Friday, 11 January 2013

Dark Eldar in 6th: Evil or Chaotic?

And now, time for more stabby-stabby, just on the less chaotic side of evil in the Incubi and the less evil side of chaotic in the Harlequins.

The Incubi were one of those units that everyone was really hyped about with the new release.  The models looked thoroughly awesome, they could fleet in power armour and they could hack up marines like nobody’s business in assault.  However, as they had absolutely zero anti-vehicle capacity and a fairly high price tag they fell out of use.  Is that likely to change in sixth?  Quite simply, it is.  They still have the same problems and the same units will breeze through them like a wind made of knives.  However, as previously mentioned, the emphasis of 6th is more squarely on the side of boots on the ground.  The vehicle heyday of 5th is over with and you will (if you haven’t already) encounter fewer vehicles for the most part.  Tanks are easier to dispatch, transports aren’t indomitable fortresses and dreadnoughts can be dealt with in an assault without resorting to a power fist.  This gives a larger quantity of targets for the Incubi to get their klaives into.  As per usual with the DE, challenges provide a wealth of close combat opportunities for the unit if you invest in a squad leader.  High initiative is very much your friend and the main threat to the unit is usually the character with a power weapon scything through them.  At least with a klaivex, you reduce the amount of wounds that the character can inflict to a manageable one, while the rest of the unit sets about carving the bog-standards into fleshy cubes.  Their niche is very clear.  They dealt with power armour and (joyously) they are one of the few units that have not suffered at all from the widespread power weapon debuffing in 6th, as the klaives are equally good at hacking through 2+ saves as well, making them go-to guys for dealing with any non-storm shielded Terminators.  They will suffer against enemies more numerous than they are, and some dedicated combat units will still give them a hard time.  Stay the hell away from dreadnoughts!  They deal fairly well with overwatch, due to their armour, so that’s not a concern, and marks them as one of the few DE units that don’t need to worry about it.  As for squad upgrades, they are a matter of taste I guess.  Personally, I wouldn’t invest in anything other than a squad leader for challenges.  The demiklaives are very nice, as is the Preferred Enemy against ICs, the chance to cause bonus attacks and so on but I can’t help but look at the points they all cost and think that I could just add another Incubus to the unit instead.  Now to the second major problem of the unit (the first was the lack of anti-vehicle, if you can't remember that far back) which is the lack of assault grenades.  With a unit that relies so much on Initiative to deal its damage, this is a major flaw.  It requires a great deal of manoeuvring and you have to target a unit out of cover to get most death dealt.  Or you can use them as an Archon bodyguard.  Phantasm Grenade Launchers (Archon wargear) will allow them to assault though terrain unhindered and hurt things like they were meant to!  I rate these guys highly as Archon bodyguard, but bear in mind they still have a lot of threat factor associated with them, so they will take a lot of fire.  You should prepare accordingly!

Speaking of terrain; here’s a unit that really doesn't worry about it!  The Harlequins are a strange unit; an odd mix of resilient and brittle.  Your basic Harlequin is basically a Wych plus; just as fast, better WS, more attacks and with Furious Charge for a stronger punch on the charge.  Their Invulnerable save is a little worse, but applies all the time rather than just in combat.  Their price tag reflects this raft of improvements and one Harlequin costs almost as much as two Wyches.  If it was just the stat boost, they would be a very debatable unit, but there are a few tweaks that push them into the ‘good’ field.  The first is the ability to give them Rending, for the cost of 4 points per model.  This is an expensive choice, but you will be hard pressed to find someone who uses Harlies without forking out a little extra to give them this rule.  Rending still cuts through terminators and Monstrous Creatures (most of whom have no access to an Invulnerable save) and gives you a few unavoidable wounds for the Marine-types.  Personally I would recommend giving it to a few squad members and save yourself some pointage, using the bog-standard troops to have wounds allocated to them first.  The second advantage is that they ignore cover.  There is no movement penalty for difficult terrain, which you can definitely use to your advantage if you’re smart enough.  This makes them natural lurkers, a role which is only improved by the addition of one of their more unique squad members.  It is borderline impossible to find a Harlequin squad without a Shadowseer in it and it’s not hard to see why.  In the old rules the seer used to limit the sight range of targeting units, but now the rule operates differently, giving the unit both Stealth and Shrouded.  As both of these abilities stack, this gives them a mighty +3 to their cover saves.  Even bog-standard area terrain (5+) will net these guys a 2+ cover save, making them exceptionally hard to shift without specific cover-denial weaponry.  As an added bonus, the seer also effectively gives the squad assault grenades, a definite boost seeing as they would strike last when charging through cover, even though their move distances aren’t altered.  It’s very hard to argue against this guy, especially in 6th, even though at 30 points it’s not cheap.  The other squad member upgrades are the Death Jester, who packs a Shrieker cannon.  It’s a handy upgrade, with 3 24” S6 shots a turn for 10 points.  It’s very much a personal choice though.  You can only get one per squad.  Believe me, if you could pack two or three, I would heartily recommend them.  The last guy is the Troupe Master, who gets an additional attack, a free weapon upgrade (Harlequin’s kiss or a power weapon: I’d choose the power sword myself as it’s more reliable) and a boost of Leadership to 10.  He costs 20 points and if you’ve got a large squad, I would say he’s a solid purchase.  This is a frightening squad and very hard to dislodge with conventional shooting, but when they get into combat, things can get a little dicey.  They are very brittle there, with only a 5+ Inv save and T3 to protect them.  They’re best placed to take on elite units where their weight of Rending attacks can stack up and do the work.  Massed attacks from a larger number of enemies can and will inflict significant casualties and at their points costs, you will feel them.  The challenge system can buy them some time and (if you’ve included the Troupe Master) perform some targeted squad leader takedown.  Just like the Incubi, they make a good bodyguard unit to accompany an Archon or Succubus.  They also work well to deny a patch of area terrain to the opponent and a lot of the time they won’t want to get near it!  Whilst I remember: Overwatch.  Here is the tactic for Overwatch.  Charge out of cover.  If your Shadowseer is still alive, they will all get a 2+ cover save against any snap shots that somehow reach them.  The only exceptions are flamer weapons.  You’ll definitely need to weigh up your risk/reward on that one.

So there you go: two close combat based bodyguard units.  Both of them kick arse against elite and well-armoured enemy units and suffer and hordes and are horribly expensive.  I really like both of them and I don’t think that either of them has suffered in the turnover to 6th.  In fact, you may well find more of them as people rediscover them in the near future!

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