40K Dark Eldar Tactica: Meet the Duke.

Who doesn’t like David Bowie?

A guest article by Zid on Duke Sliscus.

Howdy all,

Name’s Zid. I like to write stuff. Mostly battle reports and on occasion get some help writing a new army list or helping others with theirs. One of the best things about Warhammer 40k that I enjoy more than any other gaming system I’ve played is the variety of the armies, the players, and how everyone shares ideas. So, as a first article here on Frontline Gaming, I figured I’d highlight one of the least used, and most misused characters I feel is out there in 40k land: Duke Sliscus.

The Basics

Now I’m sure many people are thinking “He’s a pretty simple guy to figure out”. Well, you’re right for the most part, so let’s break him down starting with his stats and Wargear.

The Good

–          He’s WS6, meaning he hits most things on a 3+. Good stuff!

–          BS6 means his Blast Pistol will hit almost every time. Blast pistols a pretty decent weapon as well!

–          In 6 with 3 attacks (+1 for 2 CCW’s) is nice. Tack in the fact he always wounds on a 2+, and 33% of the time it becomes a power weapon (Ignores Armor on a 5+), he can really do some damage! As well, he has Drugs, so he can be str 4 meaning he rerolls wounds against most stuff (more ignoring armor!), can get more attacks, or even reroll wounds against anyone, amongst  the other benefits Combat Drugs provide.

–          He has a Shadowfield, and Ghost Plate Armor, so he’ll always have a save of some kind.

The Bad

–          Str 3… same weakness of most the DE characters, his strength sucks. Not to mention T3, his 2++ won’t hold up that long, even against things like bolters!

–          2 wounds… ewww. Once his Shadow Field fails Duke normally bites it.

So when you break down his Wargear and stats, for 150 points he’s not too shabby. He can smash infantry and MC’s with equal potency, is fast, and even has a lance pistol for those sticky situations. A big thing I’d like to highlight here though: Duke Sliscus is NOT a Close Combat monster. Yes, the duke can mulch any MSU squad you pit him against. But he’s meant to be a support character; and that’s what this article is here to highlight.

Duke’s Abilities

Here’s the meat and potatoes of the Duke-man; his abilities. He has 2 army wide abilities, and one ability which benefits just the unit he’s in.

The Serpent’s Venom – This ability gives whatever squad Duke’s with (Warriors or Trueborn) Splinter Weapons that always wound on a 3+. Now, many people discount this ability. This is absolutely BRUTAL when utilized correctly, but I’ll hit on that later. All I’ll say here is that Duke being deployed with squishies is not all that bad if done right.

Contraband – I’ll say it now, this is why you take Duke. 2d6 on the Combat Drugs table is absolutely terrific if you’re running any Wych or Hellion based army. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve rolled a bad drug and struggled because of it; Duke mitigates this risk. Yes, you can still roll 2 of the same drug. But the ability to take those Reroll to Wounds or the Pain Token gives your army some awesome flexibility.

Low Orbit Raid – This gives all your venoms, ravagers, and raiders a free 5 point upgrade. Not to mention, with the Duke’s DS ability, YOU CAN DISEMBARK WHEN YOU LAND. This can actually be a crazy good ability when done correctly and I can see some armies being built around this (Hint: Venom spammers, DS all those blasters in and unload in a mighty Alpha Strike!). The bad part of this ability, as with Webway lists, is DE have no way to manipulate reserves /sad panda.

The duke adds a lot to an army, but unlike Mephiston, you cannot just chuck him in a list and scream “blood for the blood god!” and hope he does well.

Building a list with the Duke

First thing you need to decide when you take the Duke is why are you taking him? As mentioned earlier, the Duke is not a CC monster, he doesn’t blow things up with laser eyes, and won’t let you roflroll everyone. You take him for one of two reasons: 2d6 drugs or Deep Striking transports.

