Thursday, October 25, 2012


 As the song continues this week, always keep in mind The Mission. Victory conditions drastically alter the makeup of any particular realspace raiding force. Heading into November the Kabal prepares for MURDER on the Tabletops at the local 1750pt Hall Of Heroes as well as this years final 2500pt Contest of Champions in Sacramento.

Maximum MURDERpower!
There are an amazing number of factors that go into "maximizing." One of the basic precepts of the Oadius Astartes is to bring EVERY gun you can. The bigger the better, but bring them ALL. If it shoots, then stick it on someone and point it at the enemy. Often this precept quickly starts to conflict with the other stuff you need to win games and tournaments - namely scoring power and durability. For the Dark Eldar this easily translates in terms of Lances vs Poison vs Troops.

Enough lances kill opponents big, repetitive guns that will chew your army to bits over the course of 3-6 turns, they also take out the boxes the enemy is hiding in. Enough Poison to reliably burn enemy units right off the table, turn after turn. Enough Troops that the survivors can survive firstly and then hold Many objectives AFTER the enemy has had at them for a few turns. Its a difficult equation to balance, since many of the units that fulfill these roles can rarely do more than one at the same time. Very few units in the Dark Eldar codex can be classified as durable at first look.

The actual sad part of the Song, is that the Dark Eldar can almost never achieve balance here. The struggle between Lances long and short (Dark Lance vs Blaster etc) is never ending. Lances are cheap but the sacrifice is airpower and durability (Ravagers vs Razorwings vs Trueborn.) Blasters have seemingly unending utility, the sacrifice is range and troop or poison power. Troops score objectives of course, but they are not durable compared to almost any other troop, and although they might add tiny bits of lance or posion power the sacrifice is real significant parts of your firepower, lance or poison (Trueborn in Venom vs Warriors in Venom.)

This is the dirty rotten core of the Dark Eldar army. When it comes time to throw MURDER around on the tabletops. Stack up on the reliable: long range Lances (Blasters on Trueborn dont blast GK dreads out of the corners of the board even if they live long enough to get there.) Long range poison in the form of many Venoms, and as many Troop units as you can stand. As a rule of thumb, the Army on the Board should be able to de-mech and wipe 10 marines in cover without breaking a sweat, at about 30-36" range. Besides being evil and scary, this is the most important and first stepping stone to making the MURDER machine run.
Listbuilding like this doesnt leave a lot of room or points for many shiny and/or decorative elements. Most of the Dark Eldar utility built into top table competitive lists is found in the forms of redundancy, mobility/speed, and buckets of poison. Utility doesn't mean able to make tactical decisions in the middle of the battle. Very few units in the entire game are able to meet that description. So little items that allow you that type of leeway are simply invaluable.

The Eldar Farseer in his various flavors is one of the cheapest and most potent forms of bolt-on utility elements available. Amazingly he and the jetbike guardians can actually add MORE speed and mobility to a Dark Eldar list in addition to the moveable psychic buffs. The Farseer is also Leadership 10 - a healthy boost not found often in most Dark Eldar lists. He can easily double the use and value of any other unit in the list, and repeat that feat on multiple units throughout any game.

Overlooked and often underestimated in the new game - the Web Way Portal. Although it can easily change the entire makeup and strategy to win of the army, it should be hard to pass up wargear for almost any Dark Eldar general. Its an impenetrable shield for one or more units for about half the cost of one Raider. With 3+ reserves on turn 2, no reserve assaults, and very little available to modify reserve rolls, it does have its limitations/weaknesses. Its still the strongest form of protection Dark Eldar infantry have. USE IT! A simple example of its Utility value is to put deepstriking Hellions and Scourges in reserve, and the targets, mobility, and range of those jump units increases drastically as they can still use the Web Way to enter play.

Beasts and Hellions bring their own Utility to the table as they can kill tanks and infantry with almost equal ease. They are durable, being big foot units that can take easy advantage of various types of cover and sport lots of wounds. They also move very fast: Being mobile, killing anything, and having durability makes them the ultimate utility really. They also benefit from many Farseer buffs or leadership, and the Hellions have a HUGE scoring footprint. The points invested into these units are golden, as very few other choices can do it all.

