Start Competing: Dark Eldar/Drukhari Tactics

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Overview

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 Dark Eldar.

As with the rest of these articles, the idea is not to give an exhaustive review of every single unit and option. Instead, each section will give a brief summary of what’s available, picking up on key units/relics/stratagems and also highlighting clear trap choices, and then discussing how best to utilise the good stuff. This is also specifically a discussion of the codex – Drukhari have only a couple of Forge World options and they’re not particularly relevant.

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 February 2020, just after the Chapter Approved 2019 points changes, and following the release of Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising.

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

Army Strengths

  • High mobility
  • Cost-efficient Troops and Dedicated Transports
  • Power from Pain bonuses make the army more than the sum of its parts
  • Decent invulnerable saves on all vehicles

 

Army Weaknesses

  • Zero native psychic options
  • Few special characters
  • Glass hammer playstyle for Kabals/Wych Cults
  • Key options increased in cost in Chapter Approved 2019

 

Competitive Rating

Medium-Strong. After its release in April 2018 pure Drukhari was one of the best pure armies available, and with splashes from the Craftworlds and/or Harlequins books it was even stronger. As the meta has evolved the codex has fallen back a bit, and the synergies between books that made the Eldar soup powerful have fallen off. Additionally, the advent of Marines 2.0 – who bring a lot of mid-strength, high rate-of-fire weapons to the table, which is the bane of Drukhari armies – has made the army feel even more fragile than before, although Drukhari have strengths in that match-up too.

What power remains for Drukhari lies in a couple of key aspects. Firstly, they have access to some key weapons which are perfectly suited to the 8th edition metagame (see the Weapons section below).

Secondly, the army is fast and mobile with a high proportion of flying units, able to cover the board quickly and rapidly switch play. Never again will you look at a distant objective and wonder how you’ll ever get to it by the time the game ends, nor will you face the inevitable grind of a Knight or combat monster character running at you with no escape in sight.

That’s not to say that Drukhari make for an easy netlist to go out and win with. As you’ll see from the discussion on the next point, the way the army is structured can make it either fast but fragile, or tough but slow and easy to out-manoeuvre. Careful play is required to get the most out of the book.

 

A raiding force from the Dark City

 

Army Rundown

The thing to mention about Drukhari right up front is that the book really contains three different armies, with their own separate options, traits, and stratagems. This is both a blessing and a curse – on the one hand, it hugely opens up the playstyles available, but on the other, the inability of large parts of the book to play nicely together can really inhibit your list-building options. It’s probably easiest to explain by saying that two different people playing “Drukhari” armies can have completely different playstyles, but after deciding between Kabals, Cults or Covens their chosen builds are likely to be much the same. This will make more sense if we discuss exactly what the different sub-armies are:

Kabals – the Kabals are what you might call the standard-issue Drukhari, forming the backbone of the army. This is where you’ll find the Kabalite Warrior, the regular-joe Dark Elf in space with his gun that shoots poison shards and his armour that’s designed to hurt people just by brushing against them. Kabal-based armies will feature lots of Kabalite units in transports, whether that’s the venerable Raider or the more modern Venom, as well as support from Ravager gunships and the Razorwing and Voidraven planes.

Wych Cults – where Kabals opt for a shooting-based playstyle, featuring lots of flying around in boats gunning things down from afar, Wyches are all about getting into your opponent’s face and meleeing them to death. My opinion is that they’re not actually very good at this, being very vulnerable to making an appearance and then getting gunned down in short order. What they’re arguably better at is gumming up the works by tying up enemy units, particularly infantry units which they can force to stay in combat even if they don’t manage to tri-point them. 

Haemonculus Covens – this is where Drukhari get weird. The basic unit of the Covens is a Wrack, a twisted mutant Drukhari which trades ranged weaponry for T4 and the 5+ invulnerable save universal to Haemonculus units. Backing them up are the Grotesques, giant ogre-like mutants, and the Talos Pain Engines and their smaller Cronos soul-eater cousins. There’s very few options available to Haemonculus Covens, but happily the ones that are there are all really good.

 

Special Rules

There are three key special rules which apply to Drukhari, outlined below:

Poisoned Weapons

A nice straightforward one to start with – weapons with this rule (which is a lot of what’s in the book, including the basic splinter rifle which is the most common gun in the army) always wound on a 4+ against anything other than a VEHICLE or TITANIC unit, where it wounds on a 6+. This can be both a blessing and a curse – sometimes when you’re shooting at Guardsmen or other weak units, you long for a simple S4 profile – but mostly it’s really good and lets even your ordinary dudes punch above their weight.

Power from Pain

The Power from Pain table is a mechanic which is unique within 40k. All non-vehicle units in the book get access to the rule, which gives a number of stacking bonuses depending on the battle round being played. The important word there is “stacking” – you don’t just get a new rule, you also keep all the ones before. The table is:

  1. Inured to Suffering – a 6+ Feel No Pain save.
  2. Eager to Flay – re-roll Advances and charges.
  3. Flensing Fury – add 1 to hit rolls in the Fight phase.
  4. Emboldened by Bloodshed – automatically pass Morale tests.
  5. Mantle of Agony – enemy units within 6″ take Morale tests at -1.

As rules go, this is a bit of a curate’s egg. The most universal bonus is the very first one, the 6+ FNP. Making all your units 16% more survivable than the statline suggests is very good and easy to make use of. The rest of it is all a bit weird – the Eager to Flay/Flensing Fury bonuses in rounds 2 and 3 are fantastic for melee-heavy Covens or Wych Cult builds, but almost meaningless to Kabals. Emboldened by Bloodshed is ok, but by round 4 the number of Morale tests a Drukhari army is likely to take is pretty low, and I’ve actually never remembered or used Mantle of Agony to know whether it’s any good or not. Like most Morale-based debuffs, it’s likely to be absolutely clutch for the one game where you line it up well – say with a Hemlock Wraithfighter from the Craftworlds book supporting a Leadership bomb on a key objective holder – and then completely irrelevant the rest of the time.

 

Off to kill some Orks

 

Combat Drugs

Unique to the Wych Cults part of the army are combat drugs. There are 6 options available, and you can choose each one once, or roll to see what effect you get. The effects are: 

  1. Adrenalight – +1 Attack
  2. Grave Lotus – +1 Strength
  3. Hypex – +2 Move
  4. Painbringer – +1 Toughness
  5. Serpentin – +1 Weapon Skill
  6. Splintermind – +2 Leadership

In an ironic twist, 6 is probably the worst option, although 5 is also pretty bad given that most units hit on a 3+ which becomes a 2+ by round 3 anyway. All of options 1-4 have application for different things, whether that’s giving your Wych bomb more ability to actually wound things, or giving a Succubus that extra bit of staying power. 

