Games Workshop dropped its Q2 Balance Dataslate for 40k in mid-April, dramatically changing a number of key factions. Astra Militarum, Marines and Sisters were buffed, Harlequins, T’au, and Custodes were nerfed, and some key game rules were changed. Now with Tyranids looming on the horizon, we’re looking at several key factions and examining their place in this new emerging meta.
In today’s article we’re joined by Skari from The Art of War, who will be providing their thoughts on the Drukhari.
Let me be honest here: It is hard for me not to be totally biased about how awesome the Drukhari are, but I will try my best to take a look at this from a very leveled point of view, weighing pros and cons and not sugar coating it. For most of the last year/ITC season, the Drukhari were… basically where today’s Tyranids and Harlequins are. Many articles have been written on how OP the raiders, wyches and Incubi, or talos, or cronos, or liquifiers were, and through the year we saw the faction’s power reduced substantially through a series of balance updates and FAQs. Today, it is my opinion that the Dark Kin are in a great state in the current game. They have some good matchups and some bad matchups. They have some tools to deal with the meta lists but are not an army that can be played on autopilot. They have great list depth with lots of units to pick from, and this flexibility allows you to play different things as the meta shifts and pivots.
The Drukhari Currently sit at the top of the middle of the pack when it comes to competitive play. Since the start of the Nachmund season the faction sits at a healthy 53% win rate (thank you Jeremy for compiling all the meta numbers I reference). The latest hit to coven lists has made it so that Talos are no longer being the de facto “go-to” choice, which has definitely had an impact on the way we play the faction. The armies that I have been using lately are more and more like the lists that had been popular early in the life of the new Drukhari book. This means that lists seem to run more small and minimum-size units and have a higher rate of transports in order to keep those small units alive until needed.
The Dark Eldar continue to have the ability to play the missions in the GT pack well. We have the units to throw away and trade efficiently on the tabletop with units like small Incubi squads, we also have the ability to score lots of secondary points with small Troops units that can do actions and achieve other mission objectives. Traditionally, Drukhari have struggled against armies with a high volume of firepower and this is especially true of armies that had high volume of shots that could also target our units without needing line of sight.
The faction did not get any direct changes in the most current balance update. However I believe that a lot of the natural predators for the Drukhari in the current meta took significant hits, and that’s a -GOOD- thing for the dark kin. From experience, even against terrible matchups I tend to win games when I can hide my army and not commit anything at all and just claw and scrape for any mission points that I can nab when the opportunity arrives. The changes to shooting weapons that don’t require line of sight gives us a massive increase in the survivability of our very fragile units. Units like Hellions can be fantastic, fast, and deadly… if you can hide them until you’re ready to use them. Previously a few SMS or Airbursting Fragmentation Projectors would make that very difficult to do. Now, Drukhari can hide more effectively, and that is a good thing.
Let’s take a look at some of the matchups that we shall be facing as we launch into realspace. I’ll be taking a sort of tiered approach here – first we will look at some of the matchups I feel we’ll consistently do well into, then ones that can sometimes go south very quickly if your not careful and lastly ones that, traditionally, can be tough to face and will require some skill to navigate. Of course take in mind this is from my personal experience, and your story into each of these matchups might be a bit different, so please let me know what you think in the comments.
The first faction that I am going to tackle are the Adeptus Custodes. They lads in gold have fallen a bit from grace. Even at the height of the Custodes meta I always felt that I had a chance in the matchup; I had to play a very cagey game and needed to learn what units to commit at what times in the match to pull out the wins. With the balance update, this matchup became easier at least in the traditional sense – their fast units are easier to deal with as they can’t dump all the defense on the bikes any more, so they just go down a lot faster. Additionally if you can slow them down you have a much better chance at dominating the table with the Drukhari’s speed. There are still some Custodes builds that I feel do give us some issues however, like a 20 Sagittarum list I had to play one time, or armies with lots of dreadnoughts. All in all I think this matchup did get easier, and with characters losing ObSec we’re freed up to try and dominate the objective game a lot more.
The next one I want to talk about are Space Marines. I want to preface this with: Armour of Contempt is NO JOKE – respect it. The buff that the good ol’ super humans got is well deserved. However, the Drukhari still have some of the best tools for the job: Dark Lances and Blasters might not be as killy as they were before into the Marines but they are still one of the best weapons for killing things like dreadnoughts, heavy infantry or other vehicles. The killy Incubi, Djinn blade Archon, Drahzar, and Triptych Whip succubus are still some of the best tools into space marines and we will usually be building armies that include these units so although other armies might find it harder to take them on, I feel that this matchup is still a good one for us, traditionally… no matter how many chainswords they bring ;).
