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?!

Drukhari tactical thoughts

Hey everybody!
Last week, I finally got to have my first game with the new Drukhari Codex – well, it’s not all that new anymore, I guess! I had tried a very small scale game on the August bank holiday, but this was a 1500-point match with the new Ork Codex, as we were both somewhat getting used to the way these armies play now that they have their own books.

My first thoughts are still that the Drukhari army is difficult to make work now that we’re forced to keep detachments focused in either Kabal, Cult or Coven in order to benefit from the Obsessions. I mean, sure, there is the Raiding Party rule that allows you to take Patrol detachments of each, so you can technically field whatever you want that way, but the HQ and troop requirement there becomes a tax if all you want to do is take some Reavers or some Hellions along with the rest of the force. Don’t get me wrong, it’s thematic as all hell, but I wish there were some kind of way they could implement it where, say, up to three non-Kabal units could be included in a Kabal detachment and not break it for Obsessions (those non-Kabal units just wouldn’t benefit from those Obsessions). I’ve come a long way from my very first thoughts on the book!

I took a Kabal battalion and a Coven battalion, and really fancied taking maybe a squad of Hellions or a squad of Reavers, but didn’t want to do so in an auxiliary slot and lose a command point for it. Like I say, I love the theme they’ve brought out here, but I really dislike how restrictive it can be.

It can also be confusing as all hell, as you try to juggle the Coven-specific or Kabal-specific stratagems among the army. While in one respect it’s really no different from a Space Marines army that has a detachment of Ultramarines and a detachment of White Scars, it goes broader than the Chapter Tactics style of things, as you have to remember what buffs affect what units. At least, I found it quite confusing!

At any rate, this isn’t meant to be a rant about the state of things with the new book! Rather, I wanted to take a look through my current thoughts about the army, and see where I want to take things in 2019… So join me as I take a look through the Codex, and effectively build in real-time a list that may or may not make me re-think my ideas about how the Dark Eldar have been straightjacketed into a specific playstyle for 8th edition! This is going to be a long post; I don’t think I’ve written this much on the Dark Kin since saying goodbye to the Index back in April…

Dark Eldar

I’ve mentioned before how I feel that 8th edition seems to be a lot about the horde style of army, and this is partly due to the way that troops have been brought back to the fore. No longer a tax, troops are actually quite good, and I feel this is nothing but a good thing for myself, as I love the miniatures aspect of this miniatures game. I don’t go in for a lot of hulking behemoths or whatever! But 8th edition is also a lot about the overlapping auras, and I’ve been thinking about both of these aspects as I’ve gone about re-writing my lists for my Dark Eldar army.

Lastly, I think it’s important to look at the Stratagems available to the Dark Eldar when building a list. To some extent this is obvious when writing an army list, but there are a wide variety of Dark Eldar Stratagems that can be very important to the overall game plan, whereas other armies might only want to use a couple of them multiple times.

Building a List
First of all, then, I’ve picked a unit that I think it would be cool to build the list around. This has previously been my starting point when building my Necron army list, as it provides a good basis to get the rest of the army going.

For this list, that unit is the Ravager. Equipped with three disintegrator cannons, bladevanes and a shockprow, the idea behind this is that the Ravager will fire all three cannons in the shooting phase, before charging into melee with its three attacks before falling back and shooting in the next phase. In a 2000 point list, 126 points isn’t that considerable a sink, considering a lot of Dark Eldar units are actually quite cheap, so it isn’t going to break my heart if this unit doesn’t survive very long.

Dark Eldar Incubi

The idea of a Ravager charging into melee got me thinking about that perhaps being able to take Overwatch in order to allow a melee orientated unit also get into the fight. I recently picked up some Incubi, so have been considering these, as a squad of five chaps will make 16 attacks in close combat. Previously, I’d been intending to use some kitbashed Wood Elves for my Incubi, but I’ve decided that I want to use the actual models now, even if they are finecast!