Obsessions

Leaving behind the army-wide special rules, let’s now look at the key Obsessions available to the different sub-factions.

Like other 8th edition codexes, Drukhari have a number of different traits, here called Obsessions, which they can gain by taking a Detachment of a particular sub-faction. Following on from the three-way split discussed above, there are different ones for the different types of faction – 4 for Kabals, and then 3 each for Wych Cults and Covens.

The key Obsessions to know about are Kabal of the Black Heart, Kabal of the Flayed Skull, Cult of the Cursed Blade, Cult of Red Grief, and Prophets of Flesh. Unlike some other books the other traits aren’t useless exactly, but they don’t come up very often. These function like so:

  • Kabal of the Black Heart: Units with this obsession count as being one round higher on the Power from Pain table than they otherwise would be. Units which don’t have Power from Pain get to use the first round bonus, Inured to Suffering.
  • Kabal of the Flayed Skull: Units with FLY get an extra 3″ movement. They can also re-roll 1s to hit with Rapid Fire weapons, and ignore cover. Units embarked in a transport with FLY also get this bonus.
  • Cult of the Cursed Blade: Units get +1 Strength, and when they fail a Morale test only one model has to flee.
  • Cult of the Red Grief: Advance and charge, and re-roll charges.
  • Prophets of the Flesh: Increase your Invulnerable save to 4+.

Two raiding parties clash

We’ll get into why these are the “good” traits in more detail later when we talk about specific builds and strategies, but to briefly touch on it now:

Black Heart in itself isn’t great since Kabal units get very little benefit from the Power from Pain table. However, getting the 6+ Feel No Pain save on vehicles is very helpful, and more importantly a Black Heart detachment of some form gets you access to Agents of Vect, one of the best stratagems in the game. There’s also a very strong relic and decent Warlord Trait.

Conversely, Flayed Skull’s stratagem, trait, and relic are merely ok, but making all the bread-and-butter units in a Kabal detachment (i.e. boats, and guys shooting out of boats) even better at their job is very useful. If you’re going heavy with Venoms and Kabalites, this is the Obsession for you.

Cursed Blade is an odd duck because it wasn’t really on the radar for a long time. However, the +1 Strength buff is good, especially paired with the Grave Lotus drugs to get you to the important S5 break point or Adrenalight for an absolute pile of S4 attacks, and the Morale gimmick can be very important on Wych squads which can be vulnerable to losing lots of models to Morale checks. This one may be quite specific to the “pure ITC” style event where Enclosed Buildings let you protect the Wyches from direct fire, but you can’t really argue with it being in a top 8 list at LVO so it’s included here.

Red Grief has two things going for it. First, it lets you use Reaver Jetbikes to tie things up from across the table – very helpful for gumming up a Guard or Marine gunline. Second, the Warlord Trait and relic are both very good, and let you create a cheap beatstick in the form of a Red Grief Succubus.

Prophets of the Flesh is the only game in town for Covens. The 4+ invulnerable save makes your tough units even tougher, and it’s also the home faction of Urien Rakarth, the only good special character in the Drukhari book. The stratagem and Warlord Trait are also really useful. A strong all-around choice, which crowds out the other two to the point that I barely remember what they do.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising was the first book released in the new Psychic Awakening series, containing new rules for Craftworld Eldar and Drukhari. In the latter’s case, this took the form of new rules for Incubi and the Incubi special character, Drazhar (along with some fantastic new plastic models) as well as custom subfaction traits for each of Covens, Cults, and Kabals.

We’ll talk about the refreshed Incubi and Drazhar in the Units section, but for now let’s cover the subfaction traits.

The good news is that they sure are words on a page which pertain to Drukhari. The bad news is that they’re really bad words that bring almost nothing new to the faction.

We covered them before in our review at the time of the release, and I’ll extract the commentary on them from that, slightly updated for FAQ changes. Each custom Kabal can take two traits unless otherwise noted.

Kabals – Custom Traits

There are eight Kabal Obsessions to choose from.

  • Dark Mirth – Subtract 1 from the Leadership of any enemy models within 6″ of a unit with this obsession. Also, the first time an enemy unit fails a Morale test, add 1 to the Leadership of every model with this Obsession until the end of the battle. This kind of ties in with the Power from Pain ability for an additional -1Ld, but by the time you get there the +1 Ld bit is irrelevant and leadership bombs have been worthless for all of 8th. F
  • Deadly Deceivers – Units with this obsession can charge in a turn in which they fell back. Also, when an enemy unit finishes a charge move within 1″ of a model with this obsession, roll a D6; On a 6, that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. This would be fantastic if Kabals had any units that wanted to be in melee in the first place, but… well. If only this was on Wych Cults it might be a lot more interesting. E
  • Disdain for Lesser Beings – You can only lose a maximum of one model to a failed morale test for units with this obsession. The relevant units for this are Kabalite Warriors, who are Ld8 anyway, and nothing else. You might, conceivably, take a 20-Kabalite unit which could benefit from this. But you won’t. E
  • Meticulous Flayers – Units with this obsession that have the Power From Pain special rule always have the Eager to Flay bonus, even on the first battle round. When resolving an attack made with a melee weapon by a model with this obsession against a unit that isn’t a VEHICLE or TITANIC, an unmodified hit roll of 6 always hits and automatically wounds the target (do not roll). Note that this means that units that depend on bonuses from their wound rolls being a 6 will miss out on those opportunities. Another melee-focused Kabal Obsession, really? There is no world in which I want to take a melee-focused Kabals build, and Black Heart already has the “be one step higher on Power from Pain” gimmick except it applies all the time instead of to just getting you Eager to Flay one turn earlier (how many turn 1 charges will you be executing with Kabalites, anyway?). F
  • Mobile Raiders – Add 3″ to the Move characteristic of units with this obsession with FLY. This is great in Flayed Skull and as a trait to pair with another it’s great here. A
  • Soul Bond – When you make an Inured to Suffering roll for a model with this obsession, re-roll 1s. Units with this obsession that don’t have Power From Pain get the Inured to Suffering bonus. This is a funny combo of a Covens relic and the other half of Black Heart’s bonus. Making your Kabalites and Archons that little bit more survivable is nice, and being able to get the 6+ Feel No Pain on vehicles is handy, though not unique. From the wording, I think that vehicles get the FNP without the re-roll 1s bit, which is a shame. C
  • Toxin Crafters – When you roll an unmodified 6 to wound with a poisoned weapon for a model with this obsession, you do +1 damage. Doesn’t apply to relics. Now we’re talking. This is a bonus that is relevant to basically everything in your army, and fills a niche Drukhari didn’t already have covered. It probably doesn’t quite get where you need it – the amount of stuff in the game which is W2 but also has bad enough saves to fear random procs of this is a short list – but at least it’s something genuinely useful. B
  • Webway Raiders – You get an additional use of the Webway Portal Stratagem for each detachment in your army with this obsession. If you want to use the stratagem more than once, you can only use it on units with obsession for the second and subsequent uses. This is…. fine. I guess it lets you hide 2 units for 2 CP rather than 3, or go all in and spend 6 CP to hide four? I don’t know that any Drukhari players were crying out for this, and it doesn’t really interact with the Kabals playstyle of “dudes in transports” since you can’t use it on the transports. D

