Right, I've had it up to here of people saying Dark Eldar aren't any good in 6th edition. I am like some raging fluff bunny who has just witnessed Marneus Calgar being painted Blood Angel red. Dark Eldar are my favourite army to play in 40k (yes, I love them more than my Necrons, D.E really are my baby) and I'll have no bad word spoken against them, or else the bowels of Commoragh for you sunshine ;)
In all seriousness I do think Dark Eldar are a damn good codex in 6th edition and I think a lot of people are not looking at the bigger picture. Sure they are certainly not the strongest codex nor have the most builds but in no shape or form are they worst book in 40k, no where near it.
Dark Eldar Builds
Like all 5th ed codices the Dark Eldar book got hit and now offers limited builds. A build hit by the 6th changes was the web way portal list, though as you cannot assault from reserve that's a waste of time. Here are some viable lists:
Venom Spam - D.E Venom spam is probably the strongest list Dark Eldar can put out. It involves taking nine Venoms and jamming minimum sized Kabalite Warriors and Kabalite Trueborn in. Then sprinkle with Voidraven, Ravager, Beastmasters or Reavers.
Raider Spam - basically the same as the Venom spam list, just instead replace all Venoms with Raiders. Downside to this list is you lose ranged anti infantry fire power due to lack of splinter cannons though gain more dark lances.
Hellion List - Baron Sathonyx (my favourite HQ in 40k) makes Hellions troops, so take several large units of these with some Wracks and Haemonculus - Haemonculus starts with Hellions and leaves giving the Hellions the pain token. Baron starts with the Wracks and leaves taking the pain token, Baron joins the Hellions and the unit has two pain tokens before the game starts. Add flyers, Beastmasters and a few Raiders or Venoms for support.
Changes in 6th
When 6th ed landed it brought many rules changes and many of those rules effected Dark Eldar and has made them a stronger codex.
* Hull points - the addition of hull points had made Dark Eldar vehicles stronger. Previously a lucky glance could take out a Venom as they are open topped vehicles, now the Venom just loses a hull point.
* 30" movement - skimmers can move 12" and move 18" in the shooting phase - that's a massive 30" range ,which will get those blasters into range a.s.a.p.
* Jink - ok this doesn't effect Dark Eldar too much as they have flickerfields, but if you are skimping on points it is still an option as all skimmers get the jink rule if they moved.
* Night fighting - night fighting is a massive buff for Dark Eldar as their splinter cannons can fire 36" - the maximum weapons can fire when using night fighting rules. If units are over 24" away they gain the shrouding rule. Dark Eldar ignore night fighting so the opponent isn't going to get any shrouding or stealth benefits while vehicles sitting back firing splinter cannons or dark lances will be getting a 3+ cover save (jink and shrouding)
* Shooting - the changes to rapid fire means that D.E Warriors can move up 6" in the Venoms and still get some long range 24" shots in. This is extremely useful as they can add that little more fire power instead of sitting inside just being wounds for the blaster carrying Warrior. Speaking of the blaster, AP2 gets a +1 on the vehicle damage table, so dark lance weapons will have a 33% chance to explode vehicles. Though the nature of the lance means you will get more glances then penetrates, which due to hull point introduction means Dark Eldar can easily destroy vehicles by glancing hits alone.
* Beastmasters - Beastmasters are unit type beasts (no shit!) and can move 12" and have the usual 12" charge range. They are also not slowed by terrain so can easily just mooch through it. They also have move through cover (ignore dangerous terrain) and have fleet so can re-roll those run and assault rolls.
* Haywire grenades - Wyches come with these and these are the bomb (see what I did there) at destroying vehicles thanks to hull points.
* Reaver Jetbikes - thanks to skilled rider, these guys get a +1 jink save - so that's a 4+ cover when moving normally and 3+ if moved flat out. They also ignore terrain too.
There's probably a few more things which I have missed, so pipe up and let me know.
The bigger they are the harder they fall
Dark Eldar's main weaponry are poison 4+ and come in numerous forms. Majority of the poison weapons are AP5, so will easily kill basic grunts. Though it isn't the AP what brings units down, it is the weight of wounds.
Take a typical Guardsmen who is T3 5+ armour save. Majority of small arms fire in 40k i.e bolters, shuri weapons, pulse weapons etc need a 3+ to even a 2+ to wound and kill. Dark Eldar poison weapons need a 4+. It is the same situation for the humble Ork Grot, who is a lowly T2.
Next in line a Tyranid Trygon who has 6 wounds and is T6. The poison weapons of the Dark Eldar will still wound this giant snake on a 4+ no matter how tough it is. I bet you Wraithknight players are quaking in your boots!
Basically Dark Eldar will fare a lot better against tougher units where their poison isn't effected by the defence of the unit's high toughness.
