Sunday, 5 October 2014

New Dark Eldar release summary and some thoughts

Hi folks,

Hot on the trail of the Grey Knights comes yet another Codex update, this time for the dark cousins of the Crafworld Eldar. That leaves a grand total of two (well, four if you count the two digital codexes) codexes to be updated in the 6th/7th ed format. I’ll give a brief overview of the release and I’m sure my friend Alex at from the fang will be eager to post a more in-depth review on his blog in the near future.


The book follows the recent format and actually in parts appears more like one of the supplements using digital art of individual kabal colour schemes to fill some pages. There’s the usual background, which makes heavy reference to Lady Malys despite her absence from the book (more on that later). The Army list is laid out in the new format and it’s great to compare to the older book and see how much has been added to the range in wave releases since that initial wave way back when. There is a formation and detachment as we have come to expect, but alas no lord of war in a surprising move. Everyone and their Gran was betting on vect for LoW. I have to say the double page spreads of artwork (of which there are at least 3) are absolutely glorious in this book – my favourite to date. All in all a very solid publication. I was actually looking at the old Necron (3rd ed) book the other day and, to be honest, it might have been 1/3 of the price but it was almost half the size and nowhere near as high quality. Books may be expensive from GW these days but you get quality for what you pay and there’s a cheaper digital alternative at least. I’ll also mention the cards here, which are basically the maelstrom deck plus combat drug cards. Most of my 7th games have been maelstrom and there’s no doubt that the cards make life a lot easier for this. Also, being able to draw a combat drug card and leave it on the table is a nice reminder in-game.


It comes as little surprise that the special characters lacking models got the axe. What is harder to swallow is the fact that there were so many, leaving the book rather scant in terms of special characters. The actual releases were as follows. Wracks got a plastic release, which is a double edged sword really. On the one hand they’re now plastic and got a set of pilot and gunner arms as well as a new weapon, plus the price is about the same as before. On the other hand they’re nowhere near as cheap as warriors and wyches, which is sadly the way it goes thesedays. It’s a good thing that older models don’t get regular price-hikes, but when you compare the size and cost of say a stompa and a gorkanaut then things don’t really add up. The wracks themselves are pretty near identical to their finecast predecessors and I think that despite the fact you have to sacrifice yet more expensive models to make you raiders/venoms/ravagers have coven pilots, it’s great that you now at least have the option. Besides, that would leave you with enough spare weapons to tool up squads plus their acothyst with say liquifiers, making for 3/10. 

Next on to the 3 plastic character clampacks. Again, there are pros and cons to this, as they’ve essentially replaced 3 adequate models with others when in fact these resources could have been allocated to producing plastic special characters, or vect on a dais for that matter. The Archon is in my opinion the worst of the bunch with a static pose and poorly thought out arms. Even the head is inferior to the previous sculpt IMO – glad I have the old one. The haemonculus model is lovely in a twisted kind of way but sadly now that the book is limited to one haemy per HQ slot I’ll be sticking with the older model, which was still pretty darn good. The succubus, however, is IMO one of the nicest models GW have put out in a while. Dynamic and beautifully sculpted I am very tempted to replace my old succubus (still a lovely sculpt) with the new one simply because it’s so awesome. Saving the best til last, there is of course the voidraven. Finally released, it is a gorgeous model, which is essentially a larger razorwing. I can’t wait to get my hands on this model TBH as it looks great. In conclusion, it was a humble release on par with the Space Wolves book that didn’t really add anything to the book but tidied up a few loose ends bringing the range to a tidy conclusion, for now…..


