So following on from my Taking Stock blog that I wrote up at the weekend, I decided that I would actually take a look at the Dark Eldar that I have ongoing, as I really don’t know how many of these guys I have built and waiting for paint. (I also don’t know how many I have that are built and painted, but that’s another story I guess!) I’ve been through my box of shame, and it really is quite surprising just how much stuff is in there!
It’s interesting, to me, that I seemed to get a lot of my Dark Eldar painted up really quite quickly before just moving back into other bits and pieces. It’s a shame, because I would say it’s certainly one of my favourite armies to play, at least in the Index days of 8th edition. Once the codex came out, I seemed to go off the boil a little, as it seemed to me such a prescriptive way to play the army, forcing you to choose separate detachments for your Cult, Coven and Kabal. However, with 9th edition and the new and improved Raiding Force detachment (plus the general shift in focus from detachments anyway), I’m once again thinking about my favourite evil space elves. With the promise of a big-points game with my buddy JP on the horizon, I’ve started to evaluate what I have still waiting in the wings!
By my count, I have 23 distinct units that need some form of attention, whether it’s just painting, just finishing touches, or the whole thing. I also have eight kits that are still on the sprue, including two finecast character models.
By far and away, the biggest chunk of my unfinished stuff is Wych Cult units. I have three groups of 10 Wyches, one of which was kinda finished though I’ve never really been happy with them. I have two Venoms and a Raider specifically for Wyches. I have three units of Reavers, and two units of Hellions (although I’ve started to think of them as a single, 10-man unit). I have the Beastmaster and some of his mates, and I believe the Voidraven can be considered a Cult unit.
However, I also have some Wracks, Grotesques and a second Talos ready for the Coven, and I have two groups of 10 Kabalite Warriors and two Raiders for the Kabal. In total, I think it comes to something in the region of 2100 points, which is quite astounding if I’m honest – I mean, I’m fairly sure that my total painted Dark Eldar amounts to somewhere in the region of 2500! I have almost as much unpainted as I have painted! So I think this definitely needs to change.
That said, I have also had a look through the rest of the army as it stands right now, to see what I have available and so on. Turns out, I have some units that are now illegal, such as the Haemonculus I was building last edition with the different weapon options. A lot of the units in this book can now only be equipped with those weapons that come with them, such as the HQ choices (although weirdly a Succubus can still use all manner of Wych weapons). I was also struck by the paint job that I’ve done on most of my models – it’s very… workman-like, shall we say? They’re painted models, so that’s good, but I was surprised at how bad some of them look. Highlighting on the armour is one case in point, where some Kabalite Warriors look like they’ve had a basecoat and that’s that. I definitely need to try and go back on a few of them, and bring them up to scratch. However, I think the main focus will need to stay as getting more units painted, first. In an effort to not be overwhelmed, I’m thinking that I will paint the 10 Wyches first, and then plan where to go next. As opposed to planning out the next few units that I’d like to do, which all too often leads to me getting distracted and so on!
While Necrons are my first love, and Tau are my current obsession, I think the Drukhari being in the state that they are is a very poor show, because it’s definitely an army that I have a lot of love and affection for.
I mentioned earlier a game in the pipeline. I’ve got a list of 1750 points drawn up along the lines of the Realspace Raid force, something that is pretty different to the one that I drew up back last autumn when I was first making my way through the new codex. Let’s take a look:
I talked about this before, but the Realspace Raid detachment must contain HQs and Troops choices from each of the three arms of the Drukhari army. In addition, the Archon must be the Warlord. I see no problem with that, as it’s all very thematic after all! I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade my Archon to be a Master Archon, which gives me increased relics and warlord traits options, both of which I have chosen for him, and you can upgrade one of the troops choices to be a favoured retinue, which I have not chosen at this time. I think, if I had a spare 20 points, though, it might be nice to get some Kabalite Trueborn in there, as their accuracy is improved to BS 2+. Maybe something to think about in the future.
