Harlequin Detachment Development Pt. 5: Playtesting

Hey guys its Cavalier, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar Podcast, checking in with another installment of my Harlequin Detachment Development, this time featuring my noob experiences with the Harlies as I dip my toe into the most challenging of the Eldar factions.

So its been awhile since I’ve updated this series of articles, but it hasnt been for lack activity. I’ve literally played my Harlies in every game since I got the detachment up to Patrol level. They’ve replaced my Wych Cult detachment and I cant imagine dropping my Harlies anytime soon.

Sadly I’ve not had a chance to paint up anymore in the interim, but I’m finding this little detachment really only needs a minimal amount of work to get really competitive.

My approach has really been simple, use my very strong main list as training wheels to get used to the Harlies strengths and weaknesses, before gradually adding more to the force and I’ve been surprised by my takeaways.

The List

So my list is quite simple a double battalion of Flayed Skull Drukhari and Alaitoc Asuryani. I’ve been in love with Flayed Skull since playtesting the Codex for GW and it hasnt disappointed. The extra movement, re-roll 1’s and ignoring cover and some fun relics that make my Warlord into a beat stick (satisfying the Herohammer Player in me) has made it easy. My Alaitoc themed Umbral Watchers are as I’m sure you can guess knows fantastic. I’m so glad I painted up these guys back in 7th to get that mixed Coterie of Corsairs vibe.

Lions of Asuryan 2k Points

-Flayed Skull Battalion-

Archon- Huskblade, Warlord Trait: Famed Savagery, Relic Djinn Blade: 8 Attacks, Str 5, AP- 3 D3 Dmg

Archon- Huskblade

Incubi x5

Raider- Dark Lance

Warriors x5- Blaster

Venom- Double Cannons

Warriors x5- Blaster

Venom- Double Cannons

Warriors x5- Blaster

-Alaitoc Battalion-

Farseer- Guide, Doom

Spirit Seer- Conceal

Rangers x5

Rangers x5

Rangers x5

Dark Reapers x5

Crimson Hunter Exarch

Crimson Hunter Exarch

-Soaring Spite Patrol-

Troupe Master- Fusion Pistol Kiss

Troupe x5- Fusion x3, Kiss x3


Skyweaver x4- Haywire x4

Before Playtesting Thoughts:

Going into the whole thing I knew it wasnt optimized, and felt a little wonky. Both the bikes and the Reapers felt undermanned, and dropping a Venom for my warriors really felt awkward. Yet at the same time I treated this as a learning experience. The firepower lost from the Reapers should be made up by the Harlie bikes and the Fusion Pistols on the Troupes. Yet I knew well how badly things can go when those Reapers whiff and I had serious concerns for the early turns of the game.

First Forays

My fears were quickly allayed as I got into games. I found the 5 Reapers were perfectly fine in a support role and at reduced numbers got far less attention. The Harlie bikes got a ton of attention however. Yet what surprised me was at only 4 bikes their footprint was small enough to easily hide them out of LOS turn 1. Furthermore when I got the chance to go 1st Lightning Fast Reflexes (getting them to -2 to hit) and Prismatic Blur (3++ Invuln) meant that when exposed to retaliatory fire they were hard as nails. On top of that I was using Fire and Fade to get them back out of LOS afterwards, really frustrating opponents as the Eldar Shenanigans went into high gear. It was a big investment of CP’s but I found it to be worth it as I could often hurt my opponent so bad in the early turns while limiting return damage to such a degree that it was often a game winning payoff. Also while I payed for Zephyr Glaives I wasnt expecting the melee to be that amazing since it was such a drop-off from the Str 6 they once had in 7th. That was a serious underestimation on my part. While they aren’t heavy infantry killers, their mobility, at Str 4 AP -2 Dmg 2 they were very good against medium to light infantry and with their speed had amazing reach. Their versatility has proven incredible.


However, the real shocker has been the Troupes! Undoubtedly the Troupes have been the all-stars of the detachment. Loaded up in their Starweaver they tend to get ignored amongst the cluster of Venoms they usually pal around with. I’ve tended to keep them towards the middle of my fleet of grav-vehicles as my melee isnt strong enough to make a headlong charge. Yet as a reactive counter-assault unit they’ve been insane.

