Start Competing: Dark Eldar/Drukhari Tactics

Welcome to the Dark City! If you’ve always been Drukhari-curious but never knew how best to approach this weird collection of torture elves, Frankenstein elves, and pirate boats, then this is the article for you. The purpose of the guide is to run through the key units and strategies available to the faction, giving you an overview of how to get the most out of your army.

All articles like this reflect a point in time for the metagame, whether because of evolving strategies or the tide of new releases. In this case, the article has been updated as of August 2021, following the FAQ changes to the 9th edition Codex: Drukhari.

Let’s begin with a look at the significant strengths and weaknesses of the Drukhari codex:

Army Strengths

  • High mobility and able to play the mission exceptionally well, with a really strong secondary objective pick in Herd the Prey
  • Cost-efficient units including some of the game’s best pound-for-pound combat characters, Troops choices, and Dedicated Transports
  • Powerful relics and stratagems, including extra Cult of Strife options from the Book of Rust

Army Weaknesses

  • Zero native psychic options
  • Relatively fragile – almost all of your infantry are T3 with saves of 4+ or worse

Competitive Rating

Very Strong. The 9th edition Drukhari codex was released in March 2021 and immediately dominated the metagame for the next 3 months, posting ludicrously high win rates only rivalled by the 8th edition Iron Hands supplement. That they weren’t more oppressive was mostly down to them being relatively unpopular as a faction, meaning fewer players were able to whip out an entire tournament-ready army at a moment’s notice. After 3 months of this Games Workshop finally made some moves to calm things down, issuing an FAQ with a couple of emergency points changes for Raiders and Drazhar, and also outright excluding liquifier guns from benefiting from the Dark Technomancers custom Covens trait. At time of writing, Drukhari and Adeptus Mechanicus are neck and neck for “strongest codex in the game.”

The Rules

Table of Contents

Power from Pain

Source: Warhammer Community

Power from Pain has been transformed for 9th edition, with an entirely new set of effects available. It’s also now the “pure faction” ability for Drukhari, requiring every unit in your army to have the DRUKHARI keyword (or UNALIGNED) to work.

The default effect is now to give everything in your army a 6+ invulnerable save, meaning that all of your units will have at least a 6+ to save almost all of the time. That’s a big survivability bump from the previous 6+ Feel No Pain effect, since it’s more efficient against multi-damage weapons, and helps reduce the impact of high AP weaponry tearing through your units’ fragile armour.

From turn 2 onwards your gain army-wide Advance and charge, an utterly huge effect for your high-Movement glass-cannon combat units – it’s now easier than ever to get Incubi or Wyches or Grotesques or Talos or whatever else into melee. Turn 3 gains Flensing Fury, with a dual effect giving you both +1 to hit for melee attacks, and also removing the penalty to hti with Heavy weapons fired while in Engagement Range for VEHICLE and MONSTER units, before Mantle of Agony in turn 4 boosts your invulnerable saves to a 5+. This is great for keeping your units ticking as you move into the late game, while finally Emboldened by Bloodshed in turn 5 saves you from any late-game Morale tests and also allows your vehicles to operate more efficiently.

Most of the best and most impactful stuff here is front-loaded into those first 3 turns, giving your army a huge boost – particularly Eager to Flay, which really ups the threat range of your key combat units and allows them to threaten enemy units all over the board, particularly on the smaller 9th edition tables.

Poisoned Weapons

Poisoned Weapons make their return, though they’ve had a few tweaks. Instead of the previous slightly odd construction where Poisoned Weapons wounded on a 4+ and then e.g. a Venom Blade would “add 2 to wound rolls,” they’ve moved to a more sensible system where individual weapons have a fixed value of e.g. Poisoned Weapon (4+). This is important not just for clarity’s sake, but also because you now wound on an unmodified roll – so e.g. -1 to wound effects no longer affect Poisoned Weapons (though rules like Transhuman Physiology still work, as that sets a target number of its own and also works “irrespective of other rules”). Probably the most obvious place this impacts is in the Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue Obsession, which improves all Poisoned Weapons by 1 so that e.g. a splinter rifle will wound on a 3+ rather than a 4+.

Otherwise the rule is much the same as ever; it still doesn’t work on VEHICLE or TITANIC units (though more on this in the Stratagems section) but is otherwise great at giving you reasonable odds against any target. One thing worth noting is that these weapons now have an actual Strength value, so in the rare instance that the Strength is better at wounding than your Poisoned value (e.g. firing a splinter cannon into something with Toughness 2), you can use that instead – no more blasting away at Gretchin and wounding on the same value as you would a Carnifex.

Kabalite Trueborn. Credit: Corrode

Blade Artists

A fun new inclusion in the Drukhari arsenal, Blade Artists is a straightforward improvement in melee output – each time a model with this rule makes a melee attack, on a 6 to wound you improve their weapon’s Armour Penetration characteristic by 1 (so e.g. AP-1 becomes AP-2). That’s a big boost in melee effectiveness for your units, allowing them to punch through armour with ease – possibly most noticeable on Wyches, who previously struggled to take on power-armoured targets effectively, but extra-funny on Incubi and the like where a 6 to wound becomes AP-4. This rule is very widely distributed – even the transports and Ravagers have it!

Insensible to Pain

A Feel No Pain ability for Haemonculus Covens units, giving them a 5+ to ignore wounds. This can make Wracks in particular very tough to get rid of, but also helps the monsters weather the storm of their newly-reduced invulnerable saves.

Combat Drugs

Combat Drugs remain a feature of the 9th edition Drukhari codex, and are much the same as they ever were, with 2 key tweaks:

  1. Adrenalight – +1 Attack if the unit charged or made a Heroic Intervention this turn
  2. Grave Lotus – +1 Strength
  3. Hypex – +2 Move
  4. Painbringer – +1 Toughness
  5. Serpentin – +1 Weapon Skill
  6. Splintermind – +1 Ballistic Skill and +1 Leadership

The two changes are to Adrenalight, which now requires you to make a charge to use it, and Splintermind, which now grants a point of Ballistic Skill as well as its former Leadership effect. These are great changes – Adrenalight is now slightly weaker (and therefore better balanced with Grave Lotus) but still very potent, while Splintermind now has a reason to exist at all, particularly since Reavers are a cheap and effective platform for the much-improved heat lances.

The other big thing with Combat Drugs in 9th edition is that you no longer have any restrictions on handing them out – you can just give them to whatever unit as you please, so for example if you have two lots of Wyches you can give them both Grave Lotus. This helps make Wych-heavy armies much easier to use, as you’re no longer forced to either rely on random rolls or carefully distribute 1 of each type around your army.

Picking the right drugs really depends on your plan for what your units are going to do. +1 Attack and +1 Strength are obvious choices for improving the punching power of your melee-focused units, but it can be potentially worthwhile to invest in Hypex too to increase your units’ ability to get around the board – a base 10″ move on Wyches or a Succubus combines neatly with Eager to Flay for some truly gross threat ranges. The second half of the table is a little less relevant for what you’re going to do – +1 Toughness doesn’t change too much when you have quite poor saves and Toughness to begin with, though it’s potentially funny on Reaver Jetbikes or Hellions to push them to T5 or even T6 with the Hyperstimm Backlash Stratagem. Splintermind, as mentioned, has some relevance for gun-toting Reavers. Serpentin is the weakest of the options here; your combat units hit on 3s normally with +1 to hit coming online from battle round 3 onwards, and even taking hit modifiers into account you’re likely to get more value out of Adrenalight or Grave Lotus instead.

Drukhari Succubus. Credit: Paulie Wallis/Sky Serpent

Lords of Commoragh

A Battle-forged army with any DRUKHARI detachments can upgrade either an Archon, Succubus, or Haemonculus in that detachment (or one of each, if in a Realspace Raid) to a Master, which gives them a few bonuses as described below. If you have multiple detachments you can upgrade multiple characters, including multiples of the same type, but you can only have one per subfaction in your army. For example, you could have a Kabal of the Black Heart detachment and a Kabal of the Obsidian Rose detachment, and a Master Archon from each, but you couldn’t take two Black Heart detachments and two Master Archons of the same Kabal. These upgrades all cost points – 15 each to upgrade an Archon of Succubus, and 20 for a Master Haemonculus. Each type gains its appropriate keyword – i.e. a MASTER ARCHON, a MASTER SUCCUBUS, or a MASTER HAEMONCULUS – and access to a default ability, and then an additional choice of relic and/or Warlord trait.

Master Archon – Kabalite Diversion

Ability: Splintered Genius

Any Master Archon gains the Splintered Genius ability, allowing it once per battle to fight again at the end of the Fight phase as long as it’s within Engagement Range of any enemy units.

Relic: The Soulhelm

A Master Archon gains access to the Soulhelm relic, which gives the bearer -1 to be hit and a 5+ to ignore wounds. This is a reasonably good relic, and Drukhari have relatively few available to them – it’s possibly not your first choice for a Master Archon, but it’s not a bad one. B

 Warlord Trait: Consummate Weaponmaster

+1 damage for melee weapons the Warlord is equipped with, excluding Relics. This has at least a little purpose, since your Archon comes with either a venom blade, power sword, or huskblade, and any of those can do with +1 damage to make them punch up a bit, but most likely if you’re going to try and make a combat Archon happen you’re going to want Hatred Eternal and the Djinn Blade. C+

Master Succubus – Wych Cult Spectacle

Ability: Show Stealer

Each time this model makes a consolidation move, it can move an additional 3″ (i.e. 6″) and doesn’t have to finish closer to the closest model (i.e. you can ping her off wherever you want). A fantastically powerful ability, since it means your Succubus can dive into combat, do her bloody work, and then freely run away again to the safety of a screening unit or behind terrain or whatever else you want to do with her, without ever getting hit. Just bear in mind the FAQ on models in base contact, which states that you can’t move further if you’re  base to base – don’t let her get trapped!

Relic: Dancer’s Edge

A replacement archite glaive, giving the bearer S+2, AP-4, damage 2, and ignoring invulnerable saves on an unmodified wound roll of a 6. It’s a reasonably good weapon which probably falls just short of actually being taken because there’s 2-3 better melee weapon options available to you in Drukhari, especially in the Cult of Strife – if you’re for some reason running heavy on Succubi and cutting yourself off from those options though, this might be worth a look as a second choice weapon behind the Triptych Whip. B-

Warlord Trait: Whirling Death

Each time the WARLORD fights, after pile-in moves, you can choose for its Attacks characteristic to be 3 + the number of enemy models within 2″ of it. This is an ok attempt at getting this kind of trait to actually function, particularly by giving a base number of attacks to shore it up, but it’s a bit misplaced here as it’s utterly trivial to build a Succubus with 10-14 attacks all the time with either the Triptych Whip or the razorflails weapon she can take for free, and save her Warlord trait for something better. C

Master Archon – Haemonculus Proclivity

Ability: Alchemical Maestro

Once per game, you can roll a D6 when this model is destroyed and on a 2+ you set it back up again (as close as possible to its original position but not within engagement range) with d3 wounds remaining. A useful ability for keeping a Haemonculus ticking over just that little bit longer, and making your opponent work a little bit harder for Assassinate points and the like.

Relic: Poisoner’s Ampule

A fantastic once per game relic, which can be used at the end of the Movement phase. The bearer can pick a unit within 9″, and on a 2+ it does d3 mortal wounds; additionally, regardless of the dice result, the unit targeted can neither grant its Aura abilities to others, nor can it be affected by the Aura abilities of other models. The mortal wounds are nice on their own, but being able to turn off a key aura, in whichever direction is easiest or most important, is just amazing – turn off that Narthecium, remove Azrael’s 4+ invulnerable save bubble before piling on the darklight, take away re-rolls to hit or wound or both, whatever. A

Warlord Trait: Twisted Animator

In your Command phase, you can pick one friendly <HAEMONCULUS COVEN> WRACK unit within 3″ and add back d3 destroyed models to the unit (and if the unit is already in Engagement Range they can be set back up in Engagement Range). A good trait especially if you’re taking a block of Haemoxytes to accompany him. B+

Favoured Retinues

As well as the upgrades above, having a Master gives you access to a Favoured Retinue of its type – Kabalite Trueborn for Master Archons, Hekatrix Bloodbrides for Master Succubi, and Haemoxytes for Master Haemonculi. This is a welcome return for the former two units, and it’s nice to see an equivalent brought into being for Haemonculi, too.

Each of these is essentially an upgrade to the core Troops unit, and at a cost of +2 points/model they gain several bonuses – each of them gets +1 Leadership, and then two other things besides. You can take one for each MASTER X in the army which is in the same Detachment, and each has a maximum size of 10 models.

Kabalite Trueborn

Kabalite Trueborn get BS2+ and can ignore any or all hit roll or Ballistic Skill modifiers when making a ranged attack. This is an excellent ability – in simple terms it means the unit always hits on 2s, which is great against hit modifiers in general, but also means that you can e.g. take a unit of 10 with a dark lance or splinter cannon and move and fire it without penalty. This is great for a unit mounted in a Raider, allowing them to max out on their weapon options while losing nothing for moving and shooting.

Hekatrix Bloodbrides

Hekatrix Bloodbrides get WS2+ and each time they trigger the Blade Artists ability, they improve the AP of the attack by 3 instead of 1 – so any time this goes off on a regular Hekatarii blade the attack is AP-4, while on an agoniser it can go as high as AP-6. This is a huge boost to the combat effectiveness of your Bloodbrides, making them both hit more reliably and harder.

Haemoxytes

Haemoxytes get +1 to their Save characteristic and invulnerable saves (i.e. a 5+ invulnerable in battle round 1-3, and a 4+ in battle round 4-5), and also once per phase, on their first failed save the Damage characteristic of the attack is reduced to 0. With a 5+ or even 4+ invulnerable save, a 5+ to ignore wounds, and a per-phase version of the “reduce to Damage 0” ability, Haemoxytes become very tough to shift indeed, especially if accompanied by their Master Haemonculus to give them +1 Toughness and the ability to heal back d3 per turn with Twisted Animator.

Kabals, Cults, and Covens

Like other codexes, Drukhari have a number of different subfactions which you can pick from in order to gain different bonuses, here called Obsessions. There’s named ones from the lore (4 for Kabals, 3 each for Cults and Covens) and each one gets you a unique trait, a relic, Warlord trait, and a stratagem. There’s also custom Obsessions you can use to create your own subfaction – though these don’t have an associated relic/Warlord trait/stratagem.

