Guide to Dark Eldar
Pray they don't take you alive...
Everything in your army with Combat Drugs gains a bonus to their statline for the remainder of the game. It's random. Whatever you get is what you get.
Power From Pain:
This is the rule that actually matters. As the game progresses, your Dark Eldar units gain USRs depending on what number the turn is. The sucky thing is that you don't start the game with any particular rule. But, if you hold all of your good units in Reserve, they wont be on the board until at least Turn 2, and maybe by the time you come onto the board, you might actually have a few rules worth writing down. To make the best use of this rule of course, means that you can't take a stand-alone Dark Eldar force because you always need something on the board. Universally, the best units are probably somewhere in the Eldar book, although because all of your Dark Eldar units start the game in Reserve and therefore don't deploy within range of anything, you can actually add some Dark Eldar into any army you want. Just remember to be aware which of your units benefit from PfP and which don't - not every unit does.
All of your good units have this. It's really useful.
1. Fear aura. Fear sucks.
2. Re-rolls to Seize, re-rolls to Night Fight, re-roll Reserves. Pretty good.
4. Hatred. Bad.
6. Fearless aura. Fearless is good.
Fear just isn't useful. Rage is okay. Hatred is not Preferred Enemy. High WS is negligible when you're WS7.
Artefacts of Cruelty
Cause a Wound with it, gain +1 to PfP. Pass.
Archangel of Pain;
Models that are Fearless or ATSNKF are immune. If you're playing in any sort of competitive meta at all
, those two rules cover most of the better things in the game. Ignore this all the time.
Armour of Misery;
It's okay on a Haemonculus.
+2 Attacks. Nothing to write home about.
Helm of Spite;
Adamantium Will aura. Yes. All enemy Psykers suffer Perils on any double. Yes. For 25 points you're stupid if you don't take it.
If it was a Melee weapon, it would be brutal. Unfortunately, it isn't. It's a Pistol that Wounds on a 2+. It's also only five points.
Archon*: 7s in all of his stats and four attacks. A Huskblade causes Instant Death, and that's nice. But it doesn't give you any better chance To Wound or damage saves more than a Power Sword would. So, don't waste the ten points unless you don't have anything better. For the same points as the Huskblade, you can pick up the Agoniser, which has Poison (4+) instead of Instant Death. One significant aspect of the Archon not to be overlooked is that he can take a Dedicated Venom Transport. If you're going for maximum Vehicles, then you can now have them in your HQ slot, and that's not entirely terrible.
Haywire Grenades; Always helpful.
Soul-Trap; You have to be in Challenges. Pass.
Phantasm Grenade Launcher; Force a unit to take a Leadership check. Fearless and ATSNK models are immune. Way to suck.
Clone Field; Should be 5 Points more expensive. It's a 4++.
Shadow Field; Ignore Clone Fields. Always pay the points for a Shadow Field.
Archon; Power Sword, Haywire Grenades, Shadow Field, Helm of Spite - 145 Points
Not bad, but nowhere close to being great.
- Court of the Archon: For every Archon in a Detachment, you can take one of these units. Ignore everything except for Sslyths (T5, FNP, 2 Wounds) and Medusae (AP3 Template weapon). Just note that Sslyths don't benefit from PfP.
Succubus*: Instead of 7s on the Archon, she has 8s. She also comes with Combat Drugs and a 4++ in Assault only. She's really not great, especially since she can't pick up a Shadow Field like the Archon can which works in all Phases of the game instead of just one. A good Barrage will drop the Succubus very quickly, and Dark Eldar are already very much at the mercy of Thunderfire Cannons. The only thing that remotely keeps the Succubus in the game in comparison to the Archon is that she has access to an S4, AP2 Melee wepaon that the Archon can't take, with her I8 she will kill anything she gets into Assault with. However, if the Succubus isn't in Assault, she's very vulnerable.
