Codex Drukhari Review Part 4: Kabal Obsessions, Warlord Traits, Stratagems and Relics

Hey everyone, Reecius here with the second part of our Codex: Drukhari review! Be sure to check the Tactics Corner for more great reviews and articles.

Previous articles in this series:

Today we’re reviewing the Drukhari Kabal special rules, Obsessions, Warlord Traits, Stratagems and Relics.

Rating System

I rarely ever see units as “broken” or “garbage” which is the typical binary judgement in internet hyperbole. Even the worst unit can win you the game if it is in the right place at the right time. Units are all simply more or less efficient based on the current situation of any given game. So with that in mind, here is the shiny new rating system:

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combo’d up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

The Kabals represent the “standard” Drukhari forces. In practice we’ve found them to be very good and tend to form the core of a Drukhari force, typically providing a Battalion to build your army on with Kabalite Warriors, Archons and Raiders as the core with a selection of support units to taste. As you can see by the red ink all over the place, you have some excellent options to choose from as a Drukhari player. However, picking your Kabal is the first step so let’s look at what each of them has to offer.

Generic Kabal Warlord Traits

  • Hatred Eternal: Your Warlord can re-roll failed wound rolls.
    • Amazing. This is such a strong Warlord Trait if you want to build a beat-stick Archon and remember, this works in shooting, too! Not as good as Labyrinthine Cunning for general purposes, but damn good. Competitive.
  • Soul Thirst: Add 1 to your Warlord’s Attacks characteristics in any turn in which they charged, were charged or Heroically Intervened. Additionally, the Archon regains a wound each time they slay an enemy model in the Fight phase.
    • Bad ass! Another winner and this one REALLY helps to keep your Archon alive after they lose their Shadowfield. Combo this with the Parasite’s Kiss relic (a pistol which gives the bearer wounds back when you kill enemy models with it) and you can become very, very hard to kill. Competitive.
  • Ancient Evil: Your opponent must roll an extra die when taking Morale tests, keeping the highest while within 3″ of your Warlord.
    • This is a trait that can be excellent particularly when combo’d with the Dark Creed Haemonculus Coven or against armies with lower morale defense. However, against some armies it will be nearly useless. Situational.

The Kabal of the Black Heart are the “Ultramarines” of the Drukhari, being the iconic force. They also have a cool set of special rules. Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic Kabal to base the core of your army off of as every single rule they get is gold. The only downside here is that The Black Heart is so good, it will probably form the core of every competitive Drukhari army.

  • Obsession: Thirst for Power: their Power form Pain ability is counted as being 1 turn higher than the current turn. Units without Power from Pain gain the Inured to Suffering ability (6+ FnP).
    • As the Power from Pain chart is quite good on its own, having it count as one higher is obviously awesome. Also, gaining additional defense for all other units is fantastic as well. Competitive.

  • Stratagem: Agents of Vect: 3 CP, cancels out an enemy stratagem on a 2+. On a 6, the strat is cancelled and they do not get their CP back, either.
    • This is the absolute business! Probably the most powerful stratagem in the game. Game altering, in fact. Many lists rely on a critical stratagem as the fulcrum upon which their strategy works. If you take that away, you really screw up their plans. Imagine a Blood Angels army unable to use Descent of Angels, a Chaos army without the ability to shoot twice, or use Tide of Traitors, etc. It is phenomenally powerful. Competitive.
  • Relic: Writ of the Living Muse: Archon only, re-roll wound rolls of 1 for friendly Kabal of the Black Heart units within 6″ of the bearer.
    • Again: amazing! Turns your Archon into a mini-Guilliman. Re-rolls of 1 to hit and wound on a 70pt base model that comes stock with a 2++…. So good. Competitive.

  • Warlord Trait: Labyrinthine Cunning: While your Warlord is alive, roll a D6 for each command point spent by you or your opponent for a stratagem. On a 6, you get a CP back.
    • Another home run for the Kabal of the Black Heart. Drukhari are hungry for CP and this helps you get more mileage out of those fantastic stratagems. If you want to maximize your strats, this is it. The melee options in the dex are bad ass but you can use something like the Alliance of Agony stratagem to get a Warlord Trait for a different unit in your army to gear up for melee such as a Succubus with the Triptych Whip and Stimm Addict or the Phial Bouquet and Blood Dancer combos. Competitive.

The Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue is not as all around powerful as the Kabal of the Black Heart in my eyes, but is quite good and has some really fun, effective combos.

  • Obsession: The Serpent’s Kiss: re-roll wound rolls of 1 for melee weapons and poisoned weapons, excluding relics.
    • Well, it goes without saying that in an army full of poison weapons, balnket re-rolls of 1 to wound is pretty damn good. The added bonus of also getting melee weapons with re-rolls of 1 to wound is also awesome. Competitive.
  • Stratagem: Insidious Misdirection: 2 CP, re-deploy up to 3 units before the game begins but after determining who goes first. Units in a transport get to go with it.
    • These style of stratagems are amazingly good. Many folks don’t see it right away as it is hard to theory out movement tricks but in practice, they’re awesome. I use the re-deployment start with my Eldar army in almost every single game, and this one functions in the same way. You can bait your opponent by putting good units out in the open, luring them into a bad deployment and then moving. Or, you can deploy ultra-aggressively and if you don’t get first turn, re-deploy to safety. Competitive.

  • Relic: Soul-Seeker: replaces an Archon’s Splinter Pistol with the following (amazing!) profile: 18″, Pistol 2, always wounds non vehicle models on a 2+, AP-1, D3 damage, can target Characters, ignores line of sight and cover.
    • Ahhhh, yeah. Lol, most of the pistol style relics are fun but not optimal, this is most assuredly an exception to that rule. This gun is AMAZING. You will often one shot enemy light Characters such as Primaris Psykers, etc. Competitive.
  • Warlord Trait: Towering Arrogance: Friendly Kabal units within 12″ can use the Warlord’s leadership instead of their own.
    • Not bad, but not amazing. As Warriors are already Ld8, this isn’t that awesome and will not typically be taken. Situational.

The Kabal of the Obsidian Rose work very well with big chunks of units that utilize the Webway portal strat, as well as with units that want to hang back at longer ranges and pluck away at the enemy.

  • Obsession: Flawless Workmanship: the range of all Assault, Rapid Fire and Heavy weapons used by units with this obsession is increased by 6″, excluding Eyeburst or Artefacts of Cruelty.
    • Excellent Obsession. Increasing range is pretty universally very strong in any army with as much firepower as Drukhari, particularly when you account for Rapid Fire weapons. Competitive.

  • Relic: The Armour of Misery: Archon only, 3+ save, -1 to hit in the Fight phase.
    • This is a great piece of kit. Archons have the amazing Shadowfield of course, but once they fail it they drop down to a 5+. The 3+ is amazing but even better is the -1 to hit which when coupled with the other defensive layers makes your Archon extremely tanky. Toss on a punchy Warlord Trait and you can make a very potent melee Archon. Competitive.

  • Stratagem: Failure is not an Option: 1 CP, when a unit fails a morale test, pop this strat and choose which models flee but before doing so, they shoot as if it were the Shooting phase or fight as if it were the Fight phase.
    • Again: an amazing tool for Drukhari players! This is like the Space Marine relic banner but better as there is no chance of failure, can be used anywhere on the table and only costs 1 CP. On the downside, it can only impact a single unit a turn but you can choose which unit that is in most instances. A perfect example is dropping down a large unit of Warriors with the Webway Portal strat, blasting your opponent then when they inevitably counterattack, you pop this strat and blast them again in death. Also, as you use it in the Morale phase, you can wait and see where it will be applied to best effect. Competitive.
  • Warlord Trait: Deathly Perfectionist: Increase the Damage characteristic of the Warlord’s weapons (excluding relics) by 1.
    • This is very strong and gives the generic Hatred Eternal or Soul Thirst traits a run for their money. I would rather re-roll failed wound rolls personally but if you plan on using the Archon more to shoot but in melee if you manage to land some hits that bonus damage can really add up. Efficient.

The Kabal of the Flayed Skull is great for those players looking for a Mechanized play-style.

  • Obsession: Slay from the Skies: Add 3″ to the Move characteristic of units that can Fly. Additionally, models with Fly or that are embarked on Transports that can fly ignore cover and can re-roll hit rolls of 1.
    • Very good! Any rule that impacts movement, nearly without exception, is mega powerful. This gives you additional speed AND allows you to greatly increase the power of your units. This is essentially screaming at you to run a mechanized Drukhari army and you know what? I’m cool with that! Warriors in Raiders or Venoms will be much more effective with this rule as will Razorwing Jetfighters and Voidraven Bombers. Poison Weapons hate things like Marines in cover with a 2+ and this rule doubles your effectiveness against them. Also, a 19″ move Venom? Yeah, lol, amazing. Competitive.