Because of their unique nature, the way these are split up for Drukhari is a bit different to normal – for example Kabal traits only affect Kabal units, and you can’t get a unit of Black Heart Wyches (though a unit of Wyches can go in a Black Heart Kabal detachment and not mess things up, though they wouldn’t get their own traits). In order to make this all a bit easier to manage, there’s a couple of faction-specific list-building rules for Drukhari, called Realspace Raids and Raiding Forces, which we’ll cover at the end of this section.

Kabals

Kabal of the Black Heart

The largest and most powerful Kabal, headed by Asdrubael Vect, an ancient and utterly evil Drukhari known as the Living Muse.

  • Obsession: Thirst For Power
    • Units with Power from Pain treat the battle round as one higher than it actually is (e.g. on battle round 1 they also get the effects of battle round 2, on battle round 2 they get battle round 3, etc.).
    • In a Realspace Raid, if it includes a Black Heart Archon, all BLADES FOR HIRE units also get this ability.
    • +1 Leadership for all units with this Obsession
    • Each time a unit with the Obsession shoots or fights, it can re-roll one hit roll
  • Warlord Trait: Labyrinthine Cunning
    • While the Warlord is on the battlefield, you can roll a dice each time you or your opponent spends a CP to use a Stratagem; on a 6 you gain one CP. B
  • Relic: Writ of the Living Muse
    • KABAL OF THE BLACK HEART ARCHON only. The bearer gets a 6″ aura allowing KABAL OF THE BLACK HEART CORE units to re-roll wound rolls of 1. If the bearer is a REALSPACE RAIDER unit this also affects BLADES FOR HIRE. B
  • Stratagem: Agents of Vect – 0CP:
    • Use after your opponent uses a Stratagem (excluding Command Re-roll). Until the end of the battle the CP cost to use that stratagem again is increased by 1. Can only be used once per battle. A+

The Black Heart certainly have the longest faction trait in this Codex, with a full four separate parts. The bonus to Power from Pain is very welcome, allowing you to advance and charge on turn 1 – potentially comical for blasting a Raider off into the distance with Enhanced Aethersails and tying something up – and unlocking your improved invulnerable save on turn 3, when you’re more likely to really need it. Being able to add this to BLADES FOR HIRE in a Realspace Raid is also nice – no-one is worried about advance and charging Kabalites on turn 1, but advance and charging Incubi are very real, and put your opponent on notice to play with at least some respect. The Leadership boost is welcome if not tremendously exciting, while the hit re-roll is much more so – MSU Kabalites get a lot of value out of their blasters when they’re hitting more reliably, for example, and your Raiders are enhanced by it too since they only have the one shot to begin with and now it’s that bit more reliable.

Labyrinthine Cunning and Writ of the Living Muse will both be familiar to 8th edition Drukhari players. The trait is fine, though the vagaries of dice can often mean you miss out on getting much from it and you have two very strong traits on the generic Archon list. The relic will be much missed on Ravagers; probably its best use now is in a Realspace Raid, where it will help out Incubi and possibly Scourges as well.

Pulling away from things that are mostly unchanged, Agents of Vect has had a complete redesign in 9th edition. The effect now is a lot subtler but potentially very powerful, as when your opponent uses a Stratagem you can play this for free and force them to pay 1CP more for it each time they use it again after. Top contenders here include Transhuman Physiology for Space Marines, Superior Fire Patterns or Emperor’s Auspice in Adeptus Custodes, Galvanic Volley Fire in Adeptus Mechanicus; identifying the appropriate Stratagem to use this on is its own mini-game and skill to develop – in fact we wrote a whole article on this exact subject.. It’s a powerful tool to have in your arsenal and a big reason to play Black Heart all on its own.

Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue

A sinister Kabal employing subtle tactics and trickery, as well as especially virulent poisons.

  • Obsession: The Serpent’s Kiss
    • Improve the Poisoned Weapon ability of any of your poisoned weapons by 1, e.g. Poisoned Weapon (4+) becomes Poisoned Weapon (3+
    • If an enemy unit has models destroyed by an attack made with a poisoned weapon, they get -1 to Combat Attrition rolls
  • Warlord Trait: Towering Arrogance
    • The Warlord can ignore wounds on a 5+
    • The Warlord gains a 6″ aura to allow KABAL OF THE POISONED TONGUE units to ignore modifiers to combat attrition. C
  • Relic: Soul-Seeker
    • KABAL OF THE POISONED TONGUE ARCHON only. A relic splinter pistol with 18″ range, 2 shots, AP-2 damage d3, with Poisoned 2+ which ignores Look Out Sir and the benefit of cover. C
  • Stratagem: Insidous Misdirection – 2CP:
    • Use at the start of the first battle round. You can select up to 3 KABAL OF THE POISONED TONGUE units and redeploy them; if the mission allows Strategic Reserves you can place any of these units into Strategic Reserves for no extra CP cost, regardless of how many units are already in Strategic Reserves. A+

The standout feature of the Poisoned Tongue is their unique Stratagem. For 2CP you gain a huge amount of power in deployment – you can split your army up such that if you go first you are deployed aggressively and can bring up all your forces for a big turn 1 punch, or alternatively if going second pull them back and into hiding – or even off the board altogether in Strategic Reserves, and even exceed the limits normally imposed on that option. Games aren’t always won in deployment but they’re certainly very easy to lose there, so having a lot of flexibility at this stage is highly valuable, and can also help mitigate the effects of the poorer terrain you might find on some tables – if it’s hard to hide your army from overwhelming enemy firepower, you can simply scoot part of it off the board altogether.

The rest of the package here isn’t quite as impactful as other Kabals. The improved Poison is nice, but it’s hard to mass enough poisoned weapons to get the most out of it, though playing Poisoned Tongue is a time when you would want to take another look at Venoms which get a let more lethal when they wound 17% more often. The Combat Attrition parts – both offensively in the Obsesion and defensively in the Warlord trait – are cute, but kind of niche, since (as we will also talk about with Dark Creed later on) Combat Attrition modifiers are ignored by your likely most common opponent, Space Marines, and another strong meta challenger in Death Guard; on the defensive your squads are very likely to just evaporate altogether if they’re on the table and dying in numbers large enough that Morale checks even become an issue.

Soul-seeker is a fairly reasonable relic pistol as these things go – medium range, multiple shots, ok AP and damage, strong Poison value and ignoring LoSir/cover means it punches reasonably above its weight. It’s not a thing you’d dip into the faction for and you can probably do better, but you won’t hate taking it, and for a relic pistol that’s about as good as can ever be said.

Kabal of the Flayed Skull

A high-flying Kabal obsessed with speed and flaying the skin from the skulls of their enemies.

  • Obsession: Slay from the Skies
    • A model with this Obsession that can FLY or is in a TRANSPORT that can FLY ignores Light Cover when shooting
    • +2″ Move for VEHICLE units with this Obsession
  • Warlord Trait: Famed Savagery
    • +1 Strength and Attacks for the Warlord. B
  • Relic: The Obsidian Veil
    • KABAL OF THE FLAYED SKULL ARCHON only. The bearer has a 4+ invulnerable save. C
  • Stratagem: Masters of the Shadowed Sky – 1CP:
    • Use when you select a KABAL OF THE FLAYED SKULL unit to shoot with; until the end of the phase, that unit gets +1 to hit rolls against FLY, or +2 to hit rolls against AIRCRAFT C

Each new incarnation of a codex brings suffering for something that was considered to be too good in the previous one, and here the hammer falls on the Flayed Skull whose obsession is a straight downgrade from 8th edition. It’s a bit of a weird change; Slay from the Skies was quite a lot of rule for early 8th edition but it wouldn’t look out of place at all against anything else in here now. As it stands it’s the weakest Kabal trait on offer; it’s not bad, exactly, just 4th on a list of 4. Looking beyond the trait, Famed Savagery is a fun Warlord trait for a fightier Archon – it pairs nicely with the Djinn Blade to make him Strength 5 and 8 attacks, at which point he’s reasonably proficient just on rate without re-rolls; alternatively the Obsidian Veil does a bit to mitigate the seemingly inevitable loss of the Shadowfield to the first random lasgun shot that pings his way. Masters of the Shadowed Sky is decent enough, with FLY and AIRCRAFT becoming ever-bigger metagame threats – against other Drukhari armies, for example, but also Ad Mech and Ork planes. It can’t be used on units in transports, though, which heavily limits its effectiveness – especially since you want them in the boats for your trait.

Kabal of the Obsidian Rose

A Kabal famed for their high-quality armaments and exacting perfectionism.

  • Obsession: Flawless Workmanship
    • Assault, Rapid Fire, and Heavy weapons (excluding Relics) get +6″ range
    • Each time a unit with the Obsession shoots or fights, it can re-roll one wound roll
  • Warlord Trait: Deathly Perfectionist
    • +1 Strength for weapons this Warlord is equipped with, excluding Relics. D
  • Relic: The Armour of Misery
    • KABAL OF THE OBSIDIAN ROSE ARCHON only. The bearer gets a 3+ save and is -1 to be hit by melee attacks. C
  • Stratagem: Failure is Not an Option – 1CP:
    • Use after taking Combat Attrition tests for a KABAL OF THE OBSIDIAN ROSE unit from your army but before any models flee. You can shoot with each model that would flee, or make one melee attack if the unit is in Engagement Range. If any enemy models are destroyed by these attacks, no models flee from this unit and you treat the Morale test as having been passed. C

Obsidian Rose is the Kabal par excellence for Kabalite Trueborn, whose native BS2+ and ability to ignore modifiers reduces the value of the Black Heart hit re-roll and so boosts the wound version here in relative terms. Archons also benefit from the being able to re-roll in melee, letting them punch up a bit without committing to Hatred Eternal. Extending weapon range is also secretly great – it helps the Trueborn bring their blasters to bear from the safety of 24″ rather than the comparative danger of 18″, and even has decent value on Raiders and Ravagers as it opens up scope to play keep-away with dark lances firing 42″ across the table. The boats benefit slightly more from Black Heart than Obsidian Rose, but the wound re-roll is still decent value.

The rest of the package isn’t really up to the level of the Obsession. Deathly Perfectionist is just Famed Savagery but objectively worse in every way, and Failure is Not an Option is an emergency button that you can’t and shouldn’t plan to use. It’s very funny if it goes off in the right situation, but the right situation hopefully shouldn’t arise – and often means something has gone drastically wrong already. Finally there’s The Armour of Misery, which makes your Archon a bit tougher to get rid of; like a lot of the defensive relics in this book it’s something that doesn’t do enough for how fragile your units are that you would want to take it instead of something offensive that would stop them getting hit in the first place, by way of killing whatever is about to hit you.

Other Kabals

You can create a custom Obsession using these rules, by either picking two and combining them or picking one All-Consuming trait.

  • Dark Mirth: Units with this Obsession have a 12″ aura. While an enemy unit is in range, then you can roll a 5+ every time it tries to make a Normal Move, Advance, Fall Back, or is selected to charge, and if you succeed that unit takes 1 mortal wound. This is potentially funny, but 33% of units that are within 12″ of one of your units while making a move of some  taking a single mortal wound is merely cute. C
  • Deadly Deceivers (All-Consuming): Units with this Obsession can shoot in a turn in which they Fell Back, but are -1 to hit when they do so. You can already spend a CP to get this effect with no negative for a single unit, and your game plan is very unlikely to be “get my fragile shooting units into melee and hope they survive long enough to Fall Back and shoot”, certainly not in significant enough numbers that you want it to be your entire trait. C
  • Disdain for Lesser Beings: Each time a Combat Attrition test is taken for a unit with this Obsession, get +1 to the test. Cute because it can make you immune to failing, but Combat Attrition just isn’t that likely to matter to your army – most Drukhari units are either in a binary state of “cannot fail a Morale test” or “dead.” C-
  • Merciless Razorkin: Each time a model with this Obsession makes an attack with a splinter weapon, an unmodified 6 to hit scores 1 extra hit. Not bad and can potentially combine neatly with Torturous Efficiency to really pour out some deadly splinter fire, but overall is mostly weak compared to the Poisoned Tongue trait which improves all your poisoned weapons including splinter weapons, and gives you a range of other stuff too. B-
  • Torturous Efficiency: Each time a model with this Obsession makes an attack with a ranged weapon, on an unmodified wound roll of a 6, improve the AP charateristic of that weapon by 1. Combines neatly with Merciless Razorkin to combine the potential for both extra hits and therefore more chances to proc extra AP, but you probably aren’t pouring out shots in sufficient quantities to get a ton out of this – and again, you’re kind of just creating a less reliable version of Poisoned Tongue without the powerful stratagem. B-
  • Mobile Raiders: +2″ to the Move characteristic of models with this Obsession which can FLY. Completely fine but it’s just half of the weakest mainline Kabal’s trait. C
  • Soul Bound: A 5+ to ignore wounds as a result of a mortal wound. Fine, but you’re playing a relatively fragile army with low Toughness and mediocre armour saves – your opponent is unlikely to be relying on mortal wounds to break that down. C
  • Toxin Crafters (All-Consuming): Poisoned weapons get Poisoned Weapon (2+) on an unmodified 6 to hit and re-roll 1s to wound. Probably the best of these as it gives Poisoned Tongue a bit more of a run for its money, but still works out as being merely equivalent at best, and 16% of your hits randomly switching wound value is likely to get annoying – plus the main melee poisoned weapon, the venom blade, already wounds on a 2+ so it doesn’t benefit from the first half. B
  • Twisted Hunters: +1 to hit against CHARACTERs. You just aren’t likely to care about this that much unless you’re specifically playing into Knights with a lot of CHARACTER upgrades, and even then . C
  • Webway Raiders: Each time you use the Webway Portal stratagem, you can reduce the CP cost of that stratagem by 1 if you select any units with this Obsession. Just, whatever. D

Overall this is a pretty weak set of traits; none of them combine particularly well with each other and a lot of the effects are fairly niche. All the mainline Kabals except possibly Flayed Skull just offer more than you’re likely to get from these, and Black Heart and Poisoned Tongue have very relevant stratagems and in Black Heart’s case a relevant relic as well. That’s partly just because the mainline Kabals are very good, but it’s striking that the best two possibilities here are essentially just replicating what Poisoned Tongue’s very simple but effective upgrade gives you, but a bit worse or swingier.

Wych Cults

Cult of Strife

The Cult of Strife is the most spectacular of the Wych Cults, with a reputation for excessive violence.

