I played a battle last week with my Dark Eldar and wound up winning by quite a bit. My (slightly over competitive) friend (playing Tau) rightly got huffy and began to say that the DE are broken. I disagreed with him and, in response; he basically dared me to write a useful tactica for taking down Dark Eldar. I figured I would post it here just because Dark Eldar is one of those armies (for most people) that don’t show up often, but when it does it is no easy feat to take them down. Soon enough though, I figure with the new set of models released we are going to see a bunch more DE players, so we can always get started ahead of time!! I would also like any insight to make this better, so comments are welcome and appreciated.
So to begin:
Things you must have when playing against DE: RHs. Broadsides are going down against a DE army- count on it. While the ion cannon is tempting for help w/ taking out transports, str. 7 weaponry is much easier to get on a crisis suit. The blast template from the submunitions is incredible against warriors and wyches who are in or out of cover, not to mention grotesques, who are often used to screen against small arms fire. Gundrones- not only are these guys incredibly annoying when they screen FW from assault, but they have the added advantage of being able to pin whatever gets thrown at you. This is especially useful against Hellions (who don't show VERY often, but some players [me] like them because they're so darn cool.) Deathrain: These are ideal for taking out light vehicles. I would suggest giving them TA's, but that's just from experience. Stealthsuits: These are great for outflanking raiders and generally being a royal pain in the DE backside. DF: I always fully mechanize my armies, but it's particularly necessary against DE. While the DE have good AT weapons, but they don't convey their extra benefit against Tau vehicles because they are most efficient at fighting armor values>12. The coversaves from DPs are invaluable.
WWP:(WebWay Portal) This is more of a tool than an overall army organization. It is used to get assault troops into CC as quickly as possible. This is mostly used with Wych armies, but I've had some success using it as an effective screening device for assault troops by placing it on the frontline and dropping it only when it is threatened/ assault troops are getting too close, letting the CC element of the otherwise shooty DE army be placed directly in h2h. For more CC armies, it can be either transported on a raider or (more commonly) placed on a deepstriking unit of hellions/scourges and then opened upon landing (more specifically the turn after landing.) The second version is only really defeatable by a determined general who can put fire on all of these areas (Scourges are one of the squishiest expensive units in the game.) Note though that the Scourges will be able to fire their Splinter Cannons on landing- so I would suggest using tanks or crisis suits for this task. In the second scenario- it's pretty simple to counter- just get one DR Crisis team into LOS and unload missiles on it. In the case they use raiders to screen, simply focus more fire. Even FWs have a decent chance of getting at least one penetrating roll on the open-topped raiders (not pretty.) Even a minimum raider squad costs 95 points, they won't be able to get enough to screen them for quite long enough. If the WWP is opened too close to you, all is not lost- just relocate. The Tau are excellent at this.
Wych: This army is no doubt nasty- but they ARE counterable, contrary to popular belief. With the removal of CC consolodation, your troops are safer than ever in 5th. While I wouldn't suggest having kroot block wych assaults, gundrone screens are helpful to aid in FoF attacks. With 6+ armor saves, pulse fire rips through these soldiers. Even at range, 12 FW will end up killing 4 wyches, enough to force a morale check unless they are 20 strong. Pinning is also one of the DE's worst nightmares, so a pair of small gundrone teams assisted by some markerlight nastiness will never be good news. Dealing with raiders is just like dealing with any other sort of light, fast vehicle. DR are the way to go.
Nightshield warriors: Tau have an incredibly easy time against these types of armies, so long as they know what they're doing. To those who don't know, nightshield means that you have to see 6" further than the unit actually is to take them down. This army is based on DL (Dark Lance) spam. Luckily for us, our Deathrains have an effective range of 42", just right for taking out a raider/ravager hovering at max range. Keeping your DR in cover is helpful though, just so that they don't get mowed down by a barrage of str 8 fire. Just for some math- on a 4+, the DR will get a penetrating hit, if the unit moved flat out, which is likely if the DE player got first turn, they will also get a 4+ cover save. This means that a full team of DR (assuming they have TA) will get ~ 1.2 penetrating hits, which on a 2+ will destroy it (+1 for the open-topped and immobilized result counts as a crash) This means that the transport will likely go down. You shouldn't take any FBs against DE ever- they are FAR more than overkill, and you have to get WAY too close to use them.