Lelith Hesperax: For 150/165 Points (note the Archon for 145), she has 9s for stats, she re-rolls To Hit and Wound in Challenges and her Melee attacks ignores Armour Saves - that includes her Impaler as well - just recall that anything she's in a Challenge with likely has an Invulnerable save. When she's not in a Challenge, she merely has Preferred Enemy (in Assault only) thanks to the Impaler that you totally did bring, right? She comes stock with a Clone Field that a regular Succubus doesn't have which then improves to 3++ in Assault. She also has Rampage, just for kicks. If Lelith is your Warlord, she has WS10. Again, when your WS is that high, +1 doesn't mean much. If you don't want Lelith as your Warlord, don't.
Haemonculus*: The Haemonculus and unit gain +1 to PfP. Okay. Haemonculi have access to a bunch of Melee weapons. Pick your favourite. Crucible of Malediction is useless. It should read
"All models with the Psyker special rule..."
but it doesn't. It reads something useless instead. An entire unit with a Psyker in the unit takes a single S6 hit. It doesn't even target the Psyker, and it's range is random so you pay points to fail. The Crucible is garbage, just don't take it. The only thing that the Crucible will work on are single-model Psykers, like MCs. But, you're Dark Eldar. If you want to kill Monstrous Creatures - Psykers or not - you can use anything else.
Urien Rakarth: He's tough. Literally. He's an Eldar model with T5 with a Clone Field. After that he's got FNP (4+) and he packs IWND just to regain his Wounds back. All models within his aura gain +1 to PfP, not just the unit he's deployed with. If for some reason, you choose to make him your Warlord (because he doesn't die, don't give up that VP), then his unit has Fear - which is kind of pointless, as already mentioned several times.
Drazhar: The Dark Eldar Phoenix Lord comes in just under 200 points, like many of his counterparts. He has Eternal Warrior, but he lacks an Invulnerable save, meaning that again he's another Character very vulnerable to Barrages. He has Rampage and generates additional attacks just in case you thought he didn't have enough. Unfortunately, he lacks Grenades and can only join units of Incubi. So, not only does he cost ~200 points, but you should only ever take him if you've brought a unit of Incubi.
*These models have access to Webway Portals.
The model, any unit it joins and any Transport it is embarked in, gains the Deep Strike rule. No Scatter. Very, very, very strong. Not only are your models in Reserve (and thus come into play only when they've already activated PfP), but you choose where they come from. No Scatter. Drop a unit of Medusae (Archon only, of course) or Trueborn on your opponent, watch them cry. Drop a unit of Grotesques in your opponent's DZ. There are even more stupid combos when you factor in Battle Brothers from Codex: Eldar. No Scatter gives you Deep Striking Fire Dragons or Wraithguard (D-Scythes, ho!).
While the special characters are fairly decent, the strongest thing that sets the generic choices apart are the Webway Portals. Don't underestimate the fact that it also applies to a Transport.
Kabalite Warriors: Lots of Splinter Rifles, throw in a Special Weapon. If all you want is to spam Venoms (why not?), then Warriors are the cheapest way to do so. There's not a lot to be said, here. For +3 Points per model, you can upgrade Warriors to Trueborn, changing them to Elites - and thus losing Objective Secured. Trueborn will be covered under Elites, because that's what they are.
Wyches: More expensive than Warriors, and for that expense, they gain extra attacks due to having extra Melee weapons, and they have a 4++ in Assault, but are pretty terrible otherwise. For lack of a better term, this unit sucks. If the unit could take Haywire Grenades, they'd be marginally effective. But, since they can't, they're basically terrible. You're a lot like Orks, the only way to kill Vehicles is to deliver the Character model with Haywire Grenades into Assault. But, you aren't Orks, you're Dark Eldar. You have plenty of ranged options to attack Vehicles with. For +3 Points per model, you can upgrade Wyches to Bloodbrides, changing them to Elites - and thus losing Objective Secured. Bloodbrides will be covered under Elites, because that's what they are.
Kabalite Trueborn: The upgraded Warriors from your Troops slot can take up to four Special Weapons, making them tremendously powerful from a Webway Portal. And/or you can give them two Heavy Weapons in a minimum squad. In your Elites slots, this gives you a lot of cheap(ish) Heavy weapons since your don't have a whole lot in this section competing for slots.
