Guest Editorial by Robert Pace: Dr. Science and Sergeant Smarty Pants

dark eldar Succubus
by Robert Pace

“Dark Eldar and Eldar?  I don’t get it,” said Dr. Science.

“Yeah, Eldar are meh and Dark Eldar are even more meh.  Together they’re terrible,” responded Sergeant Smarty Pants.

This exchange happened a foot away from me at the recent Emerald City Slaughter Grand Tournament in Seattle.  These two players seemed puzzled as to how in the world my army had landed on table three during the final round of the two-day tournament, and the weird thing for me is that this wasn’t a new development: people often seem surprised when Dark Eldar do well in tournament play.

In reality, though, the Dark Eldar/Eldar combination is one of the most vicious ally choices in the game today.  I finished the GT as Master Tactician, their title for best general, with only a single loss and the second highest battle score in the tournament (behind Best Overall).  Here’s the list that I ran (or the close approximation):

-Haemonculus, Liquifier

-3 Squads of 4 Trueborn with Blasters in Raiders, Night Shields

-5 squads of 3 Wracks in Venoms, Night Shields

-3 Voidraven Bombers, Night Shields, Flickerfields

-1 Farseer on Jetbike

-5 Guardians on Jetbikes

It doesn’t look like much, right?  The key here is the fact that the metagame is shifting toward rewarding players for putting boots on the ground rather than using minimum-sized squads as a tax for buying transports.  Venoms are the game’s most vicious answer to this trend, because they don’t care whether you’re playing marines or guardsmen or tyranids — toughness seven or three, Venoms don’t discriminate.  The more the metagame shifts toward infantry-heavy lists, the more decisive the power of the Venom becomes.  Are you thinking that your marines are no guardsmen and can stand up to my AP5 Venoms?  Sorry to break it to you, buddy, but your marines cost three times as much as those guardsmen and take exactly three wounds to kill, as opposed to the one it would’ve taken to down the guardsmen.  From my end there’s absolutely no difference between the squishy bodies at the other end of my barrel.

The most common criticism of Venoms I hear is that they’re AV10 with two hull points, which I guess makes people think they’re not worth playing.  Here’s the thing, though: that only matters if they’re getting shot at.  Being a fast skimmer means that they can move 12″ and still fire 12 shots at full ballistic skill; add to that the 36″ range of splinter cannons and they’re effective at up to 48″ away.  Assuming I’m looking at a squad of Long Fangs, that means that I have a six-inch bubble of impunity granted by my Night Shields where I can shoot but can’t be shot.  Once you’ve considered that, add night fighting to the mix and you’ll have a better idea about how survivable Venoms actually are.

The Voidravens are massively overcosted at 205pts each, but the remainder of my army is so points efficient that I can afford them.  They’re fantastic dogfighters since they don’t ever have to evade (go go Flickerfield!), and their missiles (large blast, strength seven, reroll to wound) really put the hammer on large squads of infantry.  The Voidravens can splinter even full squads of terminators, leaving little more than cleanup work for the Venoms.

The three squads of Trueborn in their Raiders do the majority of my tank-popping.  With the equivalent of fifteen Dark Lances altogether, I don’t often have trouble dealing with heavily armored lists.  Those that do resist the Dark Lances typically get acquainted with my Void Lances beginning on turn two.

The last little part of my army is my Eldar ally.  The Farseer carries Runes of Warding to protect me from irritating psykers, and he swaps out his two codex powers for Prescience and whatever else he rolls from Divination.  Twin-linking Dark Eldar firepower can get ridiculous, whether it’s blasters firing at flyers, Venoms firing at troops or large blasts that can reroll their scatter dice, twin-linking is something the Dark Eldar codex lacks and which makes their firepower absolutely overwhelming.  Additionally, the speed of Eldar jetbikes typically means that I don’t have to worry about scoring Linebreaker and often allows me to harass gunlines that lack effective counter-charge units, like Imperial Guard and Tau.

My list isn’t fantastically easy to play well, and it’s not the only Dark Eldar/Eldar list that can do well in competitive environments.  That’s kind of my point, though: since sixth edition hit I’ve seen competitive builds for almost every codex in the game.  We’re moving into a whole new era for Warhammer 40k, with the majority of the game still unexplored.  Those two guys who didn’t understand how I was doing well didn’t do very well themselves, and I think that’s probably because they write armies off as noncompetitive without bothering to actually look at lists and try to understand their focus.  There’s a whole new world out there: what army are you going to win with?


About Reecius

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

20 Responses to “Guest Editorial by Robert Pace: Dr. Science and Sergeant Smarty Pants”

  1. Mike February 10, 2013 2:39 am #

    As a competitive DE player, I’m glad to see our codex finally starting to get the respect it deserves.

    • Reecius February 10, 2013 11:54 am #

      Yeah, I agree. I don’t know why more folks don’t play DE. They have all the tools you need to succeed in 6th: great troops, speed, crazy firepower, AA, AI, AT, great assault and with Eldar allies, they are brutal. IMO, the best combo of allies in the game.

  2. mike February 10, 2013 2:06 pm #

    Super post and I like your list. Clever. Just wondering why you don’t just go doom guide instead of div and presence? Doom with venoms is horrendous.

    What aspect of the list are you currently considering changes?

    Do you feel 3 void ravens could be toned back? Even 1 razor wing? Or a squad of war walkers?.

