Dark Eldar Codex Review: First Impressions



We’ve got the book, muahaha!

Well, the Dark Eldar are here. This post is just off the cuff, first impressions. This is not a comprehensive review, that will come soon.

Their book is gorgeous, fist of all. The art inside and on the cover are just fantastic. GW has really stepped up their game in that regard.

As for the rules, their are some things to be really sad about and there are some things to be really excited about. For one, just let it be said right away that Dark Eldar will be very competitive. They have some builds that will be quite good. Eldar good? Eh, maybe not, but then, who is? This is though, a solid book with what jump out at me as multiple, viable builds.

Big Picture:

  • The Warlord traits are garbage. Roll on Strategic like pretty much everyone else. Move along.
  • Power from Pain got simplified, but, got generally worse on a per unit basis but when considering that it is army wide, is pretty solid. Some of the benefits will not kick in till late game when you really want them on turn 2, such as Furious Charge. Fearless on turn 5 is awesome though, for holding objectives to the bitter end!
  • The Relics are largely junk, with a few that can be awesome on occasion. The Helm of Spite is pretty rad though, giving all Deldar units within 12″ Adamantium Will, and enemy Psykers within 12″ suffer Perils on any doubles!
  • Vehicles generally got worse in the terms that they have more expensive or worse upgrades than they did, but, this is offset by the ability to take TONS of them. For example, in the Realspace Raider’s Detachment, you can take 6 Venoms by themselves which is absolutely brutal, or 14 total as transports, too! Razorwing Spam in this Detachment will be devastating too, which we will get to.
  • Grenades…or the lack thereof. So, you know how awesome Genestealers and Warp Talons are in this edition and how often you see them on the tabletop? Yeah. That is pretty much the entire Dark Eldar army. I have absolutely no clue–none–who in the design studio thinks it’s cool to have expensive, low toughness, low armor save models that need to strike first to function as an assault unit go into battle without offensive grenades. It just utterly hamstrings a lot of units. Incubi, Hellions, etc. are all fragile and when assaulting into cover will get slaughtered before they even swing. It’s really bad and unless I missed something, there is no way to get them around this.
  • Webway Portals. Holy shit! These are incredible. They allow the model with it to Deepstrike from reserves with their unit and any transport which allows for some utterly insane combos. Wraithguard? Fire Dragons? 20 Warriors or Guardians? Let your mind go crazy with that. Deepstriking with no scatter on a unit that can just devastate the opponent is brutal.
  • Units of MCs. All of a sudden, the lackluster Talos and Cronos got better. Everything counts in large amounts!
  • The Dark Eldar detachment is excellent. It allows for some very powerful builds. As mentioned above, 6 Venoms would be brutal. But, 6 Razorwings would be crazy good, too. Deldar have a lot of power in the Fast Attack slots and being able to take 6 is really good, plus would make for a fun army to play with all of that speed.

Units that got a boost:

  • Succubus, Court of the Archon, Lelith, Drazhar, Warriors, Mandrakes, Grotesques, Reavers, the Razorwing, Scourges, the Talos and the Cronos all got anywhere from a small to a significant boost. These units will be seen on the table quite a bit, IMO.

Units that got a swift kick to the junk:

  • Archon, Urien, Wyches, Incubi, Wracks, Beastpacks (they are still good, but not what they were), Hellions (would be great but they don’t have grenades, doh!), Ravager (still good, just more expensive with less upgrades).

Units that will need some testing to tell:

  • Voidraven (so bloody expensive for what you get! Razorwing is much better, IMO), Raiders, Venoms (both of these can now transport Eldar units, too, when allied in which opens up so many doors), Haemonculus.

So again, this is just off the cuff. We are excited from some of the combos and new builds, but, some units just got left out in the cold in a big way. Wyches…wow, Chaos Space Marines have been dethroned as the worst troop in the game! And Archons not having any AP2 melee weapons is just silly.

Time will tell, but all of us here have been quite excited about some of the possibilities. I think that Deldar players may be upset in the short term, but good builds will emerge.

What are you all thinking about the Dark Eldar so far?


About Reecius

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

59 Responses to “Dark Eldar Codex Review: First Impressions”

  1. bigpig October 3, 2014 4:40 pm #

    Finally, maybe a way to deliver Banshees. Pair them with any other Deldar assault unit for a very difficult to pull off sort of poor man’s offensive grenades ;). I’ll stick with WWPing in Eldar tacnuke units instead woohoo!

    • Reecius October 3, 2014 5:24 pm #

      Yes, and firedragons! Sooooo good!

  2. Chip October 3, 2014 4:42 pm #

    I agree with nearly all of your assessments Frankie/Reece, except I don’t think that Urien got nerfed. He’s way cheaper, has IWND, and his +1 to PfP for 12″ around him is pretty critical.