  • Stratagem: Masters of the Shadowed Sky: 1 CP, a Kabal of the Flayed Skull unit gets +1 to hit vs. a unit that has the Fly keyword.
    • Not bad. More units than you think have the Fly keyword so this does pop up pretty frequently and it is cheap at only 1 CP. This is a strat that when it is good it is amazing, but otherwise is literally unusable. Efficient.
  • Relic: The Obsidian Veil: Archon only, gains a 4++ after their Shadowfield fails.
    • Just as with the Armour of Misery, this is great to keep your Archon in the fight. Combo it with a Warlord Trait like Famed Savagery, Soul Thirst or Hatred Eternal and you have quite the beat-stick. Competitive.
  • Warlord Trait: Famed Savagery: Your Warlord’s strength and attacks increase by 1 on a turn in which they charged, were charged or Heroically Intervened.
    • Not bad at all, particularly when combo’d with the Obsidian Veil or other combat oriented Relic. However, I would typically want to take one of the other combat oriented Warlord Traits over this one in most cases. Efficient.


And there you have it! They’re all solid with great options but for matched play games I think we will be seeing the Black Heart Kabal the most due simply to their combo of great Warlord Trait and simply outstanding stratagem. The others though, are very good and can be used in specialized detachments to excellent effect. Which is your favorite Kabal? Next up: Wych Cults!

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About Reecius

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

42 Responses to “Codex Drukhari Review Part 4: Kabal Obsessions, Warlord Traits, Stratagems and Relics”

  1. abusepuppy April 6, 2018 4:30 pm #

    Wow, some really good stuff in there. I like that a lot of the DE bonuses are much more unique than some of the other ones that we’ve seen, rather than just fitting the standard mold of “a defensive one, a morale one, some conditional rerolls, etc, etc.” And the DE relics are out of control, most factions would kill for any of these.

    • Reecius April 6, 2018 5:03 pm #

      Yeah, they seriously nailed it with Drukhari. It is such a good, strong and characterful codex. Damn near everything is good, there are only a few sub-par or bad choices in it.

      • Colinsherlow April 6, 2018 6:17 pm #

        I am really curious to hear about the sub par units.

        • Reecius April 6, 2018 7:00 pm #

          Well, not necessarily units, but just rules of any type in the Dex. Strats/Warlord Traits/etc.

        • NinetyNineNo April 6, 2018 8:59 pm #

          Drazhar seems rather unimpressive.

          • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 4:06 am

            Not having any option for doing multiple damage with his weapon definitely hurts him. It really seems like the Single Blade profile on his weapon should’ve been Dmg2.

            Apart from that issue, however, I think the ones that jumped out to me as being lackluster are the Court of the Archon/Beasts. They both ask you to do a lot of work for some units with very mediocre survivability and damage output, and god forbid you’re playing in any kind of mission where there are kill points. Grotesques also feel a bit on the weak side to me overall, as do the Haemonculi Coven units in general- while there are some great stratagems and relics for them, their core units just don’t seem to have a lot of damage output and aren’t tough enough for their cost compared to guys like Death Guard & etc.

  2. Cayesq April 6, 2018 5:50 pm #

    I find that an Archon with no Shadowfield is a dead Archon, so things that regain wounds don’t appeal to me much. Famed Savagery is straight up better than Soul Thirst. I’d switch those rankings around, but that’s me.

    • Reecius April 6, 2018 6:08 pm #

      Fair enough, and I see your point. However, if you’re going for melee power, rerolls to wound is better than either, IMO.

      • Cayesq April 7, 2018 8:05 am #

        Yep; I think mathhammer says Hatred Eternal and Djinn Blade is what you want for max melee damage output. 7 S4, -3 D3 attack’s with Shred is niiiiice. Which is so funny cause Djinn blade was hot garbage in 7th, great to see it make a comeback.

        • Reecius April 7, 2018 8:33 am #

          Yeah, plus a blast weapon. Frankie hits me with that often, lol.

