Evil Eldar Can Be Good Too!

Competitive 40k players around the world have been mentally conditioned by Games Workshop to expect every DE release to either be total garbage or a nifty supplement to Codex Eldar. But this is 2018, and ffter years and years of disappointing us with horrible DE codices, Games Workshop finally gave us a pleasant surprise. A good DE book!

Actually, calling the new DE book good is not really do it justice. The Dark Eldar codex, in my opinion is probably the most well designed codex thus far, at least externally (maybe not internally). One of the biggest struggles the rules designers face with “Soupable armies” (a technical term) is that they need to incentivize people to play the army with pure detachments and rules, so players don’t just cherry pick their best units. On the other hand, they need to be weary not to accidentally make these incentives so powerful they break the game. Typically, this is an incredibly difficult balance to strike, and they usually miss the mark. *cough Celestine cough Guard Battalion cough shield captains cough* Hm, excuse me, I must be catching a cold.


But enough ego-inflation for GW, let’s get into the actual codex review.

This is by far the most challenging review I’ve done yet, because by nature, this codex is structured differently than all the other codices thus far. To that end, my review will be structured a bit differently as well. First, I’ll touch on their ludicrous patrol detachment rule, to despell any notions of it being useful competitively. Then I’ll break down each of the three architypes- Kabals, Wych Cults, and Covens, along with the strengths of each of them. Finally, I’ll give a preliminary sample list concept just to put it all together.

Let’s start off with this patrol nonsense. I’m really glad Games Workshop is open to the idea of giving different armies different detachments to work from. This really helps more elite armies like Necrons and Grey Knights unlock command points which is currently a huge weakness for those builds. I think it’s a really great concept, it just happens to not work for DE, and here’s why. Basically, you can take three patrols for four total CP, or many more patrols for even more CP. In matched play, you only have access to three detachments so taking three patrols uses all your detachments, and taking more isn’t even legal. Four command points generated from three detachments is pretty poor to be frank. That’s the kind of CP generation pure GK can expect to see, and clearly they’re dominating the meta (/sarcasm). Dark Eldar is an army with lots of reasonably cheap HQs and troops, which screams Battalions to me. I could see triple Battalion DE armies being competitively viable, or in a format which limits each detachment to 0-1 I think you’re more likely to see a battalion, an outrider, and a spearhead for +5 CP as opposed to the +4 for triple patrol. Basically, the point I’m trying to make is that the patrol stuff is a trap, so avoid it.


 Kabals- In my opinion Kabals are the weakest of the three architypes. That said, they offer a lot of unique things which definitely warrant their inclusion into lists.  Warriors are super cheap, fill a battalion/brigade very easily, and even deep striking 20 of them isn’t terrible (though at that point doing it with Guardians from Eldar is probably better). Ravagers and Razorwings (the flier, not the beast) are really the value of the Kabals. The consistent, medium-high quality fire power these two vehicles provide are pretty solid for the points. As far as which Obsession to choose, I’d go with Black Heart simply for the Agents of Vect Stratagem which can easily win you a game instantly if used correctly.

Wych Cult– All of the different obsessions wych cult have are really strong, but the two that stand out to me the most are Cursed Blade and Red Grief. Cursed Blade unlocks S4 base which is a world of difference compared to S3. S4 vs S3 directly increases your ability to wound T3, 4, 6, and 7, which are the most common toughness values in the game. Not only that, but it lets you mitigate the leadership issues you’ll almost certainly be having in a wych cult heavy build. On the flip side, Red Grief can turn your army into an insanely fast, tying up machine. Red Grief will enable a lot of turn one charges. That coupled with the no escape rule (which magically works against fly) and some traditional surrounding tricks you can lock an entire army down turn one.


Wychs- Wychs can turn into pretty awesome speed daemons or chaff killing machines with the right drugs. Also, no escape working on units with Fly is just so amazing I can’t even begin to describe how good it is. I could see an army featuring 120+ s4 pseudo fearless wychs being really strong. Another option for wychs could be taking a bunch of 9-10 man squads in raiders. This would allow you to significantly reduce your drop count thus giving you better odds at the +1 which wychs will certainly want to have. This will also give you some (albeit not much) durability, and perhaps more importantly, a sneaky way of increasing your move by 4″ when you factor in the disembark.

Reavers- Reavers are definitely a unit you want to make Red Grief. There’s something about a unit moving 26-30″ in a turn and charging that just screams “good” to me. A bunch of these guys (girls?) deployed somewhat defensively and then boosting across the table to launch a very unexpected charge is definitely a strong tool for DE players to make use of. Being multi wound and relatively low model count will also allow them to make great use of Hyperstimm Backlash really well without killing too many models.

Hellions- Hellions are a really interesting unit given how hard they hit, their speed, and the fact that they are infantry. I think they actually belong in a Ynari/DE list which will let you deep strike them, then soul burst afterwards to move again then shoot and charge. I’d consider them to fill a very similar role to shining spears in a ynari list. They do make wonderful use of Eviscerating Fly By as well. 20 Helions aggressively deep striking, using soul burst to move again, then using Eviscerating Fly By and shooting a nice hefty unit of infantry, then charging a bunch of multi wound models like vehicles or bikes with their two damage weapons, whilst standing near the Yncarne for fearless seems like a pretty awesome and strong army concept to me.


