Axe + Shield Wraithblades Combos

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of Splintermind the Dark Eldar podcast. This time talking my most recent obsession: Wraithblades!


So anybody that follows our podcast knows that I love Wraithblades, specifically the axe and shield variety. I’ve felt since the codex dropped that their inherent toughness and potentially explosive offense can really add a lot an Eldar army.

I’ve played them throughout the edition and am always glad when they are included in my list, because they provide an excellent defensive anvil, to the hammer of Eldar offensive all-stars.

So in this article I wanted to highlight some of the great combos that I’ve used to really amp these guys up for combinations of ridiculous offense and ridiculous toughness.

Core Defensive Combo

Regardless of Craftworld, the combination I feel that is the most pivotal is a simple 1-2 punch of Protect and Fortune. On a unit of 8 (which I find to be the sweet spot) that’ll give your opponent 24 wounds to chew through with a 2+/3++ and a 5+ FNP. That is phenomenal resilience, the kind which can easily tank a frontline assault from any kind of infantry, Daemon Princes or similar monsters all the way up to a Daemon Primarch or rampaging Knight on Full Tilt going into your lines.

It also gives you an absolute tank that you can move aggressively up the board give you great board presence that tank enormous amounts of firepower and handle itself very capably in combat.

Whats great is that this doesnt require a massive amount of support to pull off. A Farseer and Warlock combo is only 165pts and can add a lot of versatility to the rest of your army should you need to shift gears.

The only downside is if you dont go first, it’ll give your opponent to get after your Wraithblades, but even still you have an enormous pile of 24 wounds for them to chew through when taken at 8 strong, which will take a lot of pressure off the rest of your army.

I’d always be prepared to throw Lightening Fast Reactions on them as well. When taken in an Alaitoc detachment that’ll give you an easy -2 to hit (outside of 12″) even if your opponent gets first turn. -2 to hit, 24 wounds with a 3+/4++ is fantastic defense without any psychic support that will certainly deny enough damage to keep their numbers up and give you valuable asset after turn 1.

Its worth bearing in mind that 24 wounds is the exact same as a Wraithknight or an Imperial Knight but is less susceptible to death by Lascannon due to them being infantry models which is an interesting form of defense unto itself.


Potential Offense

The major draw back to Wraithblades with axe and shield is their mediocre offense. They are only hitting on 4’s with 3 attacks on the charge (2 otherwise). However with a few combinations this can be improved greatly.

The first and most basic is Spirit Mark. This is a natural power Spirit Seers have to allow re-roll’s of 1 on a single target within 6″ of the Seer. This is a handy power that doesnt require any tests, or CP on a character that can serve as caddy for Protect or another psychic power (Quicken, Empower, Conceal being my favorites).

However if you go down the route of Iyanden Wraith Host things get very interesting. The big combination is this: the Wrath of the Dead Stratagem ( 1 cp for the Detachment, 1 for the strat) which will grant you +1 attack, Pystronome of Iyanden (a once per game relic which doubles your attacks) and the Iyanden specific strat: (1 cp) Guided Wraith Sight, which allows you to re-roll all failed hits. Stack Doom on their and you are off to the races.

So with that combination you are going up to 8 attacks each, meaning on a squad of 8 you’ll have 64 attacks, hitting on 4’s, re-rolling all hits and wounds at Str 7 AP -3 Dmg D3.

Now you can take this further with other enhancements like Enhance (+1 to hit), Empower (+1 to wound). If you do down the route of Iyanden I do suggest taking a Warlock as the primary delivery system for Protect so you can play Seer Council to get the +1 saving throws, but I do like taking a Spirit Seer for Guided Wraithsight who you can envision as more of a freelancer taking whatever power best suits the game and if you have a real serious offensive beast coming at you like Mortarion or a Knight wounding on 4’s is going to be ideal.

Choice of Craftworld

To my mind their are 3 core choices for axe and shield Wraithblades and they each offer something different.

Alaitoc- In an Alaitoc detachment these guys become truly an immovable object. At ranges beyond 12″ they can go all the way up to -3 to hit with a 2+/3++ with a 5+ FNP when powered up with Lightening Fast, Conceal, Fortune and Protect. In this build you are using them primarily as a damage denying tank that can march up the board shrugging off insane amounts of ranged fire power that can also lock horns with a Knights, Daemon Prince, Daemonic Primarchs etc and just serve as an anvil to the hammer of your flyers, Reapers and Shining Spears etc.

