A lot of information I read before the codex came out suggested that the Dark Eldar codex was going to be a disappointment, I am currently writing this into without reading the codex, but I hope that I can find something to argue against this idea. So I’m going to have a quick read and give my review of the codex and hopefully give you all a ray of sunshine out of all of this gloomy expectation.
Well the codex is very interesting, I expected bigger changes but I think what we have left is still a solid book and all the sky is falling folks are just nit picking, now you probably will have to change your style of play a little but not too much. Now let me give you a little more detail.
Now as expected we lost a lot of special characters, the Baron, the Lady and the Duke all left us to raid by ourselves. That was always going to happen, but we also lost Vect, the guy who has been in the codex since the very beginning. No new model for him so he left the scene and is relegated to just the background. Maybe that's better, as he is the puppet master but still, it’s a shame we left.
What surprised me the most though was we lost a unit which does have a model, the Harlequins have left us to go dance with the lighter kin (for now). They are still mentioned in the books background but we can no longer use them. That surprised me, but I think it hints that they will leave the Eldar codex in the future and possibly get their own mini dex, but that is a long way off, and probably just wish listing. Still overall, not as many casualties as the Grey Knights.
I will start with the big one that will affect every dark eldar player, the changes to Power from Pain. No longer is it just the 3 tier list of abilities you get from murdering the lesser races, instead it is a boost EVERY unit with power from pain gains depending on the turn. Now you don’t get anything turn 1, and the upgrades only gradually go up, starting with FNP (6+) but a few turns in your dark eldar start to become real monsters. This is something that I can see aiding in the late game especially, and it helps that you no longer need markers to remember which units have how many pain tokens, this is a good bit of streamlining for once.
Speaking of streamlining, the changes to combat drugs I don’t appreciate. While before granted we had some useless ones, now every result is just a stat boost, which is Ok, and might be useful from time to time but I miss the awesome ones like re-roll failed to wounds etc...
Also like everyone else we get our own warlord traits, but in my opinion there is only a single trait you would want, which lets you re-roll seize the initiative rolls, reserves and the roll for night fight. That’s great, but the other mostly affect the individual them self i.e. +1 ws, rage, hatred. I would rather take a rule book trait in that case.
As for the models themselves, honestly not much has changed stat wise, its mainly just price and special rules which have changed, and the troop choice haven’t really changed at all, bar the warriors dropping a single point. If you just look at the old codex warriors, wyches and wracks (who can no longer be fielded as troops) are just the same.
My old favourite section of the dark eldar, the HQ section is similar. The succubus has become more expensive rather surprisingly but has gained an easy access to ap 2 weapons as an alternative to wych weapons (which she can still take). Haemonculus is now has the stats of the old ancient and the ancient has been dropped, but the price in is between the two. He gains a rule similar to the old altered rule allowing his unit to treat the turn as 1 higher for power from pain, and comes with feel no pain as standard, which only helps turn 1 and 2. The archon is much the same.
Elites real star are the Incubi who drop a few points and the character upgrade might be worth taking now it’s only 10 points and you gain rampage. I should probably say that I used the term star very loosely, it’s more all the other elites are the same. The only change to the grotesques are that they no longer have berserk rampage, and instead just have rampage, which is a nice change, but nothing to shout home about really. Mandrakes have changed massively now, they have baleblast from the start, and come with stealth and shroud for less points. While I don’t see them killing hordes of models, they have a change to actually be useful now.
Fast attack however are really very different, with the razorwing jetfighter joining us here, which is think is about fair, and it’s about the same as it used to be. Beastmasters, now it’s an odd choice to keep calling them that as you no longer actually need to field and beast masters in the unit, you can just go pure beasts. It’s probably best to have one though as otherwise they are stuck at LD 5. All of the models got a little cheaper, but have been reduced in power. Razorwings are now swarms, khymera are now daemons and the other guy no longer gets bonus attacks. The role of the Reaver jetbikes has changed in this book, no longer are they the fast unit which deals damage as they go past, now they ram into things with hammer of wrath, but rending hammer of wrath! Plus they get hit and run so they might survive, you never know. Scourges got a massive boost as they are now allowed 4 special weapons, regardless of unit size, so you can have they be very specialised in what they do, but unfortunately they still scatter on deep strike, reducing their usefulness.
