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Plastikente’s Dark Eldar Unit Guide Part 3 – Elites [6th Ed]

Submitted By: Plastikente Date: December 2, 2012, 06:08:02 PM Views: 1504
Summary: An article discussing tactica for DE Elites in 6th Edition. This is part 3 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

Elites are the specialists who add punch to your army.  Generally they are suited to destroying a particular type of enemy but don't shine against other targets.  Elites are not scoring units, so they are usually not game winners in their own right, but rather facilitators who clear the way for and protect your troops.

Strengths:  Poisoned CCWs. Tough (for Dark Eldar). Start with a Pain Token.  Can be troops and therefore scoring.  In this case, they become the smallest, cheapest scoring unit available to DE.
Weaknesses:  Very poor save.  Very limited access to shooting weapons.  No grenades. No Fleet.
Upgrades:  Liquifier guns are awesome – a flamer template with a 50% chance of melting straight through power armour every time it fires.  I always max out on this upgrade.
An Acothyst is a fairly standard character upgrade, with the associated Ld buff, and ability to make precision strikes and make/accept challenges.  The wargear available to an acothyst has all been covered in my description of Haemonculi.  The high-end weapons essentially double the cost of the Acothyst, and he doesn't have the initiative to take full advantage of them so I just stick to the cheap and cheerful Venom Blade.  A Hexrifle can also be useful for picking out opponents with a chance of insta-killing any character or Monstrous Creature (MC) you are lucky enough to wound.
 How to use:
Model  vs MEQ   vs TEQ   vs GEQ   vs MC
Undrugged Wych   0.056   0.028   0.222  -
Wrack   0.083   0.042   0.333  0.083
Like Wyches, Wracks need to be in combat to achieve anything; in fact, Wracks can achieve almost nothing at a range greater than “template”.  Unlike Wyches, Wracks love a tough opponent, giving them a better kill rate against SMurfs than a Wych without drugs and making them ideal for hunting Plague Marines, Wraithguard, Monstrous Creatures etc.  The free pain token helps their survivability, and is very much needed as they only have thick skin for armour.  Once they get a second pain taken, Wracks will be re-rolling to wound Space Marines and Orks on the turn they charge.  As Wracks start out with a fairly mediocre I, and an above average T, it is not ridiculous for this unit to charge enemies in cover, as they don’t lose a great deal compared to their normal abilities.
Wracks can make an useful escort for an Independent Character (IC), allowing him to start the game with a pain token.  Beware the fact that they are not Fleet though, and they become very fragile if the IC separates and takes their pain token with him.
Unless deploying from a Webway Portal (WWP), Wracks need a transport to get them to their target.  5 in a Venom or 10 in a Raider are both effective builds.  In comparison to the other Elites available in the list, Wracks are a pretty mediocre unit.  In comparison to our troops, however, they offer unique and excellent abilities.  It’s probably not worth taking these unless you have a Haemonculus in one of your HQ slots.

