Monday, November 05, 2007

Reimagining Dark Eldar

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?


  1. Whatever they end up doing, way more selection should be offered. It was fun to play them for a year or so, but the same units over & over & over & .........


    & over & over again got dull. ;)

    More troop choices, more customization ability, and a more consistent theme would be nice. (As you pointed out, grotesques did not work well with the rest of the army.)

  2. I think the Dark Eldar army is pretty solid it just needs a few updates to bring their rules in line with the current addition and a smattering of additional units.

    With the 5th ed rules, I think one emphasis on their abilities should be modifiers affecting enemy leadership (similar to the established workings of slannesh). That means in close combat they're enemies are less likely to result in passing morale tests and a "pile in" result which results in those enemies fleeing more often.

    I think a couple of things that need to be emphasized with the Dark Eldar redesign is the fact that they live in the parts of the warp that have started to twist their minds a bit. Warp beasts should be adjusted made bigger badder a tad more on the demonic side (they however are not daemons just the distant cousins of daemons similarities resulting from a shared environment).

    Another sort of unit that I think would be cool is a anti-grav chariot manned by wyches being pulled by a flying warp beast. Once again this emphasize where the DE come from but keeping them grounded with the similar technology to the Eldar.

    Grotesques need to be rethought, they're supposed to be the human and DE slaves that have been so tortured they're completely out it; I think they'd make more sense with a larger number of models and turned into a troop choice commanded by a slave driver of sort. They could have further upgrade options representative of the sort of torture they've been exposed to, i.e. tortured by wyches they become like roman gladiators. This would fill the need for another troop choice while freeing up an elite choice.

    Harlequin should be in the DE rules, as they've been stated as working with both Eldar and Dark Eldar.

    Also I think something akin to the Callidus assassin (in terms of stats and emphasis on close combat) would be fitting; a "shadow warp walker" an individual model capable of slipping in and out the warp (each movement phase it could deep strike) and then assault. Maybe too similar to Harlequin in concept. My thought lie more like a close combat Warp Spider on steroids.

  3. Anonymous4:13 am

    Making it easier, I'm gonna go through the entire army list:
    Archon/Dracon/Archite/Dracites are perfect the way they are... of course the physical model should be redesigned - much to bulky

    Haemonculi - need more weapons with effects, aren't they supposed to be masters of torture? I imagine you need more than 3 weapons for that!

    Incubi - nice as they are, but adjust the physical models to resemble Striking Scorpions a bit more (but keep the punisher), but not too much. Also, more fluff (apparently they don't belong to the kabal at all, but are hired by the lord from an outside source, hence why they don't kill the lord themselves - their position in the kabal won't change, their interest is to protect their 'employer')

    Grotesques - yeah... not a nice model at all, fluff is unappealing, just doesn't fit, changes needed. the haemonculi need something to tie in with, but grotesques may not be it unless GW has a sweet plan...

    Mandrakes - I love them, but their stat line is too weak, and the fact there isn't a single upgrade option kills any chance of them being fielded in a 'good' DE army. I say they don't need upgrade options, but instead of a pistol and standard combat weapon, give them poisoned blades (wound on 2+ and 5th ed. rules state anything with a toughness equal to or less than the mandrakes S3, mandrakes get to re-roll failed wounds) and maybe a 4+ invulnerable save (being shadow-skinned would make them hard to see, even close up)

    wyches - nice the way they are, but we shouldnt have to pay for wych weapons, thats what seperates them from other units! make haywire grenades 2 points per model and make wyches a troops choice instead of elite

    warp beasts - need a bigger unit (i say up to 8 beasts and master), and make them fast attack. maybe give the beasts the rending special rule, but to be fair, up the cost of a beast to 15 points

    warrior squad - first off, like has already been said, change the name! "warriors" is very overused. then, have two types of warrior squads - combat and shooting. combat can take 2x blaster/shredder and 1 x cannon/lance, and shooting squads can take 1 x blaster/shredder and 2x cannon/lance. Also, the combat squad are all armed with pistol/combat weapon by default but can upgrade these at a cost of 2 points per model to poisoned that wound on 4+. the shooting squad are all armed with rifles (which i believe should be made assault 2 range 18, S3 AP 5).

