Thoughts on Dark Footdar Part 1

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 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 provide a unique play-style.

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.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

38 Responses to “Thoughts on Dark Footdar Part 1”

  1. Avatar
    Brodrick April 28, 2012 4:26 am #

    Baron doesn’t give hit & run to any unit but Hellions just in case that was a mistake. Webways are interesting and fun. But going second or in Dawn of War how are you planning on getting it up the field far enough to allow those units to pressure the opponent. I have done the grot delivery system and it is troublesome in that regards.

  2. Avatar
    Greg Swanson April 28, 2012 5:27 am #

    I really like the concept. I have seen and played Brian Carlson’s hybrid list wiht the portal and cheap squads of beasts and the baron and hellions coming out of it. It is something different and can be really tough. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 28, 2012 11:51 am #

      Yeah, I am really excited about the concept. I think it has a lot of merit!

  3. Avatar
    fleshterror April 28, 2012 7:44 am #

    U just earned a follower. I love the idea and I love the look on my gaming clubs face whn I buy grotesques

  4. Avatar
    FacePuncher April 28, 2012 8:27 am #

    I like a lot of things you said here. All my armies don’t use mech. I like infantry and I have been struggling to make this work throughout 5th ed. I really like the idea of using Lady Mals. Eldrad’s redeploy was almost always awesome. A lot of opponents dont remember it either. The problem I have had with trying to make the dark footdar list work is the lack of anti tank. It seems like the army really relies on getting those ravager and raider dark lances to De-mech people or delivering the msu blaster units close range with the blasters. I suppose the WWP are supposed to help get your stuff where it needs to go, but I have seen high level players struggle with this. Smart opponents move away from them.

    Still, I really like the idea. What I have been playing with as a core for this type of list is two 20 man Warrior squads with phant-grenade launcher equipped sybarite and two dark lances. I run 3 homoculi with the core. 1 in each squad for the FNP and the third scoots back and forth if an opponent gets to close and you want to get the furious charge off. You can even triple up if you expect a fear of the dark or PBS attack. Its pretty scary, and outside of excessive ordnance, it can take all comers.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 28, 2012 11:57 am #

      Those are some awesome ideas! We will have to try and implement them. I have always been a fan of the 20man warrior squad in concept, but I leaned more towards splinter cannons to keep them mobile. If only their weapons were assault! Ah, that would make them amazing. Charging with FA, a bucket of attacks at I6 and S4 is nothing to sneeze at. Toss in an agoniser or venom blade on the Syrabryte and you have a unit that can actually do some work on the assault. The defensive grenades mean that even if they do stand and rapid fire, then take a charge, they can still do pretty well.

  5. Avatar
    hyv3mynd April 28, 2012 12:39 pm #

    Lady Malys was my original approach with harlies for redeploy and denial shenanigans. I thought I read somewhere that although her ability would block normal force weapons, NFW’s would still go through as it’s a unit buff and not a targeted power like a vanilla FW. Can’t remember if it was in INAT or YMDC.

    Either way, her ability is useless when going second so there’s half of the games. Giving the grots 3 pain tokens makes them fearless so that takes care of weaken resolve and fear of the darkness.

    I ended up going with a vanilla archon for a couple reasons. He can take a (bs8) blaster which gives you a chance to stop first turn stormraven/land raider rushes. Drop pod dreads will also tie up the grots forever so the archon has haywires and a shadowfield. Here’s a game when he successfully tied up a dropped furioso.

    I also tested a lot against BA, and FnP hammernators will still give 10 grots a hard time that’s why all my haemi’s and archon have agonizers. In the end, it’s a hodge podge mixed unit, but like reecius said, it can chew through nearly everything except pallies and dreads. In the end, force weapons don’t even concern me much (unless they’re on pallies). The phantasm grenade launcher buffs the whole unit so they’re always i4/i5. With the attached agonizers, I can cause enough casualties that even a few ID’ing force weapons getting through only make for a couple no retreat wounds on 6+/4+ multi wound models. Against anything but pallies, they will still win with attrition.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 28, 2012 2:22 pm #

      I think there is a really strong argument for her ability working on NFWs. It says it protects her from the “effects” of any psychic power. That would include NFWs. The INAT also defines it that way: That ability is the primary reason to take her in a GK saturated meta. Her redeploy ability is just icing on the cake. Much like Eldrad’s ability, it isn’t a keystone of the list, but when it works it’s awesome.

