Oh man. TL:DR; This book rocks. I am quite excited about the subtle, and not so subtle changes that have occurred in this book. You can not play your Drukhari (henceforth to be referred to as DE or True Kin) the way you used to. And, in my humble opinion, that is a good thing. But, I believe you now can play them much closer to how they should feel. There is so much to unpack, we are going to divide this codex up into several sections. Starting with, detachment abilities and basic weapon changes.
Power from Pain
So, the power from pain chart has changed. Previewed over on Warhammer Community, it caused quite a stir. Let’s get into it.
First off, this effects everything with the Power from Pain (PfP) ability. Yes, your vehicles have this. Yes, they kept the 5++ save at ranged, but now they get an invul in close combat too. Remember when I said that DE no longer play exactly as they did in 8th ed? Covens are not as durable. They have picked up a 5+++ as their base rule set. Yes, this means no 6+++ on raiders and ravagers in a black heart detachment. I like this. It makes everything not Coven a tad bit more squishy. I was not a fan of how durable our basic units were. That is not, in my opinion, how the True Kin should play. Our armor is made of wet tissue paper and kitten’s tears, but out weapons and abilities should make anyone else feel the same. That is what this book feels like to me again.
That was a long segway from the first turn on Power from Pain, but this is a pretty big change. You are not as durable. Good. You are a hell of a lot more killy. Excellent.
Turn 2, you pick up Advance and Charge. This, hits the second hot button for me on the identity of Dark Eldar. We should be fast. Across the board. The 8th ed DE codex was lacking this. Sure, you could have some builds that allowed for faster transports, mainly Flayed Skull. And some Cult units, Reavers and Hellions, could really move if they wanted to – but those units were awful. (Spoiler, they are not anymore). But now, Talos, Raiders, Wyches, Wracks, everything, turn 2, can advance and charge. Sometimes on T1. This gives such a breadth of mobility and speed to the army. Just ask White Scars or Harelquins players, two armies that have consistently been on top in 9th ed.
T3, you are picking up +1 to hit in combat, and monsters and vehicles don’t suffer the -1 penalty for shooting heavy weapons whilst in combat. So, that talos that you had to play cagey with, t2 advanced and charged, and now t3 is able to shoot at anything that sticks in melee with it…. and there are ways of making things stay in combat that don’t want to. It makes everything in your army able to hit just that little bit harder.
T4, you pick up a 5++ on everything. Vehicles in melee, basic warriors, wyches to shooting. This really helps give your whole army a bit more durability in the final stages of the game.
T5, you auto pass morale and any vehicles limping get invigorated., counting double wounds for degrading charts
This changes a lot of how your army plays. Coven are less durable, but only slightly so. Everything else is slightly more durable. More importantly though, everything is faster. And, there are ways to advance this table faster too. The only downside to this, is you lose this table if you soup. This stings for those wishing to add Ynnari or Craftworld or Harlequin allies, but for those looking to run pure DE (as any True Kin player should), it makes no difference.
Combat drugs got a few small changes, and one big change. Now, you may either pick the drug you want, or roll 2 (re rolling duplicates), for each unit as an individual. This is big. You CAN duplicate drugs on units. So all 6 of your Wyche squads can take +1 attack if they want, but your Hellions can grab +1 toughness if they want. Or, you can pick a unit and decide the drugs will be Random, and roll 2 drugs for them pre-game (re-rolling duplicates).
The drugs themselves have seen some minor changes.
- Adrenalight: When your unit charges, or Heroically intervenes, give each model +1 attack. Like Shock Assault, but doesn’t work if you get charged. It is not bad, certainly a solid pick, but not something I am super excited about.
- Grave Lotus: Add 1 to the strength of models in this unit. I like this a touch more, as pushing wyches up to Str 4 (or 5 with the right Cult) can be quite good.
