Keys to the Spire, Part 3: Talking Drukhari with Archon Skari

Welcome, Fellow Denizen or webway wanderer to the last part in this series exploring the Dark Eldar yes, I still call them that, since I’m an OG Archon, and I wear your face over my face (also if you don’t get this reference, ask an older gamer in your game group). In today’s article we’ll be tackling the tips and tricks you’ll need to know if you want to master the faction and take your game to the next level.

If you missed the first two articles in the series, you can find them here:


Part 3 – Tips And Tricks to Getting Good with the Drukhari 

Let’s start by talking about the units that you’ll want to get your hands on to ensure your success on the tabletop in this edition, and how to take best advantage of those units. Then we’ll talk about how to capture objectives with those units and how to pick secondaries when playing Drukhari. Of course I’ve been reliably informed that Drukhari are so broken that you can just put any models on the table and you’ll cruise to a win in 70% of your games, so go ahead and put a blindfold on, pick some units at random, and start collecting the tears of your defeated foes.

But in case you do find yourself up against a competent general, let’s talk about the best units in the book anyways.


The Five Units Your Army Needs (Number Three Will Surprise You!)

The Dark Eldar book is full of great units, HQs and Obsessions – we’re spoiled for choice. However some are still better than others so in this section I’m going to look at the top five that I think should make their way into every pure Drukhari list and why they belong. 

Incubi. Credit: Corrode

5. Incubi

Incubi are elite killing machines. They have a great number of attacks in close combat plus great strength and good AP. They are usually great marine equivalent killers – but they can also be used to take out pesky swarm units like Necron Scarabs, Ripper Swarms, and Nurglings very effectively as they are 2 damage, potentially 3 with a klaivex and rolling some 6es to wound, allowing them to cut through higher-wound bases. Drahzar fits into this category, being an Incubi himself. He’s a really killy character and if you have not seriously considered him then you should. 

I recommend taking multiple units of 5 incubi rather than large units. Five of them is usually enough to kill almost every target you throw them at, and they are not a large points investment. It also gives you access to more rolls for their tormentor helms, so more chances that you will force enemy units to fight last.  


4. Wyches

Wyches are hyper efficient in close combat. They are fast, have lots and lots of attacks, and benefit from an array of special weapon upgrades as well as amazing stratagems, especially with cults and obsessions from the Cult of Strife and its rules from the Book of Rust. Wyches  are the manifestation of all the things that we have discussed in this series so far – fast, killy, and efficient, which makes for favorable trades. They also have some of the coolest special rules in the game – rules that can really win the game at a technical play level. For one, they can hold units in close combat with their No Escape rule (which is enhanced by shardnets), and they also have access to Combat Drugs that can make them even better at the role you’re slotting them in for.

Wyches work very well to compliment the killing power of the Incubi, having more attacks and access to some great stratagems (such as No Method of Death Beyond Our Grasp to fight twice for the Cult of Strife). They also have the tools to be a very good horde-clearing unit. Incubi are scalpels, wyches are blunt force trauma (made of brittle sharp crystal). 


Drukhari Mandrakes. Credit: Corrode

3. Mandrakes 

See – I told you that this entry would surprise you! Mandrakes are a toolkit unit, and frankly I think they are a better all-round choice than Incubi if you have to make the choice between the two for your list. A couple of units in your army make scoring something like the Deploy Scramblers secondary objective very easy. They have the ability to forward deploy, which allows you to significantly blunt the effectiveness of more aggressive armies like space marine armies with invictor tactical suits. They can also really enhance the Dark Eldar army if it goes first, hopping onto objectives on your opponent’s half of the table to prevent them from performing actions on objectives for secondaries like Raise the Banners High or Spread the Sickness


Credit: Garrett “John Condit” Severson

2. Dark Technomancer Wracks 

Ok let’s face it, the Liquifier guns that you can equip wracks with are nothing special on their own. An AP-2 flamer is nothing to write home about… until you combine them with the Dark Technomancer Obsession, which gives them +1 damage and +1 to wound rolls with ZERO consequences, at which point they become an “auto take.” These guns come on a cheap Objective Secured unit that can go in fast-moving transports, outflank, or deep strike. 60 points for a small unit of 5 models with 2D6 flamer shots of this caliber is bordering on insane, making them the number two unit on this list.


Credit: Corrode

1. Raiders

The single most important unit in the army. Without raiders, there is no Drukhari army. They’re a fantastic transport – cheap, fast, and surprisingly durable, they FLY and come equipped with an anti-tank dark lance! What’s not to like? They can carry pretty much anything in the Drukhari army regardless of what Obsession, Cult, Coven, or Kabal they are from and they are incredibly cheap for what you get (barely more than a rhino). Raiders are also open-topped, meaning that the units inside lose very little in the form of battle effectiveness while embarked as they can remain inside the transport and still take shots at the enemy while being protected from enemy fire. If you want to play drukhari effectively, you’re going to need at least four Raiders.