Their weapons look slightly unimpressive on paper, as strength 4 on a close combat specialist feels just average, but the four attacks made by the Klaivex have the potential to deal 3 damage each, if the roll made for them is 6+. They only have the DRUKHARI keyword, so can’t benefit from any of the auras dished out by the Archon, but they do have their own stratagem, Onslaught, which makes each unmodified 6 to hit score two attacks rather than one. So there is potential there, I feel. They do also benefit nicely from Drazhar being nearby, getting +1 to hit within 6″ of him, but for now I am leaving him out of the list. A squad of 5 is 80 points, so again, they will slot into my 2000-point list nicely.

Okay, so I’ve got a Ravager going around the field, being followed by Incubi, but they will obviously need transport to keep up with the assault boat. I’m going to stick them in a Venom – there will no doubt be a lot of these skimmers in the list – but I’m keeping it cheap with only one splinter cannon, and then the stock twin splinter rifle and bladevanes. I think this vehicle will be primarily a transport taxi, and just deliver its payload before zooming off around the battlefield doing whatever is required.

So we’re looking at something around 270 points so far, which is fine. Now for some of the more general stuff. Kabalite Warriors.

I’ve probably said this before, but if I was forced to only ever paint one unit forever, it would be endless Kabalite Warriors. This kit is quite beautiful, and while this is going to sound incredibly arrogant, I’m really pleased with the paint job that I have achieved on my guys so far!

While there are plenty of options available to them with the new Codex, I still like to keep them fairly basic and cheap, as they will die so easily. I wouldn’t say I use them as a screen per se, but I do field Warriors much as a suicide unit if the enemy is getting a bit too close to me. I had a phase where I was putting dark lances in the squad, but when a weapon costs more than three times the points of the person wielding it, you have to think twice!

For my first squad, I’m giving the Sybarite a blast pistol and agoniser, and a phantasm grenade launcher. It’s a fairly standard load-out for me, I think, but I particularly like the grenade launcher for allowing me to use the Torment Grenades Stratagem. I like to kit out my Warriors for weight of fire, and so have included both a splinter cannon and a shredder, with the rest wielding the generic splinter rifles, for a grand total of 95 points. It’s a fairly decent squad size and cost, I think  – any troops choice that ends up below 100 points is alright in my book! Though naturally, you can’t take Warriors without popping them in a Raider, as that is just the absolute requirement of a Dark Eldar force! All of my Raiders are so far equipped with dark lances, bladevanes and splinter racks, and so the transport costs as much as the Warriors within. But that’s alright.

Splinter racks are a new upgrade in the Codex that allow you to score 2 hits instead of 1 when you roll a 6+ to hit with a splinter rifle or pistol from within the Raider. Something that I generally forget about (even though I remember to roll for the splinter cannon separately, I forget why I’m doing it!) it’s a really handy upgrade that will, hopefully, allow some shots to explode – especially when we’re throwing fists full of dice in Rapid Fire range.

I like to use the Fire and Fade stratagem with my Raiders, for a proper Drukhari Drive-By, getting up close for the Rapid Fire, then moving 7″ away afterwards. While Enhanced Aethersails is a useful one for also getting the vehicle into close range, it needs to Advance, and I don’t think I want to put myself at -1 to hit as a result of that, so tend to leave this one alone.

When looking for stuff that will buff the army, it is very difficult due to the subdivisions within the force. Normally, you might expect to find an elite unit that would also grant some sort of aid to the troops units, but there are no <Kabal> elite choices, meaning the only thing outside of Stratagems and Power from Pain that affects Kabalite units is the Archon, who allows re-rolls to hit rolls of 1. Which would be fine, and is a lot better than the Index Archon, who merely allowed nearby units to use his Leadership, but most of the time, units are embarked within transports, so I feel there is something lacking for the army here. However, being a Dark Eldar player means playing around handicaps like this, and so we move on!