Iyanden- With just Protect and Fortune with that 2+/3++ & 5+ FNP they are still an absolute brick. Yet with the Wraith of the Dead, the Pystronome and Guided Wraith Sight they have potentially explosive offense that destroy major offensive threats like the aforementioned Knights, Daemon Princes and Daemonic Primarchs allowing your shooting units to go after other targets.

Ulthwe- A dark horse candidate for sure, but the built in 6+ FNP can off set some Turn 1 damage if you do not go first. Also Eldrad buried in a unit of Wraithblades throwing out Fortune on them, using Doom against their targets, and even casting Guide on other units up 24″ away is pretty solid if you are an Ulthwe player. His +1 to cast after succesfully manifesting a power than using Seer Council also grants him a +2 to cast which is really great for guaranteeing you get off Fortune or Doom which are pivotal powers for Wraithblades.


Wraithblades are certainly not the most efficient choice, but when supported can offer a Craftworld army exceptional defense and potentially explosive offense that can truly offer a lot to your more efficient choices.

This is a unit I just really have a soft spot for. Having felt I’ve got all the tactics down for my standard Eldar lists giving unique units like this a shot is a lot of fun and really serve as an excellent defensive anvil for the high powered offensive units in the codex.

If you are interested in more Aeldari 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!


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About Cavalier

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

6 Responses to “Axe + Shield Wraithblades Combos”

  1. Victor Yanguas June 21, 2019 12:31 am #

    Great article, but I missed some mention about how to deliver the Wraithblades

    Do you prefer to webway them, on a Wave Serpent, or on foot?

    • Cavalier June 21, 2019 2:16 pm #

      Hey bud thanks! Delivery depends IMO. If you are going up against some hellacious gun line, you may want to webway them in and have the necessary characters converge on their location and guarantee the buffs you need go off before the enemy can strike.

      However if you know the opponent is more melee focused, you can start them on foot, use their inherit toughness to tank (which is why I suggest large numbers), power them up and get aggressive.

      I’ve used them in Serpents before but I feel its too much of a points to transport an expensive unit whose toughness is their primary appeal. Although 5 with a good combat character isn’t bad. In fluffy games I’ve used Y’riel with a Spirit Seer + 5 Axe and shield bros and they can do really good against vehicles, knights, monsters etc.

      At present I really enjoy playing the big block of them. They just really change the way your army plays

  2. sultansean June 21, 2019 11:26 am #

    Great article.

    How do you feel about them in Ynnari? The +1 to hit when they charge I feel helps make the axes more desirable.

    Also your Psytrnome math, has it been confirmed that is how it works? I know there were some discussions when Vigilus first came out about multiplying or adding first, but I don’t know what the end conclusion was.

    • Cavalier June 21, 2019 2:09 pm #

      Hey bud thank you. Yes that math is confirmed. Confirmed it myself as a playtester and Reece did himself. So yep thats the intention! Anyway glad you enjoyed the article man.

      As far as Ynnari goes, I think dual swords are the way to go, 5 man, in a serpent with a Seer granting them a 5++ and re-roll wounds. The axe and shield are really best in a CWE detachment simply because of the many, many, defensive buffs you can give them.

      Although using a big block of them with the Yncarne kicking out a 6+ FNP is still very solid.

      • sultansean June 25, 2019 9:41 am #

        I have been running a unit of 5 with swords in a serpent with Yvraine as part of a Ynnari Supreme Command, along with an Autarch Skyrunner and a Wraithseer. Lots of attacks hitting on 2’s re-rolling wounds.

        I do hope we get to field mixed sword and axe units one day, you know like how they are on the box….

  3. Ryan Lynch June 21, 2019 9:00 pm #

    I just want to clear something up about the Pystronome that I see messed up in several articles here on FLG. When you are determing a stat on a model you must always do any multiplication or division first before you do any addition or subraction. This is mentioned at the very start of the 40k design commentary. So in this case you claim the wraithblades will get 8 attacks due to (2 base + 1 charge + 1 strategem) * 2 = 8. However it should actually be 6 attacks, (2 base * 2) + 1 charge + 1 strategem. I loved the article btw, I really feel wraithblades w/ axes are extremely underrated. I just wanted to clear this up so that people are not misusing the relic in their games. Also just to let people know a very powerful knight killer with these guys. Take 5 Wraithaxes in a Wave Serpent with a Spiritseer. Make sure they are Iyanden and Wraith Host. If you can cast Enhance on the Axes with the spiritseer, cast Doom on the Castellan with a Farseer, and then use the Wrath of the Dead strategem, the Iyanden Wraithsight strategem, and the Supreme Disdain strategem, and finally the Psytronome of Iyanden. These 5 guys will on average deal 35 wounds to a castellan on the charge. Anyway thanks again for the article Cavalier!

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