch vs Drukhari, round one

This plan did not last nearly as well as I thought it might, given that I went second, losing a lot of my firepower and mobility thanks to both Ravagers being blown off the table, as well as two of the Raiders being brought down to extreme low health. Urgh! We were playing Supplies from Above, one of the new missions from Chapter Approved 2018, and one that I’ve played previously in a smaller-scale Necrons vs Tempestus Scions game, and can be a lot of fun in the smaller setting. With a lot of table to cover, though, it proved to be a different experience.

I’d initially placed my objectives near the centre thinking I’d create a bit of a killzone for my Raiders to just deliver massive broadsides each turn. Unfortunately, that didn’t really come to pass! My first shooting phase, I managed to kill one guy – just one guy! Really poor rolls made it quite difficult to get much further. I did use the Fire and Fade stratagem to then move one of the Raiders out of the way of the Knight that was breathing down my neck (which is how it came to be neatly wedged between the scenery pieces in the centre of the picture, above).

With my Ravagers gone so quickly, though, I decided to just not even bother with the Knights, and tried instead to focus on keeping to cover as much as I could, and go for the troops. The mission requires you to control objective markers at the start of your turn, but they move at the start of each battle round, so I shifted my focus to that in the hope that I’d be able to weather the storm coming my way!

My opponent had switched up his list from last time as well, and rather than having everybody carry storm bolters, instead went for a mostly-Primaris build. Which was, as I’m sure you can imagine, a sheer delight. Everything having two wounds suddenly made what heavy artillery I had left become more viable against troops, as shameful as that may be to fire a dark lance at an infantry blob! As an aside, I’d built the majority of this army during the changeover from 7th to 8th edition, when the dark lance was king. However, I’m really thinking that the remaining Raiders I have to build and paint will all be disintegrator cannons, instead – 5 points cheaper, and two more shots. Sure, the strength and AP aren’t as good, but the chances of hitting with the cannons are so much better than with the lances. Somehow, whiffing with three shots at 15 points feels better than whiffing with one shot for 20 points. But anyway!

The one bright spot for me was having taken the risk and walked up the Wrack squad carrying the Hexrifle along the flank to shoot directly into the face of the Watch Master – I wasn’t sure I’d be any good suffering the penalty for moving and firing a heavy weapon, but there’s something wonderful to be said for actually making the Hexrifle shot work: 6 to wound and an unsaved wound at that meant two wounds came off the Watch Master. Delightful.

Deathwatch vs Drukhari, round two

Turn two was utterly appalling for me. I lost everything except the Coven Raider and Venom, and just kept rolling poorly for all of my Kabalites. The fact that two squads of ten veterans deep-struck in, one of which came down into my deployment zone for a two-pronged attack, really saw the pain. I’d deployed an Archon on foot, which you can see just to the centre-right of the above photo, and intended him to be quite the distraction. As it happened, he managed to pull most of the fire from that back-field deep strike, and his shadowfield broke on the third roll. Nobody can really withstand 12 shots to the face, can they? But it meant my Warlord had that much less coming for him, while somehow I managed to shave another two wounds off the Watch Master by again rolling perfectly for the Hexrifle!

Nobody expects a melee-orientated unit like Wracks to have a sniper rifle hidden in their midst, and so pretty much every game I’ve used it, this squad has been woefully misunderstood. Splendid!

If only the rest of the battle was going splendidly, of course. As a point of note, I always forget about Power from Pain. I even had the cards right there in front of me to remember, but I still forget to make the FNP save from the first battle round. Thankfully, my opponent was a good enough sport about it and let me roll after the fact, which did net me two Kabalites back from one of the squads – though I suspect he did so fully aware of the fact they weren’t really a threat to him at this point!

Due to the insane amount of firepower coming at me, when my actual second turn came around, I had very little left to do, so just charged a bunch of Covens units into the backfield deep strikers, and successfully managed to eliminate a Jump Captain and the squad of ten he came down with. There is something to be said for the brutal efficiency of a Talos, Cronos, Haemonculus and Wrack squad working together. Can’t wait to complete the family and add some Grotesques to the roster!


