Easing into a Theme: Iyanden

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast. After a long, long time of playtesting I thought I’d share my thought on easing into a new theme for your army.

Since getting a chance to dive into the new Ynnari, I’ve become obsessed with Wraithblades. They’ve inspired me to give my favorite Craftworld more of a run… that being Iyanden. I’ve played Iyanden off and on throughout the edition in more casual games, but have been interested in getting them going for more competitive play as well.

Now I have no intentions of going 100% Wraith construct. In my opinion you dont need to go that far to bring out the theme in a list. But I do want a bold, stand out unit that brings a lot to the table. For me that is Wraithblades. They have ridiculous amount of wounds and toughness, especially with just a few bits of psychic buffing and with the Psytronome of Iyanden or perhaps just the Wraithost Detachment strats they become very scary offensively. Are they challenging to run? Sure they are but I’ve got them to work in the past and I want to push it all the way and see how well I can do.

I’d love to add something more Iyanden elements, perhaps see if I can get the sword+board Wraithknight to work, but small steps first. So the place I chose to start is with just a stripped down detachment featuring a maxed out unit of Wraithblades and the minimum characters I need to get the most out of them and have that detachment operate in support of some of my more tried and true detachments that have served me so well throughout the edition.

So often I see players want to jump into the theme, they run out and buy in crazy redundancy their favorite units from a background/lore perspective. Then things are very rough as they try and get to grips with people who are just bringing their standard Take All Comers list, get discouraged and abandon the theme.

I think starting with something small where you can get some experience, see what needs in terms of support against a variety of opponents, can really go a long way to building up your skill with a more challenging army build.

So for example, just to get the hang of using an Iyanden force in more competitive games I’ve been experimenting with either a stripped down Battalion, or just a basic Supreme Command detachment.

Iyanden Supreme Command- 670pts

Farseer- Fortune, Doom

Warlock- Protect

Warlock- Quicken

Wraithblades x10- Shield and Axe

Iyanden Battalion- 860pts

Farseer- Fortune, Doom

Spirit Seer- Quicken

Warlock- Protect

Wraithblades x10- Shield and Axe

Rangers x5

Rangers x5

Rangers x5


The idea behind both of these is staying power and a speed buff to get them into combat. So Protect to get them to a 2+/3++, then Fortune to deny any wounds that slip by on a 5+. I decided to go with a Warlock for Quicken so I can play Seer Council to get the +1 to cast Protect, and treat Quicken as a (highly coveted) bonus if I can get it to go off.

However running a unit of Wraithblades this big is really challenging so I dont want to invest in the theme anymore until I get the hang of properly supporting them in more competitive games- meaning I need as many points as possible to invest into my tried and true detachments till I get up to speed in more competitive games.


With these builds, in the case of the Supreme Command I can have it supported by my really strong Flayed Skull battalion which has served me incredibley well all edition long,  my nasty Alaitoc build with 10 Reapers and a pair of Crimson Hunters etc. Or in the case of the battalion I can take one of the battalions I already mentioned and drop in some additional favorites into the Iyanden Battalion like some Warp Hunters, or just spam as many units of 5x Warriors with a Blaster in Venoms as I can.

Dont get me wrong both of these detachments are pretty damn expensive, mainly due to the unit I’m interested in running but because I know the foundation of the primary detachments they are going to be supporting its a very easy transition for me, even considering the points investment.

While both of these experimental Iyanden detachments are very expensive, they give me the total experience in regards to playing a maxed out unit of Wraithblades. Supported by detachments with easy to capitalize strengths like Flayed Skull or Alaitoc that I have a lot of experience, I can lean on them and stick to familiar tactics while I get to grips with this new and very expensive investment of resources with the maxed out Wraithblades before going whole hog crazy and start using Wraithknights and such.


I want to emphasize that this isn’t advice for going out and beating the world. This is simply my approach on how to ease into playing a themed army or simply another build that is more challenging then what you may have been used to. Its important not to abandon everything you know, and all the builds and tactics that have gotten you wins. Take it slow, lean on the familiar until you get the hang of getting the most out of the core of the build you want to eventually play and it’ll help you evaluate what works and what doesnt without to big a discrepancy in your win loss ratio.


