Sunday, 11 October 2015

Beasts & Bodyguards Part Four - What I think of Lhamaeans [Dark Eldar]

Interesting for the fourth part in this series we touch on one of the most used in a lot if competitive lists  out of the model being reviewed.  The reason being that she is the cheapest HQ model available to the Dark Eldar, however I believe she deserves a further look.

So Why Do People Take Her

[a familiar start to competitive Dark Eldar lists]

To put it bluntly none of our character HQs are that great, they are fine for friendly games and semi-competitive tournaments, but if you are trying to squeeze every last drop out of a Dark Eldar list in order to compete with the top lists (eg. Eldar, Necrons & Space Marines) then you'd rather have a 10 points HQ (that also gives access to another Venom) and spend the saved points on other units.

An alternative view I have to point out, is that if you are going for a competitive dark eldar list is to leave out combat entirely (or maybe have one counter assault) to concentrate on shooting is a common held view, and not one that I'm going to argue against too strongly.  However if you like a bit of combat in your list, lets take a look at the Lhamaean.

A Closer Look

A Lhamaean costs the same as a Wych and is basically a Kabalite Warrior with better leadership (ld9) and the splinter rifle exchanged for a sword and a splinter pistol (and this is how I converted mine rather than usual mulitples of the, although excellent, finecast model).  However it's the sword (or Shaimeshi blade) that is the real game changer. The Shaimeshi blade is a Poisoned (2+) weapon that causes Instant Death on a 6 to wound roll.  Although the opponent will still get their armour save the 2+ poison will ensure that a fair number of wounds are caused, and the occasional Instant Death wound that could get through will scare Monstrous Creatures (I've killed both a Wraithlord and a Wraithknight, under the last Eldar codex, with that).

The Lhamaean is obviously very fragile, like most Dark Eldar units, with only T3, a 5+ armour save, and later in the game Feel No Pain from the Power from Pain table, so the damage output has to be good to make up for that, so lets take a look.  Can the Lhamaean take on the giants already reviewed and the go-to assault unit; the Grotesque:

[ON = Outnumbered, +1S = The +1 Str Combat Drug result]
Warp Beast = Krymerae, the old school in me slipped out :)

The above table looks at the damage done on the charge against marines (MEQ) and Imperial Guardsmen (GEQ), and compares the ratio between the points killed and the points cost of the unit doing it.

Now an obvious caveat.  This analysis should not be taken in a vaccum, to decide whether you use a unit you also need to consider:

  • It's speed; both will it strike first in combat and is it fast enough to get to combat
  • How tough the unit is, will it die before it gets to combat, how will it deal with return attacks
  • Is it reliable at charging, does it ignore the cover penalty distance, does it have fleet
  • How brave is it, will it run at the first sign of damage (leadership) and can this be mitigated cheaply
  • Are the numbers reliable, they may be averages but how likely is an average result likely, does it rely on a good number of wounds being caused, does it ignore armour saves (reducing unreliability), does it rely on rolling 6s (eg, rending, which can be very unreliable against opponents with good armour saves - I'm looking at you Necron Wraiths !!)
So now gets back to the numbers.  Right of the bat the Grotesque when it's outnumbered will kill 41% of it's cost on the turn it charges, a very good total, and dwarfing the pitful 23% of a wych if it rolls an inconsequential combat drug result.  However look at the Lhamaean, it kills an impressive 58% of it's points cost in marines on the charge.  It may only kill on average 0.4 marines per Lhamaean but because it only cost 10 points this leads to a very good ratio percentage.

Maybe it's just because the Lhamaean is cheap, but comparing against the Warp beast & Wych with a +1 Str combat drug the Lhamaean still comes up on top.  Looking against GEQ and the Lhamaean and Warp Beast are clear winners.

Can we take this further ?

Although the Lhamaean wins on pure damage dealt it is still very fragile compared to the big hitters of the Grotesque, Sslyth and Clawed Fiend, however lets join two units that cover each other weaknesses.  The Court can be made up of Lhamaeans and Sslyths.  Between them they will have majority toughness 5, the Lhamaeans give the unit good leadership 9 (so they don't require a character to babysit them), and they use up 2 slots in a transport (same as a Grotesque), plus between them they have the same number of wounds as Grotesques and Clawed Fiends.  Overall a nice combined package.  And for those numerically minded, here's there combined stats:

The combined stats are comparable to Grotesques on the charge, has the same majority toughness, most of the wounds start with Feel No Pain, and the rest gain it by mid game.  Advantages compared to Grotesques include better leadership and no need for a babysitter, fleet to make charges more reliable, some shooting to give them some flexibility, and lastly opponents have rarely seen a Court of the Archon with more than a single Lhamaean or a few Medusae, let alone played against one.  Don't underestimate how an opponent's unfamiliarity with a unit can mess with their target priority, force them into making hard decisions and they are more likely to make mistakes.

So for me, we have a...
My top pick for a combat unit is a Court made up of Lhamaeans and Sslyths, however all of the units in the stats table above (apart from Wyches) are good, and all have niches where they are the best unit for the job at hand.  Therefore rather than having multiple Courts I have a unit of each; Grotesques, Krymerae & Clawed Fiends.

Were you expecting this conclusion ?  Have you used Lhamaeans, how did you find them ?  Has this series been useful so far ?


Next up I'll be discussing adding a touch of light.


  1. Dude, best CC unit in DE book is Reavers with Cluster caltrops.

  2. Isn't it a shame that we are reduced to taking a lhamaean as our hq of choice nowadays, as all out GW choices are really sub par. I am a more narrative gamer and I still think our hq's are not worth taking.

    That said a lhamaean with a unit of slyths have done work for me on the battlefield. Put them in a raider with splinter racks and you have a lot of shots being pumped out, with the lhamaean for ld boosts.

    In their own or a unit made up of just them I don't think they work as they suffer from the same problem as wyches, namely over watch, which just turns them into dark eldar paste

    1. DE really needs a boost...wyches ignoring overwatch would help a bit, or even having a 3++ vs overwatch.



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