The first thing to point out is that Dark Eldar have gained very little and lost Baron, Duke, Lady Malys, Decapitator and Vect! That’s a massive chunk of HQ lost and actually puts them on par with Grey Knights/Sororitas for least special characters per army. Although Malys can be represented fairly well using wargear/relics, sadly none of the others can. Also gone is the ability to take 1-3 haemonculi and the ancient profile in now simply the standard. FOC shifting is now also gone sadly, meaning your wracks will only ever be elites (unless of course you want a covens supplement, but more on that later). Night vision and fleet remain across the board, while there have been big shake ups on both combat drugs and power from pain. Combat drugs now are +1 stat boosts, where you roll/draw one at the beginning of the game and apply that same result to all units with combat drugs for the game. Simple, but obviously some results will be more favourable than others.

1 - adrenalight - +1 A
2 - Grave Lotus - +1 S
3 - Hypex - +1 I
4 - Painbringer - +1 T
5 - Serpentin - +1 WS
6 - Splintermind - +1 Ld

Power from pain is now a lot more straightforward and there’s a lot less bookkeeping to do. Simply apply a rule per turn. Nothing on the first, FnP 6+ on the second, FnP on the third, then add to that furious charge, fearless and rage (cumulative) as the turns progress. This way all your force are guaranteed to get more powerful as the game progresses and more pain is inflicted. Much more global and simple a system, but there are a few more pros and cons. There are several ways to advance the bonuses by a turn and they are cumulative, meaning you can bolster you units from the start of the game. More on this later. However, there is no more pain sharing to gain instant awesomeness with independent characters breaking off and rejoining other squads. I think these are both changes for the better – simpler and they work better for the army overall.

Without going into too much detail, the archon has no access to AP2 melee weapons so should pick his fights carefully, but with access to clone and shadow fields (4++ and 2++ respectively) and a high WS and I he’s still a beast in CC. Sure he lost a few options, mainly wargear and CC weapons but other than that all is the same. Both the archon and his court can also take their own individual dedicated transports. Then there's the Haemonculus, who still has access to all kinds of nasty arcane wargear, but can no longer be taken 1-3 per slot and move wracks to troops. He is a master of pain and thus can advance his squads PfP level by one turn, making him a good bolstering unit also.  Lastly there’s the succubus, who’s a close combat monster and has access to a great weapon, the archite glaive, which has both an AP3 and AP2/+1S/2-handed mode. All 3 have access to webway portals, which now simply allow the unit to deep strike without scatter!

Of note is the fact all. The Archons court is now a bit different in that you can take 1-12 in any combo rather than 1 minimum of each. Slyth got cheaper, medusae more expensive (but also more reliable) and the others remained the same. The Lhamean now packs a blade which is poisoned 2+ and has the lethal dose rule (along with several other weapons) granting instant death on a to wound roll of 6. Not bad. The 3 special characters remaining are Urien, Lelith and Drahzar. The former is more of a super Haemonculus, where the latter are awesome in combat, especially Lelith, who still ignores armour saves and has 7 attacks on the charge with rerolls in challenges! All 3 of them got significantly cheaper too! Shame about Drahzars old model though – it’s the only remnant of the old models range and looks terrible next to the other glorious models which are arguably GWs finest.

Still warriors and wyches, with a couple of differences. Warriors got cheaper, though splinter cannons went up and became salvo 2/4 weapons. You now need to upgrade all members of the squad to either trueborn or bloodbrides for 3 points, at which point the wargear options change somewhat. Sadly though bloodbrides no longer have access to haywire grenades universally and trueborn cannot take shardcarbines. Is this a bad thing though as both those units used to see a lot of action from what I understand and so toning them down somewhat will at least give other options a look in.

As mentioned trueborn and bloodbrides are now upgrades to warriors/wyches which move them to elites, meaning the no loner have separate entries. Wracks remain pretty much the same except they can’t shift to troops any more and gained the ossefactor. Groteques have gotten more viable as they now all pack a flesh gauntlet as standard (same rule as for the lhamean weapon granting instant death on a 6) and can all be upgraded to pack liqifiers - nasty! Shame no 3 pack of models for them though with some more dynamic poses. Incubi got a bit cheaper and lost their onslaught/murderous assault rules, though retained ap2 making them the dark eldar premium terminator slayers.  Mandrakes got a 20% cost reduction, can now fire their baleblast from turn 1 and gained a much needed shrouded (and a token fear). Finally these chaps will start to see some action on the tabletop. No more harlequins despite a 2-page mention in the fluff part of the book. Dataslate inbound I suspect.