I’m not gonna lie to you, this is a disappointing list, and kind of a surprising one. The original Drukhari codex had a strong list of Kabal traits, all of which were pretty useful and well-considered, and this feels like the polar opposite of that. Who on earth wrote multiple melee-focused traits for the shooting-focused subfaction with zero dedicated melee units? Did anyone play a game with these? There’s 8 traits here, and you can pick two, and the best I can think to suggest is a combination of Mobile Raiders and Toxin Crafters, and really that is strictly inferior to just taking Flayed Skull. Your choices are basically some combination of those two and Soul Bond, I guess.

Wych Cults – Custom Traits

There are eight Wych Cult Obsessions to choose from. Let’s hope they’re better than what Kabals have to offer.

  • Acrobatic Display – If you pick this trait, you don’t get to pick another one. While a model with this obsession is within 1″ of an enemy model, it improves its invulnerable save by 1, to a maximum of 3+. For units that don’t already have an invulnerable save, they gain a 6+. On first glance this looks good. Making your fragile Wyches more survivable is never a bad thing, and it brings Succubi down to a 3++ as well. Sadly it does nothing for them outside of melee (which wasn’t really the problem). There is a fringe benefit here for the non-Wych Wych Cult units like Hellions, Reavers, and Beasts, who should all stick around a little longer than before in melee against higher-AP attacks, but it probably takes a bit more than this to make those things viable. C
  • The Art of Pain – While a unit with this obsession with the Power From Pain ability are within 1″ of an enemy unit, they treat the current battle round as being 1 higher for their bonuses. This has more potential than it initially looks like it might. Unlike Acrobatic Display it affects everything, which is nice, and it has some important possibilities – a turn 2 Wych bomb is more likely to do the business with +1 to hit, and you can theoretically get them up to being Fearless on turn 2, and definitely so on turn 3, so they don’t fall over to Morale. That said, it still requires you to make combat to matter, which means it’s irrelevant for getting the re-roll advance/charge boost which might help Cult units out a lot, and you lose the immunity to Morale if you end up out of combat – when that’s exactly the situation where you would want it. C
  • Berserk Fugue – When you make an attack with a melee weapon by a model with this obsession that charged, was charged, or performed a Heroic Intervention this turn, an unmodified roll of a 6 to hit scores 1 additional hit. You can’t combine this with the Precise Killers trait. This is a tasty trait, since if there’s one thing that Wyches are good at, it’s vomiting out piles of attacks. As with Drazhar and his Incubi, it’s a shame this doesn’t interact with the +1 to hit from Power from Pain. Still, ignoring drugs, 20 Wyches under a Succubus aura can expect 7-8 additional hits from this, which isn’t nothing – though at a little under 1 additional point of damage on a Space Marine, it could well feel like nothing. C
  • Precise Killers – When you make an attack with a melee weapon by a model with this obsession, an unmodified wound roll of 6 improves the AP of that weapon by 1 for that attack. You can’t combine this with the Berserk Fugue trait. Again, handy for adding a little extra lethality to the piles of 0 AP attacks that Wych Cults units throw out. I’m not really clear why you can’t combine this with Berserk Fugue except for the obvious fluff implication of the trait names. Was anyone out there terrified of Wyches or Hellions throwing out a few extra hits and 1/6 of them being AP-1? C
  • Slashing Impact – After a model with this obsession finishes a charge move, you can pick an INFANTRY, BIKER, or MONSTER within 1″ of it and roll a D6; on a 5+ that enemy unit suffers one mortal wound. This is interesting because it’s on a per-model basis and not per-unit, which means that large units of Wyches can theoretically do some real damage on the charge just from the mortal wounds dealt by this. The main limitation is just getting them all within 1″ in the first place – though they are only on 25mm bases, which means it’s theoretically possible to get two full ranks in. In a perfect world a unit of 20 Wyches charges in and drops 7 mortal wounds onto something, but sadly we live on the fallen earth of real life and this is more likely to end up chipping off a couple of wounds here and there. C
  • Stimulant Innovators – When the Hyperstimm Backlash Stratagem is used on a unit with this obsession, it only costs you 1 CP instead of 2. Was this really worth a whole trait? E
  • Test of Skill – When you resolve an attack by a model with this obsession against a MONSTER or VEHICLE with a wounds characteristic of 10+, add 1 to the wound roll. This is genuinely interesting, because suddenly your piles of Wych punches have a bit more potential to go somewhere. Mostly this is going to be about turning 6s to wound into 5s, which in relative terms is twice as effective. The real problem is, again, the AP – how many 10+ wound MONSTERS or VEHICLES have a save worse than a 3+? Let’s take our 20 Wych blob again and assume it has Test of Skill – they’ll do 3.5 wounds to a Rhino now instead of 1.75. That said, it can potentially be interesting on a shardnet/impaler Wych, who throws out 3/4 attacks with damage 2 and AP-1 – it’s possible for them to jab 2 damage through a vehicle’s armour, especially if this is combined with Precise Killers and they get the bonus AP. This also has some potential on S4 Hellions, who are suddenly wounding T7 4s and Knights on 5s, but on those it’s probably not enough to overcome their cost extreme fragility in getting there in the first place. There is one additional fringe use here, which is doubly nice because it makes a unit interesting which was otherwise irrelevant in Wych Cults – planes. Test of Skill doesn’t specify melee attacks, and both Razorwing Jetfighters and Voidraven Bombers can be <WYCH CULT>. +1 to wound against vehicles and monsters is pretty much ideal for these guys – it’s a straightforward buff to all of their weapons, even the splinter rifles on the Razorwings (it’s worth noting that this also means it buffs the Wych pistols, so against a monster they’ll wound on 3s – which is not nothing!) It’s arguably a better choice than Black Heart, which is the most common way planes are taken, as long as you have some other way to access Agents of Vect. B+
  • Trophy Takers – When your opponent takes a morale test for a unit that lost any models to melee attacks by models with this obsession this turn, they have to roll 2D6 and drop the lowest result. God, whatever. F

There’s a bit more going on here than in the Kabals section, at least. I was half-expecting something to buff Wych shooting, but these at least all seem to be focused on making them punch better. Combining Test of Skill with Berserk Fugue or Precise Killers (to either get a bunch more hits or some AP-1 wounds) seems like it has some potential, though it’s low-key infuriating that the ToS/PK bonuses don’t interact at all. There’s also the above-mentioned use of Test of Skill to buff planes – Razorwings are already a competitive choice, and +1 to wound against one of their key targets is a straight buff for them. I can easily envision a list with a Black Heart Ravager spearhead, an Air Wing of <Your Wych Cult Here> with Test of Skill, and then a further Battalion of Covens or Kabals to fill out the list. The only downside here is that none of the other Wych traits buff the planes at all, so the secondary choice is irrelevant, though you could also take a Wych Battalion or something with two planes in the Flyer slots and a Test of Skill/your choice of Berserk Fugue/Precise Killers combo.

