Dark Eldar (DE) Strategy Guide
The following article will covers all the uses of the units and abilities covered in the new DE codex released on November 6th, 2010. We did our best in this article to not spoil any rules, but give a rather indepth look at each subject of the book. So if you're looking for a word for word description on what's in the codex, then please look else where. Another big part to this is that you will HAVE to own the DE codex to understand what a lot of the explanations mean. It should also be noted that these opinions may not be exact truths, but rather a stance on things from myself. So with that being said, take it all with a grain of salt and enjoy the read!
(Also feel free to comment on if you see another use, tactic, or conflict with anything mentioned below as this is a living document and will change as we go)
Special thanks to Chris_, Tratchenberg, Souleater, Saldiven, squeekenator, Blaqkheart, Krayd, Kalishnikov-47, refyougee, hungry hungry hormagaunt, Rabid Bunny 666, Archibald_TK, teleologica, and Cosmic_girl for input.
Army Wide Special Rules
Fleet of Foot: With the new edition this allows us to shoot and then still get a average charge range of 8". It's not end all be all, but it does help compared to not having it.
Night Vision USR: With night fight being so common at some point in our games now, this ability is really nice to have. Not granting cover saves of any kind will be a huge boost for our army both game and fluff wise. It always felt wierd being the raiders during the night tha never raided at night lol.
Power From Pain: Most people think that this rule makes the Dark Eldar so unbalanced that they will be the next Blood Angels or Space Wolves. All I ask is that before you go all crazy and think that this is the end all be all, please think of when and how this rule will come into effect. The primary way to gain tokens is to destroy an enemy unit (excluding vehicles). This said most of your units are going to get chewed up before the goodies come to them. The problem with the old DE codex was that when most DE units ran low on models, they became almost useless. So I honestly feel this addition is a big help to counter that setback.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: There are other ways to gain pain tokens right off the bat, but with the the point cost to do so is justified to me as it's not really cheap and adds another kill point to your army. More detail on this are covered in the hammie.
Combat Drugs: Unlike in the old codex, one roll is done at the start of the game and any model with combat drugs receives that bonus. I like the change as it keeps things simple. I also hate the change as it may hurt some units (example being the Archon and the +1 weapon skill, see below). I'll cover each roll in the following entries.
1. 3d6 run: The least appealing of all the drugs but still comes in as a good all rounder. The only unit that loses out here is Reaver Jetbikes, but they should be zooming around the table anyway. This ability is great for getting across the table to get to an objective late game.
2. +1 WS: This roll helps everyone to a great degree in CC. A good thing to note though is that while the roll really does nothing for the Archon, it does wonders for the Succubus. Increasing her weapon skill to 9 will mean that most marines will hit her on 5's, thus helping to overcome her fragility a little more if you charge her out of her squad alone. Even though this may not seem like that huge of a deal now, but with the change of challenging you can fight squads with out having to worry about a power fist killing her at the end of the round.
3. +1 STR: This roll helps everyone to a great degree other then models with Agonizers, which to most wont be that big of a deal. Other than that the boost helps big time with the Soul Trap/Husk Blade combo described later on. Most DE models have Strength 3, so making our troopers as strong as the average marine helps a lot in melee. So as long as you have at least one squad of Wyches, Hellions or Reavers (if you intend to take those into CC), it's a good result. It should also be noted that this does not only affects fights against infantry, as it will make your troops strong enough to damage/destroy enemy transports, which is something Wyches and Reavers lack to begin with if no grenades are taken.
4. Re-roll to wound: Again another close combat buff but this one really doesn't have a draw back unlike the former options. In some ways it could almost be considered better then a roll of 6 on the chart due to the shear CC greatness it invokes right away. Agonizers anyone?!
5. +1 Attack: Yet another ability that will help your models get the job done better in CC. No brainer here why it's a good roll, but almost seems not as appealing as the +1 STR due to not being able to harm transports. Other than that though it helps everyone to a great extent.
6. +1 Pain Token: Great ability as it will make most of your units a lot harder to kill. If they already start with a token normally, you even gain Furious Charge to boot, thus making them a lot more nasty in CC as well. The only problem I see with this result is that in most of the lists I build the units that I really want to live have a Haemunculus attached to them from the get go. It really doesn't hurt to leave him there so they get the Furious charge but the best tactical option is to disengage him and put him some where else where they can gain the FnP as well. All and all though, the fact stands that it will make your army as a whole a lot more survivable, which is something we're lacking compared to other armies' troopers.
The Dark Eldar have a vast array of weapons at their disposal due to their slaves working daily to appease their masters. Here is a break down of what these nasty toys can do. As a side note, some weapons or gear will be addressed with their respective units.