  • Obsession: The Spectacle of Murder
    • At the start of the Fight phase, if a unit with this Obsession is in Engagement Range of any enemy units, it can fight first that phase.
    • Each time you declare a charge with a unit with this Obsession, you get +1 to the charge roll if none of your other units are within Engagement Range of the charge target/s.
  • Warlord Trait: Blood Dancer
    • Melee attacks get 2 extra hits on a 6 to hit. B+
  • Relic: The Phial Bouquet
    • CULT OF STRIFE SUCCUBUS only. Roll 1D6 at the start of each battle round; until the end of the battle round the bearer gets the associated effect from the Combat Drugs table. This can be cumulative with a drug you already have. B
  • Stratagem: No Method of Death Beyond Our Grasp – 2CP:
    • Use at the end of the Shooting or Fight phase. Pick one CULT OF STRIFE WYCHES unit from your army; in the Shooting phase it can shoot again, or in the Fight phase it can fight again if it is within Engagement Range of any enemy units. You can only use this stratagem once per battle round. A

The Cult of Strife also gets some additional bonuses from their mini-supplement in the Book of Rust – 3 extra Warlord traits, 4 extra Relics, and another full page of Stratagems. Any CULT OF STRIFE CHARACTER can use the Warlord traits, while to use the Cult of Strife Relics your army must have a CULT OF STRIFE WARLORD, and to use the Stratagems you need a Cult of Strife detachment.

The Warlord traits are:

  1. Competitive Edge – Each time the Warlord fights, if all of its attacks target one enemy unit, then after resolving all its attacks you can make a number of additional attacks against that enemy unit equal to the number of attacks that did not reach the “inflict damage” step. A+
  2. Unparalleled Agility – Each time an attack is made against the Warlord, subtract 1 from hit rolls and wound rolls. C
  3. Master Executioner – You can re-roll wound rolls. C

The Relics are:

  • Morvaine’s Agoniser – Replaces an agoniser; the stats are no different but it gains an ability that, after resolving attacks, allows you to pick one enemy unit (not a VEHICLE or MONSTER) which was hit by an attack with this weapon; until the start of your next turn that unit cannot Fall Back. B+
  • Garland of Spite – At the start of the Fight phase, pick one enemy model (not a VEHICLE or MONSTER) within Engagement Range, and halve their Attacks until the end of the phase. Additionally, the bearer’s melee attacks automatically hit the target. B
  • The Glaive Exquisite Replaces an archite glaive; you get S+2 AP-5 damage 2, and +1 to wound against enemy units with a Leadership of 8 or more. At the end of any phase where you fought with this weapon and didn’t target a unit with a Leadership of 8 or more, take 1 mortal wound. B
  • Dark Lotus Toxin – +1 Strength and Damage for all melee weapons the bearer is equipped with (excluding Relics) A

The Stratagems are:

  • Art of the Kill – 2CP/3CP: Use in the Fight phase when a CULT OF STRIFE unit is selected to fight; until the end of that phase you can re-roll wounds for melee attacks. 2CP for units of 10 or fewer, 3CP for units of 11 or above. A
  • Dance of Death – 1CP: Use in Movement or Charge phases, when a CULT OF STRIFE unit either moves or charges. Until the end of the phase, each time that unit makes a Normal/Advance/Fall Back/charge move, models in that unit can move horizontally through models and terrain features. A
  • Invigorated by Evisceration – 1CP: Use after an enemy unit is destroyed by a melee attack by a CULT OF STRIFE INFANTRY or CULT OF STRIFE BIKER model in your army. Until the start of your next turn, models in that unit have a 4+ invulnerable save. B+
  • The Blade Well Placed – 2CP: Use in the Fight phase, when a CULT OF STRIFE INFANTRY unit from your army is selected to fight. Until the end of the phase melee attacks improve AP by 1. B
  • Deadly Exemplar – 1CP: Use when a CULT OF STRIFE SUCCUBUS destroys an enemy CHARACTER OR MONSTER. Until the end of the battle all CULT OF STRIFE units in your army that are on the battlefield are considered to be in range of that Succubus’ Brides of Death ability. B
  • Flawless Approach – 1CP: Use in your Charge phase when a CULT OF STRIFE INFANTRY unit is selected to charge; enemy units cannot fire Overwatch at that unit and cannot Hold Steady or Set to Defend. B
  • Pick Them Apart – 2CP: Use in your Movement phase, when a CULT OF STRIFE unit from your army Falls Back. You can shoot and/or charge this turn even though that unit Fell Back. B-
  • Hekatrix of the Crucibael – 1CP: Use before the battle; select one CULT OF STRIFE Hekatrix and give her either Morvaine’s Agoniser, Dark Lotus Toxin, or the Garland of Spite. One use only and all relics in your army must be unique. B

With an extensive list of bonus options over the other cults, the Cult of Strife is the common default choice for a Wych detachment. Sadly Lelith Hesperax, its illustrious leader, is not very good at all, as we’ll discuss in the units section, but happily you can skip her and build at least one if not two very deadly Succubi – typically combining the Competitive Edge Warlord trait with the Triptych Whip from the generic Relics list, and the Precision Blows Warlord trait with the Dark Lotus Toxin relic and some razorflails. The first is an extremely reliable and consistent damage dealer, while the latter has the potential to score a horrific number of mortal wounds on the hit roll. Blood Dancer also gets an occasional look in, as a way to pile on even more hits with the already high-volume Succubus; you can essentially look at the comparison as Competitive Edge raising the floor on your Succubus’ potential while Blood Dancer raises the ceiling.

The other Warlord traits are less impactful – Master Executioner would be great in a book where you could take two traits on the same character, but that isn’t the case here so it just misses out compared to Competitive Edge which is a similar but much stronger effect. Dark Lotus Toxin is the standout relic for a Succubus, but Morvaine’s Agoniser is worth a look in a squad of Wyches using Hekatrix of the Crucibael – a more reliable version of No Escape is handy for keeping your Wyches in combat and out of the firing line.

The Obsession is a decent one – Fights First is helpful when you have multiple units in melee, and with the new FAQ on the fights first/fights last interaction it’s a great defence against the latter, too. +1 to charges against unengaged enemy units is also reasonably impactful, particularly for allowing deep strikers (or units arriving from a Raider with the Murderous Descent stratagem) to up their chances of actually getting to melee.

Finally there’s the Stratagem suite; the base Codex stratagem is really helpful, allowing your Wych units (and note that it is JUST your Wych units; the generic keyword is WYCH CULT) to fight twice. Art of the Kill offers your units a lot of punch-up potential into harder enemies (and for really hard targets, it comboes with No Method of Death Beyond Our Grasp since it lasts until the end of the phase), and Invigorated by Evisceration can be handy for making your Wych Cult units much harder to remove from an objective they’ve cleared. Pick Them Apart is a bit of a repeat of Cruel Deception from the core list, but having the option to fall back two units and shoot/charge/both is at least ok to have handy. Dance of Death can also be comical for charging a Raider or Reaver Jetbikes squad through a wall.

Overall, this is a strong Cult with a lot of options available to it – you can’t go far wrong with the damage potential on offer.

Cult of the Cursed Blade

A Cult that thrives on betrayal and backstabbing.

  • Obsession: Only the Strong Will Thrive
    • +1 Strength for models with this Obsession
    • Unmodified saving throws of a 6 against melee attacks do 1 mortal wound to the attacking model’s unit after the unit has finished making its attacks
  • Warlord Trait: Treacherous Deceiver
    • Unmodified saving throws of 4+ do the mortal wound thing instead of a 6. B
  • Relic: Traitor’s Embrace
    • CULT OF THE CURSED BLADE SUCCUBUS only. If the bearer is destroyed by a melee attack, then on a 2+ the attacking model’s unit suffers d3+3 mortal wounds after the unit has finished making its attacks. B
  • Stratagem: Venomous Shardbombs – 1CP:
    • Use after an enemy unit has declared a charge against a CULT OF THE CURSED BLADE WYCHES unit from your army. Your unit can fire Overwatch and up to 5 models in that unit with plasma grenades can attack with them, and those plasma grenades get Poisoned Weapon (2+) until the end of the phase. B-

The Cursed Blade (and Red Grief, below) certainly get less stuff than Strife, but their core strengths keep them competitive. The most obvious is of course +1 Strength, bumping Wyches up to S4 base and Hellions all the way up to S5 – useful breakpoints for both units, which also offer the possibility of pushing even higher with Combat Drugs, or opening up damage-focused Wyches to utilise Adrenalight instead of Grave Lotus. The mortal wound component is also potentially amusing, with an enemy which attempts to squash your flimsy Wyches with volume of attacks having it turned around on them.

The Warlord trait and relic play into this more, and open up a Succubus build that has some amusing mortal wound potential – you can throw her into a big unit and watch her die to their attacks, cause a few mortal wounds with her saves, and then explode for another d3+3. It’s probably not what you imagined using her for, but it’s a strategy which can pay off against particular targets where your goal is just to get as many mortal wounds through as possible.

In a similar vein, the Stratagem opens up the potential to pile a lot of wounds on a charging enemy, particularly something like Orks throwing a large unit at you, but your plasma grenades are of course still only 6″ range and a canny opponent can get around it by simply starting their charge 6.1″ away – never mind that even in the optimal situation you are expecting only 5 hits, which isn’t much. For only 1CP it can be a fun surprise in the right situation though, and of course when you’re rolling a bucket of dice the variance can swing pretty wildly.

Cult of The Red Grief

A Cult famously obsessed with high speed and aerial acrobatics.

  • Obsession: The Speed of the Kill
    • Re-roll charge rolls
    • +2 to Advance rolls
  • Warlord Trait: Hyperswift Reflexes
    • Unmodified hit rolls of 1-3 for melee attacks against this Warlord fail automatically, irrespective of other rules. C
  • Relic: The Blood Glaive
    • CULT OF THE RED GRIEF SUCCUBUS only. Replaces an archite glaive with a version which is S+2 AP-3 damage 3. B
  • Stratagem: Athletic Aerialists – 1CP:
    • Use after a CULT OF THE RED GRIEF INFANTRY unit has finished making its close combat attacks. Instead of consolidating normally, if every model in the unit is within 6″ of a CULT OF THE RED GRIEF TRANSPORT unit, they can embark as if it were the Movement phase, even if they disembarked this turn (assuming the unit fits in the transport like normal). A-

The Red Grief offer a set of powerful Movement-based options, with the +2 to Advance rolls and re-roll charges particularly great for bailing Wyches out of Raiders with a minimum 14″ advance and charge – or even further with Hypex. Athletic Aerialists adds another dimension to this, allowing your fragile Wyches (or Succubus!) to fight in melee and then bail back into a transport; this effect is a little tweaked from the 8th edition version and slightly stronger, since you no longer consolidate 3″ to get in, you simply embark without moving if you’re in the appropriate range.

The Warlord trait here is cute, reducing the potential incoming damage against your Succubus in a kind of hit-roll based Transhuman Physiology, but it’s probably not a big enough defensive boost to worry about – against lots of things you get basically the same effect from Lightning Fast Reactions, or you can simply opt to focus on damage and kill your target before it gets to strike back (or even leave combat entirely, with a Master Succubus). Finally we have the Blood Glaive, reduced compared to its 8th edition version but still decent – in particular it pairs well with the Precision Blows Warlord trait for a potential spike of mortal wounds thanks to being damage 3.

Other Cults

You can create a custom Obsession using these rules, by either picking two and combining them or picking one All-Consuming trait.

  • Acrobatic Display: You can move through other models and terrain horizontally when piling in/consolidating. A useful trait for getting maximum control over where your Wyches go, and handy for allowing bikes or even Raiders to move through walls in the Fight phase if needed. B
  • The Art of Pain: +1 on the Power from Pain table for units within Engagement Range of enemy units. It won’t help you reach combat, and the Engagement Range requirement means it’s only marginally useful for bumping up your Power from Pain invulnerable save against shooting. Handier on Reavers and Hellions who don’t have Lightning Reflexes. C
  • Berserk Fugue (All-Consuming): In a turn where your unit made a charge move, was charged, or made a Heroic Intervention, unmodified 6s to hit do an additional hit, and you get a 5+ to ignore mortal wounds. Not bad at all with the volume of attacks Wyches get, and helpful defence against psychic or the various bombs out there. B
  • Precise Killers: Blade Artists procs on a 5+ instead of a 6. Pushing your AP is important for Wyches doing the maximum damage, especially with Bloodbrides going up to a potential -4. B
  • Slashing Impact: Each time a model with this Obsession finishes a charge move, you can pick one non-VEHICLE enemy unit in Engagement range and roll a D6; on a 6 that model takes a mortal wound. As an always-on ability this isn’t terrible, but it likely just doesn’t do enough compared to what else you could pick to be worthwhile. C
  • Stimulant Innovators: Once per battle, in your Command phase, you can roll a d3 on the Combat Drugs table and every unit in your army gets that drug, cumulative with any they already have, until the end of the turn. 1-3 are all good drugs, though you’re likely to want the first two results more than Hypex unless you really need +2 Move right the fuck now and were happy gambling on a 33% chance to get it. Being once per battle and lacking control of the effect relegates this to cute rather than great. C
  • Test of Skill: +1 to wound MONSTER or VEHICLE units with melee attacks. A decent Obsession, in a slightly more sensible form than its 8th incarnation since it only applies to melee now. B
  • Trophy Takers: Enemy units that had a model destroyed by a melee attack from this unit roll 2d6 pick highest for Morale tests. As worded it sounds like this actually works all game – if you kill any models at all in melee their unit has to roll 2d6 for Morale from then on. Another one that isn’t bad but probably is too niche to get excited about. C
  • Agile Hunters (All-Consuming): +1 to hit against units with FLY and +3″ from Hypex instead of +2″. You are way better off just taking Red Grief for the Movement thing, and +1 to hit against FLY is very niche – fun into Vanguard Veterans but does nothing at all against ground-pounding menaces of which there are plenty. C

There’s some absolutely fine custom Obsessions here – Berserk Fugue has potential, and something like Precise Killers/Test of Skill might make for a good all-rounder combo to let your Wyches punch up against hard targets. The main strike against all of these is that the standard Cults are all really good, and do all of what you want Wych Cults to do plus have a relic/Warlord trait/stratagem to go with them. If you really want to pick some custom traits and do something unique you can, but you can probably do better.

Haemonculus Covens

The Prophets of Flesh

The most famed and feared flesh-crafters in Commorragh.

