I started playing Warhammer 40k back at the onset of 3rd edition. Dark Eldar models were in easy supply, and personally I liked the just evilness of them at the onset. There is no other race that is just seeped in evil like Dark Eldar. So Dark Eldar were my first army, and because of that, I will always like them. That being said, I am moving away from my Grey Knights and Imperial Guard hordes, and digging deeply into my dark eldar now. 

I tend to get a lot of requests for my old Dark Eldar Tactica to be updated with 6th edition, so here is the first bit, the overview and what I think of the army. Later I will start getting into some very specifics and addressing units and tactics.

Dark Eldar is a competitive army. It is not a top tier codex. Why? 
Dark Eldar are competitive in that they can literally rip apart another army on the tabletop (vs highly competitive lists). The problem of the codex in the tournament scenario is that it is not a balanced army, nor can it be and still remain competitive. By this I mean, it does not and will not handle all comers very well. yes of course we do our best to do what we can on it, but there is no give in the army. Meaning, you come up against your Rock/paper/scissors list, one or two things go wrong (including a few dice rolls) the battle can be over.

This is why people often see the Dark Eldar succeeding, and winning games, but they do not hold their own in a tournament unless the draw is in their favor. Most codices across the board in 40k are able to build lists that are very well balanced and able to take on whatever you might find in your tournament games, and in 6th edition, when they are not able to..... there are allies that can make up that difference. Dark Eldar do not have these in abundance (a lot of desperate allies), and with the exception of Eldar, allies tend to hurt the dark eldar more than benefit them. There are a few tricks though out there amongst other armies that can work, but for the most part, Dark Eldar need to be Dark Eldar (or with eldar). 

Later this year, if we see an Eldar codex released, a lot of things will change for our Dark Kin, with lots of new possibilities. 

 Dark Eldar are not for the faint of heart. They have one of the most beautiful model ranges in the game, and are by far one of the most difficult to play (well). I have seen and read almost every Dark Eldar tactica out there, and enjoy reading them, but there are too many of them declaring the army to be stronger than they really are. 

Besides what is mentioned above:
There are too many units that are broke in the codex. Meaning they do not work. While I say they are broke, it is possible to build a list around them to force them to have marginal and occasionally good effects on the game, but these units in general seem to have rules that just did not work out (which is too bad, some of these are beautiful models). Here are some examples:
*Mandrakes
*Dais of Destruction
*Kheradruakh the Decapitator
*The Court of the Archon

And then some very marginal units
*Succubus
*Talos
*Cronos

The rest of the codex really drops down to three types of units
*Haemonculi Covens: wracks, grotesques, and Haemonculi
*Wych Cults: Wyches, reavers, and Bloodbrides (beastmasters and hellions included)
*Warrior Kabals: warriors, scourges, and Trueborn (Incubi included)

And then we have the vehicles and characters. Of course there are the Harlequins as well, but the codex is not as complex as many people think it is. To play in the competitive environment, your options are not as vast and complex the codex first appears. Dark Eldar units are rather expensive. Building a Dark Eldar list comes down to hard choices to fit your army into the point cost of the game. 

39 Comments:

  1. I really want to see the most broken, OP DE list you can make. I havent seen any really.

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    1. I do have a good deathstar that I like. Its rather disgusting. I call it the talon, because of the formation the unit takes as it crosses the tabletop.

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    2. Would you mind posting it in an article? I'm very interested in seeing it.

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  2. Dark Eldar do have a good deathstar these days but it is quite expensive :

    Vect
    Baron and a bunch of beastmasters with Khymera and Razorwing flocks.

    You also need Eldrad as an ally to have a good chance to get the Invisibility power.
    Fearless beast (thanks to vect) with hit and run (thanks to baron) and invisibility are going to rape just about anything they touch.

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  3. I can't wait for them to FAQ that and not allow Eldrad to cast on other races.

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    1. No need to FAQ what is clear in the rules. Battle brothers can cast psychic powers on each other and likewise nefit from them... So what exactly is the problem?

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  4. Why is the Succubus middle of the road? She's an incredibly good buy. For barely over a hundred points, you get a WS8 I8 pack leader for your Wyches armed with a Blast Pistol and Agonizer. Free drugs, built in 4++ in close combat, 5 attacks base with 6 on the charge does wonders vs. most MEQ units. If she gets challenged, accept with the Hekatrix and go to work on the squad. If they win combat, and they should given the fact that Wyches like to hunt wounded squads, she leads the sweep at I8. She's my go-to HQ of choice these days.

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    1. I will agree that the number of unit options drop significantly when you enter an competitive environment. I also agree that Dark Eldar are difficult to play compared to other armies: They are a true glass cannon army, and that's what I love most about them. To be successful with the army, you must outplay your opponent in every sense of the word. That's what I love most about the Dark Eldar. Given, a few bad rolls can also ruin your day, but the same could be said about any game based around RNG. I just try to minimize that RNG as much as possible :)

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    2. Agree succubus are awesome for their cost. They work really well in a unit of Grotesques where they benefit from the toughness can tank S5 or less his with her 4++ and FNP making the grots a lot more survivable, the unit can also use her I8 for sweeping advance and she adds a power weapon that the grots are lacking.