Lance weaponry: The Blaster, Blast Pistol, & Dark Lance (DL). They are great anti-tank weapons all around and we can take them in abundance. They are the poster child of our book, as they always have been, and are the main stay to kill enemy armor. If you ask someone what DE do game wise, he will probably say STR8 AP2 Lance. His fear is justified as they smash enemy tanks into dust.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Once the tanks are gone start to fire on enemy elites troopers with them. Termies drop pretty hard from STR 8 ap 2.
Disintegrator Cannon: Massive anti-Marine weapon. In some ways makes you miss the old “plasma cannon” that we used to have, but against smaller units it fairs much better. Best reason to have these is the AP 2 on it. Due to the massive amount of termies all over the game now, these guns make mince meat out of them.
Splinter weaponry: The Splinter Pistol, Rifle, Cannon, Pods and Shard Carbine . Most players are going crazy that our whole army wounds on 4+ with all of these. However, the toughness 3 armies should be laughing at us. Our guns have always wounded GEQs on 4s anyway but unlike the previous Codex, our Splinter Cannons need 4's now to down the little bastards as well. Still, for losing out against our weaker kin the fact that we can hurt MEQs a lot easier makes it a nice addition to the book.
Heat lance: The Dark Eldar melta, only usable with our Talos, Reavers, and Scourges. While it looks great on paper I feel that the units that can take them just don't fit the bill. Scourges are better at killing infantry or haywire blasting from a distance. If Reavers Jetbikes ever stop to shoot they'll die (for the most part). And the Talos is to slow to get within range to use it. Now out of all these units, the one best suited is the Talos, coming out of a Webway Portal. It's twin-linked on the big guy and the portal jump negates the slowness of him. It can also be used to decent effect on Reavers as well, as the Eldar Jetbike move can help you glide safely into cover and out of assault range,. But the question stands: do you need the Heat Lance with Lance weaponry all over?
Haywire Blaster: Very good at taking tanks down in a short span with mass haywire fire. It's only available to Scourges and the Talos. Take two squads of scourges and two talo's and watch the tanks drop insanely fast.
Shredder: For the points it's one of the best things in the book IMHO. Great at shooting hordes and can do shoot down most transports. DE have a good BS so don't worry too much about scattering. In most cases people will shun this though, due to the fact that it's either this or the Blaster. My take on it is, if the unit is meant to shoot tanks then take the Blaster, but if the unit is meant to kill infantry then take the Shredder. Some people swear on mixing up their squads to deal with all approaches but I feel specializing is the best route possible. If you are shooting your squad of Warriors at a tank, then you are losing those 8-32 poisoned shots you'd have fired at infantry. Something to think about. Last note to say about it though, is that if it scatters into your own squads, you could lose a lot of guys (double T so no FnP).
Close Combat Weapons
Agoniser: I figured this gizmo would have to go first on the CCW list. Hands down the best weapon we have (CC wise) for the point cost against 3+ marines. It's only downfalls are that it's worse than a Power Weapon against guard, as the combat drug roll of 3 or the +1 STR feels wasted when you have this equipped and that power axes can kill termies far better. Other than that, the fact that it murders tac marines and monstrous creatures on 4+ makes it just crazy.
Husk Blade: If you get a drug result of +1 STR or re-roll to wound, or you have Furious Charge, then this thing will destroydicate (so great it gets its own word) anything in your path. Most used combo in the game for it will be Husk Blade with Soul trap. If you manage to get into CC with an MC or IC, you'll have STR 6 in no time. The only real downfall is its cost. If you need to trim points switch this out for the Djin Blade or the Electrocorrosive Whip.
Djinn Blade: Cool if you have the points laying around, but random and scary if you roll doubles. Its rules are a bit confusing, so many people will use this thing wrong, thinking it's just a piece of wargear that gives you two power weapon (PW) attacks. In reality, it is a close combat power weapon itself, that just throws in two extra swings at normal strength. I will say though that the fact that it's only 5 points more than a PW means that if you really want a PW, instead of an Agoniser, then just take this thing. Just don't be surprised if you roll a double and have your Shadow Field drop before your enemy even gets to swing.
Venom blade: Won't shine as bright as the Agoniser on most units, but good if you need to trim some points. Will insure you force a lot of saves vs. anything and is really better than the Agoniser against horde type units. Only really recommended on Haemmies and Sarges rather than an Archon. Also remember that if your STR is equal to the majority T of your CC target, you'll get to reroll to wound. Once your units start getting Furious Charge this can really start to pile up wounds.
Electrocorrisive whip: The problem with this thing is that the Agoniser and the Husk Blade shine so much that they kind of put this in the dark. However, if you want a very hard to kill Lord, this weapon combined with a Clone Field is what you want. Don't forget that it's a power weapon as well, so if you're thinking about taking a PW to begin with you might as well spend the extra 5 points here.