Covens- Covens have always been the ugly step child of Dark Eldar (literally) and they haven’t really been considered a real thing until recently.  But man, are they a real thing now. My personal favorite, by far, is the Prophets of Flesh. 4++ across the board is a really powerful (borderline broken) mechanic- Take it from a long time daemon player.

Haemonculus- These are awesome for buffing other Coven units simply because of what an amazing buff +1T is. Also, they’re HQ’s and you need them. So yeah, take these.

Wracks- I wouldn’t go nuts with these guys but they aren’t pricey and they are super durable ob sec. T4/5 4++ infantry is just phenomenal honestly, especially in 5 man units to just hang around and be obnoxious back field deep strike defenders and objective holders.

Grotesques– I’m a huge fan of Grotesques. They fall right in line with other similarly costed, hard hitting, and durable units. Little things like T6 from a nearby haemonculus to make them relatively immune to garbage shooting, like Guardsmen, Fire Warriors, and Cultists, and 4 wounds which is the perfect number for tanking Ion cannons and Dark Reapers. They fall on the right side of the “is that worth it” line in the metaphoric list building sand which really helps justify their inclusion.

Talos– Similarly to Grotesques, these guys just fall in a really good spot stats wise for their points, and provide a high number of decent quality attacks for their points. These definitely aren’t spammable in the highest levels of competitive 40k, but a unit of 3 of them will see play I expect.

Cronos– Pretty much the only thing I like about the Cronos is its lieutenant-esque ability, and only because it affects all Drukhari, not just Coven units. I’m not sure these will make it into lists because that’s a lot of points for a buff from a non-mandatory slot filler, but I think they are worth mentioning.


So right about now is where I’d write a draft list to point people in the right direction for DE, but to be completely honest, between all the available strats, WL traits, relics, and uniqueness of their army, I think it’s better if I draw up a rough draft list concept rather than write a fully comprehensive list. So with that caveat in mind, let’s see what a shell of a DE army looks like.

Kabal of the Black Heart Spearhead
Archon- Agonizer, Blast Pistol 86
Ravager- 3 Disintegrators 125
Ravager- 3 Disintegrators 125
Ravager- 3 Disintegrators 125
Wych Cult Battallion- Red Grief
Succubus- Agonizer 54
Succubus- Agonizer 54
9 Wychs- Shardnet and Impaler 77
19 Wychs- Agonizer 156
5 Wychs 40
9 reavers- Agonizer 175
Raider- Disintegrator




Coven Battalion- Prophets of Flesh
Urien Rakarth 90
Haemonculus 70
5 Wracks 45
5 Wracks 45
5 Wracks 45
9 Grotesques- Mosterous Cleavers 288
10 Grotesques- Moneterous Cleavers 320

The army is really Dynamic since almost anything can Deep strike, parts of it are incredibly fast and can lock things down, whilst parts of it are relatively slow, hard hitting, and durable. Fundamentally I’d probably deep strike the large wych block and try to use the wych raider opportunistically to go first and grab as much of the enemy army as possible. You can give the raider wych unit +2″ move as their drug, then double it for +4″ with a strat if need be. Then you can disembark for another free 4″ followed by an advance and charge for an insanely far charge range turn one. Charging the opponents army with them and the reavers on the first turn can win you the game right there. Alternatively, the deep striking unit trying to make the charge with rerolls to charge and CP is roughly 55% to make it in. Once you’ve tied up the opponent’s army long enough to buy time for your Grotesques to make it, you can really lay into him.

I’m sure as time progresses and I see actual games played with DE to see what works and what doesn’t they’ll evolve much passed this initial idea, but for now its a decent starting point to work off of.

Finally, when you start to add in Eldar and Ynari as potential allies, you start to get some really interesting combinations to build your army off of. But that’s an article for another time. I’m sure I’ve bored you all enough with my ramblings on DE for today, so for now I bid you farewell.

24 Comments on “Evil Eldar Can Be Good Too!

  1. What do you think of the mercenary units(incubi, scourges, etc)?

    • Decent as filler for a brigade (but i doubt a brigade is worth it) and otherwise unimpressive on their own

      • It is definitely super hard to fit anything in after a Bridade. I like Black Heart for the stratagem and Warlord Trait, but I don’t like it for my troops because Flayed Skull Warriors in Venoms are just so versatile. If I make a Flayed Skull Brigade though after transports it’s something like 1600 points. Makes it extrememly hard to still fit in a Black Heart detachment.

        Incubi I think are a little bit Lackluster, since they’re hard to get in for a first turn charge, Scourges are solid, but too squishy to put Blasters on because you’re losing 39 points/wound against a T3 model. Haywire Blasters are super fun if you’re playing against any armor, Particularly Necrons since you can ignore their armor with mortal wounds. Mandrakes are as solid as they were in the index, but a little bit less necessary.

