Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dark Eldar- List Construction

Well, I won't lie to you- Dark Eldar are a whole new monster to me, and I've been trying my hand at list building of late.  Here's a link to my first 'published' attempt at them.  I got a lot of accusations (like, two lol) that the list was souless, not creative, etc.

I think I agree to an extent- it's pretty spammy, and lacks anything that gives it some real character.  In fact, I'm not convinced it would work extremely well.  It might, but again, it might not.  It would likely depend on how well the 'Incubistar' did.  Which depends on having dependable transports, which the Dark Eldar do not have, really.

So, in this post I'll be talking about what I think Dark Eldar need in order to be competitive, and at the end, a list that is hopefully less soulless but potentially far stronger than the original.

The thing I see as giving Dark Eldar the most problems with is the lack of anti-tank.  Namely, they have (almost) zero access to AP1/melta weaponry.  Sure, reavers and scourges (ugh?) have it, but they cost a lot.  Any list that wants melta is going to need to make either reavers or scourges a wider part of their gameplan.  Otherwise, Lance weapons are what we have to shoot with.  AP2 Missile Launchers (that affect AV14), essentially.  Statistically, you need like 15 shots or so to wreck/explode a single AV12 vehicle.

Many armies make up for their lack of tank kill in the shooting phase with strong assault capabilities (looking at you, Orks).  Dark Eldar have some strong assaulters, but no squad upgrades that really help you out against AV10.  So, Dark Eldar clearly struggle in this regard.

The ability to kill troops in a Dark Eldar list is pretty good.  Splinter weaponry makes you hope your opponent brought 3 wraithlords/9 Carnifexes (you probably should wish that anyways :-p ).  Poison is everywhere for Dark Eldar, and for very affordable prices.

The problem I've had with Dark Eldar assault power for a while now, is how undependable their transports are.  Seriously, AV10 open-topped is ridiculously easy to pop, even with a 5++.  It makes the 'Incubistar' far less dependable.  I'll be writing an article on it soon, but I think the key to a good assault element is a dependable assault element, and this makes Dark Eldar struggle.  What's that?  You killed my single raider with 400+ points of assault troops in it?  Ah, well, good game then.  Sad face :(

So, I've been sad, until I discovered (rediscovered?) this fun unit:  Hellions.  At the time the codex came out, people were raving about how Hellion spam=easy button, and I had originally said that Hellion-spam lists would not work, since they lacked fire support, invulnerable saves, and a way to get everyone FNP/FC efficiently (6 Haemonculi?  Lol, what a joke)

I still think that this is true- Hellion spam sucks (for the same reasons).  This view however, caused me to completely disregard Hellions as anything I would ever want.  That view has changed.

A single squad of Hellions with FC/FNP gives what every general would love:  a ridiculous number of quality attacks at high I, that don't depend on a transport.  That's what makes my Wolfstar strong- the ability to move despite getting shot up the turn before.  And what's even better- they can kill tanks with S5 charges.  I'll talk more about the unit some other post, but suffice it to say that Hellions can do just about everything a good assault unit can, and do it well.

So, with hellions as my strong assault unit, let's make a list, for funsies.  Hope you like it.

Dark Eldar List, complete with Awesomesauce, 1850 Points:

Baron Sathonyx

20x Hellions w/ Helliarch w/ Power Weapon
5x Warriors w/ Blaster, Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w/ Blaster, Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w/ Blaster, Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w/ Blaster, Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Wracks w/ Liquifier, Raider w/ Flickerfields

4x Kabalite Trueborn w/ 4x Blasters, Raider w/ Flickerfields

6x Reavers w/ 2x Heat lance

Ravager w/ Flickerfield
Ravager w/ Flickerfield
Ravager w/ Flickerfield

So, a quick recap:

11 Dark Lances
8 Blasters
2 melta/lances
(21 lance weapons)
48 Splinter Cannon shots (32 hit, 16 wound)
42 Splinter Pod shots (28 hit, 14 wound)
(90 total Splinter weapon shots- 60 hit, 30 wound)

And that doesn't include the warrior squads' splinter rifles.

The key is to keep the hellions in cover (Baron lets them reroll failed dangerous checks, and also gives them a 3+ cover save), and use them as mobile firepower until they need to jump up, fleet, and furiously charge w/ 60 S5 attacks, striking at I6 (Baron has grenades).

Keeping them screened is even better- they still get cover saves, and can't be charged by nasty things like Thunderwolf cavalry.  Shooting from behind a wall of Venoms/raiders can be potentially nasty.

Haemonculi just need to start with the squad, drop their pain tokens off, and climb in with the Wracks.  Maybe I should get some liquifier guns/venom blades to make that squad better.  It gives me one (very potent) close combat threat, one hard-to-kill objective holder, and 4 annoying zippy warrior squads, and then a ton of random other firepower.

Reavers have a fun job as well:  providing cover saves to my vehicles/screening.  Their ability to move 36" in a turn lets them be where they need to be, and the models are big enough to provide cover.  They can also spread out to deny assaults on the Hellions by things like Wolfstars/Fiends, etc., allowing me the charge instead.

Thoughts?  Concerns?  Is this list less soulless?


tzeentchling said...

You hit the nail on the head with the lack of reliable assault that doesn't depend on a flimsy transport. I think this is why people are starting to take Beastmaster squads more and more - fleet and 12" charge means they can be almost as fast as Hellions, they're far more resistant to damage with Razorwings to soak up light firepower and khymeras as "shield drones," and they hit a lot harder with more rending attacks.

Main problems are a)models are expensive, and b)they compete with Reavers/Scourges for heat lance spots. Also, they're still on foot, so typically can't be quite as fast as the Hellions could; and aren't nearly anywhere as fast as a flat-out Raider.

Kraylen said...

I could be wrong on my understanding of how pain tokens work, but I don't see how you get both pain tokens to the hellions squad in one turn. I thought that when an IC leaves a squad the tokens are split as close to evenly as possible between the squad and the character. I could be wrong of course, just curious.

Black Blow Fly said...

I like this list a lot better. Venoms have a small footprint and are able to lay down lots of shooting for cheap... Great range and speed. I see a lot of synergy here.


Xaereth said...


I think you're right, if you mean that I start both Haemonculi in the same unit as the Hellions. What I would do is somewhat more complex:

1) Start with the Baron attached to the Wracks and a Haemonculus outside their raider out of sight
2) Start a different Haemonculus in with the Hellions.
3) Take the Haemonculus out of the Hellions, and climb into Wrack's raider (leaving behind pain token)
4) Take the Baron out of the Wracks unit, taking one of the pain tokens, and join the Hellions
5) Put the wracks/Haemonculus squad in with the raider.

So, it's a little complex, but it works. And in the meantime, both units are hopefully not getting shot at. If they are though, they both benefit from FNP and cover.