Friday, October 26, 2012

Playing Dark Eldar in 6th (Part 1): Hybridization

I've seen many people having trouble with Dark Eldar in 6th Edition, and for good reason. They are perhaps the most fragile army in the game. Orks have individual models that are more vulnerable, but their weight of numbers produces a durability all its own. So how do we go about utilizing this army to its fullest potential? Two things. First, we toss aside the full MSU lists we saw under 5th Edition. Second, we get a little Desperate! This is gonna be long, and spread into multiple posts, so bear with me!

Dropping MSU & Going Hybrid

Any player worth his game would have told you that pure Venom spam armies didn't work, even under 5th Edition. Dark Eldar had such a pressing need for anti-tank weapons to combat invulnerable metal boxes that raiders and ravagers saw a ton of play, with backup from Trueborn and the various haywire units. With the changes to explosion results on passengers, even Raiders are very dangerous to DE now, and any AP2 or AP1 shot on your vehicle is likely to make the unit start running away from casualties alone. They still have their uses though, we just need to tone back their usage and make sure we are getting proper use out of what we pay for.

What this really means is going Hybrid. Pure foot lists simply lack the means to move around enough, so you still need some vehicles to help get you where you are going. Secondary purposes have the Venom being used as a gun platform, and the Raider being a ram torpedo, being one of the few models still able to get up to 24 inch movement on a ram. Those roles were present in 5th as well, but we can't just load up on both and hope to be successful. Changes to glances and the ease of losing these ships on penetrating hits just make that a liability. So we mix in some medium-to-large sized infantry squads to give a solid board presence.

More than most other 5th Edition books, Dark Eldar can put out some substantial numbers in squad sizes. We can get up to 20 Warriors, 15 Wyches, 20 Helions, and up to 30 models in a Beastmaster unit. Combined with a reliable means of gaining Feel No Pain, Dark Eldar can use these units to create the durability they otherwise lack. The advent of the Aegis Defense Line gives the possibility for the most backfield of those units (the Warriors) to become almost indestructable at range, while the rest of these units are pretty adept at working the midfield.

Working at the usual sizes (20 Warriors, 15 Wyches, 15 Hellions) & Upgrades we are spending 230-250 points per unit. So we balance out the extra cost with a couple of cheaper MSU units with some added mobility to get the troops up to an appropriate level of Durability, Mobility, and Capability.

Dark Eldar actually have great flier defense by virtue of having fliers of their own. They are fragile little buggers, but both of them are more than capable of putting out some solid punishment. In both cases, Flickerfields are a must. This lets us get saves without having to Evade.

The Razorwing has more anti-infantry firepower and comes with 4 missiles by default. This thing specializes in destroying entire squads. Typical configuration sits at 165 points for 2 Dark Lances, 1 Splinter Cannon, and 4 Monoscythe Missiles with a Flickerfield. The Void Raven seems more expensive at first because in order to use missiles you have to buy them. It makes up for it, however, with the better armor and anti-tank capabilities. Clocking in without missiles at 155 points with Flickerfield, this guy can eat up deep striking units, and blows up pretty much any vehicle, including fliers. Being immune to bolter fire helps a ton too!

So how do we put these basics together into a list that's more appropriate to 6th Edition? We do something similar to what's below:

A Sample List

105 Baron Sathonyx

50 Haemonculous

255 Hellions
- 14 Hellions
- 1 Helliarch w/ Stunclaw

240 Kabalite Warriors
- 19 Warriors
- 1 Sybarite
- 2 Dark Lances

225 Wyches
- 9 Wyches
- 1 Hekatrix w/ Agonizer
- Haywire Grenades
- Raider w/ Chain Snares, Shock Prow & Enhanced Aethersails

125 Kabalite Warriors
- 5 Warriors
- 1 Blaster
- Venom w/ 2 Splinter Cannons

125 Kabalite Warriors
- 5 Warriors
- 1 Blaster
- Venom w/ 2 Splinter Cannons

196 Reavers
- 6 Reavers
- 2 Cluster Caltrops
- 2 Heat Lances

155 Voidraven Bomber
- Flickerfield

165 Razorwing Jetfighter
- Splinter Cannon
- Flickerfield

105 Ravager
- 3 Disintegrator Cannons

100 Aegis Defense Line
- Quad Gun

Total: 1846/1850

The above list throws out an impressive 62 bodies. The Haemonculous starts with the Warriors, who detach in the first turn and let him fire the quad gun at a separate target. Their character is simply there for defensive purposes when assaulted, to keep as few warriors from dying in the first round so you can support with hellions and wyches if necessary. Reavers and Wyches play harassment games with their bladevanes & snares until needed for another task. Ideally the Wyches get out and tie up a shooty unit or super combat unit with their invulnerable saves. The raider goes on chain snaring and ramming. Hellions pick on ICs and support the midfield.

It's really pretty straightforward, but focuses on what 6th Edition needs to compete: Scoring Units & Mobility. We can get a lot better with the inclusion of allies, so stay tuned for part 2 when I show how desperate allies really do make this army work amazingly well in 6th!


  1. Hi,

    I like your thoughts on 6th edition, and I look forward to the rest of the series.

    What do you think of wracks ? I like them for their resilience. While I use wyches in a raider like you I also use a large unit of wracks as well. Although they can't kill vehicles like the wyches can they are much more resilient and can scred T3 infantry with the rerolls from poison and can take on tougher opponents (like small units of bikes).

    Do you ever find issues with early game anti tank firepower ? I've got even less turn 1 long ranged anti tank than you (I have no foot lances plus my 2 raiders have disintegrator cannons), and I'm worried in case I face a gun line incorporating a few vehicles.


  2. Wracks are much more resilient from shooting when you have cover, and they inflict more damage in close combat. I don't have a lot of experience running them in large squads, but the toughness boost makes them close to on-par with Wyches defensively as long as you aren't facing STR 8+ weapons and the Wyches don't yet have a pain token. I actually think larger units are the way to go with the current rules.

    Early game anti-tank firepower is indeed an issue. I feel lances on raiders are important for that very reason, and in most lists I would still put lances on the Ravagers.



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