- Hypex: Add 2″ to the movement characteristic of models in this unit. Eh. With smaller boards, the fact our characters can finally squeeze in transports, and advance and charge turn 2, I am not sure this is a top pick. Solid, but probably the second weakest of the bunch
- Painbringer: I just hear this in Michael Buffer’s voice. Add 1 to the toughness of models in this unit. Toughness 4 wyches is not bad, but on Reavers or Hellions, which are both already Toughness 4, this pushes them to 5. That has some nice potential.
- Serpentine: Increase the unit’s WS by 1. Considering Power from Pain T3 is giving +1 to hit… meh. If this could help trigger Blade Artist (see below), then I’d be excited about it. But it can’t sadly.
- Splintermind: Increase the unit’s LD by one. Eh it’s ok….
You also get to add one to the BS of your unit. Remember those Hellions I said got better? T2 Advance, shoot, and charge. Reavers with Blasters can do the same. A 6 man unit can fly over a character, dealing mortal wounds, then shoot him (hitting on 3’s) and charge to finish him off. This adds some very spicy options to your Wyches firepower. Sadly, you can’t spike your vehicles with this concoction.
Insensible to Pain
This is the Coven ability. Since PfP now gives an invul, this ability pivots to granting a 5+++. I think a 5++ invul with 6+++ feel no pain of the 8th ed codex was a bit more durable, but now a 6++ invul with a 5+++ feel no pain is very similar. Covens have some other options to help heal back wounds easier, which helps make up for this difference.
These are much the same, although they now specify they wound on an unmodified roll. This does get around things that are -1 to wound etc, but, since Imperium must always a trump card, it will not allow a transhuman unit to be wounded on anything better than a 4+. This rule is on all splinter weapons, and a few combat ones too. There is also a strat to allow poison to wound vehicles on their normal roll, instead of on 6’s as would be normal. This gives some much needed flexibility to the army and offers a very solid base to the army.
The last new army wide rule is that any natural 6’s to wound, get an extra pip of AP. This rule is everywhere, even on vehicles, and combined with some of the new weapon upgrades can really see some decent ap attacks in melee.
The True Kin pick up two special detachment types. Raiding party makes a return with a small change. If all the detachments in your army all a patrol, then you change the cost of those detachments to 0. This does not require you to take 3 patrols now, which is nice. It also does not change the fact that a warlord from a patrol detachment gives you +2 cp, typically negating the cost of taking it. It is uncertain if this is the intent, or if the developers wanted a patrol of DE to be at 12 cp not 14.
The second unique was also previewed on Warhammer Community, and cause quite a stir. (I summarize this below if you want the easy to read version)
There is a lot to unpack here, but in short:
- You have to take an Archon, Succubus, and Haemonculus
- You must take at least one unit of Warriors, Wyches, and Wracks
- The Archon must be your warlord.
Once you satisfy those conditions, you may count that detachment as a Realspace Raid
This gives you a few bonuses. Firstly, you are effectively taking 3 patrols in one detachment. Each of the Kabal/Cult/Coven get an obsession, which applies to the appropriate models in the detachment.
This does limit you in a few ways, forcing the Archon to be your warlord, forcing you to take all three hq slots in a Battalion, and stopping you from being able to make use of the Cult of Strife Charadon supplement.
The other big bonus this gives, is that the Archon re-roll 1’s aura changes from just <Kabal> to <Realspace Raider>. This is a pretty big pick up for Coven and Cults, who otherwise have not access to this. You may only take a single detachment of Realspace Raiders
I am not sure this is worth the cost. There is a fairly large opportunity cost you pay for this. You can not take Drazhar’s warlord trait. You can not have a Cult of Strife supplement stratagems or relics (although you can dip into the warlord traits from that book).
It certainly has some play, and there are a lot of builds you can do with it. The exact strategies to use and how to make this army work is going to take a lot of testing. Just using the main named obsessions, there are 36 combinations to be had in a Realspace Raid. And, spoiler, the pick-your-own traits got some interesting tweaks and are nowhere near as bad as Rising Phoenix was, opening up even more options as well.
