Welcome readers old and new! My name is Justin and I can be found over at theflyingpredator.blogspot.com. I'm very honored to be writing as a guest for Faeit 212, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be more involved in the community. I know Denizens of the Dark City may be few and far between these days, but I'm here to challenge this trend!


Frequent visitors who have seen my Dark Eldar Tacticas understand that I have tremendous confidence in the army and I truly believe that they are a competitive force in today's 6th Edition environment. In fact, I have had enormous success against a wide array of opponents, but I seem to still get strange looks when I line my fleet up on the table. My love of the game means I often frequent forums, watch battle reports, and otherwise scour the internet to see how the game, and how my preferred army, are changing. Too often, however, I find that feelings about Dark Eldar in 6th edition are ambivalent, at best. At worst, the army is a useless waste of time, effort, and plastic. All too many times I have read stories of complete and utter defeat, rampant frustration, and an overall feeling of disadvantage when compared to other 6th edition powerhouses (looking at you, Necrons). While many of these feelings are warranted, I argue that Dark Eldar are one of the most underrated armies in Warhammer 40k.


Playstyle:
If there's one point of consensus about this army, it's that Dark Eldar epitomize what it means to be a glass cannon. Dark Eldar are not a forgiving army; their fragility does not lend itself to mistakes like a 3+ armor save might, and the army requires an incredible amount of finesse to play. In my humble opinion, many armies out there seem to play themselves. Dark Eldar, on the other hand, require players to make extremely effective use of cover, understand and utilize speed, and be able to take advantage of targets of opportunity. Now to be clear, I'm not claiming that all other armies in 40k don't require similar tactics, but I am arguing that Dark Eldar will punish you for mistakes to a much higher degree than many other armies, and this can be very frustrating, especially for players new to the army. If you can take advantage of these tactics to keep your units safe, Dark Eldar can put out incredible amounts of damage. Warriors in raiders can pump out shots and their speed means they will always be in position. Similarly, wyches can get into the face of your opponent quickly and efficiently, and can then serve as a jack of all trades, excelling at not only killing infantry but also taking out armor with haywire grenades. Listbuilding is also very important, as you can supplement weakness with the pain tokens provided by Haemonculi and take plenty of S8 AP2 lance weaponry to eliminate vehicles. While your transports may not be sturdy by any stretch of the imagination, using cover, speed, and night shields can add so much to their survivability, and thus their effectiveness. What many players dislike about Dark Eldar, as I have discovered, is that they are so unforgiving that many players don't give them more than one chance to discover the nuances and details necessary when playing with the army.

The 6th Edition Environment:
While 6th edition is no longer new, there is still much to be said about the advantages and disadvantages that Dark Eldar have gained. The first, and biggest rule that this army takes tremendous advantage of over any other army is Night Fighting. Although this rule is random, you can augment your chances with the Warlord trait table, and it provides such a huge boost to Dark Eldar on the first turn, it is almost unfair. With jink saves on all of our vehicles, getting that first turn is more important than ever now, as you want to be able to move vehicles to get a cover save, take advantage of night fighting, and grab that ever important first blood. Night fighting can basically give you a free turn, which great Dark Eldar players will take advantage of to do some damage and get into position.

Flyers are another huge factor in the 6th Edition environment, and some armies have a clear advantage over others in the air (once again, looking at you Necrons). Night Scythes and Dakka Jets can definitely ruin our AV10 parties, and I have seen the tears flow all over the internet among Dark Eldar players, claiming that there is just nothing that they can do. While I do concede that flyers pose a unique problem to our army, we have many tools to (literally) get around them. The first of these, is our speed and maneuverability  While you likely cannot avoid all the damage from the skies, the biggest weakness of fliers is their lack of agility. Our vehicles, on the other hand, can maneuver into blind spots in order to avoid fire altogether. Many Dark Eldar players, however, often do not have the patience to make mistakes and learn from them in order to figure out the best way to take advantage of the weaknesses of enemy units. In fact, isn't that what Dark Eldar is all about, exploitation? In addition to speed, Dark Eldar also have access to (in my opinion) one of the best flyers  in the game: the voidraven bomber. While not as cheap or accessible as the Night Scythe may be, it is a versatile, offensive powerhouse with access to many defensive upgrades as well. Two S9 AP2 void lances can do a real number on enemy flyers, and it has some incredible anti-infantry missile options as well. The final option is always to use an Aegis defense line, which can end up being quite effective with some creative list building. While air superiority is a big factor in the 6th Edition environment, we have plenty of answers and are not at as big of a disadvantage as many would believe.