Otherwise, Acrobatic Display seems like a solid choice – one of the main strengths of Wyches was already getting in and tarpitting things, and making them that bit more able to achieve that goal is a noble aim. That said, it’s hard to read this particular grab-bag briefly after having read through Start Competing: Genestealer Cults. Now that’s a set of traits which aids an army full of fragile models that want to get into melee. Dropping in some kind of charge booster here, or something to make them a little more survivable, would have been a much bigger get than anything that’s actually on the list.

Haemonculus Coven Obsessions

Haemonculus Covens also got eight Obsession traits to choose from.

  • Artists of the Flesh – If you pick this trait, you don’t get to pick another one. When resolving an attack against a unit with this Obsession, subtract 1 from the damage characteristic of the weapon making the attack (to a minimum of 1). Damage reduction is a very powerful ability, especially on the pile of tough units that makes up the majority of Covens lists. Like the rest of the traits on this list, for actual Covens units it’s competing with Prophets of the Flesh and the resilience offered by the army-wide 4+ invulnerable save. This comes pretty close, but no cigar, and it also locks you out from taking another trait. That said, the place it does have potential is on transports – both Raiders and Venoms can be <HAEMONCULUS COVEN>, lose nothing by taking this, and are regularly preyed on by things like avenger gatling cannons or autocannons. The main challenge (which is going to be something we come back to) is just getting them in the list, but there’s ways around that. B
  • Dark Harvest – After a unit with this obsession finishes a charge move, for each model in the unit, pick an enemy unit within 1″ of that model and roll a D6; on a 5+, that enemy unit suffers 1 mortal wound. Identical to the Wych version, except that you’re going to have smaller squads here and so it’s even less relevant. D
  • Dark Technomancers – When a unit with this obsession fires Overwatch or is chosen to shoot, you can choose to enhance any or all of the ranged weapons for models in that unit. If you do, until the end of the phase, add 1 to the wound roll and 1 to the Damage characteristic of that weapon for that attack. But if you roll an unmodified wound roll of 1 for an attack made with an enhanced weapon, the firing unit suffers 1 mortal wound after shooting. Where was this for Kabals!? Again, as a trait applied to actual Covens units, this is extremely whatever – you’re not taking those guys for their guns, though this does make for some hilarious damage potential on haywire weapons from Talos. On a Venom, though, this can potentially be very tasty, and we’ll talk about it more below. for Covens, A for Venoms.
  • Experimental Creations – Add 1 to the Strength of models with this obsession. When you make an attack with a poisoned melee weapon by a model with this obsession against a unit that has a lower Toughness characteristic than the attacking model, add 1 to the wound roll. This is kind of a schizophrenic trait, and I’m not totally clear if something got mixed up here with the Strength/Toughness thing. I guess you can conceivably say that Grotesques and Talos benefit from the +1 Strength regardless (and it’s nice to be able to access that without having Urien!) and then Wracks benefit from the second half, since they can punch out Guardsmen, or even Marines if they’re in a Haemonculus aura, at +1 to wound. As a general buff to Covens units this is solid, if unexciting. Back at release this applied to all poisoned weapons, and made for an interesting combo with Dark Technomancers to buff Venoms. Following the FAQ to apply only to melee attacks, it’s a lot less good. B-
  • Hungry for Flesh – Add 1 to charge rolls for units with this obsession. Again – where was this for Wyches? This is a straightforward but always-relevant buff and I’m happy to see it here. B
  • Masters of Mutagens – When you make an attack with a poisoned weapon by a model with this obsession against a unit that isn’t a VEHICLE or TITANIC, an unmodified hit roll of 6 always hits and automatically wounds the target. Doesn’t apply to relics. This is fine, but it mostly enhances Wrack punches or maybe Haemonculi, and the combat prowess of either of those units isn’t a thing I care about enough to devote a whole trait to improving it. C
  • Master Torturers – When you use the Torturer’s Craft Stratagem on a unit with this obsession, it only costs 1 CP instead of 2. Like Hungry for Flesh, this is a no-nonsense trait. If you unaccountably don’t have all the stratagem names memorised, Torturer’s Craft is the one that lets you re-roll wounds in the Fight phase for a unit. Making that 1 CP rather than 2 is a lot more relevant than the Hyperstimm thing for Wyches. That said, this is still a trait that says “devote half your subfaction to getting a 1CP discount on a single stratagem.” C+
  • Obsessive Collectors – When an enemy unit is destroyed by a melee attack made by a model in a unit with this obsession, you can select one model in that unit to regain D3 lost wounds. If the model that destroyed the enemy was a Wrack, you can instead get back D3 destroyed models. This changed significantly from the original book in the FAQ, since originally you got D3 lost wounds back per enemy model and now it’s unit, a distinctly worse bonus. C

There’s two things to unpack here. First, there’s the obvious point that for actual Covens units, all of the above are competing against Prophets of the Flesh, and I think on balance none of them quite get there. The 4+ invulnerable from Prophets is just so important for making it so your expensive and fairly slow units make it to combat, though it matters a lot less on Grotesques (where there’s a case for a single big bomb coming out of the webway) than Talos, which tend to want to advance up the table en masse. There’s also the consideration that Prophets has Urien, who provides a key buff (though one that can be replicated with Experimental Creations), a really strong relic, and a useful stratagem.

Second, there’s a couple of key uses for these, highlighted above, which do a lot more to enhance Venoms than they do to help out anything that might be called a real Covens unit. That may well have been intentional – previously there was almost zero reason for a Venom to ever be part of a Coven, and now there’s multiple! – but it seems like a slightly odd choice to devote whole traits to making a transport better.

On the plus side, there’s more to actually talk about here, with some interesting combos on offer.