    • Reecius October 3, 2014 5:17 pm #

      Yeah, good counter points. I was on the fence, but, old clone field and auto gaining a wound back was amazeballs. We’ll see though, you may be right.

  3. Chip October 3, 2014 4:44 pm #

    Reece, I know you’ll love this deathstar:

    Haemonculi, Animus Vitae, WWP
    10 Grotesques, 3 Liquifiers
    Farseer, Jetbike, Shard of Anaris
    5 Spiritseers, roll for invis/psychic shriek.

    • bigpig October 3, 2014 4:58 pm #

      When invis makes its way into every death start, the power really has to be fiexed 🙂

      • bigpig October 3, 2014 4:58 pm #

        Dang phone. What the hell language am I trying to speak in?

      • Reecius October 3, 2014 5:15 pm #

        I agree. And I guess that was pig Latin?! Hahaha, just flew in folks, and boy are my arms tired =p

    • Reecius October 3, 2014 5:16 pm #

      Mother of God…..

  4. Timatron October 3, 2014 4:54 pm #

    The real spicy filling is in the Coven supplement…………..

    • Reecius October 3, 2014 5:23 pm #


      • Jason Brown October 3, 2014 5:36 pm #

        In particular, the formation with a talos, cronos, and Haemey. What dose spirit siphon do now?

        • scanning October 3, 2014 6:20 pm #

          Same as before, except one less on the strength.

  5. a1elbow October 3, 2014 6:01 pm #

    One of the issues with DE was always that they were really vulnerable after midgame if they didn’t smash enough of opposing armies. Most of the army having FNP, Fearless and Rage after the first few turns means DE units might not close out half their games cowering around the board.

  6. Dash2021 October 3, 2014 6:44 pm #

    Reavers are are gonna be amazing I think. As normal, throw in 2 jet seers. Roll fortune, shroud/invis. Except, oh yea bring three squads of them so the characters can just shuffle when the numbers get low. Rending HoW, and D6 S6 HoW per caltrop. Heat lances if you like.

    Shoot the squad with characters, and get handled by the rest, or shoot the other two and get bombed. Throw in a Hamie/Urien in a raider (also getting shrouded) and you’re pretty well getting FnP on top of 2+ cover saves.

    Not top table worthy, but ZOMGSPACEPIRATES.

  7. Dominic October 3, 2014 6:54 pm #

    I’m pretty dissapointed with this codex. To the point I might sell my whole army. A lot of missed potential IMO.

  8. PFI October 3, 2014 7:10 pm #

    You can take 19 venoms in the real space raider detachment at 1850 points though you only get like 4 blasters for anti tank so do at your own peril

    6 troop venoms with warriors
    6 fast attack venoms
    3 elite venoms with trueborn
    archon with venom
    second archon with venom
    court of archon, just a lhamaean with venom
    second court of archon, just a lhamaean with venom
    if you were against nids, they would cry…

  9. Lord Breakthrough October 4, 2014 5:12 am #

    In regard to hellions, doesn’t hammer of wrath at I10 solve the grenade problem at least partially? And Incubi can be joint by an Archon or Succubus to give them grenades. Though speaking of dark eldar, I’m the opposite of an expert.

    • Rusty Shackleford October 4, 2014 6:26 am #

      Joining an IC with assault grenades to a unit does not give the whole unit assault grenades, although that does work with defensive grenades

      • Lord Breakthrough October 4, 2014 12:15 pm #

        Thanks for the correction. I don’t know where I got this thought from.

        • Lord Breakthrough October 4, 2014 12:43 pm #

          Though you could still add an autarch with a banshee mask.

          • Lord Breakthrough October 4, 2014 12:44 pm

            That way, hellions would even strike first.

          • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:06 pm

            That does help, but going into cover you would still swing simultaneously with the enemy. T3 models with low armor HAVE to swing first to be effective.

  10. SarcasmPowered October 4, 2014 5:27 am #

    I am curious, why do you believe that wyches got worse?

    • Novastar October 4, 2014 6:47 am #

      No points reduction, lost access to haywire grenades( except squad leader) and all the wyche weapons are worse, one let’s you reroll wounds, one is hits and the other is reroll 1s for hit&wound, still can’t use dodge against anything other then CC attacks and dammit of wyches can dodge a slaanesh daemon or other things super fast then they should be able to dodge a wrench ah I mean bullet lol

  11. Gregorius42 October 4, 2014 6:59 am #

    I can finally put my three talos pain engines on the table which is good. They never could get on since ravagers are an auto include for most part.

    Carnival of Pain. Indeed.

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:16 pm #

      Yeah, I think putting them in units was the right call.

