Dark Eldar Unit Review: Troops: Wyches

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Zyekian here to tackle the most maligned and debated units in Codex: Dark Eldar, Wyches.  Do these deadly (heh…) duelists have a place in your army?  Or are they shelfbait until the next codex refresh?  Read on for the full breakdown!  And as always don’t forget to check out Frontline Gaming’s tactics corner for more analysis and tips to make your army hum.

Overview:

The Wych Cults of Commoragh are cliques of ultra-quick murderesses able to savagely take an enemy’s life in the blink of an eye.  They drink pain and exotic substances alike, elegantly slicing through their foes.  So says the fluff.

Unfortunately Wyches are a prime example of rules falling short of fluff.  These gladiators do have some strengths and utility on the battlefield as we’ll discuss, however killing things isn’t usually their forte.  Despite the primary criticism of Wyches being that they’re too fragile, I’ll assert that their flaw isn’t t their fragility but their mediocre lethality in close combat.

Wyches have a statline illustrating the virtues of their race, swift and fragile.

WS4, BS4, S3, T3, W1, I6, A1, Ld8, Sv6+, 10 points, Troop Slot

+10 points gets the unit a Hekatrix (sergeant) with Ld9 and an extra close combat attack.  You’re going to want to grab a Hekatrix not just for their cheap access to haywire grenades, but for that leadership point.  Wyches tend to survive in melee against many opponents – while still losing combat due to their low strength.  Leadership is crucial to sticking around.

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Wargear:

  • Wychsuit – A 6+ save wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.
  • Splinter Pistol – It’s no shuriken pistol but poison (4+) is handy for putting a wound on a MC or bike.
  • Close Combat weapon
  • Plasma Grenades – often overlooked, this is a nice AP4 blast to whittle down numbers before assault
  • One model may take one of the three Wych weapons for +5 points.  If the squad size is ten then two models may make this purchase.  The weapons themselves are statistically very similar (shred, re-roll misses, or reroll 1’s to hit and wound) and come with no AP value.  Mathhammering the differences out puts shredding Hydra Gauntlets ever-so-slighly ahead of the other weapons against most opponents, however the difference is so slight that it really doesn’t matter.  Wych weapons are recommended because they’re cheap and the unit needs all the punch it can get.
  • May take a Raider or Venom dedicated transport.  Mandatory.  Venoms want to shoot so if your strategy includes a flat-out move rush, consider the Raider.

Special Rules:

  • Combat Drugs – Wyches need a good roll here.  T4 Wyches are good units since their FnP is much less likely to be ignored.  Extra attacks, strength, and WS are all decent enhancers.  The +1 initiative drug is where Dark Eldar players groan, knowing they’re unlikely to see any benefit from it.
    • 1 +1 Attack
    • 2 +1 Strength
    • 3 +1 Initiative
    • 4 +1 Toughness
    • 5 +1 WS
    • 6 +1 Leadership
  • Fleet
  • Night Vision
  • Power from Pain – Makes Wyches “worth it”.  Eventually.
    • Turn 2: FnP 6+, Turn 3: FnP, Turn 4: Furious Charge, Turn 5 Fearless, Turn 6 Rage.
  • Dodge: 4++ invulnerable save in close combat.

A word on much-aligned Bloodbrides:

For +3 points per model Wyches may be upgraded to Bloodbrides which move to the elite slot.  The benefit is +1A and Ld9 across the board, potentially lessening the need for a Syren (sergeant) who can’t quite make it to a ten.  A Syren is a potent combatant with the right weapon upgrade though, having 5A on the charge before special rules kick in.  An Agonizer (AP3 poison 4+) will see her cutting into a lot of foes.

What holds Bloodbrides back from being solid options though is the fact that they stick to WS4 like standard Wyches.  Low-strength melee units need to generate a very high volume of hits and ‘Brides just don’t get as many as they should even with four attacks each on the charge.  Getting hit back on 3+ by many of the dedicated assault units in the meta right now keeps the odds stacked against them.  It’s more 4++ saves than you want to have to make.  The right drug helps, but again… unreliable.

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Tactics:

Dark Eldar players tend to not bring Wyches to kill things.  The typical strategy surrounds wielding their 4++ save in melee to maximum effect to tar pit powerful close combat units.  In that role the community has somewhat overrated them, as they’re really only adequate tarpits units when facing opponents with a modest number of attacks.  Terminators, Genestealer Abberations, certain Dreadnoughts, many MCs, and even Knights are attractive tie-up targets for Wyches.  Even small Wych units can bring down a Dreadnought with the haywire grenade on their Hekatrix, though it could take a few rounds.

