No Pain, No Gain: Dark Eldar/Drukhari Kill Team Tactics

An article by    Gaming Kill Team Tactics        0

The Dark Kin come to Kill Team as fast and hard-hitting as you’d expect, and at least as fragile besides. They’re an interesting faction to play who can be a ton of fun, if you can get past the fact that you’re working without a safety net. Playing as Drukhari will require thoughtful play starting at list construction, as the obsession you choose to benefit from for a given game will strictly limit the number of datasheets available to you and push you solidly toward a particular tactic. However, the Drukhari present a wide variety of strategies to choose from along with a few tools that can let you grab control of the flow of the match and hold on for dear life. Just remember that if you’re not paying attention, victory could slip right through your fingers. But let’s be honest – the True Kin wouldn’t have it any other way.

Strengths

  • Power From Pain. Each model in your Kill Team benefits from a set of bonuses that stack up the longer the game goes on. Your models start with a 6+ ignore wounds, then gain the ability to re-roll charge and advance rolls from the second round, and add +1 to their WS from the third round forward. Your bonuses in rounds 4 and 5 make you more likely to pass your Nerve checks and impose a penalty on your opponent’s, respectively. These bonuses may not seem like much, but they do stack over time and help mitigate the penalties you’ll suffer due to flesh wounds and the loss of models over the course of the game.
  • Powerful Specialist Weapons. You’ve got access to some outstanding specialist weaponry that will let you remove models that actually pose a threat to you very quickly. Darklight weapons have a solid chance of just destroying whatever they’re pointed at. The shredder will more often than not force an injury roll at whatever you shoot it at. Hydra gauntlets and the shardnet and impaler are quite deadly when paired with the right Cult Obsession, and only get scarier with a good roll on the Combat Drugs table.
  • Useful Subfaction Traits. Drukhari get access to 10 subfaction traits, many of which are very useful and play directly into the strengths of the subfaction they apply to. Kabalites get better at singling out specialists and other “problem children” at extreme range or through cover. Wyches add additional attacks or bonus strength to their ability to lock down key shooting units and keep them out of the fight. Wracks get a 4+ invulnerable (trust us, this is really good). These let you lean into your strengths and get the most out of your core models.

Weaknesses

  • Glass Cannons. Most of your units are T3, and most of your units don’t have great saves. As a result, the difference between victory and defeat will depend heavily on your ability to quickly identify and eliminate or tie up the models that pose the most threat to you. If you lose control of the game in the first round or two, you’ve likely lost the whole thing.
  • Penalty For “Souping”. You only gain access to your obsessions if all the models in your Kill Team (other than Incubi or Mandrakes) are drawn from the same Kabal, Wych Cult, or Haemonculus Coven. This means that you’ll most frequently be looking to deploy your models as a “pure” sub-faction, potentially supported by Incubi and Mandrakes. This means you’re limited in the types of lists you can build and deploy if you want to benefit from an obsession for that match.
  • CP Intensive. Your game plan relies on seizing the flow of the match, getting your opponent in a stranglehold, and shaking vigorously until you’ve won. If things start to go wrong, you have some tools that can bail you out by securing a kill you might otherwise miss or making one of your own models just tough enough to survive, but they cost CP, which you don’t have a lot of. Keep your Leader alive and think carefully before you spend CP – if you spend CP thoughtlessly, you could very well come to regret it.

Drukhari Obsessions

Where most factions have 6 or 7 subfaction traits to choose from, Drukhari have a total of 10 to choose from. However, there’s a catch: you can only use a subfaction trait if all the models in your Kill Team (other than Incubi and Mandrakes) are from the same subfaction. That means that if your Kill Team consists of 9 Kabalite Warriors and 1 Wych, none of your models get access to subfaction rules. You’ll need to keep this in mind when building your roster.

As mentioned above, the best obsessions are the ones that let you lean into the strengths of the subfaction they apply to. For Kabals, you want to improve the likelihood that your ranged weapons will hit home before you’re forced to deal with your less-than-stellar options in the Fight Phase. For Wych Cults, focus on making your Wyches deadlier so they can more quickly move on to the next target. For Haemonculus Covens, take the 4++. It’ll make them even tougher.