    Raider Squad - eliminated! Normal warrior squads should be able to use raiders (i dont know about you all, but i hate only being able to take one cannon/lance in a r.squad!)

    *as mentioned before, wyches should be troop choices*

    Jetbikes - bikes are awesome, but being wyches, i feel they deserve wych weapons and the option to take splinter cannons as well as blasters/shredders. ie, 2x cannons, plus 2x blaster/shredder. bike blades should count as a weapon with special rules, eg, like scythes on the raider, an opponent rolling a 1 to hit takes a S5 hit (represent the prospect of hitting a blade)

    Hellions - need a 4+ invulnerable save like standard wyches get. I didnt say this for bikes, because nothing will save you if your bike gets pounded out of the sky by a powerfist! hellions i imagine being sleeker than a bike, and a buttload crazier as mentioned in the fluff, would be much harder to land a hit on...

    *as mentioned above, warp beasts are fast attack*

    Scourges - bring the firepower very well, but should be allowed to take blasters and shredders. in a combination of 6 blaster/shredder/cannon/lance

    ravager - very good the way it is, but differentiate the physical model from the raider much more than it currently is. add a 4th weapon

    talos - too unpredictable! personally, i like knowing what is going to happen in the immediate future of my games... and it can't hold a candle to a wraithlord! i thought the haemonculi wanted to inflict pain and suffering? give the talos set attacks (eg, base 4) and a small blast weapon (like a shredder, but extend the range - remember the fluff for that weapon...) and have the talos powerup as it kills enemies in close combat (again, fluff says the talos is powered by 'death spasms of its enemies')

    asdrubael vect - very overpriced! needs more attacks too, base 5 represents the bares of vect himself and 2 incubi, despite all 3 of them being armed with combat weapons. it should be base 8 (asdrubael gets 3 base +1 for his pistol and alleged power weapon, which isnt even shown on the model itself! and incubi have base 1 and +1 for tormentor helm/punisher, therfore the base should be 8). give a special rule to affect the entire army, maybe something to affect leadership and base attacks if models are in a certain range of vect (wouldnt you rise to the occasion if your overlord was watching?)

    krullegh the vile - good the way she is, but in the case of all models, physical update!

    lelith - more base attacks. should have the 4+ dodge save all other wyches get incase her shadow field fails... and you should get to pick any 2 combat drug effects at the start of the game for lelith to use for the entire duration without penalty (i would always pick re-roll to hit and + 1 attack lol)

    drazhar - perfect the way his rules are

    urien rakarth - pushes his points value, i say make him worth 80, and give him an exclusive weapon other haemonculi cant use

    decapitator - needs 4+ invulnerable in combat, and an actual model! lol.

    HQ - the option of 'heirarch', they're always mentioned in the fluff as being higher than dracon, but lower than archon. preferably as a seperate model from the lord, ie not as dracon/archon are to each other now. and given that eldar worship kaela mensha khaine, and no mention that dark eldar don't, we can assume they do. therefore the avatar is a viable option also.

    elite - a new unit, possibly harlequins. as mentioned before, in fluff, there is contact between them and DE, and given they all hate slaanesh... makes sense, right? another new unit would also be needed, given i moved 3 of them to different areas of the codex

    troop - new unit type on top of combat squad, shooting squad and wyches. maybe something like dire avengers, u kno, so we actually get armour saves!

    fast attack - i think something in the way of calvary (think about the herald of khorne, rider on beast...). a beast master riding some kind of uber warp beast, like mentioned above, and maybe with a chariot-ish variation? also, another vehicle, something shootier than a raider, but not as much as a ravager and can transport models

    heavy - another monstrous creature, something in the way of a dark wraithlord...

    special characters - i cant remember his name, but in the back of the current codex, the story about the kabal of the bloodied claw, the archon sounds incredibly powerful there, and given that the bloodied claw colour scheme is shown on most DE boxes (along with black heart), it makes sense to make this archon a special character... something in the way of a monstrous creature special character too? wouldn't be a HQ choice though. it could be a heavy support and its fluff would note it as being a relation to warp beasts

  4. Anonymous2:58 pm

    sounds good but I dont think Dark Eldar can have a wraithlord as they dont have soulstones so when hey die there soul is eaten by Slaanesh hence why they are so reluctant to die