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Plastikente’s Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 2 – Core Units (HQ, Troops, Dedicated Transports) [6th Ed]

Submitted By: Plastikente Date: November 9, 2012, 11:45:56 AM Views: 2320
Summary: An article discussing tactica for DE HQs, Troops and Dedicated Transports in 6th Edition. This is part 2 of my unit guide, which will cover the following: 1. General Tactica 2. Core Units 3. Elites 4. Fast Attack 5. Heavy Support 6. Special Characters

Plastikente’s Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 2 – Core Units (HQ, Troops and Dedicated Transports) [6th Ed]

Core Units

HQ and troops make up the core of any army, encompassing your Warlord and your key scoring units,which are actually going to win battles for you.  Given the style of play required by Dark Eldar, I also consider our dedicated transports to be essential core units.


Strengths: The strength of the Archon lies not in his statline, but in his wargear: with the right pieces of kit, he becomes a near unstoppable close combat monster.
Weaknesses: Low toughness makes him vulnerable to instant death, and he does not stand up well to shooting.
  • Venom Blade. A useful weapon for a bargain-basement Archon.  Poison mitigates for his low strength, and against TEQs it performs better than an Agoniser, for 1/4 of the cost.
  • Blast Pistol. The very short range means that this pistol is rarely worth the points.
  • Power Weapon. A useful cheap weapon to pair with a Soul Trap.  See Part 1 of this series for a breakdown of the different power weapons and their uses.
  • Blaster. A Blaster is a great alternative if you do not want a close combat Archon. With his immense BS he has a 0.889 chance of hitting with every shot, and that low AP Lance is great for vehicles and armoured infantry alike. If you are willing to pay the price, you could even give him this alongside a close combat build, in order to make sure he does not get stranded out on a flank somewhere – it is not a cheap option though.
  • Agoniser. Loses out to the Venom blade against TEQs, and for an extra 5 points you could take a Soul Trap/Power Weapon combination, which will soon out perform the Agoniser against everything else.
  • Electro-corrosive Whip. A useful weapon for challenges and hunting monstrous creatures, particularly once your Shadowfield shorts, as it is very important to reduce the impact of incoming attacks.  The big problem is getting that unsaved wound in the first place, as you will only be striking at your base strength.
  • Huskblade. Instant death is useful, although there are many Eternal Warriors out there. The real strength of the huskblade is that it is the only piece of low AP close combat gear available to the Archon.  It is very expensive though.
  • Haywire Grenades. You pay 2.5 times as much as your troops do for these, and vehicles are not the target which Archons are best suited to take out. That said, they give you the flexibility to threaten them if you want to, and some think that this is well worth the cost.
  • Ghostplate Armour. Not that useful – lots of stuff (including all power weapons) bypasses its save, and the invulnerable save cannot be relied upon.
  • Combat Drugs. A good chance of picking up some extra killing power, or a pain token, for your warlord at a bargain price. See the mathshammer in the general tactica article for more details of how the drugs can help you out.
  • Soul-trap.  A beautiful piece of Dark Eldar evil.  Pick the right victims to start upping your strength, and you will still be an absolute assassin in assault.  Pair with a power weapon (cheap) or Huskblade (expensive), and watch your enemies flee in terror.  However... there is a down side.  You need to take out an Independent Character (IC) or Monstrous Creature (MC) with your Archon to get the party started.  This means that he needs to be mobile, and to have a decent escort to enable him to survive to pick a fight.  If your enemy takes very few ICs and MCs (Imperial Guard?), then your Soul Trap is just an expensive bauble.
  • Djin Blade. A risky way of getting additional attacks, as there is a 1 in 6 chance that they will hit you!  Personally, I find that chance already plays too much of a role with my Archon (waiting for the Shadowfield to short), so I would leave this at home.
  • Clone Field. Can be good fun in a challenge, but it will not save you from shooting.  I would rather have the Shadowfield any day, even for the extra cost.
  • Phantasm Grenade Launcher (PGL). Essential if you are going to pair your Archon with a unit which does not have Plasma grenades (Incubi especially).
  • Shadow Field.  The must-have item for an Archon.  Sure, it will blow eventually, but it is immensely frustrating for your enemy until it does, and will shield your Archon from all that S6+ instant death weaponry  that is out there.
  • Webway Portal. Specialist kit that is only worth taking if your list as a whole is built round it.  Personally, I would leave Haemis to carry this, as they are less valuable when left sitting in the open after deploying the Webway Portal.

