Lista Tactica: Dark Eldar!

Hey everyone, DustyK here with a new segment called Lista Tactica going over fun and competitive lists and detailing how to play them in order to crush your foes and make your friends cry! As always, for more tactics articles, check out Tactics Corner!


Lista Tactica is here to tackle lists and tell you how the lists worked for me, and how they didn’t.  With that information you can take fun lists to your local shop and be competitive with them!

First up is the Dark Eldar.  Yes I said Dark Eldar, and no this isn’t a painting competition.  The Dark Eldar have been bad in the meta for so long that everyone makes fun of them but no one remembers how to play them or, more importantly, how to play against them.  This current meta is based so heavily around immovable objects and alpha striking firepower that everyone has forgotten about the sick and twisted skimmers.

A disclaimer: once the FAQs go live, Dark Eldar will almost be unplayable in any fashion.  The ruling on passengers in a jinking transport has really hurt the Dark Eldar.  I’ve tested this list a handful of times using the new FAQ rules and it makes this list utterly useless.

Without further delay here is the list, which comes out to 1847 points, using a basic CAD:



  • Drazhar, Master of Blades


  • Incubi: 3x Incubi, 1x Klaivex, Venom
  • Kabalite Trueborn: 5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Venom: Splinter Cannon
  • Kabalite Trueborn: 5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Venom: Splinter Cannon


  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks

Fast Attack

  • Scourge: 5x Scourge, 4x Blaster
  • Reavers: 6x Reaver, 2x Blaster, 2x Cluster Caltrops
  • Reavers: 6x Reaver, 2x Blaster, 2x Cluster Caltrops


As you can see this is a fairly straight forward shooting Dark Eldar list.  I mix in Drazhar and company as well as some Reavers for additional fun.  This list is built to shoot anything on the board and do a decent job at killing it.  You’re going to have issues with GMCs and the most competitive death stars, but who doesn’t.  Also, if you’re playing against Tau you have to really be on your game; find ANYTHING with ignores cover and kill it first (anything with smart missile systems or markerlights are top priority).

The thing that Dark Eldar do well is mobility.  Their mobility is incredibly powerful and their guns are pretty good as well.  Not as strong as their more “noble” cousins but they get the job done.  I’ll just go down the line and explain what each unit is meant to be doing in an army like this.


CAD or Real Space Raiders

A lot of folks suggest the Real Space Raiders detachment instead of the normal CAD.  I can see their point, however with this list we are running a lot of vehicles and if you are being shot by anything above an s4 you’re normally going to be jinking (we only get av10!).  I personally have found that the Objective secured rule on all four units of Warriors to be more useful than the early cover save.

Power from Pain

Power from pain is a shared special rule that every non-vehicle model in the codex gets.  As the turn progresses so do the bonuses from Power from Pain.

  1. Nothing
  2. Feel No Pain (6+)
  3. Feel No Pain (5+)
  4. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge
  5. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge, Fearless
  6. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage

This rule is a bit tough against any alpha strike armies, however if you can last to the end game it really gives you a bit of power to secure those final objectives.


Drazhar and Incubi

I combine these two units because frankly they should never be apart.  Drazhar was a character I knew little about until three months ago when I bought him because he looks a bit like a hormagaunt and I thought that was cool.  Drazhar can only join Incubi and when he does he buffs their WS by 1.  This puts the normal Incubi at WS6 and the Klaivex up to a WS7, that’ll make sure you’re rolling 3s against almost any non-IC in the game with the whole unit.

All of them get Klaive melee weapons which are +1S and AP2, Drazhar can break his up into a duel wield version but loses the +1S and goes to AP3.  Due to their base strength only being 3, that +1 certainly helps.


I throw these guys in a Venom to get them to the back lines fast.  They specialize in taking out those backline units that the enemy is trying to protect.  They are fast and powerful with an open topped transport.  9/10 I’m going flat out first turn with them to set up in position for a second turn charge.

This aggressive strategy will do a couple things.  Firstly it will cause some chaos in your opponents plan, because who expects the DEldar Dakka list to be up in their face like that.  Secondly it’s going to force early firepower on this unit, freeing up your blasterborn and warriors to get into better position for second and third turn shooting.  If they ignore this boat, then all the better to slice them up with such a powerful melee force.  This unit is a win/win if you play aggressively with them.