An easy and obvious choice is to take Experimental Creations and Master Torturers, which makes your key units have a natural higher Strength and cheap access to re-roll wounds. This makes your Talos S8 with their macro-scalpels or your Grotesques S6, and easily able to re-roll wounds. Alternatively, swap one of the two for Hungry for Battle, making those crucial charges a little bit easier. We already know that an 8″ charge is much more likely to succeed than a 9″ charge, especially when you factor in the re-roll available from Eager to Flay – your odds jump to 66%. The prospect of a big unit of Grotesques dropping out of the webway and charging into combat is an attractive one. I would probably opt for Master Torturers and Hungry for Battle as the combo here, since +1 Strength is less relevant on Grotesques than re-rolling wounds.

Less obvious are the applications to transports. There’s two things you can do here. The first is to take Artists of the Flesh and get your Raiders and Venoms -1 damage. As mentioned in the entry, this is great for them – they don’t benefit from other Covens traits, so they don’t lose out by taking this, and many of the weapons that prey on them are mid-strength, 2 damage guns which hope to chip through their fairly flimsy defences with volume of fire. Effectively doubling the number of successful autocannon or avenger gatling cannon shots which need to go through your tissue paper armour is serious stuff.

Alternatively, for Venoms, the Dark Technomancers trait amps up their potential output. Many Drukhari players will be familiar with the situation where they’re firing splinters at a big monster and cackling as they ignore its high Toughness and wound it on 4s – only to then spend the next turn shooting at chaff infantry and still only wounding on 4s. Now you can wound on 3s, which is a straight 16% buff to your damage, and also being damage 2 is highly relevant in a meta full of Primaris Space Marines.

The main challenge with the transport-based concept is just getting them in the list. There’s a couple of options for doing this. You can just run a straightforward Covens Battalion with the absolute minimum of stuff in it – two Haemonculi and three squads of Wracks is reasonably cheap, and that enables you to take 5 Venoms. This might also be a good place to slot in Drazhar – he’s detachment-agnostic, and it’s not like the second Haemonculus offers you much of anything. You can gain additional Venoms by paying additional Wrack tax, and the Wracks themselves can either be out on the board taking objectives, or floating around inside the Venoms ready to jump out.

Alternatively, you could take advantage of Blades for Hire. It’s actually entirely possible to have a Covens detachment with zero Covens-tagged units in it besides the Venoms – for example, you might take an Outrider of Drazhar and three units of haywire Scourges, and pick up four Venoms that way.

Lastly you might also just take a full Covens list using the trait – S8 Talos firing haywire weapons which proc on 3+/5+ and do 2 damage in addition to the haywire effect is nothing to sniff at, nor are S6 Grotesques.

The Weapons

Before getting into the meat of the unit discussion, I’m going to briefly touch on seven of the key weapons available to Drukhari, since they crop in a lot of places and it’s easier to discuss them all together rather than tell you what a splinter rifle does every time it comes up. These are:

  • Splinter rifles – the basic armament. These are 24″ Rapid Fire 1 poisoned weapons (always wounds on a 4+).
  • Splinter cannons – a bigger, uglier splinter rifle, these go up to 36″ Rapid Fire 3.
  • Shredders – 12″ range, d6 shots at S6 AP-1, which allow you to re-roll wounds against infantry. At less than half the cost of a blaster, these are cheap and cheerful and make your “good at killing infantry” units even better at that job.
  • Disintegrator cannons – 36″ range, Assault 3, S5 AP-3 D2. You want as many of these as possible. Bizarrely cheaper than the dark lance even though it’s usually better.
  • Dark lances – 36″ range, Heavy 1, S8 AP-4 damage D6. On vehicles, they become Assault weapons instead. Ostensibly these are a core part of the faction, although in practice they are often traded out for disintegrator cannons.
  • Blasters – effectively a half-range dark lance, these have traditionally been the most common special weapon in the army.
  • Haywire blasters – despite the name these are quite dissimilar to regular blasters. The basic profile is nothing to write home about – 24″ Assault D3, S4 AP-1. What you’re interested in here is the haywire effect – on a 4+ to wound against a VEHICLE, do a mortal wound; on a 6+, do d3 mortal wounds. Suddenly that mediocre profile transforms into a vehicle killer.

