Dark Eldar Review: Fast Attack: Reaver Jetbikes


Zyekian here to bring you a run-down on the lesser-known jetbikes, Reavers.

Reavers aren’t often seen these days due to the headwinds Dark Eldar face in the current meta.  Crafty players know though that Reavers can bring the pain where pain is due and can wield this unit to great effect.  Read on for an in-depth look at Reaver jetbikes and how to get the most out of this swift and deadly unit on the battlefield.  And be sure to check out Frontline Gaming’s Tactics Corner for more reviews and tips on how make your army hum!


High-Speed Death

Reavers bring quite a lot to the table for the reasonable cost of 16 points:

  • 3-12 Reavers
  • WS4, BS4, S4, T4, W1, A1, Ld8, Sv 5+


  • Splinter Pistol, poison (4+)
  • Close Combat Weapon
  • Reaver Jetbike – a lightning-quick Eldar Jetbike with a 5+ armor save and a Splinter Rifle, poison (4+) with rapid fire
  • Bladevanes.  Wonderful, wonderful Bladevanes boost Hammer of Wrath hits to S4 and add the rending rule
  • [conspicuous lack of assault grenades] – sigh…

Special Rules:

  • Combat Drugs, potentially very good but random
  • Hit & Run
  • Power From Pain – given that they’re T4 they can use FnP with some reliability
  • Skilled Rider – 3+ jinks

For every three models in the unit, +10 points can swap in a special weapon.  Both are viable options and serious threats to armor and infantry alike at a good price.

  • Blaster, 18″, assault 1, S8, AP2, lance
  • Heat Lances, 18″, assault 1, S6, AP1, lance, melta

Reavers can pick up an Arena Champion (sergeant) for +10 points, bringing an extra leadership point and CC attack to the table as well as the ability to take a special melee weapon.  The points can add up quickly here and for that reason I would avoid taking a Champion unless the unit is six or more.  At that point it becomes worth it to protect the point investment from zooming off the map.

The real meat here though is the most formidable weapon Reavers can posess, Cluster Caltrops.  This fearsome weapon give the model D6 S6 hammer of wrath attacks with rending.  This is critical because HoW attacks hit on I10, partially offsetting the unit’s lack of assault grenades.  They hit first no matter what and they hit hard.  Caltrops can be taken one per three models in a unit as a +15 point upgrade.  This piece of wargear has so much damage potential and helps compensate for weaknesses so well that I recommend it in all Reaver units.



Reavers seek to get into assault ASAP while jinking at 3+ on the way in.  And when they’re able to dart up, crack a transport, and assault the contents all in one turn, they’re golden.  The volume of rending Hammer of Wrath hits threatens all sorts of targets while hit and run keeps them from getting bogged down.

Reavers probaly have the least impressive bike weapon in 40k.  A non-TL poison gun doesn’t scare many armies but don’t underestimate its ability to sneak wounds onto high-toughness targets just prior to assaults.

A word about combat drugs, rolling the right drug really helps.  The +1 toughness drug makes Reavers wonderful.  Drugs that give bonuses to strength, attacks, and WS are all useful as well while +Ld protects the investment.  The +1 initiative bonus is usually garbage and means you play with essentially no drugs.  And of course Power from Pain gives FnP phasing in as the game goes on as well as furious charge on turn four.  Once Reavers are able to pair S4 normal attacks with their hammer hits they’ll annihilate a lot of vehicles.

Reavers are typically taken in unit sizes of either three or six.  Three-model units excel at taking objectives assisting in assaults, and sneaking in a lance attack on a flank.  Six-bike units are full-fledged multi-role units in themselves and will serve almost any Dark Eldar list well.  The Arena Champion starts becoming useful at this point just to keep the bikes on the map.  Be prepared for six-Reaver units to become a serious target however.


What to Fear and When to Fear it

Despite their usefulness Reavers have some notable drawbacks.  Their primary one has to do with the plethora of ignores cover in the current meta that will ignore every defense Reavers have unless Feel no Pain is running.  Flamers and Thunderfire Cannons are death to this unit as are pretty much anything Tau.  These vulnerabilities can be mitigated though by running several small units of Reavers; MSU is basically what Dark Eldar are going to be doing with their whole list anyway.  The Realspace Raider detachment opens up half a dozen Fast Attack slots, perfect for swarming these units.  Lastly, most seasoned players will rush with their Reavers and other assault units, allowing the opponent only a turn or two to act before receiving multiple charges.  Applying pressure is key.

Some players place Reavers in reserve in order to bring them on once FnP is activated.  This is an ill-advised strategy though since it takes pressure off the opponent who can then focus fire on the rest of the vulnerable army.  The key with Reavers is to bring them into assault turn two or at least dictate the opponent’s attention by forcing them to deal with the threat.

Another limitation involves how tricky it can be to land every model in base-to-base contact during assault.  Quite often a few will fail to make it sufficiently close for hammers and end up relying on a flurry of S3 attacks, not good.  This is yet another reason to keep unit size small and agile.

As always, let us know your thoughts on Reavers in the comments section.   And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day!



16 Responses to “Dark Eldar Review: Fast Attack: Reaver Jetbikes”

  1. Nathan Fluger May 20, 2016 8:46 am #

    Its not just that they struggle against ignores cover, they also are just easy to see off with small arms fire. 3+ cover sounds neat, but T4 means that its the equivalent of shooting at 3 marines.

    Dark Eldar just need so much help…

    • Vercingatorix May 20, 2016 9:19 am #

      and seriously, get them in assault? I know the hammer of wrath thing is nice but with only one attack and low strength that just doesn’t seem like a great idea.