Kabal Obsessions

  • Kabal of the Black Heart: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. What is one of the most-used obsessions in 40k isn’t even worth considering here. For starters, its abilities are almost entire melee focused and only affect the units in your list that you least want to get stuck in. Plus, the second half of the ability just doesn’t apply – nothing that can get this obsession lacks the Power From Pain ability. But most importantly, taking this in Kill Team won’t get you access to Agents of Vect or Writ of the Living Muse, the real reasons you were swearing allegiance to Vect in 40k.
  • Kabal of the Flayed Skull: A strong choice from 40k remains strong here, albeit for different reasons. With how common the penalty for obscuration is, being able to ignore it is effectively a +1 to hit in a lot of situations, and works well with rapid-firing splinter weapons to have a decent chance of putting wounds on someone through cover.
  • Kabal of the Obsidian Rose: Another strong choice, for similar reasons as Flayed Skull – you’ll be firing at long range a lot, especially if you bring a Dark Lance sniper or a Blaster. Being able to ignore that penalty will make those weapons much more effective. Keep in mind that this is less useful with a splinter cannon since you don’t get the bonus unless you’re outside rapid fire range.
  • Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue: Seems interesting at first, but doesn’t work out as well as you might hope and has no effect on your darklight weapons or shredder. The one upside is that it will work in melee as well as at range, but if your Kabalites get stuck in, something has probably already gone irreparably wrong. At short range with no obscuration, shots from a splinter weapon will still benefit from this trait, but it’s not worth giving up the effective +1 to your real heavy hitters in most situations.

Wych Cult Obsessions

  • Cult of Strife: A decent choice that combines well with Wych Weapons, and can turn your Wyches into some real terrors if you luck into the right combat drug.
  • Cult of the Cursed Blade: Probably the best option for Cults, this combines with Hydra Gauntlets or Shardnets to let you punch the shit out of marines and other T4 enemies, patching one of the biggest holes in a Wych Cult list. Plus, the bonus to Nerve tests is just nice to have, especially for a model that’s going to be taking risks to get stuck in.
  • Cult of the Red Grief: Gives you an ability you gain innately in turn 2 anyway. Having this turn 1 isn’t worth giving the increased reliability you gain from the other two obsessions. Hard pass.

Haemonculus Coven Obsessions

  • There’s really only one show in town for Covens, and it’s Prophets of Flesh. The 4+ invulnerable save makes your Wracks and Grotesques much more likely to survive to cross the board where they can actually do something.
  • Dark Creed and Coven of Twelve could both be interesting in a world without Prophets, but as it stands they’re probably not worth it. Dark Creed in particular is held back by the lack of other Ld-bomb gimmicks available to Wracks until round 5, and if you really need Fight-phase attacks with AP in your Coven list, bring the Grotesque. Just like in 40k, the real answer is “make the 4+ invulnerable the default, and then do something else with Prophets.”

Drukhari Units

Drukhari units tend to be fast and fragile, but with some nasty weaponry that and some dirty tricks besides. Kabalites bring dark lances and shredders alongside their splinter rifles to devastate the enemy at range, while Wyches move in with various wicked-looking implements to tie up their opponents and pound them into submission. Wracks are a bit different – they’re actually pretty tough (for an eldar, anyway), and their Gunners’ weapons are a bit less impressive. However, they pack a decent number of attacks, and the Acothyst can bring some nasty gear to help hit back after you’ve soaked up the opponent’s charge.

Kabalite Warriors

T3 infantry with splinter rifles, Kabalites were the core of many lists prior to Elites’ release. Their splinter rifles aren’t overly inspiring unless you focus down a single enemy, but they don’t care about an enemy’s toughness, which lets them shoot T4 and T5 more reliably than you might otherwise expect. They also have access to some incredible specialist weaponry, but are limited to bringing two: either a shredder or a blaster, and a splinter cannon or a dark lance. These are all great weapons, and which one you take will depend on the matchup and the board, so consider taking at least one of each in your roster.

The Sybarite can swap its splinter rifle for a pistol (not recommended), take a melee weapon (fine if you’ve got the points), or bring a phantasm grenade launcher (recommended).