  • Obsession: Connoisseurs of Pain
    • At the start of your Command phase, each CHARACTER, GROTESQUES, or MONSTER unit with this Obsession regains 1 lost wound
    • Attacks against units with this Obsession automatically fail on a wound roll of 1-3, irrespective of other rules, unless that attack has Strength 8 or more
  • Warlord Trait: Diabolical Soothsayer
    • After this model is set up on the battlefield for the first time, you can choose to either get +1 Toughness and Wounds or +1 Movement and Attacks. B-
  • Relic: The Vexator Mask
    • PROPHETS OF FLESH HAEMONCULUS only. Enemy units cannot fire Overwatch at the bearer, and you can pick an enemy unit within 3″ at the start of the Fight phase and make them not eligible to fight. B
  • Stratagem: Sins Writ Large – 1/2CP:
    • Use at the start of the Fight phase and pick one PROPHETS OF FLESH INFANTRY unit from your army within 6″ of a friendly PROPHETS OF FLESH HAEMONCULUS unit. You can re-roll hit rolls until the end of the phase with that INFANTRY unit. 2CP for Grotesques, 1CP for everything else. B

The Prophets take a big drop in relative power level compared to their 8th edition incarnation – and not before time, since they had basically all of the good Covens rules in the last book. Their new Obsession is a lot more niche – its value increases if you’ve gone heavy on characters, Grotesques, and Pain Engines, and then your opponent has helpfully spread clippy little wounds around your army, but that’s asking for a lot to get a little. The pseudo-Transhuman is kind of cool as an idea, but the Strength 8 rider limits its usefulness, since it affects a fairly narrow range of weapons against your weakest unit (Wracks) and an even narrower range against your Grotesques and Talos/Cronos.

The Warlord trait is cute but doesn’t do a ton for you since Haemonculi aren’t that scary in combat nor that tough. The relic is still good, though no longer unique; Overwatch is a lot less scaryi n 9th and you can get fight last from Incubi and an Ancient Evil Archon already, who also do more of what you want. The stratagem is a high point here, offering re-rolls to hit to a part of your army which often lacks them; in a pinch you can even pick the Haemonculus to use it if you want to.

Prophets are no longer your unquestioned first choice for a Coven, which is good, but sadly they’re unlikely to be your second or third choice now either.

The Dark Creed

Spirit-breakers and connoisseurs of fear.

  • Obsession: Distillers of Fear
    • Your units gain Aura of Terror, a 6″ aura giving enemy units -1 to Leadership and Combat Attrition rolls
    • Melee attacks against enemy units with an equal or lower Leadership than your unit’s get +1 to hit
  • Warlord Trait: Fear Incarnate
    • At the end of your Movement phase, pick one enemy unit within 9″ of the Warlord and roll 3D6; if the roll beats their Leadership then until the start of your next Movement phase that unit can’t perform actions and automatically fails any it was already performing, and loses Objective Secured if it has it. A
  • Relic: Spirit-Sting
    • DARK CREED HAEMONCULUS only, replaces a stinger pistol with a version with 3 shots, AP-3, and which ignores invulnerable saves. C
  • Stratagem: An Esoteric Kill, Delivered From Afar – 2CP/3CP:
    • A DARK CREED CORE or CHARACTER unit can use this when selected to shoot; until the end of the phase that unit can ignore Look Out Sir! 3CP for Talos, 2CP for everything else. C

The Dark Creed are really cool and the ability to stack their Obsession with other Leadership and Combat Attrition debuffs looks great right up until it runs into all the things that ignore one or both of those – Space Marines are notably in the latter group, and when they’re the most common thing out there it immediately reduces the utility of the trait. The +1 to hit thing is quite cute but you can of course just get that from turn 3 onwards anyway, though it might help in the early going or if you are faced with hit modifiers, and it does interact neatly with the other part of the trait.

The Warlord trait on the other hand is really cool – stopping actions and removing ObSec is very strong, especially since it lasts until your next Movement phase so it not only stops an enemy unit scoring their own points, it potentially flips control for you to score in your Command phase too. It’s probably the best thing here, since the pistol is merely ok – being damage 1 hurts a LOT unless you’re really keen to shoot it at exactly Celestian Sacresants – and the stratagem is really expensive for how much utility you’re likely to get out of it; the idea of Talos with heat lances blasting a character back to the Stone Age is hilarious, but at 3CP and their iffy Ballistic Skill it’s a big play that will usually not pay off.

The Coven of Twelve

A Coven notable for “escalating acts of inventive misery and violence,” which must really be something when you remember this is Drukhari we’re talking about.

  • Obsession: Butchers of Flesh
    • Improve the AP of melee attacks by 1 (except Relics)
    • Units can perform actions and still shoot without the action failing
  • Warlord Trait: Scarlet Epicurean
    • -1 damage for this Warlord, to a minimum of 1. B
  • Relic: The Flensing Blade
    • COVEN OF TWELVE HAEMONCULUS only; replaces Haemonculus tools with AP-2 damage d3, Poisoned 2+, Damage 3 against CHARACTERS. B
  • Stratagem: A Most Inventive Demise – 1CP:
    • Use after a COVEN OF TWELVE HAEMONCULUS unit from your army consolidates. Pick one enemy CHARACTER model (except VEHICLE/MONSTER units) within Engagement Range and roll a D6, on a 2-5 they take d3 mortal wounds, on a 6 they take d3+3 mortal wounds. B+

I’m not convinced that anyone knew the Coven of Twelve existed in 8th edition, but in 9th they’re probably the most practical mainline Coven – bonus AP on your melee attacks is a net good for basically all of your units, which want to hit melee and then hit things hard in melee, and notably improves Talos a lot since their chainflails now have AP. The actions effect is a lot more niche – most of the time it’s gonna mean a Wrack can shoot a gun and also raise a banner or something, which isn’t much, but it’s not nothing and can be quite funny in the right circumstances. The Warlord trait is also a decent defensive buff for a Haemonculus, and the relic and Stratagem make them surprisingly able character-killers too, with a potential 12 damage plus the mortal wounds to finish something off. If you’re looking for an all-rounder Coven which will make your units generically better at the main thing they want to do, i.e. punch stuff, this is a decent pick, and in particular it makes Grotesques punch into Skitarii really well.

Other Covens

You can create a custom Obsession using these rules, by either picking two and combining them or picking one All-Consuming trait.

  • Artists of the Flesh (All-Consuming): -1 Damage, to a minimum of 1, for models with this trait (except VEHICLES). It’s kind of a shame you can’t make Duty Eternal Raiders with this, though also probably wise. A Covens-heavy army is likely to get decent use out of this trait, and it even helps out the Wracks since reducing damage taken makes the Insensible to Pain roll inherently more valuable. It would be nice if Talos were a bit better since they’re the obvious thing to benefit from this; Grotesques aren’t quite tough enough to get much out of it and probably want to be Covens of Twelve more, while Cronos benefit so much from Dark Technomancers that it’s hard to see past. B
  • Dark Harvest: Each time a unit with this Obsession finishes a charge move, you can pick one enemy unit (not a VEHICLE) within Engagement Range and on a 4+ that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. A single mortal wound that only goes off half the time and doesn’t work on vehicles? Shit, don’t bother. D
  • Dark Technomancers (All-Consuming): When a unit with this Obsession shoots, you can choose to enhance any or all of its ranged weapons and if you do so they get +1 to wound and +1 Damage for that attack. However, you can’t re-roll hit rolls, and if any unmodified rolls to hit with that weapon are a 1 then the bearer’s unit takes 1 mortal wound, or d3 for VEHICLE/MONSTER units. You cannot use this to enhance liquifier guns or twin liquifier guns. A trait with a lot going on and which was so hellacious when the Codex first came out that it was erratad to just not work at all on liquifier guns. You’re now most likely to see it on Cronos, whose spirit syphons have the precise combination that makes best use of this (S5, AP-2, and automatically hits). For other units it gets to being merely ok, since Coven shooting options aren’t that big of a deal to begin with. A for use on Cronos, C otherwise.
  • Experimental Creations: +1 Strength. Nice and simple. Can help your units punch up if you’re finding yourself running into targets where going up a point of Strength would help out. B
  • Hungry for Flesh: Re-roll charge rolls. Another straightforward trait that does a thing you want enough that it can be worth considering. B
  • Masters of Mutagens: Melee attacks with non-Relic Poisoned Weapons auto-wound enemy units that aren’t VEHICLE or TITANIC on a 6 to hit. Completely fine by its own lights but it’s only useful on your Wracks and Haemonculi, and those don’t hit so hard that a trait pick is worth it to make them a little better. C
  • Master Torturers: Torturer’s Craft costs 1CP instead of 2CP. A good get for Grotesques in particular, who pay the 2CP price normally and whose sole function is piling into melee. B
  • Obsessive Collectors: Each time an enemy unit is destroyed by a melee attack made by a unit with this Obsession, a model in that unit can regain d3 lost wounds once per turn; Wracks can instead regenerate d3 lost models. Cute and can be potentially funny on Cronos with their native ability. B-
  • Enhanced Sensory Organs: Ignore Light and Heavy Cover. This would have a ton more value if Heavy Cover was reliably used on tournament tables, but it’s fairly rare; worth looking again if you know your event is going to use a lot of it. Worth a look if you’re wanting to get some use out of liquifier Wracks you built to be Dark Technomancers, since AP-2 ignore cover is still pretty strong. B
  • Splinterblades: Unmodified hit rolls of 6 with melee attacks score 1 additional hit. Completely fine and a reasonable pairing with Experimental Creations to pile on the attacks. B

If this article was written right after the book came out, it would just be repeating DARK TECHNOMANCERS over and over. Happily those days are past and Covens have some more interesting options available; Technomancers is fine with Cronos, who get a lot out of it, but if you want to go deeper on Covens units and utilise their melee capabilities a combo like Experimental Creations/Splinterblades might do you service; alternatively you could take Artist of the Flesh to make your already reasonably tough units even tougher. We’ve also recently seen a Master Torturers/Enhanced Sensory Organs combo to give some liquifier Wracks and Grotesques an unusual edge, showing that with the right plan you can take advantage of anything.

Realspace Raids and Raiding Forces

As mentioned at the start, Drukhari have a couple of unique options for army construction allowing you to unlock the potential of all these faction traits. A Realspace Raid lets you jam them all together, while Raiding Forces mitigates the effects of splitting them all apart.

Realspace Raids

A Realspace Raid reflects the way that Drukhari forces often work in the fluff – a powerful Archon organises a raid into realspace, directly supported by allied Cults and Covens. In game this is represented by a Realspace Raid detachment; that detachment must contain one Archon who must be Warlord, one Succubus, and one Haemonculus, as well as one of each of their associated Troops – i.e. at least one Kabalite Warriors unit, one Wych unit, and one Wracks unit. If you meet these requirements your detachment can be a Realspace Raid instead of a Kabal/Wych Cult/Haemonculus Covens detachment – this allows you to use all of the relevant Obsessions at once. You also get access to the faction-specific Relic, even though you normally can only access these if your Warlord is from that faction, as well as the Stratagem (you can always pick the Warlord trait, so that doesn’t change).

As well as unlocking that, your units gain the REALSPACE RAIDER keyword, and your Warlord Archon’s Overlord ability can be replaced with the Raid Mastermind ability, which allows all REALSPACE RAIDER CORE units within 6″ to re-roll hit rolls of 1 – allowing your Archon to give your Wyches re-rolls, for example. Additionally, you can use the Alliance of Agony stratagem to get a Warlord trait for both your Succubus and Haemonculus for only 1CP.

It’s worth noting here that this doesn’t unlock the Cult of Strife options from the Book of Rust, which require you to have a Cult of Strife Detachment – one possibility here if you want those is taking a Cult of Strife Patrol detachment as well.

Raiding Forces

Raiding Forces come at this from a different angle, and instead of allowing you to take a megamix of all your stuff in one detachment, you can instead take only Patrols and these cost 0CP – though their Command Benefit changes to None, per the FAQ, so you don’t get 14CP to start with.

Of the two options Raiding Forces seems to be the one winning out competitively – Realspace Raids burden you with a Haemonculus, both the most expensive HQ and the least useful, and prevent you from accessing the Cult of Strife options or using Drazhar at all without taking another separate detachment at a cost of at least 2CP. Experimenting with Realspace Raids isn’t going to ruin your day or prevent you succeeding with Drukhari – nothing much prevents you from succeeding with Drukhari as at time of writing – but it’s likely that you’ll find list building easier and more rewarding by utilising Raiding Forces.

Weakling Kin

A final note on army composition here – Weakling Kin means that you can’t include DRUKHARI in detachments with other AELDARI unless all the units in the Detachment have the YNNARI keyword. That means that you can for example take a YNNARI Patrol using Drukhari units, but you can’t drop Yvraine or the Yncarne into a Drukhari detachment as you could in prior editions. It’s a little bit of a shame to lose those options, but utilising Ynnari Drukhari has seen success for at least one person, so it’s not like you can’t mix the two any more – just not as easily.

