Hey guys its Cavalier, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast back again with another article, this time covering one of the more esoteric playstyles available to Aeldari- the leadership debuff game.
All the Aeldari factions have a number of ways to lower opposing units Leadership so that in the Morale phase they lose more models. However when you combine Asuryani, Drukhari and Harlequins into a single army calling upon specific sub-factions and a number of stratagems, things get crazy. Lets looks at the principal players:
Models in enemy units must subtract 1 from their Leadership characteristic for each with this obsession that is within 6″ of theirs (to a maximum of -3).
-1 Ld for enemy units within 6”. Opponents morale tests are on 2d6, discarding the lowest.
In addition to being a beast with its shooting attacks, the Hemlock kicks out a -2 to Ld for enemy units within 12″.
So without getting stratagems, psychic powers or anything else involved- simply getting the maximum debuff from these units alone yields frightening results. For the sake of our example this is the bare bones assortment you’ll need.
Dark Creed Battalion
Silent Shroud Patrol
If you can get 3 Dark Creed Venom’s (which bear the Coven keyword) to surround a unit such that all models in the unit are within 6″, while the Silent Shroud Starweaver (which bears the Masque keyword) is within 6″ and the 3 Hemlocks are within 12″ by that alone you’ll have reduced that units Ld by 10!
Mortal Wounds via Failed Leadership Tests
Before we even get to losing models on failed Morale Tests, the door is now open to start inflicting mortal wounds on the debuffed unit(s) now that your Aeldari units are all in position. Here are a couple of my faves:
Hallucinogen Grenade Launcher- If enemy unit is hit, roll 2d6 if its equal or greater than target leadership D3 mortal wounds
Torment Grenade Launcher Stratagem (1CP)– If enemy unit is hit by the Phantasm Grenade Launcher (which imparts an additional -1), in addition to usual, roll 3d6 if higher than Ld. unit suffers D3 mortal wounds
Dark Creed Warlord Trait- Roll 2d6 for each enemy unit within 3” of your warlord. If the result exceeds the highest Ld in that unit, it suffers a mortal wound
Whats so good about this, is that if you’ve inflicted even a SINGLE casualty via these stratagems, you’ve opened the door to melt the targeted unit in the Morale Phase without firing a single shot, psychic power or attack in close-combat, meaning just by MOVING near a target unit, you can potentially destroy it, allowing you to pour firepower into other units (who also may suffer from morale due to proximity).
There are number of other stratagems and psychic powers that reduce leadership or make failed Morale tests more painful. Here are a few of my favorites.
Mask of Secrets (Harlequin Relic)- Units within 6″ are -1 to their Leadership.
Pray they dont take you alive (Drukhari Stratagem 1CP)- If a Drukhari unit slays the enemy warlord in the fight phase, subtract 1 from the entire armies leadership
Phantasm Grenade Launcher- 3pt weapon upgrade for a number of Drukhari units, including Kabalite Warrior squad leaders. All you have to do is get a hit with the weapon (18″ range) and the targeted unit is -1 Ld.
Freakish Spectacle (Drukhari Stratagem 1CP)- Units within 6″ of Urien Rakart or [Covens] that fail a morale test lose 1 additional model.
Horrify (Asuryani Psychic Power)- Target enemy unit with 18″ that unit suffers -1 Ld.
Melt on Morale
As far as I’ve seen by stacking all these powers you can get your opponent to upwards of -15 Leadership. When near Silent Shroud units your opponent has to roll 2d6 on Morale and discard the lowest meaning he’ll be losing more models on failed Morale Tests. This can be great to melt large units of chaff with low leadership like Cultists, Tzaangors, big units of Imperial Guard or Cultists. Alternatively it’s great against really tough elite units with good invulnerable saves or lots of wounds like Bulgryns or even nasty tough Death Guard Terminators which can be potentially be wiped out as the result of the infliction of just a single casualty.
One of the critical issues facing the Aeldari Leadership Bomb is your opponent burning CP’s to prevent losing additional models via the Insane Bravery strat that is available to all armies via the main rule book. This is a big threat, but one that can be mitigated if the Aeldari player targets 2 high value targets for the Morale Bomb. Your opponent can only play the Strat on one unit, so he’ll have to pick his poison. This can be difficult to achieve, but for someone whose dedicated themselves to pulling off the Leadership Bomb it shouldn’t be insurmountable.
Also armies such as Iyanden Eldar only ever lose 1 model as a result of a failed Morale test. This army trait is not super common (nor are most of the armies which feature them super popular) so this would be a hard counter as well.
Difficulty + Reward
This is not an easy button army. It requires expert model placement, being well versed in all 3 codices and good command over the movement phase. However it can be a shocking weapon in your aresenal and one that is very hard to counter as it bypasses invulnerable saves, doesnt require a lot of psychic tests and removes chaff and hyper durable units with equal ease when you can pull it off. Whats great about it, that while it involves a lot of maneuvering and synergy to pull-off it doesnt require a lot of shooting, combat or use of a ton of psychic powers to pull off, again meaning just by MOVING near a target unit, you can potentially destroy it, allowing you to pour firepower, assaults and psychic powers into other enemy units
It was a play style that started to creep into the game during 6th edition, blossomed a bit in 7th and has transitioned well into 8th edition. It is certainly a difficult playstyle to master, but in the hands of an experienced player can be incorporated as an army wide theme, or just a weapon in the arsenal of a cagey Aeldari general.
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