Bloodbrides: The upgraded Wyches from your Troops slot gain an attack. That's it. No extra weapons like Trueborn. Nothing. An extra attack. You paid 3 points for an attack, a point of extra Leadership, and, in return, you probably lost Objective Secured. Absolutely avoid.
Incubi: They have a 3+ Save and AP2 attacks at Initiative 5. They'd be strong if they had Grenades. But, since they don't, at 20 points per model, they're mediocre at best.
Mandrakes: Infiltrate, Move Through Cover, Stealth, Shrouded. This is a unit that relies very, very heavily on the amount of Cover that's on the board since they have no Armour Save. For your trouble, Mandrakes come with a mid-range S4, AP4, Assaut 2 weapon. Really useful for taking out Dire Avengers and Fire Warriors which Splinter Rifles on all of your other units don't quite do so well at. Provided that the Dire Avengers aren't equipped with a Farseer giving them Ignores Cover, that is. If you're that afraid, you can always Outflank them so they come onto the board with a few turns of PfP under their belt.
Wracks: They have FNP and Poison (4+) attacks. That's...Something. If you're not going to have an Armour Save, you may as well take Mandrakes instead.
Grotesques: T5, 3 Wounds. If your opponent doesn't have S10 on the board, you're gold. They're a lot like Tyranid Warriors. Except T5 makes them immune to being doubled out by ubiquitous Meltaguns and Krak Missiles. They rely fairly heavily on the FNP from PfP, so try and put a Haemonculus in the unit to accelerate that process. Or don't. Put them in Reserve so they don't get shot at. It's also very important to note that Grotesques have Rampage. All of them. So if they're outnumbered (they should be, they're expensive and die pretty easily), once they're in Assault, they will rip many units apart with their S5 Poison giving them a few re-rolls. Just remember, Poison doesn't work on Gargantuan MCs. You've been warned.
A unit containing up to twelve models, and, if you read closely, you don't even need to take a Beastmaster at all. However, without a Beastmaster (or two) in the unit, the Beasts are Ld5 and will run away very quickly. So, what are the other 8-10 models that you want in the unit? Khymeras are a solid investment because they have the Daemon
rule so have a natural 5++ - which you then increase by having Farseers or Iyanden Spiritseers rolling on Malefic because everyone knows that Eldar are all Daemon-worshippers at heart. It also helps that Khymeras are the cheapest model, costing the same points as the Beastmasters themselves. Razorwing Flocks have a bunch of Wounds, as well as a bunch of Rending attacks for that valuable AP2 that Dark Eldar really lack. Clawed Fiends are basically Grotesques with the Beast Type; T5, 3 Wounds, but with a terrible save and no FNP to back it up. Two-three Beastmasters, two-three Razorwing Flocks to soak damage, and fill the rest with Khymeras. Ignore the Clawed Fiends, they're just not that useful. The only model in this unit that benefits from PfP is the Beastmaster(s).
Starts off with a three-shot S5, AP3 weapon, which can then be upgraded to a Dark Lance. Solid Open-Topped platform. Bring Splinter Racks. Night Shields couldn't hurt either.
Always pick up the second Splinter Cannon. It has one less Hull Point than a Raider, but it makes up for that by bringing double Splinter Cannons. Just remember to bring Dark Lances or Dizzy Cannons somewhere
in your army because Vehicle busting and AP2 kind of actually does matter.
Jetbikes. With Combat Drugs. Splinter weapons are okay. But, unlike their Eldar counterparts, DE Jetbikes aren't Troops, and that's kind of annoying. But, DE Jetbikes do have Hit & Run and Skilled Rider and are therefore very, very fast as they can move through terrain without too many problems, especially as their Hammer of Wrath attacks have Rending. However
, their save is a terrible 5+, yes, that's including the Bike, which means they take it hard from Overwatching Flamers
Heat Lances and Blasters are very, very useful if you've stocked up on Venoms and don't have the AV piercing necessary to break a Land Raider or Knight.