    • Robin April 6, 2018 7:39 pm #

      I can see the wound regen stuff being useful if you run a court. Taking a couple of hits on the Archon, using the bodyguard units to prevent him from going down if it looks like he will drop, then using the regen to bring him back up. I don’t think it’s tournament worthy or anything but in a semi-competitive local meta it could be fun to run and perform decently.

      Seems like there are a lot of options like that in this codex. Not everything needs to be tournament tier, it’s just nice to see a codex where you can see potentially dozens of ways to play an army that will at least hold their own in a semi-competitive setting and stop you from getting bored running the same style of list over and over. Good stuff.

    • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 4:07 am #

      The Succubus can get some of the wound-regaining stuff as well, but yeah, once your Shadowfield drops you’re often just meat.

  3. Laurence April 6, 2018 11:50 pm #

    I’ve already incorporated a drukhari patrol into my ynnari list purely for the Agents of Vect strat. Holy cow.

    I’ve even heard people claim it’s being overhyped…suffice to say I want whatever those people are smoking

    • Kitani April 7, 2018 1:40 am #

      Aaaand now Eldar aren’t just the most powerful faction, but also can render useless half of the builds of other armies that are competative. Between the DE codex and faq release they are the most broken army ever…

      • Reecius April 7, 2018 8:30 am #

        I think you are overreacting just a bit =)

        • Laurence April 7, 2018 1:26 pm #

          Context also matters. Because we can’t duplicate detachments at the LGT it makes it a very expensive strategem to use. Doesn’t leave me many to play with

          • Reecius April 7, 2018 1:38 pm

            Fair enough. Yeah, Frankie was going to bring Drukhari to LGT but as he can only take 1 Battalion opted not to. Drukhari get hit pretty hard with that rule, although I understand in the big picture why they did it.

    • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 4:09 am #

      I think it’s a tough argument to say it’s anything but the best stratagem in the game right now- though the fact that it can’t be used on some of the critical pregame stratagems (Webway Portal, Forward Operatives, etc) does limit it somewhat. But it opens up so many possibilities that it’s absolutely worth taking some Black Heart dudes just for that.

      • Reecius April 7, 2018 8:32 am #

        It indeed is. For tournament play especially, this is going to be a game changer.

  4. Zanesh April 7, 2018 12:26 am #

    The way it’s phrased, Agents of Vect can be used by any Drukhari Detachment, not just by a Black Heart one / character, doesn’t it?

    • Reecius April 7, 2018 8:30 am #

      No, it is Black Hearts only.

      • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 4:54 pm #

        I admit, reading over it I don’t see anything that would stop a simple DE detachment from using it. Unlike other faction-specific stratagems, it doesn’t refer to units from a specific in any way, it’s simply themed to go with the Kabal of the Black Heart. Taking a Drukhari detachment gives you access to all of the stratagems from their book, whether or not you have any units with the appropriate keywords to use them. So unless something is FAQed or changed, any Drukhari army should be able to use the Agents stratagem freely.

        • Joe April 7, 2018 6:18 pm #

          Agents of Vect is a “Kabal of the Black Heart Stratagem.” The strats available to any Drukhari detachment are labeled “Drukhari Stratagem” instead.

          • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 9:13 pm

            It does not say that in the codex. The wording is “If your army is battle-forged and includes any Drukhari detachments (excluding auxiliary support detachments), you have access to the stratagems shown here, meaning you can spend command points to activate them.”

            All armies with a Drukhari detachment have access to all of the stratagems. Depending on your keywords, you may not be able to use some of them- an army that has no units in it will find the Freakish Spectacle stratagem fairly useless, but it still technically has access to it. The subfaction-specific stratagems are no exception to this, but aside from Agents of Vect they all require a unit from their respective Kabal, Cult, or Coven to activate.

          • Ty April 9, 2018 7:50 pm

            It is in the codex. It’s under the name of the stratagem.

        • Joe April 8, 2018 5:45 am #

          It wouldn’t let me reply directly to your comment below, but I think I understand where you are coming from with the wording in the Stratagem section, and I suspect if this is a sticking point for a lot of people GW will hopefully clarify in the FAQ.

          My interpretation that this strat is intended for Black Heart Kabal specifically, comes from the following which are direct from the codex:

          – pg 120 clearly identifies the sub-faction it belongs to; it’s in bold right below the name of the stratagem:

          – pg 85 While not “from the rules section”, which I’m sure will be the counterpoint to dismiss this, but that last paragraph reads to me like they intend for some strats, relics, traits to be specific to particular sub-factions, much like obsessions which have more clearly defined requirements on pg 114:

          Again, I’m not trying to be contrarian, just wanted to clarify why I interpret Agents of Vect as being specific to Kabal of the Black Heart, and therefore requiring a detachment from them in order to use.