Despite it all – Hellfire rounds to the face, Knights with ridiculous anti-vehicle hatred all around me – we ended in a draw. The Court of the Archon came in really handy having disembarked from their downed Venom in the centre of the table, as each is a separate unit so they all scattered to secure three objectives, with only the Sslyth losing his during the third battle round. We agreed to call it a draw after his turn though, as the store was 20 minutes from closing and I knew it would take at least that long to pack all of my stuff away!

I can’t remember the last time I won a game of 40k. Well, actually I think I can, but it was a long time ago. At any rate, losing games is very often more valuable an experience than winning. My opponent for this game is a self-advertised newbie, and I think our game last night was his fourth, having won one, lost two, and now drawn one. The usual advice for new players is to let them win their first game, but that really is a double-edged sword, for it may lead a person to think the game is easy, or that it will always be like that. Losing, however, makes you re-evaluate your choices, both in the list and in the game. Even though we called this a draw on victory points, I definitely felt like I lost this one.

I ended the battle with 8 command points left. If you end a game with any CPs left, you’ve likely done something wrong, and I very definitely don’t yet know the full potential for the stratagems Drukhari can employ. In a game situation, though, I hate to stand there, flicking through my cards or the Codex, trying to come up with a strategy on the fly, though often I end up doing so regardless. Not making full use of my command points was definitely a mis-step from me, and leaving one of my Raiders out in the open was just asking for trouble when there is so much heavy firepower on the opposite side of the table.

A great excuse for this game was that I was playing at right angles to my deployment zone. Hear me out on this one: we were playing Hammer and Anvil deployment, but the tables in GW Chester are set up as one long line down the centre of the room. So my deployment zone abutted another game going on, and I couldn’t properly get behind my minis to see what they could see, etc. Trying to figure out lines of sight as best I could was, well, difficult at best! I really shouldn’t have been the gentleman and accepted the poorer of the two zones.

I usually have poor dice rolls, and so I try to mitigate that by going for an almost horde feel to the armies I play, and try to have lots of weapons in the hope that the weight of numbers will mean I’ll get at least some hits. But even for me, last night’s game was a shambles. However, there were some successful shots in there that were, unfortunately, saved. Another cardinal sin here – I paid for splinter racks on all three of my Kabal Raiders, 10 points each. I promptly forgot about this, and cannot remember if any of the drive-by attacks rolled 6s. Argh! The agony is real.

People talk about Blasters being amazing, but it’s a similar situation to the dark lance, putting a lot of faith (and points!) into just one shot. I’m starting to think that I might well just keep things real simple in my next game, and have three squads of ten with just splinter rifles, or maybe add in a splinter cannon for each but otherwise strip them back completely. 70 points for a 10-man Kabalite squad isn’t exactly a bad situation to be in, after all. Keeping things cheap in this manner will open the door for adding in more stuff as well, naturally – maybe a 5-man Kabalite squad in a Venom, where I can perhaps get a bit fancier?

The other thing that has been running around my mind for a while is to just forget about the whole Obsessions thing, and run a Drukhari army without trying to straightjacket it into Kabal/Cult/Coven. There are enough options outside of the Obsessions to do this comfortably, though who knows if it would actually be viable? At least I could use my Reavers without having to think about a Succubus or maxing out the Outrider detachment…

All of this talk leads me to the main point I have to make, though: I’m just not that experienced with my Drukhari force yet. I said at the top that it was a very disappointing game, and that was really a disappointment with myself and the tactical choices I made throughout. I love Dark Eldar, not necessarily for the fluff but the playstyle is a massive puzzle that I really enjoy solving each time I bring them to the table (except, perhaps, when that puzzle is being destroyed before I even have a chance to pick up the next piece!) However, my hobby-butterfly mentality often sees me flit from one army to another, and never really getting the hang of anything. As it happens, I’m hoping to move house this summer, so in the spirit of anticipating some upheaval in the next few months, I probably won’t have the time to flit from project to project, and will therefore have to commit to something. If I actually manage to find the time to play any games, it might be worthwhile to stick with the Drukhari and see if I can really refine how I want to play them…

Going even bigger with Drukhari!