Strengths:  Best armour save available to Dark Eldar (DE).  Terminator-skewering weapons, high weapon skill, above average attacks, standard DE high initiative.  Incubi demolish MEQ in an assault.
Weaknesses:  No grenades!  If you assault someone in cover you lose your major advantage of striking first.  Incubi have the standard DE toughness, which makes them vulnerable to shooting and strong cc attacks, even with that save.  They also have a tendency to become victims of their own success, wiping out the first unit they charge only to be left stranded in the open where the enemy shoots them to pieces.
Upgrades:  Apart from a dedicated transport, the only upgrade available to Incubi is to take a Klaivex and tool him up.  If you aren’t using the Incubi as escorts for an IC then a Klaivex is worth taking for the Ld upgrade alone - Incubi are so expensive you really don't want to see them bravely running away if they botch a combat.  Characters also have the benefit of precision strikes and issuing/receiving challenges.  This can be useful when escorting an IC, either to protect your Archon from a killer opponent, or equally to stop him wasting his time stamping on a squad sergeant.  Beware challenges though, unless you are certain that you can take your opponent down in one round.  Most characters have access to power weapons, which stand a good chance of finishing you if they can land a blow.
A further advantage of the Klaivex is that he strikes at a different initiative to the squad.  As wounds are allocated at each initiative step, this fact can be used to snipe particular models if you can get him in base-to-base with them.
Options for a Klaivex are:
  • Demiklaives.   An expensive weapon that just doesn't pay for itself.  Statistically, the strength increase always performs at least as well as the attacks increase (against any T>2).  You get an increase in killiness of about 30% for a cost increase of over 50%.  I would leave it at home, unless you are trying to kit your Klaivex out as a challenge assassin, but even then, an Archon or Succubus would be better suited.
  • Bloodstone.  Good for thinning out enemies in power armour before you assault.  Beware killing too many of them, or your charge might fail, but the range of a template is so small that this is unlikely to be a major issue.
  • Onslaught.  A squad of 5 Incubi including a Klaivex with this power will generate on extra 1-2 attacks on average.  For only a few more points you could just add an extra Incubus and have those extra attacks guaranteed.
  • Murderous Assault.  In 6e it is not possible to target an IC specifically unless he is challenged or in base contact, this power is really only useful then if you want to try to kit out your Incubi as a challenge assassin.
How to use:  A squad of 5 Incubi is generally more than enough to take on any enemy, but be careful who you charge.  Unless you pair the squad with an Archon with Phantasm Grenade Launcher (PGL), you need to avoid opponents in cover, and avoid taking on troops with power weapons unless you are sure you can wipe them out before they strike back.  Overkill is always a risk with Incubi, so try to pick combats where you will not be left right out in the open if you wipe out your opponent.  Like other DE troops, Incubi on foot don’t last.  Venoms have the advantage of being smaller and having the free protective forcefield (in case your opponent gets the first turn), Raiders have the extra hull point which lets them take a bit more flak – either option can work.  Some suggested Incubi builds:
  • IC escorts.  4 Incubi, Transport [153].  Add an IC and go looking for trouble.  An Archon is the only option to bring along a Phantasm Grenade Launcher so that you can hunt enemies in cover.  I would also tool him out with Huskblade, Soul Trap and Shadowfield, but this makes him a real point-sink.
  • Standalone Incubi. 5 Incubi including Klaivex, Transport [185].  Use your mobility to find an exposed squad in power armour to pick on.  Night Shields will help the Raider get in close if you have the points, or you could take Grisly Trophies to try to make sure you stick around, or Torment Grenade Launchers to make sure that the enemy doesn't.

Strengths:  Strongest and Toughest infantry in the DE list, with plenty of attacks and wounds.  Grots are practically monstrous creatures.  Start with a pain token.
Weaknesses:  Must be escorted by an IC, and if he dies, they’re in trouble...
Upgrades:  Take a Liquifier Gun.  They’re well worth the points, and your Grots will be getting in close anyway.  An Aberration brings an extra attack and the advantages of being a character who can accept challenges to save escorting IC if you want.  The Aberration's weapon options are all covered in the section on Haemonculi, with the same comments applying, with the addition of this: the Aberration has a high strength, so all of the poisoned options will be re-rolling failed wounds against most opponents.  This makes the Flesh Gauntlet particularly terrifying, as it can take down an opponent in 1 and cuts through Feel no Pain (FnP).  Also note that the Aberration takes a weapon, not upgrades an existing one – so he also gets an extra attack for having 2 ccws.
How to use:  Grots have a minuscule leadership, and suffer from the Berserk Rampage special rule.  For these reasons, you will always want to accompany them with an Independent Character.  Fortunately, they are close combat monsters, making them ideal escorts for an Archon or Succubus (with the one small downside being that they are not Fleet).
If you are going to take Urien Rakarth, it is well worth paying the extra points to upgrade your Grots’ strength.  Due to his other special rules, if you start them with him you can have 3 Pain Tokens from the start of the game, meaning you won't get pinned and giving you a high enough strength to threaten most vehicles.
Because Grots are bulky, they will not fit in a Venom, leaving essentially 2 viable unit builds:
  • Raider Grots.  4 Grots, Liquifier Gun, Aberration with Venom Blade [225] +IC.  The maximum number you can fit in a Raider to escort your character.  Night Shields and Torment Grenade Launchers are good complementary upgrades for this Raider if you have the points.
  • WWP Grots.  6 Grots, Liquifier Gun, Aberration with Venom Blade [235] +IC.  A very similar price to the Raider squad, but with more hitting power.  The high toughness and wounds should allow you to weather the inevitable mass fire you will draw on stepping out of the portal.  This squad should stomp all over anything you get it into contact with (except vehicles!).  You could push the squad up to max numbers [375 pts!], but you are probably already going to overkill any squad you are in combat with, so I wouldn't bother.
    I have called this build “WWP Grots”, but the unit is better suited to delivering the portal (protecting the caddy with their high toughness) than to stepping out of the Webway and laying the smack down (due to the lost turn when they can’t assault).