Once you’ve decided why you want to take him, now’s the time to build support around him based on the ability. Here’s a good guide to units you want to take depending on why your taking the duke –

Drugs are bad, mkay?…unless you’re the Duke, son!

Taking him for 2d6 Drugs:

For a second HQ choice here I’d recommend either a second Archon, Haemis, or Baron. Haemis are probably the best as for this list you will likely be running a Wychcult.

Elites will probably be Trueborn with blasters to bust open transports or Bloodbrides if you feel you want even more killy wyches.

Troops you will want almost exclusively Wyches or Hellions if you took the Baron as well. You want everything to benefit from drugs as much as possible.

Fast Attack is normally the last to fill up in a Duke list, but Reavers come to mind here.

Last but not least, heavy support. Ravagers, Razorwings, or Voidravens. Talos do not fit a duke list unless you’re attempting to WWP with duke, which I recommend against.

Taking him for Deep Strike:

For a secondary HQ I’d recommend anything survivable, probably a CC beat stick. Deep Striking Duke lists utilize firepower heavily.

Elites should be Trueborn pretty much solely; you’re dropping in and blowing crap up!

Troops should be warriors entirely, probably in Venoms.

Fast attack Scourges are probably prosauce for this list as everything’s coming in from the sky anyway.

Heavy I recommend Ravagers here as they benefit from the deep strike as well (and can shoot all 3 lances to boot!)

I’ll use my Drugs list as an example of a Duke list:



Duke Sliscus – 150 pts

Haemunculous – liquifier, Shattershard – 80 pts

Haemunculous – liquifier – 60 pts



3x Trueborn – 3 blasters, Venom w/ dual splinter cannon – 146

3x Trueborn – 3 blasters, Venom w/ dual splinter cannon – 146



7x Wyches – agonizer, Haywire Grenades – Raider w/ FF, TGL, Shock Prow – 184

7x Wyches – agonizer, Haywire Grenades – Raider w/ FF, TGL, Shock Prow – 184

7x Wyches – Agonizer, Haywire Grenades – Raider w/ FF, TGL – 184

7x Wyches – Agonizer, Haywire Grenades – Raider w/ FF – 184

9x Warriors – Raider w/ FF, Splinter Racks – 156



Ravager – FF, DL’s – 115

Ravager – FF, DL’s – 115

Ravager – FF, DL’s – 115

Total: 1848 pts

This list utilizes Duke for his drugs, as well as a good countercharge element/protection for the warriors.

Deploying the Duke

Now many people hate that the duke can only be deployed solely with Trueborn or Warriors (unless you don’t take either unit, which is pretty unlikely). This can actually be very helpful; ever seen what 20 3+ poison shots can do? Here’s a few example units you can deploy duke with:

–          9x Trueborn – 4x Splinter Cannons – Raider w/ Splinter Racks

The benefit of this (I call it the “ranged gunboat”) is that at 36” you have 24 Reroll to hit, 3+ wounding shots. That’s ridiculous and enough to make any squad of Longfangs squeal. Issue here is cost.

–          5x Warriors – Splinter Cannon

This load-out sits on an objective and tosses a few shots downrange. Just used for scoring.

–          9x Warriors – raider w/ racks

I prefer this lead-out. Drive close to something and unleash 18 rerolling to hit poisoned shots. Most people ignore this gunboat in leu of Trueborn and Wyches until it’s too late; these guys can drop some hurt on unprepared units.

Planning on how to deploy the Duke is part of utilizing him!


The Duke is a very powerful utility character. He can hold his own, he actually won me a game not too long ago when he took down a 10 man Grey Hunter squad solo (stupid good saves, and 4 power weapon wounds when I charged in lol), but shouldn’t be relied on to do it often. Heck, he once biffed it to a single purifier who wounded once and force weapon’d his head…

So go forth, use this knowledge I bestow upon you, and take some slaves back to Commoragh!