Stratagems

  • Webway Portal – 1CP/3CP: alluded to in the Wych entry, this is similar to the Craftworlds version except it only applies to INFANTRY, BIKER or BEAST units. For 1/3 CP you can put 1/2 units into a webway portal, allowing you to deep strike them later in the game. Useful for Wych bombs, or perhaps a Grotesque bomb, or for hiding a key unit off the table. Just generally solid, but note the exclusion from Screaming Jets below. B
  • Alliance of Agony – 1CP: If your Warlord is an Archon, then before the battle you can choose up to one HAEMONCULUS and up to one SUCCUBUS from your army and generate Warlord traits for them. A really handy way to get a bit extra on your characters in different detachments. B
  • Architects of Pain1CP: you can pick a unit at the start of the battle round and use it as if it was one step higher on the Power from Pain table than it actually is. This is great for getting re-roll charges on a unit early in the game, or for making a key unit +1 to hit on turn 2 – Talos and Grotesques are a great target here. It gets less relevant as the game goes on, but early on it can be great. B-
  • Lightning-Fast Reactions – 2CP: common to all Aeldari codexes, this lets you spend 2CP to make a unit -1 to hit for a phase. Sadly this can only be used on non-Haemonculus units, so no -1 to hit Talos! B+
  • Eviscerating Fly-by – 1CP: When a Wych Cult unit that can fly Advances and moves over any enemy units, you can choose one unit they flew over and roll a D6 for each model in your unit, adding 1 if the unit you picked is INFANTRY. Each 6+ is a mortal wound. This would be great if big units of Reaver Jetbikes or Hellions were good, but they’re pretty mediocre, so this doesn’t quite get there. C
  • Fleshcraft – 1CP: You can heal a Grotesque or Talos for D3 wounds, assuming there’s a Haemonculus within 3″ of them. Useful to keep them going a little longer, but paying a CP to get a similar effect to what Techmarines or Tech-priests can do for free is kind of rude. B
  • Fire and Fade – 1CP: Lets you move up to 7″ after shooting, although you can neither advance while doing so or charge afterwards. Mostly useful for taking a key objective that you were a little too far away from before. This is another common stratagem to all Aeldari books. B
  • Cruel Deception – 2CP: Allows you to Fall Back and still shoot/charge. Again, common to all Aeldari books. Can be very handy if you need to pull out and reposition something or make another charge. B
  • The Great Enemy – 1CP: In the Fight phase, you can re-roll failed wound rolls for attacks that target Slaanesh units. Slaanesh is a lot more relevant than before with the advent of Flawless Host and Emperor’s Children being decent, but it’s still a sub-faction of one faction. C
  • Release the Beasts – 1CP: Use at the start of your Charge phase and pick a Beastmaster from your army. Until the end of the phase BEASTS from your army can re-roll failed charges if they are within 6″. You’re never taking beast packs anyway, so whatever. D
  • Hyperstimm Backlash – 2CP: Use at the start of the battle round on a unit that has Combat Drugs. Until the end of the battle round, the bonus from the drugs is doubled; at the end of the round, roll a D6 for each model in the unit and for each roll of a 1 suffer a mortal wound. If used on a Stimm Addict Warlord or a model carrying the Phial Bouquet relic, all bonuses are doubled but the unit automatically suffers D3 mortal wounds. 2CP is a lot to invest and you have to really commit, especially if you’re going second, plus you lose about 1/6th of your unit. 
  • Screaming Jets – 1CP: Put a VEHICLE with FLY into deep strike. This used to be used all the time to put Ravagers into deep strike for turn 1 protection, but is rarely seen since the Tactical Reserves changes. C+
  • Freakish Spectacle – 1CP: Use when an enemy unit within 6″ of Urien or a Covens unit fails a Morale test. One extra model flees. 1CP to kill a single extra model is a pretty poor trade unless you manage to make something like a Devastator Centurion run away or it’s a literally game-changing move. C
  • The Torturer’s Craft – 2CP: Use before Urien or a Covens unit fightsi n the Fight phase. Until the end of the phase, you can re-roll failed wound rolls for that unit. Melee doom on some really fantastic melee units is a big winner, even for 2CP. A
  • Hunt from the Shadows – 1CP: Use when a DRUKHARI INFANTRY unit in cover is targeted in the Shooting phase to get +2 to saves from cover rather than +1. Can be clutch for keeping your fragile models alive just that little bit longer on a crucial objective. B
  • Pray They Don’t Take You Alive – 1CP: Use after a DRUKHARI unit from your army slays the enemy Warlord in the Fight phase. -1 Leadership for every model in the enemy army. Like… I can certainly see a situation where this would be relevant. On the other hand, that situation is so unlikely to emerge that I don’t care. C
  • Soul-Trap – 1CP: Use when an Archon from your army kills an enemy CHARACTER in the Fight phase. Gain +1 Attacks, Strength, and Leadership for the rest of the game. Cool and thematic, but the chances of your Archon – not exactly a combat ready character – killing something in the Fight phase when this buff would be relevant are slim. C+
  • Enhanced Aethersails – 1CP: Advance an automatic 8″ on a Raider or Ravager. Very helpful for late-game objective grabs, if you still have CP left by then. B
  • Onslaught – 1CP: Use before an INCUBI unit from your army fights in the Fight phase. Each time you roll an unmodified hit roll of 6 for a model in this unit, you hit 2 times. This could be kind of cool with Drazhar to really bust out a pile of attacks and at 1CP it doesn’t break the bank, but its intended use – to buff Incubi – is pretty underwhelming given that Incubi are not great. C
  • Crucible of Malediction – 2CP: Use in your Psychic phase. Select a HAEMONCULUS from your army and roll a D6 for each PSYKER unit within 12″, on a 4+ they take d3 mortal wounds. Once per battle. 2CP is a lot for this unless like, your opponent runs an entire Thousand Sons army within 12″ of your HAEMONCULUS. Making it once per game is just kind of insulting. C
  • Torment Grenade – 1CP: Use before firing a phantasm grenade launcher. If you hit with the phantasm, then roll 3D6 and compare to your opponent’s leadership. If the result is higher than the highest Leadership in that unit, then it takes d3 mortal wounds. Funkier when Archons could still take phantasms, kind of average now; you’ll also be surprised how often 3D6 fails to beat even middling Leadership. Still, this is one of the few sources of mortals in the Drukhari army that aren’t haywire. B-
  • Agents of Vect4CP: Following the changes to both this stratagem’s cost and also the CP-farming that was achievable with Labyrinthine Cunning, this stratagem is not quite as strong as it once was. It works like this: when your opponent has used a stratagem, you can counter with Agents of Vect. You roll a d6 and on a 1 achieve nothing and squander your points. On a 2-5 their stratagem is stopped but they keep the points they spent on it, and on a 6 their stratagem is stopped and they lose their points. It’s a stratagem that anyone playing against Drukhari has to be firmly aware of, and it can be game-changing in the right circumstances, but it’s a big investment especially in CP-light Drukhari armies and if you’re using it you better get it right. Back in the day it would have been an but now that it’s more expensive and CP is harder to regen it sits somewhere around to a B+.
  • Insidious Misdirection – 2CP: Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue only.. Use at the start of the first battle round but before the first turn has begun. Pick up to 3 KABAL OF THE POISONED TONGUE units from your army and immediately re-redeploy them. Once per battle. The Drukhari version of Phantasm except it can only be used by one sub-faction and that sub-faction isn’t really taken very often. If only this was a general stratagem it would be amazing but as it stands it’s just kind of there. C+ as exists.
  • Failure is Not an Option – 1CP: Use when a KABAL OF THE OBSIDIAN ROSE unit fails a Morale test. Each model that fled can either shoot as if it were the Shooting phase or make a single close combat attack as if it were the Fight phase. If any enemy models are slain by these attacks, none of your models flee. A bit like Insidious Misdirection, this would be insanely dope if it were a general stratagem, but it’s tied to a not-commonly-used sub faction. Funny for the one time you risk it on a blaster and annihilate a tank with or something. C+
  • Masters of the Shadowed Sky – 1CP: The Flayed Skull unique stratagem, this is much less spectacular than the Black Heart one. For 1CP you can gain +1 to hit against a model with FLY. Useful for countering flyers and similar. A solid B.
  • No Method of Death Beyond Our Grasp – 3CP: Cult of Strife only. Use after a CULT OF STRIFE unit from your army has destroyed an enemy unit in the Shooting or Fight phase. You can immediately Shoot again or Fight again depending on the appropriate phase. In theory this is fantastic but in practice it’s, you guessed it, tied to a bad Cult and also Wyches most often don’t want to kill things, they want to tie them up indefinitely. I can see an application of this for killing something in your opponent’s turn and then fighting again to get into something else, but CULT OF STRIFE is a heavy restriction. Another stratagem that feels like it was written with very different assumptions about the shooting or combat output of Wych Cult units than they actually have. C
  • Concealed Booby Traps – 1CP: Cult of the Cursed Blade only. Use after an enemy unit finishes a charge move within 1″ of a Cursed Blade unit that is wholly on or in a terrain feature; on a 4+ that unit takes d3 mortal wounds. Cute although I’m not a massive fan of spending 1CP for what is, on average, one mortal wound. D
  • Athletic Aerialists – 2CP: Cult of the Red Grief only. Use just before a RED GRIEF INFANTRY unit consolidates. Instead of moving towards the nearest enemy, the unit consolidates up to 6″ towards the nearest RED GRIEF TRANSPORT from your army and if all models in the unit end their move within 3″ they can immediately embark as if it were the Movement phase. A very interesting alternative to tying things up – just kill them and hop back in your ride. Given that Red Grief is the cult of “run really far away before you charge” your likely applications are less common than they might seem, though. C+
  • Black Cornucopians – 2CP: Prophets of Flesh only. Use at the end of your Movement phase; pick a unit of PROPHETS OF FLESH Wracks from your army and redeploy it at its full starting strength, 9″ away from enemy models and wholly within 6″ of the board edge. This is a big, big stratagem for getting around the table, and recycling Wracks is very handy for keeping you in the game. Unlike many similar stratagems it doesn’t have a once per game rider, either. B+
  • An Esoteric Kill, Delivered from Afar – 2CP: The Dark Creed only. Coolest stratagem name in the book. No-one plays Dark Creed so whatever, but for completeness – pick one unit in the Shooting phase and until the end of the phase, models in that unit can target enemy CHARACTERS even if they are not the closest unit. Around the time of the book’s release a lot of people were using this with a Tantalus to do cute stuff by deep striking in and blowing away characters with a pile of disintegrators, but I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone try it. C+ because of its Coven; it would be a B or even an A in general use.
  • Administer Punishment – 1CP: Coven of Twelve only. Use when you pick a COVEN OF TWELVE unit to shoot with in your Shooting phase; you can shoot enemy units that are within 1″ of friendly COVEN OF TWELVE units but each roll of a 1 does a mortal wound to one of your units that is within 1″ (you pick). Auto-hitting weapons are a 4+ with 1-3 being “hit your own unit” and 4+ being hit their unit. Again, thematic and cool, tied to a Coven that I have literally never heard of anyone playing for any reason because non-Prophets covens might as well not exist. Much like An Esoteric Kill, C+ because of its ties to a pointless subfaction.