Stratagems

Battle Tactics

  • Cruel Deception – 1CP/2CP: Fall back and shoot/charge. 1CP for one of them, 2CP for both. A great, flexible stratagem – prevents your opponent from tying up a key unit, and you get to choose exactly what you need them to do. A
  • The Great Enemy – 1CP: In the Fight phase, a DRUKHARI unit from your army can re-roll hit and wound rolls with melee attacks against SLAANESH units. How good this is depends on how prevalent Slaanesh is in the meta at any time; in the case it’s relevant and you get to use it, it’s an A for a very powerful effect.
  • The Torturer’s Craft – 1CP/2CP: URIEN RAKARTH or a <HAEMONCULUS COVEN> unit can re-roll wound rolls in the Fight phase. 1CP for a CHARACTER or WRACKS unit with 10 or fewer, 2CP for everything else. The effect is good but being 2CP on the things you’re most likely to want it on like Grotesques shades it down a little in value. B
  • Lightning Fast Reactions – 1CP: Use in the Shooting or Fight phases when a DRUKHARI INFANTRY, VEHICLE, or BIKER unit is selected as the target of an attack. Until the end of the phase they’re -1 to hit. Can’t be used on URIEN RAKARTH or <HAEMONCULUS COVEN> units (which includes Covens Raiders/Venoms, if you’ve gone that route). A decent stratagem which is thankfully cheaper now that the modifier cap makes it less powerful. B
  • Hunt from the Shadows – 1CP: Use in your opponent’s Shooting phase, when DRUKHARI unit from your army that is receiving the benefit of Light Cover is selected as the target of a shooting attack. Until the end of the phase they get an additional +1 to armour saves. Handy for if your Kabalite Warriors or Incubi get dumped onto the table as you can bring them down to a 2+ or 1+ armour save, respectively – also handy on Wyches if someone is trying to hose them down with bolters or something, since they can get down to a 4+, which is unusually tough for them. B

Requisitions

  • Alliance of Agony – 1CP: Use before the battle if your Warlord is a REALSPACE RAIDER ARCHON. Up to one Succubus and one Haemonculus can get a Warlord trait (excluding named characters); traits must be unique and you can’t use this to give a model two traits. 2 Warlord traits for the price of one is great, and this is only limited by requiring you to use a Realspace Raid which isn’t massively popular right now. Drukhari have great Warlord traits, though. A
  • Tolerated Ambition – 1CP: Give one DRUKHARI CHARACTER a Warlord trait (excluding named characters). As standard, you can use this twice in Strike Force and three times in Onslaught games, and can’t use it to double up traits on the same model. As mentioned, Drukhari have some great Warlord traits, and you’ll need this version for the Raiding Forces build. A
  • Prizes from the Dark City – 1CP: If your Warlord has the DRUKHARI keyword, you can use this to give one DRUKHARI CHARACTER from your army an Artefact of Cruelty. Like Tolerated Ambition, you can use twice in Strike Force and three times in Onslaught. There’s some really strong relics in this book (and in the Book of Rust supplement for Cult of Strife), so you’re likely to use this at least once if not twice per game. A

Strategic Ploys:

  • Webway Portal – 1CP/3CP: Put one (1CP) or 2 (3CP) DRUKHARI INFANTRY, BEAST, or BIKER units in the webway, which lets them deep strike. Helpful for flexibility, though that’s a surprisingly restrictive set of keywords. Use it to dump action-doers in key areas, or drop heat lances into the right target, or whatever it is you want to keep units in reserve for, though 3CP is quite steep compared to the cost for Strategic Reserves now. B
  • Pain Syphon – 1CP: Use when a DRUKHARI unit from your army within 6″ of a friendly CRONOS unit destroys an enemy unit with a melee or ranged attack. That unit treats the rest of the battle as if it’s in round 5 of Power from Pain. How useful this is depends how early you get to set it up and on which unit, but in the right situation it can be great. B
  • Eviscerating Fly-by – 1CP/2CP: Use in your Movement phase when a WYCH CULT unit with FLY makes a Normal Move or Advance. Pick one enemy unit that your unit moved across and roll 1D6 per model in your unit, adding 1 if the enemy unit is INFANTRY; on a 5+ that unit takes a mortal wound. 1CP for 5 or fewer models, 2CP for 6 or more. Absolutely stupidly insanely good; on a small unit you’re trading 1CP for approximately 3 mortal wounds on an INFANTRY unit, which is fine, but there’s no cap on this for either unit size or wounds inflicted and so a unit of e.g. 20 Hellions can on average dice do 10 mortal wounds to an enemy unit – with no limitation on CHARACTERS or similar, so you can just remove any INFANTRY CHARACTER for 2CP. We were fully expecting this to be FAQed and it hasn’t been. A+
  • Never Stationary – 2CP: Use in your Shooting phase after making attacks with a DRUKHARI unit (excluding AIRCRAFT) from your army. That unit can immediately make a Normal Move of up to 7″. Until the end of the turn, that unit is not eligible to declare a charge. A great stratagem for all kinds of things – open up with your Trueborn and then their boat can shoot and scoot back out of line of sight, or alternatively use the boat’s shooting to grab another 7″ of Movement and get them in range in the first place. Alternatively, you can scoot a phantasm grenade launcher-equipped Raider a full 29″ across the table with this and Enhanced Aethersails, handy for snatching a distant objective if you need to. It’s a Normal Move, too, so potentially a unit can shoot and then embark into a transport that was too distant to reach, or to get line of sight, or whatever else, really. The world is your constantly moving oyster. A
  • Prey on the Weak – 1CP: Use in your Shooting or Fight phase when a DRUKHARI CORE unit shoots or fights. Until the end of the phase, you can re-roll 1s to hit against enemy units that are below their Starting Strength, or get full re-rolls to hit if they are below Half Strength. Handy for grabbing re-rolls to hit on some Incubi or Wyches, especially if they’re going into a hard target you already softened up with shooting in a previous phase, for example. B
  • Screaming Jets – 1CPYou can set up one DRUKHARI VEHICLE in deep strike. You can only use this once. A potentially fun combo with Murderous Descent, below, and gives you more flexibility than regular Strategic Reserves; particularly helpful if you’re on a table which is lighter on terrain and you’re going to struggle to hide a key Raider, or get Trueborn into meaningful range on turn 1. B
  • Deadly Rivals – 2CP: Use in your Command phase and pick one REAVERS and one HELLIONS unit from your army that are within 12″ of and visible to each other. Until the end of the turn they get +1″ Movement and re-roll 1s to hit with melee weapons. Can be a good way to get re-rolls to hit on Hellions who are otherwise often lacking them, but 2CP is a big investment for it and it takes a bit of set-up. B
  • Swift Outflanking – 1CP: Use at the end of your Movement phase. Select one DRUKHARI TRANSPORT from your army that is wholly within 9″ of any battlefield edge. Remove that unit from the battlefield and place it in Strategic Reserves. Great for shunting a backfield unit forwards, or for repositioning something if your opponent’s deployment or early movement puts it out of position. Since it happens at the end of Movement you can even fly the Raider back from somewhere and move a unit into it first and then use this Much like Screaming Jets, this has great combo potential with Murderous Descent. B
  • Murderous Descent – 1CP: Use in the Reinforcements step, after a TRANSPORT unit from your army is set up on the battlefield. Any units embarked can disembark after it is set up, but must be set up more than 9″ away from enemy units when doing so. As mentioned, this comboes well with both Screaming Jets and Swift Outflanking; you can use this to immediately drop a unit out to do an action like Retrieve Octarius Data, or use it to drop out a melee unit without having to fly across the table first and potentially expose it to enemy fire. Particularly useful with Cult of Strife, where you can off an 8″ charge instead where the odds become substantially better. A

Epic Deeds

  • Pray They Don’t Take You Alive – 1CP: Use in the Fight phase when an enemy WARLORD is destroyed by a DRUKHARI unit from your army with a melee attack. Until the end of the battle, enemy units take -1 on Combat Attrition tests. Potentially a lot of work for an effect that a surprising number of armies just don’t care about – there’s going to be times this is hilarious and has a huge impact, but in a lot of games it either won’t matter by the time it happens or just won’t matter at all. C

Wargear

  • Enhanced Aethersails – 1CP: Use in your Movement phase, when a RAIDER or RAVAGER unit from your army is selected to Advance. Instead of rolling to advance, add 8″ to the Move characteristic of the model until the end of the phase. Great for getting a Raider places it needs to be, especially now that they can Advance and charge and make a nuisance of themselves, but don’t forget that their dark lances are Heavy now and don’t become Assault, so you’re giving up shooting. B
  • Crucible of Malediction – 2CP: Use in your Psychic phase; pick one HAEMONCULUS unit from your army and roll 1D6 for each enemy PSYKER within 12″. On a 4+, the unit takes d3 mortal wounds. You can only use this Stratagem once. Someone at GW thinks this is a really powerful effect, but 2CP to have a coinflip of doing d3 mortal wounds to a unit within 12″ is quite a high bar, never mind that Haemonculi aren’t great in the first place and of course many armies don’t bring psykers at all. If Grey Knights or Thousand Sons become big meta threats and you’re getting to reliably do multiple d3s of mortal wounds with this it might be more respectable, but for now it’s mediocre. C
  • Haywire Grenade – 1CP: Use in your Shooting phase, when a DRUKHARI HAYWIRE GRENADE unit (basically just Wyches and Scourges) from your army is chosen to shoot. One model in that unit can only make one attack, and must target a a VEHICLE within 6″. If the attack hits, it does d3 mortal wounds. 1CP for d3 mortal wounds is a reasonable trade, though you’re at the mercy of a hit roll too. Helpful if you have a shardcarbine Sybarite hanging out with some shredders or blasters and not doing much; remember that on the Wyches you have to be able to select them to shoot, so you can’t use this is you Advance – unless your Hekatrix takes a phantasm grenade launcher. B
  • Hyperstimm Backlash – 2CP: Use in your Command phase; select one WYCH CULT unit with the Combat Drugs ability from your army  Until your next Command phase, the effect of their combat drug is doubled e.g. Grave Lotus is +2S instead of +1S. A model with Phial Bouquet cannot be selected for this. Weirdly there is no “backlash” part to this any more, it’s all upside. A helpful Stratagem for boosting a drug effect – piling on more attacks or bringing Wyches up to S5 or even S6, for example. Just remember it’s Command Phase, so you can’t use it on a unit that starts the turn in a transport. B
  • Shock Prow – 1CP: Use in the Charge phase, when a DRUKHARI SHOCK PROW unit from your army (a Raider or Ravager with the shock prow upgrade) finishes a Charge move. Select one enemy unit in Engagement Range with that unit and either do d3 mortal wounds on a 2+, if the enemy unit is a VEHICLE, or otherwise roll 1D6 for each enemy model within Engagement Range and do a mortal wound for each one that equals or beats their Toughness. This can be potentially hilarious into the right target, as Raiders are very large and you can drift them sideways into a big mob – Skitarii are the target of choice here, since they’re both T3 and also tough to kill in other ways, but it’s great into anything hordey with T3, or even into some Marine units since it’s still effectively a 4+ per mortal wound. B+
  • Potent Metallotoxins – 2CP: Use in the Shooting or Fight phase when you select a DRUKHARI unit from your army to shoot or fight. Until the end of the phase, each time you make an attack with a poisoned weapon (excluding Relics), the Poisoned Weapon ability works on VEHICLE units (though still not TITANIC). In our initial review of the Codex we were quite high on this just because it was interesting, but in practice it has a lot of limitations – you can’t use it on units in boats at all, which is where your fragile splinter rifle models want to be, and most of your poisoned weapons have no AP so they don’t do a ton even if they do wound ok. On the melee side, excluding relics means that the potential hilarity of the Triptych Whip is out, which leaves you Wrack melee attacks and venom blades – which aren’t nothing but aren’t a lot, either. Your best use case is a Poisoned Tongue Venom, but even then your likely result is something like 2 damage. There just isn’t a great target for this, which is a shame because the idea is really cool. C

Warlord Traits

There are three sets of three Warlord traits, split by type – 3 for Kabals, 3 for Wych Cults, and 3 for Haemonculus Covens.

Kabals

  1. Hatred Eternal – Re-roll hit rolls and wound rolls for the Warlord’s attacks. Super, super strong, either for making Drazhar absolutely insane or for buffing your Djinn Blade-wielding Archon from mediocre to legitimately deadly. A
  2. Soul Thirst – +1 Attacks and once per turn your Warlord can regain one lost wound if an enemy model is destroyed within 6″. Not a bad trait, but you have two better options here. B
  3. Ancient Evil – At the start of the Fight phase, pick one enemy unit within Engagement Range of the Warlord and make them not eligible to fight. It’s great to have this as a thing you can just do and while you trade off your Archon’s combat effectiveness for it, being able to guarantee it working when you need it instead of trusting Tormentor Helms is highly valuable. A

Wych Cults

  1. Quicksilver Fighter – +2 Attacks. Not a bad trait, but comfortably outperformed by Precision Blows/Competitive Edge/Blood Dancer. If you don’t have access to two of those, then worth another look. B
  2. Stimm Addict – Roll 2 additional dice for the Warlord’s Combat Drugs, re-rolling 6s or duplicates. You benefit from all of these. A potentially very fun combo, unlocking a lot of stuff at once from Combat Drugs, but again, sat comfortably behind your stronger options. C
  3. Precision Blows – Unmodified 6s to hit with melee attacks cause mortal wounds equal to the Damage of the weapon used for the attack, then the attack sequence ends. A really strong trait with the high volume of attacks Succubi can get at damage 2, which comboes well with either the Triptych Whip or, in an army with access to the Cult of Strife relics, the Dark Lotus Toxin. As mentioned above, Red Grief Succubi might also get good value out of it with the Blood Glaive. A

Haemonculus Covens

  1. Master Regenisist  Get 3 wounds back with Fleshcraft instead of d3. Fine if you’re backing up a bunch of Pain Engines with a Haemonculus to keep them chugging along. B
  2. Master Nemesine – Re-roll wound rolls of 1. A change from the codex which gave you +1 to wound with attacks that were mostly unmodified wound rolls that already worked on a 2+. A neat 17% increase in your wounds going through, but the Haemonculus is probably not in your army to be a combat monster. C
  3. Master Artisan – +1 Toughness, +1 Wounds. Completely fine if you have nothing better to do, but you can probably pick Master Regenisist or Twisted Animator instead to do more for your army. B-

The three named characters have the following required traits:

  • Drazhar – Hatred Eternal (Archon list)
  • Lelith Hesperax – Blood Dancer (the Cult of Strife trait)
  • Urien Rakarth – Diabolicai Soothsayer (the Prophets of Flesh trait)

Relics

The Drukhari relic list is thinner than you might expect, with just 6 generic ones available.

  • Parasite’s Kiss A splinter pistol with 3 shots, S2 AP-2 D2 and Poisoned Weapon (2+). The bearer also regains a wound each time they destroy an enemy model. As relic guns go this isn’t a bad one, with sufficient AP and Damage and the 2+ poison allowing it to put real hurt on something. However, you have two much spicier melee weapons available just in this list, plus the sub-faction options. There’s just not really much reason to pick this specifically unless you’re doing something very niche. B-
  • The Helm of Spite In your opponent’s Psychic phase, you can attempt to Deny the Witch once, and if that Deny is successful the enemy Psyker takes Perils of the Warp. A completely fine relic and potentially fun to have on the table as some anti-psyker tech if you can afford to spare the CP and relic slot. B
  • The Nightmare Doll – Haemonculus only. The model gains a 4+ to ignore wounds. Completely fine but Haemonculi are the weakest character option and you already have a 5+; paying for this to improve that by 1 is kind of steep. C+
  • The Djin Blade – Replaces a huskblade with S+1, AP-3, Damage 3 weapon. Each time the bearer fights it makes 2 extra attacks; at the end of each Fight phase where the bearer fought with this weapon roll a D6 and on a 1 they suffer a mortal wound. Making this flat damage 3 elevates it significantly compared to its prior incarnation, as does having access to the new Hatred Eternal and potentially being able to fight twice with a Master Archon. Even without Hatred Eternal it’s at least ok for making your Archon actually do something in combat, particularly in Obsidian Rose where they’ll get a wound re-roll anyway. A
  • The Animus Vitae – A grenade with 6″ range, once per battle. If it hits, the target takes d3 mortal wounds, or d3+3 if it has 11 or more models. Until the end of the turn, friendly units with the Power from Pain ability treat the battle round as being one higher than it currently is. A relic that’s been gaining ground recently – the Power from Pain effect is cool in itself, but being able to huck d3+3 mortal wounds into something like a block of Skitarii is very helpful, too. A
  • The Triptych Whip – Replaces an agoniser with a version  with AP-3, D2, Poisoned Weapon (2+) which gives +3 attacks. This is just stupidly good, comboing really well with either the Competitive Edge or Precision Blows Warlord traits – you can trivially get a Succubus up to 10 attacks with this, which either get 2 attempts at inflicting damage, or can inflict mortals on the hit roll and then wound with the rest on a 2+. A

The Units

As highlighted above, there’s three main sub-factions within Drukhari – Kabals, Wych Cults or Haemonculus Covens. Some units such as Incubi are also “Blades for Hire” which don’t get Obsessions or access to many faction-specific effects. To make this a bit easier to follow we’ve added a key to the units below, which is hopefully fairly obvious – units are marked with either a K for Kabals, W for Wych Cults, H for Haemonculus Covens, or B for Blades for Hire.