Kabalite Trueborn (Blasterborn)

The Blasterborn here are fairly standard.  Load them up with four blasters in a Venom and take them after anything with armor or a 2+ save.  They are only 18” for range so placement is key.  Like mentioned above, the Drazhar and Company unit is a great distraction to get your Blasterborn in position to take out key vehicles or MCs.  They are especially handy against high AV since blasters are all lance weapons with s8 giving them a chance to pen on a 5 or better each time.

If you are facing off against an IK list make sure to hide these guys at first.  Any enemy who has read your list will know to come after them because they are all you have against those giant walkers (besides your Sourges).  If you can manage to position both units on opposite sides of an IK to avoid too many inv saves you can easily watch them melt under your fire.


Kabalite Warriors

The Kabalite Warrior units are your bread and butter in this list.  Getting objective secured with the CAD makes them incredibly useful in getting those much needed objectives.  However keep in mind the boats only have AV10 so make sure to shoot things off the point instead of contesting them.  The Objective secured rule is mostly to deny your opponent the ability to run and contest an objective to ensure you don’t score it on your turn (using ITC rules here).

The Raider transport is kitted out with a Nightshield to get a 3+ jink save, and splinter racks to give your warriors twin linked on all splinter weapons (all the weapons they have).

This boat can shoot out anywhere between 9-24 shots while re-rolling to hits and almost always wounding on at least 4.  With 4 of these boats that gives you a potential of 36-96 shots in one turn of shooting!  That’s some seriously high levels of dakka when you are sure you’ll be hitting and wounding 50% of the time or better.

When facing a deathstar list of any sort these warriors will be your best chance to get through them.  You just throw dice at them and hope to get some through.  Positioning is key when facing off against a deathstar list with the Dark Eldar.  Use the full 24” range shooting even if that means not getting your cannon shots and keep moving.  If they can’t catch up to you they can’t kill you and you’ll get more objectives.

Keep in mind if you move the cannon’s range lowers to 18” and 4 shots instead of the 36” and 6 shots normally.  Also once the FAQ comes in and the jink rule applies to Warriors, this unit will be very hard to keep alive and efficient with its shots.


Scourges are basically just a jump version of the Blasterborn.  Make sure to use all 12” of their movement when you can to get into position and throw those blaster shots into anything you can reach.  The Scourges are normally overlooked because they aren’t in a vehicle and that can play into your advantage with their mobility outside a vehicle.  Like all Dark Eldar, keep them moving and watch your positioning to maximize their effectiveness.



The Reavers are the Mavericks of this list.  They have Combat Drugs (don’t forget to roll these before the game!) which give them one of six buffs.  Some of the buffs are a bit useless for them, but the WS or T buff will help them quite a bit in combat.  They have two blasters to soften up whatever they are going to charge, then two sets of Cluster Caltrops.

All the normal Reavers have Bladevanes which make their Hammer of Wrath hits s4 with rending.  The ones with Cluster Caltrops get d6 hits with strength 6 and rending.  I like to put my Cluster Caltrops on the blaster models and make sure they are surrounded by the others to protect the upgrades.

These guys are built to cause havoc and make your opponent second guess their target priority.  If you hit with these guys once and get some good rolls you can wipe out entire units with just Hammer of Wrath.  This, much like the incubi, will cause your opponent to switch focus which frees up your shooting units to get into position.

Also keep in mind these are ELDAR JETBIKES!  That means we get the extended turbo boost and the assault moves!  They also get skilled rider (unlike their cousin Eldar) which gives them a 3+ jink save and move through cover.  The skilled rider perk on a jetbike provides so many bonuses to mobility and attack angels.  You can hide in a forest behind trees then just pop out and charge someone!  My personal favorite is to stick them in buildings then surprise whatever comes relatively close.



With this list you want to use your Reavers and Incubi units to provide space for your Warriors and Blasterborn to move into the positions they need to unload their firepower.  Both the Reavers and Incubi are a huge threat to many units so make sure to use that fact to your advantage and get in the mind of your opponent.

Dark Eldar are all about finesse play, if you make a mistake you will likely lose a unit or two without much of an effort required from your opponent.  Playing Dark Eldar requires ice in your veins and great situational awareness.  However all of that is worth it to see the Battle Company player’s face after he/she loses to the Painting Competition Champions!

What do you guys think about the Dark Eldar?  How would you play this list?  How would you beat this list?  Want me to do a Lista Tactica for your list?  Tell me in the comments below!

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

Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!



About DustyK

Avid gamer and lifelong nerd. I love playing competitively, which is why I have Space Marines and Tau. I also love playing casually, which is why I have Tyranids and Dark Eldar!