If you are interested in more Ynnari discussion check out our podcast: Splintermind for exclusive Drukharii and all things Aeldari news and discussion. We’ve already done our solo break down of the new rules, but have an episode just waiting to release with Lawrence Baker from Tabletop Tactics and Wes from D6 Evolution coming up that features an in-depth breakdown of Ynnari highlighting all our favorite combinations and units. If you are interested in following my painting exploits check me out on Instagram! Thanks for reading and stay tuned!


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

3 Responses to “Easing into a Theme: Iyanden”

  1. Avatar
    JOSHBOB1985 May 24, 2019 2:33 am #

    This is a sensible approach, I often go too far when writing a themed list.

    My tip for playing a Ilyanden themed army would be to not use the Ilyanden Craftworld! I’ve had a few games testing buffed up units of 10 Wraithguard/blades, and the Alaitoc trait is very important for their durability- especially when going second. If you deploy in terrain and stack LFR with Fieldcraft for -2 to hit, you stand a chance of surviving an alpha strike. Prepared positions and Phantasm also help.

    I haven’t tried the Axe + Shield option, instead I’ve used the Wraithost detachment stratagem to provide a 4++ to a unit with Ghostswords or D-scythes. This obviously costs a lot of command points, but these variants have advantages over the Axe version. I’ve found the Wraithost exclusive psychic power that provides a cover save to be a life saver vs chaos, who can swap in Death Hex to ruin this units day. Protect + cover means that you only miss the 3++ vs AP -3 guns.

    The Ghostsword variant is cheaper, and harder to tar pit with chaff. The D-Scythe variant is much faster than the other options, which helps a ton as it means they can’t just be ignored. With Quicken and Matchless Agility the D-Scythes have an average threat range of 27.5″, vs the 17″ of Wraithblades. A “Wraithstar” needs to draw fire to be worth the investment, so this makes a big difference. The D-Scythes also have some protection from being assaulted, due to their scary overwatch, and the ability to fall back and shoot (in a recent game this unit got wrapped by a load of Blood Claws after a Eversor denied their overwatch. I made a hole in the wrapping with smite spam, then fell back using Quicken and flamed what was left!).

    I’ll be trying the axe variant next to see if I can get similar results without draining all my CP.

    • Avatar
      Cavalier May 24, 2019 7:52 am #

      Excellent stuff Josh thanks! Yes Alaitoc has a lot of awesome strengths, and I’ve gotten an insane amount of mileage out of them, but I am still intrigued by Iyanden. I’ve had them work well with sword+board Wraithknight, super aggressive Warp Hunters, big blobs of Guardians etc. but outside of playtesting I really wanted to try out the huge unit of Wraithblades.

      The Psytronome + Wrath of the Death for +1 attack has me totally fascinated… and the 4++ defense is really great meaning they dont absolutely need psychic buffs to survive (or Alaitoc) when taken in large numbers.

      The Sword guys are fantastic… they clear chaff like nobodies business and they are great in new Ynnari which is another challenge build I’m dedicated to taking all the way. But I’m just in love with the damage output of the axes and really want to mix and match with the Warlock powers and see how crazy they can get. But dual swords are just fantastic and have tons of uses.

      I totally agree on the the D-Scythes too. In my Ynnari lists I would use scythes + axes in tandem and it was crazy. Just a unit of 5 axes would go maul stuff, get stuck in (with Wyches or a Wave Serpent trapping them on one side) then I’d have the axes fall back and have the scythes clean up the mess.

      I actually think blades and scythes are a super great combo… and if you’re opponent has something that get into combat with that big blob of Axes before they are juiced up (like a knight), the scythes are a great screening unit with their overwatch.

      Anyway great stuff man, thanks for reading!

  2. Avatar
    Linden May 27, 2019 11:46 pm #

    I have also played Iyanden with primarily Wraith units. Especially with the Wraith Detachment this was very funny. I played with only 5 Blade and 5 axes in Serpents. On the Web a Wraithguard troop with cannons. Furthermore, a Wraithseer with 3 Wraithlords. One for melee the other two with Starcannons. What I have asked so far may use a Wraithseer “Twilight Gloom” from the Detachment? I’m sure I’m not there, Battlescribe said. as an alternative I also play this list as Ulthwe with Eldrad instead of a normal Farseer. At the Spiritseer I’m still testing Protect or Enhance.

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