          • abusepuppy April 8, 2018 1:54 pm

            Oh, sure- I fully admit that GW probably _wanted_ it to only be available to the Kabal of the Black Heart, but its current wording does not support any kind of interpretation that allows that. For example, what if you take a Black Heart patrol detachment in an army- you have access to the strat, right? Makes sense. What if all the models from that patrol die- can you still use the stratagem?

            It most certainly needs an FAQ to clarify if and how it is supposed to be limited to Black Heart models and armies, because as it stands it isn’t in the slightest. And it’s technically possible that was GW’s intention- that Vect’s reach and dominion over the Dark Eldar is so absolute that he’s got his fingers in EVERY pie, though I really doubt that was what they were trying for.

          • Ty April 9, 2018 7:51 pm

            It doesn’t need an faq. It’s very obvious unless you’re willfully trying to misunderstand. Don’t be a dick.

          • abusepuppy April 9, 2018 8:52 pm

            Alright, then, enlighten us: under what circumstances are you allowed to use the stratagem? Can you use it if you have a mixed detachment of Dark Eldar including at least one Black Heart model? Do you need to have a pure Black Heart detachment? Can you use it if you brought Black Heart models but all of them are dead? Enlighten us, O Learned One, that we may divine GW’s intention from your infinite wisdom!

  5. Owen April 7, 2018 4:35 am #

    Am I interpreting this correctly, do black heart vehicles get a 6+ feel no pain?

    • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 6:01 am #

      They would be the only units I can think of that have the Kabal affiliation but not Power From Pain, so yeah.

      • Dr Zaius April 9, 2018 3:06 am #

        Also Ur-ghuls and Sslyths

        • abusepuppy April 9, 2018 6:10 am #

          Huh, I suppose that’s true. Not that I expect anyone to field them.

    • Cayesq April 7, 2018 8:00 am #


  6. WestRider April 7, 2018 2:43 pm #

    What’s an “Eyeburst”? Sounds very unpleasant.

    • abusepuppy April 7, 2018 4:13 pm #

      Well, you can find videos of it on the various grossout sites if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend searching.

      (It’s the weapon that the Medae gets, used to be a flamer thing.)

      • WestRider April 7, 2018 6:22 pm #

        Thanks! I figured it went with one of the less well-known Units. Also makes perfect sense then why it doesn’t get the extra range.

  7. masterstrider April 9, 2018 3:53 am #

    Labyrinthine Cunning: is it per CP or per stratagem? The wording for meeting the condition seems to be:
    “…when you or your opponent spend a Command Point to use a stratagem.” It doesn’t mention the number of CPs used as a factor, so you could argue it’s whenever you use CP for a stratagem, irrespective of the amount. When this condition is met, you roll a D6 and on a 6 you gain a CP.

    How is everyone else reading this?

    • abusepuppy April 9, 2018 6:12 am #

      I would read it as once per command point spent. It’s worded more closely to the Autarch’s Path of Command ability than to the various other CP-regaining abilities/relics that trigger once for each stratagem activated.

      • masterstrider April 9, 2018 7:46 pm #

        Okay, no problem. Thanks for the reply.

        It’s very similar in wording to the Adept of the Codex Ultramarines warlord trait.

        I posted on the WH40K GW Facebook page and they confirmed it’s per CP used. Very powerful indeed.

  8. Evgeny Chesnokov April 9, 2018 11:04 am #

    Marking +1 PfP obsession for _Kabals_ as “Competitive” seems a bit odd. PfP chart above level 1 does nothing for Drukhari’s shooting units, and the only unit in Kabals that could appear on the battlefield and benefit from those rules is an Archon. FnP on vehicles is nice, but “competitive”? Wryyyyy.

    • Reecius April 9, 2018 11:07 am #

      In Frankie and my games we’ve found it to be quite good, particularly for the Archons who are much, much better now. And the FnP for vehicles, as you noted, is also very good. When you do need to charge with your shooting units, which happens frequently in our experience, the bonuses help considerably.

      However, you are free to disagree, friend =) If you don’t think it is competitive, cool, you are of course free to rate it on your personal scale however you please.

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