See ya after 6th drops with some tips for the new edition…

Zid out.

So what do you guys think? David Bowie is one of the more flavorful characters in the book and one I personally like a lot. How about using his Deep Strike ability with Malys to really pull some deployment shenanigans? Let Zid know what you guys think about his tactica!


About Reecius

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

28 Responses to “40K Dark Eldar Tactica: Meet the Duke.”

  1. Alarum June 15, 2012 1:29 am #

    I agree with everything except not using him in a WWP list. After discussing Dark Footdar with the guys on this site and playing a few games, I tried the Duke out of a WWP with a squad of 20 warriors and 2 cannons. When you come out of a portal with 44 3+ to wound shots at 12″, squads seem to vanish. With some good support units (I use Wyches) they can be protected from the counter assault. I use a Chronos to give the 20 warriors FNP if I cant get them to cover and I didnt manage to smoke what I was shooting at. Duke splits off to join the Wyches in combat or to have a go at vehicles with his pistol.

    Why do you recomend against WWP?

    Nice Tactica and I look forward to your views on DE in 6th ed.

    • Reecius June 15, 2012 7:46 am #

      That’s a great idea and one I had considered, too. With a unit that big of warriors, he can really get a lot of bang for his buck.

    • Zid June 15, 2012 10:10 am #

      Interesting idea, but my issue there is Cronos engines stink in CC, and their shooty attacks require opponents on foot (tho a 90 pt MC is pretty good). Honestly depends on list composition, if your doing mostly wyches on foot out of portals, duke could be good. I don’t recommend a 20 man warrior squad for quite a few reasons in a wwp list:
      1) puts you in assault range of most competative armies, which is a bad place to be with a unit that’s terribad in cc.
      2) takes up valuable realestate near the portal. You don’t wanna run out of room!
      3) you really need the points for talos engines, scourges, beastmasters, and what have you.

      I’m not saying it won’t work, but personally, my wwp list just uses the troops to score, pop transports, and cannon fodder. But that’s just a personal preference, but if it works for you, more good on ya! Ill probably be doing a tactica on WWP lists when 6th drops as everythings gonna change.

      • Reecius June 15, 2012 12:04 pm #

        I think you make really good points, but I want to try the Cronos. I am going to put one in my Dark Footdar list when I build it and give it a proper go.

        I would love to hear your thoughts on WWP lists though, as we’re really excited about them right now.

    • white925 June 15, 2012 2:13 pm #

      I really like that 20 man warrior squad idea never thought about it before haha.

  2. Yeeman June 15, 2012 8:35 am #

    I disagree with the negative of him only being Str 3. This isn’t really a deteriment at all since he has a posioned weapon. Yeah two wounds is not so good, but if he had three no one would ever take an Archon, probably ever.

    I agree with Alarum. I have used him in multiple WWP lists and he has done work. I used him with a 20 man Warrior squad with a Haemon attached and those 44 shots do work. I use Wyches as well with squads of Reavers. The Contraband goes to work as well as his Serpent’s Venom.

    I find that he actually is quite good in CC and is a major deterrent. People don’t like knowing you have a pseudo Archon with a Poison/Power Weapon in a squad. Especially if you have him in a squad of 20 guys. And I’m almost positive but he doesn’t Rend on a 5 or 6. Doesn’t it just say “ignore saves.” And do not tell me that is the same thing, as then, he would be a Beast as he could take on vehicles. I’m 90% sure he does not rend. And if I’m right, I’m surprised you let him post this on your blog and say it not only once but twice. Mistakes happen though I guess.

    I find that the Low Orbit Raid is probably the least used and needed part of him. With no manipulation of reserves it can be tough unless you have 12 vehicles where your guaranteed to get something. Also, Raiders are big models and DSing into things will be common.

    • Reecius June 15, 2012 12:11 pm #

      haha, actually, I, in my infinite editorial wisdom, edited it to say Rend! Doh! Thanks for pointing that out, he had it as “becomes a power weapon” which is right and I was wrong. I will change that back.