How to use:
Get the Archon into close combat, destroy the enemy, get him into another close combat.  Repeat as required.  An Archon should always be paired with a unit (until he charges, at least) to take some of the incoming fire.  Some standard builds and pairing are:
  • Huskblade, Soul Trap, Shadowfield [135]. This build should decimate almost anything he comes across. Try to find a lesser IC or MC to pick on first, in order to boost your strength before you take on the big foes.
  • Power Weapon, Soul Trap, Shadowfield [115].  A slightly cut-price version of the above. Watch out for units with 2+ armour saves, as they will really slow you down.
  • Venom Blade, Shadowfield [95]. Just about the cheapest workable Archon build.  Useful for lightly armoured hordes, and high toughness enemies, which your other troops may have trouble wounding.  Add a Blaster if you like for a jack-of-all-trades role.
  • Blaster only [75]. A super cheap Archon for a shooting force.  He has no self-protection, but is ideally suited to ride with your Blasterborn in a Venom and stay away from assault.
  • With Incubi. A popular combination, provided that you invest in a PGL, which bumps up your price a bit more.  Doing this lets the Incubi overcome their biggest weakness – charging units in cover.  Targets must be picked carefully however, as power weapons make short work of Incubi.
  • With Wyches/Bloodbrides. A good match-up, as the extra killing power of the Archon complements the Wyches’ survivability nicely.
  • With Warriors/Trueborn. Not such an obvious match, as they tend to be a liability in an assault.  They can be a useful ablative protection to soak up shooting attacks though, and to soften up an enemy with splinter fire, before the Archon charges.  Just remember to separate him from the unit in the movement phase first!
  • With Grotesques. Grotesques bring the great advantage of raising the majority toughness of the unit, giving you some genuine resistance to shooting attacks.  They also start the game with a Pain Token, which the Archon can keep when he leaves.  The downside is losing Fleet.  This can be overcome by detaching the Archon to assault, but leaves the Grotesques at the mercy of their pitifully low leadership, and the Berserk Rampage special rule.  Grotesques are also bulky, limiting the size of unit you can fit in a transport, however, a  large unit, led by an Archon, and arriving from the Webway, is going to seriously threaten anyone within striking distance of them.

The Court is not a retinue – the associated Archon does not have to join the unit.
Strengths: Err... some fairly good close combat models
Weaknesses: Not an outstanding unit in this codex.  Everything this unit does can be done just as well or better by something else in the army list.  You have to take at least one of everything.  Not everything in the unit has Power from Pain.
  • Medusae. Basically a Kabalite Warrior with a variable effect Flamer.  A bit too random for my liking, but if the dice favour you it could be awesome.
  • Ur-Ghul. Lots of attacks at an above average (for Dark Eldar) strength.
  • Lhamaean. A Kabalite Warrior with better poison.  Also it gives the Archon better poison, but this will only affect his Splinter Pistol, so it is not that impressive.
  • Sslyth. Almost the same statline as a Grotesque, but a Sslyth can shoot, although it does not get Power from Pain.  On the other hand, there is no risk of berserk rampage.
How to use: Just another close combat unit, with a bit of medium-close range shooting as it approaches.  Taking three Sslyth and one of everything else would give you a high majority toughness until something dies, which is fun and unexpected for a Dark Eldar army.  By sacrificing the weaker squad members to gunfire you can make sure you keep that majority toughness for where it counts, in an assault.  Alternatively, maxing out on Medusae, and adding a Haemi with a Liquifier, gives you a truly terrifying flamer squad of doom.