Hey everybody!
Following my post about the eldar Corsairs at the weekend, I thought it about time to get the main event posted up here on the blog: let’s take a look at my latest list development, the 2000-point Drukhari army!

This is quite exciting for me, as I feel like it’s been an army list in the making for a good number of months now! I’ve not played with my Dark Eldar nearly as much as I would have liked by this point in 8th edition, mainly because I’ve been struggling to come up with a way of organising my forces that I feel is right for me. I’m not interested in the competitive builds, but rather want something that I would actually like to play on the table. So late last week I spent some time cataloging all of the painted (and unpainted) miniatures that I currently have, before sorting them into an army that I can see myself playing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have 2545 points of painted Dark Eldar, with an additional 1000 points built and, in most cases, primed! I still have 14 kits waiting to be built, which is just mind-boggling, but then I suppose I was really into the dark kin back in 2017, and had grand ideas about fielding a massive force of them. Anyway! I’ve managed to distill all of this into a 2000-point list that takes in all three arms of the army; Kabal, Cult and Coven. Let’s take a look at this list now:

It’s quite a standard list of Kabal battalion, Cult outrider, and Coven patrol, netting me a total of 9 command points. I’ve still not really embraced the whole stratagems thing, feeling the need to maximise my pool of points wherever I can. Rather, I have been preferring to build lists that I want to play, and seeing if they can be organised after the fact for CP benefits.

I am, of course, playing Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, as that is how I’ve been painting my army since I started it back in 7th edition. I’ve got the classic combination of Kabalites in Raiders, and my Archons in Venoms – the Warlord being attended by his Court. I’ve also slipped a Ravager in there, because of course. So there are just six drops there to start with, and I should have some pretty decent mobile firepower to start chewing through the enemy from the off.

In contrast to most of my 8th edition lists, I’ve gone for just a patrol detachment of Coven, having 10 Wracks in a Raider and a Haemonculus in a Venom. This detachment, being so greatly reduced as it is, really feels a bit pointless on some levels, as I don’t have the mass threat of my big creatures or large blobs of Wracks to beat down in close combat. I’m seeing these guys primarily as a supporting unit for the Cult.

Wych Cults are an aspect of the army with which I have very little experience, and so the main focus for me in writing up this list has been to produce something that will allow me to change that. I’ve got an Outrider detachment because I principally have fast attack options painted, but there are also the squad of Wyches, and the Razorwing (which can fit into a Cult or Kabal detachment). I’d initially wanted to include a Venom in here also, but ended up without the points. However, the Coven really is a very mutable portion of the list, and so I could very quickly see myself expand on the Cult part to eclipse their Coven counterparts.

I have previously used Reavers when playing during the Index days, and I think they can be quite fun when used both for harassment and as more dedicated close combat units. During the game pictured above, I seem to recall they did serious work against the Orks! I also like Hellions, and feel like I’m perhaps the only Drukhari player who will make that statement! But I do like the models, and I feel like they should have a decent enough role to play in getting rid of the tougher infantry, while Reavers will likely be used to soak up any overwatch before falling back. I do actually have bikes with both grav-talons and cluster caltrops modelled on them, but haven’t had the points at this level to pay for them. As and when the Coven portion of this list is dropped, I think the Cult part could take on a slightly different look:

For this increased Cult list, I do rather have my work cut out. There are an additional 15 models to paint, which doesn’t sound too bad of course, but still! I do like the addition of the Beasts, as I think that’s an aspect that I’d like to explore a bit more if possible. The Beastmaster himself should be a good addition aesthetically, as he also rides a skyboard like the Hellions. The Clawed Fiend looks really nice on paper, making 5 S5 attacks hitting on 4s, with an additional attack once he’s taken a wound. I do have two of these models, though only one of them built – I think it could be quite fun to have a band of three of them with the Beastmaster (though not forming a single unit), going off to just blend their way through infantry where they’ll hopefully be hitting on 3s. The Beastmaster looks like he’s a decent enough support character in terms of his stat line – he can take drugs which might be useful when distributing them among the band, but his abilities otherwise basically allow for you to include Beasts in the army, and granting re-rolls of 1 to them if they’re within 6″. But he’s got splinter pods for 2 shooting attacks, and then carries an agoniser to make three attacks in the fight phase. It might be useful, I guess we’ll have to see!

I’ve only used a mass Cult once, and apart from the fact the Hellions were a fairly impressive unit for their Hit and Run ability, nothing else stood out. Of course, that could have been due to the fact I was pitting just one unit of Wyches against a mob of Orks! I’ve always thought that Wyches are the close combat unit to throw against a unit that doesn’t want to be in combat – their No Escape rule really speaks to that, after all. Coven units are the close combat units to use against dedicated enemy close combat units, so it does feel a little worrying stripping myself of the Covens!

I’ve also got enough points left over to give my Ravager a shock prow!

This list is a bit different to the one I talked about back in December, as it has more of a focus on the Coven than the Cult – if you haven’t already, I can recommend you taking a look at that to see what my thoughts were a little over three months ago!

Of course, going down the enhanced Cult route isn’t my only option for the army, as I am also considering the Eldar Corsairs option as discussed at the weekend. Should I go for that, I would then be able to fit in two more Reaver jetbikes to make one squad of five, with the addition of cluster caltrops to one squad and a grav-talon on the other.

While I suppose going the other way and enhancing the Covens is a third option for this list, I suppose the list as discussed back in December would be a better fit for that one. My fourth option, of course, is Murder Clowns, so make sure to check back later in the week for some thoughts on including Harlequins in the army!

Eldar Corsairs!

Hey everybody!
For the past few days, I’ve been fiddling about with a redesign for my Dark Eldar army, taking the list to 2000 points based on the models I already have fully painted. It’s been quite the task, as I’ve only played with the army using the codex once, but I’m excited to actually bring the list to the table soon!

I’ll be talking about this in more detail this coming week, but in doing this research, I’ve been looking at Eldar Corsairs as one of a couple of possible allied detachments, and I’m actually really intrigued by how this might work out!

In case you don’t know, the Corsairs are a sort of outcast band of the Aeldari in Warhammer 40k, basically more classical pirates than anything else. Following the Fall of the Eldar after the birth of Slaanesh, while the Craftworld Eldar began to lead lives of asceticism lest they attract the gaze of She Who Thirsts, and the Drukhari subsumed their psychic potential and retreated into the Webway, the Corsairs stayed more true to their original life, heedless of any acts of passion.

For a long time, ForgeWorld produced the army much like they do for other factions, but back in 2018 (I think) they discontinued the whole range, meaning that anybody wishing to play them would have to start a serious conversion project. Corsairs have always been conversion-heavy, so I believe, but now the problem is increased!

However, I do like the rules, as I think there could be an interesting slant to the army from using these guys. Let’s take a look!

They have two specific rules that can be thought of as army-wide: Reckless Abandon and Dancing on the Blade’s Edge. Reckless Abandon is probably my favourite, as it allows the unit with this ability to move 3″ in any direction if they inflict one or more casualties on an enemy unit by firing Overwatch. I like the thought of spoiling a charge move in this way, though obviously it would only really work on a squad-type unit making the charge, and there are plenty of ways to get around that. Dancing on the Blade’s Edge allows you to roll 2 dice for a Morale test, and discard the highest (per the FAQ). However, if the test is still failed, +1 model flees.

