Friday, July 20, 2012

Dark Eldar in 6th Edition

Continuing on from my first impressions of Tau in 6th edition, I thought I'd talk about another of my armies, Dark Eldar. From reading around on the internet there doesn't seem to be single person who's totally happy with 6th edition. It seems to me that every army got better in some ways and worse in others. Frankly this is just the way it is with any new edition. Let's look at how it's affected Dark Eldar.

It's pretty clear from my initial games and general consensus online that vehicles are much weaker in 6th edition. Ironically, I think this affects DE the least as their vehicles were already pretty flimsy. If anything it's a bonus as vehicles are now far more likely to be wrecked than explode which has to be good for our mostly T3 units. What people are realising is that transports are just that. The days of sitting pretty in your rhino for turn after turn are gone. Transports get you from A to B and probably get destroyed in the process. However, if they've done their job getting you there then what's the harm? With vehicles no longer able to contest they won't be doing much once they've dropped off their occupants anyway. Add to this the fact that you can't assault the turn you disembark and you almost want your transport to go pop!

The problem with this is venoms. Yes they only got 2 hull points which, with AV10, makes them the flimsiest thing in the 41st millennium but as I've said their only supposed to be transports. However, like their GK counterpart the razorback, their handy to keep alive for the amount of anti-troop fire they can supply. They simply aren't going to last out the game even if they try to keep at range. What DE players will have to make the most of is the ability to pre-measure to make sure they're kept as far away as possible for as long as possible. If they're going to be less survivable do we start taking them with just their basic armament. 12 poisoned shots are nice but only if you get to use them! It's a shame flickerfields aren't optional for them as it would be nice to swap these for Night Shields now.

Power from Pain
The changes to the Furious Charge and Feel No Pain special rules haven't really done Dark Eldar many favours. However, since most of our units are high initiative anyway they still benefit from the badly needed boost to strength that FC brings. Feel No Pain, as for any army that has it, is a bit of a double edged sword but even more so for DE. Whilst the ability to still take it even against power weapons is nice, particularly for hellions etc, the instant death thing is more likely to affect DE than any other army outside of IG. By dropping it to 5+ that unit of wyches might not survive to charge a second unit after killing the first.

However, when we get to the dizzy heights of 3+ pain tokens we start to see some benefits as Fearless no longer causes extra wounds in combat.

Poisoned Weapons
If the general shift in 6th edition is away from vehicles then poisoned weaponry is going to be brilliant. The main problem that DE had in 5th edition was in trying to de-mech their opponents before they could start to cut them down. If people do start taking footslogging lists then weight of fire will be very effective from poisoned weaponry. Add to this the changes to Rapid Fire and Kabalites are looking a lot more promising than they did before. I'd even be tempted to throw in an Aegis Defense Line to give them some cover whilst they sit and fire off a deluge of poisoned shots.

With some armies having no flyers at all at the moment it's certainly a benefit in these early days to have access to some in the DE codex. Now, they're far from the best out there but still capable of doing some nasty things to your opponent. Being able to zoom around and still fire a couple of dark/void lances whilst throwing down a couple of large blasts is going to really upset troops and light vehicles alike.

When pitting DE flyers against those of opposing armies they should do alright if they get to shoot first! After playing around with flyer on flyer battles at the Open Day it was clear that striking first was vital where flyers are concerned. Having S8/S9 shots will hopefully score a lucky explosion result on an enemy flyer but I think they'll suffer from not having enough shots compared to the others. If your opponent doesn't have any flyers they should help you dominate their troops.

These guys are going to be simply awesome in 6th edition. They were pretty great in 5th but if anything I think they're even better now. Thanks to their Skilled Riders special rule they still benefit from a 3++ save when turbo boosting. Not only that but they now move 12" in the movement phase then turbo boost 36". That means a very good chance of hitting a unit with bladevanes and getting to safety. If there's an enemy unit nearby they'll be able to leapfrog them 12" and then swoop back over them 36" towards their own deployment zone and safety.

The new rules for bikers mean that they actually count as T4 now so if they can grab a pain token (perhaps by combat drugs) they should nearly always be getting a 3++ followed by 5+ save. If they find themselves getting charged by the enemy they can hit them with their rapid fire splinter rifles and then still strike first with 2 attacks each. This will really give your opponent pause for thought when deciding to charge or not.

Oh and let's not forget heat lances are now +2 on the damage chart so should blow up vehicles every other time they penetrate!