Strengths: Another close combat monster.  Fewer wargear options means that a Succubus should come in cheaper than an Archon.  The dodge save adds to survivability in close combat without requiring a large points investment or risking shorting out.  A very high initiative makes her deadly for sweeping advances.
Weaknesses: Vulnerable to instant death, and to shooting.  No access to very potent AP weapons (without sacrificing initiative advantage for a Power Axe).
  • Venom Blade. See comments for the Archon, above.
  • Blast Pistol. Again, see the Archon.
  • Power Weapon. Without the option of a Soul Trap to buff this weapon, you will get better results spending the extra points on an Agoniser or Electro-corrosive Whip.
  • Agoniser. A solid option for taking out MCs or ICs if their save is worse than 2+.  It can also really hurt those units which are relying on their toughness for protection.
  • Electro-corrosive Whip. The one to take to make sure you survive those high strength enemies.  It can be a bit of a risk though for high toughness units though, as you need to get that unsaved wound on your opponent before he lands a blow.
  • Hydra Gauntlets, Shardnet and Impaler, Razorflails. These are best left to your rank and file Wyches, who will get (almost) as good an effect out of them and leave your Succubus to play with the toys that they cannot access.
  • Haywire Grenades. See the Archon.
How to use: Similar to the Archon, although you need to avoid TEQs if they have the strength to instant-kill.  If they do not have such strength, then the dodge save makes her very survivable and great to tarpit.  Succubus builds are very simple – choose one weapon and you have finished.  Doing this will make any Succubus cheaper than an Archon with the mandatory Shadowfield, giving you almost as much clout for much less cost, which is ideal for smaller games.  Standard unit pairings are:
  • With Incubi. The Succubus cannot have a PGL, so she can’t overcome the Incubi’s biggest weakness for them.  Their low AP weapons can cover a hole in her abilities, but it is better to just keep her clear of TEQ saves altogether.
  • With Warriors/Trueborn. Not generally a good choice – do little other than soak up incoming fire to make sure your Succubus gets into a fight.
  • With Wracks. Their poisoned close combat weapons make them a good pairing for hunting MCs.  The higher majority toughness will take a bit of the bite out of incoming attacks, and they start with a pain token.  The lack of Fleet or grenades makes it that much more difficult to land a decent charge in the first place though.
  • With Grotesques. All the same comments for the Archon/Grotesques pairing also applyhere.  This unit can be extremely powerful, if fielded in large numbers, which pushes you towards the use of a Webway Portal.  Personally, I find the synergy presented by Wyches or Bloodbrides still makes them the stand out choice to escort a Succubus:
  • With Wyches/Bloodbrides. The ideal pairing.  Everyone benefits from the same combat drugs, so you should not have trouble remembering them, and if you get lucky, the unit starts out with two pain tokens!  An Electro-corrosive Whip, and Agoniser (on the Succubus and Hekatrix/Syren) makes a great combination for taking out monstrous creatures.  This gets even better with a few Shardnet/Impaler combinations in the squad.