While the weapon options for these guys are pretty diverse, they all seem to come stock with a brace of pistols, which is an 8″ Pistol D6 weapon that is similar to the splinter weaponry of the Dark Eldar in that it always wounds on a 4+ (except vehicles, which it wounds on a 6+), and any rolls of 6 are resolved at AP-1. They’re 2 points a pop, and 4″ shorter than standard splinter pistols, but that additional point of AP is definitely worth it, I feel.

The Imperial Armour Index only includes three Corsair units: the Reaver band (basic troops), the Skyreaver band (jet-pack troops) and the Cloud Dancer band (jetbike riders). The FAQ does state that the army can still use Corsair Princes or Corsair Barons as an HQ choice, using one of the three datasheets printed in the Index as best describes the model. Additionally, Corsairs can use Venoms and Falcons from the Drukhari and Craftworld codexes. Of course, this does limit the options available to the army, having such a limited pool of units to choose from – back in 7th edition, the army was much more fleshed-out, through the use of Craftworld units alongside Corsair-specific squads. Whether there is any truth to the rumours that the loss of the Forge World upgrades means we’ll be seeing new plastics, I don’t know, but it could be interesting to see if anything will come of this now that the main armies have all had their codexes for 8th edition.

I’ve been faffing a bit with the above allied detachment for my Drukhari, something that can slot into the army with relative ease – though you’ll have to wait for my Drukhari blog before I go further into that!

The dissonance weapons sound like they should be a lot of fun, S5 AP-2 and D3 damage, increasing to S6 AP-3 on the roll of a 6+. Quite how I’m going to get the pieces for these distinctive weapons, given the lack of the proper kit these days, but I’m thinking it might be just as easy to use a counts-as system for these chaps.

My thought has been to proxy Dire Avengers as the main Reaver band, and then use Windriders for the Cloud Dancers, with the Warlock Skyrunner as the Corsair Prince.

It should be pretty basic, for sure, but I think it will work well enough, and I’m sure I can keep all of the counts-as stuff consistent!

In all honesty, I have no idea when I’ll be able to actually get round to this project, as I have so much on my plate right now with the Great Reanimation of my Necrons, and the Skitarii project that I’m still persisting with. But hopefully I can get some space pirates onto the table with my Drukhari soon!

Court of the Archon

So, I’ve finally finished up the Court of the Archon for my Dark Eldar/Drukhari army, and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with how they all look together on the tabletop now!

 
We have the full Court here: from left to right, we have the Lhamaean, the Sslyth, the Archon himself, the Ur-ghul, and the Medusae. I’ll go into each of these in a little while.
 
While I had included a Lhamaean in my army pretty much from its inception, I hadn’t really thought about including the rest of the Court, principally because they look just so damn weird! But, as time has gone on, I’ve seen the value in having so many ablative wounds for the Archon, and the weirdness can also be really fun, so I was happy to pop the whole lot in there. 
 
Some (recent) history
The Court of the Archon is something that, from what I can tell, has been around forever. A mercenary band of bodyguards for the big cheese, I do enjoy the idea that they are assembled by the Archon who is too paranoid to trust his regular Kabalite Warriors to guard him during a battle. Slaves and pets, these retainers are so broken by the Archon’s will that they would rather die a hundred times over than see their master fall – it’s so very, very Dark Eldar, don’t you think?
 

Back in 7th edition, each Court model could be taken in the HQ slot, though for each Archon in the detachment, up to one Court would not take up a slot in the Force Org Chart. While that in itself is pretty good, as they were fairly cheap HQs to take if you felt the need for some within your list, a Court of the Archon was actually made up of between 1 and 12 of the models in any combination! For 300 points, you could take 12 Sslyth, if you felt the need! What’s more, they could take a Raider as a dedicated transport, which allowed for the unholy combination of 2 Archons and 8 Sslyth transported inside the Raider, or the Sslyth Party Bus as it became known… 
 
Looking further back to 5th/6th edition, this is a significant improvement, where you had to take at least one of each model in the retinue (though if you included Sslyths there, hits against the unit were resolved using his Toughness rather than the other models. Looking at it based on this, the 7th edition Codex added so much more flexibility to the unit (though, the 7th edition Codex was generally quite flexible anyway – shame it was outclassed so quickly, because there was actually a great deal to enjoy in that book, and I will always have a soft spot for it!)
 
