Drukhari Codex Review: Troops: Kabalite Warriors

And for the 10,459th year in a row, the award for Most Evil Race in the Galaxy goes to… the Drukari! Give ’em a hand, folks!

Overview

Warriors are a very efficient troop choice with a pretty reasonable statline combined with a fantastic price. They are reasonably quick, with 7″ movement, and have the standard weapon skill and ballistic skill 3+ like all Aeldari models do- this gives them a very solid damage output in most situations, especially considering their equipment. Strength and toughness three are low but expected for the faction and mainly come as a consideration in close combat. This, along with their weak armor save of 5+, is the main issue for the unit, as it makes them very vulnerable to taking casualties- and with a leadership of seven, it can be easy to lose more to a morale test. On the other hand, at a mere six points per model they are absurdly cheap, with a full unit coming in about the same price as a 5man Primaris squad. A unit can be from five to twenty models strong, and one member of the unit can be a Sybarite with +1Ld and +1A.

Special Rules and Wargear

Kabalite Warriors come with the Power From Pain rule, which grants them escalating bonuses as the turn counter increases- including most relevantly the ability to shrug off wounds on a 6+. This goes a decent ways towards improving their survivability, making the unit feel more like it has a 4+ armor save than a 5+ overall.

Each member of the unit comes with a Splinter Rifle (24″ AP0 Rapid Fire 1 poison), which gives them solid firepower against most unit types. Although the poison rule is a disadvantage against other T3 infantry (since most standard troops will wound such units on a 3+, rather than 4+) as well as light-to-medium vehicles, they are a significant advantage against T5+ units of many types, which are becoming more common again. Of course, the ideal targets are things like T7+ monsters, but those are fairly rare in the meta these days.

Aside from that, the unit actually has a lot of options for weaponry. The unit can take one special weapon for every five models in a squad (meaning up to four total)- these can be either of two choices, the Blaster (18″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Assault 1) or the Shredder (12″ S6 AP-1 Assault d6 reroll wounds against infantry), each of which has its own niche. Due to the short range on the Shredder the Blaster is typically preferred, though its unreliable performance don’t make it a favorite choice. At 17pts, though, the Blaster is very expensive, and the Shredder is only marginally cheaper at 12.

In addition, for every ten models in a squad you can take one heavy weapon- either a Dark Lance (36″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6 Heavy 1) or Splinter Cannon (36″ AP0 Rapid Fire 3 poisoned). Although they have their uses, both of these weapons are expensive enough that they don’t tend to see a lot of play, although if you want to go all out you can cram a total of six big guns into a Warrior unit, protected by fourteen expendable idiots.

The Sybarite can also take a small selection of options- they can trade their Splinter Rifle for a Splinter Pistol or Blast Pistol (6″ S8 AP-4 DmgD6). They can also take an Agonizer (melee AP-2 poisoned) in place of the or Power Sword (melee S+0 AP-3). The pistol is powerful but extremely short-ranged and you’ll rarely have the opportunity to use it; the Agonizer is fairly cheap, but you honestly don’t want to be in combat anyways so it’s mediocre at best, and the Sword is just outright bad.

The most interesting option, however, is for a Phantasm Grenade Launcher (18″ S1 AP0 Assault d3). Since it’s not actually a Grenade weapon it can be fired alongside your other guns and it gives -1Ld to anything that is hit by it, which is occasionally useful. More importantly, however, it opens up the Torment Grenade strat, which for 1CP can do d3 mortal wounds to a target if you can equal their leadership on 3d6, something that is a lot easier once you stack that -1 on.

Uses

So, right off the bat, there is a very obvious use for Kabalite Warriors- they’re a fantastically cheap troop choice. In fact, at 30pts for a minimum squad, they are tied for being the cheapest troop choice in the game (alongside Gretchin and Brimstone Horrors), which is many ways enables Drukhari to field some very interesting armies. More than just that, however, Warriors are cheap while also being a nontrivial unit on the tabletop- while five of them may not be an overwhelming threat to most units, they are not completely ignorable and if left alone can be extremely irritating as they knock off models by ones and twos with their poison weaponry.

Poison is one of the biggest advantages of Drukhari and it’s no less potent on Warriors than on other platforms; although it doesn’t work against vehicles, wounding everything else in the game on a 4+ means that Warriors can bypass one of the main strengths of units like Centurions, Custodes bikes, and others that rely on a very strong statline to shrug off hits from basic weapons, as these units really don’t want to be taking attrition while they close in. In negating this, poisoned weapons leverage a large portion of your list that would be otherwise fairly useless (specifically the basic weapons on your troopers) and make it into a legitimate threat.

Beyond even that, though, the biggest strength of Warriors is their combination of cheapness and hitting power- their poisoned weapons are effective against most targets, and with BS3+ they also will be landing shots most of the time. Add in their option for special/heavy weapons and you have a unit that, for a pretty cheap price, is a danger to virtually any unit in the game. For a mere 47pts (with a Blaster) a squad of Warriors is a worrisome prospect to have roaming around the field, and doubly so when they are protected by a transport, as is usually the case.

Warriors will almost always want a transport of some kind to help protect them, in fact; while they aren’t exactly slow on their own, they aren’t really fast enough to leverage a lot of their shorter-ranged weapons properly without access to some way to get in close, and transports are typically the most efficient way to do this. The Venom and Raider are both good vehicles in their own right and either one can serve very functionally, depending on what you want from them.

The Venom is the default choice and it suits the MSU nature that Drukhari often lean towards very nicely, being a cheap and survivable vehicle that can spit out good firepower. The Raider, on the other hand, is better suited to taking out heavier targets on its own (having the option of two strong main guns, one for tough infantry and one for vehicles) as well as a much larger capacity, allowing you to bring 10man squads along as well as potentially enhancing the poison of its riders. The critical thing for both vehicles, however, is that they offer some survivability to the unit.