        With my Index lists I’d always bring Mandrakes to deal with scouts in cover since poison is so inefficient for dealing with high save models, and Mandrakes had a little AP and some Mortal wounds. Now that you can take Flayed Skull to ignore cover you’re kind of stepping in their niche.

        I’m personally right now looking at 2 Flayed Skull Battalions and a Black Heart Spearhead with Ravagers, with the relic to give reroll wounds aura so those ravagers reroll 1s to hit and to wound. Plus they get a FNP, which is way better than giving warriors +1 to the PfP table. Vehicles are the only ones who really benefit from Black Heart Obsession.

        I am looking into replacing my second Battalion with some Wyches but I’m not 100% sold yet. I feel like if I were going to play Wyches I’d want both Mandrakes and Reavers, but in different Obsessions, and I’d have to drop all my Kabal Battalions to make room for that while still keeping the Black Heart Spearhead. Wyches may be awesome, but I do well with my Kabalite army. I’m not ready to say goodbye to them just yet.

  2. Is the red grief obsession affecting their transport of any particular tactical use or ability at a first glance

    • I would think transports eating overwatch would be helpful.

  3. As a note, you have the wrong points for grotesques. They have to take flesh gauntlets, which are 3 points, for a total of 35 points per model.

  4. Would your assessment of the Patrol Detachment shenanigans change if there wasn’t a limit to the number of Patrol Detachments you could have?

  5. Well it’s funny how differently we perceive this army in terms of competetivness. Units you mention as really good I find underwhelming in the ETC format. Maybe the difference how you play with infantry makes aforementioned units playable in your metagame?

    • That’s really interesting. Typically I find the Polish ETC lists incredibly interesting every year. Usually at ETC’s most lists are in the neighborhood of each other, but typically Poland and Germany come up with some odd ball armies which I can’t wrap my around how they work. Given the nature of DE I’m really curious to see how the different ETC DE lists look

      • You have my word I’ll find something tricky as Guys in Latexes personally amuse me ;). I’m looking forward to what people will field aswell.

        Though right now after calculating a lot through Excel I find Jetfighters and Ravagers as definitely stronger than any other choices.

        Well – I’d say the way we choose our teams makes it easier for us in long run, as we play for ETC nearly all the time. Helps a lot with finding weird niche armies that fit team play :).

      • Haha I’m sure our spandex men will be incredibly different than your spandex men. But, if all you guys can come up with is razorwings and ravagers I’ll be thoroughly disappointed. You don’t want to disappoint me do you!?

      • Well, after living as a living dissapointment for whole family I’m not afraid to dissapoint one more person ;).

  6. Long time DE player, and love the Aliance of Agony build. Don’t forget for a CP you can give a Succubus and Heamey a WL trait.

    Wyches in raiders are a real thing. The shape allows for some good overwatch tanking shenanigans. But those lowly kabs can get two blasters and a darklance and ride in a raider for 200ish points.

    And totally agree coven are going to really come into their own. Glad a guy of you caliber is taking a look at DE.

  7. Hey Nick, what do you think of a scourge bomb, 3-6 squads all with shredders and/or blasters, might work similar to Tempestus early on or is it too heavy an investment and are hurt by lack of rerolls? But they do have fly, a better range and 6++, 6+++

    • They are way too expensive with blasters in my opinion. Shredders keep their cost down, but poison and no AP in general doesn’t really do anything. Overall I’m not impressed with scourges

      • Thanks man, good to get your opinion on this. I’m hoping shredders will fill the anti-infantry slot nicely with a little flexibility, even with 12 shots venoms just don’t cut it for me

      • Shredders rock Infantry now, they are not poison. d6 shots, Str 6, -1AP, re-roll failed wounds against infantry. The only downside is the 12″ range.

  8. Late to this post, but I thought I’d share and try and get some clarity on stuff.

    Scourges are another great harassing tool, I’ve had the best luck with heat lances, or haywire blasters. The haywire blasters are almost more efficient vs infantry, D3 Str4 AP-1 shots. Heat lances are the perfect heavy infantry hunters. Drop in, shoot, fire and fade, out of LoS, then next turn get within 9″ for the 2 dice damage and fire and fade again. At 108 pts, it makes for a great backfield distraction unit, especially the first time you tell some one they are AP 5. They feel the need to chase and kill them.

    I’m still not getting the love on Hellions, doubly so in this article. Warriors are bad, flying warriors are great? The Fly By strat on 20 will net approx 7 mortal wounds, for 280 pts; 12 Reavers with 4 grav talons will net approx 1 less mortal wound and come in cheaper, and are probably 3 times the durability. What am I missing?

    • I like them for the fact that they are also combat capable and have a much faster move and fly. A better comparison would be deep striking warriors to deep striking guardians and deep striking 9 Spears to 20 hellions. The hellions lack the durability of spears, and the ap. But they have 20 bases as opposed to 9 which make trapping things in combat, surrounds vehicles, touching things without fly to prevent shooting etc… much easier

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