Strengths:  They look nice ... that’s about it.  Well, they're also good at moving through terrain and have the advantage of special deployment.
Weaknesses:  No grenades.  Poor save, even if it is invulnerable.  Can’t shoot until they get a pain token.  May be slightly stronger than the average DE, but only have standard ccws to hit people with.
Upgrades:  Only upgrade is a Nightfiend, giving the standard Ld buff and the advantages of being a character.
How to use:  Mandrakes are not a great option in a competitive area of the Force Organisation Chart.  They do not hit as hard as Incubi (or even Wyches, in most cases).  They don’t shoot as well as Trueborn, and can't shoot until you've got that vital pain token.  They can outflank, but if you do so they can't do anything on the turn they arrive unless you've paired them with a Haemonculus to let them shoot.  Same goes if you bring them on from a WWP.  Despite their invulnerable save, they are about as fragile as all Dark Eldar.
Against the right opponent, Mandrakes can hold their own (low T, poor assaulters with good saves – think Tau, IG, Gretchin...).  Because of stealth, they are also quite resilient in cover.  They can work nicely when paired with a Cronos to help them get that first pain token.  If you are going to take them, take a large unit (8-10), but don’t expect much of them – they are not a strong choice in our list.

Strengths: High WS, access to rending weapons, ignore difficult terrain, can hit and run.
Weaknesses:  Expensive, fragile, have to pay extra for grenades, no transport, don't get power from pain.
  • Harlequin’s Kiss.  For a few points, you can make your attacks rending.  This is well worth it against almost all opponents, but makes your Harlie cost as much as an Incubus.  If you're going to take these, it's probably worth leaving a few models without.  You are bound to lose 1 or 2 Harlies to shooting before you get to your target, so position these cheaper Kiss-less models to take the fall.
  • Fusion Pistol.  Like the Blast Pistol, you have to get very close to use this, so you're unlikely to make a good return on your points investment.
  • Shadowseer.  Expensive, but almost essential.  Stealth and shrouded (from the Veil of Tears, see FAQ v1.1, page 2, left column) do a lot to mitigate for your fragility as long as you're in cover.  And the Hallucinogen Grenades allow you to assault through difficult terrain without being hacked apart before you can strike.  (Although Harlequins ignore difficult terrain, they still strike at I1 if they charge through it without grenades. See FAQ v1a, page 3, right column.)
  • Death Jester.  Carries a shuriken cannon which pins, but sacrifices his extra cc attack (from 2 weapons) to do so.  Not essential, but can deliver a useful effect.
  • Troupe Master.  Standard character buff.  You probably don't need the extra A and Ld, but a power weapon in the squad could come in handy, particularly if you give him a power lance to use during his furious charge.
Note: Shadowseers, Death Jesters and Troupe Masters are all characters, benefiting from precision shot/strike, and all the other bonuses that go with it.  Don't forget Look Out Sir! to keep your Shadowseer alive, and use the other characters to keep him out of challenges too.
How to use:  The following table compares Harlequins to a couple of our other close combat (cc) specialists.  These stats are worked out for individual models on the charge.  Harlequins do significantly worse in subsequent rounds, because they lose the advantage of their furious charge.
Model  vs MEQ   vs TEQ   vs GEQ   vs MC
Harlequin   0.444   0.222   1.185  0.111
Harlequin with Kiss   0.741   0.444   1.333  0.333
Incubus   1.000   0.667   1.333  0.250
Bloodbride (no drugs)   0.222   0.111   0.889  -
Wrack   0.250   0.125   1.000  0.250
The problem with Harlequins is that, without a kiss, they lack bite against armoured opponents.  With kisses, they are not as good as Incubi (if your opponent is wearing any armour), but cost the same.  That said, you will be taking a Shadowseer to buff your Harlies, so they can assault enemies in cover, which the Incubi can't do without the very expensive option of adding and Archon and PGL.
One (almost unique) thing that really sets them apart in the DE list is the ability to hit-and-run.  This should always be used if you are in combat at the end of the opponent's turn: there is no disadvantage to failing the initiative test, and if you pass you can move on to another target or go back in for your previous opponent ... with another Furious Charge!  It can even be worth using this ability in your own turn if you think the consolidation move will get you into cover again.
At first glance, the Harlequins' lack of dedicated transport is a disadvantage, but they suffer so badly if a vehicle explodes that it is rarely worth doing a transport swap.  In fact, as they are not slowed by difficult terrain, Harlies can advance at a decent speed on foot, whilst also benefitting from great cover saves.  They will not quite keep up with your skimmers, but they won’t be far behind, and have a good chance of getting to their target relatively unscathed.  They can also deploy from a WWP, but suffer the same problem as everyone else – they can't charge the turn they arrive.  Nevertheless, if you buy a Shadowseer they should be able to run into cover and get a great save while they wait.
Harlequins really excel on tables with very dense terrain (Cities of Death themed, for example).  Here their flip-belts let them move freely whilst a Shadowseer buffs their cover save to awesome levels.
Harlies make a great escort for independent characters, as they can share in that immense cover save.  The disadvantage is, the IC slows the squad down because he cannot ignore the difficult terrain.  The massive cover save makes them a great escort for a WWP caddy.
If you want to use Harlequins, try this build: 4 Harlequins (3 with Kisses), Troupe Master with Power Lance, Shadowseer [170].  Alternatively, if you want to buy into some allies, you can always try the Harlie-star of Doom... Take the Harlequins as mentioned, as the Elite slot in an allied Craftworld Eldar detachment.  Take a Farseer with Fortune and run him with the Harlies and your Archon  for incredible, re-rollable cover saves.  If you run the Farseer at the front of the crew, then the Archon can Look out Sir! to take any hits that ignore cover.  You will also need to take the mandatory Craftworld Eldar troops choice – Guardian Jetbikes generally fit in well with the DE style of play.