For my Kabal, I have stuck with the Obsidian Rose. This still grants 6” to the range of assault/rapid fire/heavy weapons, and you can also re-roll a wound roll for each unit when they shoot or fight. They also have a nice stratagem whereby fleeing models get to either shoot or fight before they flee the battlefield, and if they actually destroy any enemy models, they don’t leave. It’s an interesting option for that one unit that you don’t want to see leave! The Obsidian Rose warlord trait gives +1 strength, but I think the upgrade trait he has from the Master Archon ability (+1 damage on all weapons) is going to be more useful; the splinter pistol is a poisoned weapon anyway, so strength doesn’t matter, so it would only buff the power sword. Going forward, I’m giving some thought to chopping off his power sword, in favour of the huskblade, which is D2 (though S user).
I do like the idea of having two big blobs of Kabalite Warriors. They are some very beautiful miniatures, even if some people do think of them as “old” models now. I think I have, in total, something like 50-odd Warriors in various stages of completion, plus 10 more on the sprue. I say 50-odd as I have taken to re-organising my collection so that I have each squad capable of taking either of the special weapons, and in some cases, either of the heavy weapons. In theory, a squad of ten can have two specials plus a heavy, but they do become points-heavy in that instance, and I think for the time being I would prefer to have greater flexibility in the army overall – saving enough points on special weapons here can equate to a squad of something else further down the road, you know?
The Wych Cult is here represented by the Wyches, the Succubus, and the Reavers, and each unit gets to take a Combat Drug, which is something I am stupidly glad to see is still a thing in this day and age. I’ve given the Succubus Painbringer, which adds 1 to the toughness of the model, so that she’s now T4. I’ve given the Wyches Grave Lotus for +1 strength, as I think 10 models with improved strength is going to be more effective than giving it to the HQ. 7 Wyches making 4 attacks each with their hekatarii blades as S4 AP-1 D1 isn’t anything to be sniffed at, but I’ve also got Hydra Gauntlets in there which are now four attacks at S6 AP-2 D1, which will be good! There is also the Hyperstimm Backlash stratagem that would double the effect, for +2 strength, though I might be getting a little over-confident with that one! They do get to re-roll wound rolls of 1 when within 6” of the Succubus though, which I think might be nice. Finally, the Reavers have Splintermind, which improves the BS and Ld values by 1. I thought that might be useful as these bikes will be buzzing around the battlefield, shooting stuff up, but also have the pistols for shooting into close combat when they get there.
Also on the subject of Reavers, I’ve got my only Heat Lance in the army (and one of only two in the extended army). These weapons are basically the Drukhari version of a meltagun, single shot but S8 AP-4 and always a minimum of 3 damage. I like it, I have to say! Not entirely sure why I haven’t done anything with it in the past, truth be told!
The Wych Cult that I have previously gone for is Cult of the Red Grief, partly because it was the closest that I could find to the colour scheme I had started to paint my models in, back in the day. The codex seems to show a different colour scheme for them now, though, but never mind! The obsession grants re-rolls to charge rolls, and +2 to advance rolls, which I don’t find particularly inspiring, so instead I have chosen to go for the Cult of the Cursed Blade for all of my Wych Cult units, which grants +1 strength to models, and dishes out a mortal wound to the attacking unit when my models make a saving throw of 6. I think that’s really nice, and buffs up those hekatarii blades to S5, which just seems bonkers!
As far as Covens go, I’m sticking with the Coven of Twelve. I think that will give me the most utility, if I’m honest, as it gives an improved AP to melee weapons and also allows for a unit to shoot while performing actions. While I will most likely want my Wracks in close combat, I think having them with the flexibility to achieve objectives and still shoot their weird guns might be handy. The unique stratagem allows for the Haemonculus to dish out mortal wounds in the consolidate phase, which could be very useful if he survives combat, of course! Of all the subfactions, though, I think the Coven is where I’ve most considered going for one of those design-your-own things, where you take two different effects and mash them up into something more suitable. Maybe next time… So there we have it, 1750 points of Drukhari/Dark Eldar ready to go! It’s going to be interesting to see how the army plays when I get them onto the table, as a lot has changed since I last played the army. There was a time in 8th edition where I was playing these guys almost exclusively, and I felt like I really had a handle on things, so I’m eager to see how it will all work out again. Stay tuned for a post-battle run-through, hopefully very soon!