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Friday, April 15, 2011

Dark Eldar Codex Review: Part 12 - Elites Part 2

The Elites are a big section filled with a lot of pretty good units. We've covered Incubi, Grotesques and Mandrakes in Part 1 and Wracks were covered in the Troops section because you're never not taking them unless they're Troops. Once again when taking Elites which are not Trueborn we really need to consider the opportunity cost of doing so as Trueborn, well they can fill virtually any shooting role you want without breaking the bank. Part 2 of the review looks at these bad pointy ears as well as Harlequins and Bloodbrides.


Exactly like they are in the Eldar book. Access to open-topped transports and Webway Portals is a major boon for them, though as it allows them to get assaults off far more effectively. Shame they can't have a dedicated transport and have to steal someone else's. There are two ways you can really play these guys, just like in Eldar. Aggressive assault units (which importantly can carry fusion pistols, more AP1 thanks) or defensive counter-assault units. Both of these versions have different uses for upgrades and importantly compared to Eldar, are great places to have an independent character hide to drop a Webway Portal when you take a Shadowseer.

Harlequin's Kisses and a Shadowseer are pretty much mandatory upgrades but remember, if you're running an aggressive build the Shadowseer and Veil of Tears isn't going to protect you. If you're in Rapid Fire range, you will most likely be rapid fired against. Rather the Shadowseer is probably better used when running counter-assault clowns (as they are far away) or when using the Harlequins to hide a WWP character. Kisses on the other hand, well if you're taking Harlequins without kisses I ask why? They make the unit function as an assault unit and can take down both GEQ and MEQ targets. Without Doom from Eldar this is less reliable but you have much better delivery systems in Venoms/Raiders and WWP. Fusion Pistols give them a little duality but you have access to AT lots of other places, so they're not always necessary, especially since you usually want to be Running with them. However, if you're desperate for some AP1 (i.e. Beastmasters in FA), here is another place to take them. Troupe Master and Death Jester are pretty much just wastes, they don't bring much to the unit. Death Jesters can be sort-a useful in a counter-attack unit as you aren't just sitting around waiting for your opponent but the Troupe Master is expensive for simply adding an extra attack and pip of Ld.

Harlequins function mostly as a somewhat more versatile counterpart to Incubi- the latter are all about killing MEQs, whereas Harlies are sort of a jack-of-all-trades melee unit. Note that you don't have access to Fortune, so that 5++ is a LOT more fragile than it is in the Eldar book. They also can't benefit from pain tokens even if they manage to gain one, so you're basically relying on hitting the enemy harder and first to avoid getting wiped out. If you're looking for a unit to hide a WWP in or not be as specialised as Incubi as a combat unit, Harlequins are it.

Kabalite Trueborn

The big name in town. Superficially they're just Kabalite Warriors with Ld9 and A2 but the big deal is that they can take a TON of weapon upgrades, up to four "specials" or two "heavies"- and if you're feeling gluttonous, you can take both. The important thing about these weapon upgrades is they are not limited by the number of models in the squad which makes using these guys generally pretty cheap. You can also give each member a Shardcarbine for an assault 3 poison weapon or pistol + ccw. The carbine is food for thought but expensive at 5 points a model whilst the pistol/ccw option is pretty blah. At the end of the day, you're a 12 point model with T3 and a 5+ save. I don't want you guys in combat. In the end Trueborn are shooting units so let's look at their options...there are a lot!

Blasters are obviously the standout in the special category, as having a bunch of them in the same squad gives you very reliable anti-tank for a price not hideously inflated above that of your normal dudes. Add to this the ability to take a double cannon Venom and you've got a bunch of anti-tank and anti-infantry in one FoC slot. 1+1 please. Shredders continue to compete with Blasters and whilst they offer up the ability to force your opponent to spread out or take advantage of de-meching, up to four S8 lances in a squad is hard to pass up. Dark Lances are expensive but give the unit ranged punch instead of the pseudo-suicide blaster squads. Dark Lances do make the unit rather static though but combined with characters like Lady Malys can setup in good firing positions. Splinter Cannons are likewise useful but you won't often find yourself desperately lacking for anti-infantry of that type. If you were looking for an anti-infantry squad or anti-infantry potential with this squad I'd rather go with multiple Carbines instead.

