Monday, 23 July 2012

An Option to Fill the Gaps - Dark Eldar in 6th

With my first games of 6th edition I'm beginning to see gaps in the Dark Eldar arsenal, so I'm going to quickly explore what I think those gaps are and a possible solution.  I say possible because with all weaknessess one option is to not cater for it, and concentrate on your strengths.

So lets explore those weakness:

Pyschic Powers

While in 5th edition the lack of psykers (and psychic defense) was not much of an issue, but now some of the powers are downright game changing. Examples include being able to fire overwatch at full BS; our poor wyches didn't like overwatch to start with, but this wouldn't leave many wyches to make combat. Another example is a version of the Tyranid's Doom power to do wounds equal to 3D6 less the target leadership.

One option is to keep a good range away from enemy psykers, as most powers are quite short ranged, while trying to kill the psyker from shooting.  However this may prove differcult with most psykers being independent characters so they can Look Out Sir any wounds away on a 2+, plus most have easy access to options to increase their speed from hopping a ride with another unit in a transport to having wings or jump packs themselves.

Mid Strength Firepower

With the new Hull Points rules mid strength firepower seems to be coming to the fore.  Riflemen (double twin linked autocannon dreadnaughts) were already popular, and now with Hull Points a lot of the time it is easier to kill vehicles by stripping away their hull points rather than exploding them.  In this edition lots of mid strength shooting (best done by autocannons, assault cannons, psycannons, scatter lasers etc) are the most efficient at doing this.

Dark Eldar however can not move with the new meta because we don't have these types of weapons.  We have the single shot dark lance/blaster/heat lance, or multiple shot anti infantry guns (splinter cannons, splinter pods etc.) that can not affect vehicles at all.  The disintegrator cannon at str 5 is just too low to use against vehicles.

[Going to Ground - Dark Eldar don't survive like they used to]
Troop Units Resilient to Shooting

With multiple objectives being used more of the time having troops which can sit on a objective late in the game and be hard to shoot off is nice to have.  Again Dark Eldar with their glass cannon nature are not too good at this.  With lots of terrain reduced to a 5+ cover save, and Feel No Pain also reduced to 5+ sometimes it hard to keep an objective that was won earlier in the game.

I used to use small units of 3 wracks to came on from reserve, but will they still be able to hold objectives, when they have gone from 4+ cover with 4+ Feel No Pain to 5+ and 5+.  Also these wracks played no part in the battle and contributed nothing to killing the enemy.

The Solution ?

Well there don't seem to be any easy solution within the Dark Eldar codex, so my suggestion is to turn to allies.  Dark Eldar only really have the option of Eldar, as all the rest require tests to see if you're too suspicious of your ally to concentrate on the battle each turn.

Now a lot of people say the Eldar codex is a bit dated, needs an update, and is not competitive enough (nothing I totally disagree with), but when allowed to cherry pick some units to fill certain gaps I think they have some good options.

When picking allies there's two ways to go about it; either build your whole army list around the fact that it's going to be a joint force, or (as in this case) only picking certain units to fill strategic needs.  On this second methodology I believe the points spent on the allies should be kept to a minimum to stop them taking away the focus the main list has.

With this in mind lets look at psychic defense.  Eldrad gives the psychic defence we need, but also alot of offensive powe with 3 usable powers a turn, the option of using the new 6th edition powers and a staff that wounds on 2+ disallowing armour saves.  However at 210 points, maybe we can get away with a cheaper farseer.  Note: This gets rid of the need to figure out how to ensure I get the best use of all of Eldrad power (something I would do if I was designing an Dark Eldar/Eldar joint force from scratch).  If I take one of the  cheap 20 point powers (to immediate switch for a Diviniation power, as the basic power is Guide with double the range), add on Runes of Warding for the psychic defence and I've only spent 90 pts.

Next lets look at the mid strength shooting, well nothing does it better than war walkers.  They may be even more fragile at only 2 hull points each, but the fire output with scatter lasers is nasty, 8 shots each for 60 pts.  However with the increase in fragility I'm thinking it may better to go with the cheaper dual shuriken cannon option.  Each war walker is now a bargain 40 pts each, and I can have 3 for the cost of 2 with dual scatter lasers.

Although the shuriken cannon war walkers have the turn 1 (and maybe turn 2) issues with range, they keep their firepower longer due to having more models.  After suffering 2 hull points the 120 points of scatter laser war walkers have lost half their power down to 8 shots a turn, while the shuriken cannon war walkers have lost a third going down to 12 shots a turn.  There is the case that I could go for 3 scatter laser war walkers, but then the points start to get high (180 pts for all 3).  A quick note: Vipers were considered as they can take dual shuriken cannons (at 65 pts per Viper).  Although they are faster and therefore better able to make better use of short ranged weapons they pay for this being over 50% more expensive, are open-topped and can't outflank.

