Dark Eldar / Drukhari List Building

Thursday, June 22, 2017

8th edition 40k is upon us and while the core rules have been simplified down to 12 pages there is a lot to unpack from the Index books & datasheets, where the true complexities of this edition lie. Let's jump right in!

I plan to do more detailed reviews of both the Big Rule Book (BRB) and Index: Xenos after I've had more time to go through them. At this point, I've gone through the Core and Advanced rules sections and focused on the Dark Eldar (or "Drukhari" for you IP lawyers) datasheets trying to get an idea of what a legal (hopefully), matched play army looks like in this new edition.

Given the overall streamlining and simplification the game has undergone, I was a little surprised to find list building with points so complicated. There's definitely ways to improve this going forward, like releasing a handy army building app (similar to the Warscroll Builder for AoS) but in the meantime I hope you like spreadsheets :)

I've always written my lists in excel so I'm not too bothered by this; after creating the first list below, I saved it as a 'Brigade Detachment' template so the next list will be even easier to write. So yeah, that brings us to the first big topic with respect to list design: detachments. After you select the army/faction you want to play with, you need to determine the detachment(s) your units will belong to. Every unit must belong to a detachment to be considered 'Battle-forged' for the purposes of matched play. Detachments are essentially Force Organization Charts or formations from previous editions, but more flexible than the past and every army has access to all 12 provided in the BRB.

The next topic I should briefly mention before getting to the list is Command Points. Command Points are used with Stratagems which grant you certain abilities during a game (Re-roll any single dice; interrupt melee sequence; or auto pass morale tests). Very cool! I'm a fan of the Command Point/Stratagem mechanic and feel it adds a nice layer to the game. Everybody who plays Blood Bowl knows how clutch it is to have team re-rolls. The various detachments provide different command benefits depending on which you choose, adding to your Command Point pool (or reducing in some cases).

With those things in mind, I sought out to maximize my total # of Command Points by taking the Brigade Detachment, which is +9, on top of the 3 points every Battle-forged army starts with. I was also filling the slots out based on my existing Dark Eldar army and the units I know I have available. Here's what my first 8th ed. army list looks like:

*I've only listed wargear that incurs an added points cost -- there's a lot of standard gear that is free & not listed here*

Not at all sure how well this list will play as I haven't played any games of 8th yet; I have watched about a half dozen or so games of 8th via FLG & GW's twitch streams (which have been awesome btw!). This is most likely what I'll run when I get a chance to play as it allows me to try out a lot of different DE units from the 3 main flavors: Kabal/Wych Cult/Coven. I'm a fan of all of them and at least on the surface of things at this point, they all seem to be perfectly viable (unlike 7th where all you ever saw on the table was Corpsetheif or Grotesquerie in competitive lists). 12 Command Points also offers a ton of options to shift the tide of battle if things start to go awry.

What immediately struck me putting together this list is how dramatically points have shifted in some slots. I thought it was a typo that the base cost of a Beastmaster is more than an Archon... seriously! Our raiders are double the points now but rightfully so with how amazing they've become. I haven't quite wrapped my head around the Court of the Archon, or even Beast packs for that matter... but when trying to fill out the minimum requirements of a Brigade detachment, it's nice having so many cheap options to slot in. How well they perform remains to be seen.

I would like some clarity on how to calculate wargear costs. For example:

Under Tools of Torment & Weapons of Torture, it states "A model may replace a ranged/melee weapon..." So in order to 'replace' a weapon, do I first need to purchase the standard gear in addition to purchasing the replacement weapon?? Looking at the Haemonculus entry, they are armed with a splinter pistol (0 pts) and Haemonculus tools (1 pt) stock. But what I really want is to give this bad boy a Venom blade (5 pts) for some 2+ to hit 2+ to wound goodness. Do I have to purchase the Haemy tools in order to replace it with the blade? In my list above, I didn't pay the extra point because it wasn't clear and I had already spent a good hour on the list before noticing this and didn't feel like reworking everything again, although thinking about it now, I could just drop a couple shock prows and call it a day. In some instances, the cost of gear and abilities seems to be factored into the overall unit cost; like squad leaders for example. So this is one area I'd like GW to address. What is your take on the purchasing of all standard gear before paying to replace it with something else?

That's it for this quick first look at building a Dark Eldar list. My initial impression is that Drukhari looks crazy good and will wreck face in this edition... Power from Pain is great, everything is wicked fast, and Raiders and Dark Lances oh my! How are your armies looking in 8th?