  • Gunner Weapons:
    • Shredder: True to its name, this thing will shred infantry. S6 re-rolling wounds means that most of your hits will go through, and it’s got decent AP once it wounds. The only downsides are its damage characteristic of 1 and that d6 shots can be unreliable when you need it most.
    • Blaster: An Assault 1 Dark Lance with half the range, this can be a solid choice if you need another d6-damage shot.
    • Splinter Cannon: The splinter cannon won’t often be your go-to choice, but it can be useful on boards with more densely-packed terrain or . As a “heavy” weapon choice that’s actually Rapid Fire 3, you won’t be penalized for your lack of access to the Heavy specialization. And if you catch a model within 18”, its 6 shots will do work against lightly-armored infantry. 
    • Dark Lance: This weapon is faction-defining in most matchups. A dark lance-equipped Sniper specialist can reach out and touch nearly any model on the board, and whatever poor model in your opponent’s Kill Team finds itself in this model’s sights is going to have a bad time. Don’t be afraid to spend CP on this model to remove key specialists from play in the early rounds of play.
  • Sybarite Weapons: Your Sybarite comes with a splinter rifle, but you can swap it for a splinter pistol or blast pistol. You can also take a power sword or agoniser, as well as a phantasm grenade launcher.
    • Ranged Options: Stick with the splinter rifle. Your Sybarite is almost always going to be your Leader, and it’s fragile enough that you don’t want to commit it into charge range and potentially lose the bonus CP. The blast pistol could be interesting, but is ultimately too short-ranged to be worth it on this model. Save the points and keep the range.
    • Melee Options: Consider taking the agoniser if you have the points in your list. I know I said you don’t want to commit your leader, but your model count means you might not always have that option, and the agoniser will give its melee attacks a little extra “oomph” when you need it. The power sword probably isn’t worth it here due to only having 2 attacks at low strength.
    • Phantasm Grenade Launcher: Take this. It’s one point, and it opens up some interesting tricks. You can drop it on a model with a flesh wound to make it more likely to fail its upcoming nerve check. It also combines with the Torment Grenade tactic to provide a fairly reliable (albeit CP-intensive) source of mortal wounds.

Wyches

Wyches trade a point of armor save for an extra inch of movement and an extra attack, and have a few extra rules centered around close combat. In addition to the Power From Pain ability shared by all the Dark Kin, your Wyches will get into a random Combat Drug at the beginning of every battle, increasing one of their stats. This is kind of a crapshoot and the result isn’t always great, but when it comes into play it’s always helpful. They also pick up a 4+ invulnerable save during the fight phase and benefit from the No Escape rule, which makes it so enemy models have a less than 50% chance of being able to fall back from a fight with your Wyches, keeping their key models locked in combat where you want them. Finally, they come equipped with a splinter pistol and a Hekatarii blade, which gives them an extra attack in the Fight phase for a total of 3.

It’s worth pointing out that the “bad” Combat Drugs options from 40k are actually somewhat useful here – +1 WS helps hedge against flesh wounds, letting you get more mileage out of your wounded models, and the +2 Ld helps out with both break tests and nerve tests, pushing your Kill Team to Ld 10 if you bring a Hekatrix. They may not be as obviously useful as +1A, +1S, or +1T, but they’re generally more useful here than they are in 40k.

You get access to 3 Wych Fighters and a Hekatrix, and if you’re going to take Wyches you want to bring all of these. The Hekatrix brings an extra attack and can be equipped similarly to the Sybarite, while the Fighters get access to Wych Weapons, making them legitimately threatening against a lot of opponents.

  • Fighter Weapons:
    • Hydra Gauntlets: Gives you an additional attack. -1 AP, and lets you re-roll failed wound rolls. Without any other modifiers, this will chew up T3 and gives you a decent chance of wounding T4 and only gets better from round 3 forward. If you don’t know what to put on your Wyches, this is what you should take.
    • Razorflails: Like the Hydra Gauntlets, but you re-roll failed hits rather than failed wounds. Generally less effective than Hydra Gauntlets since what’s generally holding you back is your mediocre S3, not your WS. Take the Hydras instead.
    • Shardnet & Impaler: Gives you an additional attack, -1 AP, and hits at damage 2. If you’ve got S4, whether through Cult of the Cursed Blade or Combat Drugs, it’s worth considering taking one of these over the Hydra Gauntlets as the second die will improve your chance of scoring a kill on your first injury roll from 50% to 75%.
  • Hekatrix Weapons: Your Hekatrix has most of the same choices as the Sybarite above – you can’t take the splinter rifle, but can take the Hekatarii blade instead – but slightly different priorities on them.
    • Ranged Choices: The blast pistol is a better choice here as you’re much more likely to actually be in range to use it. And if you get charged and manage to survive, you can unload into your attacker’s face with it.
    • Melee Choices: You’re likely going to want to bring one of the melee upgrades. If you went Cult of the Cursed Blade, the agoniser does nothing for you except into T5, so bring the power sword. For Cult of Strife, the power sword is held back by your low strength, so bring the agoniser.

