The Icing on the Cake: Drukhari War Lord traits and Secondaries.

Welcome back to the third installment of the Codex: Drukhari (DE or True Kin – I am old school) review. Today we will be looking at the 22 Warlord traits available, as well as the 4 available Secondaries. I had considered doing the secondaries after the entire codex review was done, but I decided to add them on the front end and look at how we can work towards those as we go. Keep reading to see the excellent options available to the True Kin

Rankings

As before, I will be using the same grading scale, reproduced below

  • Competitive: This is a codex entry (unit, stratagem, item, etc.) that has a place in essentially any competitive list built with this faction regardless of unit choices or is the source of a significant force multiplication effect for other units.
  • Efficient: This is a codex entry that can stand on its own merit in a matched play list but works best when combo’d up with other units or in specific situations to become very powerful but may not always be seen.
  • Situational: This is a codex entry that may not pass as competitive on its own merits but can be made effective in a creative list, as a meta-buster, or in a specific combo or scenario where it ratchets up in power to potentially very high strength but otherwise will not be seen very often.

Warlord Traits

Each subfaction gets 3 generic War Lord (WL) traits, and one upgrade character trait. These are pretty good overall, and with the ability to pick up additional WL traits, this is quite nice. A DE army can, potentially, have 5 WL traits (and for 2 CP total as well…). Sadly, there is no ability to double up a trait on one model, but with so many good traits, be on the lookout for these

Archon Traits

  • Hatred Eternal: Each time the WL makes an attack (shooting or Close Combat (CC) ), you may re roll the hit and wound roll. This is pretty solid. Depending on exactly how you gear your Archon, being able to slap full re-rolls on him ups his damage out put significantly, especially with a low str of 3 and few ways to meaningfully increase it. Honeslty though, most Archons will be relegated to support and let the Succubus steal the show. Efficient
  • Soul Thirst: This WL trait adds one to your attacks. In addition, when an enemy model is killed within 6″, once per turn you may regain a wound. It could help on an Armor of Misery or Obsidian Veil Archon, letting them tank small fire on their secondary shields and regaining the wounds latter. Honestly though, this is not really how DE play. We don’t tend to grind out fights, but either win or lose quickly. If you want to go for this play style, it is there. Efficient
  • Ancient Evil: This is probably the trait you will see the most. At the start of the fight phase, pick an enemy unit within engagement range. That unit is not eligible to fight until all other units have. A Real Space Raid (RSR) Archon accompanying anything else into combat, letting them fight first, and giving re-rolls, that is pretty strong. All hail the Buffcon. Competitive
  • Consumate Weaponmaster: If you have a Master Archon, he gets the best pick of weapons. Any non-relic melee weapon he has gets +1 damage. A Power sword or Venom blade going up to 2 damage is not to bad. I personally like the Venom blade, as it gets around his awful str and the limited ways to boost it. Hitting and wounding on a 2+ with 5 attacks, ap -1, and 2 damage is respectable. Not amazing, but not something to just roll over. Efficient
  • Kabal of the Black Heart Labyrinthine Cunning: This 8th ed staple returns. Every time you or your opponent uses a stratagem, roll a d6 for each CP spent on it, and on a 6 you get one CP. It has the customary restriction of one CP per battle round. It is decent. A decked out Black Heart RSR Archon with the Writ and this will probably make its way into many a list. Efficient
  • Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue Towering Arrogance: Pride come before the fall. This WL trait grants the bearer a 5+++. In addition, Poison Tongue units within 6″ can ignore combat attrition modifiers. Eh. For most armies, combat attrition is not a huge issue, and most Kabal units will probably be running multiple small squads (MSU). This does not do a whole lot for your army, especially with there being better ones just in the generic options. Situational
  • Kabal of the Flayed Skull Famed Savagery: Add one to the Str and Attacks characteristic of your Archon. Decent. Lets the huskblade get up to Str 4, and the power sword to Str 5. It is not bad, but I think the one damage on most weapons will hold it back, even with the higher str. This is possibly the best Djin Blade Wielder though, getting 8 3 damage attacks at Str 5. The rest of the Obsession is a bit lack luster though, meaning this probably won’t see a ton of play. As a mandatory RSR filler though, this could be an interesting pick for someone who wants to use the Archon buff on Cult and Kabal but not focus more than necessary on the Kabal section. (A Djin blade Famed Savagery Archon and min warrior squad eats 110 points, or 5.5% of a 2k army). Efficient
  • Kabal of the Obsidian Rose Deathly Perfectionist: This trait adds one to the Str of non-relic weapons. A str 9 blast pistol is cute, but the melee weapons benefit better elsewhere. The rest of the obsession is just good enough we might see this crop up from time to time, but the other traits are simply better. Situational

Over all, the Archon traits are quite solid. Nothing here that I am scrambling to pick up, but seeing as the Archon is a gateway for RSR Alliance of Agony, this offers a nice bit of choice in how you want to deck him out and what role you want him to fulfill. Speaking of WL traits I am scrambling to pick up, look at the..