One of the big matchups that we can very much win, but can go south quickly, is the one against the Sisters of Battle. The Adepta Sororitas have the unique ability to make lists that trade well into the Drukhari. If I commit to the middle of the table too aggressively and they can pounce on me it can go south very quickly. The more MSU the sisters of battle army have, the better they are into us. They have high volume of shots with storm bolters and flamers, and great numbers in close combat with the exploding 6es and re rolls. Good character support from a killy cannoness, palatines, and Celestine can really help them lay down the law when it comes to board control. I do think we tend to have a good matchup against them, however you need to be conservative and try to get them to commit to you rather than the other way around. The Armour of Contempt update is about the same for them as space marines however they are T3 and you will likely be forcing them to make a lot more saves on average, mitigating its effectiveness. They now get additional miracle dice so keep that in mind when trying to kill a key character or small unit because they can be deceptively hard to kill at times. Overall make sure you don’t get comfortable or over confident into this match up.
The next one that can go either way is the matchup against our Craftworlds cousins. The new Craftworlds have not been in the spotlight as much as the Harlequins have been, but they are an army that can go toe-to-toe with the Drukhari when it comes to trades for objectives. One of the toughest matchups for the dark kin was the night spinner and platform spam list. This is a list that I feel will no longer be very popular thanks to the indirect changes so the matchup becomes a lot more winnable. Being able to keep our raiders alive until we need them by being able to hide them is very important; we can match the Eldar’s speed and we have the tools to be able to track down and kill units that try to get sneaky, like the warp spiders and the swooping hawks. We also have tools to do mortal wounds (and damage) in multiple phases of the game, making the phoenix lords a lot easier to deal with. However this matchup can go south if, once again, you over commit. We tend to have more units but if you lose too much too fast against the Craftworlds Eldar they could get the upper hand for board control and mission scoring. You just have to be on your toes – remember, never trust a Farseer.
Harlequins, Tyranids, and T’au (with lots of crisis suits), are all armies that we tend to struggle against. All three armies have a great volume of shots, from Str 6 shuriken cannons to lots and lots of fleshborers or deathspitters, to T’au flamers and burst cannons. The Drukhari die quickly when you roll lots of dice into them and it can be tough to deal with. Harlequins and Tyranids have good close combat options, with units usually rolling lots of dice in combat as well. All three armies can really contend with and rival the drukhari in speed, objective secured bodies and ability to score to the mission. The Tyranids also have some insane mortal wound output that can simply bypass our army-wide invulnerable saves making it hard to have a chance at staying alive.
But it’s not all doom and gloom – units such as the upgraded wracks (heamoxites) and a full court of the archon give us some durability options into these matchups, being able to soak up some punishment from shooting, combat and even mortal wounds with their ignore damage rolls. Dark Lances continue to be one of the best weapons to take out Harlequin vehicles, T’au suits, and Tyranid monsters. Against these armies you have to try and tackle one element at a time – don’t get greedy – and stack the odds in your favor by focusing fire, move-blocking the enemy units and aggressively trying to score objectives and denying the opponent theirs.
Building for the new Meta
The Drukhari list that can do well in this meta is one that has speed, some durability, the ability to score secondaries, and killing potential. I think you really want to include a Court of the Archon and a unit of heamoxites for durability. Meanwhile ravagers came back into my lists after Custodes arrived and I am even toying with Trueborn once again. The mainstay of killy characters, like the Competitive Edge Strife Succubus and or Drahzar are still very much a must=take as well.
Here is my most recent list, which I have been developing it for the last 3 months or so. It has proven to be well rounded and has a chance even into the top lists, and I took it to the CanHammer team tournament where our team came in second after an undefeated run.