 

Elites

Wracks

Note: Wracks at Elites launch were the victims of one of the most egregious typist’s errors I’ve seen Games Workshop commit in a long time – the entire statline on their published datasheet is just flat wrong. Go to the FAQ on Warhammer Community for the update, or just refer to Codex: Drukhari. The abilities and maximum number you can take of Wracks, Gunners, and Acothyst are correct as printed, though.

At T4 with a 5+ invulnerable save, Wracks are the most durable models you can take without spending more than 30 points each. Take them as Prophets of the Flesh, and they’re legitimately tough (for Eldar, at least) with a 4+ invulnerable. Wracks excel at taking and holding areas of the board, spreading out and just plain refusing to die.

  • Gunner Weapons:
    • Ossefactor: Always wounds on a 2+, hits at AP-3, and throws out mortals if it kills something. This could be a powerful weapon, but it’s held back by two problems: at 5 points, it’s one of the most expensive weapons you can take, and its damage characteristic of 1 makes it less reliable than the Kabalite Gunner’s Blaster.
    • Liquifier Gun: A S3 flamer with random AP each time you fire it. On average, it’s fairly effective, and gives your Coven Kill Team some punch that doesn’t require you to be within 1”. Bring at least one of these, and consider taking it on a Demolitions specialist to make up for its relatively low strength.
  • Acothyst Weapons: There are basically two ways to build an Acothyst – backfield leader with a hexrifle, or aggressive leader with close combat gear. If you go with the latter, look at the liquifier gun and d
    • Ranged Choices: Your Acothyst can choose to bring a stinger pistol, liquifier gun, or hexrifle. The stinger pistol is a splinter pistol which always wounds on a 2+, and at 1 point it’s an acceptable choice if you want to get him stuck in and literally can’t afford the liquifier gun. Usually it’s down to the other two, though – the hexrifle will let your Acothyst Leader contribute to the fight without having to expose himself, letting him control backfield objectives while still taking potshots as you force the engagement elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want him to advance with the rest of your Kill Team, bring the liquifier gun.
    • Melee Options: These really come down to personal taste. The Electrocorrosive Whip is expensive, but it turns out that giving an agonizer a damage characteristic of 2 is pretty good. The Venom Blade always wounds on a 2+, but has a damage of 1 and no AP. It’s a decent all-around weapon, especially into lists that can field T5. The scissorhand is an agoniser that trades a point of AP for an extra attack, and is better into enemies with poor armor saves. The flesh gauntlet could be interesting on a Combat or Zealot specialist, but you’re probably taking the Acothyst as your Leader because he’s the toughest thing you can stick that on. The mindphase gauntlet sucks.

Grotesques

The Covens’ big guy is a pain to deal with in Kill Team, especially if you took the Prophets of Flesh obsession. At T5 with 4 wounds, this model is a real bear to take off the table. Its Flesh Gauntlet hits at S5 with a chance of dealing mortal wounds, and it can choose between a monstrous cleaver and a liquifier gun as a second option. However, at 38 points, he’s over a third of your list. 

  • Weapons: The Grotesque is always equipped with a flesh gauntlet, which has a chance of dealing a mortal wound with every attack. You can also choose between a monstrous cleaver and a liquifier gun.
    • Monstrous Cleaver: Lets you hit at AP-2 and make an extra attack for no point increase. Probably the best default choice.
    • Liquifier Gun: The liquifier gun is still pretty nasty, but it brings your Grotesque up to 42 points. Not an awful choice, but the extra attack and AP from the monstrous cleaver will usually be your go-to choice. Could be interesting on a demolitions specialist, though.

Incubi

With 3 attacks at S4 AP-3, Incubi are the “hammer” in your “hammer and anvil.” The Klaivex is what you’re looking at here, bringing +1W, +1A, and +1 Ld for 3 more points, as well as hitting at damage 3 on a 6+ to wound. A Combat or Zealot specialist Klaivex will force at least one injury roll on average against marines, and your 3+ save will help you shrug off small arms fire. Just be sure to keep these guys safe from specialist weapons, as their low toughness and lack of an invulnerable save means they’re easy prey for stronger weapons. At 13 ppm (16 for the Klaivex), they’re a bit expensive to fill out your list with, but having a Klaivex in your roster is worth considering.