Succubus

Oh man. Spoiler, these are good. Like, seriously good. The worst thing about them is I can’t take them all.

  • Quicksilver Fighter: Add two attacks to the profile of the Succubus. She is already starting out with 6, can take a drug for another, and can take a weapon that doubles her attacks (razorflails). 18 attacks can blend through hordes quite well. She is not, however, just limited to hordes. Taking the Triptych Whip also gives her 3 extra attacks, and is 2+ poison and flat 2 damage. Alternatively, the Blood Glaive lets her rock up 3 damage attacks. She has a number of different builds, which can really up her output to crazy levels. Competitive
  • Stimm Addict: This trait lets your Succubus roll 2d6 and add those drugs to her repertoire for the battle. Any duplicate results, or rolls of a 6 get re-rolled. Remember, you can either choose to roll 2 drugs for her or select the drug you want. If you choose to roll two, you are getting 4 drugs of the 5 available. 
      1. +1 attack on the charge
      2. +1 Str
      3. +2″ movment
      4. +1 T
      5. +1 WS

Basically, all of these except number 5 are good. And you get 4 of them. And, and, and, if you use Hyperstimm Backlash strat on her, “… each effect of the combat drugs ability on that unit is doubled”. Hello drug crazed murder beauty, aka Psychobuss. Just one example, a Drug Crazed Blood Glaive wielding Psychobuss could potentially be swinging 8 str 7 attacks that do a flat 3 damage each. Oh, and, after this murderfest, she can potential hop back in a transport to lick her blades clean and eye her next target. That is one build. Competitive

  • Precision Blows: If a drug crazed red haze is not your jam, check out the deadly precision offered by Precision Blows. Every 6 to hit by this Succubus does the damage characteristic of their weapon in mortal wounds instead. Remember, she has 6 attacks base. Again, looking at the Blood Glave and the Triptych Whip as your Damage 2 and Damage 3 attack options. I like the whip more, as it gives an extra 3 attacks, and the +1 attack drug seems appropriate here. Clocking in with 10 attacks, this Mortalbuss should land 1-3 6’s to wound, netting you a healthy number of mortals. The rest of the attacks are not bad at getting though enemy defenses either, making this Whip wielding mistress quite deadly indeed. Competitive
  • Whirling Death: Available only to a master Succubus, this is probably the weakest of the traits. When making attacks, you may choose to substitute her number attacks for 3+ the number of enemy models within 2″ of her. If she is completely surrounded, this can kick up a ton of extra attacks. Tying to maximize enemy units, I managed to fit 28 models on 28mm bases within 2″ arround her. This would give her 31 attacks, (or a max of 35 with Whip and Drug).

    But, let’s take a step back an look at this realistically. Outside Orks and Bugs, very few armies field 30 man units that want to combat you and want to get as many models in with you as possible. (For fun, 35 attacks vs 30 orks kills 24 of them). That is very specific though, and most combats you may see 5-10 models in the unit, and about 6-7 within the 2″ range. 10 attacks is pretty good, especially when using the Whip and Drug to get 14, but I feel there are other better options. The nice thing about this WL trait though, is you can use it. If it would be better to go with her normal attacks instead, you may. For that reason, and the fact there are so many good things to taking a Master Succubus, this is still quite Competitive 

  • Cult of Strife Blood Dancer: Every natural 6’s to hit by this WL scores and additional 2 hits. Just on the basic Succubus, with 6 attacks, hitting on 2’s. One should miss, one should be a 6, netting you 7 attacks. As we have already discussed, you can easily get her attacks up to a base of 10, increasing the amount of extra hits quite nicely. Competitive
  • Cult of the Cursed Blade Treacherous Deceiver: This one plays off their Obsession (which has not yet been reviewed, so quick note, it does mortals on 6’s to save in CC). This allows the WL to upgrade to doing a mortal on a 4+ save in CC instead. Remember, the Cursed Blade relic also lets her explode when she dies on a 2+, dealing d3+3 mortals. If I am running pure Cult, 60 pts to take this chick, decked with her trait, relic, the +1 str drug, and a Shardnet and Impaler would be a nice bomber unit. She can slap into a dedicated unit of CC specialists, say 6 Bladeguard, or 10 DA terminators, make it hard for them to get away from her, and make them kill themselves trying to hurt her. I would gladly trade 60 points for one of those units. Competitive
  • Cult of the Red Grief Hyperswift Reflexes: This trait is a different take on the Transhuman Trend that has been going around. For her, she can only be hit on a 4+ in CC, irrespective of any other modifiers or abilities. Against some elite units, this can be quite nice. Only being hit on a 4+ drastically reduces amount of attacks coming her way, and can make her ply her deadly trade a lot longer. Competitive

I typically don’t like marking everything as competitive, but as I wrote this up, I saw so many good uses for all of these. They may not fit everyone’s personal play style, but by the Dark City, these are good. In my opinion though, the best thing about these is that none of them are so clearly better or worse than the others, and all of them require a bit of planning and foresight on your part to make the best use of them.