Strengths: Slightly tougher than the other Dark Eldar characters, and brings a pain token with him.  Access to arcane wargear.  Makes Wracks a troops choice.
Weaknesses: Poor save, weak in close combat due to low initiative, and attacks. (Non-ancient) Haemis only have 2 wounds.
Haemonculus Ancient. Has a useful leadership buff, as well as higher attacks, wounds, and initiative.  Definitely worth paying for if this is going to be your warlord.
Haemis have access to an absolutely massive range of wargear, allowing them to be tailored to achieve what you want.
  • Venom Blade. Cheap and cheerful.  A solid choice.
  • Stinger Pistol. Also cheap, but short range.  Shooting oriented Haemis have better options.
  • Power Weapon. One unit that can take real advantage of a Power Axe.  Coven units have plenty of poison anyway, so a bit of high strength armour piercing complements them well, even if you strike last.
  • Mindphase Gauntlet. This weapon has massive potential – even greater than the Electrocorrosive Whip.  The problem is that this is undermined by the low (for a Dark Eldar) initiative of the bearer.  Even an Ancient will not be hitting before a Space Marine Captain, so the benefit of this weapon is lost.  Against Guard, Necrons, Orks, etc  this could be awesome.
  • Flesh Gauntlet. This is quite expensive for what it does.
  • Agoniser. Same comments apply as for Succubus.
  • Electrocorrosive Whip. Suffers from the same problems as the Mindphase gauntlet, costs twice as much and does not stop him from attacking outright.  It is a power weapon, but I would just take the Mindphase Gauntlet instead.
  • Huskblade. A potent but expensive weapon. If you are going to buy one, stick it on an Archon, who has the Weapon Skill, Initiative and Attacks to make it worthwhile.
  • Animus Vitae. This is a close combat weapon, so you cannot claim its effects at the same time as another weapon (one which will actually help you kill something).  Probably not worthwhile.
  • Casket of Flensing. A one-shot gambler’s weapon.  If the dice favour you it could be awesome.  They never seem to favour me with this particular toy.
  • Liquifier Gun. One of the best options available for a Haemi.  Useful for softening up enemies in cover and for putting off chargers (due to overwatch rules). It is great to see the look on an MEQ player’s face when you roll a low number for the AP.
  • Soul Trap. Like a Huskblade, this is better given to someone who has the stats to really make use of it.
  • Vexator Mask. It can be fun, but even Guardsmen are more likely to pass than fail, so it cannot be relied upon to stop incoming attacks, especially from truly dangerous foes.  Backing up with a vehicle equipped with a Torment Grenade Launcher will improve your success rate.
  • Scissorhand. Mathhammer says that this slightly beats a Venom Blade for a Haemi, but gives equal wound output for an Ancient.  It costs three times as much though, so I know which I would choose.
  • Archangel of Pain. It is not reliable enough for my taste, especially as we will usually have the Initiative, and often the Weapon Skill, advantage without it.
  • Hexrifle. 
    Weapon  vs MEQ   vs TEQ   vs GEQ   vs MC
    Splinter Weapon   0.111  0.056   0.333   0.111
    Hexrifle   0.185  0.111   0.333   0.185
    The Hexrifle gives slightly better effect than a Splinter Rifle shot (I know Haemis cannott take a Splinter Rifle, but this is for comparison).  You only get one shot though, so on average you should wound 1 Space Marine every 5.4 turns (the odds are slightly better for an ancient).  If you do get that wound, it is pinning and gives a chance of insta-killing ICs and MCs, but the wound rate is so low that you cannot really build tactics around this fact.  Oh, and don't forget that you can sometimes you can choose where to allocate your hits in a squad thanks to the sniper rules, but the Haemi is a character, so you could do that anyway.