      I agree that adding the agonizers is a good idea because it gives you the edge in combat with crazy assault units. I will definitely want to try all the options.

      • Avatar
        hyv3mynd April 28, 2012 3:36 pm #

        Good points, the ruling looks solid. I’ll have to mull it over. She’s cheaper than a tricked out archon, but the phantasm launcher changes how the whole unit plays.

        The unit with an archon doesn’t really fear a gk assault (except paladins). Chances are the archon will drop a couple even before halberds swing. Without the assault bonus, you’d just have to be weary of a big unit of terminators. Even purifiers with a bunch of halberds would only be able to take out 2-3 grots and then get wiped. Phantasm launcher also ensures the unit always assaults into cover at i5.

        Lady malys may be a better defensive/reactionary character, but she has no shooting, only a few str3 attacks, and the 4+ invuln doesn’t cut it compared to a vanilla archon or baron.

        If you aren’t concerned as much with dreads, the baron is fun for the 3+ cover if nothing else. Urien isn’t totally out of the picture either. You can make the entire unit str6/7 and since he auto-regens one wound per turn, he can eat the first shooting wound in each volley.

        The unit is killer. In 6 games, only fateweaver daemons have successfully wiped it out and that was in a tournament where the TO created a mission where the entire daemon army would be on the table turn 2 without waves or any reserve rolls. The main issue becomes tailoring the rest of the list to cover for their shortcomings.

        • Reecius
          Reecius April 28, 2012 4:41 pm #

          Yeah, the unit is brutal, no doubt. Malys is actually pretty good in combat. She has 8 attacks on the charge at Str4/I4. That is the same results against tough 4 units as you would have with an agoniser. She will average 3 dead MEQ’s on the charge.

          The loss of Phantasm is crappy though, for sure. That makes the unit very safe to play aggressively. I think even with no grenades though, it won’t make a ton o difference against most opponents. Grotes are so tough they just soak the damage and then beat the snot out of their target. With Malys and any other attached ICs striking first, you really reduce the amount of attacks incoming. With Malys, Purifiers would be a joke. Cleansing flame wouldn’t work and the halbreds would not be ID, so they would be lucky to kill a Gorte at all before getting clubbed to death (the Purifiers with Psycannons won’t be able to do much if any damage).

          Urien is another consideration, you’re right. Str6 means you wreck scarabs and he is a great Defensive fighter. You could then take an Archon with Ghost Plate and a Clone field (to drop the WWP and just hose units in combat, taking away 2D3 attacks a round!). The you could still have the phantasm.

          The things is though, those damn Paladins are so common in the meta now. Purifiers are not as much of a concern but you do need to plan for them.

          I think the there are a ton of great ideas here though, and I can’t wait to try and play test some of them.

  6. Avatar
    Alarum April 28, 2012 3:23 pm #

    I never take a WWP list without a Chronos. The damage hey can do out of a WWP is often overlooked and the pain tokens given to a couple of key units for FNP or FC can really make a bad situation into a nightmare for your opponent. Ohh and AP3 isnt bad either.

    • Avatar
      hyv3mynd April 28, 2012 3:39 pm #

      I’d like to try one out, maybe in the 2,000pt version. The problem is I find the talos with twice as many attacks (I use chain flails), ws5, and a t/l heal lance much more functional as it’s hard to get enough anti-tank shooting in the list with grotesques and hq’s taking up 600+pts.

      • Reecius
        Reecius April 28, 2012 4:33 pm #

        That was my thought exactly, although I could see the Cronos adding a lot in the right circumstances. The Talos may be the better buy for consistency.

    • Reecius
      Reecius April 28, 2012 4:31 pm #

      Yeah, we were looking at the Cronos, too. They can really add a lot to a WWP list if they come out at the right time. When they start throwing pain tokens around, your army can go up in power quickly.

  7. Avatar
    Alarum April 28, 2012 6:57 pm #

    I know you like to play the underdog units and I think Mandrakes are the cake takers in that debate. I use them purely for the models and have learnt to deploy them within 12″ of where I am going to drop my WWP so the first pain token generated by the Chronos goes to them. They then hose a unit with fire and charge in to support another unit. I try to get them in btb with a fist or claw so I get a Inv save while the Talos tears the rest up. I have also deployed them as bait to thin the opponents army so I can pick it apart piece by piece. They still may not be worth it in the tournys you play but I just love the models.