21 Responses to “Lista Tactica: Dark Eldar!”

  1. zyekian November 19, 2016 11:30 am #

    That FAQ though…. is going to be made official in the next 1-2 weeks, rendering much of this strategy obsolete. Ugh…. I guess now DE have to rely on 5++ Venom flickerfield saves and Raiders are untakeable for shooty units.

    Incubi have no grenades, meaning they get creamed by the very powerful units/MCs they’re designed to kill. They really don’t work in my experience. For the points I’d rather assault with Wyches. They’re like 12 points less and can shoot pistols and chuck a plasma grenade.

    Poor Dark Eldar. The codex is on total life support right now.

    • Laserfrog November 19, 2016 12:24 pm #

      For the Incubi, I actually recommend swapping Drazhar out for Lelith if you’re going to do a 4-man Venom team with a Klaivex. You lose out on the +1 WS, sure, but she costs fewer points, can hold her own in a challenge, and (most importantly) comes stock with Plasma Grenades, all for almost 25-40 fewer points (depending on whether or not you take the Spear/Net).

      Other than that… yeah. Sigh. I’d sell my soul at this point for Andy Chambers to come back and write them a campaign supplement.

      • DustyK November 21, 2016 6:17 am #

        I can see your point with her, howeve when I tested it out I had some serious problems with the big fellas, like a chapter master and other named infantry.

        D-man is usually my goto for incubi because he gives them that almost guaranteed 3+ to hit. Also with a small unit he will usually get his rampage. If he does I almost always try to make a challenge with me to take out key ICs before they can even contribute. His 7ws and 7 initiative usually makes sure he goes first and hits on 3+.

        Now don’t expect him to take on a swarm lord or anything like that. He’s not a one size fits all powerhouse, like everything DE you have to use him carefully to be good.

        All in all we really need a new book, one with a WK point and size grotesque imo

    • Happy_Inquisitor November 20, 2016 6:44 am #

      If the other part of the draft FAQ that granted area cover saves to normal vehicles makes it into the final version then it will not be so bad for DE. The downside is dangerous terrain tests, the upside is not firing snapshots from the vehicles themselves.

      I think we have to wait and see what is in the final FAQs.

  2. Harlequin November 19, 2016 1:40 pm #

    I have to disagree with you on the FAQ hurting dark eldar and making them unplayable.
    Even before the FAQ I was playing that the guys in side snap fired if in a transport that jinked because it made far more sense than having no negatives when jinking. That was my personal opinion. And I played it like that in a couple of major tournament’s and if my opponent had skimmers I would discuss with them what version of the rule they used and then used that.

    Its still possible to do well with Dark Eldar you just need to weigh up the options on if jinking is a good idea against what weapons ect and positioning of units.

    Thats just my views on the topic though from my experiences but Dark Eldar need some love in the codex department and new units.

    • DustyK November 21, 2016 6:20 am #

      That’s fair, though this list relies heavily on the junk and shooting which going from a 4+ TW to a 6+ TW is a massive hit. It will force us to hide too much and we won’t normally be able to get our rapid fire off being so far away all the time.

      I wish they gave us more viable options outside of cover safes but sadly we don’t until they actually remember we exist.

  3. Keith November 19, 2016 4:55 pm #

    I’d recommend against giving the Reavers weapon upgrades as you would want to use their buffed Jink save to keep them up and running. Cluster Caltrops is ftw though.

    I once built a list around one large unit of Reavers with two jetseers fishing for Invis. Worked pretty well as a cheap and quick Deathstar

    • DustyK November 21, 2016 6:22 am #

      In this list I was using them more as another source to try to soften up high armor units, however your point makes a lot of sense.

      I’m def gonna try that bike star you mentioned, that sounds like a lot of fun!

  4. Toranaga November 19, 2016 8:16 pm #

    This is the force I ran for a year or so, undefeated:

    Archon – Shadow Field, Agoniser, Haywire Grenade -130

    4 Grotesques -140
    Raider – Enhanced Aethersails – 55

    5 X 5 Kabalites – Blaster, sybarite – haywire grenades w/ Venom – 2 Splinter Cannons -135 (675)

    2 x Ravagers – 3 Dark Lances – 125 (250)

    Corpsetheif Claw – 5 Talos – 600


    I didn’t take it to any major tournaments, but with smart play I could best most upper mid-tier lists and opponents. The Archon joins the Grotesques and provides a bully counter-charge or flanking unit. The Corpse-Theif slices and dices and eats things, giving me board control over the center, while the Venoms and kabalites, though I’ve splurged a bit on them, are flexible enough to take on anything, with haywires, blasters, and a ton of poison shots. At this point, I think the Corpsethief is the only redeeming unit the Dark Eldar have unfortunately…

    • AnEnemy November 20, 2016 12:45 am #

      Trust me. If this list went undefeated for a year and you played more than two games then you were not playing upper tier lists and players.