I want a couple more mobile squads of Kabalite Warriors, so I’m going to include two more, both of them in Raiders. I think, at some point, I’ll start putting disintegrator cannons on my boats, but for the time being, I’m keeping it all darklight, all the time.

My second Kabalite squad will be built along similar lines to the first, with a splinter cannon for horde control, another shredder, but this time I’m also including a blaster – something else the Codex allows now is for up to two special weapons as well as a heavy weapon – while the Sybarite is going to have just a splinter pistol and agoniser. Mixing it up like this is only four more points than the first squad, so it’s not too bad.

For the third unit, I’m again using a splinter cannon and a shredder, but I’m keeping it cheap and not going fancy with my Sybarite. Doing this brings the cost of the squad down to just 78 points, which is quite useful, and gives a better target for the Raider’s splinter racks.

We need to talk about HQs for a moment, and I’m going quite fancy here, using not only an Archon but also taking his entire Court! The Archon is going to be quite standard, having a splinter pistol and huskblade, but will be kitted out for melee through the use of Warlord Traits, etc. He’s taking a full Court, which is a fascinating collection of units that I feel deserve their own blog, so keep an eye out for that one, coming soon! They’re basically going to be ablative wounds for the Archon, at any rate, and all of them will be riding around in their own command Venom. (I wish that were an actual upgrade you could give to the Venom, but sadly it isn’t…)

So far, the army totals 1059 points, and can be taken entirely within a Kabal detachment. Fantastic!

Now then, this is where I think things may get interesting, as I’m quite torn between sticking with my usual Coven build, or else going down the route of Wych Cults. I don’t have many of the latter models painted up, and I’m not honestly sure of what I’m doing with them. Covens, on the other hand, have long been favourites, and I have a significant number built and ready.

At the start of the year, I wanted to go into the Cult route, and had planned almost a biker army of Reavers – I think I built up a dozen jetbikes, but have so far only started to work on three of them. I’ve also given thought to including masses of Wyches with Hellion/Reaver support.

Wych Cults are definitely an avenue that I want to explore with the army. However, I think I need more experience with the Cults before I can think about them too critically. For the time being, then, I’m going to stick with my Coven delights.

The two Coven Monsters, Talos and Cronos, are both delightful models that I have enjoyed since the Codex supplement gave us the delightful Dark Artisan formation. The Talos has recently gotten quite the reputation at tournament level, and I’m expecting to see something happen to it in this year’s Chapter Approved, but for now at least, I’m happy to keep going with my current build.

I’ve got two Talos now, along with a Cronos, all three of them kitted out to try and be just monstrous. The second Talos I built late last year has a stinger pod and twin liquifier gun, in an attempt to be a bit more anti-horde (each weapon is Assault 2D6), while the haywire blasters on the first Talos still do some pretty decent work, even considering the way haywire changed from 7th to 8th edition. The Cronos is definitely more a support engine, as it allows all DRUKHARI to re-roll wound rolls of 1 in the Fight phase. I might well go running my Cronos up with the Incubi, although his ability affecting all models in the army makes a good case for using a few more of these bad boys!

I’m taking my Haemonculus in order to make a Spearhead detachment with the three monsters, and also to make use of the Fleshcraft stratagem that gives a monster within 3″ of a Haemonculus D3 lost wounds at the end of the Movement phase. Always handy to heal your monsters, after all. To keep him a little bit safe, I’ve given the Haemonculus his own Venom, to deliver him right where I need him to ensure his Master of Pain ability will buff the Toughness of as many models as possible.

Taking advantage of the fact that I can still include troops in a Spearhead detachment, I’ll also be bringing some Wracks to the party, inside their very own Raider. This time, however, the Raider is equipped with chain-snares rather than splinter racks – bringing the cost down to 87. Well, it’s better than nothing! For the Wracks, I’m giving the Acothyst some fancy stuff: an electrocorrosive whip and a stinger pistol. We’ve also got an ossefactor in there, but I’ve foregone the second special weapon in order to keep the points down.