This is important because while they are reasonably tough overall, Warriors on foot tend to have the same fate as most squishy Guardsmen-esque infantry do. Of course, it is possible to mitigate this somewhat if you decide to go to larger squads, as Drukhari have a number of strong defensive stratagems that can help a lot if you’re dropping them on a large unit. There is Lightning-Fast Reflexes, of course, which can help tilt the math a bit even though you aren’t able to stack penalties the way Craftworlds or Harlequins can. But beyond that, you also have Hunt from the Shadows, which adds an extra +1 to your cover save bonus- this means that Warriors in cover can get down to a 3+ save in addition to their 6+ FNP effect, making them exceptionally hard to shift when touching a piece of terrain. As cheap as they are, you can afford to field large numbers of bodies pretty easily, which can be a form of defense all its own in combination with other effects.

Of course, you still need to deliver those units in range to their targets, but your stratagems have you covered there as well- the Webway Portal strat, in this case, which allows you to reserve either one or two units and dump them somewhere onto the field later in the game. This kind of flexibility of deployment is a very powerful tool, because it lets them get to literally almost anywhere you want on turns 2/3, arriving to support a weak flank of yours or to take advantage of a hole in the enemy’s defenses. Just as critically, they can pretty definitively take over an objective- as twenty ObSec bodies are wont to do.

In fact, their sheer numbers is one of the biggest strengths the unit can have in the “max size” configurations, as the large number of models takes up a lot of real estate and ensures that you can hedge the enemy out of positions if you want to- for example, by deploying them in a line to prevent the enemy from moving past you, or covering the area around an objective to prevent them from closing in with it. Being able to control movement on the table is a critical part of the game, and Eldar armies don’t typically have a lot of access to horde units that can do this- but Drukhari potentially do it with either Warriors or Wyches, with Warriors being the cheaper of the two options by a decent chunk. Don’t underestimate the ability of twenty models to control a section of board with their presence- whether it’s a midfield objective through a Webway Portal or a backfield one where you simply have the whole squad clustered around it. Morale can, of course, be a problem, but there are several ways to mitigate that.

Speaking of, many of the Kabals can benefit Warriors a fair bit. Obviously the most common Kabal is Black Heart, who don’t really have a lot of benefits for them aside from the sheer utility of Agents of Vect. Kabal of the Flayed Skull, however, pairs extremely well with the mechanized builds that are often popular with Warriors, as the reroll 1s with their guns helps keep the firepower coming and ignoring cover is a big deal if you’re trying to kill some Space Marines. The new Psychic Awakening traits also offer some options that are more attractive to foot-based variants, giving you more Webway Portals, bonus damage with poison, or nigh-immunity to morale- all things that mesh well with the plan of dropping in 20man squads. Also, remember that unlike most shooting units that can be tied up in combat, Warriors have a 2CP strat to be able to fall back and act normally if needed, allowing them a degree of flexibility in how they engage the foe.

It’s also worth remembering that while Warriors definitely aren’t good in close combat, they can often be better than many types of foes, like Guardsmen. If you’re facing down some enemy T3 infantry or vehicles that don’t Fly, it’s perfectly legitimate to charge your Warriors into the enemy to harass them; you hit on 3+s (or even 2+s later in the game) and can often drag down weaker foes by weight of numbers, even if it may be a bit messy. Of course, overwatch and other factors have to be considered as well, but there are plenty of things in the game that are less inclined to be in melee than you are, and it’s not hard to take advantage of that.

Countering

Although Warriors are great generalist units, this can also be exploited as a weakness- which is to say, by focusing on your core competencies as an army. As light infantry, they are fairly vulnerable to the basic weapons that can be found in most armies- your Lasguns, Bolters, etc, especially those that come with AP-1 or other extra features- and they are going to struggle to win a shooting war against an entrenched enemy, as their weaker statline and inability to deal with good armor saves will quickly show through. By the same token, a strong melee army can generally roll right over them, as Warriors just don’t have the hitting power or the defenses to stand up to something like a mob of Orks or Genestealers crashing into them.

You can also potentially exploit Warriors by taking advantage of their unique weapon profile- as mentioned before, while poison is great against most targets, it is lackluster on two counts- first, against anything with T3 naturally and secondly, any vehicle. Every army has at least one of these things, and many can have both- Warriors are pretty much strictly worse than other armies when shooting at either of them, and as very common target types this is not a trivial issue. Point-for-point Guardsmen are in a very good position to win a shooting war against Warriors, as are Strike teams and similar things- especially if they are in cover.

Final Thoughts

Kabalite Warrior squads are not a hammer unit that will devastate enemy formations with their presence, but they can very effectively provide supporting fire that will cause havoc while being obnoxiously-difficult to remove; they are neither the toughest nor the most damaging units from their codex, but they have just enough of both to be a threat. Their biggest advantage is their price point, which you should always be leveraging to best effect- whether that means fielding a minimum battalion for the easy CP and strats, bringing a dozen units of them hiding inside vehicles, or dropping two or three large squads down to claim sections of the table. Their combination of a cheap price, decent firepower, and surprising survivability make them one of the better troop choices in the game when used right and have helped leverage Drukhari into a very solid tournament army.

As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies at great discounts every day from the Frontline Gaming store, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

One Response to “Drukhari Codex Review: Troops: Kabalite Warriors”

  1. gvcolor November 13, 2019 4:09 pm #

    Another great one for the Dark Eldar – Have to say I really enjoy reading these just to confirm, “Yeah, I’ve been getting the most out of this unit that I can” but there’s been some good insight and at times a relic or obsession that I hadn’t quite thought of – well done.

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