      I think the fact that he has a poison weapon does mitigate his lack of strength, but I can see the point that having a reroll makes it far deadlier (higher odds to get a power weapon effect off) and that is easier to do with str4. However, with drugs you can always go for the reroll with his contraband ability.

      I agree that Low Orbit raid is the lesser ability, however, I think it can be very good in certain match-ups. I played all reserve armies all 4th ed (Pod Marines and Airborne IG) and back then no one could manipulate reserves until Eldar came out. The idea of straight reserve rolls doesn’t intimidate me at all, and at times, can be a benefit. I think that ability, particularly if coupled with Malys, can really be powerful in certain bad match-ups for DE such as against IG.

      I also agree with you that the WWP list has room for the Duke. Big squads of Wyches really benefit from him and that big block of Warriors is crazy deadly with the Duke.

    • Zid June 15, 2012 1:55 pm #

      Aye, it counts as a power weapon. That said, like reece said, without reroll to wound or +q str drugs you don’t get the reroll, which is why I said its a bit bad. That said, 2+ to wounds always good.

      I’m going off my experience using duke. If others have other uses, please share them, but like anything, wouldn’t be “mean” about it.

      Orbital raids been used in several reps I’ve read with mixed results. I was putting out there that is useable.

      • Zid June 15, 2012 1:57 pm #

        Oops, forgot to add, orbital raid also gives other tactical options to a raider army. I like that my wych list has many ways to deploy.

        Also, having played Daemons for years, you will lose a unit here or there. Just gotta be smart about your deep strikes!

  3. italiaplaya June 15, 2012 9:13 am #

    Nice article. Good to see some of the new writers joining in on the fun haha. One thing that sets the Duke apart from the rest of the characters is his point cost. He may not be as hard of a hitter as the rest of them. But for his points, and used more of a list buffer he can be a pretty powerful addition. Vect still is the power house in my eyes though. I’ve seen him do some crazy stuff on his own haha.

    • Zid June 15, 2012 10:03 am #

      Vect is indeed the most survivable punchface in the dex, Drazhars a beast as well. If only he had an invun and his cost wasn’t rediculous.

  4. white925 June 15, 2012 2:17 pm #

    Zid really liked your article and you for sure made me check my codex and rethink about using duke for his deep striking capabilities. Personally I enjoy playing with Urien which is one of those characters you rarely ever play against and he is awesome for his points, great at tar-pitting and killing pesky things like wraiths and scarabs. I am excited to see your tactica on wwp and happy to have you writing for us.

    • Zid June 15, 2012 7:40 pm #

      Thanks very much! I’m glad y’all took me up on writing for you guys 😀

  5. Skari June 15, 2012 6:06 pm #

    In one of the examples you mention trueborn with four splinter cannon. Can’t be done, max splinter cannon for trueborn is two. And splinter racks don’t work for the cannons.
    Everything else is ace! I really liked your outlook on his uses, I personally prefer running him for the drugs and the rifles poison 3+ on warriors, and then as many wyches and bikes as I can purchase. The deep strike would become a tactical option and not something I would completely rely on but enough to give you options and throw an opponent off balance. Cheers!

    • Zid June 15, 2012 7:37 pm #

      Good points! Goes to show you sometimes you don’t know an army as well as you think haha. Thanks for the point out ill be sure to review stuff before submitting!

      • Reecius June 15, 2012 7:39 pm #

        A lesson writers learn, quickly! Haha, I got blasted on BoLS when I got a rule wrong on the Dakkajet. I still miss stuff sometimes, no one gets it all right all the time, but fact checking is a good habit to get yourself into.

        • Zid June 15, 2012 7:45 pm #

          Indeed! I work on planes for a living, this may not mean life or death, but its still the same concept!