Mandrakes

Mandrakes are a solid choice. Against most attacks, their 5+ invulnerable combined with the -1 to hit is about as effective as a 4+ invulnerable and only gets better as you stack on more flesh wounds. Their weapons aren’t incredible, but they have respectable output in melee and a chance of dealing mortal wounds with their ranged attack. On top of that, they can deep strike using the From the Shadows tactic, letting them deploy wherever is least convenient for your opponent.

Commanders

Drukhari have three choices of commanders, one for each subfaction. Unfortunately, if you mix and match, you lose access to obsessions, so we recommend matching your commander to the rest of your roster. Fortunately, all three choices are relatively inexpensive and decently effective for what you pay.

Archon

The Archon is your commander for Kabal rosters. Shadowfield is a nice trick to keep him alive in the early game, and the Huskblade is an excellent choice to get stuck into combat with, letting him take some of the heat off of your Kabalites. The Archon is also the only Drukhari commander with access to the Strategist specialism, letting him contribute an additional CP every turn so long as you can keep him alive. You’ll almost always want to take that.

Succubus

The Succubus is the Wych Cult commander. She’s essentially a Hekatrix with better stats who trades her pistol for an archite glaive, which adds 2 to her strength and hits at AP-1, but subtracts 1 from the hit roll. In the first 2 turns, this penalty is rough, but starting with round 3, it’ll be offset by the bonus from Power From Pain, making her downright dangerous in close. Ferocity and Melee are both solid choices for her specialism, but Stealth is an interesting dark horse choice – the ability doesn’t do anything for her, but she can use the tactic to move 8″ before the battle starts.

Haemonculus

Take a Haemonculus if you’re running a Coven roster. His unique aura tactic gives +1 toughness to all your models nearby and can be downright infuriating. His statline isn’t particularly inspiring, but he can bring your Wracks up to T5 at a key moment and significantly increase their survivability against small-arms fire. Ferocity, Fortitude, and Melee are all decent choices for his specialism – Ferocity will help him discourage charges, Fortitude lets you spend a CP to add a -1 penalty to an injury roll for a nearby model, and Melee gives you an extra attack and gives you the Stunning Blow tactic, which can be useful in an edge case if he fails to kill a melee threat.

Drukhari Tactics

Drukhari have some solid tactics to choose from that give them some interesting tricks, and many of them are 1 CP. However, their fragility means that you’re likely going to want to save those CP for re-rolls and tactics that keep your models alive.

  • Fire and Fade (1 CP): Move after shooting. Use this to pop out of cover and then pop back in, or to keep advancing in the shooting phase after taking a pot shot at your opponent. You can also use this to duck behind cover with a Kabalite Gunner who readied in the movement phase to move after firing at no penalty for moving. A
  • Cruel Deception (1 CP): A model can shoot after falling back. Great if one of your Kabalite Gunners gets tied up. Just keep in mind that you can’t Fall Back on the turn you get charged. On the flip side, the model you fell back from won’t be able to charge you after you use this. A
  • Torment Grenade (2 CP): Roll 3d6 when you hit an enemy model with a PGL. If you roll over the model’s Ld stat, it takes a mortal wound. Keep in mind that the -1 Ld from being hit by the PGL applies to this roll. This is a key source of mortal wounds and will help you deal with models that have strong invulnerable saves, but you’ll need to be judicious with it due to its cost. B
  • Pray They Don’t Take You Alive (2 CP): Use this when you take out the enemy Leader to impose a flat -1 Ld on their entire Kill Team for the rest of the game. A neat trick, but expensive, and you probably have more important things to spend your CP on, like “killing their dudes,” or “not fucking dying.” If you’ve got 3 or more CP, consider using this; otherwise, save it. B-
  • Bloodied Grace (1 CP): A Wych can consolidate up to 6” instead of 3”. Chaining together combats with a Hydra Gauntlet Wych can be terrifying, and they’ll have to roll off if they want to fall back. Plus, the more you can stay in combat, the more you get to benefit from that 4++. Use this. A+
  • Architect of Pain (1 CP): Count the Power From Pain track as one step higher for a model for one round. Usually not that great, but could be useful during round 2 if a model in close combat has taken a flesh wound. C
  • Lightning-Fast Reactions (1 CP): Use this when one of your models is targeted during the shooting or fight phase to impose a -1 to hit on all attacks against that model for the rest of the phase. This is a key tactic to increase the survivability of your most important models. A+
  • Hyperstimm (1 CP): Use at the start of a battle round to double the effect of a model’s Combat Drugs, but it has a 1/6 chance of taking a mortal wound at the end of the round. Its utility depends on your combat drugs roll and the matchup, and it’s a risk in any event. B-
  • Murderous Rivalry (2 CP): When your models that charged fight during the Hammer of Wrath Step, rather than activating one and passing, you activate two models that ended their charges within 4” of each other before your opponent is allowed to attack. Expensive, but useful on an edge case for hammering down a key target with Wych Weapons or your Klaivex if your Combat specialist isn’t in the fight. Just be sure to check that your opponent can actually activate during the Hammer of Wrath step before you commit to this. B-
  • Hunt From the Shadows (1 CP): A model from your Kill Team that is obscured in the shooting phase gets +1 to saves for the rest of the phase. Another key survivability tactic, though it only works in the shooting phase and doesn’t work if you get caught without obscuration. It’s a good tactic to have in your back pocket and combos nicely with the Prophets of Flesh obsession to push a coven unit to a 3+ invulnerable for a turn. A
  • From Out of the Shadows (1 CP): Deep strike up to three Mandrakes outside 5” of enemy models. A useful way to apply some backfield pressure. A