HQ

Archons (K)

Archons have had a significant improvement in the 9th edition book, picking up a couple of really useful Warlord traits and relics as well as getting the option to become a Master. While they’re still not exactly combat monsters, a Master equipped with the Djinn Blade and Hatred Eternal is putting out a highly respectable 7 attacks that hit on 2s and re-roll to wound at S4 AP-3 damage 3, which is enough to put a real dent in something if it wants to, and can fight twice once per game, for only 85pts – not bad at all.

Alternatively, you can keep them cheap to utilise their Overlord aura to provide re-rolls to key units – particularly helpful for Incubi – or utilise Ancient Evil for a guaranteed fight last on an enemy in Engagement Range, a safer bet than gambling on the Tormentors. A Master Archon with a venom blade, possibly a second one behind the above Hatred Eternal/Djinn Blade combo if you’re taking double Trueborn, might also take Consummate Weaponmaster to buff their attacks to flat damage 2 at which point you’re hitting and wounding on 2s at AP-1 damage 2, which is pretty reasonable.

Something to note with Archons is that like their Kabalite henchmen they now have a 4+ armour save as standard. If your opponent is trying to cheekily pop your Shadowfield with a boltgun or something, feel free to take saves on the armour save instead – you have 50/50 odds of saving, and you won’t lose your invulnerable save for the rest of the game if you roll an early 1.

Master Archons also, of course, unlock Kabalite Trueborn – one of the strongest shooting units in the book thanks to their unmodified 2+ to hit and ability to mass weapons that actually matter – and are vital to taking a Realspace Raid if you want to.

Drazhar (B)

Drazhar is simply amazing, even after a 10pt hike in the FAQ. He’s shown up in almost every Drukhari list in 9th edition, and for good reason. For 145pts he brings a bunch of high-quality attacks, either 5 at S6 AP3 D3 or 7 at S5 AP3 D2, and benefits from his own +1 to wound aura for INCUBI within 6″ so that he’s never going to be rolling worse than 4s to wound. Murderous Assault lets him fight twice, as long as he’s eligible to do so – not at the end of the phase or anything, he just gets two full activations in each Fight phase. It’s a brutal package, especially if he’s your Warlord and benefiting from Hatred Eternal to allow him to re-roll all hit and wound rolls. On the defensive side, he’s T4 W6 with a 2+ save and a 4+ invulnerable save, and Ancient Warrior to give him -1 Damage – a profile which tends to make him surprisingly hard to kill for people who are used to picking off Aeldari characters with minimal effort, though if anything real connects with him you’ll soon find he’s squishier than expected. Like all Incubi, he can try and keep himself safe with the Tormentors rule which allows you to roll 2D6 against Leadership for an enemy unit in Engagement Range, and make them fight last if you beat it.

There is, basically, nothing in the game that he can’t have a good go at killing, though if he’s not your Warlord (and many players prefer to run him without, so that they can get the Cult of Strife relics) you want to be careful not to throw him into anything too tough that he might bounce off of without re-rolls.

Drazhar, the Master of Blades. Credit: Corrode

Succubus (W)

Succubi got some BIG improvements in 9th edition, in particular by going up to a base 6 attacks. They’re also very cheap at just 60pts, or 75pts for a Master, and they have an array of options to make them highly deadly in melee, their natural home – which is easier to reach than ever thanks to the new Power from Pain giving them Advance and charge. By far the most common combinations are Cult of Strife Succubi with some mix of Competitive Edge and Precision Blows for a Warlord trait along with either the Triptych Whip or Dark Lotus Toxin relics (and equipped with razorflails, in the latter case) – typically set up with the pairings respectively there, i.e. Comp Edge/Whip and Precision Blows/Dark Lotus flails. This gives you a high number of attacks which get, effectively, super re-rolls, or the potential for a very high burst of mortal wounds thanks to the large number of damage 2 attacks (up to 14 on the charge) that Dark Lotus Toxin razorflails grant you.

Alternatively, you may also see a Blood Dancer with the Whip, looking to exploit the high number of attacks to explode for even more hits. Slightly more out there, as mentioned in the Cult of the Cursed Blade section, is the suicide Succubus with Treacherous Deceiver and Traitor’s Embrace, who’s looking to run face-first into an enemy unit and explode in a shower of mortal wounds. You have a lot of options, and these are so cheap that you can usually afford to run a couple of them at once and get a pair of highly effective melee bashers with an enormous threat range.

Lelith Hesperax (W)

Lelith has a great new model and is an iconic character, which makes you wish she was good. Instead, she’s a Succubus (including having Quicksilver Dodge, the 4+ invulnerable save with a bonus -1 to hit, and No Escape), with an extra attack and a power sword that gets additional hits on unmodified hit rolls of 6. This isn’t the most impressive profile, especially now that her Natural Perfection ability no longer lets her benefit from Combat Drugs. Instead, she gets to either charge in a turn when she Fell Back or Advanced, or fight again at the end of any Fight phase in which she kills at least one model. On the plus side, she can re-roll hit rolls and wound rolls against Characters, but her profile isn’t amazing for going headhunting. Mostly it seems kind of confused; the datasheet can’t decide if Lelith was a duellist or a chaff-destroying whirlwind, and she does both things ok but neither well. If you’ve made her your Warlord she does get a bit better thanks to getting 3 extra hits on 6s, but you can’t upgrade Named Characters to Warlords with any of the strats, so she has to be your actual Warlord. This isn’t terrible since she’s a Cult of Strife Warlord and so you can still access the Dark Lotus Toxin to build the other two Succubi builds discussed above, but then you start having three fighty Succubi characters on the table and Lelith looks by far the least essential. She also uses your Master Succubus slot for a detachment, and has Deadly Dance which imitates the normal ability a Master gets to Consolidate 6″ and in any direction.

It would have been nice if GW could make up their minds exactly what Lelith is meant to be good at and given her the tools to do it.  The version we have here just looks inessential compared to her cheaper and more focused subordinates, and so she’s likely to get left on the shelf most of the time.

Credit: Robert “theChirurgeon” Jones

Haemonculus (H)

Haemonculi are odd ones among the characters, lacking a native invulnerable save of any kind and having a poor armour save to boot, which despite their T4 makes them weirdly squishier than a Succubus or Archon – though they of course benefit from Insensible to Pain for a 5+ to ignore wounds. They also no longer benefit from their own Master of Pain aura which gives +1 Toughness to <HAEMONCULUS COVEN> CORE within 6″, so they really are T4 now instead of being effective T5.

They have 6 wounds now at least, though gone down to 4 attacks – partially compensated by the scissorhand giving you 2 more each time you fight, and Haemonculus tools now being Poisoned Weapon (2+). Fleshcraft has also moved onto the datasheet, which is nice for keeping your monsters ticking.

Overall it’s a confused datasheet, especially as they’re the most expensive HQ; they’re a bit tough but not that tough, they don’t fight particularly well, they can heal d3 wounds on a unit but not resurrect anything (except Wracks, with the Twisted Animator Warlord trait). That said, there’s still some great uses for Haemonculi. A Master can bring the Poisoner’s Ampule, a great relic we highlighted before, great for turning off key auras. In the Coven of Twelve you can give them -1 damage, a reasonable melee relic, and utilise A Most Inventive Demise for a surprisingly punishing melee output, while The Dark Creed can utilise the Fear Incarnate Warlord trait to break up actions and Objective Secured. Prophets of Flesh, meanwhile, can bring the Vexator Mask for another reliable source of fight last – one that even has a range to catch enemy units out if they try and avoid engaging the Haemonculus. Alternatively, if you just want to keep your units ticking over, a Master Regenesist can heal a flat 3 rather than d3, which is substantially more reliable.

Urien Rakarth (H)

Rakarth was an all-star in the previous codex, thanks to being the leader of the best Covens faction and providing a unique buff. In this book he isn’t much changed but the value in Prophets has gone down a bit, though he has at least gained an attack to outdo his inferiors (though he lacks the scissorhand), and now benefits from a Clone Field 4+ invulnerable save over them, and his Sustained by Dark Science mirrors the normal Alchemical Maestro ability a Master has. Whether you want Rakarth over a regular Master Haemonculus who costs the same depends on whether you want his Master of Pain aura to give +1 Strength to your Covens units on top of the normal +1 Toughness; besides that buff he’s a bit tougher than normal with Contempt for Death on top of the Clone Field, but restricted to the Diabolical Soothsayer Warlord trait and can only get it by being your actual Warlord, which is quite a big limitation when you look at how many of the more interesting uses for a Haemonculus are Warlord-trait dependent. 

Troops

Kabalite Warriors (K)

Kabalite Warriors are the basic soldiery of the Kabals, and what they bring to the deal is a T3 model with a 4+ save and a splinter rifle, and, in 9th, a surprising buff to 2 attacks. That isn’t much, but they don’t cost much, and even a cheap squad of 5 with a blaster or shredder is reasonably effective at shooting compared to its cost. They’re great for riding around in Raiders or Venoms, unloading darklight on things, or running out to flip objectives with their fragile ObSec bodies, or just generally being workhorses. As highlighted above, one squad per Detachment (and per Kabal) can be upgraded to be Trueborn, which become a much more effective shooting unit and easily make the argument for a squad of 10 with 2 specials and a heavy – typically 2 blasters and a dark lance.

There isn’t tons to say about Kabalites – they’re cheap and cheerful with obvious uses, and if you have 40-50pts spare in a list and room for them in a boat you can’t go far wrong by taking more of them.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Wracks (H)

Dark Technomancers Wracks with liquifier guns were briefly the scourge of 9th edition, but they’ve since calmed down a lot – you still see them in lists, but generally kept cheap for objective holding, or with a couple of the more unusual weapons like hexrifles and ossefactors. For those jobs they’re perfectly good still, and with T4, the 6+ invulnerable save from Power from Pain, and a further 5+ to ignore wounds from Insensible to Pain, they’re harder to kill than people often expect. They even have mildly serious melee, should they ever get there. If you want to go in harder on Covens, taking a Master Haemonculus and upgrading a unit of Wracks to Haemoxytes makes them genuinely obnoxious to kill, especially if they’re hanging around with him and benefiting from his aura to be T5.

Haemonculus and Wracks of the Coven of Twelve | Credit: Garrett “John Condit” Severson

Wyches (W)

Wyches are one of the most improved units in this codex, going up to a mighty 4 base attacks including their Hekatarii blades, and getting AP-1 on those as well as Blade Artists to make them AP-2 on 6s to wound. They retain the rules you’d expect, with the 4+ invulnerable save in melee from Dodge and the ability to trap enemy units in melee with No Escape. Speaking of No Escape, their Wych weapons (razorflails, hydra gauntlets, and shardnets) are 1 of each per squad of 10, so you can’t take a bunch of 5-model units with shardnets any more to tie things down.

At just 10pts per model they’re surprisingly punchy in melee – even a basic unit of 5 puts out 21 attacks of reasonable quality. You will often see a squad of 10 Wyches or, for 2ppm more, Hekatrix Bloodbrides, taken to run face-first into something and overwhelm it with a pile of dice (though watch out for Terminators with storm shields, who don’t care at all about AP-1 and not much more about AP-2). Some lists also run a large number of small units of Wyches, which are both fast, particularly with Hypex, and INFANTRY, allowing them to sprint around the table doing actions, and ObSec, great for jumping on lightly-guarded objectives and snatching them. Wyches are great, and it’s good to see one of the faction’s most recognised units becoming a big deal on the table for what it’s actually meant to do – hit things in the face, hard.

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Elites

Beastmaster (W)

Beastmasters aren’t anyone’s idea of a thrilling unit – they’re a single Hellion mostly used to buff the various units of the Beast Pack, which are the lower tier of things in this book. However, they do have a couple of key qualities which we’ve seen used by creative individuals in the Drukhari community. They are cheap, fast, flying infantry characters, which means they have a lot of scope for things like scoring Engage on All Fronts, doing Actions if allowed – they’re a good pick for Raise the Banners, for example – or hiding behind a boat and providing an additional body to sit on an objective which is quite sticky thanks to LoSir – you have to kill the boat and at least part of its contents before you can even point a gun at the Beastmaster, and as single models they’re quite good at hiding behind walls and such. Do you want to max out on these in your army? Possibly not, but for 40pts they’re a surprisingly capable and flexible pick.

Court of the Archon (K)

Finally reunited as a single unit, the Court of the Archon has been re-envisioned for 9th edition. A bit like the Beastmaster one of their key strengths is simply being very cheap infantry, and with a lot of wounds to boot – a unit of 4 Ur-Ghuls costs 64pts and has 12 wounds with a 6+ invulnerable save for Power from Pain and then a 5+ to ignore wounds from the Court’s own Resilient Species rule too. That also affects Sslyth, who are also 3 wounds and cost just 2pts more, and trade off the Ur-Ghul’s 6 attacks on the charge (thanks to Ferocious Charge) for having a better melee weapon, a shardcarbine, and the Cold-blooded Bodyguard rule which means an ARCHON within 3″ of the unit cannot be targeted by ranged attacks at all. Both this and the Lhamaean’s Toxin Crafter aura (giving auto-wounds for poisoned weapons on a 6 to hit for Archons and Trueborn within 3″) work this way – as long as the unit has any Sslyth or any Lhamaeans the whole thing gives out the buff.

Medusae, for their part, are the least essential thing here; their eyeburst is an auto-hitting pistol with d6 shots at S4 AP-2 D1, but they don’t do much else. Most Courts you see in the wild are primarily made up of Sslyth and Ur-Ghuls to act as cheap blocks of Bodyguarding wounds, though it’s worth taking at least one Lhamaean or Medusae just to get Ld8 – the Sslyth are only Ld6, and the Ur-Ghuls even worse at Ld4, so as soon as you start taking casualties you’re in danger of them running. Like the Beastmaster, it’s also worth bearing in mind that these are cheap INFANTRY and so can do actions; they’re also good at holding objectives thanks to being relatively tough to kill for their cost, though do note that they’re not Objective Secured.