However, the Coven portion of the list so far only totals 625 points, so I could definitely fit some more Wracks in there! I think I’ll take my favourite sniper-Acothyst this time, with the Hexrifle and Scissorhand, though this time I may well add in a liquifier gun and keep everybody else just basic with tools. Another ten-man squad will therefore add 114 points to the detachment, but these are at least on foot.

In total, then, we’re looking at an army that totals 1798 points up to this stage, giving me just 202 points left to play with. It’s time, then, to start looking at organising the Kabal section into an actual detachment, so I’m naturally looking at a battalion here. I need another HQ, and Drazhar is just too expensive for my purposes, so I’m going to go for a second Archon.

I have actually built up the now-classic conversion, which you can see here, and he costs a grand total of 80 points (the power lance isn’t an option for him to take, in the new Codex, so he’s armed simply with a blast pistol). I’ve been considering putting another Venom into the list for him, and then just spending the left over points on Kabalite Warriors – I could include a five-man squad with another blaster, as well as a Venom with two splinter cannons to bring the total of the army up to 2000 exactly. So I might as well do that, I reckon!


So I’ve got two distinct detachments, and have ended up with an army that is remarkably similar to my 1500 force that I used last week! I still need to paint up some units for it, of course, but in the main, it’s pretty basic stuff! I think there are just six units that I need to actually paint (and, in the case of the Incubi, build), and potentially some of the special weapons within the Kabalite Warriors squads, so with a bit of luck, it shouldn’t be too much work in the new year to get this going.

For the Kabal, I am of course going Kabal of the Obsidian Rose, which increases the range on all of my Assault, Heavy and Rapid Fire weapons by 6″. This has proven to be incredibly useful so far, especially for the Rapid Fire stuff, though there were several instances where getting the extra range was really good for my shredders as well. My Warlord is the Archon with the Huskblade, and rather than giving him the Deathly Perfectionist trait, I’ve chosen to give him Soul Thirst, to get +1 Attack on the charge, and allowing him to regain 1 lost wound when he slays an enemy model in combat. I did say he was going to be built for combat! He’s also getting the relic, replacing his splinter pistol with the Parasite’s Kiss, which gives it an extra shot, -2AP and an extra point of damage, as well as adding 2 to the wound rolls for it. If that wasn’t enough, he can also regain 1 lost wound when he kills an enemy model with the weapon. Nice!

For the Covens, I’m going Coven of Twelve, which improves the AP of all melee weapons by 1. There are 27 melee weapons spread among my Coven, with the electrocorrosive whip and macro scalpels being the worst at -2AP, so they’re now -3AP, but all of my Wracks now have -1AP on their haemonculus tools, and my Wracks will be making 42 attacks in total! That’s before we factor in the monsters and the Haemonculus, not forgetting the Venom and Raider are both classed as Coven of Twelve units! Delicious!

Dark Eldar

For all this, however, the army at its heart is, I feel, still a very Dark Eldar army. In the new year, I want to work on writing a Wych Cult list that will be able to slot in, directly replacing the Coven portion of this list, but I feel there will be a lot of theory-crafting needed before I can comfortably work on that. Aside from the Reavers, I’ve only used Cult units once, and I seem to remember the Hellions as being the most interesting part of that. I’ve got 739 points to play with, give or take, so it will be interesting to see what I can do on that side of the fence!

Anyway, this blog has run a little too long, I feel – hopefully it’s been at least mildly entertaining and/or informative! I still think it’s pretty hilarious to think that I spent so much time complaining about how restrictive list-building is with the new Codex, then proceeded to build a list that was really quite straightforward to produce, as well as remarkably similar to the sorts of lists I’ve been building all year since the book landed. Obviously I’ve become inured to the suffering of having to force my army into these constraints!