    Hexrifles can have their uses though.  For example you can pair the Haemi with some allied Eldar Pathfinders, take a 6” Scout move, followed by your own move and drop a Webway Portal as far onto the board as if you had been in a vehicle.  Or you could pair him with some Wracks with a Hexrifle Acothyst, in order to lay down some more shots and have more chance of making use of the weapon’s special rules.
  • Shattershard. A true gem, this one shot weapon works against almost everything.  Find some MEQ elites to unleash it on, and they will fail on a 5+, giving you a good chance of making your points back.
  • Crucible of Malediction. A premium weapon against the right opponent.  It is not reliable for hunting a single Psyker, but if the enemy has brought lots (Seer Councils? Grey Knights?) then they are bound to fail at least a few of the saves and curse you for it.  Once again, pair with Torment Grenade Launchers for maximum effect.
  • Orb of Despair. This can quite easily scatter enough to have no effect.  Additionally, there are very few models it can cause instant death to.  I would leave it at home in favour of a Shattershard or Dark Gate.
  • Dark Gate. This has a longer range than the Orb of Despair, a lower risk of missing everything and may cause instant death.
  • Webway Portal. Haemis make ideal Webway Portal caddies.  They are more expendable than an Archon so can be dropped off with the portal and then left to wander towards the enemy if they survive the next turn.  Alternatively, they can join one of your newly arrived reserves, bringing a pain token with them.
How to use: You need to start by deciding what the purpose of your Haemi is, then give him the Wargear and supporting unit to go with it.
  • Webway Portal Caddies. Give your Haemi a Webway Portal, and stick him on a transport.  He wants to deploy the portal as close to the enemy as possible, and on the first turn.  Venoms make the ideal transport to do this as they are smaller (i.e. easier to hide) than a Raider and come with a free Flicker Field.  Wracks make a perfect escort for the Haemi, as they match his toughness, and can be taken in small enough units to fit with him in the Venom.  As this Haemi is rushing towards the enemy anyway, he is an ideal candidate to carry a Shattershard, Crucible of Malediction, or other exciting close range toy.
  • Pain Token Caddies. Run the Haemi with Incubi, or Wyches/Bloodbrides.  When they disembark ready to assault, separate him from his escort, giving them his pain token – this way he does not stop them from getting Fleet.  After they have made their charge he can always try to catch up with them – a Venom Blade is a cheap way to give him some bite if he does make it.  Again, as this Haemi is going to be in the midst of the enemy, he is a great carrier for a short range, single shot toy.
  • Shooting Specialisation. Take a Hexrifle or Liquifier Gun, and join up with a group of Kabalite Warriors/Trueborn.  They can then either sit in good cover backed up by Feel No Pain, or fly around the battlefield in a transport to cause some close range damage.
  • Close Combat Specialisation. The Mindphase Gauntlet is great fun against a low initiative army; otherwise a few axes are a great bonus to any Dark Eldar assault.  Alternatively, you can always just grab a Venom Blade.