    • Elios Harg February 10, 2013 2:31 pm #

      Well, Guide would only work on the Eldar unit, whereas Prescience works on anything in the list. I’m guessing that’s the main reason. The other divination powers aren’t bad either for this setup. Foreboding probably being the worst power with the others being decent to good depending on the situation. Misfortune is usually better than doom since it effectively doubles the number of wounds you do against opponents with saves. Even Scryer’s Gaze is good in this list as it ensures your void ravens come in early.

      As for Doom vs. Prescience, I’d take prescience any day since it’s a blessing instead of a malediction. Not saying Doom is bad by any means, but prescience can only be stopped by Runes of Warding, Runic Weapons or Shadows in the Warp while anyone has that 1 in 6 (or better) chance of causing Doom to fizzle.

      • Reecius February 10, 2013 4:29 pm #

        True, however doom benefits every unit that targets the enemy unit, and it increases wound output by 50% for poison weapons. The net impact is HUGE. Particularly for units that require a lot of attention to kill (Paladins, MCs, etc) Doom can be like using Presience on multiple units with a single use.

        • Robert Pace February 10, 2013 8:59 pm #

          Reece, the impact of Doom in my list is negligible. My Venoms primarily wipe small units or clean up the leftovers of whatever my Voidravens have bombed. Voidraven missiles already reroll to wound, so Prescience is the obvious choice over Doom. Reroll to hit, reroll to wound strength 7 large blast missiles make short work of even most deathstar units.

          • Reecius February 11, 2013 11:15 am

            Fair point. In the lists I write, I rely a lot more on small arms fire, but I can see how you may not need it so much.

    • Robert Pace February 10, 2013 9:11 pm #

      Mike, as Elios mentioned I can’t legally Guide any Dark Eldar units. Doom is nice, but against hardy units I’m chucking 12 Str 7 reroll to wound large blasts, so Prescience is the better choice.

  3. Stephen February 11, 2013 4:07 am #

    My 1500pt list runs a very similar play style and has also seen very good success:
    Haemonculus and Farseer (Runes of Warding and Doom which soemtimes gets swapped for prescience)
    in a squad of 11 Warriors, Blaster Dark Lance
    Behind a quadgun line
    5 fire dragons – ecarch uses the quadgun
    2x Wyches in venoms
    2x Splinter cannon toting trueborn in venoms
    2x Lance Ravagers
    3 eldar jetbikes (in reserve)
    Razorwing jetfighter

    No-one seems to expect the raw firepower you can dish out…I’ve beaten a Chaos Marine Throne of Skulls list where he had a fortress of redemption (he won 4 out of his 5 games whilst there) and a Dark Angels list under the new dex (I had mostly abled him by turn 2). So few people run Dark Eldar these days outside of Frankies Dark harliestar or a beaststar build…Its great! I love watching people assume everything will crumble in your list then being reminded they lose 6 inches off their shooting…I’m having loads of fun with Dark Eldar at the moment.

  4. jy2 February 11, 2013 6:15 am #

    Mech Eldar/DE is a bane to most of my armies….unless I am running my necrons. I hate Eldrad with a passion. 😉

    • Reecius February 11, 2013 11:13 am #

      Me too, almost all of my lists are weak to that combo.

  5. jy2 February 11, 2013 6:17 am #

    BTW, when I call an army my bane or that I hate something, that in most cases means they are quite good….

  6. Douglas February 11, 2013 8:05 am #

    Im a fan of the beaststar because I think its a hard counter to demon lists, drop pods, deathwing, anything that seemingly has more mobility or that can “hide” turn 1 and “alpha strike” bottom of 1 or top of 2.

    • Reecius February 11, 2013 11:14 am #

      Grant on our team is playing a list with beasts and likes them a lot. So fast!

      • Douglas February 11, 2013 11:55 am #

        Interested in knowing his beast kit and what else he is bringing along to get stuff done with. Cant wait for BAO!

        • Reecius February 11, 2013 2:44 pm #

          He runs I think, all Kymhera and Razorwings, with the Baron and Eldrad. I think ELdrad doesn’t need to be in there, personally as he slows them down, but Grant strings them out conga line style to keep Eldrad with them. I think a Bikeseer would be better.

          I know, the BAO this year is going to be so fun! We’re bummed Warmahordes didn’t work out, but the 40K and Fantasy events are going to be HUGE!

  7. skari February 11, 2013 12:05 pm #

    Hi there. I agree with the post. As a veteran Dark Eldar player its nice to see the Dark Kin get their recognition. Kudos, and congrats on getting be big event! I personally have not used the voidraveue to lack of models) but as my battle reports attest I love Eldar and Dark eldar together, the synergy is quite fantastic. As of late I am toying with coven based lists led by urien and his uber grots. Although not deemed “competitive” in the right hands and played well, deadly. By the way Reece, I’m going to be sending you a list to review on the podcast on tuesday.

    • Reecius February 11, 2013 2:45 pm #

      I agree with you 100%. I think it is the best combo in the game!

      And yeah, shoot that list over, we’d be happy to have it.

  8. Cameron February 11, 2013 4:17 pm #

    Yeah, I feel like a lot of different lists can be competitive now as long as you bring the tools or strategies to deal with certain types of spam and certain power units. I love the balance.

    • Reecius February 11, 2013 9:07 pm #

      Me too, this is my favorite edition of the game, yet!

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