Haemonculus

Man, these poor guys have to try and follow up that performance. It is going to be hard, but there are some good picks in here too.

  • Master Regenesist: Haemonculus typically can heal a Grotesque or Monster (i.e Talos or Cronos) for d3 wounds. This warlord trait takes the randomness out and makes it a flat 3 wound healed. This is not bad. Coven units having a 5+++ helps their durability, and with options via the Cronos to bring models back, there is some play for a very durable, very grindy style here, which this trait leans into. Efficient
  • Master Nemesine: Each time the WL makes a wound roll, add one to wound. Why? With no ability to take wargear on the Haemonculus, a poison 2+ pistol, and a poison 2+ and 4+ options in melee respectively, why would I waste a WL trait slot on this one? I am genuinely curious, if anyone has insights, please, let me know. Situational
  • Master Artisan: Add one to the bearer’s Wounds and Toughness. Seeing as Haemonculus no longer benefit from their own Aura, this is how you would buff him up. It is not bad, but also not that exciting. Efficient
  • Twisted Animator: A Master Haemonculus may choose this trait, and he should. He absolutely should. He is able to pick a wrack unit within 3″ and return d3 wracks to the unit. Wow. With the durability these guys can get, and max unit sizes of 20, this can really add to their durability. I am curious about a battalion with multiple groups of 20 man wracks. This also is stupidly strong on bringing back a unit of Haemoxytes, the upgrade for wracks (although they are limited to 10). Competitive 
  • Prophets of Flesh Diabolical Soothsayer: This trait is interesting one. At the start of the battle, you can choose between two buffs. Either, give +1 Wounds and Toughness (same as Master Artisan above), or he can pick up +1 Movement and attacks. The movement is a bit eh, but the attack is not bad. It is nice to have the options at the start of the battle, letting you slightly customize to the opponent you are playing. For the most part though, a Haemonculus is not a beat stick, so you typically don’t want to be throwing him into melee. Efficient
  • Dark Creed Fear Incarnate: This, this is potent. At the end of the movement phase, select an enemy unit within 9″ (does not need to be visible) and roll 3d6. If you beat their LD, that unit can not perform any actions, if they are performing actions they fail them, and they lose the ObSec ability. This is pretty nice. Disrupting actions is situational, but removing ObSec can be very, very powerful. Ask any DA player, as they have been loving their Psychic power to remove ObSec and steal objectives from opponents. This is very strong, especially as Dark Creed can easily get -3 LD bubbles. The exact combination to make use of this still has not quite been landed on, but watch this one. Competitive
  • Coven of the Twelve Scarlet Epicurean: This hedonistic Warlord takes pleasure in pain, reducing the amount of damage he takes from each attack by one. With a 5+++, this can make him fairly durable. I would have rather seen this as the Prophets of Flesh trait, as there is not way for this WL to heal up. It is not bad, but again, not that exciting.  Efficient

The warlord traits are quite good overall. There are a few duds in there, but with such variability and at least multiple strong options in each sub faction means whatever your play style, there is something you can lean into.

Faction Specific Secondaries

Finally, I want to take a look the faction specific secondaries. A lot of what is making the new Codexs so strong is the secondaries they have as an option to them. Many armies can struggle with getting three good secondaries to score in a game, and the Faction Specific ones allow players to lean into a style or have some strong options in their back pocket.

All four of the DE secondaries are interesting. None of them are super strong. None are exactly an auto take, but they all have play.

Purge the Enemy

There are two secondaries that are available to take in this category. These Secondaries are competing with Titan Hunter, Bring it Down, Cut off the Head, and Assassinate. Titan Hunter is very situational, and Cut off the Head is just bad. Bring it down can be good, but the Specific ones below can let you lean more into it if needed. Assassinate is the only secondary that could be a real contender for this slot, and Take them Alive is probably a better pick.

  • Take them Alive! : This secondary has two options to score. First, you can score 3 points for every battle round in which you killed a Character or Monster with a Melee attack. Additionally, score another point that battle round for any other unit (i.e. not a Character, Monster, or Vehicle) that is killed in Melee.