Grotesques (H)

Similarly to Talos, Grotesques have lost a bit of what made them tough to deal with in 8th edition – they now rejoice in the regular Power from Pain 6+ invulnerable save instead of the 4+ that Prophets of Flesh used to grant, and only have a 6+ armour save to boot, though as Covens units they do of course benefit from the 5+ from Insensible to Pain which helps them out a bit. Their unit size has also dropped to a maximum of 3-6, so there’s fewer of them on the table.

The trade-off is that they’ve gained some offensive punch, with flesh gauntlets now making them +1 Strength and monstrous cleavers going up to damage 2. Blade Artists also helps them out on the AP front, and with Coven of Twelve the cleavers can get as high as AP-4 – perfect for battering Space Marines off the table. They also benefit nicely from being INFANTRY and CORE, opening up a number of helpful buffs, not least the wound re-roll from Cronos and the potential for hit re-rolls from a Realspace Raider Archon.

Early on in the 9th codex Grotesques had a lot of value as liquifier gun platforms, but since those were nerfed they’ve seen a drop in usage in winning lists. That isn’t to say they’re not out there – Boris Michev got some good use out of them as a small 3-model units to act as troubleshooters – but they’re a slight step down from the very best stuff in the book.

Incubi (B)

If you look at basically any 9th edition Drukhari list, what you will see are multiple units of Incubi. These guys have finally ben given the buff their ultra-cool models have long deserved, and now hit like an absolute train in melee. At base they’re WS2+ with effective S5 from their klaives and 3 attacks each at AP-3 damage 2; the Klaivex also gives them +1 Damage on 6s to wound in melee, which comboes with Blade Artists to make them AP-4 damage 3. Those are big swings, and the Klaivex can also benefit from his (for some reason, free) demiklaives to have an option on making a full 6 attacks by himself – only S4 AP-2, but still damage 2, so great for clearing out hordes and overruning abilities that ignore Wounds. They’re also CORE, helpful for some Stratagems, and have the same Tormentors rule that Drazhar has – plus of course benefiting from his aura for a further +1 to wound, so that they pound through anything T4 or below on 2s and wound anything in the game on at least 4s. For just 16pts/model, that’s a very good package. Your main worry with them is just keeping them alive if they get hit first, as they’re still only T3 with a 3+ save; keep an eye out for opportunities to use Hunt from the Shadows to keep them up against low-AP firepower, and utilise Grisly Trophies on their transport or an Ancient Evil Archon to force the enemy to fight last and be unable to interrupt and wipe them.

Incubi. Credit: Corrode

Mandrakes (B)

Mandrakes are merely ok at things like “fighting” or “shooting” – their baleblast can pop the occasional mortal wound on something, but they can’t really mass enough shots to make it count, and their glimmersteel blades benefit from lots of attacks but are only S4 AP-1 D1 which doesn’t do that much all told. However, you see them regularly in Drukhari lists, and that’s down to two abilities – From Out of the Shadows, allowing them to deploy anywhere on the table more than 9″ from the enemy deployment zone/enemy models, and Fade Away allowing you to pick them up at the start of the Movement phase and re-deploy them anywhere on the table (again more than 9″ away) the next turn. This gives them enormous tactical flexibility; they can be used as scouts and screens against an enemy that wants to push forward aggressively, or deploy on an otherwise hard to reach objective or to tick off a quarter for Engage on All Fronts, and of course as infantry they can do Actions – the redeploy makes them particularly excellent at Retrieve Octarius Data, since one unit can trivially do the action in 2 quarters per game, helped by being on 25mm bases so that 5 of them has hardly any footprint on the board at all. They’re also a bit more resilient than you think with -1 to hit all the time and a 5+ invulnerable save, and Fade Away not only gives them a redeploy but allows them a get out of jail free card for being wrapped.

At just 1ppm less than Incubi, these guys look a lot less exciting for their damage potential, but for ability to play the mission they are excellent – just don’t let them get into a fight, unless they’re helping gang up on something that can’t or won’t kill them first.

Fast Attack

Clawed Fiends, Khymerae, and Razorwing Flocks (W)

If there’s a unit (or set of units, really) that can be confidently skipped over, it’s the Beasts, who just don’t bring a lot to the table to get excited about. That said, even Khymerae have shown up in a top 4 list before, testament to how deep this codex is.

Hellions (W)

Hellions are great now, with S4 AP-1 D2 on their melee attacks as standard, an upgrade to T4 with 2 wounds, and a base 3 attacks each. For 17pts that’s already a decent profile, and their 14″ move makes them a big beneficiary of advance and charge as they have a truly enormous threat range on 9th edition-sized boards. They’re also prime users of the Eviscerating Fly-by Stratagem to pop mortal wounds on a key infantry target – whether that’s small squads of 5 trading 1CP for a likely 2-3 mortals, or a big squad going all in on the “pick up your key character” wound bomb. They’re also INFANTRY, opening them up for action-doing potential, and have reasonable shooting too. It’s a great package, and it’s a demonstration of how powerful the rest of the book is that Hellions aren’t an auto-include – though there’s winning lists out there that have included anything up to 40 of them.

Reaver Jetbikes (W)

Reaver Jetbikes are the other big beneficiaries of Eviscerating Fly-by, though they’re not the primary thing you’d look at for that since they come in smaller squads and cost more. However, they get a lot of value out of advance and charge since they auto-advance 8″ – giving them a mighty 26″ of movement. For all that, they aren’t particularly special in combat – 3 attacks at S4 AP-1 D1, which compares poorly to equivalent points of Wyches. They do all mount splinter rifles however, and one in every three can take a special weapon – either a blaster or a heat lance. Reavers are the ideal platform for the latter, being able to get up to BS2+ with combat drugs and not taking the movement penalty for shooting them. Alternatively, just keep them cheap and use them for reaching out and grabbing objectives – blasting 3 of them off across the board to take down a squishy unit holding a far-off point is only a 60pt investment, after all.

Scourges (B)

Like Mandrakes, Scourges are a low-key unit that brings more than you’d expect them to; for just 60pts with FLY, a 14″ move and native deep strike they’re excellent for dropping in onto objectives or for action purposes, and you don’t mind too much if they do nothing else after. Having a 5+ invulnerable save native to their datasheet makes them a little bit stickier than might be expected, and their regular shardcarbines offer ok shooting for what they cost. However, you can also choose from any of the Drukhari special or heavy weapons for them, and take up to 4 in any combination – unrivalled versatility in weapon options, and on a platform which can maximise their use thanks to their ability to reposition quickly. If you want to keep things cheap, shredders are a great pick here since you can mass them and put a lot of shots into larger units to take advantage of Blast; alternatively you can get a little pricier with blasters and add some more anti-tank that can get wherever it wants to be. The other options lose a little lustre thanks to being Heavy on a unit of infantry, but heat lances and haywire blasters are both worth a look as there’s very few other places you can get a lot of them on one unit, and haywire blasters don’t really lose anything if you have to move since the only other unit that can mount them are Talos who are BS4+ anyway.

Although Scourges are Blades for Hire and can’t normally get access to hit re-rolls, they are CORE and so will be able to get access to hit – and possibly wound – re-rolls of 1s to hit if they’re in a Realspace Raid with a Black Heart Archon. Whether it’s worth throwing down 15 of them to utilise those auras is open to question, but it’s an option that exists if you did want to use a whole bunch of them.

 

Scourges with shardcarbines. Credit: Corrode

Heavy Support

Talos (H)

Talos are likely the unit that did worst out of the 9th edition codex; they lost the toughness the old Prophets of Flesh 4+ invulnerable save gave them, but didn’t get any cheaper or better at killing to compensate (though they do benefit from Insensible to Pain like all Covens units). If you had a lot of them in 8th edition they’re probably configured with one macro-scalpel, one chain-flails, and two haywire blasters, none of which are really their best options in 9th. What is interesting on them now is the ichor injector, which is free and a reasonable source of mortal wounds especially once you’re hitting on 2s with them. You could also look at running chain flails as the other arm and playing as Coven of Twelve, since gaining AP makes them a better prospect.

Gun-wise you’re probably looking at the heat lances now which are marginally better on the odds than the haywire blasters you are likely to already have modelled, but are quite high-variance thanks to their 1 shot each on the Talos’ BS4+. All their gun options now except the stinger pod are Heavy, too, which doesn’t play nicely with the likelihood of wanting to advance and charge. Are Talos bad now? Not exactly, and if they dropped 10-20pts in price you’d want to revisit them, but they do pale a bit in comparison to the rest of what’s in the codex.

Cronos (H)

Newly rising up to overtake their older brothers, Cronos have become a premier unit in the Drukhari range. Their gear is all spirit-something, confusingly, but in broad terms they come with a spirit syphon and spirit-leech tentacles on base rate, and it’s the former that has made them into a great unit – they dodged the Dark Technomancers nerf, so they can fire a d6 shot flamer S5 AP-2 D1 with +1 to wound and +1 damage, doing another point of damage on 6s to wound (like all Cronos weapons), with no possibility of taking mortal wounds. They’re also T6 and W7, making them quite sticky with the Insensible to Pain ability on top, which is not bad at all for 70pts per model. If you want to spend a little more you can buy them a spirit vortex, allowing another d6 shots per model at 18″ range that are also S5 AP-2 and can be up to damage 3, though those do roll to hit so you are risking it by enhancing them with Dark Technomancers – especially since Cronos are MONSTERS and therefore take d3 mortal wounds and not just 1. That said, they have both the 5+ to ignore wounds and also spirit-leech tentacles, allowing them to heal back wounds – or even models – for either themselves or a DRUKHARI CORE unit within 6″. There is an open question right now as to whether the Reservoir of Pain ability lets you do this multiple times per turn or if you just get one wound/model back and that’s it – check with your TO ahead of time.

That’s all a great package, and you can also throw a spirit probe on one of them too to give a 6″ re-roll wounds of 1 for CORE and CHARACTERS within 6″, which is a good extra utility add-on.

Cronos. Credit: James “Boon” Kelling

Ravagers (K)

A Ravager is effectively an upgunned Raider, with no transport capacity but a bonus wound and three big guns instead of one. Ravagers were a strong unit in 8th edition and caught a couple of points bumps as time went on, which have persisted into 9th edition. The days when you would want to run three of them in a list are long gone, but one or two has surprising utility thanks to the re-roll Kabals (Black Heart and Obsidian Rose) making them that bit more reliable – BS3+ with a single re-roll is good for about 2.6 average hits with Black Heart, which is a solid return.

Dedicated Transports

Raider (K, W, or H)

Raiders are a driving force in the 9th edition power of Drukhari; for just 95pts you get a flying 11-slot transport with T6 and a 5+ invulnerable against ranged attacks that also mounts a dark lance, which are very strong now that they do d3+3 damage – enough to put a lot of hurt on a vehicle or outright kill elite infantry and a lot of battlesuit-sized units as well. Your boats hide your squishy units, and their large and awkward profile offers unrivalled ability to disembark in any direction you care to go. They can also pull off some fun tricks, including advance and charging with Enhanced Aethersails to engage backfield units or tag something threatening – extra funny with the chain-snares upgrade which gets them +3 attacks for a full 6 at S7 AP-1 which benefits from all of Blade Artists, the Black Heart/Obsidian Rose re-rolls, and the +1 to hit from Power from Pain on a respectable WS4+. Their other upgrades are good too – phantasm grenade launchers allow you to pop mortal wounds onto things and also can be sneakily used to advance and still utilise Never Stationary for extra movement if you really need to go 29″ (though remember you can’t charge), and grisly trophies make your Incubi that bit better at yelling at people. Shock prows open up the aforementioned Stratagem, which is also solid utility. The only real miss is the splinter racks, which are 10pts and don’t really do enough to be worth taking. An all-round great unit that is just fine if you keep it cheap but also has a whole bunch of useful upgrades if you want to go to town a bit.

Venom (K, W, or H)

The Venom is a smaller, lighter transport, which has 6 transport capacity instead of the 11 of a Raider and only 6 wounds, but also mounts a splinter cannon and twin splinter rifle (which can be upgraded to another splinter cannon). If you need 5 guys and their blaster to ride around the skies, while also packing ok anti-infantry firepower, then a Venom is your friend. They’re also -1 to be hit with shooting attacks and, like all other Drukhari vehicles, retain the 5+ Night Shields save, making them harder to remove than you (or your opponent) might expect. They also have an advantage in being tiny, which can allow them to hide in places a Raider simply cannot. 

Flyers

Razorwing Jetfighter (K or W)

Competing with Talos for “least improved” in the 9th edition codex is the Razorwing Jetfighter. These are just kind of anaemic for what they bring to the table now – weaker guns than a Ravager for 20pts more, unable to hold objectives or score/prevent some secondaries, lower value from Hard to Hit now that you can’t stack hit modifiers as effectively. You can safely ignore them for now, until they get a point cut or something else to make them a bit punchier.

Voidraven Bomber (K or W)

The Voidraven is in that band of units where some players will swear they take 3 in every game and others insist that they’re irredeemably useless. For once the truth actually does lie in the middle; Voidravens get a decent pair of guns with either two Heavy 3 S8 AP-4 D2 dark scythes or Heavy 1 S9 AP-4 D3+3 void lances and can bring missiles to add a little extra punch, and they also have a once per game void mine which now allows you to pick a point they flew over and do d6 mortal wounds to units within 6″ of that point on a 4+, or 5+ for non-VEHICLE/MONSTER CHARACTER units. That’s a bit swingy but against a big clumped up enemy army it can be potentially decisive, particularly something like Ad Mech where you’re going to have a lot of units all piled on top of each other seeking to benefit from their various buffs – taking d6 mortal wounds out of half those units early on is a big punch to land if you can, and of course you can do it multiple times if you’ve brought enough Voidravens. It’s potentially swingy, with a high chance of low-rolling on either the “hits” or the number of mortals, but if it goes right it can be highly effective. 

How They Play

Drukhari are a highly flexible army, with a surfeit of fantastic options which let you build very different lists depending on what you want to do. A lot of lists are centred around a core of Raiders, transporting all manner of units – Incubi, Wyches, Kabalite Trueborn or Warriors, Grotesques, and their supporting cast of characters – though you also see Venoms mixed in. Fast Attack might be small units of Reavers or Hellions or Scourges for objective grabbing and actions, or big mobs of Hellions meant to rush in and overwhelm people with Eviscerating Fly-by and sheer weight of attacks. There might be no planes or triple Voidravens.

