Harlequin Detachment Development PT1: Strategy, List and Theme

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast. This is the first installment of my Harlequin army development series where I’ll chronicle the assembly, painting and army construction of my 1,000pt Harlequin army.

The Challenge

I had long prepared to start my first non-Eldar army -World Eaters- when my friend and co-host Thor proposed a Harlequin challenge not only for us, but the listeners of our podcast as well. Never one to back down from a challenge I accepted. Not only is the Harlequin codex exceedingly strong, as a long time Eldar player I’d be remiss without adding this final jewel in my Eldar crown. I have full fledged Craftworld, Corsair and Drukhari armies and simply couldn’t resist the allure of adding the most exotic and challenging Eldar faction to my forces before moving on to a non-Eldar army.

Decision Making

As I detailed in my article from last week Advice for Die Hards: Army Building for the Long Run I’m a strong adherent to having a definite plan when constructing a new force. So to begin with I want the Harlequins to eventually be a stand alone force so that meant Troops + Transports, or in this case Troupes and Transports. However I knew that for the foreseeable future they would certainly be acting in a support role to my go-to primary detachments for all my army-lists specifically my Flayed Skull themed Drukhari, Red Grief themed Wych Cult, and my Alaitoc themed Craftworld force.

Those lists all bring a suite of speed, anti-infantry and anti-tank tools. So to drop any of them could really disrupt the balance. Luckily Harlequins are super versatile and bring an elite brand of weaponry equal to anything that would be dropped from my favorite detachments. So lets take a look at my list and how it’ll all jive together

2000pt Provisional List

(688) Flayed Skull Battalion

Archon- Djinnblade, Splinter Pistol, Warlord: Famed Savagery

Archon- Huskblade, Splinter Pistol
Incubi- x5
Raider- Dark Lance
Warriors x5- Blaster
Venom- Dual Cannons
Warriors x5- Blaster
Venom- Dual Cannons
Warriors x5- Blaster
Venom- Dual Cannons

(353) Alaitoc Patrol
Farseer- Spear
Rangers x5
Reapers x5

(961) Serpents Brood Battalion
Troupe Master- Kiss, Fusion Pistol
Troupe Master- Kiss, Fusion Pistol
Troupes x5- Kiss x3, Fusion Pistol x3
Troupes x5- Kiss x3, Fusion Pistol x3
Troupes x5- Kiss x3, Fusion Pistol x3
Skyweavers x3- Haywire x3, Glaive x3

Now to begin with, this isn’t meant to be a tournament list. This is just meant to be a good strong list I can go out and compete with in pick-up games and feel confident against stronger lists. I win a majority of my games so I’m totally content with this level of optimization.

I elected to go with Serpents Brood for a number of reasons. They really jive with the blitzkrieg style of combat my Flayed Skull, Saim-Hann and Red Grief all bring to the table. Also by including Harlequins in my list I’m dropping 4 Dark Reapers and 2 Crimson Hunters from my usual army and thus by going with Serpents Brood I get to incorporate those nice Fusion Pistols a bit more and get extra range on the Skyweaver bikes. All of that is important for me because I face a TON of Imperial Guard with lots of tanks and I’ve got a slew of opponent looking to unleash their Imperial Knights on me as well. So for my local meta its really a no brainer.

As you can see I also put a heavy emphasis on Harlequin Troupes. Not only does this adhere to my philsophy of building a good strong core for any new army project, but the Harlequin Troupe also the most classic of all the unit choices available, and a workhorse of the faction that brings a versatile mix of anti-infantry combat and anti-tank shooting pulling double-duty perfectly filling in for all the stuff that had to come out of my usual list.

Also their Starweaver is a fantastic transport. Not only does is it feature a blisteringly high 16″ movement, it also comes with that highly coveted  -1 to hit modifier and a 4+ invulnerable save to boot! They will will almost always be riding into battle alongside my Flayed Skull Venoms who also have that in-built -1, as well as my Alaitoc themed Eldar who are infamous for their to-hit modifiers as well. Their offense is also really solid and jives really well with my Splintercannons.

The Skyweavers also a nicely make-up for the dropped  Reapers and Crimson Hunters, but also pull double duty filling in for my usual squad trusty Reaver Jetbikes. So as you can see I’m really getting excellent dual-functionality for all my unit choices which was a big factor in my army planning. *Whats more is they can bypass those Invuln. Saves on Imperial Knights which I know are lining up to try and stomp my pointed-eared head in. 

Finally the Troupe Masters were chosen because they bring more melee and fusion punch to the force and greatly enhance the Troupes around them. The 1-2 punch of double Troupe Masters gives me redundancy for those clutch re-rolls should one of them fall. He’s also a great choice for the Serpents Brood relic Faolchu’s Talon which prevents explodes results on Starweaver protecting his fellow Harlies even more.