    • Avatar
      Reecius April 28, 2012 9:18 pm #

      Mandrakes? You sir, are a boss! What size unit do you take? I would love to use them if I could find a viable use. Perhaps to drop the wwp? The models are super awesome, I agree. Mr. kelly dropped the ball on them though. 6th may change that though, as it would flayed ones. If ic’s can infiltrate with squads, both those units will become great!

      • Avatar
        Alarum April 28, 2012 10:48 pm #

        I take 5, depending on how many points I have left over in the list I might take a second unit of 5(I always try to fit in 5 minimum). I keep them in cover untill I can drop a token on them with a Haemy after it drops the WWP or Cronos. I find when I am going second you can guide your opponent away from your WWP delivery system with a more immediate threat. I find it helps after you win a close combat and kill all the enemy models (I dont like it when this happens) to put the mandrakes in front of the unit it supported to give it a cover save (mostly Wyches but sometimes Incubi) from the torrent of fire it is about to recieve. I would enjoy being able to infiltrate a Haemy with them for the token and to get that WWP down where its needed without a vehicle.

      • Avatar
        Erich May 21, 2012 9:19 am #

        I’ve used Mandrakes extensively in my WWP lists. They are the unit that delivers the portal. I attach an archon with blast pistol, agonizer, shadowfield, combat drugs, haywire, and a PGL to the unit in addition to a hammy with agonizer, liquifier, and WWP. The unit is a full 10 man unit with Nightfiend. It has 4 levels of wound allocation, stealth, move through cover (which doesn’t slow down the unit when character join). The advantage is that the first token makes them extremely durable..especially in cover. Only incinerators are usually problematic. The fact that they have a 5+ invulnerable save also makes them quite a decent tarpit. First token also gives them their shooting attack which has decent range and strength. It’s also an assault type..thus they can shoot and assault. Mandrakes are also base strength 4. Once the second token is placed…they are Str5 in CC. The cool thing is that you have a 1 in 6 chance to start with two tokens as the combat drugs can possibly get the unit a second token since they are joined with the Archon. DoW missions aren’t so bad as you can always start the Hammy deeper in your DZ and force them to come to you. I’ve had great success with my WWP list. Although for a while it was a mixed mech list with night shielded venoms.

        • Reecius
          Reecius May 22, 2012 11:40 am #

          You make some great points and I will definitely have to try those mandrakes out. Certainly makes for a lower points investment than the Grotesques.

    • Avatar
      hyv3mynd April 29, 2012 3:26 am #

      You know I was thinking about them when I was mowing the lawn yesterday hah. Maybe for a comp torunament like DaBoyz. It’s worth noting that you can declare them as outflanking and still bring them through a portal if that’s more beneficial at the time. It’s another mind trick to play and can change your opponent’s deployment. I do the same with scourges, declare them deep striking in case my opponent runs away from the portals. Then you can deep strike, use the wwp, or the table edge.

      The unfortunate part is without a pain token, it’s just another assault unit without grenades. Without any weapon upgrades, it’s not even a good assault unit. A unit of 10 could viably threaten long fangs, but that elite spot is so valuable to other units.

      • Avatar
        Alarum April 29, 2012 4:31 am #

        My Mandrakes rely on the token from the Cronos and has been fairly reliable so far. Thank your for pointing out the outflanking manouvre as I have overlooked it and can see where it would be handy to use.I use that trick with Scourges also. What do your run your Scourges with? I run 2 units of 5 with a Heat lance and a haywire blaster in each. I like to have the chance to destroy a vehicle outright and the chance to stop it shooting if the lance fails. I am leaning towards 2 heatlances as the range is not so much of a problem out of a WWP.

        • Avatar
          hyv3mynd April 29, 2012 7:14 am #

          Here’s the full list I used last:
          Archon + agonizer, shadow field, blaster, phantasm grenade launcher
          Haemonculi x2 + webway portals x2, agonizers x2
          Grotesques x10 + liquifier, aberration w/ flesh gauntlet
          Trueborn x3 + blasters x3
          Trueborn x3 + blasters x3
          Warriors x5 + blaster
          Warriors x5 + blaster, venom w/ 2 cannons
          Wyches x10 + agonizer, shardnet
          Beastmasters x4 + 10x khymera, 2x razorwings, 1x clawed fiend
          Scourges x5 + blasters x2
          Scourges x5 + heat lances x2
          Talos + chain flails, tl heal lance
          Talos + chain flails, tl heat lance

          It’s an 1850pt list I used in a painting league bumped up to 2000pts to help some friends practice for the ATC. I run heat lance scourges and blaster scourges. The original build was all heat lances until a BA stormraven gave me fits being mostly immune to heat lances.