 

Relics

The best relics have mostly been discussed already, but there’s a couple of other good ones.

  • Parasite’s Kiss the standard pistol relic Games Workshop keep trying to make happen. In this case it’s a splinter pistol which wounds on 2s, with AP-2 and D2, and which restores a wound to the firer if they kill a model with it. Hardly the best gun in the game, but not a bad inclusion as a free relic if for some reason you have a cheap and cheerful Black Heart Archon and aren’t taking Writ of the Living Muse. B
  • The Djin Blade – replaces a huskblade with S+1, AP-3, Damage d3. 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. Cute but Archons are not combat charactersC
  • The Helm of Spite the only native access to Deny the Witch for Drukhari. This has the bonus effect of causing your opponent to suffer Perils of the Warp if you do successfully deny. B
  • The Nightmare Doll – Haemonculus only. 4+ FNP instead of 6+. If you have two Haemis this is a nice choice for the second one for making them stick around a little longer, but also, defensive buffs to a second Haemonculus shouldn’t be happening since you should have Urien and then a Haemi with the Vexator Mask. C+
  • The Animus Vitae – A grenade with 6″ range, once per battle. If it hits, the target takes d3 mortal wounds, and if any models are slain by these mortal wounds then friendly units are at +1 to the Power from Pain table as long as they are within 6″ of the bearer. You don’t much care about Power from Pain past turn 3 and in any case you have to get this stupid thing within 6″ range and fire it preferentially to other weapons. D
  • The Triptych Whip – Replaces an agoniser with a poisoned weapon with AP-2, D1, which gives +3 attacks. If you really just want to massacre Guardsmen you can get up to 8 attacks on a Succubus with this, but also, whatever at building specifically to kill Guardsmen. C
  • Writ of the Living Muse Black Heart only. Re-roll wound rolls of 1 for BLACK HEAT units within 6″ of the bearer. If you have Ravagers just write this on your list and move on, it’s your relic choice. A
  • Soul-seeker – Poisoned Tongue only, replaces a splinter pistol. An 18″ pistol with 2 shots, AP-1, Damage d3. Wounds at +2 unless targeting a vehicle, can fire out of Line of Sight, and target enemy CHARACTERS, and ignores cover. That’s a goddamn lot of rules and this would be a hilariously good pick except for AP-1, and, well see the first three words of this paragraph – Kabal of the Poisoned Tongue only. C
  • The Armour of Misery – Obsidian Rose Archon only. Gain a 3+ save, and -1 to hit in the Fight phase. Whatever. Hell of an album name for a goth metal band though. D
  • The Obsidian Veil – Flayed Skull only. This one gives you a 4+ invulnerable save which kicks in when an Archon’s shadowfield fails. Again, more of a nice to have than an essential piece of equipment, but not a bad use of a free relic, and you conceivably would want a Flayed Skull detachment in your army. B
  • The Phial Bouquet – Cult of Strife only. Roll a D6 at the start of each battle round and randomly generate a Combat Drug result from the table which lasts until the start of the next battle round. You get that effect on top of any other Combat Drugs you already have, and duplicate results stack. Honestly this is really fun and as a piece of equipment you paid like 5-10pts for it would be worth considering, but as a relic for a bad cult, no. D
  • Traitor’s Embrace –  Cursed Blade only. Roll a D6 if the bearer dies in the Fight phase; on a 2+ the unit that killed the model takes D6 mortal wounds after it finishes making all of its attacks. Honestly this one goes up a full letter grade because it’s hilarious to have an exploding Succubus. B
  • The Blood Glaive – Red Grief only. Replaces an archite glaive; S+3, AP-3, Damage d3, no hit penalty. Turns the fairly pointless archite glaive into a really meaty weapon, especially if the Succubus takes the strength drugs to be Strength 7 so she can really start punking out mid-Toughness vehicles and such. Combined with the Red Grief warlord trait, you can have a surprisingly smashy, surprisingly tough, extremely fast Succubus running around the place. B+
  • The Vexator Mask – Prophets of Flesh only. Ignore Overwatch and in the Fight phase, pick an enemy unit within 6″. That unit has to fight last. An insanely good relic and just one more reason to never play any Coven except for Prophets. Controlling the tempo of the Fight phase is huge, especially if it turns an enemy charge into an opportunity for Talos or Grotesques to get a free Fight without even having to charge. A
  • Spirit-String – Dark Creed only. Replaces a stinger pistol; it becomes 12″ Pistol 3, AP-4, D1 and wounds on 2s except against vehicles. Also ignores AP. If it weren’t faction-locked and damage 1 this would be genuinely pretty cool, but as it is, whatever. C
  • The Flensing Blade – Coven of Twelve only. Replaces Haemonculus tools and is poisoned at +1 to wound, AP-2, Damage d3, flat 3 against CHARACTERS. Like the Rose of Cegorach except tied to a slow model that doesn’t exactly love to fight and is locked to an irrelevant subfaction. C