  12. Cameron October 4, 2014 12:42 pm #

    Another army thats only good with allies. Moving on

  13. Umbo October 4, 2014 4:22 pm #

    The 4++ dodge for wyches in the sub phase of close combat maybe a sign of future rules (next edition), moving overwatch to there… just a guess..

    • Morollan October 8, 2014 12:32 am #

      Rather than phrase the rule like that and then change the core rules later, why not just say “wounds suffered in the assault phase”, which would then include Overwatch?

  14. Suijin October 4, 2014 9:06 pm #

    Hey, I think battle sisters from Adepta Sororitas are the worst troop in the game. At least for +1 point Chaos Space Marine troops get +1WS?, +1 S, +1T, +1I which is pretty good and they can choose some options to improve them even if they are necessarily great but they may fill some need in the army, while battle sisters get no options.

    • Cycluv October 6, 2014 8:50 am #

      I disagree! Have you played against the Sisters? Battle Sisters can be taken in squads of 5-20. You get two specials or one special and one heavy, including Heavy Flamer, in a 5-Sister squad. They get preferred enemy as their Act of Faith. They get a 6+invul save army-wide. They are a little squishy in CC, but the 6++ invul save has saved them on numerous occasions. Shooting-wise, they hit just as hard if not harder than Space Marines. Plus they get to roll in twin-linked Multi-melta Immolators. The last 5 games I have played were against 5th Edition DE and I have gone 5-0. The same DE player just placed in a tournament and admittedly says the Sisters give him the hardest time. The sisters effective range is 12 inches, meaning you need to get in fast and hit hard. Highly underestimated….

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:04 pm #

      True, but, Battle Sisters can be made fearless for very little points. CSMs are just super overpriced for what you get. YMMV.

  15. E-rock October 5, 2014 2:42 am #

    Its sad about them poor (b)wyches too. I feel like their close combat weapons got such a good boost in this book… So much poison and shred. Your only hope is to roll +1 toughness on combat drugs. Maybe a special character can help you roll on that cha…. O right he’s gone. I see really cool things in the book its just gonna be rough delivering them.

  16. GDT October 5, 2014 3:00 am #

    At last! A good first impressions of the Dark Eldar codex! Been looking for something beyond “OMFG IT SUCKS NO 3++!” (hints) So thank you!

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:02 pm #

      There is some lame stuff, but on the whole, we are really excited with the book, you can do a lot with it.

  17. Xander MacLeod October 5, 2014 4:34 am #

    I’m curious why you think Reavers are better. After losing their fly-by mode, and replacing it with HoW+Hit&Run they can now no longer take advantage of their rip roaring speed through turbo-boosting (i.e. you can only standard move if you wish to assault). This makes them much less mobile.

    Overall Im really happy with the codex. So glad mandrakes are now fieldable, and OMG scourges got sooo much better. And whilst I was initially sad about wracks not being troopable, the coven supplment does so much for that lot. 2 venoms with 2 wrack units for extra victory points at first blood and turn 1 deepstrike. YES PLEASE!

    Im very excited by wwp possibilities now. Keep a haemonc + squad in a bastion (far forward as possible), put an escape hatch even further forward in no-man’s land. Emerge. Move 6″ forward. Webway. So close to the enemy!

    I’m really surprised the talos and chronos dont get powFromPain and that (at first glance, so i could be wrong) Archon can no longer take wwp.

    • winterman October 6, 2014 8:50 am #

      The flyby will be missed but the 6 point per model cost decrease, 2-10 point upgrade decerease, hit and run, rending S4 HoW (plus caltrops) and increased unit max is more than a fair trade. Makes them a very well rounded all comer selection. The only thing missing for them is an option for a jetbike for a succubus or similar.

      • Reecius October 6, 2014 11:53 am #

        I agree. I think they are going to be very good as a multi-role unit. They can hunt tanks, MCs, small scoring units, and are fast as hell for taking objectives at end game. All around, a very solid unit, IMO.

  18. cicero October 5, 2014 5:41 am #

    Can you still join characters to units of mc? Webway portal to ds in a unit of talos would be really fun! Throw in some combat characters with shadow fields and watch your majority T7 unit take hits on a 2++

    Also it seems to me that medusae+ wwp is like unto the return of the flamers of old…

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:01 pm #

      No joining to MC units, anymore.

      And yeah, Medusa with WWP will be brutal.

  19. bridges60 October 5, 2014 8:18 am #

    Actually very happy wit this update. Lelith is back finally (not the best hq but great price and can get 10 attacks on the charge that are rerolled everything). 6 Venoms would be nasty because you can fit 6 kab warrior squads (5man each with a blaster in the squad) in 6 venoms and then take an additional 6 for only 1110 points. at 1850 that is scary. Archon (formation) with a haemy and a for hq now gives you fearless, fnp, and furious charge t3. thats pretty cool, also bring the animus vitae and kill a model to potentially give it to you TURN 2!