Blue: Fast Attack
Orange: Heavy Support
Dracon/Archon (as well as the Wych Variants): CC beasts. These guys are really tough when they are outfitted correctly. Usually though, the real strength comes from the retinue, which will either be Incubi, Warriors, or wyches. The smart DE player will know that Incubi are overkill against Tau, so they will likely take simple warriors or wyches. With a shadowfield, the only real way to take out this unit is by shooting his/her raider out from below him, and kill enough warriors to force a morale test. The fact is though, that this unit is VERY expensive, and can stretch up into the hundreds of points. Once the shadowfield fails, this character is way too squishy for it to be any use.
Incubii: Not really an HQ choice, but deserve a seperate mention- w/ Marine armor save, these guys are hard to take down, and with a well equipped archon, are deadly. The only issue is that they will slow the archon down. In the case he does take an Incubi retinue, he will take a raider as well- shoot out the raider and he will be slowed considerably (no FOF)
Haemonculus: These guys are horrible to face. The worst version that I see are the destructor-on-jetbike kind. Usually stuck with other jetbikes equipped with shredders, they go hunting infantry- with the potentially high AP flamer, crisis suits are the main target for these guys. Taking down Haemonculi used in this fashion is just like taking down any other bike, but I will repeat- Deathrain, Deathrain, Deathrain.
Wyches*: These are cheap CC units that are horrific to take on...with other cc units. Frankly, our warriors aren't good enough at CC to be effected by wych weapons, so anything they fight will likely be overmatched- this is when drone screens come into handy- as it affords you a 40 point squad that gives you one more turn of RF pulse shots that could send these crazy space women running. *they count as troops in Wych Cults
Warpbeasts: I have yet to see someone use these outside of a WWP army. What you need to know is- TAKE OUT THE WWP CARRIER. Some stats though- they are incredibly fast fleet of foot cavalry that have high numbers of attacks on the charge. Counter them just like you would wyches with the 12" charge drug.
Mandrakes: I can't really offer any advice to use against these troops as they have battle-specific purposes that are mostly related to their special deployment, but some common uses are: scare tactics, contesting objectives in cover, being threatening to multiple squads/ objectives and soaking up fire. Mostly, these guys are obnoxious. Use blast weapons to ignore their high cover saves, but generally, it is pretty safe to leave these guys be as they have no real range to speak of.
Grotesques: These aren't as useful as they used to be- they have FNP, but it is up to debate as to whether or not the rule written in the codex applies or the one in the rulebook. Either way- submunitions take out these squads in a heartbeat. I doubt that you'll be seeing them anymore though since the removal of priority checks.
Warriors on Foot*: Hardly anyone uses these, but they can be used in the form of unmounted-sniper squads: essentially cheap squads with 2 DLs. These squads are annoying because they have access to heavy weapons at incredibly cheap prices. Stay out of their LOS/range and they won't be able to do much. *count as elites in a Wych Cult
Mounted Warriors*: These are similarly used, but have the added bonus of a raider to take them to forward cover. Some people use these squads to screen the wych and archon raiders, and you should deal with them in the way I described above. *count as elites in Wych cult
Hellions: People don't like hellions. Personally, I think they're awesome, but most competitive lists won't have them. They are jump infantry with power weapons
Jetbikes: This is one of the hallmarks of a DE army- but frankly they don't get much use other than screening the raiders. They can be used in an AT role though- but as soon as this units stops turboboosting, it becomes much more vulnerable to fire. I personally use them with Haemonculi, but that is rarer post-3rd edition. I just like the image of a crazed scientist running around with his acid gun.
Scourges: Very squishy shooting unit- I don't like them myself, but they do have deepstrike and are jump infantry. They end up being fairly expensive though, and usually are one-hit wonders. Massed FW shots will take down a scourge unit fairly easily.
Ravager: These guys are hell to face. Disintegrators will be the bane of Crisis suits and Dark Lances will be useful anti tank weapons. The only thing is- they have bad armor- better than Raiders, but still bad. I would actually suggest solid shot railguns in this case, as they won't run the risk of NOT killing the Ravager and getting fired back on- this is the only DE unit you should NOT keep at arms length.
Talos: Slow, but monstrous in CC. You likely won't have to worry about them though- they have variable amounts of attacks and are WAY overkill on everything in the army. If the DE player does take one, it will likely be in a WWP and likely used for distraction purposes (no one likes giant angry scorpions.) This probably won't show up, but the only thing you would likely have to deal with is the Talos sting. It's a bolter with assault 6, but it targets one shot to one model at a time, starting with the closest and moving further away. If the talos is this close to your army, move it- scorpion boy is overkill, not useless.
