There are tonnes of choices for the canny DE player in the Elites section of the book. You’ve got stuff that looks really cool, but also a lot of stuff that has a real niche or specialisation that they focus on. This is not the place for your all-round units. Even the most versatile of these options (the Trueborn in my opinion) will be focussed on performing just one task throughout the game, but then again, you could say that of most units, in any codex. But here I feel it’s thrown into starker relief. As such, you need to bear certain roles in mind for each of your choices here. The DE are a stabbing weapon. If you try to hack and slash with them, they’ll break. Anyway, enough of the longwinded banter, we need to get to the brief analysis. Or at least briefer than last time.
Wracks: I mentioned this in the Troops section and the overwhelming majority of the time that’s where you’ll find them. They can be bought in a small unit size and cost only 30 points for a scoring unit at minimum. In order to unlock them, you’ll need an HQ choice that, let’s face it, you’ll probably have taken anyway, so these guys are going to be everywhere in a Dark Eldar army. They were in 5th and nothing has changed to decrease that prevalence in 6th. Using them as anything but a deckchair unit is where things get a bit iffy. They were fair to decent assault units in 5th, brought down by a lack of grenades and close combat weapons that ignore armour and which the new edition being brought into a line slightly in opposition to assault is a strike against them. They’re not good now against most things. But one niche has actually opened up: Monstrous Creatures. They are far better at dealing with MCs than they used to be. Poisoned weapons work they same way the always had, which was always a boon vs high Toughness enemies, but the main shift in their favour is FNP still being applied to AP2 attacks. Now, most monstrous creatures (average strength of six or maybe seven) are not going to deny their FNP, meaning that it would be relatively easily to swamp the standard MC with poisoned attacks and bring them down in a turn or two. A third of the wounds caused will be ignored by the Wracks, and that will increase the odds of them staying in the combat for longer and getting more poisoned attacks in. For anything else, I wouldn’t recommend them though. Wyches are on an even keel survival wise, but when they get their first pain token, that shifts radically, so wyches tend to last longer, even if the majority of them may not punch as hard as the wracks can. Wyches also have more versatility against different types of targets at roughly the same cost, so unless you’re going for theme, they’re not the best troop/assault choice. Still excellent deckchairs and can have decent assault potential though.
Grotesques: I’ve dug out my DE a few times since starting my Necron binge and every time I do, I use Grotesques. I’m proud of the cut’n’shut conversions I’ve done for them and they’re a very fun, very durable hammer unit for my Archon. Will that change in 6th? I’m doubtful. You’ve got the standard changes in FNP to worry about, but this is one of the few units this is actually overall helpful for, as many opponents fire big guns at them to make them go away and, although a Lascannon couldn’t instant kill them in 5th, now they get 5+ against it (plus cover). The only weapons they’re scared of a Strength 10. When they get into assault, that’s all so much better, as very few opponents get S10 close combat weapons, although you should still be worried about fighting MCs with them, as a Smash attack will still ruin their day. The challenge system works nicely for them, as the choice of whether to use the viciously powerful Aberration or the powerfully vicious Archon is one that I doubt many people will get bored of. Both stand in very good stead against a squad commander with a power fist. With enough strength to take down light to medium vehicle and relatively easy access to furious charge they make an excellent hammer unit. Just remember to keep a character with them at all times! Nothing’s more irritating than seeing a unit like this go on an unwarranted murderously rampage and then explode. My normal set up is four-strong with an aberration with scissorhands and one of the squad with a liquefier gun (although with wound allocation being what it is now, you probably don’t really need to spend the 10 points if you don’t want to). That’s 12 T5 Wounds and 19 S5 attacks on the charge. All that only costs 175pts. Even in the realm of Chaos Spawn, I still think that’s a good deal.
Next up: even more Elites!