Look on the bright side...

Friday, October 3, 2014


There's always Eldar allies! I'm kidding of course, as I truly think we all need to take a little time with the actual book, with the full context of the rules, and dare I say play some actual games with the new Dark Eldar before we rage-quit and sell our armies.

The codex isn't even officially out until tomorrow, although if you're even remotely interested in the dark kin then you most likely have seen the leaked images from the actual book, summary stat tables, and quite a few QnA's from the lucky German, Spanish, and Canadian chaps who got their copies early. I will certainly do an in depth review of the book (as they are my favorite 40k army) after I have had more time to go through it, but for now here's my quick initial impression from the things I've seen at this point. Let's start with the negatives since after all, this is the Internet and ranting about your disappointments is sorta the point, haha :)

To all existing Dark Eldar players and/or collectors with large collections, I do sympathize as I too felt the sting from the initial (confirmed) leaks. The easiest way to put it is the army & play-style have essentially been turned upside down -- units that were really good before have taken a hit, and units that rarely saw the light of day before have been reinvented and now seem to be at least playable if not downright good. Change can be hard to deal with, especially when it seems like unnecessary changes. I confess myself disappointed that we lost the majority of our HQ selections and that GW put so much effort into re-sculpting 3 models that frankly didn't need it (I did pick up the new plastic haemy, but I'll take my old metal Archon and Succubus models any day over the new ones). I think most people would have preferred they direct that energy and resources into Vect, Duke, or Malys. For the record, I do think we will see Vect at some point down the road as either a dataslate, white dwarf exclusive, or supplement -- he is still mentioned ALL over the place in recent white dwarfs and the fluff from the new books; plus if he were gone gone, would GW continue to draw attention to him with posts like this (check the last picture & caption, posted just yesterday).

With our HQ section gutted, surely our generic HQ options improved to allow more flexibility and customization... but apparently not for Archons: no access to AP2 combat weapons, no jetbike or skyboard mounts, no PGL to hand out grenades to units that need them, no more access to combat drugs... WTF!? I can't make sense of any of these changes and this unit in particular feels like a huge missed opportunity. You'll still see them for webway portal delivery and they are the tax for access to the Court, but we'll get to them in a minute...

Wyches... poor wyches. The loss of haywire with no point reduction and seemingly no added protection to make it into combat renders them one of the worst units in the book. I love the models and with almost 50 of them I really wanted to try a full Wych cult, but I just can't see that happening unless they get their own supplement or really awesome formation OR 8th edition balances close combat to shooting.

Still no Skyfire access outside of the flyers, and with the Voidraven dropping from armor 11 to 10 we are still going to struggle against air forces without the aid of allies. DE supposedly have lightning fast reflexes and super advanced tech yet NONE of our ground troops have access to Skyfire... come on GW, Scourges were prime candidates for this, they fly for crying out loud!

I'm sad that they changed Night Shields to just confer Stealth. The old rules were awesome, unique, and characterful for the army, not to mention they offered far better protection than simply a cover save. There's just too much Ignores Cover out there for this to be good enough and they've restricted access to this vehicle upgrade while increasing the points for it.

Dark Eldar used to be all about getting that first turn alpha strike, and with characters like Baron and Vect in tow, you had pretty good odds of getting it. The army has always been a glass cannon and hurting the enemy before they hurt you has been central to how this army plays; strike hard and fast, because we've never had enough tough, durable units to survive battles of attrition. Until now...


On to the positive impressions! (neckbeards, feel free to stop reading here)

Obviously, the Coven units are a big focus for this update with some new plastics and the first supplement for the dark kin. Rules-wise, these units also seem to be the big winners for this release with only the Liquifier taking a slight hit.

Grotesques got some really nice buffs while staying the same points. These were good in the last codex but I think their mono-pose finecast model is what held most people back from fielding them (it did for me anyway). I'm planning to convert a big unit of them from Crypt Horrors, as these will be central to surviving the first couple turns until the army powers up.

So many great conversions based on this kit with bits from the Talos box
Speaking of powering up, Power from Pain (PfP) has completely changed and now works based on the turn # of the game. Overall, I think this is an improvement from the last PfP version, but it does mean you need to survive to later turns before you start to reap the really good benefits, but with access to more coven units this should be totally doable. Being able to take 3 Talos/Cronos per slot is a fantastic change and I'm really glad I don't have to go unbound to be able to field more!

Our vehicles are still good. Yes they fall out of the sky to a stiff breeze, but now they can all deepstrike in for free and hopefully wreck some stuff before blowing up. You can take even more of them now that Venoms, Raiders, and even Razorwings can now be taken as individual Fast Attack slots (and a new detachment that allows up to 6 from FA). MSU raider/venom-spam is probably the only carry over army build from the last book that is still viable and actually better.

Webway Portals are totally different now but really really strong. No scatter deepstrike for character+unit+transport should not be underestimated with the quality of shooting DE are capable of.

For example (and to highlight another huge buff to the army) imagine precision dropping the Court of the Archon made up solely of Medusae and their awesome eyeburst flames or a bunch of Sslyth (now 10pts cheaper!) for a majority T5, S5, multiwound, butt-ton of attacks both shooting and in combat unit that can be configured to deal with a host of various enemy units. This unit is the new Beastpack!


The actual Beastmasters unit now doesn't require any actual beastmasters and can be any configuration of the beasts but capped at 12 models. While the beasts took some slight nerfs, you wont see me complaining as I feel the unit is well balanced points-wise and you can still have some really fun combinations to suite your list. Good riddance 25 Khymerae beast-stars!

While I wish the Voidraven had kept its AV11 and gained Vector Dancer or some rule to bring it more in line with its fluff, you can't deny this thing can bring some serious firepower to the table. With less access to haywire grenades and Dark Lances going up in points for Ravagers & Raiders, I feel the Voidraven is the best thing for busting through a parking lot of vehicles and high armor. I will certainly be trying it out, and even if it doesn't quite pan out like I think, at least it's still a fantastic looking model, one of the best in the entire game! (hey, gotta look on the bright side!)

Our other option for dealing with armor is the now incredible unit of Scourges, 4 haywire blasters in a unit of 5 for a buck twenty... YES PLEASE! I can't wait to field more of these guys (and this time not for counts-as Swooping Hawks!)

Reavers lost their ability to drive-by slash units (which I was initially saddened by) but they receive just as many buffs to make up for it, especially when you consider what they were best used for before: slashing invisible units; now their buffed Hammer of Wrath attacks, which still auto-hit invisible targets, has the potential to inflict even more damage than their old bladevane attacks.

Wow, this was supposed to be a quick initial impressions of the new codex, but what can I say, I love me some dark space elves. Overall, I was surprised by some of the changes with this update, and it's certainly an adjustment from how the army played before, but I think there is still a lot of potential to be found in the books. I'm excited to add to my ranks of coven units and really dig in to the new codex and coven supplement!