Fast attack:
As per the new codex formula transports have moved to fast attack and thus we have the raider and venom here with a few points changes. The venom is the only vehicle as best I can tell that gets access to flickerfields now and a 5++ save as a result. Probably worth mentioning here that shock prows allow a ram at av14 now, splinter racks give passengers twin linked and chainsnares allow the model to tank shock. The razorwing is now a fast attack choice rather than heavy. No real net change in points as some costs got redistributed, but of note is that it can only take nightshields (stealth) and no flickerfield. Scourges got a boost as they can now take 4 heavy weapons in a 5-man squad – nice! They are also the only unit (except slyth) who can take sharcarbines now that trueborn have lost access and are cheaper all around. Reavers got significantly cheaper but no longer have bladevane and caltrop attacks in the movement phase - instead these are resolved as hammer of wrath style attacks meaning you have to actually get invlolved in a combat now. Hellions got cheaper and stayed pretty much the same but now obviously have no way to move to troops without Baron. Beastmaster packs got much the same treatment as the Archons court with it now being up to 12 in any combination including the beastmasters. Although most got cheaper, razorwings went up in price and a few things changed around such as clawed fiends getting rage and Khymerae becoming daemons.

The ravager still resides here and there is now a point charge to upgrade disintegrators to dark lances. The voidraven also has had some points adjustments and a downgrade to av10 all round. The void mine is now a large blast though and there is a new weapon option in the form of darkscythes, effectively blast template dark lances for attacking non-aerial targets. This is a fairly lightly armoured vehicle that once you start piling on the upgrades gets very expensive very quickly (235 with missiles and night shields). Both the talos and cronos saw some tweaks. The talos now no longer has random attacks and, most notably, both can now be taken in units of 1-3, but with no mixing and matching. Costs generally went up for these chaps and some of the upgrades changes points, though they both get feel no pain as standard now.  

Formation and detachment:

The detachment first, which is pretty similar to a normal detachment except you get 6 FA slots of which one is compulsory. You get the usual reroll warlord trait and in addition get a 5+ cover save for troops and 6+ for all else in both the first turn and any night fighting turn. Hardly worth getting exciting about but the extra FA slots are handy. The formation requires lots of kabalite units and all must have transports. In addition to the above, they also get the ability to add 1 to the PfP turn so long as the warlord/archon is alive. This is cumulative with the rules for the haemonculus and one of the relics discussed below.

Relics and Warlord Traits:

Animus Vitae - s4AP2 8" one use - that turn add 1 to the PfP turn for the whole army.
Archangel of pain - one use - Ld test within 9", wound for each point failed by (no saves - fearless and ATSKNF ignore)
Armour of misery - effectively ghostplate with -2 Ld penatly for units within 6"
Djin blade - AP3 melee - user gains +2 attacks but on a roll of 1 wielder wounded
Helm of spite - all units in 12" gain admantium will and all psykers suffer a perils for any double on a psychic test
Parasites kiss - 2+ poisoned AP5 MC pistol - unsaved wounds grant a wound back to bearer.