Jump Infantry with Hit & Run and Combat Drugs. However they do have S4, and their Melee attacks have an AP value. They're not amazing, but they're not totally terrible. Unfortunately, Dark Eldar is a Codex that has a lot of strong competition in the Fast slot. Especially if you're taking Eldar Allies and want to cram some Bladestorm
unit into an Open-Topped Transport.
Flier. Two Dizzy Cannons which can both be upgraded to Dark Lances (you should absolutely do this). Night Shields are amazing on a Flier. Just do it.
They have 4+ Armour, and that's not bad. Especially since Reavers forgot to increase their save to 3+ like a proper Jetbike. Scourges are very strong with the right Special/Heavy weapons, of which they can take four of. Avoid 'Heavy' type weapons at all costs. Scourges are Jump Infantry and their move speed is invaluable. Especially since Hellions don't bring any weapons and Reavers get shot at and die, and Beastmasters bring no AV piercing at all. But, then again, there's always Razorwings.
Talos: WS5 T7, 3 Wounds with a 3+ Save and FNP. Does not benefit from PfP (way to fail!). However, you can take three Talosi per unit, and a unit of T7 MCs is quite strong. Even Tyranid Carnifexes are only T6, and don't have FNP unless they have it cast on them. Talosi are not something that you can just stick in your army, you'll need to build your army around having lots of them for them to have any effect at all. Still, they can save 1/6 against Plasma and Krak Missiles, and that's not nothing. Look at Haywire Blasters. Now look at them again. One more time. Wow. The only thing to watch out for is that the Talos is only I4, and very vulnerable to Marine squads who carry Krak Grenades as standard.
Cronos: Not as strong in Assault as the Talos, but costs less and brings a stack of AP3 ranged weapons (Why does GW keep making ranged options less expensive than Assault options? Doesn't GW know that Assault sucks?). The key thing about Cronos models is that they make everyone around them have better FNP. Which stacks. So what you can do, is have 3 Talosi as one unit, then have another two Cronos models right behind them, now that Talos engines have 4+ FNP. This is very much one of those things you need to keep in mind if you're thinking about building an army with Talos/Cronos models. Which models benefit most from better FNP? That's right. The models with the highest Toughness. Knowing that you can have 3 MCs per unit is also very strong.
Don't you know Beast Packs got nerfed!? Dark Eldar are the worst.
Shut up, idiot.
Ravager: If your army is built around spamming Venoms, you will need these Vehicles. Yes, they're Open-Topped AV11. But you're not going to get the amount of Dizzy Cannons or Dark Lances anywhere else without paying a whole bunch of points. If you're really worried about their fragility - they will get shot at - bring Night Shields. 15 points is not expensive for what Night Shields can do.
Voidraven Bomber: Yeah. They're a thing. Missiles are overpriced. But, since Razorwings and Voidravens are in seperate slots, you can have six Fliers in one CAD for under 900 Points. That's something. Void Lances are strong, of course. But Ravagers are 50 points less. It's really up to you and what you like. Given that the DE army wants to be fairly Reserve-heavy anyway, probably putting more Reserves into your army will only hurt it.
Kabalite Raiding Party: Formation where you take a load of units that you were probably going to take anyway - including Venoms/Raiders. In return for losing your CAD bonuses, everyone who benefits from PfP gains +1 to it, meaning that everything starts the game with FNP (6+). More importantly however, is that during Night Fighting, your Troops gain Shrouded (which is a direct trade for CAD), and all units just have double-Stealth during Night Fight. Last, your Warlord gets to re-roll his Trait if he rolls on the Dark Eldar table - this is exceptionally important because you're aiming for #2 - Re-roll everything, including Night Fighting, which you absolutely want because your stuff gains Shrouded-Stealth or Double-Stealth on the defensive and all of your units on the offensive have Night Vision. If you don't roll Night Fighting at the beginning of the game, this Formation is garbage and you traded Objective Secured for nothing. Good one.