Do not underestimate the value of Warlord Traits and Combat drugs. Any army can suddenly find massive buffs on the Warlord tables, but be sure to be ready to use them. Almost nothing on the Command chart is useful, but almost everything on the Personal and Strategic charts can be powerful boosts to the dark host. Outflanking beasts or hellions on a hammer and anvil deployment, for one really mean example. Hellions benefit drastically from almost any Combat Drug result. Evil scrum Xeno generals cannot afford to pass up any advantage, and that includes a super-scary-killy-Attitude, and the gusto to capitalize on any scrap offered.

Flamers are VERY BAD for Business
All Xeno hate flame. Besides Flickerfields and Shadowfields and easy access to FnP - the Dark Eldar Host almost relies on cover saves for decisive Victory. Nightfighting, The Baron, Phantasm grenade launchers, Jink and turbo boost are some of our best defensive tools.

Xeno generals Must Know Thier Opponents List, they Must deploy to win, and MUST use great target priority combined with speed to outmaneuver or quickly snuff out enemy units or big guns that ignore cover. Especially Flamers that dont need to hit, cant scatter, and if they happen to be Str6 or more, Ignore FnP on top of no cover. Flamers of various sorts also fire in overwatch, and so with each keystroke and murderboat full of dead xeno - these weapons of fiery destruction climb quickly to the very top of Bad Shit you need to avoid or kill, right away.

While we are here, anything that will spit out boatloads of dead xeno every turn needs to die fast. Mobility lets us dictate the battle to many an enemy. With the proper build of durability, utility, and poison, your opponents scoring units can often take a backseat on the kill list while you take out or outmaneuver the stuff that will eventually chew through your list. Like it or not, the stuff you brought to do the job wont live very long at range if your target priority is wrong. We are talking about durable hard targets like Riflemen, Predators/Vindicators, and Leman Russes. Kill them right off the board asap, and keep your poison boats alive to whatever degree is possible.

BREAK your Opponent with Waves of Abuse
Without getting to much into the specifics of any particular Dark Eldar army build you must plan to hit the enemy in waves of pain. The true first turn alpha strike days are over and more a result of poor listbuild/deployment on your opponents part then anything you have done as a Dark Eldar general. Changes to the new game have moved listbuilds you will find on top tables into a new realm of durability. Plan the waves carefully and unleash with Murder on the mind. Scariness wave, long range Lance wave, heat from the pending and crashing Assault wave, and be sure to pack a wave of Poison in between all the others.

Your opponent needs to know and respect your range of Murder. He must know that anything he doesn't carefully protect will be shot off the board by lances or poison or both, also that whatever is just standing around waiting on the assault wave will get some, and that anything not inside a metal box or out of line of sight will be punished with almost never ending poison. That, if he uses his big guns to silence yours, then the beasts will have him for dinner or that pounding the beasts means his guns die. When he presents you with the same conundrum, smile and burn it right off the board because mobility is YOUR tool. This is how you create combat Heat that burns at the edge of your opponents collar.

Dark Eldar can out-dance almost anything in any army build that is durable or killy on its own. Weak troops force you to paper the board and take out your opponents ranged firepower. Margins of Victory, particularly on objective missions force you to stock up on scoring units and stack them to win decisively. Systematically destroy your opponents tools to achieve victory, and in the right order to keep your army alive while you do it.

Mobility and bricks on top of bricks of poison dice are the real key to victory. Next we have to understand our opponents list to really get the mileage out of HEAT and PAIN elements and paint the board each game in decisive prize-winning MURDER!


  1. Doug: Thanks again for all of the quality content you and the other Wolf Brothers post here on SDM. It is hard to find on the web...

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  3. Best dark eldar 6th ed article I have read, thank you for this insight, especially appreciated as I'm just starting a de army myself :)

  4. Just found your site and I have to say that this is a great article. It's rare to find this kind of quality, so thanks!