1 - ancient evil - all units in 12" have fear
2 - Labyrinthine cunning - reroll seize, night fight and reserves! (clearly very useful!)
3 - soulthirst - warlord has rage
4 - hatred eternal - warlord has hatred
5 - blood dancer - warlord has +1 WS
6 - towering arrogance - all units in 12" have fearless

Coven supplement:

I don't know much about this TBH but from what I've read it has several formations and a detachment which allows more HQ, elite and heavy slots to be taken but no troops are compulsory. A good way of approaching the fact that all the coven units are in the HQ, elite and heavy slots. There are obviously warlord traits and a seperate list of relics both power from pain table. Here's what I found on BOLS so all credit to them and their sources. (haven't had time to digest this yet nor can I confirm their accuracy):

PFP table
1 – nothing
2 – Fearless
3 – Fear, Fearless
4 – Fear, Fearless, it will not die
5 – Fear, It will not die, zealot
6+ - Eternal Warrior, fear, it will not die, zealot

Warlord chart
1 – talos & chronos reroll FNP rolls of 1 within 12”of warlord
2 – warlord plus any grotesques he joins gain it will not die
3 – add or subtract 1 from reserve rolls
4 – If your warlord is slain by an attack/weapon with AP 1 or 2 or with the ID rule, gain D3 VP
5 – Warlord plus wracks he joins gain FNP4+
6 – Warlord gains preferred enemy

10pts – pick one of the following at the start of your turn which lasts until your next turn – IWND, fleet, poisoned 4+, rampage (used each turn)
10pts – fighting in a challenge – opponent suffers -5 to initiative
25pts – 8”range, S1, AP2, assault 1, blast, instant death, no effect on vehicles (used as a grenade in shooting phase)
10pts – Additional D6 attacks at S3, AP- at initiative 10, grant an additional pile in move at this step, no bonus applicable for furious charge, rending etc
20pts – IWND 4+, only wounded by poisons special rule on 6
35pts - +1 to FNP rolls, negate first wound suffered if it has the ID rule but when this happens, the item is lost

Coven Detachment
Required – 2HQ, 2 Elite
Optional – 4HQ, 6 Elite, 4 Heavy Support
Units that are available in the detachment – Urien, Haemonculus, Raider (DT only), Venom (DT only), Wracks, grotesques, talos, chronos
Benefits – if this is the primary detachment you can reroll warlord chart from this book. All enemy units within 12”of 1 or more models from this detachment suffer -1LD

1 - urien or haemy plus 2 units of grots - d6 roll at start of game for grots - +1S, +1T, fleet, shred, rage, 4+ FNP
2 - 1 haemy, 1 chronos, 2 units of wracks - all wracks gain precision strike, wracks treat turn 1 higher for pfp. if haemy is the warlord he gets trait 4 automatically
3 - 2 units of wracks in 2 venoms - if a unit in this formation scores first blood, gain D3 vp rather than 1. Wracks must start embarked an in reserve. Deployed turn 1 via deep strike
4 - unit of 5 Talos - gain scout. Score an extra vp for any non vehicle unit killed in combat
5 - 1 haemy, 1 Chronos, 1 Talos - form a single unit. Characters may not join it outside of this formation. Talos and chronos gain +1ws and init. If haemy is warlord, gain trait 1 automatically
6 - 1 haemy, 3 units of wracks with raiders. Master of pain from haemy confers to all units in this formation within 12". Warlord trait 5 if haemy is warlord
7 - all 6 formations as above in 1 formation - called the carnival of pain. Urien form formation 1 has his master of pain rule confer to whole formation. All non vehicles reroll 1's to wound in combat


Well, where to start. I think the book has made a good transition to the new edition all in all. Although the model release was maybe not that spectacular in scale or adding anything new, the models are still great. It's no surprise that special characters went which is a shame but if the past few releases have shown us anything it's that this edition (and 6th) is all about consolidating armies and getting them up to spec. There's no guarantee that when the next Dark Eldar book comes along we won't see some of these chaps returning. I like that a lot of the overlooked units in the previous book are now viable options and that a lot of the no brainer units have, for one reason or another, been toned down. On the surface of things it looks like this book is fairly well balanced overall and should give Dark Eldar players some fun coming up with new ways to play, new units to use and new combinations to come up with. I get the distinct impression that the next 2 releases will be much the same as this in terms of model releases and tidying up loose ends from 5th edition.

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