Transports are a key option in most Dark Eldar unit builds, so I will deal with them here before moving on to the units themselves.

Strengths: The largest (non-Forgeworld) transport available.  Single turn reach of 30” if moving Flat Out, and open-topped.  It mounts a heavy weapon.
Weaknesses: Paper-thin armour.
  • Dark Lance/Disintegrator Cannon. Not actually an upgrade, but a compulsory option. The vast majority of players choose Dark Lances to boost the anti-vehicle capabilities of their army.  A Disintegrator could be a viable option if anti-tank is well-covered by the rest of your list, or you knew you would be facing a lot of 2+ save models.
  • Shock Prow.  If you tank shock an enemy squad they are probably just going to assault you in their next turn, however, in the end game this might be your only option to force them out of your deployment zone or off an objective.  If you consider using your Raider to ram then you will most likely pen yourself, and that may well be the end of you, but again in a desperate situation this might be a worthwhile risk to take.
  • Torment Grenade Launchers. The short range of this item puts you at risk of being assaulted if you try to use it, but the leadership penalty it provides for your enemy could be pivotal for certain arcane wargear available to Haemis. Worth giving a try in this sort of setup.
  • Enhanced Aethersails. These can be used in addition to going flat out (6th Ed FAQ v1.1), giving an average of 7” extra movement. I find my Raiders fast enough anyway, but this could be useful for getting those non-fleet passengers a little closer to the enemy, especially when entering from reserve, or playing from a hammer and anvil deployment.
  • Retrofire Jets. I don’t see much value to these. The speed of a Raider means that you can get to almost anywhere on the board by Turn 2 anyway, without the risk of your reserves roll missing or getting a deep strike mishap. Equally, if you are going to start in reserve, Enhanced Aethersails will let you get almost anywhere on the board with less risk and more precision, but without shooting on the turn you arrive.
  • Grisly Trophies. I have never made use of these, but if you have the spare points there are a useful way to make sure your Wyches stand and fight if you have a bad turn in combat.
  • Chain Snares. I have a fondness from these left over from their rules in the last codex. They can only be used in the movement phase, and therefore not when you move flat out. It is very difficult to get an enemy unit into a position where you can use this on them without them assaulting you first. I would leave them at home.
  • Venom Blades. As these do not take effect until the enemy rolls to hit, they are not going to stop anyone from assaulting your vehicles – they just may take down someone as they go. Not worth it in my opinion.
  • Splinter Racks. A cheap way to buff your Warrior’s shooting, increasing their hit possibility from 0.67 per shot to 0.89. A useful buy for Warrior gunboats, but be aware that it will not work on Shardcarbines or Splinter Cannons.
  • Night Shields. These often will not put you out of range of enemy anti-tank weapons (not if you want to be in range to fire yourself), but can be really helpful to protect your Raider in close by reducing the range at which the enemy can rapid fire at it or claim the melta bonus.  Definitely worth the points if you are planning to drop assault troops off and hang around.
  • Flicker Field. Due to the Jink rule, Raiders get an equivalent save for free, provided that they have moved. However, jink will not protect them in assault, or if the enemy gets the first turn and shoots before you can move. It can, therefore, be a worthwhile investment for your VIP Raider.
How to use: Mobility is a key advantage of the Dark Eldar, and Raiders play a vital part in getting your troops to the right place at the right time. As a Dedicated Transport, they have to be taken in support of a unit, and should be kitted out to benefit that unit. With low armour and open-topped, your Raiders are very unlikely to survive a game, so avoid overspending on them. Personally, I never give them more than one upgrade, in an attempt to keep them expendable. Once they have fulfilled their primary role of delivering units to where you want them, you can then start using them for other functions. At this point, the main things to do are to block enemy movement or screen your own fragile troops by getting in the way. If you sit on an objective that has been left in the open you may be able to tempt your opponent into wrecking or exploding your Raider, leaving a nice piece of area terrain behind.