          • Avatar
            hyv3mynd April 29, 2012 7:18 am

            Oh the archon and wyches have haywire grenades also.

            It’s not optimized as I built it for a painting escalation league. If I were taking it to the ATC, I would drop the venom for another unit of warriors and split the wyches into 2×5.

          • Avatar
            Alarum April 30, 2012 1:29 am

            Loved reading your bat reps. Quite a few things I have learned from them and will try to use in my games.

          • Reecius
            Reecius April 30, 2012 9:08 am

            Awesome, glad you like them!

          • Avatar
            Erich May 21, 2012 9:29 am

            I’ve had more success with my scourges when they have been equipped with haywire blasters. To get the benefits of the heatlances, I’m exposing a unit for no reason. Scourges on the high points of terrain in cover with haywire blasters covers a wider area and can harass much longer. It’s also cheaper in points. A 5 man squad clocks in at 130pts. Moving them in and out of terrain isn’t too bad as they still can bounce any 1’s on a 6+ if needed. Like you, blessed hulls, achilles LR, stormravens, etc. were all giving me fits. Better to stun/lock them and stopping them from shooting…or knocking off key weapons quickly..or immobilizing them is always fun as well. Makes it easier for the CC stuff hits are nice. Hehe.

  8. Avatar
    sharkticon April 28, 2012 10:28 pm #

    I’ve been messing around with dark footdat myself recently, and a unit I have really been fining useful has been 10 trueborn with 6 carbines and 4 blasters. 18 poison shots, and 4 lances is no joke, and they generate pain tokens fast.

  9. Avatar
    sean April 29, 2012 12:22 pm #

    Ive been using foot dark eldar for a year now in a few different iterations. I used them at the adepticon singles a few weeks ago. Mostly the list has grown out of my interest in using Drahzar and not replacing the dark eldar vehicles I sold years ago.

    Archon – huskblade, combat drugs, shadowfield, webway portal, phantasm grenade launcher – 200

    Drahzar – 230

    7 Incubi – 154

    7 Harlequins – shadowseer, 4 kisses, 2 fusion pistols, deathjester – 202

    10 Bloodbrides – haywire grenades, 3 shardnets, Syren with Agonizer – 210

    5 Wyches – haywire – 60

    5 Warriors – 45

    15 Wyches – 3 shardnets, haywire grenades, hekatrix with agonizer, phantasm grenade launcher – 250

    5 Beast Masters – 8 razorwing flocks, 4 Kymerra – 228

    6 Reavers – 2 heatlances – 156

    Talos – chain flails, haywire blaster – 115

    Thats what I used at adepticon. RIght now Im experimenting with moving back to a dual portal haemy list with an extra bike squad(though that is 2000pts).

    Went 2-2 losing a game against what I consider my worst matchup(battle wagon Ghaz) due mainly to poor decisions and Ghaz making about 6 extra 5+ saves on the last turn. And lost to mech IG because the reserves simply came in a bit too piecemeal and my opponent failed a few leadership checks at perfect times for him.

    Forgot my camera for adepticon, and havent done any reports there… but there are some of my other ones up here:

  10. Avatar
    Black Blow Fly May 6, 2012 7:37 am #

    Great article. I followed Aaron’s link over here.


  11. Avatar
    MB May 20, 2012 1:08 am #

    pretty sure that pic is from Requiem the graphic novels by Pat Mills and Olivier Ledroit so stop mislabeling it.

    • Reecius
      Reecius May 22, 2012 11:41 am #

      I did a Google search for Dark Eldar and it popped up. I am not familiar with the Graphic Novel, but I love the art style and would be interested in reading it. Thanks for pointing that out, although you probably could have been a wee bit nicer about it.

  12. Avatar
    Erich June 7, 2012 10:08 pm #

    Does anyone have any thoughts about a list like this at 1500pts? I’m thinking of trying one out this weekend.

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