      You were playing people that couldn’t grasp “shoot the Corpseclaw with all the readily available low cost high strength low AP weapons, kill the Ravagers with just about anything,collect Slay the Warlord from you when you march a tragically mediocre assault unit into my firebase, and then pop Venoms at my leisure because I’m practically guaranteed to kill at least 2 out of the 5 warriors inside and force a ton of LD 8 checks.”

      • Toranaga November 20, 2016 9:34 am #

        As I said, ‘upper mid-tier.’ These were wraithwing Necrons, drop-pod Space Marine battle companies of various color and chapter, 3x Riptide tau, Chaos Daemons with renegade knights, 3x flyrant ‘nids, Orks w/ bigmek stompa, Eldar without lots of scatbikes and warp spiders, etc… The skill of my opponents is too subjective to be able to convey without battle reports.

        I didn’t mean it so much as a boast, but my point was more that this is the hardest DE list I could come up with, which with some skillful and careful playing, resulted in some more-than-modest success. I took Frankie’s DE list as inspiration (you can see him playing in a lot of battle reports here with it, and winning many), but subbed out the Razorwings for more ground-based firepower. It’s been over a year since I’ve shelved my DE however, so it’s hard to compare to the present context. You may outline a simplistic formula for how you would deal with my army if we were across the table from each other, but we all know, in the words of von Moltke the Elder, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

        I think we’re all of the understanding that the poor Dark Eldar are no tournament army, but with that being said, what DE list would you bring if you wanted to win some games?

  5. abusepuppy November 20, 2016 10:24 am #

    How does this list not just lose when going second against any shooting army in the game (Tau, SM, DA, Eldar, etc)? It doesn’t seem to have a plan other than “of course I will pass every save why would I choose to fail one?” It also doesn’t really seem to have any game against flying circus (Tyranid or Daemon varieties), deathstars (of any kind), or any kind of moderately-aggressive melee list.

    • DustyK November 21, 2016 6:03 am #

      Yea that’s true, the Dark Eldar and this list have a hard time dealing with meta lists. I put a disclaimer saying such, but let me address the problems you brought up. Tau outright should beat this list. Ignore cover is a counter to an army that relies on cover saves to survive. Also an anti air formation for the SM will take down at least 1-2 boats a turn.

      Against the rest the real strategy is to position yourself so your opponent can’t shoot you and take advantage of the skimmer typing of the vehicles to move into position to maximize your shooting. That’s how I’ve dealt with stars and many chaos lists (we have a lot here). I make sure only one or two shots go at my boats a turn to allow for as many twin linked shots as I can.

      Death Stars are something DE itself can’t deal with very well. We don’t have anything that can bog it down and we have pretty much no anti-psyker. Our only real shot is to throw almost 100 twin linked poison shots a turn and whittle it down while securing objectives with bikes.

      All that said, there is a reason DE don’t top many ITC tournaments (I would say all but I don’t pour through all the results). However this is a way to play them that could win you a few games in your local scene (unless your local scene is super ITC level, then you may want to consider a different army).

      I hope this cleared up a bit for you 🙂

      • abusepuppy November 21, 2016 1:49 pm #

        I mean, realistically the best DE list is an ally to an Eldar list, but….

        That aside, though, I think it’s a mistake not to bring in some Harlequin or Eldar allies- they can do a lot that DE don’t have access to, and using allied forces to cover your weaknesses is the name of the game these days. DE aren’t without their strengths, but they have some pretty significant holes in their army list as well and it’s critical that you find ways to deal with them.

        The melee components are doing essentially nothing for you that other forces couldn’t do better; Drahzar himself is a complete chump in a challenge and isn’t even that good at dragging down basic MEQs, and his bonuses to the Incubi will only be relevant against units that will soundly destroy you in a fight anyways.

        The various Blasters in the list are also very lackluster- they end up being quite expensive units that can easily be picked off by the enemy and even should they miraculously get to shoot, they aren’t all that impressive at doing their job (it takes all three squads shooting at a single Rhino in cover to destroy it with any consistency.)

  6. AnEnemy November 20, 2016 2:32 pm #

    I didn’t think you were boasting. Just, perhaps, forming assumptions based on limited data.