What these typically form is a combined-arms force, with lots of highly mobile units with either native FLY or mounted in a flying transport. Drukhari shooting is good but not great, and almost all lists utilise a combination of Incubi, Wyches, characters, and Hellions to offer a lot of combat punch to support the guns – or looked at another way, the guns open things up for the melee units. The crucial ability to advance and charge thanks to Power from Pain is a huge assist here, giving your units significant and unpredictable increases in threat range, plus the bonus movement from disembarking from a transport.

As well as their capacity for killing things, Drukhari have unrivalled ability to play the mission. Herd the Prey is the strongest faction secondary in the game as of August 2021, and the army is also excellent at primary and offers relatively few points on secondaries to its opponents – even heavy Raider lists can give up 9 or fewer points on Bring it Down, for example, though you do want to be careful with characters and whether they give up Assassination too easily.

If you want more detailed thoughts, Archon Skari of Art of War wrote two Keys to the Spire articles published here and here which lay out his ideas about the faction – and if anyone knows their way around a Raider, it’s him.

Lists

I had to zoom my browser out to be able to take this screenshot. Imagine how it would look without Covid slowing events down in a lot of the world. You can head on over to 40kStats.com and pick any of these and you’ll be fine – though do watch out for the ones from before the Dark Technomancers nerf. With such a wealth of lists it’s hard to pick out individuals, but we’ve picked out three fairly recent winners to highlight here, with varied approaches that show off the breadth of the codex.

Matt Root – 1st Place – Every Singles Tournament He Entered This Year

The List

Army List - Click to expand

 

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [17 PL, -2CP, 300pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Obsession: Kabal of the Obsidian Rose: Flawless Workmanship

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Archon [5 PL, -1CP, 85pts]: Hatred Eternal, Huskblade, Overlord, Splinter Pistol, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition, The Djin Blade
. . Splintered Genius (Obsidian Rose): Splintered Genius

+ Troops +

Kabalite Trueborn [8 PL, 135pts] . . 6x Kabalite Trueborn: 6x Splinter Rifle
. . Kabalite Trueborn w/ Heavy Weapon: Dark Lance
. . Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. . Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. . Trueborn Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

+ Elites +

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. . Klaivex: Demiklaives

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [22 PL, -3CP, 435pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Obsession: Cult of Strife: The Spectacle of Murder (Restricted)

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Succubus [4 PL, -1CP, 75pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Dark Lotus Toxin, Precision Blows, Razorflails, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition
. . Show Stealer (Strife): Show Stealer

Succubus [3 PL, 60pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Competitive Edge, The Triptych Whip, Warlord
. . Agoniser & Archite Glaive

+ Troops +

Wyches [6 PL, -1CP, 105pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug)
. . Hekatrix: Agoniser, Morvaines’s Agoniser, Splinter Pistol, Stratagem: Hekatrix of the Crucibael
. . 9x Wych: 9x Hekatarii Blade, 9x Plasma Grenades, 9x Splinter Pistol

+ Elites +

Mandrakes [3 PL, 75pts] . . 4x Mandrake: 4x Baleblast, 4x Glimmersteel Blade
. . Nightfiend

+ Fast Attack +

Reavers [3 PL, 60pts]: 3 – Hypex (Combat Drug)
. . Arena Champion: Splinter Rifle
. . 2x Reaver: 2x Bladevanes, 2x Splinter Pistol, 2x Splinter Rifle

Reavers [3 PL, 60pts]: 3 – Hypex (Combat Drug)
. . Arena Champion: Splinter Rifle
. . 2x Reaver: 2x Bladevanes, 2x Splinter Pistol, 2x Splinter Rifle

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [70 PL, 12CP, 1,265pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Obsession
. . *Custom Coven*: Dark Technomancers (All-Consuming)

Raiding Forces – CP Refund

+ HQ +

Drazhar [8 PL, 145pts]

+ Troops +

Wracks [3 PL, 50pts] . . Acothyst: Hexrifle, Wrack Blade
. . Wrack w/ Special Weapon: Ossefactor
. . 3x Wracks: 3x Wrack Blade

Wracks [3 PL, 50pts] . . Acothyst: Hexrifle, Wrack Blade
. . Wrack w/ Special Weapon: Ossefactor
. . 3x Wracks: 3x Wrack Blade

+ Elites +

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. . Klaivex: Demiklaives

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. . Klaivex: Demiklaives

+ Heavy Support +

Cronos [12 PL, 240pts] . . Cronos: Spirit Vortex
. . Cronos: Spirit Vortex
. . Cronos: Spirit Vortex

Cronos [12 PL, 240pts] . . Cronos: Spirit Vortex
. . Cronos: Spirit Vortex
. . Cronos: Spirit Vortex

+ Dedicated Transport +

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance

The Standout Features

  • Dark Technomancer Cronos
  • Drazhar and his Droogs
  • Archon & Succubi Hero-Hammer
  • Morvaine’s Agoniser Wych tarpit

Matt took this to 2 GTs and 2 majors this year and won all four of them, which is not a bad return at all. Typical of Drukhari lists, Matt’s list is defined by multiple minimum-sized squads that are fast, punch far above their weight, and are supported by a bevy of slice-and-dice combat characters that float like butterflies and sting like a freight train. This is a list that plays a whole bunch of Drukhari hits – Raiders (though Coven here rather than the more common Kabal version), 4 Cronos, three squads of Incubi and Drazhar, a pair of Cult of Strife Succubi, Trueborn and an objective-grabbing/action-doing unit of Mandrakes. A lot of what’s going on here has informed what we’ve written above; it’s bread and butter stuff, and highly effective for it.

Anthony Richardson – 1st Place – IWTS Open

The List

Army List - Click to expand

 

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [56 PL, 11CP, 935pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Gametype: Matched

Obsession: Kabal of the Obsidian Rose: Flawless Workmanship

Raiding Forces – CP Refund

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Archon [5 PL, 80pts]: Overlord, Splinter Pistol, The Helm of Spite, Venom Blade
. Splintered Genius (Obsidian Rose): Splintered Genius

+ Troops +

Kabalite Trueborn [8 PL, 135pts] . 6x Kabalite Trueborn: 6x Splinter Rifle
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Heavy Weapon: Dark Lance
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Trueborn Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

Kabalite Warriors [3 PL, 50pts] . 3x Kabalite Warrior: 3x Splinter Rifle
. Kabalite Warrior w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

Kabalite Warriors [3 PL, 50pts] . 3x Kabalite Warrior: 3x Splinter Rifle
. Kabalite Warrior w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

+ Elites +

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. Klaivex: Demiklaives

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. Klaivex: Demiklaives

+ Fast Attack +

Scourges [5 PL, 80pts] . Scourge with Special / Heavy weapon: Shredder
. Scourge with Special / Heavy weapon: Shredder
. Scourge with Special / Heavy weapon: Shredder
. Scourge with Special / Heavy weapon: Shredder
. Solarite: Shardcarbine

+ Dedicated Transport +

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [37 PL, -2CP, 805pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost

Obsession: Cult of the Cursed Blade: Only The Strong Will Survive

Raiding Forces – CP Refund

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Succubus [4 PL, -1CP, 75pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Dancer’s Edge, Quicksilver Fighter, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition
. Agoniser & Archite Glaive
. Show Stealer (Cursed Blade): Show Stealer

+ Troops +

Wyches [3 PL, 50pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug)
. Hekatrix: Hekatarii Blade, Splinter Pistol
. 4x Wych: 4x Hekatarii Blade, 4x Plasma Grenades, 4x Splinter Pistol

+ Fast Attack +

Hellions [15 PL, 340pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug)
. Helliarch: Hellglaive
. 19x Hellion: 19x Hellglaive, 19x Splinter Pods

Hellions [15 PL, 340pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug)
. Helliarch: Hellglaive
. 19x Hellion: 19x Hellglaive, 19x Splinter Pods

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [14 PL, -1CP, 260pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost

Obsession: Cult of the Cursed Blade: Only The Strong Will Survive

Raiding Forces – CP Refund

+ HQ +

Drazhar [8 PL, 145pts]: Hatred Eternal, Warlord

Succubus [3 PL, -1CP, 60pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Precision Blows, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition, The Triptych Whip
. Agoniser & Archite Glaive

+ Troops +

Wyches [3 PL, 55pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug)
. Hekatrix: Power sword, Splinter Pistol
. 4x Wych: 4x Hekatarii Blade, 4x Plasma Grenades, 4x Splinter Pistol

The Standout Features

  • Hellion spam in full flow

Why it’s Interesting in 9th

It says a lot about just how nasty the Drukhari codex is that we don’t see more Hellion spam lists, because that datasheet is wild, as this list ably demonstrates. Fast, very lethal, able to have both S5 (factoring in the weapon) and T5 when run as Cursed Blade, and with the option to just straight-up smoke enemy characters or infantry units with Eviscerating Fly-by, these would be a standout unit in most books and are merely one of many powerful options Drukhari has.

With the Ork codex reducing the power and therefore prevalnce of D2 weaponry (the only thing that Hellions hate), this list could prove to be a harbinger of things to come. This army is all about the wide-ranging melee counterattack, and wants to ride that through to victory. Drukhari transports are ideal for making an initial, relatively sticky push to the mid-board that demands a response from the opponent. When they make one? Well, it’s turn 2, so Advance and Charge from Power from Pain has switched on, so the Hellions can sweep up the table decapitating anyone in their way. The sheer violence of the melee push this list has through the mid-game is only matched by something like White Scars, and only the most resilient lists are going to have any chance of stiffling it. It’s also unusually good (for a melee army) at dealing with transport-heavy opposing builds, as a flock of 20 Hellions is extremely capable of fully wrapping a transport, and with two of them you can do so in multiple places at once, overwhelming Emergency Disembark. Finally, they’re fantastic in matchups where opponents are relying on volume D1 melee, as the revenge mortals from the Cult of the Cursed Blade obsession will do tremendous work.

John Swallow – Drukhari – 2nd Place Glasshammer 4/3rd Place Into the Hellstorm – The Bolter

The List

Army List - Click to expand

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [71 PL, 1,285pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost

Obsession: Kabal of the Black Heart: Thirst for Power

+ HQ +

Archon [5 PL, 85pts]: Hatred Eternal, Huskblade, Overlord, Splinter Pistol, The Djin Blade, Warlord
. Splintered Genius (Black Heart): Splintered Genius

Drazhar [8 PL, 145pts]

+ Troops +

Kabalite Trueborn [8 PL, 135pts] . 6x Kabalite Trueborn: 6x Splinter Rifle
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Heavy Weapon: Dark Lance
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster
. Trueborn Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

+ Elites +

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. Klaivex: Klaive

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. Klaivex: Klaive

+ Flyer +

Voidraven Bomber [9 PL, 185pts]: Kabal
. Two void lances

Voidraven Bomber [9 PL, 185pts]: Kabal
. Two void lances

+ Dedicated Transport +

Raider [6 PL, 100pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal, Shock Prow

Raider [6 PL, 100pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal, Shock Prow

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Dark Lance, Kabal

++ Patrol Detachment -2CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [36 PL, -6CP, 715pts] ++

+ Configuration +

Detachment Command Cost [-0CP]

Obsession: Cult of Strife: The Spectacle of Murder

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

+ HQ +

Succubus [3 PL, -1CP, 60pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Competitive Edge, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition, The Triptych Whip
. Agoniser & Archite Glaive

Succubus [4 PL, -1CP, 75pts]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Dark Lotus Toxin, Precision Blows, Razorflails, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition
. Show Stealer (Strife): Show Stealer

+ Troops +

Wyches [3 PL, 50pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug)
. Hekatrix: Hekatarii Blade, Splinter Pistol
. 4x Wych: 4x Hekatarii Blade, 4x Plasma Grenades, 4x Splinter Pistol

Wyches [3 PL, 50pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug)
. Hekatrix: Hekatarii Blade, Splinter Pistol
. 4x Wych: 4x Hekatarii Blade, 4x Plasma Grenades, 4x Splinter Pistol

Wyches [3 PL, 50pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug)
. Hekatrix: Hekatarii Blade, Splinter Pistol
. 4x Wych: 4x Hekatarii Blade, 4x Plasma Grenades, 4x Splinter Pistol

+ Elites +

Incubi [4 PL, 80pts] . 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive
. Klaivex: Klaive

+ Fast Attack +

Hellions [4 PL, 85pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug)
. Helliarch: Hellglaive
. 4x Hellion: 4x Hellglaive, 4x Splinter Pods

Reavers [12 PL, 265pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug), 3x Cluster caltrops
. Arena Champion: Splinter Rifle
. 7x Reaver: 7x Bladevanes, 7x Splinter Pistol, 7x Splinter Rifle
. Reaver with special weapon (up to 1 for 3 models): Blaster
. Reaver with special weapon (up to 1 for 3 models): Blaster
. Reaver with special weapon (up to 1 for 3 models): Blaster

++ Total: [107 PL, 8CP , 2,000pts] ++

 

The Standout Features

  • Voidravens.
  • Honestly just “lots of Darklight” – adding the blaster Reavers as well makes this a brutal anti-tank build.

Why it’s Interesting in 9th

For Drukhari, this list is unusually shooting skewed. On top of your standard complement of Raiders and Trueborn, this army sports a pair of Voidraven Bombers and a unit of Reavers loaded up with Blasters, and the result is a build that brutally punishes vehicle-heavy builds. Two Voidravens also lets you swing for the fences against armies like Sisters that tend to cluster up, because dropping both bombs in the middle of an army can lead to some absolutely crushing swings if you roll well. Add in the fact that this build’s weaponry is extremely ready for Orktoberfest and you’ve got something that might prove to be of enduring interest depending on how the metagame plays out. In addition, while the list doesn’t pack as much melee pressure as usual, it’s got four different characters that are absurdly good at trading up plus three Incubi units, so committing with valuable melee threats is still incredibly unsafe for most opponents. That’s just the kind of thing you get in even a shooting-heavy Drukhari army.

Conclusion

Here we are! Maybe you’re reading this with visions of your torture elves flying across the table firing splinters into everything they see, or Cronos drifting across the battlefield like gruesome wrecking balls. Possibly you’re already in Battlescribe jamming it all into a list. You might also just be reading it and shaking your head feeling overwhelmed. The best thing to do is just get out there and play some games! Good luck with all of your realspace raids, and if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or vitriolic abuse, fire it off to contact@goonhammer.com and we’ll respond in kind.