  6. madival June 15, 2012 6:30 pm #

    I always found that wyches were kind of weak. The answer to them for me has always been an anvil of my own. I have had a necron overlord with a 2+/3++ and mind shackles fighting 2 squads. 3 game turns later, I broke the second squad after breaking the first a game turn earlier. If you can anvil them better then they can anvil you, then you can take any number of wyches.

    • Reecius June 15, 2012 7:37 pm #

      I find Wyches struggle, too. They simply lack punch. WIth a combat character they can perform well, but I tend to see them as a tarpit unit which is why I always take Shardnets over the offensive choices.

      • Zid June 15, 2012 7:44 pm #

        I tend to agree some games. I find the best way for wyches to beat something is to send a couple squads in. Certain targets, I.e. terminators, twc, anything T5 or better, I try and stay clear of. If you get a bad drug or something they can get torn to bits.

        I find the best tactic is to soften something up with lots of firepower, then mop up with wyches. I agree, wyches are not the be all end all, but they can really hurt stuff. That’s why I love duke, reroll to wound drugs are the best imo and I find in one out of every two or so I get them. Rerolling wounds on 8 agonizer attacks can get pretty nasty!

        • Reecius June 15, 2012 8:17 pm #

          Yeah, the reroll on the agonizer is awesome! That alone makes Wyches so much better.

    • Alarum June 16, 2012 1:10 am #

      I find my Wyches always perfom well and as of this point have never had a terible game with them. I had a unit take out 10 Necron Warriors and then take a charge from a C’tan and dispatch it in 2 combat phases. I also took out 10 Tactical Marines with a few losses in 2 turns and then took out Mephiston on the charge. I regularly play against Ork players with 30 strong mobs and take them out reliably. I use 10 strong with a Hekatrix with venom blade and 2 gauntlets because I like how the gauntlet model looks. I always seem to get the alpha strike with them and then win the combat in my opponents assault phase. I could just be lucky they havent been stuck in the open and blown off the board.

      On the flip side I struggled with Warriors untill I tried 20 out of a portal.

      • Reecius June 16, 2012 9:13 am #

        That’s interesting because I often find people tell me the opposite. I know Frankie doesn’t care much for them at all, other than as a meat shield for Vect. I have never been impressed with them either, my Wolves usually pimp slap them. I want to like them though, as the models are awesome. The one time I have used them, they never made it into combat, so that isn’t really a good reference point. I do like the Venom blade too, though.

  7. Skari June 17, 2012 10:19 am #

    True that about fact checking… 😀

    I actually LOVE wyches… they are awesome and have provided my many opponents with more than one headache on many an occasion. The Duke just makes them all the more reliable, being able to to what you need them to do. Then again, I guess six ed has everyone on a standstill ATM…

    • Reecius June 17, 2012 1:38 pm #

      Yeah, it sure does. Only a few weeks to go now though, we’re almost across the finish line.

  8. edwin June 17, 2012 3:50 pm #

    I have a question. How do you justify the cost of duke and the unit he goes in ? Your unit + duke is 300 points and is not very scary or tough. For me, the double drugs are what you have payed that 300 points for.

    • Reecius June 17, 2012 6:49 pm #

      I can’t speak for the author, but I can say that I disagree that the unit Duke is with is not scary. I think that unit is really scary, it will absolutely shred infantry and MCs. Plus they are good enough in HtH to take on non-dedicated units and beat them up pretty badly.

    • Zid June 19, 2012 4:06 am #

      Pretty much as reece said, 18 rerolling to hit, 3+ poisoned shots is no joke. Duke HAS to deploy with warriors or trueborn, so doing it with warriors he buffs them, gives you another troop, and they mow people down in drivebys. I justify it by saying, well, another unit of 7 wyches kitted out, in a raider, with a haemi, is a little less, but overall, the dukes unit benefits the army as a whole.

      But if 6th ed rumors on FnP are true, wyches are taking a large hit to their survivability.

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