The lack of killing power is what really haunts Wyches in close combat though, often leaving the Dark Eldar player feeling like they’re the ones getting tarpitted.  Assaulting a 5-man Tactical squad only to need three turns to get through it, possibly having to sweat out a Ld check for losing combat somewhere along the line is not a good feeling.  Neither is getting speedbumped by a bunch of bikes using hammer of wrath.  So to counter this problem wise players do the following:

  1. Play Wyches only in lists with a dedicated assault presence.  A presence with real punch – and that means Coven units.  Grotesques and Talos go for one type of target while the swift Wyches choose another or compliment the heavy hitters in assault.  Reaver jetbikes excel at picking their targets even more than Wyches, again complimenting them in battle, soaking overwatch with their 3+ enhanced jink.  There are certain units Reavers and even Coven units don’t want to see in CC, and if you can draw their attacks onto cheap 4++ models, that’s a win.  Coven Cronos Engines will also buff FnP on Wyches making them actually quite durable against many foes.
  2. Go with upgrades and kill something.  A drugged-up Hekatrix with an Agonizer will kill MEQ sergeants and then some.  Run squad size 6-7 in a Raider with a 3+ jink wargear and a Disintigrator Cannon (Heavy3, S5, AP2) to soften the target and then pounce.  Larger units aren’t recommended because vehicle explosions and template weapons are hell.  MSU is key.  Wyches in and Grotesques in boats, supplemented by Reaver escorts makes for an excellent and relatively low-point alpha rush that gives the rest of the Dark Eldar force cover to fire lances and poison unmolested.  The Harlequin Faolchu’s Blade formation fits in well here, as it provides two Skyweaver jetbike formations with re-rollable jink and if needed invulnerable saves, soaking overwatch and putting AP2 melee attacks where they’re needed.

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What are your thoughts on Wyches in a Dark Eldar list?  Do they have a real place in a Dark Eldar list or are they best left on the shelf until Games Workshop gives us a Wych Cult formation?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

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10 Responses to “Dark Eldar Unit Review: Troops: Wyches”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius November 17, 2016 3:07 pm #

    Gah, Wyches. Poor, poor wyches. They were good….once. They are just too fragile and losing the ability to huck Haywire Grenades hurts a lot.

  2. Adam Vollrath November 17, 2016 5:30 pm #

    They’re not bad in Kill Team.

    • Reecius
      Reecius November 17, 2016 7:23 pm #

      Really? How so?

      • zyekian November 18, 2016 8:56 am #

        They make impressive bolt catchers.

  3. Morollan November 18, 2016 3:01 am #

    Wyches may just take the crown of worst unit in 40k. They are fragile and have almost zero offensive output. Fragility is fine and we expect that in most (non-Coven) DE units. But we also expect that fragility to be offset by hitting hard. Sadly GW doubled up on the glass and totally forgot the cannon. Haven’t used a single Wych in 7th edition and I’m extremely unlikely to do so without drastic rule changes.

  4. zyekian November 18, 2016 8:59 am #

    Wyches aren’t the worst unit in 40k, they’re not even the worst unit in the DE codex. That crown goes to Hellions. I’d take Wyches over Hellions for the points any time.

    I honestly don’t think Wyches are *that* far from being useful. If they just had a bit more offensive punch so they wouldn’t lose combat so much, they could be worth 10 points IMO. If they all had like shred or something.

    If power from pain and combat drugs made more sense that would be enough.

    • abusepuppy November 18, 2016 9:32 am #

      It would be relatively simple to fix Wyches- they’re pretty bad right now, but all of their problems are obvious ones.

      -Give them their Dodge save all the time (or at the very least during the whole assault phase.)

      -Let them take Haywire Grenades on the whole squad again.

      -Make the Wych weapons give more significant bonuses (Rending, etc) and/or give them A2 base.

      They aren’t the worst unit around, I’ll agree, but they’re one of those units that have multiple disadvantages and no real advantages to speak of.

    • Morollan November 21, 2016 2:27 am #

      I’d disagree on Hellions. For only 3 points more you get the exact same statline (but with +1S and AP5 in combat) and special rules, Hit & Run, an improved armour save and superior firepower. Granted they have one less attack and don’t have Dodge but Dodge is of very little use to a unit that will die long before it ever gets into combat.

      I’m not saying Hellions are great, in fact they’re awful but IMO Wyches are worse.

      • abusepuppy November 21, 2016 7:07 am #

        +1 attack is pretty much always better than +1 strength (except when attacking a vehicle or T7 target.) The minority improved armor save will still get ignored by almost any gun in the game, so both units are relying on cover saves outside of combat- and in combat they are far tougher. Hit and Run is definitely a big plus, but with that as their only selling point they seem hard to justify for the increased cost.

        • Morollan November 21, 2016 7:28 am #

          They’re also jump infantry so they move faster and can HoW so they get the extra attack back that way.

          As I said, they’re not brilliant but Wyches are worse.

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