Playing Drukhari in Kill Team

You’ve got a lot of great tools available to you, but the number you can take at once is limited. If you can’t use them to get a decisive lead early, you’re going to have a rough time throughout the entire game. This is not an unforgiving faction, and you need to approach every step of the game – from roster construction, to picking your kill team, straight on through to every single move you make – deliberately and with care. It won’t always pay off, but when it does, it’ll pay off with dividends.

General Strategies

Strike first, strike fast, and strike hard. Figure out what the most dangerous models on your opponent’s side are, and then kill them. If you’re a Kabal list, the dark lance sniper is your go-to for this. In Cult or Coven lists, you’re likely to achieve this by multi-charging and ganging up on them. Bringing Mandrakes or a Klaivex can add a little close-combat punch to any list as well. Torment Grenade is expensive, but has pulled me out of several tight spots – use it to take down models with obnoxious invulnerable saves.

Be aware of how far you can extend with your models. Wracks and Grotesques are generally durable in any situation and can be deployed more or less normally. Mandrakes start out about as tough as Wracks, but get even harder to kill the more hit penalties you can stack on someone shooting at them. Have them skulk around in cover and take potshots with their baleblasts until they can close or until a nearby model has picked up a flesh wound or two, then close in for the kill. Wyches have a 4+ invulnerable in the fight phase, but a 6+ save otherwise. Move them through cover and get them stuck in as fast as possible. Incubi have a good save but no invulnerable, so keep them hidden from specialist weapons until you can drive them in for the kill. Kabalites fold under sustained fire in any situation. Hide them.

Hoard your CP like your life depends on it. It often does. Your most potent survivability tricks are gated behind CP. Luckily, they’re all 1 CP tactics, but individual 1 CP spends add up quickly. Make sure to keep your Leader protected, and be careful which model you choose as your leader.

Drukhari in Arena

Drukhari are a solid list in Arena. Cult and Coven lists do well, since they can take advantage of the tight corridors and door manipulation to get into close combat where they thrive. Kabals shift from dark lance to splinter cannon here, since the dark lance will have trouble lining up a consistent shot, leaving them more likely to force an injury roll, but less likely to pick up a kill off of the back of it. With a model count ranging anywhere from 8 to 10, you’ve got enough models to take and keep control of a decent portion of the board and manage some doors to frustrate your opponent. It can get tricky against true horde lists, but Cults and Coven can put them down through sheer volume of attacks in the fight phase, and the Kabal’s splinter cannon and shredder will work nicely when supported by a Mandrake or two. Unlike several factions, you’ve got the tools to contest almost any of the secondary objectives, depending on the map and the matchup. Rather than leaning in one direction or the other, take a look at your opponent’s combat roster and figure out what you want to fight for. If you think they’re going for a small, elite team, use your mobility and go for a numbers advantage to take control of the board. If they’re likely to deploy a horde, take your nastiest combat units and shoot for Attrition and Thin Their Ranks.

Cut Off The Head, Death From Afar, and High Profile Targets lend themselves well to Kabal lists, who can leverage their powerful ranged weapons and access to the Comms specialism to pick off specialists and leaders.

Cut ApartBounty Hunters, and Proximity Alert are better suited for Cult and Coven lists, since they’re going to get stuck in anyways. You might as well score points for doing what you were planning to do anyways.

