Monday, July 25, 2011

Dark Eldar: 17 Games In


So, I haven't actually gotten 20 games in yet, but 17 is close enough to actually do some more analysis on my army than when I had only gotten 5 games in, right? I know that nice round even numbers are more fun, but I don't really intend to play another 3 games in quick succession anytime too soon, and as such I want to get some analysis on this army knocked out.

As usual, let's first look at the list I'm using:

2000 Points of Dark Eldar (Kabal of the Awesome Sauce):

Baron Sathonyx

7x Incubi // Raider w/ Flickerfield, Grisly Trophies, Aether Sail

19x Hellions w/ Helliarch
5x Warriors w/ Blaster // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons, Grisly Trophies
5x Warriors w/ Blaster // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
5x Warriors w/ Blaster // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons
3x Wracks // Venom w/ 2x Splinter Cannons, Grisly Trophies

6x Reaver Jetbikes w/ 2x Heat Lances
6x Reaver Jetbikes w/ 2x Heat Lances
3x Beastmasters, 4x Razorwing Flocks, 5x Khymerae

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

I've done lots of battle reports for my games with this army so far.  Just click on the 'Dark Eldar' tab at the top to look at all the stuff I've written.  Out of my 17 games, I've done (detailed) batreps of 15 of them.

Our first order of business is to look at the quantifiable stuff!

Man of the Match:

I award a single unit the 'man of the match' award every battle report I do (well, I have been since I started Dark Eldar).  Let's take a look at how the numbers stack up in favor of different units:

(Remember this is out of a total of 15 games, since I didn't do batreps on 2)
Hellions/Baron:  5
Reaver Jetbikes: 4
Warriors/Venom: 4
Grizzly Trophies: 1
Beast Unit: 1

So...  what can this data tell us?  A few things, but nothing conclusively.  First, that the Hellions/Baron combo has been working out for me well, better than most people would assume, given the volume of responses by various readers saying "oh, you used hellions and won?"

The other two 'strong finishers' were the Reavers and the Warriors/Venoms- not really very surprising to me, to be honest.  We should also note that Grizly trophies have been indispensable for most of my games, but I've only mentioned it once because it really isn't a 'unit', per sey.

Beasts only had 8 games of play, and they ended up with 1 MVP, mostly because it was Footdar.  What this data doesn't tell us is how badly they failed at every single other thing they attempted.  

Units that didn't make the list:  Ravagers, Wracks/Haemonculus and Incubi.  This doesn't really mean that they suck- my army would do terribly without the Ravagers, and the Incubi have done well in situations that I actually used them correctly.  They just haven't been the standouts. 

Essentially, this data can give us only vague assurances that the list is working the way it should be- the units I need to be good are actually delivering.


So, with a total of 17 games under my belt, 13 of which were played at GT's, my total Win/Loss record with Dark Eldar thus far is:  15-2 (15 wins, 2 losses)

...which is a pretty respectable record, if I do say so myself, especially with the number of tough matchups I've had to face, learning a new army, etc.  Let's break it down by army:

Imperial Guard: 2 (2-0)
Space Wolves: 4 (4-0)
Grey Knights: 4 (4-0) (two of these weren't batrepped)
Eldar: 2 (2-0)
Vanilla Marines: 2 (2-0)
Blood Angels: 2 (1-1)
Chaos: 1 (0-1)

So, still haven't played a 'mirror match' against Dark Eldar yet.  But otherwise, I've played against mostly new-fangled codices and won.  Most of the games were very competitive, my opponents being both possessed of skill and good lists. 

What this can tell me is that the data above (Man of the Match) wasn't a fluke, with units who only do well against bad lists.  Instead, the Hellions did well despite playing against things like Guard and MissileSpam Space Wolves.

What we've ascertained so far:

My list is generally doing what I want it to- I've won the majority of my games, against good codices, which means that for the most part, my list is not the fail it could very well have been :)

First, some general observations about the DEldar as a whole, before breaking down each unit:

  • My vehicles are much more resilient than I had given them credit for- people have to roll a lot of dice to actually kill one.  Once the roll to hit, pen, cover save, and results are finally processed, not much gets through (though granted, more than if someone was shooting at a smoked Rhino :-p).  This isn't to say that they're super tough to kill, but good deployment can really help.
  • Well I just said it- good deployment is key.  Gotta limit what the other guy can do to you on Turn 1, even if you think you're going first.
  • Blood Angels provide unique challenges to the DEldar, since FNP is so easy for them to get.  FNP makes poisoned shots pretty ineffectual.  This is one of the main reasons I've included Incubi in my list, though I haven't used them in a skillful manner yet, even once.
  • Dark Eldar are an extremely unforgiving army to play- you can't make many mistakes against a good player and come out with the W.  This is my main concern- tweaking my gameplay to become more competitive.
  • Lots of models means that I need to move quickly to roll dice, move models, make decisions, etc.  2 hours at BoLSCON wasn't enough- I'm looking forward to longer games at my other upcoming GT's.
  • Knowing statistically what your unit should do can help, but very often, I don't roll the exact average.  A great example of this is my Venoms with 12 shots.  They should wound 4 times against whatever they shoot at, but instead the number widely range.  So don't count on math in the smaller calculations, at least, though the number will eventually even out :)
  • Going second is actually still a viable choice against many lists- Dark Eldar who can remain unscathed on Turn 1 and have 2nd turn are extremely deadly.
  • .... which all comes back to deployment.  Deployment is key.  I'm not the king of deployment by any means- but I need to get better quickly :-p

Now we can talk about individual units a little bit:


These guys were frankly the reason I started this army in the first place.  They start the game with 2 pain tokens (through shenanigans they take one off the Haemonculus and one off the Wracks), and so have both FNP/FC right off the bat, as well as a number of other great buffs for the Hellions, bestowed by the Baron.

They're a multi-purpose unit- they've killed lots of tanks and infantry, whatever was needed.  Their main threat is power weapons, which my two games with Blood Angels proved handily.  Avoiding them seems to be their goal, but finding units without (mass) power weapons is generally simple enough. 

Not only do they kill stuff, but the model is big enough to provide cover to most of my vehicles on Turn 1- giving me mass 4+ cover saves. 

Overall, I've been very impressed with these guys. 

Reaver Jetbikes:

In the games I've used them how they 'should' be used, nothing has been better than the Jetbikes.  They kill tanks, infantry, annoy people, contest objectives, have a great save... the list goes on.  I like them a lot.  They aren't going anywhere.


Well, the added 3 blaster shots every turn is nice- it makes stunlocking vehicles possible, and sometimes even surprises me by actually killing something.  Otherwise, the cheap/fast/scoring nature of the unit combined with it's ability to hurt anything in the game is excellent.  I can see why some people have 6 of this unit. 


The Ravagers have killed lots of stuff.  Lots and lots.  In fact, I would term them as 'invaluable'.  They provide the long-range high-strength shooting awesomeness that my army generally lacks.  AV11 soaks up a little more firepower than the Venoms, and the flickerfield saves have been (sometimes) a great boon.  The ability to move 12" and shoot everything has also been great- shifting your POV is something I've never had a luxury with in any of my armies, and this provides a huge advantage over static gunlines.

Overall, these guys never dominate games, but they are one of my most consistent contributors, which is something that every successful army needs.


I've been using them poorly.  I think I need to be keeping them near the Hellions, to help with counter-charging things that don't want to be charged by them.  It would not only help to keep the Hellions slightly safer, but would also allow the Incubi to actually get into combat and accomplish something.  As it was, flying them off unsupported generally netted them zero kills, while when used as a support position, the Incubi ran rampant through my opponents.

I'm not willing to get rid of them quite yet- I think their potential is better than I've delivered so far.  If they fail in the Nova, I'll sadly have to make some cuts though.


Wow, not sure where to begin.  They put out a ton of attacks.  They also have a terrible save.  This makes them terrible choices to charge in against elite infantry, because even if they cause a lot of wounds, they will usually very likely lose combat and be run down.  I can see them being good against MSU-style lists at times, but overall, their output was extremely minimal in most games.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say they went out of their way to suck.

Their leadership is what kills them- give them fearless, stubborn, or even Ld10, they'd be a lot better off.  As it is, Ld8 is too much of a liability.  I mean, when 2 assault marines without FNP can kill an entire beast squad single-handedly without even rolling amazing... I just don't see the allure.  Lots of attacks = good.  Terribad leadership + terribad saves = not really worth taking in most situations.

The conclusion:

I think it's obvious enough:  I can't add more Hellions to the unit, and I already have enough scoring.  Since the Beasts are the exact point-cost of a squad of Reavers, why not just make the switch?  They're in the same FOC slot. 

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