    My DE lists tend towards a Grotesquerie backed by MSU warrior/raider spam. Nothing mind blowing. That’s the biggest weakness of our book imo. There aren’t any fun options. The army doesn’t work well in 7th. Most likely won’t work well in 8th either. Their design philosophy for the army in fundamentally flawed imo. We’re forced into MSU vehicle spam, but when you’ve got armies like White Scars or Eldar that are just as fast, but tougher and more powerful then it’s pretty clear the design team has no idea what to do with DE. The army has so much potential, but our last book was more bland than cookie made out of wood.

    All just my opinion of course.

    • DustyK November 21, 2016 6:10 am #

      I think you are exactly right with your assessment. They did seem to phone in our last book and similar to the nids (my other favored army) they have been all but ignored since 7th released.

      The DE have a cool story and the models look great, but they need help from the devs if they are ever going to compete again, like say a WK point and size grotesque 😀

      On the point of the grotesque and MSU though; the reason I go the way I do is to pump out as many TW shots as I can and have high to-hit values in melee with a good chance to wound eliminating saves if I can.

      In my games I’ve found the incubi more cost effective in melee BUT they require more target focus. They have a smaller amount of units they can feasibly charge than the grotesques. With this list though, those big targets will be focused by the trueborn or poisoned down with warriors.

      My list is super high risk and medium reward. Very Dark Eldar 7th ed if you ask me 😉

  7. Morollan November 21, 2016 7:37 am #

    As soon as I saw Drazhar on the list I didn’t have high hopes. He’s horrendously overcosted and I’ve never actually seen him on the tabletop, probably for very good reasons.

    I don’t think most armies, even lower tier ones, will be too worried by this list. As soon as the Scourges and Trueborn are dead the rest of the army has almost no capability against vehicles of any kind. Even with those Blasters you’re basically only killing 1 vehicle per turn as darklight is so underwhelming.

  8. Skari November 21, 2016 11:24 am #

    Skari here. From skaredcast… I play a lot of dark eldar

    Recently went to a competitive ITC tournament at 1500pts and came in second place with dark eldar, the Dark Kin still have some punch. Just have to play smart and hard!

    The list above is not one I would use tho. 10 man gun boat units can on the hurt but its better to take MORE things.

    I would never spend more than 100pts on HQ with the Dark Kin either take a succubus, or an archon with a WWP or some lhameans if you really want to cheap out.

    Drahzar is awesome, but if you are going to take him… then use him to the best of his ability… AKA in a raider with 9 more incubi…

    So, for competitive play this is something I would take:

    Lhamean – Venom

    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon
    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon
    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon
    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon
    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon
    5 Kabalites sybarite with haywire grenades – Venom with dual cannon

    this is a basic core is only 795 pts.

    Now I am a HUGE fan of the grotesquerie… it is really good in a competitive environment and I recommend it.

    Heamonculus with a flesh gauntlet
    3 grotesques in a raider
    3 grotesques in a raider

    this is 400points worth.

    In ITC format, this leaves 655 pts to spare.

    I am a fan of the lance ravagers so I would take a few of those.

    Ravager, 3 lances
    Ravager,3 lances
    Ravager, 3 lances

    thats 375pts

    leaving 280 points left for the army.

    I would then run two units of heat lance scourge.

    5 scourge 4 heat lances
    5 scourge 4 heatlances

    thats 240pts leaving a total of 40 points…

    Now… you have 7 venoms, 3 lances 8 heat lances… and a whole grotesquerie to do some work.

    You also have the choice to drop all the sybarites and haywires to get 120 points back and add more scourge, or sprinkle some upgrades here and there… (160 points goes a long way)

    Anyhow! These are my 2 cents in regards to the dark eldar. I usually release a battle report every week! and I have a whole video tactical series on the dark kin –

    Skari – out.

    • Dakkath November 21, 2016 4:50 pm #

      I’m guessing the haemonculus goes with one set of grots. Does the lhamean go with the other set or just ride his own venom around?

      • Morollan November 22, 2016 3:43 am #

        The Lhamaean is not an IC so can’t join units.

  9. Domi November 21, 2016 12:35 pm #

    Under similar circumstances (played for a year in a semi-comp. Environment meaning a store campaign, my try-hard friends and smaller tournaments) I had great succes with a list full of bubbles: Urien in Grotesquerie, Cronos, an allied Farseer and msu DE. You have to keep the units that profit from Urien and the cronos together a play smart of course. For a high comp mid-size tournament (40 payer) I swapped the grots for a CTC. One win, two good draws.

Leave a Reply