      Gives you a survivable shock unit for a good price. :D

      -Mush

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  5. I agree with you in regards with the succubus. she is actually my fave generic HQ. she is super cheap (mine is 95pts with haywire grenades, agonizer and a venom blade) and has great stats. with her in a wyche squad you get a min of 10 agonizer attacks which is great. plus the new lilith model is my fave in the range so I use her when I can :)

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  6. Mandrakes are bad? That's a shame, they have cool models.

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    1. Zeredek, mandrakes can be good, its just it takes a lot of extra work to make them good. In 5th they were ok to an extent, but 6th has made them worse to use. For example, if you infiltrate with them, you can no longer assault in the first player turn, meaning they have to stand around for at least one enemies shooting phase and assault phase. In 5th, you could at least get them into close combat first turn to tie up an enemy unit, and hopefully gain their first pain token. They can now no longer assault on the turn they arrive from reserves on an outflanking manoeuvre, which for units without any ranged weapons makes using such units in this capacity redundant.

      While they can infiltrate, have stealth and move through cover, along with a 5+ invulnerable save should you get caught in the open, they begin with only close combat weapons until they obtain a pain token, at which point they become more usable, obtaining an assault 2 S4 AP4 18 inch shooting attack. However, this can mean by the time you get this ability there are relatively few mandrakes left in the unit to make it count. Also, with overwatch now a lucky roll could take the edge of any assault, though this can be mitigated by assaulting from cover to get a cover save, but then they lack assault grenades, so your enemy get to overwatch AND strike at you first.

      You can start them with a haemonculus to get that pain token, but then they lose the ability to infiltrate, and loose fleet, and you have to commandeer some other units dedicated transport to get them into close range where they will be effective.

      If they began with ranged weapons, or a pain token (perhaps as an optional points upgrade), then they would be a far better unit and we would see more of them fielded. However this is wish listing, and unless we see a modification in the 6th edition codex, mandrakes will be a rare sight on the battle field.

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    2. Sorry if it's a case of me not being up-to-date on the rules, but wouldn't move through cover mean the fact they have no nades is irrelevant?

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    3. Unfortunately not. It states that Move through cover is not used in assaults. This means that you still attack at initiative 1 if assaulting through cover, unless you have assault grenades. There are units that ignore difficult terrain entirely, and they still strike at initiative 1 when assault through cover or difficult terrain without assault grenades.

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    4. So a unit that is able to somehow stomp through cover without being hindered in the slightest, is somehow hindered when attacking?

      GW logic at its finest.

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  7. So far best way I've found to play Dark Eldar is Venom Spam. I take Haywire wyches as troops, Blasterborn as Elites, Ravagers as HS and a naked Hamie as HQ. If I play a total foot horde list I sit back and shoot if I play a Mech List I need to table my opponent as will need to get up close with my troops and elites to throw haywire and assault. Once I've chewed up all the Transports and Tanks I mow down all the Troops Splinter fire.

    As explained above its rock sissors paper just don't forget you can throw haywire grenades at flyers if within 8". Its funny as hell when they hit.

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  8. So far best way I've found to play Dark Eldar is Venom Spam. I take Haywire wyches as troops, Blasterborn as Elites, Ravagers as HS and a naked Hamie as HQ. If I play a total foot horde list I sit back and shoot if I play a Mech List I need to table my opponent as will need to get up close with my troops and elites to throw haywire and assault. Once I've chewed up all the Transports and Tanks I mow down all the Troops Splinter fire.

    As explained above its rock sissors paper just don't forget you can throw haywire grenades at flyers if within 8". Its funny as hell when they hit.

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    1. Aren't haywire grenades a blast? If so you can't hit them.

      Also to be honest, your first list just doesn't look fun at all. Typical venomspam, blasterborn, basic hamie list everyone else uses.

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    2. No, they are not. I agree that's boring though.

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  9. I Love my DE Army .
    Only thing that made me sad is when change to the Blast and large blast rules against vehicles and changes to exploding that even open topped explodes with S4 inside . Till now the A 10 was paper against all AV weapons and i play a high mobility army . But thanks to the design of slim vehicles i had a good chance that the middle of blast marker would scatter away and i would be hit only by half the strength .
    My List 1850 :
    Archon - Combat Drugs ,Phantasm Grenade launcher , Husk Blade , Shadow field , Soul trap

    Incubi 9x + Raider

    3x Kabalite Warriors 10x ,Blaster , Splinter Cannon 185

    Raider + Splinter racs

    Wyches 5x Haywire grenades
    Venom Dual Splinter cannon

    Wyches 5x Haywire grenades
    Venom

    2x Ravager

    Void bomber , Flicker field

    Scourges 10x Splinter cannon 4x

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    1. This army can dish so much fire .
      Archon and the incubi are there to stop any onrushing blob .
      Wyches there are for stopping any rushing vehicle and the venoms hang back as mobile shooting platform , if they manage to survive with wyches i tend to grab or contest points at the last turn .

      The Scourges alone i manage to kill 15 of the 30 onrushing ork mob ....