Webway Portals
As you may know if you're a regular reader I love these things and have used them to great effect. However, as I discussed with Phil Kelly at the Open Day, they're far from what they used to be. I was hoping that the DE FAQ would allow units to still charge out of them but from what Kelly was saying I can't see them ever doing that. This doesn't necessarily mean the death of them though. It will be harder to use them that's for sure but there's still some possible applications. Depending on how much of a shift there is towards footslogging (which I don't personally believe their will be) the webway could be a good way of getting troops forward quickly. Rather than wyches coming out and assaulting it'll be kabalites shooting their way out of the portal. Hellions will still be pretty useful thanks to their splinter pods but they'll then be pretty vulnerable. As I've said above, reavers are just as good out of a portal as before. Finally, I still think they're the only viable delivery system for the talos/cronos.

Night Fighting
When I read the rules for Night Fighting followed by the rules for Night Vision a big grin crossed my face. Dark Eldar can completely ignore Night Fighting now. This is far far better than just a simple re-roll like they received before. We can actually use Night Fighting to our advantage now. There's a 50:50 chance that all the scenarios will start with NF in turn 1 so that should be fantastic for keeping things safe even if we don't get to go first.  

The ability to throw grenades has the potential to be brilliant for DE. Haywire grenades already got a massive boost from the hull point rules and being able to strip a hull point as you charge in will be awesome. I pity anyone who takes CC dreadnoughts anywhere near a squad of wyches even if they have a heavy flamer for Wall of Death. Plasma grenades aren't exactly amazing but being able to toss one on the way into combat is now an option for thinning out an enemy unit.

Random Charge, Overwatch, Fleet and Wound Allocation
Finally, this is where DE have been drastically affected. Wyches used to be a very effective unit because there was a good chance they could charge straight out of their transports thanks to Fleet. Now however, with the restriction to assaulting from a transport they're probably going to have to suffer a turn of shooting unless their transport got destroyed of course then it's happy days!

Allocating wounds to the front model could be irritating in preventing charges and few armies will suffer more from Overwatch and Wall of Death than DE. With pre-measuring it's still very possible to get into combat though and it seems they're far more decisive than they were before. The hekatrix is a character now which means that Precision Strike could be taking out that pesky Sanguinary Priest or Power Klaw Nob.

Most people are seeing the Fleet changes as a bad thing but I actually think they're a bonus. The ability to re-roll the dice is obviously going to help you get into combat, particularly since you don't have to re-roll both dice. However, the biggest benefit that I can see is that wyches can now use their pistols before charging every time. 10 BS4 poisoned shots isn't insignificant in reducing the amount of overwatch fire you'll suffer and giving the hekatrix a blast pistol could be a nice way to remove a flamer if she hits on a 6.

As I've said too many times to count now, it's early days for 6th edition so everything here can be nothing more than speculation but I think things are looking pretty rosy for the galaxy's ninja pirates. As with any army there's a few units that have suffered from the changes but there's an equal number than have been buffed.

The main thing for me is that Dark Eldar have actually gotten faster in 6th edition and although they're a bit flimsier it's still possible to catch your opponent off guard with your speed. I think a lot of opponents will look at your Dark Eldar and be content they can deal with them only to surprise them just like we did in 5th.


  1. Opentopped vehicles count as assault vehicles see. p 33 so we can indeed charge out of them!

    1. Well spotted! That's good news. Shame they now inflict S4 hits when they explode.

  2. Also precision striking a IC is EXTREMELY difficult due to their 2+ Look out sir (no matter how precise your shot, chumbs love taking bullets). Still that high I does help a hekatrix in challenges except if their opponent is in a 2+.

    Instead of dreads being the difficult-to-deal-with melee combatant it's now 2+ armor. I personally am quite worried about that whole overwatch killing my closest wyches so I end up failing the charge so then my wyches are kinda doomed.

    1. That's my worry with wyches. I think small squads in venoms will really struggle.

  3. I think it's worth mentioning that the Look Out Sir rules provide a huge bonus to Beastmasters. Especially if you're running the Baron with them now that he can keep up. Shuffle wounds off to Clawed Fiends for extra attacks, or to flocks if they're not S6+. Seems good. I run 5 masters, the Baron, 4 flocks, 2 fiends, and 4 kymerae. All six shooters get precision shot and an effective charge range of 14-24 with a Fleet reroll. Seems good for 353pts.

  4. So just curious what your thoughts are on this: What do you think of Scourges now? I've been hearing a lot about haywire goodness, and personally I think they may be the best anti-tank, non-vehicle unit out there now. I haven't had the chance to play any 6th ed. games with my Dark Eldar yet, but I'm thinking that just deepstriking them in (I run six strong in a unit) with haywire blasters and/or heat lances and/or blasters, they can pick off almost any vehicle via glancing (especially with the haywire)! I will say that I'm kinda bummed I didn't physically outfit them with haywires. I got them during 5th ed. rules, but now haywires are probably my top choice for them. Thoughts? Comments? Lawsuits?


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