If it’s Heavy it got more expensive, no idea why but it did. I know I used to rely on my heavy support in games, and apparently GW doesn’t like that. My favourite vehicle, the ravager, has been made more expensive at a base of 110 and if you want dark lances you have to pay for each. On top of that it lost aerial assault, so it’s as good at shooting as every other fast skimmer, which I guess is fair. But for a paper thin skimmer, I don’t think the increase in points was fair. Talos and Cronos both go up by 20 points and neither of them have power from pain, but they do start with feel no pain, so its a reasonable trade off. Both can be taken in units up to 3 so we can expect to see a lot more of the buggers, more akin to the wraith lists we all love to face... you know who you are.
Formation and detachment
Once again the detachment is just the little brother of the formation. The formation is a Kabalite Raiding Party, 6 units of warriors plus friends all in transports going into the universe to enslave and other such fun. The benefits of this are as long as the archon is alive you count power from pain as being 1 higher, which is nice. Also for the first turn, and any turn with night fight, troops get a 5+ cover save, and everyone else gets a 6+. Now it doesn’t sound like much but with night fight, troops are getting a 4+ and everyone else a 5+. However in order to get these benefits you need 6 warrior squads, I man why would you do that to yourself? Even with the extra boost from power from pain you are going to get murdered.
The detachment doesn’t have the power from pain boost but it does get the save provided its turn 1 or night. Some units will benefit more than other (mandrakes love this) and can help you vehicles if you don’t want to jink. In order to take this the min is 1 Hq, 2 Troops and a fast attack and you are allowed the standard extra but you get 5 extra fast attacks. This is brilliant as some very interesting units live in the fast attack, and could represent a wych cult very well on the table.
Now the wargear has changed quite a bit for the dark eldar, and who is allowed what will be quite controversial as many people will be disappointed by the change, I know I was with a few of them. Let’s start with the big boys,
· Huskblade: No longer ap 2, reduced to ap 3 and still instant death
· Venom blade: very few models can actually have it, and not one of them is in the HQ section. Only wrack character and scourge character
· Electrocorosive whip: only wrack character can have it... and its pants.
· Scissorhand: now poisoned 4+ and rend instead of +1 Attack poison 2+.
· Liquifier gun: now strength 3 instead of 4
· Phantasm grenade launcher: now it’s a shooting weapon which cuases units to take wounds equal to how much they lost a LD test by.
· Shredder: now has shred... still useless.
· Soul-trap: if you cause and unsaved WOUND not kill, a character in a challenge you get +1 strength.
· Shadow field: It still fails, after you fail a save but it nicely waits till the end of the turn instead of instantly so you have a little more protection.
· Clone field: now just a 4++
· Webway portal: Instead of placing a portal down, the bearer and unit deep strikes in without scatter. Not bad.
Now the artefacts for the army are quite disappointing, I’m not going to bother with them as they are either rehashed weapons (the djin blade) or pointless (an ap 5 pistol which can get you a wound back... why?).
Now this codex defiantly has its ups and downs, as it’s practically everything gets cheaper unless your heavy, in which case get more expensive. The lack of venom blades while not crucial to the force is disappointing as we now don’t have a good basic weapon to go to, we have to spend points on OK weapons. I am sure the codex will be great after a little playing around with as nothing is obviously bad, and a few things do look a lot better. I’m just sad my archon is now just a little pointless. And if you like to spam venoms, you won’t even notice that the codex has changed apart from that extra venom that you just can’t explain.
What has surprised me though is that the supplement is going to be covens, when the haemonculus units are probably one of the stronger in the codex, but whatever, GW know what they are doing (apparently). I will try and get my hands on that and review it for you guys as well.
Hope you enjoyed the read.