Commonly known as the wacky and weird section of the book. Different from the old Codex, this gear is now only usable by Haemonculi and their minions. The main thing to look at with these gadgets is the bang for the buck. I've split these up depending on role. So hold on to your seats as we take a in depth look at what these gizmos can really do!!!
Archangel of Pain: At first glance this may not appear that great. It has incredible ability to ruin even the hardest enemy troops once you hit their lines but the fact they have to fail a leadership check and its random range is ehh. With some Tormentor Grenade Launchers on your Raiders, it'd be slightly more effective.
Casket of Flensing: Some people will say this thing is garbage, but the bottom line is that it has its uses. If you've ever played Orks and don't mind the randomness of things at all, this is where you want to go with DE. Your average results are going to be 7 shots with either STR 3/4 or 1/6 and AP 3/4 or 1/6. That may sound confusing but the bottom line is that for its low cost, why not take it? It could just kill a whole squad of anything in your way or be as effective as a cap gun, but either way it will be fun. Best model to give it to is the Ancient as his BS 5 helps a lot!
Crucible of Malediction: So you hate Psykers… well do I have a treat for you! Against most armies this thing will do subpar, but against Psyker-stacking Nids, Grey knights, and Eldar it could mean game over. Combined with a Raider's Torment Grenade Launchers (TGL), this can cause the enemy some big problems. The main problem with Psykers though is that they have high leadership. To overcome this, zoom a Raider with a TGL in the middle of their army and watch even the most resolute casters fail some tests. For best effect I would make sure you have at least two Raiders with TGLs to make this thing more effective than once per game.
Dark Gate and Orb of Despair: Sure they craete a big boom but a couple of facts remain. Dark Gate has no AP and the Orb of Despair has short range. Because the Haemunculus carrying them shoots as bad as a Space Marine (yeah I said it), they aren't worth it to me. If you scatter into your own squad with double your toughness or AP 1 you could be watching your FnP guys going to see the Dark Prince sooner than expected.
Shatter Shard: For its point cost, this thing is great. Good way to thin out a lot of tough opponents that are in high number, even if they are T4. One shot of this could be the deciding factor when you shoot at a unit of nobs or Nid warriors and if you really have to you can use it to thin a horde VERY easily. Another big thing to note bout it is that it hits each MODEL so you can snipe chrs, sargs, and weapons. However, it's just one shot, whereas the Liquifier gun can do it over and over again and is cheaper to boot. Up to your play style really.
Close Combat Weapons
Animus Vitae: Because it's a CCW, you'll only be using your base STR of 3 (or 4 depending on Furious Charge), but if you do manage to kill a model or two the rewards are well worth the cost. I see this thing as the ultimate points filler in any army that has a Haemonculus with it.
Mindphase Gauntlet: The only use I see for this weapon is with a Grotesque Sarge canceling out characters with initiative lower than 3 or 4 (depending on FC). With that being said, the Flesh Gauntlet is a better choice even by those standards. Taking it on a Haemonculus will make your Wyches a better tar pit unit. But even then it's very situational as you'll need to strike first.
Flesh Gauntlet: Great on the Grotesque Sarge and possibly the Haemonculus versus anything with multiple wounds, but without Eternal Warrior. Most people forget that any form of instant death also cancels the use of FnP, so that's another good thing about this weapon.
Scissorhand: Very cool weapon capable of dealing out a slarge number of wounds. This coupled with the fact that it gives the low number of attack Haemonculus more swings is going to be the go spot for these guys. Only issue is that you can get a venom blade for 10 less points and it does almost the same number of wounds on average.
Hex Rifle: A great weapon for an Haemonculus who's joining a shooty squad to make sure they don't fall back or die that easy. Aim it at a big guy and let it rip. Do realize, that this gun wont be a show stopper or anything, but it's fun. If you have your Haemie sitting in the rear lines, take this. As an added bonus, it's an assault sniper weapon, instead of heavy weapon, so you can shoot it on the move.
Liquifier gun: One of the best flamers in 40k. You have a 50% of getting AP 1-3 so bye bye MEQs. Bottom line is it's cheap on the units that can take it and will help thin hordes if there are no heavily armored guys present.
Stinger pistol: Bad AP, shots, and range means this thing really should have been a free piece of gear for the Haemonculus. Not worth the points. Man I miss the old one. Exploding models were so much fun!
Vexitor Mask: No real need for this thing, seeing as for the points it's not that effective. If you really don't want your master of pain to go then throw this on him and it could just save his live! As said above, to use it to its best effect I suggest combining it with the TGL on a Raider to knock down the enemy's leadership.