- Archon Skari’s Raiding Party –
== Drukhari –Kabal of The Black Heart:Thirst For Power – Patrol = -0CP, [68PL,1172pts] ==
HQ1:Archon(70) Husk Blade(5)(Extra Relic: Djin Blade) Blast Pistol(5), Splintered Genius (15) Tolerated Ambition; Hatred Eternal[5 PL, 95pts]
TR1:4 Kabalite Warriors 1xSybarite, 5x Splinter Rifles [3 PL, 40pts]
TR2:4 Kabalite Warriors 1xSybarite, 5x Splinter Rifles [3 PL, 40pts]
TR3:9 Kabalite Warriors Trueborn 1xTruebornSybarite, 7x Splinter Rifles, 1xdarklance (15) 2x blaster (2×10) [8 PL, 145pts]
EL1: 4 Incubi, 1 Klaivex, 1x Demiklaives, 4 x Klaives [4 PL, 90pts]
EL2: 4 Incubi, 1 Klaivex, 1x Demiklaives, 4 x Klaives [4 PL, 90pts]
EL3no slot: Court of The Archon, 4xSslyth(18×4) 4xUrgul (16×4) 1xLhamean(16) [10 PL, 152pts]
HS1: Ravager (130) 3xdarklances [8PL, 130pts]
DT1: Raider (95) Dark Lance (5) [6 PL, 105pts]
DT2: Raider (95) Dark Lance (5) [6 PL, 105pts]
DT3: Raider (95) Dark Lance (5) [6 PL, 105pts]
DT4:Venom (65) Splinter Cannon (10), Twin Splinter Rifle [5 PL, 75pts]
== Drukhari – The Prophets of Flesh: Connoisseurs of Pain – Patrol= -0CP, [19PL,310pts] ==
HQ2: Haemonculus(70)Alchemical Maestro(20),Warlord:Twisted Animator, Relic;Vexator Mask [5PL, 90pts]
TR4:9HeamoxiteWracks1x Heamoxite Acothyst 9xWrack Blades 3xliquifier guns(3×10), 1xscissorhand (10) [8 PL, 140pts]
TR5:4Wracks 1xAcothyst 5xWrack Blades [3 PL, 40pts]
TR6:4Wracks 1xAcothyst 5xWrack Blades [3 PL, 40pts]
== Drukhari – Cult Of Strife: The Spectacle of Murder – Patrol= -0CP, [32PL,517pts] ==
HQ3: Succubus(80) Show Stealer (15) Tolerated Ambition:Competitive Edge, Extra Relic:Tryptic Whip – Picked Drug: Adrenalight [5 PL, 95pts]
EL4: 5x Mandrakes 1 x Nightfiend, 6x Baleblast and Glimersteel Blade [8 PL, 90pts]
TR7:4 Wyches 1xSybarite, 5xSplinter Pistol and Hakitarii Blade and Plasma Grenade Grave Lotus Combat Drug[3 PL, 60pts]
FA1:7x Hellions 1xHelliarch 8xhellglaives – picked drug Grave Lotus [8 PL, 136pts]
FA27x Hellions 1xHelliarch 8xhellglaives -picked drug Grave Lotus [8 PL, 136pts]
This list has all the elements that I want in the current meta. It’s got speed – with the ability to move with the transports and units like the hellions it can cover the distance on the table really effectively from one end to the other.
The core of the list allows me to pick flexible secondaries. I tend to pick Engage on All Fronts, Stranglehold, or Herd the Prey on one end and Raise the Banners High or Retrieve Nachmund Data on the other with my third flex pick being a kill secondary if possible (like No Prisoners for example), OR To the Last (the trueborn, heamoxites and court become the units for this). This allows me to have a relatively safe game plan against most factions on almost every mission.
The army is usually more defensive in play style, being able to hide and maneuver for one or two turns before exploding outward and doing a lot of damage on the third and subsequent turns. It can tackle the enemy at range with the lance elements, and it can tackle the enemy close as well with the incubi, hellions and killy characters. The haemonculus is a fantastic asset with the vexator mask and with the heamoxites they provide a very tough-to-shift anchor for the battle line during deployment. The largest weakness of this list was mass indirect/no-LOS shooting (discovered after many practice games), and as that type of list is likley to fade away I am confident that the list will continue to perform even as the Tyranids take to the stage.
Some potential changes here are to take out the small, 5-model Kabalite Warrior squads and replace them with more Wracks. However, I simply don’t own more, so right now I”m playing with what I have.
Wrapping Things Up
That wraps up our look at Drukhari but we’ll be back with more Faction Focus articles looking at how things have changed. Stay tuned for more to come – we’ll have more from both the Goonhammer and Art of War teams covering a variety (but likely not all) of the game’s factions.
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into my favorite faction, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Skari – out.
You can get more great analysis and insight from the Art of War by heading over to their site.
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