Dark Eldar forces are like paper. Brittle paper. Not only are they brittle, their point cost is expensive. I mean really how long can you expect your Dark Eldar to survive head on heavy fire and still win the game without getting decimated.

The answer is, you cant. Dark Eldar work best when they can strike hard and fast. It is after all why we have so much speed on our side. The longer we stay on the table vs a good opponent with a good list, the worse off we are.

One solid answer is designing your list around reserves. While reserves are not my most favorite thing in the world, Dark Eldar can do it with style. Aerial Assault rules, Aether Sails, turbo boosting Reavers, Webway Portals, and Duke Sliscus make lists that can capitalize on a reserve list.

Why a reserve based list? Dark Eldar hit hard, and die to a protracted engagement. Lets shorten the game, hit the enemy where we choose in a surgical strike and criple the enemy, before we loose too much of our force. Dark Eldar are arguably one of the strongest hitting forces in the game. When they hit they wipe out sections of the board consistently. Reserves take advantage of this nicely.

Deploying: I played so many of my early games deploying all my forces and trying to survive long enough to deal damage to my opponent. Night Shields and Flickerfields, while helpful, are not the answer. Not that I wont use them, but their use alone will not save your vehicles. I have found that even trying to set up out of range of the enemy can very quickly turn against you, and most of your precious army get shot to pieces.

Pain Tokens: Pain Tokens are nice, and help you survive in late game, however too many people are making their lists counter productive to getting pain tokens, but that is another topic. Pain Tokens will carry you through, as long as your units capable of getting them, are the ones killing the non-vehicles units. Do not rely on getting pain tokens to keep your units alive. They are a secondary tactical design element.

Control: Dark Eldar have many options when it comes to reserves, and can literally strike from so many locations anywhere on the board. This gives you a very nice sense of control on the tabletop. Not only do you get to take control of the table top, your forces get to engage first, get shot later.

So Many Options. As a Dark Eldar player you have so many options at your disposal for reserves. Even then, with a webway or two, your flexiblity on the table top increases exponentially. This much speed, and not knowing where the Dark Eldar will strike, often puts players into a defensive mode right from the start. This is ideal for many play styles, especially mine.

The point is, Dark Eldar really take advantage of reserves. They suffer from prolonged games because of how fragile and expensive they are. Strike hard, strike fast, and leave the enemy crippled wondering what the hell happened in the aftermath. Giving the enemy only 3 rounds in a 5 round game to deal with you is advantage that Dark Eldar can capitalize on better than almost any other army out there.

7 Comments:

  1. I agree with you to a certain extent, I just hate that Dark Eldar have NO way to manipulate reserve rolls. If there were some way to get +1 I'd be agreeing with you wholeheartedly. What do you do when you only get half your army in against someone like, say, really shooty SW/IG, it's very possible for you to have nearly the entire half wiped off the board on turn 1.

    As a caveat, I'd advocate more towards a split deployment. Putting serious contingent of your army in reserves while utilizing terrain to your advantage to keep your on-table units alive while they get into position for when the rest show up.

    Then again, Dark Eldar with reserves manipulation would be pretty devastating. Which is probably why they didn't do it.

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  2. I have been running about a 30-40% deployed, the rest put into reserve or deep striking. So we are pretty close to being on the same page. Running portals forward to mid-field puts my units within serious strike range of IG lines.

    Regardless though, I am a full advocate of using serious reserves for Dark Eldar. Whether split, or complete, put your hard hitting units into reserve so that they can strike where you need them.

    While I miss the idea of manipulating reserve rolls from my IG, the dark eldar hit hard enough to live without it.

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  3. If you get a small wave, if you are built correctly with FnP, you dont get shot off the board, and the 2nd wave gets by almost without being shot.

    Often in DoW i reserve nothing or a the minimum bring the lance units (trueborn, ravager, and razorwing) onto the board turn 1.

    Not having anything on the board, depending on mission, allows and encourages the enemy to spread out a little, and generally form a nice line down the middle of the board.... advance wave impacts his decisions and has allowed him to move in manners to deal with your segmented forces. he also now doesnt have to choose between shooting at longer range ravagers etc, or trying to demech and put some wounds on whatever is about to get out and charge them.

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  4. Indeed. I suppose it's a combination of:

    A) no reserve manipulation
    B) The lack of haemonculus model and I refuse to spend time painting an old crappy one I'll replace the instant a new one comes out.
    C) My utter unholy love for first-turn assaulting people. GOD is it a wonderful look to see on someone's face when they get assaulted on turn 1. Nothing makes the devious dark eldar in me smile wider

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  5. Well.. atm until the june wave arrives I run an almost fully mechanised DE army (4 raiders, 2 venoms 3 ravagers) and Im not doing bad at all. Vs regular armys I have no problem, and vs shooty armies (and by shooty armies I mean all kinds of razorback/pred spam, or IG) Aethersails are a blessing as they allow me to turbo right to the side of the enemy's army, making him to move all around to be able to fire at me. Usually a raider and a ravager go down, sometimes even 2 raiders, but Im already in his face and one I get to strike he just cant stand the hit as I start to burn transports, kill people inside and get pain tokens.

    If I go second is a bit tougher, as I have to leave all in reserve and turbo from my table edge, but even that way I didnt have such a hard time.

    But yes, portal tipe lists are the best vs mechanised shooty armys. What can I say? I love seeing 4 raiders going flat out all over the place^^

    Great post, as always ;) greetings from spain!

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  6. As a tyranid player who is always a little nervous about fighting dark eldar (these elves arent very good nom noms) i am wondering if they would be easier to fight for an assault army like tyranids if they deep striked. What do you think?

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