    This is not bad. It is similar to Assassinate, but requires you to get your kills in close combat. The fact you can pick up 4 points per round is nice. This is a pick you take when (A) you already are building to do your damage in CC, and (B) you would already want to take Assassinate. Efficient

  • Beasts for the Arenas: The other Purge the Enemy secondary, this one is a lot more specific. Score 3 points at the end of the battle, for each Beast, Monster, or Calvary unit killed by a wych unit in Melee (if that unit was Titanic, score 5 points). This one, by its very nature, is situational as it depends on your opponents army composition. Again, this is melee only, but wyches do most of their damage in the Fight phase anyways. When there are 4+ units you think you can take, this can be quite good. If your opponent does not have many or any units that satisfy this, then it is not great, but when it is good, it is very good. Efficient

No Mercy, No Respite

There is only one option in this category, and it competes with Thin their Ranks, Grind them Down, and While we Stand we Fight. Thin their Ranks and While we Stand both are not ones that DE want to take, and Grind them down is typically not either, although a Coven build towards this could be interesting. This leaves very little competition for this slot.

  • Fear and Terror: Score a point per model that fled this battle round. With a fairly easy way to set up -3 LD and to stack as well as -1 or -2 to combat attrition rolls. Seeing as Marines ignore attrition modifiers, and many armies have ways to boost or pass LD tests, it can be tricky to reliably score this, but it can come up. If we take a LD 8 unit without a way to ignore LD, that loses a single model, they are then failing on a 5+. This can add up quickly, especially when done over multiple units. I am not sure just how strong this is, but it certainly has some play into the right opponents. Efficient

Battlefield Supremacy

The last secondary has the stiffest competition, going up against other strong options for Eldar. Engage on all fronts, Line Breaker, and Domination all call this category home.

  • Herd the Prey: This objective scores at the end of your turn, and can not be scored on turn one. You get 2 victory points per table quarter that your opponent does not have any models in. Best case, you score 6 points per turn, over 3 turns. Realistically, you get 2, maybe 4 points over 3 turns. (I know you have 4 turns to score it, but I don’t see many armies netting it t2 either.) If your opponent has a low model count army, that is relatively slow, you may be able to herd them. It is going to be pretty tough. The only good thing about it, is you score this at the end of your turn, making it fairly easy to control if you even can. Situational

Overall the secondaries presented here offer some interesting and different takes on scoring points. None are immediate auto takes, like Oath of Moments, but that is a good thing for the game too in my opinion. (Oath should probably be neutered a tad). When the time is right, using one of these secondaries can be quite useful, and I look forward to trying them out.

Now, with all that out of the way, we can finally start to actually look at the sub-factions themselves, starting next time with the Kabals.

Thanks for reading, and happy Wargaming Raiding!

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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4 Responses to “The Icing on the Cake: Drukhari War Lord traits and Secondaries.”

  1. Vipoid April 2, 2021 3:07 pm #

    Man, I wish even half as much thought and effort had gone into the Archon as went into the Succubus.

    The Succubus’ choice of traits and artefacts is sublime with, as you say, almost no bad options to speak of and virtually everything having possible uses. This is even more impressive when you consider that she doesn’t even try to be a shooting or buff character – she’s just a pure beatstick and yet somehow she has by far the best selection of traits and relics.

    Meanwhile, the Archon – supposedly the most flexible HQ – has all of two decent builds with everything else being utter bilge.

    Incidentally, though, I will disagree with you on one thing – I think your ratings of the Djin Blade (in the previous article) and Hatred Eternal are both off. IMO they should both be marked Competitive because together they represent the Archon’s only worthwhile build. The Writ is far more niche now (requiring BH *and* a RSR detachment *and* the right units to function), and leaves the Archon unable to take any advantage of his Master ability.

    • Faitherun April 2, 2021 3:49 pm #

      Yeah, the Archon is… ugh.

      I have a lovely bit to write on him in the next article, although you keep bringing him up lol.

      I guess I look at him more as a support character. To me, I would rather make him pretty cheap and let him just buff rather than try to do damage.

      I will be very interested to see how players try and make him work, and what role he ends up fulfilling in our raids

      • Victor April 3, 2021 4:48 am #

        Well, I will use the Archon with the Djin Blade and hatred Eternal. always on the front lines trying to do damage.

        The only lists where I Will use it as a Buff character are real space raids, supporting their Melee elements

        In other lists, I only feature the Archon as the Mandatory HQ tax for featuring Ravagers in my army.

        Given that I start most lists with 12 or so CPs, 2 CPs to make the Archon do something is a very little price to pay

  2. Starcross April 2, 2021 11:57 pm #

    Master nemesine is even worse than you realise. The poison ability keys off unmodified rolls so, even on the one weapon he owns where it might do something, it doesn’t do anything at all. I suppose it makes him better vs vehicles, going from a 6 to wound to a 5 to wound

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