Overwatch is another point of contention among players, and many argue that those pesky fleshbags that shoot you while charging have "completely ruined" all Dark Eldar assault units due to their low toughness and lack of significant saves. While I definitely agree that overwatch fire hurts the Dark Eldar assault, I also argue that Dark Eldar have many ways to mitigate that damage, and we have even reaped several benefits from the rule as well. First of all, changes to defensive grenades means that when charging, Phantasam Grenade launchers will often give us stealth, meaning that in combination with fleet, Dark Eldar can safely charge through cover and actually benefit from the increased save. Secondly, assaulting with Dark Eldar is all about opportunity. With the changes to Haywire Grenades, wyches have become premier vehicle hunters, and increased their assault versatility exponentially. Overwatch, on the other hand,  provides a huge advantage to Kabalite Warriors. Many opponents like to assault our vehicles since they only need 3's to hit, but our Warriors can do a significant amount of overwatch damage from out of the open-topped vehicles in combination with splinter racks. This can be an absolute riot, as your opponent charges your gunboat, breaking down in tears as he loses 2 terminators in the process.

The biggest advantage Dark Eldar have in the 6th edition environment is their unexpectedness. Everyone and their mother gameplans for Necrons, Dark Angels, Grey Knights and the like. However, Dark Eldar can capitalize on the blindness of your opponents and exploit their lack of answers to many Dark Eldar staples. I can't tell you how many times I've faced opponents who never expected the speed and offensive capability of Dark Eldar, and lost because of their lack of knowledge and preparedness.
List Building
Finally, I want to make just one small note about a trend I've seen all across the web. Players have become slaves to the "latest and greatest" lists, and much of the creativity has been sapped from the game. I have read countless comments about how people refuse to use units because the almighty internet claims that they are bad. While some units are just god-awful (what's up mandrakes?), I encourage everyone to figure out what works and what doesn't for themselves. First of all, it is my philosophy that your tactics on the table make a much bigger impact on the outcome of a battle than the list you bring. That is not to say that the list doesn't matter, but I think that a great player can make many "bad" units work very effectively. I encourage all players to experiment, try things out, and don't be afraid to fall flat on your face. While you will often find units that are worthless, you may discover new ways to use some units that turn out to be fantastic. My current project involves a list with an Archon that travels with a Grotesque bodyguard. It could end up being terrible (the internet consensus is generally that Grotesques suck big time) but I have an interesting and creative theory that I personally feel will make them awesome. Another list I'm working out uses twenty footslogging warriors with an Aegis defense line (What!?). The great thing about the Dark Eldar book is that we have so many hidden gems and great units just waiting to be used in the perfect, unstoppable combination, including our craftworld allies. So go out and try it! And if you've always wanted to play a Dark Eldar army but have been turned off by the haters, I say go for it. I'm always here for advice if you need it, and once you learn the army, you won't be disappointed.


The Flying Predator is a blog by 3 hobby enthusiasts with a myriad of different 40k interests and intrigues. Feel free to head on over to theflyingpredator.blogspot.comto check out our stuff, and follow as well!

21 Comments:

  1. Great article but sadly Fritz already beat you to it Natfka. Shame that someone else didn't get a chance at the spotlight.

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    1. Yea, I know, I read this some time ago, and Justin wanted to share it with us here on Faeit 212.

      there has been quite a bit of interest in "This is Our Hobby" articles, and I did not plan on posting one up until next week. There was 5 entries already the first day, so I wanted to get a jump on them.

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  2. I love my DE. My favs are the large unit of Reavers (from the original codex) I used to run 9 with a Lord on a Reaver, the turbo boost across the board then chop you in the face. I now run them as a unit of 10 with the lord model now representing an arena champion. They wipe out units as they go (thanks to the blade vanes) and have a jink when fired on. Insert evil laughter here.