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    2. Thats an interesting list. Personally I would prefer to spend 25 pts on something else in the army rather than giving my Archon a phantasm grenade launcher, when he comes with plasma grenades. Retro-frie jets for some of my raiders perhaps, allowing my Incubi and Splinter rack raider with kabilite warriors the deep striking ability. How effective have you found the phantams launcher in games?

      What weapons do you run on your raiders and ravagers? I imagine given the amount of anti-infantry weapons you would be sporting a few dark lances? I also imagine that the raider carrying the incubi and archon would be armed with a disintegrator cannon (at least thats how I would run it).

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    3. The phantams is there the Key . Issue is that Incuby have no grenades so if you charge into difficul terain where the enemy is they go with I 1 and thats a death warrant for them . The Plasma Grenades on archon are only for him the benefit of his initiative . You Cand ropp the second venom with the wytches that will give you 115pts free to buy some extra missiles for bomber or other equipment like Sales for the raider with incuby . But this is not a rush out army .

      Normally i go all out dark lances if you go first the sheer amount of fire will reduce most of enemy vehicles to nothing . then you can turn the lances on terminators or any other heavy infantry .
      But yes changing that one raider with archon to disintegrator cannon is possible .
      But against infantry you have so much poison shot that even with 2+ save he will get the 1 rolls . You have at range 36" 60 poison shots (counting only the splinter cannons ) . if he gets closer 18" you will have additional 18 poison with shard carbines and 24 poison (with reroll to hit) shots from warriors . well under 12" its rapid fire .. well double for warriors .

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    4. I was under the impression that if the archon was part of the incubi unit, then because he has plasma grenades then the whole unit does not suffer from the initiative penalty for assaulting through cover.

      Well, there you go, there is a use for the phantasm after all if this is the case (which seems to be the general agreement in the community). In reality, its hard to see how models not equipped with assault grenades wouldn't benefit from models in the same unit lobbing them the enemy when assaulting, but then again most w40k rules defy logical realism. for example, rolling for armour after rolling to wound, when logic dictates that in real life it would be the other way around, or taking jink saves after rolling to hit and wound/penetrate.

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  10. Very well put article. I constantly have people people telling me it's an unbalanced army because either A)They think it's weak, with bad options; or B)They think it's too strong. As it currently is, like you said, it's a strong & good army, yet unbalanced because it doesn't fit the current meta.

    However one thing we need to keep in mind is that GW doesn't design books with the intention of making them tournament-worthy, as GW has completely distanced themselves from that aspect of the hobby. They're a miniatures company first, then they make the rules for them. I think DE are a good example of an army not made for competitive play, yet can still hold its own because it's a well-designed book on its own.

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    1. It's funny you mention that GW is a miniatures company first - which is true. But I know in the case of Dark Eldar, Jes Goodwin and Phil Kelly really laboured over DE and shared ideas, with a lot of weapons and units being rules before mdels.

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    2. Yes, to be fair, it's not a strict process where they always design models then rules; more-so they just don't focus so heavily on creating an army that's super strong so it can be a tournament winning army.

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  11. Is Lelith on a Quad gun a tactic? JUST WONDERING.

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    1. Why would it be? That's a mountain of points for a 2+ to hit with re-rolls. And since the quad-gun is already TL, any model with BS5 could get the same results, but a normal model with BS4 would be more than fine.

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    2. Lelith is great throwing a plasma grenade. She can't make any other thing in the shooting phase anyway...

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    3. If you want something to man your Quad Gun, take 20 Warriors, fully loaded, Haemonculi Ancient to lead them, behind an ADL. Get FNP, 4+ cover, and BS5 to man the Quad-gun. Sounds like a plan.

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    4. It was more a joke than anything lol. But now that I think about it... the quad gun being twin-linked sort of does make it even less viable (as a joke).

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    5. But she does make the quad gun ignore armour, same with her grenades. As all her attacks ignore armour (the rules does not specify attacks in close combat only). Armour ignoring plasma grenades ftw. :D

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  12. I'm surprised to not see wytches on the more marginal side of the list, snap fire when they charge does tend to make a mess out of them and god forbid your opponent has flamers.

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    1. Haywire grenades allow them to make a mess of any vehicle that isn't a flyer.

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  13. I'm a little aggravated at my Dark Eldar because I feel like I have to pony up $$$ to play them effectively in 6th edition. I used a heavy webway portal list in 5th edition, so skipped buying all those transports. I had fun with my webways and won enough to keep me happy.

    I still love the range and the small parts of the current codex, but it feels like they only have "one" build now that really works and that build costs me more $$$ than I want to spend on it :(

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    1. I might add, on a more positive note, that I've had a blast converting, painting, and generally assembling my army! I love the evil little guys and can't wait for some new options to open up for them!

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  14. I've been fairly dissapointed with DE in 6th, I play once a week, but dropped out of the tournament scene because I can't seem to find the cannon in the glass cannon. You'd think with all the talk about being a hard hitting fast army, they'd hit hard and be fast. Every melee unit they have has some flaw that makes it terrible. Either give me some punch or give me my armor.

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