Playing Against Drukhari

Don’t take unnecessary risks. Drukhari Kill Teams excel at punishing you for overextending and taking risks you didn’t have to. If you deploy a strong model in sight of a dark lance sniper, it will ready, it will shoot at you, and there’s a decent chance you’ll lose it before it’s had the chance to do anything. If I had a dollar for every Deathwatch Frag Cannon I’ve taken out round 1, I could buy myself another Kill Team. By the same token, don’t advance models within charge range of Wyches if you can’t afford to have them tied up in combat for multiple turns and don’t have a plan to bail them out. Don’t get stuck in a war of attrition against Wracks, they’re tougher than many players realize and can punch up reliably with their haemonculus tools if they can close.

Kill the threatening models first. If you can take the dangerous models out of play, the “standard” options available to Drukhari are less threatening. Kabalites without their Gunners are stuck with splinter rifles, which really need to focus down a single model to be able to remove it. Wyches without Wych weapons often wind up in protracted slapfights where nobody really gets anything done. Wracks without liquifier guns have to close to melee to attack you, and they’re not quite as fast at getting around the board as Wyches.

Don’t let them dictate the pace of the game. The Drukhari player needs to take control of the game immediately, and once they get it, they’ll use every trick available to them to hold onto it. Don’t let them – force them to get out of cover and come to you. Play to your strengths, and lock down objectives.

Sample Combat Rosters

Broadly speaking, there are four different ways to build Drukhari rosters: Kabal-focused, Wych Cult-focused, Haemonculus Coven-focused, and drawing from all three subfactions. Drawing from a particular subfaction alone will give you access to the relevant obsessions in every fight, while picking and choosing from across the list will give you access to the various specialist weaponry that can help turn the tide of a fight. Here are some starting points for your own combat roster:

Kabal Roster – Kabal of the Flayed Skull

I lean toward the Kabal of the Flayed Skull for pure Kabal lists since it pairs well with the dark lance, which has a good chance of forcing an injury roll every time it fires if you either support it with your Comms specialist or spend a CP for the Sniper tactic. The shredder averages enough shots to mitigate the range penalty, and I find that most of the targets I’d need to hunt with the blaster will want to come to me anyway. The 3-pack of Mandrakes either deep strikes or sets up in front to screen and intercept chargers, depending on the matchup. The Klaivex is in there to smash melee threats that I tie up with my other models. In arena matches, I sometimes skimp on the Mandrakes and try to fit more Kabalite Warriors to better control the board, since it’s harder for small model-count teams to traverse it between the tight hallways and doors that I can close. The splinter cannon is there for arena maps and other crowded boards where I don’t think I can get consistent use out of the dark lance.

  • Sybarite – Leader
    • Splinter Rifle, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Kabalite Gunner – Sniper
    • Dark Lance
  • Kabalite Gunner – Veteran
    • Shredder
  • Kabalite Warrior – Comms
  • Klaivex – Zealot
  • Klaivex
  • Nightfiend
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Splinter Cannon
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Shredder
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Dark Lance
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Blaster
  • Kabalite Gunner
  • Kabalite Warrior x 5
  • Mandrake x 3

Wych Cult Roster – Cult of the Cursed Blade

I prefer Cursed Blade’s bonus to strength over the extra attack from Strife, and the bonus to Nerve checks is never a bad thing to have in your back pocket, especially since Wyches have a nasty habit of picking up flesh wounds while they’re on the way across the table. I’ve taken a Nightfiend as a Leader both for his durability and the fact that he has a ranged attack that isn’t a pistol. Plus, I find that the Hekatrix is better in Combat or Zealot specialism with one of her specialist weapons – in this case, a power sword. Choose the specialism based on the matchup. Take the Zealot with shardnet & impaler into T4, and the Hydras into T3 (for the extra attack). As before, the Klaivex is there to smash into threats that you’ve tied up, and the Mandrakes are great for deep striking or ranging out through cover.

  • Nightfiend – Leader
  • Hekatrix – Combat
    • Splinter Pistol, Phantasm Grenade Launcher, Power Sword
  • Hekatrix – Zealot
    • Splinter Pistol, Phantasm Grenade Launcher, Power Sword
  • Wych Fighter – Zealot
    • Shardnet & Impaler
  • Wych Fighter – Zealot
    • Hydra Gauntlet
  • Wych Fighter – Combat
    • Hydra Gauntlet
  • Wych Fighter – Veteran
    • Hydra Gauntlet
  • Klaivex – Veteran
  • Klaivex
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlet
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlet
  • Wych Fighter
    • Shardnet & Impaler
  • Wych x 6
  • Mandrake x 2

Haemonculus Coven – Prophets of Flesh

Three choices of leader in this one based on how you want to approach the fight – Hexrifle for backfield objective control, whip for fighting stuff with 2 wounds, venom blade for stuff with only 1. The Mandrakes and Nightfiend are there as usual for deep-striking or intercepting chargers, and the Klaivex again serves as a hammer to the Wracks’ incredibly tough anvil. The Grotesque is an even nastier hammer and a solid anvil in his own right, but he’s expensive, so think carefully before you take him. This list will range out over the board and take control of objectives, punishing your opponent for coming to you.