A final note is that with the exception of the Archon + Incubi Raider, the entire army is on -1 to hit which is phenomenal. Their are Invulnerable saves across the board making for an elusive army with decent backbone, tons of anti-infantry in shooting and in combat,  a healthy dose of anti-tank and tons and tons of speed.

Hobby Time, Excellent!

So with the list construction decided, its time to get the ball rolling on the hobby end of things. This is a hugely daunting task as Harlequins are notoriously difficult to paint. However painting as much as I do, its time to man-up and take on the challenge.

The first thing I did was mock-up a test scheme. I wanted something to match with my Y’nnari themed colors so I decided to go with a variant of the Penumbral Masque. Here is my rough mock-up paint job to test things out.

Very Rough Test Model

So the colors I chose were Khorne Red base with Celestra Grey Diamonds (with Ulthuan Grey highlights on the Diamonds). The Celestra Grey not only makes a big visual impact but is easy to work and goes on like a dream and is one of my go-to colors as a commission painter.

I was strongly tempted to do a totally unique color scheme, but since I already have my all-black Umbral Watchers, I wanted something that’d tie in a bit more with my primary khorne red Lions of Asuryan. I want to maintain a cohesive look on the battlefield even though I have 3 or 4 factions on the tabletop at a single time.

The Journey Begins!

So with all that planning out of the way I modeled up my very squad of Harlequins mere hours before I began writing this article. So here are those initial models, check them out!

Troupe Master #1 Trolling my Opponents #trolljob

Fusion Bro’s

So there we go! All the planning is complete and the first troop and HQ choice are fully assembled. Time to base and basecoat! So in the coming weeks I’ll highlight some key strategies I plan on employing, as well as painting tutorials and hopefully some bat-reps as units become tabletop ready.

Let me know your thoughts down below. I’d love to hear some of your tabletop experiences and tactical advice.

Also if you are interested in exclusive Dark Eldar and all things Aeldari coverage check out our podcast Splintermind the Dark Eldar Podcast, where we tactics, hobby, lore, interview Black Library authors all as it relates to the Eldar factions. Thanks for stopping by!


And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!





About Cavalier

Commission Painter for Frontline Gaming + Co-Host of the Splintermind: The Dark Eldar Podcast

4 Responses to “Harlequin Detachment Development PT1: Strategy, List and Theme”

  1. Faitherun June 29, 2018 2:49 am #

    Not able to double check points atm to see of you just forgot to list it… But you are missing another hq in the de bat.

    Personally, I’d drop a venom and the incubi. Use the spare points to flesh out the altioc patrol to a bat as well. If at all possible, maybe add in a solitaire. That guy is a beast. As far as distractions go, he is one of the best. I love blitzing him and getting off 13 str 7 attacks with the rose (assuming he loses a wound on the over watch)

    Overall it looks like a fairly solid list. I have been running something similar with very good results.

    • Cavalier June 29, 2018 3:20 am #

      Hey man! Thanks for stopping by. Yes I did forget my all important warlord (my counts-as Corsair Prince) and he’s a total monster on the tabletop.

      Yeah I know the Incubi are not necessary… but I just gotta have them. They are one of those units I feel wrong not taking, since they’ve kicked so much ass on the tabletop for me.

      About the Alaitoc Detachment, I’ve actually run a huge beefy Alaitoc detachment for ages. I’m actually looking to use it less and have a 50/50 split with Harlies and DE.

      Dont get me wrong I’ll still use my big Alaitoc detachment (I actually have an entire army painted up in all stealthy black) especially in more competitive games… but right now I’ve got an eye on DE+Harlies.

      Anyway thanks for stopping by man always appreciate your feedback. Hope your DE are serving you well. Enjoy them this is there golden age!

  2. The Traitor June 29, 2018 4:44 am #

    I’ve started a DE – Harlequin army recently and they’re themed as corsairs too, admittedly a bit inspired by your articles and other tactical insights of this site. Now that I see your army I realized I’m even painting them in a somehow similar way and just feel like I copied your idea… At least I’m converting them differently. So yeah, your army is looking great, and the troupes on starweavers are a lot of fun to play. Also I would try out playing black heart instead of flayed skull, a 6+++ would make your vehicles even tougher, and Agents of Vect can seriously cripple some armies.

    • Cavalier July 1, 2018 2:38 pm #

      Hey thanks so much man, thats a fantastic compliment and I truly appreciate it. I only have one condition…. crush your opponents! lol Kidding aside man, thats really great. Yes I’m thinking of incorporating some Black Heart, but I think I’ll add Kabalites in all black armor (to match my Alaitoc themed Umbral Watchers who are in all black). Anyway great stuff man and thanks!

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