Strengths:  Special weapons!  The small min squad size allows you to take just the tools for the job, with a minimum of associated chaff.
Weaknesses:  They are just Warriors who have 1 better A and Ld.  And they’re not scoring.  Despite their improved stats, they are still poor in an assault, due to their lack of survivability.  If you want to hit the enemy in cc, take Wyches, Wracks or Incubi.
Upgrades:  Trueborn have the same special and heavy weapons available to them as Warriors, but they can take a lot more of them.  The Dracon is next to worthless – a close combat leader in a squad which should never be in an assault.  He doesn’t even lift your leadership.  Because you don’t want to be in assault, the plasma grenades are pointless.  You could perhaps find a point for bringing haywire along, but I don’t tend to find it fits with my squad purposes.
How to use: Choose which weapons you want, max out and then hunt your chosen target.  Builds I use are:
  • Blasterborn.  4 Trueborn with Blasters in a Venom with extra cannon [173].  Thanks to their transport, the Trueborn have a threat range of 24”, and should inflict at least 0.889 penetrating hits on any vehicle.  Meanwhile, the Venom can hose down any infantry you don’t like the look of.  This is the one build where you might perhaps add some haywire grenades, but I would much rather be sat near the edge of effective range picking at the enemy rather than close enough to land an assault.
  • Splinter Fun.  3 Trueborn with 2 Splinter Cannons, 1 Shardcarbine, in a Venom with extra Cannon [126].  I start these with Duke Sliscus as a cheap way to lay down a huge amount of anti-infantry fire.
  • Dark Lances.  3 Trueborn with 2 Dark Lances [86].  The cheapest way to get a couple of Dark Lances on the table.  Sit them in good cover and snipe enemy vehicles.  Per Lance, they are more expensive than a Ravager, but look like less of a threat, and can often escape enemy fire as they desperately blast away at all the cc troops rushing towards them.
  • Shredderborn.  This loadout was basically never used before 6th Ed, but the removal of the vehicle damage disadvantage to AP- weapons and changes to resolving blasts against vehicles mean that these are now a viable weapon against light vehicles, whilst still being primarily anti-infantry.

Strengths:  A little better than Wyches in assault.
Weaknesses:  Not scoring.
Upgrades:  Bloodbrides have access to the same weapon upgrades as Wyches, but you can take more of them.  And the same comments apply, ie. it's generally better just to buy another model for the unit.  A Syren brings one more attack, access to other weapons (same as a Hekatrix in a Wych squad) and the advantages of being a character, but no leadership buff.
How to use:  Bloodbrides don’t hit harder than Wyches, they just hit more times.  There are very few situations when it wouldn’t be better to have the cheaper, scoring unit instead.  A few possible uses are:
  • Counter-assault.  A cheap counter-assault unit in a small (~1000pt) all-shooting list.  In this case, 4 Bloodbrides (1 x Hydra Gauntlets) in a Venom with extra cannon [127] can be paired with a cheap Succubus and used as a mobile reserve.  Although a Wych squad this small is ineffective, the Bloodbrides have the attacks of 6 Wyches (not charging) before you add the hydra gauntlets.  They are still just as vulnerable to overwatch, but shouldn't meet any if used to bail out units already caught in a fight.
  • Cannon Fodder.  Wyches don't like overwatch. But if the enemy is already locked in combat, he can't shoot at his new assailants.  3 Broodbrides in a Venom with extra cannon [104] can match pace with your scoring unit and charge first to take the overwatch before your more valuable unit wades in.  And if they're fortunate enough to survive, they can mount up and repeat the whole procedure again.
  • Go for the kill.  9 Bloodbrides, 3 special weapons, Syren w/ Agoniser, Raider [237] +Succubus.  Just as fragile as Wyches, but generally throw enough attacks to get a decent kill count.  Still not scoring though.

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 Revener, Mushkilla, Shadows Revenge, Thor665, Seshiru and Crazy_Irish for feedback and input which has influenced the final content of this article.


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