Dark Eldar are in the development stages at GW and are way overdue for a new codex considering the current codex was published early on in 3rd edition! They had a mini update but that does not really count. This post is about what I think Dark Eldar should be.
First off, what should they not be? They should not be an evil version of Craftworld Eldar (aka CE). Because really, CE are not actually good, they are simply self-interested. In addition Dark Eldar need to be unique not only in theme but in play style from CE which is difficult since CE is capable of several kinds of army lists with relative ease.
So let's start with theme. In my mind, Dark Eldar represent the survivors of the fall who were not completely lost to the hedonistic impulses like the general population but at the same time were not farsighted enough to escape on the craftworlds, and so took refuge in the webway. This is important: they are NOT the Eldar who created Slaanesh in their orgy of hedonism. They are survivors who saw their empire, one surpassing the power of the current Imperium, utterly destroyed beyond a hope of ever having a future, forced to live in the twilight of the webway without a home world or security.
That they survive today is a testament to their determination not to surrender, their strength of will to persevere when there is no hope for a better future. This is what makes them bleak. This is what makes them cruel and uncaring for anyone else or each other. This is what makes them Dark Eldar. Like a patient dying from cancer they lash out at all others daring to live and be happy, and they try to cause as much pain as possible.
So how does this translate to the table top?
Well first off, the base of the technology will be very similar to Eldar: psychoplastic wraithbone cores, efficient use of energy, excellent grasp of antigrav technology. The physiology of the infantry will be virtually identical to CE: low toughness and strength, decent to high initiative and leadership, fleet of foot, decent to high skills, low to decent armour.
However, what are the major differences? Well, for one thing they are organized into cabals instead of craftworlds so organization is much smaller in terms of scale, and order is enforced through strength and ambition and in some cases material gain, instead of sense of greater purpose and for the collective good. Another thing is that the industrial base of the Dark Eldar is smaller and fractured compared to the Craftworlds. I see Commaragh (spelling) as about the size of a major craftworld, maybe a bit larger, but divided by powerful Archons into "neighbourhoods" for lack of a better term.
Finally, instead of major military expeditions on planetary scales that CE sometimes launch, Dark Eldar are a raiding army, striking fast and leaving as quickly with no intent on controlling territory or denying control to an opposing military entity.
What does it all mean?
Dark Eldar should exemplify the fast and skilled but fragile mindset.
Infantry: exotic deadly weapons carried by low toughness and low armoured infantry. Perhaps improved squad leaders, and maybe even option for CCWs warriors. And hey, perhaps a better name than Dark Eldar Warriors? A little overused and unimaginative (Necron Warriors, Tyranid Warriors...)
Fast Attack: Jetbikes and skyboards are awesome ideas to provide even more speed and mobility. Perhaps add a vyper-like weapons platform skimmer.
Elites: Excellent skills, deadly weapons, perhaps a bit more survivability. Grotesques were... grotesque and didn't fit in with the theme of the army, I say toss em or redesign entirely. Mandrakes were cool but needed a bit of punch to their attack.
HQ: The definition of small but deadly for Archons and Dracons. Incubi can be the exception to the rule about the armour as the concept is just too cool. Homonculi were weird and need more sneaky tricks to act like the Dark Eldar psycher.
Heavy Support: Scourges failed because of Dark Lances being heavy 1 weapons. Perhaps give them the option to take four blasters. Talos was often far too slow and easily negated. Ravager is perfect.
As for the models themselves, I hope whoever redid the Craftworld Eldar line gets involved as the new Eldar infantry looks so good. Dark Eldar vehicles need work too, less bulk and more sleek.
That's my thoughts and opinions. Anyone else?