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  3. jeah
    people should realy BUY the stuff before they judge based on rules and the internet forums -.-

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  4. I can say first hand that the new Dark Angels have been crushing my Dark Eldar so far, especially Ravenwing. But DE are such a cool, characterful army, I don't think I could ever stop playing with them. I do think they need a couple favorable boosts, though. Other armies have definitely closed our speed gap in 6th, something we really needed to maintain considering our fragility in comparison to other codices.

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  5. I am a rather new Dark Eldar player(yet have over 4000 points now) and used to focus on the Craftworld siblings. After trying out Dark Eldar a little(I was checking them to see if they proved good allies to Dark Eldar) I fell in love. I loved the speed and the amount of firepower they could push out.

    I personally don't understand why someone would say Dark Eldar are a weak army as they have considerable powers to dish out. I should know as I play Eldar who have fared badly in 6th edition so far. I have tabled IG, sent Ravenwing scrambling to their rock, and given a good fight to chaos, and every time I get the same priceless "WTF-Face" when I start firing poison.

    I love my Dark Eldar fetish freaks, and they can only be ripped from my cold, dead hands.

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  6. I have yet to win a game with my new dark eldar army, but that doesnt mean to say I dont enjoy using them. I dont play the game to win (if i do its nice), but I play it to enjoy myself, and explore different tactics, and see what tactics my opponent uses. They are fast, and give your opponent headaches, and they look damned good on the table.

    Yes there are units that are not as effective anymore. The mandrakes for one, but if you forgo their infiltrate ability, and stick them with a homunculus, you get a foot unit that has stealth, move through cover, an invulnerable 5+ save followed by FNP, and an 18 inch S4 AP4 assault 2 weapon. Yes you loose infiltrate and fleet due to the haemonculus, but it does make the unit a bit more effective.

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    1. Sad thing about the mandrakes, that seems like quite a lot to make them effective. Bottomeline, out the box they are worthless, hence why many never use them.

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  7. I've actually been tempted to write an article about using Psychology in games for 'TIOH', primarily how to wrong foot opponents, make them reactive as opposed to proactive and undermine their assumptions. I think DE are an excellent example of how to do this.

    The first time I played against them, I knew their stats from reading the army book. AV of raiders, dark lance strength, wyches initiative etc... so as my opponent was putting his units out, I was mentally deciding threats and counter measures. Quietly I was confident of victory thinking that my armour and boltguns would carry the day. In reality I suffered a scathing defeat. DE are not a force that you can reduce to numbers. Turn 4 I was tabled, utterly annihilated! To this day it's been my favourite battle!

    This could just be me, but when playing MEQ armies, I do tend to reduce battles to statistics and probability. That is what I'd argue is the DE's greatest strength. Under estimating them. "My bolters can easily destroy that raider!" - If only it were so simple.

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  8. Using 'subpar' units (like grotesques) that 'the internet' says are rubbish actually helps you out as either your opponent thinks 'lol n00b' and underestimates you and the unit, or else they think 'no one takes them - this guy must have some UBER plan/be really good!) Either way you have the advantage.

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    1. Third option - as grotesques don't tend to make it into net lists, opponents probably won't know their stats or even their army role. Be sure to giggle in an obvious manner as they head towards your opponents deathstar and see if he overcompensates to reinforce the unit? I also suspect Mandrakes with a haemonucli may catch people off guard too. Keeping your opponent guessing about your intentions/capabilities can be factored into many strategies. I tend to be VERY open about keeping two Trygon's in reserve.

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    2. I really don't see why people doesn't like Grotesque. Yes they are expensive but I run 4 in a raider with an Archon. I use them to wreck vehicules in the back on my opponents deployment zone. Turn 1 I turboboost. Turn 2 I disembark (if the raider survived) and I assault. They're really good at wrecking tanks and the liquifier also help to clean infantry. They makes their points almost all the time. My opponents starts paying more attention to them...which means they have less shots to spend on my Wyches and my Venoms.