      • Threllen May 20, 2016 12:24 pm #

        Yeah, unfortunately for some armies it’s almost as easy to get past a 3+ cover as it is a 3+ armor. And anything that can get past a Reaver’s cover is just going to shred it.

        Back when Caltrops and bladevanes worked for fly-overs, they were much better. Now you’re paying a fair amount of points for a single S4 AP- attack (plus the one guy who gets the extra ones with the Caltrops). A standard Reaver gets one S4 AP- hit at I10 and then a few S3 AP- hits at a lower initiative. Not great.

        They’re ok for their maneuverability and they can take out vehicles with a combination of shooting from their special weapon and hammer of wrath from the caltrops. But they fold under any amount of fire – no matter how weak – and can barely kill any non-vehicle squads in assault.

    • AbusePuppy May 20, 2016 2:13 pm #

      Well, they certainly aren’t hard to kill, but they are actually priced such that they aren’t _that_ fragile for their cost- and with a large movement range and Skilled Rider they can get behind terrain in many cases. Still, even under the best of circumstances they can be a tad flimsy.

      • Nathan Fluger May 20, 2016 2:40 pm #

        Fair enough.

    • Beau May 22, 2016 6:55 am #

      Honestly I have seen a skilled Dark Eldar player do some crazy Sh*t. Of course they cannot play against Eldar or Tau most armies struggle against them right now. I do admit that nerf to the bladevane flyover hits (that my screamers still have) was waaay out of line.

      I recently played a guy with my Nurgle Circus list who brought 40+ reavers, venom warrior spam, and a couple of corpsethief claw formations.

      Now the FAQ thing where jinking causes passengers to snap fire is hard for those warrior filled venoms, but luckily for the DE my army is an assault army. Every Daemon Prince was dead turn 1 then GUO dead turn 2 my soul grinder the bikes danced out of range of the flamer then lanced him to death. All I was left with was belakor who died to a 40 reaver HoW assault and some nurglings lol. 0 casualty caused.

      I have heard them referred to as a spoiler codex, that annihilates certain amies but then straight loses to other armies.

  2. HotSauceMan May 20, 2016 10:37 am #

    The problem is how their outclassed by Corsair bikes that stole their weapons.

    • AbusePuppy May 20, 2016 2:13 pm #

      Corsair bikes, like Eldar ones, are for shooting. Reavers are more meant for assault with a secondary shooting role.

  3. Eric May 20, 2016 11:39 am #

    They must jink for their defense which wrecks their shooting so spending the extra points on a anti-tank weapon is questionable. 3 reavers is too few to realistically survive two rounds of combat to make effective use of the hit and run ability. With 6, you might survive but have no Does not get (ordinary) feel no pain until turn 3 so its not a reliable defense. Finally, their rending HoW gimmick is out performed by ordinary windriders with TL cat.s (at least for to wound roll attacks).

    The comment “[conspicuous lack of assault grenades] – sigh…” sums them up nicely, that is, they are not very effective at what it is they are designed to do.

    Reavers are the epitome of today’s Dark Eldar – as a glass cannon type unit, there is too much glass and not enough cannon.

  4. Frozocrone May 20, 2016 12:13 pm #

    One of the few viable units in the Codex. Caltrops are great, but they also make for good mobile cover screens. Turbo boost them in an arrow head so that when they lose casualties, the unit behind them still gets a cover save because you’re techanically still shooting through a unit.

  5. @miral May 20, 2016 1:24 pm #

    I use two units of six with grotesquerie and Urien and a Cronos, which gives them 5+ fnp from the start. With night fight, 2+ 5+ turn one. This works ok, even with them being a fire magnet. You have to practise keeping the bubbles together in the games needed. Good rates against most lists although never played against comp. Eldar, but the usual (not too buffed up) Tau, Necrons and battle companies it works. At least you have a chance..

  6. Painjunky May 20, 2016 3:15 pm #

    Lawrence recently won the SN international with a DE list that included Reaver MSU.

    They are not “point and click” like soooo many other units/lists in current 40K but they are tournament worthy if used by a skilled player.

    My locals DESPISE and fear my reaver spam. Hehehe.

  7. C-Stock May 20, 2016 3:36 pm #

    I think this is a good article with excellent straight talk. Not all these unit reviews have that, I feel like they’re selling me something.

    Reavers are a solid above-average unit that can deal a surprising amount of damage for their points. They’re one of the few DE glass cannon units that’s actually still a glass cannon. Most of the rest of the army is just glass.

    Whoever questioned them being in assault above seems confused. These guys are made for assault.

    Remember that there are combat drugs that are +1 strength, +1 WS, and +1A. They’re going to kill things in CC even beyond their Hammer hits.

    • Beau May 22, 2016 7:02 am #

      I think they have to charge smartly, focusing on charging a unit with many many reavers at once to try not to take any casualties in return. I don’t think they will be killing plague marines too much in assault. My buddy tried to charge and equal points number into each of my zombies units and let them brawl it out but the zombies won because of the volume of attacks on the later turns. Actually these reavers should really have hit and run. Whenever unit he charged like 40 reavers would die.

      • The Beckoning Stone May 22, 2016 10:04 am #

        Reavers do have HnR

  8. Dash2021 May 22, 2016 5:28 pm #

    I’ve run a Reaverstar multiple times and been pleased with it. 2 farseers can really add the extra defense to these guys to make them a headache to deal with. You can go nuts and have several squads of reavers running around so the farseers can jump ship when one squad gets too low on ablative wounds as well. Obviously inferior to a straight seer council, but for half the price it ought to be. Enables you to play the same style list as a seer council while being a tad friendlier to your non-tournament minded friends.

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