The Dracon upgrade thus brings basically nothing to the squad and should be avoided, despite being a lot cheaper than usual. You get an extra attack, no Ld improvement and options for combat but since this unit sucks in combat regardless, you're wasting your points.

In the end Trueborn have a ton of options which are generally going to revolve around Blasters, Dark Lances or poison spam. It's important to not try and make this unit a jack of all trades and mix up your weapons and also not going overboard on the cost. 10 Trueborn with Carbines is 170 points + transport but is still only T3/5+. Trueborn therefore operate best as smaller units (3-7 strong) with a fixed purpose (anti-tank or anti-infantry) with their transport generating duality.

Hekatrix Bloodbrides

As Warriors to Truebone, so Wyches to Bloodbrides. For an extra 3 points per model we gain 1 Attack, Ld and Initiative but no increase in survivability. Bloodbrides can take more Wych weapons (1 per 3 instead of 1 per 5) which is useful, particularly if you're looking to take a Haemonculus with them. Bloodbrides therefore are more offensive units since they have more attacks and no defensive improvement (though they do make good tarpits, albeit more expensive) but are still relying on torrenting to do actual wounds.Unfortunately, the limit on Wych Weapons isn't enough lower to really be useful. Also considering you'll often want the Hekatrix in your Wych squads for the Ld boost and/or special weapon options, Bloodbrides don't have a lot going for them (Ld9 is irrelevant) their Syren upgrade even ends up being rather pricey if it wants to help the unit reliably kill anything (i.e. Agoniser). The only really useful thing she can get is the Phantasm Grenade Launcher but Bloodbrides already have plasma grenades.

If you're looking for more offensive Wyches then Bloodbrides are obviously the way to go but their lack of scoring capacity or increase in durability (3++ in combat come on!) makes them much less attractive. They are still going to fall over to units which put out a lot of attacks (particularly S6 or armor ignoring attacks; there are units which do this) and are really looking to attrition opponents away. They are still effective as tar pits but as discussed before, less efficient since you are applying more points to do the same job Wyches can do. Haywire grenades can help the unit deal with tanks just like Wyches but are quite expensive (pushing Bloodbrides up to 15 points a model). Bloodbrides at least can operate better at smaller squad sizes as they can access two Wych weapons at six strong and aren't going to lightly pat against units in combat (there are benefits to 2A base).

In the end Bloodbrides are probably the weakest Elite though could make a great delivery system for an Archon/Haemonculus, particularly if your Troops are filled with non-Wych squads and you want some tarpits or decent combat ability. The cost of not being able to access some of the better Elites such as Incubi or Trueborn is pretty high though and needs to be given serious consideration.


None of the Elite units are really bad though the swiss army knife appeal of the Trueborn squad and raw efficiency of Incubi in carving up most of what they touch is hard to get past. Each of the other Elites has to weigh up what you are losing for the army by not taking these two units and then see if it is worth it and it generally is only in a few specific applications. These applications take advantage of the different abilities of each of these Elites which are capable of doing things nothing else in the army often is (i.e. infiltrate, T5, Veil of Tears, etc.). If you are using the non-Trueborn/Incubi Elites in their specific roles you will gain a lot more out of them rather than trying to cram them into any old army list whilst Incubi and Trueborn are much more of a 'one fits all' theme.

And with that we are finished with the Dark Eldar review! I'll do a conclusion post but a big thanks to GWvsJohn and AbusePuppy who put their thoughts down, argued a lot and allowed me to distil all of that with my own thoughts and generate this review. I hope you've all enjoyed it and gained something out of it!

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