In addition, Dark Eldar will always do better against small elite armies i.e Nidzilla, Ravenwing, Deathwing, Space Marines etc rather than horde armies as typically horde armies are low toughness while elite armies rely on their high toughness to survive, which Dark Eldar bypasses with poison weapons. In the case of an army like Deathwing the more saves Dark Eldar cause the more chances of failure.
So to cut a long story short, the tougher/better/more elite army will always suffer more against Dark Eldar.
Dark Eldar, destroyer of all armies
Lists in 6th edition are commonly hybrid lists which feature large units of infantry and vehicles which tend to offer a supporting shooty role. You do not see transport vehicles i.e Rhinos as much as previously, numbers of such vehicles are probably about 1-3 in a list.
As mentioned earlier, the most viable Dark Eldar list is Venom Spam. Venom Spam offers mucho target saturation, bucket load of anti infantry fire with oodles of anti tank fire. Any typical hybrid 6th ed list will have a tough time against Venom Spam - poison weapons waste infantry with weight of wounds and the sheer amount of lance weapons etc will make mince meat out of the limited vehicles a 6th ed hybrid list brings.
Lets take a Venom Spam list (I'll use my own which has nine Venoms, triple Ravagers, dual Beastmasters and Baron Sathonyx) and put them against common builds.
Chaos Daemons can offer two types of build and that's flying circus (4-5 flying monstrous creatures) or a horde style army (in numerous forms).
Against flying circus all the D.E need to do is drop a flyer (which will happened with weight of splinter cannon shots) and down the monstrous creature will come, then all splinter cannons and lances will open fire. Every monster lost in the flying circus counts for the Chaos Daemon Player.
Against horde armies Dark Eldar have volume of fire power and mobility to escape the on coming daemonic assault. By the time Chaos Daemons reach their lines the Daemons numbers will be greatly reduced and won't have a significant impact. This also applies to deep strike as Dark Eldar will be able to strike before the Chaos Daemons even start to move.
Greater Daemons, Daemon Princes, multi wound T4 models, Soul Grinders and chariots all get laughed at by Dark Eldar. The mass poison shots destroy the big guys while lances instagib the multi wound T4 models and the chariots get wasted by lances too. Even the Soul Grinder's av13 isn't going to save it once again thanks to lances.
Tyranids can give you three lists; Nidzilla, horde and Spore lists.
Just like the Chaos Daemons flying circus list, Nidzilla is going to go down like a ton of bricks. One of Tyranid's strength is iron arm on the biomancy table, which of course has limited use against Dark Eldar's mass poison.
Horde will take significant damage while attempting to get into assault with Dark Eldar. Thanks to D.E's mobility and range they can keep well back and make the Tyranid critters suffer for every step they take.
Spore lists will probably have the biggest impact as they negate D.E's mobility and drop down right in their faces. The alpha strike needs to go right for Spore army to hit Dark Eldar square in the mush, but if it fails Dark Eldar will be bringing the pain right back.
Space Marines (all codices inc Chaos Space Marines)
Oh, do Dark Eldar love decking Space Marines :D . I thought I would put all Space Marine books into a single category as the lists may differ a bit, but at the end of the day all Space Marines.
The primary vehicle of Space Marines is the Rhino or Drop Pod. Dark Eldar lances cut through Rhinos like nothing (in fact anything destroys Rhinos these days) and once the troops are exposed the poison weapons will take out the units due to weight of wounds. As mentioned above, the more elite the army then the easier it is for Dark Eldar to deal with. Like the Tyranid Spore list, Drop Pods need to get that alpha strike, however as Space Marines aren't a high rate of fire shooty army, then chances are Venoms will survive - Venoms do not like mass fire power, the more shots coming at Venoms the less chances of flickerfield saves.
Land Raider lists will be smited where they stand by ranged dark lances, anything inside will be mopped up by poison.
The Space Marine list which will threaten Dark Eldar the most is the Grey Knight Purifier spam list. The weakness of Dark Eldar is high volume of the fire, the more shots fired at Venoms then the less chances of saving with flickerfield. This is why Space Marines suffer as their typical weaponry has limited shots i. meltagun, plasma gun, missile launcher etc and flickerfields stand more chance to save limited shots. Purifiers can bring mass psycannons supported by dual autocannon Dreadnoughts and these will rip through Dark Eldar. However, since hull points have arrived, Purifier spam is easier for D.E to deal with as now it is easier for D.E to take out those Rhino bunkers the Purifiers take refuge in and then poison their grey asses. A tool Dark Eldar do have against Purifier spam is the handy night shield (reduces enemy units shooting range by 6"), which means those psycannons only have a 18" range. Though, blasters are 18" range so won't have that much effect and Dreadnoughts can still plink away without being effected.
Any form of infantry lists such as Ravenwing, Deathwing, Assault Marines, Paladins etc will just be shot to bits by poison weapons (big trouble for T5 Ravenwing) or gibbed by lance weapons.