Some basic dos and don'ts
Take first turn if you have the chance- getting to fire on the army before it has moved is REALLY bad for raiders/ravagers/jetbikes.
Target transports first, others later
Use lots of gundrone screens
Kill the WWP carrier at all costs
Hide your army in cover you can't see out of/through: I say this because it gives the DE an edge that they really don't need. I'll explain later when I get to tactics.
Forget about the WWP (I will drill this forever)
Use an excess of slow troops.
Now to tactics- there are a few common ones that DE will use (I named them, they may have other names.)
The Flank: this is pretty obvious to see, and will likely be the tactic used against you as a Tau player. This allows the DE to concentrate on a small portion of the army and overwhelm it.
The Death From Behind: This is a reactionary tactic that is used when someone hides their slow units in cover- DS a unit of scourges or hellions and deploy the WWP in a place where the enemy can't shoot you without risking DL barrages. This will happen if you put too many of your units in cover in your deployment phase.
The Switcheroo- This is when a DE player runs a flank assault and then uses his transports to dump infantry on the other side of the flank he was originally running. This is used against armies like eldar who have specialized assault troops- as it simply jumps over them and goes right to their juicy/easy ranged units. Since our entire army is made up of juicy ranged units, this is not likely going to happen to us.
The atypical- This is when a DE player just spams warriors. Usually this is the tactic of a less experienced DE general- just pick them apart with Submunitions.
The most evil tactic in the world- Basically give the WWP to the Archon with an Incubi retinue in a DSing Raider. This creates a dilemma: if you shoot down the raider, the Archon will open up the WWP, and all hell will break loose, or you can ignore the raider and let the Archon and his evil retinue attack you in CC. This is very bad, and only the most obnoxious DE players will do this, but there is a counter- gun drone screens. So long as they're not so close as to be able to assault you turn one, you're golden. If they try to dismount, shoot up the squad. The Archon will be auto-killed by anything str. 6 and up, and he can't take a shadowfield with his WWP, so the submunition can essentially waste the 125+ point model (more if he gave him ideal options.)
The suicide- A whole bunch of raider teams in a cluster dive into the center of your army and dismount, the center one carrying a webway portal. You can see where this goes. A submunition, however, is no fun for those tightly packed raiders.
The Two-flank- this is a possible prevention technique if you do get first turn. Basically- he'll run BOTH flanks in the hope that you won't be able to reach both. The easiest way to counter this is to focus your railhead fire on the far side and the MP fire on the closer one.
What to realize w/ 5th Edition:
Dark Eldar, like Tau, are not meant for standing on top of objectives. This means they will likely run an agressive game on your objectives, with a small unit to jump out and cover his own. The best thing you can do is focus on having a unit to capture HIS objective. Play to the fluff of the Tau here- backing off of an objective is fine, their units won't want to hold them either, as they will be chewed up far worse than even Tau would. I've seen some DE players put a WWP on an objective too, so that reinforcements keep units away- this is a good idea, but it's expensive and the Dark Eldar Player needs those units in CC rather than defending objectives. Be careful though towards the endgame- make sure there aren't any raiders lurking 24" away, just waiting to pounce.
Dawn of War is good for WWP armies as it opens up a whole new avenue: One troop squad drops this baby on turn one at the halfway line and they've done their job and then some- they didn't even have to waste raiders in a skimmer screen. In fact, in cases where more than one WWP is being used, this is especially dangerous, as it allows for multiple points of access. The best thing you can do is try to get first turn and then use your commanders weapons to take out the WWP, or in the case of 2, one of the two. The other should be shot at with firewarriors or Kroot. If you don't, look for the open areas where he can't reach you in assault, and remember where they are. If you are smart, you stand a chance.
The other deployments are cool but not necessarily important- just follow the guidelines and you should have a shot- while Dark Eldar are an unforgiving army to play as, in the right hands, they are the best for manipulating enemy mistakes.
This is just my take on the DE. Anyone else should feel free to add or disagree, although knowing y’all, that’s likely going to happen.
Get some victories for the greater good, and I hope this helps.
Last edited by BikesR'Fun
on Dec 02 2008 11:14, edited 2 times in total.