Lastly lets look at what troops I can take to make my allies detachment legal.  Guardians are very poor unless you take a large squad with a platform (and even then their medicore), and they wouldn't compliment the rest of the Dark Eldar army.  Dire Avengers are similar as without an expensive transport they are a bit weak.  Jetbikes are an option; they can be as cheap as 66 pts (for 3), and like the my small wrack units they can always start in reserve.  However I'd then have a problem with where to put the Farseer, unless I buy him/her a Jetbike and start the jetbikes troop unit on the board making the joint unit of farseer and jetbikes a fast but small and fragile unit.  Finally we have rangers (or pathfinders), they add something new to the army with sniper rifles.  Their precision strikes are great for kill special and heavy weapons, and can be used to threaten characters who could easily fail their 4+ Look Out Sir roll.  To keep it cheap lets just take 5 rangers and see what we have.

The suggested allies detachment comes in at a tidy 305 pts, not excessive, but large enough to cover the bases.  It will need some cutting to fit them into a 1750 force.  Going through my current list I have lost 4 Trueborn with 4 Blasters on a Venom (with dual Splinter cannons), plus 5 wyches with haywire grenades on a Venom (again with dual splinter cannons), and to make the last few points a krymera was lost.  That's a lot of anti infantry firepower lost with 24 poison shots from the 2 venoms, and then anti tank is reduced with less blasters and less haywire.  The war walkers should be able to pick up some of that, plus the farseer and rangers add to the tool box the army can draw upon.

After all this I'm not going use this as an excuse to start an Eldar army, so I'll be modelling and painting up my Eldar additions to be Harliquins (using a simular colour palette to my existing army).  I'll convert the rangers from warriors with the necron sniper rifles (who can avoid an excuse to use those lovely sniper weapons). The Farseer will be a Shadow Seer character, and I'll add spikes and blades to the war walkers.  It should be a nice project, even if I eventually decide to stay pure Dark Eldar, plus they'd always be ready in case I want to move up to playing 2000 pts games.

Lets discuss whether this adequately fills the Dark Eldar gaps ?  Do you agree the gaps need fixing/filling, or are there other gaps that are more important ?  Will the new Eldar units synergise with the Dark Eldar army well, or do they seem out of place with the style of the existing Dark Eldar army ?

Here's the complete army list with the Eldar additions.  Do the Eldar additions add more to the army than the Blasterborn, Haywire Wyches & 2 Venoms they replaced ?

Baron Sathonyx - 105

Haemonculus Nalix Soulseer - 60
  with Liquifier Gun

Farseer - 90
  Runes of Warding, Divination Power Prescience (a double ranged Guide)

4 Trueborn with 4 Blasters - 108
  in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons - 65

4 Trueborn with 4 Blasters - 108
  in Venom with 2 Splinter Cannons - 65

9 Wracks - 90
  in Raider with Disintegrator - 60

9 Wyches with Haywire grenades - 123
  including Hekatrix with Venom Blade
  in Raider with Disintegrator - 60

5 Eldar Rangers - 95

3 Wracks - 30

3 Wracks - 30

4 Beastmasters - 186
  with 4 Krymerae and 6 Razorwing Flocks

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Ravager with 3 Dark Lances - 105

Razorwing Jetfighter - 145
  with 2 Dark Lances, 4 Monoscythe Missiles

3 War Walkers - 120
  with Dual Shuriken Cannons

Total: 1750 Pts, 64 Models, 19 Units, 5 Scoring Units



  1. Interesting ideas. Using a Farseer to get Runes of Warding is plain nasty (my Tervigons will be upset!). I hope the new Elder codex reduces just how awesome Runes of Warding are, but we will see!

    I think the war war walkers fit in very well with the DE list i.e. more light vehicles! I wounder if the potentially increased charge ranges (e.g. 2D6 compared to just a flat 6" as in 5th) will mean they get assaulted easier?

    The only other criticism is that the list looks light on troops. In particular I am not sure if the two units of three wracks are worth it. Perhaps you could combine both units and try and squeeze in another raider or venom to transport them? Although I am just not sure what else would be worth losing to do that?

    Also have you considered any fortifications? I know they don't look DE like, but getting a quad gun in there seems standard in many list I have seen recently.

    Anyway I will have to get down to Reading and find out how it plays first hand!



  2. Runes of Warding is nice, and he also can pick the new BRB power that allows a unit within 12" to reroll to hit. The war walkers would be obvious candidates and the beastmasters if they are in a counter attack role (and haven't run off to far).

    Assaulting is an issue, but at least I can measure to ensure they need a 12" assault phase charge.

    My DE have always been light on troops, and my 6th edition lists have actually gone up one troop choice to 5. However with reduced cover saves and FnP I think it may be better having 2 small ones choices as they may be able to find somewhere completely out of LOS.

    It's hard to see where cut points for more troops or a transport for a bigger wrack unit from the 2 small ones. I could lose a trueborn from each squad, and combine the unit of 2 wracks into one unit of 5 to get a raider transport. However I'd be cutting into my already weakened anti tank. Dark Eldar is a glass cannon, and it's hard to get away from that without a radical list redesign (eg, grotesques, talos, pain engines), so I think having more troops which are more resilient will only reduce the power of the list - imho :)


    PS. When are you next up in Reading ?



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