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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dark Eldar Codex Review: Part 13 - Conclusion

And so we wrap up the Dark Eldar Codex Review. You can check out all of the previous posts on the Codex Review page and I hope you've all enjoyed them. A big thank you needs to go out to AbusePuppy and GWvsJohn who collaborated with me on this project to write the series of posts. Their help, insights and discussion were invaluable and they deserve a ton of thanks. With all of that out of the way and after this extensive project, what are the closing thoughts on Dark Eldar? These are all mine btw so the others are free to add their stuff as they see fit.

First and foremost: Dark Eldar are competitive. I think a lot of people who are going against this idea are distracted by Dark Eldar fragility. They are fragile but they aren't a Marine army. Marine based armies are great at recovery and battling through to the end of many games and making them close. That's what you get when your basic body is T4/3+, the dice can suddenly swing and make you really tough to kill. Add in 35 point AV11 transports and otherwise cheap vehicles (Predators, Land Speeders, Dreadnoughts, etc.) and all aspects of Marine armies can just keep on trucking. Dark Eldar don't have this advantage in their statline but it is built into their rules through Power from Pain and the mobility and defenses of your mech at all times (flickerfields). Your whole army is fragile but if you play aggressively and not around an MSU concept your army becomes more durable over time. This isn't to say the MSU concept is redundant in Dark Eldar but very different from Marine armies. MSU Dark Eldar look to overwhelm your opponent with targets much like GK but are quite capable of using the 1+1 concept in most of the FoC without breaking the bank.

In the end Dark Eldar are competitive. They suffer hugely from poor terrain where there is no ability to hide at least some of their skimmers or no ability for them to gain any cover from terrain unlike some armies and are not an endurance army. I hate to say they are a finesse army as that is a load of bull but they do require a much better understanding of their army than many Marine based lists due to their inability to recover as well from mistakes. They are also a highly mobile army which needs to be taken advantage of. Whilst it is impossible to stay out of range of your opponent forever, being able to generally dictate where close encounters happen and firing lanes is huge and gives the Dark Eldar player a lot of control over their own fate. Combined with their fragility this makes the option of reserving really important. No reserve manipulation is a bummer but being able to deny your opponent two shooting phases is pretty huge and important to increasing the survivability of your army.

And this brings us to the Force Organistion Chart itself. Dark Eldar aren't really generalists or specialists but they generate duality most often through their transports and the 1+1 concept. Rather their units have specific roles within an over-arching theme. Wyches for example are anti-infantry through torrent in combat but are also excellent tarpits whilst Beasmasters are have the ability to annoy tanks with lots of Rending and Incubi make mince meat of MEQ squads, etc. This is an unusual mix therefore of duality and speciality and whilst the Dark Eldar army is not really a synergistic army like Tyranids, you need to be very careful how you use the FoC to ensure the Dark Eldar army is capable of the tabletop to handle any and all threats.

What this all boils down to is opportunity cost. Taking Incubi instead of Blaster Trueborn? Need to shore up your anti-tank elsewhere such as Reavers. Taking Beastmasters instead of Reavers? Backfield disruption and AP1 needs to be found elsewhere. Every FoC for Dark Eldar has some sort of compromise whether it is a huge divergence in roles as discussed or a minor decrease in efficiency for overall duality (i.e. Razorwing instead of Ravagers). This was of particular importance throughout the review and often noted. Ensuring you identify these opportunity costs will help you in your army building phase which will result in more success on the table-top.

Overall I love the feel of Dark Eldar. They are fragile and some of their options are quite expensive but they pack a helluva punch. I would have personally loved to see more reserve ability but at the same time, a Duke list coming in on a 2+ or 3+ would be very bloody scary. There are a lot of options available to prospective players and I think in terms of internal balance this has been the best product of 5th edition so far outside of a few of the special characters. I hope more people pick this army up and tournament organisers ensure the terrain doesn't shaft skimmer based armies in the future and have my fingers crossed for an awesome Venom model in the near future! Cheers for reading ;).

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