  • Acothyst – Leader
    • Hexrifle
  • Acothyst – Leader
    • Liquifier gun, Electrocorrosive whip
  • Acothyst – Leader
    • Liquifier gun, Venom Blade
  • Wrack Gunner – Demolitions
    • Liquifier gun
  • Wrack – Veteran
  • Nightfiend – Combat
  • Grotesque – Combat
  • Klaivex – Zealot
  • Nightfiend
  • Wrack Gunner
    • Liquifier gun
  • Wrack Gunner
    • Liquifier gun
  • Wrack Gunner
    • Ossefactor
  • Wrack x 6
  • Mandrake x 2

Mixed Roster

The above rosters function by leaning in on the strengths of the “core” models, supplementing that with the appropriate obsession, and filling out the list with a Klaivex and some Mandrakes to taste. However, you can approach the game from a different angle – leveraging the unique strengths of each of the different subfactions to try to control the board. Use the dark lance Kabalite Gunner and Sybarite to accurately pick off high-value targets at range. Tie up the line infantry with Wyches and pound them into the dirt with their hydra gauntlets. Use the Wracks to control objectives and soak up hits from melee threats. I want to be clear – this roster is a bit of a mess and is almost certainly not optimal, but it has potential and plenty of room for customization to suit your personal taste. It’s presented here as a starting point if you want to field a mixed roster.

  • Acothyst – Leader
    • Liquifier gun
  • Acothyst – Leader
    • Electrocorrosive whip
  • Sybarite – Comms
    • Splinter Rifle, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Hekatrix – Combat
    • Blast Pistol, Agoniser, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Hekatrix – Combat
    • Blast Pistol, Power Sword, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Kabalite Gunner – Sniper
    • Dark Lance
  • Wych Fighter – Zealot
    • Shardnet & Impaler
  • Wych Fighter – Veteran
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Wrack Gunner – Demolitions
    • Liquifier gun
  • Wrack – Veteran
  • Nightfiend
  • Klaivex
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Shredder
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Blaster
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Wrack
  • Mandrake x 2

Mixed Roster, Redux

This roster approaches the Alliance of Agony from a different angle – where the previous roster is committed to fielding all three subfactions in every match, this roster combines three separate rosters around a Nightfiend Leader that can conceivably be run as “pure” Kabal, Cult, or Coven depending on the matchup, the map, and your mood. And since the obsessions trigger based on the models in your Kill Team, not your combat roster, if you decide to run one of these pure sub-lists, you’d get access to the appropriate obsession. If you wanted to, you could always still mix factions as well, but it’s probably not ideal.

  • Nightfiend – Leader
  • Sybarite – Comms
    • Splinter Rifle, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Kabalite Gunner – Sniper
    • Dark Lance
  • Hekatrix – Combat
    • Splinter Pistol, Agoniser, Phantasm Grenade Launcher
  • Wych Fighter – Zealot
    • Shardnet & Impaler
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Wych Fighter
    • Hydra Gauntlets
  • Acothyst – Demolitions
    • Liquifier Gun
  • Wrack – Veteran
  • Mandrake – Combat
  • Klaivex – Zealot
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Shredder
  • Kabalite Gunner
    • Blaster
  • Wrack Gunner
    • Liquifier Gun
  • Kabalite Warrior x 2
  • Wrack x 2
  • Mandrake x 2

Final Thoughts

Drukhari are a lot of fun, but they’re not for the faint of heart – every game is balanced on the razor’s edge, and when something goes against you, there’s not much of a safety net to fall back on. You’ll need to move with purpose and care, focus on identifying and removing their most dangerous models, put the pressure on, and never let up. Unfortunately, this leaves them in a rough spot in Kill Team, and they’re definitely not one of the premier competitive factions here. If you can get past the steep learning curve and how absolutely punishing some matchups can be, though, they can be an absolute blast and an incredibly rewarding faction to build and to play.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.