Dark Footdar are an idea I have been toying with for a while, and thanks to some very interesting conversations with hyv3mynd from over at http://synaps3.blogspot.com/ I think I just may have to run it as my next army!
First off, read hyv3mynd’s theory on his Dark Footdar, oh, and his term “Dark Footdar” sounds about a million times better than Foot Deldar, which I was using! He also has some absolutely awesome conversion and paint work on that army, too. Nice work!
So why Dark Footdar? For one, I don’t like to play the same lists as everyone else. For two, Dark Mechdar is extremely fragile. I usually run right through it in tournaments and find it to be too much of a glass hammer. For three, I love foot armies. For four, I love using models that people think are “bad.” For five, and most importantly, I love armies that have the ability to combo, and that require a lot of thought to use. Footdar, Nids, Crons, etc. all fit into this category and are armies I find myself really enjoying when I play.
Dark Footdar provide some interesting possibilities and some interesting challenges. For one, you have units with some incredible damage output. However, a lot of these units are also really, really fragile. You also have units that are super fast, both in terms of actual movement capability and with imitative. Dark Eldar units are also very cool in that they combo in really unique ways depending on what, if any, character support you give them. There are a plethora of really cool special characters you can use in addition to customizable generic characters that give you a ton of options in terms of overall list strategy and unit-by-unit tactics. For example, the Baron is a character that while not so powerful himself, provides a ton of army-wide benefits and unit buffing. A generic Archon in comparison, may not have the army wide benefits, but can be made into a total beat-stick on the cheap. Then their is good old Vect, who can walk through some armies by himself. That guy is just a boss.
Power from Pain is another really cool ability that can take your Dark Eldar units from mediocre to awesome. Similarly, Combat Drugs can really boost the power level of a unit, although are a bit unreliable.
On the flip side, Dark Eldar struggle with their lack of Psykers. Eldar Pschic powers are one of the main reasons Footdar can be so flexible and powerful. Fortune, Guide and Doom are game changers, and Mind War can make an unwinable engagement a cake walk. That and the fact that every unit in a Footdar list can move, shoot and assault means they are very adaptable. Dark Eldar units tend to either shoot, or assault, but not both. That can really limit their utility in an army style that wants each unit to be very flexible.
The main reason I would actually buy, build and paint a Dark Footdar army when I already have Footdar (besides the absolutely awesome models, which is reason enough, honestly) is because of one very simple thing: Webway Portals.
Webway Portals introduce a unique way to play the game, which to me, is awesome. Webway Portals allow you to have an army that is completely reactionary which in 40K is a huge advantage. In a system where one entire side goes, and then another, the player taking second turn can often get smoked before they even start. Or at least, be playing “down” points due to casualties suffered before they get to do anything. On the flip side the player that does first has to put their cards on the table and deploy blind. The player going second can react to that, which can also be a huge advantage.
With Webway Portals, you get the best of both worlds. You can wait and see what your opponent does, and then react to him and still alpha strike coming out of the portals. Awesome right? Well it’s not all good. Dark Eldar have no way to control their reserve rolls, and there is the huge problem of how to deliver the Webway Portals. Those two issues have stopped most people from playing the army. However, I think they aren’t insurmountable obstacles. Plus, I played all reserving armies all 4th ed, so I am sued to old school reserving where it just came down to dice. You just have to be able to think on the fly and react to what fate brings onto the table. The thing is though, with multiple points of entry, you can often find a way to use the units you do get to best effect.
H3eavymind had some great ideas for this army. For one, taking multiples of a unit that performs a given roll to increase the odds of getting them in when you need them. For two, he uses a maxed, diversified unit of Grotesques with IC support to deliver his WWPs, which is awesome. The unit is fearless, very hard to kill, and man do you get a boat load of style points when you clean the floor with someone using Grotesques!
The reason why they work is because not many armies baring IG will bring massed strength 10 shooting to the table. Broadside Tau do too, but you never see them at tournaments anymore. Plus against Tau, as long as you survivie a turn of shooting to pu those WWPs down, a single Beast Pack will take the entire Tau army (baring Farsight and his buddies) to school. Manticores could be bad, but in cover and with proper spacing, you should be able to weather the storm long enough to drop the portals. Most IG lists these days are only putting a single Manticore on the table. The triple Manticore list seems to have fallen into less use in favor of Hydras, Plasmacutioners and Demolishers (largely as a reaction to light Mech spam and Paladins).
Once the portals are down you now have very fast, hard hitting units of assault Dark Eldar that can strike damn near the entire table. They do this without the restrictions of vehicles, or the need for them. That saves you points, and more importantly, KPs. Dark Eldar tend to suffer from a crippling abundance of KPs. Because a unit in reserve doesn’t have to use the WWP, you have situations where a unit can deep strike OR use the portal. Walk on from a board edge OR use the Portal. It provides a flexibility in deployment that no other army has and that with clever play can be absolutely awesome to use!
Think about all the tricks you could play on your opponent, or the plethora of Axis your opponent would have to defend in order to stop you from hitting him in the guts of his army? Think about how much Wolf Scouts and Snikrot screw people up. Now imagine an entire army of that! The tricksy Eldar player in me just gets super excited about the possibilities. Toss Lady Malys into that stew and now you can trick the hell out of your opponent with the best kind of trap: the damned if you do, damned if you don’t trap! Lady Malys allows you to redeploy units and to place units back in reserve, which means you could fake the pants off of your opponents with clever deployment tricks. She also makes your units immune to Psychic powers (force weapons anyone?) which means you can throw units into Grey Knights and just kick them right in the nuts. And that makes me happy!
Also, that unit of Grotesques will absolutely wreck things. With furious assault, you get 41 strength 6, I5 attacks! Ouch! With a Phantasm Grenade Launcher, that will just obliterate your average MEQ unit in cover or not, and most vehicles. They laugh at power fists, Thunder Hammers and the like, and as such, can just smash many of the principle assault units you are likely to see in the game.
So, you have a reliable WWP delivery unit that can also beat face. The only unit that really needs to worry you in combat is Paladins (and who don’t they worry?). Other than that, most units in the game these guys should be able to handle.
Another IC to compliment this unit is the Baron, as stated. His ability to give Stealth and Hit and Run to a unit is huge for survival and avoiding Tar Pits like Dreads. He also gives you a plus 1 to go first, which is obviously hugely useful.
My first instinct had been to go with Harlies to deliver the WWP, but a smart opponent can just get in your face turn one and blow them off the table. That’s no bueno. Venom delivery get’s expensive and can cost you 3 KPs. Grotesques really look like a solid answer that most opponent’s simply won’t be able to stop.
For the rest of the army you need to think about scoring objectives, opening cans, and smashing different types of units in combat or with shooting (MEQs, TEQs, Hordes, Av14, etc.). The great thing about this army is that you can focus on close ranged weapons as you will be entering play so close to your opponent in most cases. It also means that units can enter play directly into combat, which is awesome. Things like Talos, Beast Packs, etc. become really, really good.
So, the ideas are bouncing around my head like pinballs and I am really excited to try this out. Besides, I have wanted to paint up a Dark Eldar army since the book came out. The models are just brilliant, and I would go for a crazy, bright color scheme that was just totally stupid, but hopefully also stupid awesome. As I develop these ideas further with the crew (thanks Frankie, Vidar and h3avymind!) I will continue to report on my progress. I think this list, in the right hands, can be a really powerful weapon and will surprise the hell out of people.