The Index changed their slot to Elite, and limited us so that we could only take a Court of four models for each Archon without using a slot. Now, in the new 8th edition Codex, we’re still limited to four models for matched play, and they can only be taken if you also include an Archon in your detachment. There is still some flexibility in that you can take, for example, four Medusae along with the Archon (although the rule of three would technically prevent that, but anyway). 
 
The 8th edition Codex is a bit weird in how prescriptive it is, though – but that’s the subject for another blog…
 
 
So what do these models do?
In the main, Court of the Archon models are melee units that are almost designed to defend your Archon in a defensive cordon, preventing enemy units from targeting him in the shooting phase, and from charging him in the fight phase. The Sslyth are perhaps the most valued for being Strength and Toughness 5, whereas the others are all Toughness 3 so tend to fold easily, especially against dedicated melee fighters. Sslyth are also notable for being able to take shardcarbines, a fairly decent yet overlooked poison weapon that can only otherwise be taken by Scourges. Sadly, the Sslyth lost a wound between the Index and the Codex.
 
Ur-ghul are truly hideous creatures of nightmare, whose brutal ferocity knows no bounds within the lore. Within the game, this translates to a flurry of attacks whenever the model charges – six attacks on the charge is fairly good for a 15 point model, but Strength 4 means he’s not going to be particularly standing-out. But I do feel the Ur-ghul embodies what the Court is all about – distraction units to draw the attention away from the Archon they’re guarding. 
 
Lhamaeans are the mistresses of poison, and lore-wise, an Archon will always seek to have such a creature close at hand to distill the finest venoms for his weaponry. The poisonous Shaimeshi blade carries a toxin so deadly it can cause the brain to swell until it bursts from the skull, or the skin of a victim to begin eating itself – “even a kiss blown upon the wind by a Lhamaean can kill in seconds”. And the model really embodies that air of deadly, sinister effectiveness, the way she’s holding the blade in a reverse-grip as she stalks slowly towards her prey… In game, we’ve got a fairly-decent melee unit that is more often than not killed before she can do anything. At least, in my experience! I’ve taken her a few times now, and when I remember to use her, she just seems to whiff. On paper, adding 2 to wound rolls and dealing out additional mortal wounds on 6+ should be really good, especially with all the myriad other buffs that can affect her such as Power from Pain and the Archon’s aura of re-rolling hits of 1 (or all failed hits if she’s even closer to the boss). For me, however, I’ve never managed to get that perfect storm running. Interestingly, the Lhamaean has lost her splinter pistol in the transition from Index to Codex.
 
Finally, we have the Medusae, a weird emotional parasite native to the webway that Archons find particularly useful, as their strange powers of storing up extreme emotions during a battle allow their masters to later re-live the torments and agonies suffered by their foes. Basically a jellyfish-like collection of brains and spinal cord, the Medusae is kind of hilarious when you think that it is this weird brain-like creature that has taken over the body of another. The second Court model that has a ranged weapon, the Medusae can open its host’s visor to unleash “a wave of raw anguish, plunging (the enemy) into a coma from which there is no recovery”. Formerly an Assault 1 flamer, it is now a much better Assault 4 attack with 1″ extra range compared with an actual flamer in 8th edition, though notably is not affected by the Kabal of the Obsidian Rose’s Obsession.
 
They are definitely fun models, and I think aside from the Sslyth, which is only taken for his bodyguard ability, none of these are taken in a competitive environment. But the Court as a whole is a unit dripping with theme, and I am really chuffed to have finally gotten all of them painted up and ready for action. In their first outing, they managed to keep my Archon alive, so what more do I want?!