Capturing Objectives in a Killy Meta

It’s a deadly meta out there and as we’ve discussed before, the units in a Drukhari army can be pretty fragile. Scoring points against more killy enemies is all about layering and activations. Specifically, layering your units and levels of protection on an objective to weather multiple activations from an opponent.

The best way to hold an objective with Drukhari is with a transport holding small units and a character, preferably behind obscuring or dense terrain (note that the units remain in the transport). The transport lends the units extra durability but the key here is to force your opponent to expend as many of their shooting activations as possible to take the unit down and clear the objective. So say your opponent had five units they could activate to shoot at your units on an objective. Out of the transport, they can pick and choose the most effective and efficient ways to shoot and kill each target, picking off the two smaller units, then the transport, and potentially the character. By keeping those units in the transport, you force your enemy to dedicate some serious firepower to removing the tank (something we’ve covered in our recent Hammer of Math articles as being easier said than done). Add on to this a negative modifier to hit, invulnerable save, and a re-roll if needed and you can ensure that two or three of those units are required to just take the transport down and even if they kill it, there are now three disembarked units holding the objective. If the enemy only has two units left to shoot with they won’t have enough activations to even touch the character. Meanwhile the rest of the army now has five fewer activations to worry about on other objectives. 

Stacking layers of protection to force an opponent to spend more of their activations is one of the main ways that I make sure that I can score objectives against enemy armies that tend to have an overwhelming number of shots. Terrain is even more important, but you can’t always rely on having good terrain.


Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Choosing Secondaries

Finally let’s discuss how to choose the right secondaries for a Drukhari army. As new codexes and missions get introduced there will be more and more options to pick from but as it stands the Drukhari tend to be able to achieve two secondaries very easily no matter who they play against; the third is a bit more difficult and worth discussing. 

So, what are my go-to choices when playing Dark Eldar?

1. Battlefield Supremacy: Engage on all Fronts or Herd The Prey

These two are my go-to for my first pick. Which of the two I pick will depend on how I will be playing against my opponent. If I want to be able to stay back and force them to come to me, I pick Herd the Prey; if my opponent sits back and does not commit, then I score points. If they commit to my side of the table then they will be in range for me to get aggressive and potentially deal so much damage to their army that they won’t be able to recover.

If I want to more play more aggressively then I will take Engage on all Fronts; this one requires me to be more active and get into my opponent’s face more often than not. However it does incentivize you to be in a position to contest enemy objectives and put pressure in their zone so it’s a great choice for that playstyle. It is also an objective that is 100% in your hands and your opponent can’t really dictate your scoring – they don’t have nearly as much agency as they do with Herd the Prey. 

2. Shadow Operations: Deploy Scramblers or Raise the Banners High 

The other two objectives that I take in pretty much EVERY single game regardless of who I am playing are Deploy Scramblers or Raise the Banners High

Deploy scramblers is probably the easiest (for me) to achieve and there has not been a game in 9th edition that I can remember not scoring it when I took it. However there have been a few instances where I was very close to NOT scoring it because opponents are getting better and better at killing the right things and zoning out portions of the table, which can prevent this from being scored. So be careful out there – units like Mandrakes and Scourges really help with this but it can be risky as an “all-or-nothing” objective.

Raise the Banners High is a secondary objective that I have been taking a lot more frequently as of late. Primarily because I have been pairing it with Herd The Prey in missions, or against armies, that call for me to play a more defensive style. Often this will be when I don’t need to over commit to the other side of the table, especially against slow armies like Death Guard who then are forced to come toward me. This allows me to use my speed to then counter attack and push into or over the enemy battle line and onto their backfield objectives mid- to late-game. 

3. The Third Secondary Objective: It Depends – Sometimes The Mission one, Sometimes Assassinate, Sometimes Thin The Herd… 

Picking your third secondary objective is typically the most difficult and to be fair sometimes the process can be more like flipping a coin and hoping that you get the right side. That said, Drukhari are one of the only armies that can reliably get Assassinate with the ability to snipe characters with Eviscerating Fly-By on Reavers or Hellions, or being able to jump into them in close combat with some very killy units and characters that can go toe-to-toe with even the toughest units and make a favorable trade that also nets you 3 VP.

The best advice I can give here is to use a process of elimination to determine which of the remaining secondary objectives will likely net you the most points – not necessarily the one that you’re most likely to max out. Aim for a secondary that will give you the most points on average based on how you have to play the game and approach the matchup – look for secondaries that align with your existing game plan. This is honestly the best way to look at it. 


Wrapping Things Up

And there you have it. The Secrets of the Spire revealed to you by the twisted mind of Archon Skari. In an age where Drukhari have become very popular of late I hope this provided a useful stepping stone for players of all skill levels. Be creative and passionate about improving, and make sure to use all of the resources you can find to improve your game. Reach out with any questions, and if you liked the series let us know what else you would like the darkest minds of the webway to reveal to you in the future. 

Ahhhh The Dark Kin. 

You can read more from Archon Skari on The Art of War 40k or follow his exploits on YouTube

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