Strengths: Single turn reach of 30” if moving flat out, and the added bonus of being open-topped. Potential for impressive anti-personnel firepower. Smaller than a Raider, making it easier to hide behind scenery.
Weaknesses:  Even flimsier than a Raider, although it comes with a free Flicker Field.  Small transport capacity. Smaller range of available wargear.
  • Second Splinter Cannon. For a small cost, this almost doubles the Venom’s shooting output, making it a fearsome little anti-infantry gunboat. I take this upgrade every time.
  • Retrofire Jets, Chain-Snares, Grisly Trophies, Envenomed Blades, Night Shields. Exactly the same comments apply as for a Raider.
How to use: See comments on the Raider.  As the Venom has such a low transport capacity it will often be used to carry elite units or independent characters. I generally go flat out in my first turn to get the passengers to where they need to be, and then slow down to pump out as much fire as possible before the Venom is taken out. Also, because the Venom has a Flicker field, use it to screen your Raiders during deployment, in order to give them a cover save.


Troops are the backbone of an army, and usually the only scoring units.

Strengths: Above average Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, and Leadership, along with a high initiative.  Poisoned shooting weapons as standard, and can take special/heavy weapons for more anti-infantry or anti-armour.
Weaknesses: Fragile – average toughness and poor armour.  Rapid fire weapons cannot shoot and assault, but Warriors are not good assault troops in any case.
  • Sybarite. For about the cost of another warrior, you can upgrade one to a Sybarite. His leadership is higher, making the squad more likely to stick around.  He is also a character, giving the option for precision shots, and the ability to initiate/accept challenges in cc.  For these reasons, a Sybarite is well worth it, but if points are tight you can get away without one.
  • Sybarite Wargear. Ghostplate armour does not make a great difference, and the points are probably better spent elsewhere.  Blast pistols are very expensive and the range is so short that they are not that useful.  Warriors will never survive an assault from decent assault troops, so I usually leave my Sybarite with his Splinter Rifle.  If you want to make a unit to sit in cover, and maybe survive an assault (if the dice are with you), a PGL and Venom Blade may work but it’s a large points investment for an uncertain outcome.
  • Blaster. A really mean gun for giving a squad a bit more bite.  It has a reasonable range at high strength and low AP.  It gives your squad a chance against vehicles and heavy infantry (MEQ/TEQ).  You can use it in squads which are too small for a heavy weapon.
  • Shredder. Some high strength anti-infantry to buff the squad.  The short range ruins this weapon for me, and you have to choose between this and a Blaster.
  • Dark Lance. A long range Blaster, but it is a heavy weapon, so it reduces your mobility.  You need a minimum squad size of 10 to take one. This gives the squad some long ranged AT capability, but if you choose to do this you will sacrifice all your splinter fire for the turn.  It can be useful to give a static squad something to do until the infantry get into range.
  • Splinter Cannon. A great supplement for a dedicated anti-infantry squad.  It can be fired as a heavy or assault weapon, so it does not need to reduce your mobility.
  • Venom. Only a min-sized squad can take a Venom.  This can make for a useful harassing unit which is also scoring (once disembarked).  Both the vehicle and the passengers are very fragile though.
  • Raider. A good option for a gunboat.  Buy a splinter rack and fill up with Warriors.  Due to the transport capacity, if you want an independent character to ride along too, the Warrior squad has to be too small to take a heavy weapon, which is a disadvantage.  Obvious point – do not stick a Dark Lance in a Raider, as you will only get to snap fire if you want to take advantage of the mobility.
How to use: Warriors could deploy from a Webway Portal, and as they are a shooting unit they will not be so disadvantaged by the fact they cannot charge.  You need to make sure that they can deploy into cover though, and avoid leaving them open to a charge in the enemy’s turn.
A few possible non-Webway Portal builds are:
  • Venom Warriors. 5 Kabalite Warriors, Blaster, Venom, extra Splinter Cannon [125].  A small harassing unit, as discussed.  The Sybarite is left out for cheapness, but the Blaster gives the option for some opportunistic tank-hunting.
  • Raider Warriors. 10 Kabalite Warriors, Blaster, Splinter Cannon, Raider, Splinter Racks [195].  Anti-infantry gunboat.  The Sybarite gives them more staying power when they start to take casualties, and the Blaster again gives an anti-tank option.
  • Static Warriors. 20 Kabalite Warriors, 2 Dark Lances, Sybarite with Venom Blade, Phantasm Grenade Launcher [265].  A big unit designed to sit in decent cover holding an objective.  Dark Lances let the squad deal with vehicles until the infantry get in range. Supplement with a Haemonculus to make this unit even tougher to shift.

Warriors are the only DE unit which is really suited to sitting on an objective, due to their ranged weaponry (although Wracks can be very survivable, especially if they go to ground, I don’t consider them “suited” because they have no offensive effect in this role). Even in decent cover they are not that survivable, and going to ground may be your only option to make it to the end of a turn. Weigh the risks and remember that Victory Points are how you win games, not necessarily kills.