  20. Wit October 5, 2014 7:02 pm #

    Why the hate for wyches? They actually haven’t changed at all, price wise, state-wise,, or rule wise. Their upgrade weapons took a hit, but are all cheaper. And the new Power-from-pain talbe hugely benefits them. A turn 5 charge from a raider-full of wyches, with fearless, furious charge, and FnP will kill or tie-up anything that’s not an elite melee unit. 4++/5+++ goes a long way.

    • adzax October 5, 2014 8:17 pm #

      You can’t be serious…… that’s the point, no points reduction, no changes to there dodge (charge a crappy tactical squad and cry as you get raped by overwatch…yet again). Upgrade weapons which weren’t all that good to begin with all nerfed and pfp which is the only good thing now, won’t really power them up that much ti make a significant difference and they lost grenades, our only effective anti vehicle. And truly when did you last see any DE alive on T5 let alone a raider full of wyches?? Just dosent happen, and you know a squad is crap when you need to miraculously live to turn 5 just to be effective at all…..can’t believe how they dropped the ball on this one, we all saw the haywire spam nerf coming, I can bet no one saw etched becoming all but unuseable…and reavers and hellions just make me want to cry now

    • winterman October 6, 2014 8:54 am #

      If you were putting a single wych unit in reserve and charging them in late game, then sure wyches haven’t changed much. For anyone wanting to run multiple units ala wych cult, they didn’t get the tweaks they needed to be viable, yet alone decent.

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 11:42 am #

      I don’t hate Wyches at all, I am just really disappointed that they didn’t fix what Wyches need to function, and took away the one redeeming quality they had: Haywire Grenades.

      As it stands, Wyches get obliterated when their transport explodes, losing an average of 5/9 models. Overwatch devastates them, they don’t actually do any damage in assault, and they are overpriced, IMO. Honestly, I think these are the worst troop in the game, worse even than CSMs.

      Now that said, if they work for you, awesome! I just think that they are very, very poorly designed and you will not see them on the table. Warriors are so, so, so much better.

  21. Chaos Reigns October 5, 2014 10:10 pm #

    I think WWP’ing in a Tantalus full of Wraith Guard with the flamers would be hysterical.

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 12:00 pm #

      And utterly devastating, too!

  22. dalymiddleboro October 6, 2014 8:01 am #

    Ummm…. Urien got insane man.

    4+ FnP, and Father from pain rule (adds plus one to the Power from pain clock to all units within 12″) Not to mention went from 190 pts to 140!!! He’s the tits.

    • Reecius October 6, 2014 11:55 am #

      I’m not saying he’s not good, but auto-regaining a wound (and he had FnP previously, too) and the old Clone Field made him one of the best tank characters in the game. He is definitely not as good at that any more, but, still good at it and as you pointed out, he has solid support rules, too.

  23. colin sherlow October 7, 2014 6:59 am #

    Love the article.

    When you “gentlemen” get to the full Dark Eldar review/tactics it would be nice to have it based purely on dark eldar without allies (for the faithful dark hearted), and one with allies.

    • Reecius October 7, 2014 10:32 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it! And yeah, the review will be unit by unit on the DE themselves.

  24. Greg O. October 7, 2014 7:21 am #

    “It won’t beat Eldar, so the codex is terrible”

    This statement is becoming boring. This Codex seems to fall in line with the last few in regards to power level, and it certainly beats the mono-build venom spam and the ridiculous Baron beast star we saw from the last book.

    • Reecius October 7, 2014 10:31 am #

      Who is making that argument?

  25. Greg O. October 7, 2014 12:17 pm #

    My argument wasn’t directed at any one particular person, and Reecius you are the most optimistic and fair internet commentator on the internet, which is why I enjoy following your opinions. However, it seems each time a new codex drops, everyone always focuses on the negatives, despite how much you try to keep it positive.

    • Reecius October 7, 2014 12:48 pm #

      Ah, OK, I thought you were saying we were doing that and I was curious if we had on accident, haha.

      Thanks for the clarification.

  26. Rob October 7, 2014 2:04 pm #

    I quite like all these new codexes… I think they are pretty balanced… The issue is actually that tau and eldar are just so so out there. There’s going to be a lot of tears from tau players when they get a new codex. (I hope)

    • Reecius October 7, 2014 2:28 pm #

      Yeah, I agree. Eldar need to have the Serpent toned down, Tau need to have Interceptor toned down, maybe tone down the marker lights, too. I think that is all they really need.

      • Jural October 7, 2014 3:27 pm #

        I think Wraithknights also could use being addressed, they are way too good for their price. But all in all, the new codexes have been pretty solid, if occaasionally dull.

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