These two options open up a lot of play for a DE army.
Before looking at weapon changes, a quick note on transports. Raiders picked up an extra toughness, and both Raiders and Venoms picked up an extra capacity. The toughness is nice, but the capacity is amazing. This is something Drukhari players have been asking for since the 8th ed codex dropped.
I am not going to go over every single weapon that changed, but rather look at ones that have changed across multiple units. For the most part, the ranged weapons have gotten much improved.
Splinter Cannons, as previewed on Warhammer Community, these went from Rapid Fire 3 at 36″ to Heavy 3 at 36″. They are also now ap -1 and 2 damage. This helps a good bit doing more damage to 2 wound models, and allows your Venoms to hang back more.
- Dark Lances (Although not Blasters or Blast Pistols) have changed their damage from d6 to d3+3. This makes the damage of a Dark Lance a minimum of 4, which is quite, quite nice. Likewise, the Void Lance is also d3+3 damage
- Dark Scythes have changed from d3 shots per, to a flat 3. Likewise, their damage has done from d3, to a flat 2. This makes them a lot more reliable, and makes predicting their damage output a lot more consistent.
- The Haywire Blaster has had a name change to Drukhari Haywire Blaster, to help differentiate itself from the inferior versions used by the cousins. It has changed from Assault d3 to Heavy d3. The only thing this really hurts is scourges, who can still make pretty good use of this if needed. The weapon is now Str 3 (down 1), but ap -3 (!) and d3 damage. Against vehicles, it always wounds on a 4+, and a 6 to wound does d3 mortals. The weapon has has the blast keyword. Vs vehicles without invul saves, this is more damage. Overall, I think this is an upgrade for the weapon, although my scourges are a touch sad about it.
- The Liquifier Gun seems to have picked up that pip of strength the Haywire lost. Up to strength 4, and with a flat 2 ap, this gun has become a lot less unpredictable and actually usable
- Finally, the Heat Lances finally figured out what they were trying to do. A boost up to Str 8 has made them actually worth considering, and the trade off was a downgrade from AP -5 to -4. Additioanlly, their damage became a bit more consistent, going to d6+2 now, following the new melta rules.
Overall, a lot of net gains for the ranged weapons. The changes to Melee weapons are not as drastic, but still some good ones to note. It is also important to remember the Blade Artists rule, that any 6’s to wound get an additional AP added on. While it won’t win you games, it is a nice bonus.
- Agoniser has picked up a pip of AP, but otherwise is unchanged.
- The Archite Glaive…. oh man. The first of the changes to help Cults not suck. It’s stats are exactly the same… except, it no longer is -1 to hit (as the Autuarch looks on with hope). With the additional attacks Succubi can get, this is pretty nice.
- Demi Klaves and Klaves both have seen some nice upgrades. Klaves and the Single Blade option of the Demi Klaves have both picked up a Str pip, up to +2 and got pushed up to 2 damage. The Dual Blade option is now just +1 but also 2 damage and keeps its extra attacks.
- Haemonculus Tools have upgraded their poison rules from 4+ to 2+, making them slightly more deadly in close combat
- Hekatrarii Blades and Hell Blades have picked up a pip of ap as well, now ap -1.
- Huskblades have become Str user and flat 2 damage. This is unfortunate, as the base str of an Archon is 3, and this makes it quite hard to use effectively. On the other hand, a Power Sword has gone up to Str +1.
- Monstrous Cleaver and Stun Claw both have gone up to 2 damage
- The Talos Gauntlet is now a flat 3 damage, although still -1 to hit. This is offset by the T3 PfP
There are more specific weapon changes that apply solely to specific units which will be covered with those units (Yes, I dipped into a few here, but got excited)
Just as a frame work, this gives Drukhari players a lot of flexibility and room to play with how exactly their army is structured. The rest of reviews will be broken down by sub faction
- Stratagems and Artifacts
- Blades for Hire
Keep watching this space!
Thanks for reading, and happy
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