Anytime an opponent makes a push towards my lines, the Harlies move-out nuking characters, vehicles et. all with their Fusion Pistols and mincing pretty much anything in melee. Their first outing was against Space Wolves where they tore apart a big unit of Thunder Wolves with Stormshields and all their attendant characters. The Pistols and the Kisses have been Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Using the Pistols to inflict serious wounds on tougher models with super reliable wound output, then finishing them off with the Kisses with the Troupe Master kicking out his re-roll wounds in combat aura. High toughness, or low, high model count units or low, that combo has been ACES. My double Archons (particularly my Warlord with 8 Attacks, Str 5, Ap-3, D3 Dmg) and Incubi have been a great combo with them as the Incubi can clear the hordes while the Harlies and Archons focus on the elite threats and characters.

I now have total faith in this cluster of units, allowing me to focus all my firepower downfield at long distance, knowing that in melee I can pretty much mop the floor with any infantry based threat in my lines.


I’ve been on a 10 game win-streak since bringing the Harlies into the fold and they’ve been a huge part of that win streak. So much so that I’m ready to drop the Dark Reapers, Farseer + Spirit Seer combo and re-invest in the Harlies and get another Troupe and 2 more bikes minimum into the army. I know that seems like a pretty drastic decision considering how much a corner stone Dark Reapers are for most lists, but the Harlies have been that good. The only disappointment has been that the Bikes have not crushed vehicles like I expected (even at 4 men) but in all honesty I’ve rolled pretty cold for them despite 10 games worth of experience. However they are undermanned and I know an additional 2d6 worth of shots will make a world of difference. They are also screaming out for a Farseer with Doom on Jetbike for support which I’ve recently painted up, who should help turn the tide.

The highlight thus far has to be my recent victory in my local Escalation League where I won my 3,000pt game with my Archon and his Harlequin allies (and some Guardians) taking the objective in the center of the board, ready to sweep down on the Guardsmen huddled beneath them trying to escape their ire. I snapped a photo of the moment and posted it below.

Playing Eldar since 2nd edition and waiting this long to get Harlies into my force has made it all the more enjoyable. So let me know if any of you guys have been dipping your toe into the Harlequin book and let me know your experiences below. Thanks for reading!

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About Cavalier

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

6 Responses to “Harlequin Detachment Development Pt. 5: Playtesting”

  1. Avatar
    Anaximander November 23, 2018 10:04 am #

    Beautiful models. How do you get the chequered pattern so good?

  2. Avatar
    The Traitor November 23, 2018 10:57 am #

    I dropped the Harlie battalion I used (troupe master, Shadowseer, 3 troupes in starweaver, solitaire) when the FAQ came out as I thought the FLY nerf would have hit them hard, but recently added it again and man, it’s staying. I play Soaring Spite too, and their mobility is awesome, which coupled with the pistols means they can really damage enemy toughest targets if they get within 30″ of a Starweaver. I play them with caresses though, as I usually find the kisses don’t really make the cut against multi wound targets, so prefer to charge regular infantry with them.

    • Avatar
      Cavalier November 23, 2018 12:15 pm #

      Hey Traitor, thats great to hear man! I know a lot of my Eldar bros flipped about the FAQ but man I gotta tell you I didnt bat an eye and I play a decent amount of melee in all my lists. Harlequins are so ridiculously fast it really didnt matter to me at all to me.

      Yeah I still think Kisses are the better option. I know its against the grain, but my thinking is the pistols should shred anything T8 or less and crush multi-wound models. Meanwhile the Kisses are dealing multiple damage, and with a Troupe Master nearby you are re-rolling for wounds. Since most multi-wound models are between Toughness 6-7 I really like kisses wounding on 5’s re-rolling to wounds with the Troupe Master. This is one arena where Frozen Stars really shine too.

      I know most prefer the other options but I def. think there is a case for kisses.

      Anyway man glad you dig the article. Glad you are rocking with your Harlies again too. For Cegorach!

  3. Avatar
    Daniel Micallef November 25, 2018 3:45 am #

    Harlequins are so under-rated, but i think this list doesn’t go far enough. Im rocking the following and only lost 1 game from 8 so far against competitive meta armies so far. The loss was my first attempt with the list, and learnt from my mistakes since. They are very CP hungry though so you need double battalion IMO.

    Troupe Master, Kiss, Starmist Raiment, Player of Twilight
    Troupe Master, Kiss, Cegorachs Jest
    Skyweaver x6, Haywire x6, Zephyr x4
    Skyweaver x6, Haywire x6, Zephyr x4
    Skyweaver x6, Haywire x6, Zephyr x4
    Farseer, Doom (essential)
    Spiritseer, Jinx/Protect or Quicken/Restrain
    Ranger x5
    Ranger x5
    Ranger x5
    Kabalite x5
    Kabalite x5
    Kabalite x5
    Ravager, Disintegrators x3
    Ravager, Disintegrators x3
    Ravager, Disintegrators x3

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