Realspace Raiders Detachment: Your CAD-equivalent (for metas that use that term). Compared to the CAD, your Fast Attack choices are now 1-6, rather than 0-3. During Night Fighting, all your Troops gain Shrouded and everything else has Stealth-on-Stealth. How much do you love your Fast Attack? One reasonably strong use for this Detachment is to spam Scourges. They're Jump Infantry and have 4+ Saves and Shardcarbines, as well as the truckton of Special/Heavy weapons they bring per squad. 4+ Saves are good, mass firepower is also good, mobility is good. Dire Avengers can tell you all about it. Again, like the Raiding Party, you lose ObSec, and that's always painful. Of course with six Fast slots you can bring nine Fliers and try and trade with Necrons - their Fliers are just as fragile as yours, but you have Lance weapons with AP2 for +1 to damage. I'm sure there's something good for this Detachment, but with Reavers only having a 5+ Save and dying to Boltguns, I'm only seeing Scourges. ...Or 50 or so Khymera.
Tantalus: Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2013). Heavy Support with AV12 and 5 Hull Points, it's pretty good. Although it does cost over 200 Points. What it also does is shoot 12, S5, AP2 shots per turn. It's also a Dedicated Transport for Courts of the Archon, so, if you pack the whole thing with Medusae, you can abuse it's Open-Topped nature to liberally destroy a lot of things (except Terminators).
Reaper: Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2013). Heavy Support. It's a Ravager. But instead of Dark Lances or Dizzy Cannons, it shoots Haywire, Concussive shots. Haywire is strong anyway. But, as we learned from Space Marines and their Grav weapons, Concussive is a massive force multiplier for Assault units that don't have Grenades - like Incubi or Beast Packs. So that's what the Reaper is for, Haywiring the crap out of your opponent's Vehicles and Concussive-ing all the Infantry.
You're only Battle Brothers with Eldar. Advice for sprinkling them in has already been said throughout the guide. If you're looking for power units, it's the obvious few; Strong Psykers, Wave Serpents and Wraithknights. Remember that your Venoms and Raiders are also Open-Topped, so units like Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons or Wraithguard really, really, really like being in Open-Topped Vehicles where they can shoot all day while still being on the move. Also be on the lookout for things that can Deep Strike with one of your HQ choices with a Webway Portal. Now, you can probably Deep Strike in a Wave Serpent, but that's kind of dumb since they have 60" range and don't need to be that close to the enemy, ever. But, again, Fire Dragons or Wraithguard are quite strong as they have powerful, but short-ranged weapons. But, don't forget about Wraithblades. An Archon backed by a unit of Wraithblades is nothing short of terrifying (at the very outside you can even make a case Harlequins with Fusion Pistols). Also, remember that a Farseer on Jetbike can keep up with a Beast Pack, so if you're into rolling Fortune or Cursed Earth (everyone knows Eldar love Malefic), you can do that too.
For Force multiplying onto Eldar models, Dark Eldar have more than a few options that can bring Fear (if that matters). But Farseers are ML3 and already quite strong at resisting Witchfires or Maledictions. If you're running in a meta full of Chaos Marines who also have ML3 Psykers that love throwing around Maledictions and Witchfires, the Dark Eldar have the Helm of Spite, which grants Adamantium Will - causing Perils rolls on enemy Psykers isn't a bad idea either.
Desperate Allies aren't great. Rather, Dark Eldar work better as the Desperate Allies. You can insert them into pretty much every army you want. Just so long as you keep the majority of your Dark Eldar models in Reserve where they wont trigger One Eye Open, because in Reserve is where Dark Eldar want to be until they can get their PfPs up to a usable amount. Come the Apocalypse Allies works exactly the same way, and doesn't matter at all because your Dark Eldar units don't deploy - they're in Reserve, of course - and thus trigger nothing.
If using the Kabalite Raiding Party and you really don't want to rely on RNG to get your Night Fighting. Allying in some Necrons can get you Imotekh the Stormlord to automatically give you Night Fighting, and, if you throw in a Cryptek with a Solar Pulse, you can get another turn of it, too!