CSM favourites such as Heldrake and Chaos Spawn etc will go down to D.E too. Chaos Spawn will fall to poison as their high toughness cannot help them and Heldrakes can be tackled in the rear thanks to the mobility of D.E. D.E don't have much to fear from Heldrake's if inside their vehicles - only Beastmasters will be concerned about Heldrakes.
I believe that Imperial Guard are perhaps one if not the strongest codex in 6th ed. The strongest list they can knock out is the Mech list (shit load of Chimeras supported by Vendettas), which got nothing but stronger in 6th ed.
I.G can give a hybrid and horde lists. We both know how these all end against Dark Eldar.
The Chimera list is stronger; it brings weight of fire thanks to spammed Veterans, multi lasers, heavy bolters and that's just from the Chimera units. Add in triple Vendettas and then triple Manticores and Dark Eldar have some real problems. Again, thanks to hull points it is easier in 6th ed to take down vehicles and D.E's mass lance weapons do this very well. When 10 x Guardsmen spill out of a tank they do not last very well to poison weapons ;)
Necrons are one of the strongest 5th edition codices, though this is because they were the last book to be released before 6th ed and their rules reflect this. They can offer a good variety of builds with the most common ones being Wraithwing (shit load of Canoptek Wraiths), Scarab Farm (crap load of Scarabs and Spyders and Mechrons (lots of av13).
Wraithwing like all infantry will go down to poison even if Wraiths do have a 3+ invulnerable save and two wounds a pop.
Scarabs are probably more tricky to deal with as they are extremely small and get cover very well. As they have multi wounds and low toughness these means poison isn't as effective against them as it would be something with higher toughness. However, lances love Scarabs and these will in turn let poison weapons deal with the Spyders.
Mechrons with their av13 you say or do you mean av12 thanks to lances? All Dark Eldar have to fear is the Annihilation Barges and that's it. Necrons medium range of 24" means night shields (reduces enemy shooting units firing range by 6") come in use for Dark Eldar keeping the Necrons out of firing range majority of times.
You know there's no Tau love on this blog so you'll have to bare with me. I know there's missile spam, battlesuit and mech Tau, but that's about it.
Missile spam Tau is basically three units of triple Broadsides with high yield missile pods. Then add Crisis Battlesuits with missile pods. Throw in a Commander with iridum armour and the funky multi spectrum node and puretide chip. On top of that add couple of Fire Warrior units, Pathfinders for marker lights and as many missile drones as you can. Remember me saying earlier that Dark Eldar do not like weight of fire? Well that's exactly what Tau have! You know I said Dark Eldar like night fighting as they have night vision, well guess what, Tau Battlesuits also have night vision. Dark Eldar Venom spam would have an uphill struggle against Tau missile spam, really it would come down to who got first turn and luck of the dice; if D.E took out those Broadsides with lances (will instagib them), poisoned the normal Battlesuits and maybe the Pathfinders, then Dark Eldar would stand good chances of winning.
Eldar are the new kid on the block and they are doing some serious dick swinging in front of their dark cousins. Eldar offer a variety of builds, which majority will be flattened by Dark Eldar i.e Footdar, Elfzilla (Dark Eldar laugh at the Wraithknight's T8), though one list will give Venom spam some serious issues and that is Eldar Serpent Spam.
If you are not familiar about Wave Serpents then let me tell you; Serpents are 12-12-10 and have a funky shield which allows them to change a penetrating hit to a glancing hit on a 2+. The Serpent may fire this shield with 60" S7 AP- assault D6+1, though cannot use the save ability next turn. Add scatter lasers onto the Serpent (if scatter lasers hit all weapons on the model become twin-linked) and holofields (gives +1 cover save) and you have a seriously shooty and survivable unit. Multiple that by 9 and you have something mirroring Venom spam but at a more survivable and expensive level. Throw in War Walkers for additional fire support and you have a seriously high powered shooty army. Like the Mech Guard and Purifier lists, this Serpent spam list is Dark Eldar's worst nightmare as the high rate of medium strength weaponry will tackle Venoms easily. If you are not using flickerfields then no jink saves for you either; boo hoo.
The dark kin will enslave you all
So yeah, I am extremely biased for my perv elves, but damn I love them to bits. But, I am a honest straight up guy and I call things black or white. As you can see from above against the codices in 40k Dark Eldar are very strong and really only three builds threaten them and all of those builds bring high rate of fire power, this is something Dark Eldar cannot deal with.
Out of all the codices (no I haven't forgot about Orks and Sisters - Orks won't stand chance and who are Sisters? :P) only three of them can offer a challenge to Dark Eldar and that's only a single build in each codex which can threaten Dark Eldar - Serpent spam lists will be the new rage, but how often do you see Mech Guard and Purifier lists these days?
Yes, Dark Eldar offer limited viable builds, but the right build can deal with pretty much anything. Are Dark Eldar shit? I don't think so, but then again I am a Dark Eldar player ;)
What are your thoughts on the Dark Eldar codex? Are they freakishly awesome or does the book blow some serious goats?