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    3. Throw a haemonculus in there instead of an archon and the second pain token gives you furious charge, meaning that your Grotesques are strength 6 on the charge which against Guard and Eldar is an instant death attack. Its a nice way of killing that pesky Guard command squad, and obtaining that third pain token. The haemoculus can have a liquefier gun too, or a casket of flensing for softening up the target even more. if you are feeling extravagant give the Haemonculus a Husk blade, and being strength 4 on the charge thanks to the shared pain token, you can have a second instant death AP2 weapon hitting at strength 4.

      OF course with 4 grotesques, and one Haemonculus you have room on that raider for a second independent character, so if you are flush on points, you could include a second Haemonculus or that Archon.

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  9. I have lost once this edition with Dark Eldar.. (friend took two LRC with blessed hull) but other besides that I have swept the floor at 1500pts against almost every army now..short hand version of my list : 2 ravagers.3 10m warriors in a boat blaster splinter cannon (2 rock dissies) 4blastborne in a venom and 3 trueborne w 2 SC in a venom and a archon with a 8m incubi radier squad

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  10. I was thinking about adding some dark eldar allies to my eldar sometime. Probably an archon + incubi, wyches or warriors, scourges or reavers and a razorwing and ravagers.

    But that depends on when the new eldar codex comes out.

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    1. phoenix, that doesn't sound like allies, it sounds like the start of a new army. Do it, you will love them.

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    2. I second what MrJudd77 said. Sounds like you're sort of a closet Dark Kin. Can't wait to see what becomes of your allied detachment in the coming years. Hope they work well for you.

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  11. (Stands up from his seat, clapping slowly, then faster, until roaring applause!) I couldn't have said it better. But did you have to post our tricks? I've been telling people "I win 30% of my games cause people just never play Dark Eldar" since fall '10. You might get opponents to actually go out and study up for US! :) Great essay.

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  12. It's a sad, sad world, when every army that is not point-and-win like Grey Psycannons or Necroissants is looked down as "unforgiving" and "glass cannon".

    Utlizing terrain, tactical manoeuvering, playing to your strengths while compensating for your weaknesses, this should be what every army is forced to do. It's just that with the current rules MEQ/TEQ don't have to do this to be competitive. I can somewhat understand this regarding vanilla Marines, they're supposed to be the "introductory" army after all and therefore easy to use, but seeing seasoned veterans complain about another army being "difficult" to use and its units "useless" (and therefore going to pick one of the "beginner" armies) makes me want to facepalm, hard. Oh, how I miss the dear old 2nd Ed., where most guns had armour save modifier, meaning that only Terminators could expect to survive in the open, and everyone had to learn tactics to succeed.

    Speaking of useless units or equipment, sure, some may be more effective than others (psybolts, I'm looking at you), but "The Internet" is often far too busy applying mathhammer to gunline tactics on a terrainless table to care about tactics. Of course, any such comparison is going to heavily favour MEQ/TEQ over everything else, never mind how it would actually be best utilized.

    As a Guard player, I'm often amused how Ogryns are supposed to be waste of points because they are no match for Bloodthirsters in CC (because there are no other potential CC opponents for them in the entire game, right?), or how Psyker Battle Squad is just a too expensive and squishy Leman Russ (ignoring that before it takes losses you can shoot a S9 pizza plate from any of its infantry figures, and you can do this from a Chimera's top hatch or from terrain where non-walker vehicles cannot even go), or how instead of Penal Legion you should just max out on plasma vets like everyone else (granted, they are a gamble, but as a Guard player, potentially getting an outflanking unit that has Rending CC attacks - rerolling To Hit if you hide a Priest, preferably with Eviscerator, in there - is not to be overlooked, and Assault 2 lasguns, or Fleet & Furious Charge are still better than nothing).

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    1. Its funny that non-marine players all assume Vanilla Marines are the "introductory" army. They really shouldn't be because they are the hardest of marine armies to win with (besides Templars and that just due to age of their codex). Space Wolves should really be the defacto intro army, because unlike Vanilla Marines who are good at everything but great at nothing, Space Wolves are simply great at everything.

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