Strengths: Above average Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill and Leadership.  Their very high Initiative, and grenades, means they will almost always strike first, even against elite assault troops from other armies.  Combat drugs help them to achieve more than their statline would have you expect (see the mathhammer section of the general tactica).  The dodge save makes them very durable in close combat. They can be upgraded with haywire grenades to take out vehicles.  An outstanding tarpit unit. 
Weaknesses: Very fragile – average toughness and even poorer armour than Warriors.  They will be shot to pieces if left in the open (and watch out for overwatch!).  Wyches have no significant ranged firepower.
Each of the 3 Wych weapons costs the same as an extra Wych, so the question is always, “why not just have a larger squad?”  More bodies means that you can take more damage, adding to your overall survivability.  If you have already maxed out on size though, weapons can still give you a bit more bite.
  • Razorflails. Give a slightly better damage expectation than just doubling your number of attacks (by adding another Wych), but they do not stand out so much if you roll Painbringer for your combat drug.
  • Hydra Gauntlets. A standard Wych gets 2 attacks (when not on the charge or buffed by combat drugs). One with Hydra Gauntlets gets an average of 4.5 attacks, giving a slightly better return than just buying an extra Wych for the same cost.  They do bring an extra element of randomness though...
  • Shardnet and Impaler.  These have no effect against enemies with a single attack, and cannot be used to assist characters in challenges, but they are absolutely great for hindering monstrous creatures, or for general tarpitting, especially if used in multiples.  The one weapon whose effect cannot be simulated by just adding more Wyches.
Apart from the Wych weapons, there are a couple of other options to upgrade your squad:
  • Haywire Grenades. Awesome for vehicle hunting.  Just watch out that you do not get left in the open, and shot up, after you’ve taken out your target.
  • Hekatrix. Has a higher Leadership, and all the bonuses of being a character – definitely worth the investment for an assault.  Also brings some useful weapons to the mix.  Do not bother with a Blast Pistol.  For 3+ or worse saves, the Agoniser gives the best results above toughness four, the power sword is better for dealing with lower toughness models.  For 2+ saves, the Venom Blade is the way forward.  I like to stick to Venom Blade in any case for a cheap and cheerful option.  The Phantasm Grenade Launcher is useful for the stealth effect defensive grenades give you at close range; take one if you have points to spare.
How to use: Wyches were born for close combat!  Get them there and watch them enjoy it.  Their dodge save makes them very survivable in an assault, allowing them to roll over weaker units (GEQ), or be a massive tarpit for tougher units (MEQ), who they will have more trouble finishing off.  A pain token goes a long way to improving Wych survivability, and it is often worth pairing them with a Haemi at the start to get this.  Wyches will also often play escort to an independent character.  Wyches cannot survive on foot (even with a pain token), so you are bound to want to give them some sort of shortcut to close combat:
  • Go tank-hunting in a Venom. A minimum sized Wych squad has no redundancy.  A bit of lucky overwatch fire, or an exploding vehicle, can easily reduce the squad below an effective size for an assault.  That said, 5 Wyches with HWG in a Venom is a real threat to any vehicle they come across; remember to throw one grenade as you approach, and laugh because vehicles cannot overwatch.
  • Raider. 6 Wyches, Shardnet and Impaler, Hekatrix with Venom Blade, Raider, Night Shields [155] + Independent Character.  Start the Wyches with a Haemi to get the pain token (and then leave him in the transport to do drive by shooting actions with a Liquifier Gun :D), or use them as an escort for your Archon/Succubus.  One turn of flat out in the Raider should get you in striking distance, and hopefully your jink save and Night Shields will save you from a painful explosion for that turn at close range.  This size of squad is usually sufficient to achieve the two turn kill, but you might consider increasing the squad size if this does not work for you.
  • Webway Portal. 15 Wyches, Hekatrix with Venom Blade, Phantasm Grenade Launcher [175] + Haemonculus. Squad size is maxed to add some survivability, which is also the reason for the Haemi.  Deploy from the portal into cover, and try to get an assault in the next turn.  The Phantasm Grenade Launcher will protect a bit from any really close ranged fire, and if the enemy manage to get the jump on you by assaulting first.
Some other ways to customise your squad for a certain role are:
  • Monstrous Creature Hunters. Max out on Shardnet/Impalers, and take a Hekatrix with an Agoniser.
  • Vehicle Hunters. Haywire Grenades. If possible, perhaps risk a disordered charge against an enemy squad and adjacent vehicle – this keeps you from being stuck out in the open regardless of whether you take the vehicle out.

Wyches are an offensive unit – do not use them to try to hold objectives, only to swoop in the end game. Hiding in cover and sniping with splinter pistols is not an effective way to use these troops.

Both of these units have the potential to be taken is troops if you select the right HQ choice.  Nevertheless, I will deal with them in the Elites and Fast Attack sections respectively.

-Plastikente February 2013

Acknowledgements...  Many thanks to Nesbitt_bub1, who inspired me to have a crack at this and whose posts have informed a lot of the first draft.  Thanks also to Ludo, Revener, Koval, FieryHammer, Mushkilla, Shadows Revenge, OrthienMurkglow, Thor665 and Squierboy,  for feedback and input which has influenced the final content of this article.

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