The Units

This section is very much a tour-de-force of what’s essential in the book, and not a comprehensive breakdown of every unit available. Since there’s quite a small number of choices available to a pure Drukhari army we have included everything, but only offer full discussion of the really important stuff. Also included is a key to let you know which units belong to which sub-army – K for Kabals, W for Wych Cults, H for Haemonculus Covens, and B for “Blades for Hire” which covers a small number of units which are outside of this system and can be mix and matched freely – a bit like Auxilia in the Astra Militarum book. With no further ado:

HQ

Units available:

  • Archon (K)
  • Succubus (W)
  • Haemonculus (H)
  • Drazhar (B, Named Character)
  • Lelith Hesperax (W, Named Character)
  • Urien Rakarth (H, Named Character)

 As you can see from the above, there’s a single HQ for each sub-army, plus a named character for each (although Drazhar is not actually a Kabalite). Lelith isn’t up to much, but Drazhar is newly improved following Phoenix Rising and the Chapter Approved points drop for him. Rakarth was always good.

Archons

Archons are the leaders of the Kabals. Once upon a time they could be equipped with all manner of gear, given combat drugs, jetbikes, Hellion skyboards, the works. Sadly those days are gone and the modern Archon is a much diminished figure.

The basic profile is reasonable if not great – M8″, 2+ for both WS and BS, 5 wounds and 5 attacks. They only have a 5+ armour save, but this is mitigated by the 2+ invulnerable save on offer from their shadowfield – although this save cannot be re-rolled for any reason whatsoever, and the first time it fails it stops working for the rest of the game, so for the amusement of fate you’ll usually roll a 1 the first time a lasgun comes your way.

The gear list is fairly limited too. The basic equipment is a splinter pistol (which is ok) and a huskblade, which gives a neat +1S, AP-2, and damage D3. In the codex your options are to swap the huskblade for an agoniser, power sword or venom blade, and the splinter pistol for a blast pistol. In an environment which allows Legends options, there’s also the possibility of a phantasm grenade launcher and a blaster, although we expect this to be rare competitively.

Finally, there’s the Overlord ability, which takes the shape of the ubiquitous 8th edition “re-roll 1s to hit” buff for friendly <KABAL> units.

After reading this you might be wondering why Archons are being highlighted as a core unit! Partly this is due to the requirement to take them – if you want to run a Kabal detachment which isn’t a pure Air Wing, you need at least one, and for a Battalion you’ll want two, although you can also fill the slot with Drazhar or one of the Ynnari characters like Yvraine. However, there are a couple of other key things which elevate the basic Archon and its somewhat confused profile.

One of these is about to stab the other

The main use for the Archon is to heroically lead from the back, sitting behind a gunline of Ravagers firing disintegrator cannons, giving them re-rolls to hit and wound while farming command points. It’s probably not the role the fluff or indeed the high-mobility high-attacks profile has you envisioning, but it’s a useful strategy to get the most out of your boats. Archons also got a lot cheaper in Chapter Approved, down 15pts to 55pts base, which makes them even better as a cheap buffstick like this.

There’s also the Alliance of Agony stratagem. If you Warlord is an Archon, you can play this at the beginning of the game. For 1CP you can also pick a Succubus and/or a Haemonculus in your army and give them a Warlord Trait too. This is a great little bonus and opens up some interesting options, as you’ll see when we reach the Succubus and Haemonculus entries shortly.

That’s the Archon then – what about his equivalents in the Cults and Covens?

Succubus

The first thing to notice about the Succubus is that she’s really cheap. At 54pts with her default loadout, she’s barely more expensive than many Guard characters, and will happily beat them up and take their lunch money.

Her profile is similar to the Archon’s, albeit with only 4 attacks and an even worse armour save. She trades the 2+ shadowfield for the less good, but more reliable, Lightning Dodge, giving her a no-nonsense 4+ invulnerable save which isn’t likely to suddenly dissipate. She also has access to Combat Drugs, which can improve her slightly lacklustre attacks or give her an additional point of strength (of which more later). Additionally, she re-rolls 1s to Hit in the Fight Phase for <WYCH CULT> units within 6″ thanks to Brides of Death.

However, her potentially most useful ability is No Escape. If she is within 1″ of an enemy INFANTRY unit which tries to Fall Back, you can force your opponent to make an opposed roll-off. If they win, they fall back as normal. Critically, if you win or draw, they can’t fall back. This can be a great way to trap a unit in combat, saving your Succubus from being shot to bits, and potentially tying up a key part of the opposing line.

In terms of weapon options, she comes stock with an agoniser and archite glaive, and can replace both of these with a Wych Cult weapon or replace the agoniser with a splinter pistol, blast pistol, or impaler. This opens up a couple of great options. Firstly there’s that Wych Cults weapons list – this includes hydra gauntlets, razorflails, and a shardnet and impaler. Most interesting here are the first and third options. Hydra gauntlets make her attacks AP-1, give her an additional attack, and also allow you to re-roll failed wounds. For a cheap Succubus looking to punch out light infantry, this is a really useful addition – you can get up to 6 attacks hitting on re-rollable 2s and also re-rolling to wound. The other possibility is the shardnet and impaler combo, which again gives you AP-1, D2, and also makes your opponent roll their No Escape on a D3 rather than a D6, which gives you great odds of beating them.

Alternatively, you can build the Red Grief monster Succubus. The regular archite glaive is a bit lacklustre, with its -1 to hit penalty and only being damage 1 not quite compensating for +2S and AP-3. However, the Red Grief relic is the Blood Glaive, which replaces the archite glaive with an altogether better weapon – S+3, AP-3, damage D3. Suddenly your Succubus can be a bit of a beatstick. This is especially true if you also give her an additional point of strength from combat drugs, making her S7 – a point where she wounds the majority of vehicles and monsters on 3s or 4s. On top of this, there’s the Red Grief Warlord Trait, which improves her invulnerable save to 3+. Suddenly she’s fast, hard to get rid of, can advance and charge, and is a genuine threat to hard targets, all for a mere 50pts (if you swap her now-useless agoniser for a splinter pistol, which you should). If you used Alliance of Agony to get her trait, she doesn’t even give up Slay the Warlord. This makes her an excellent fire and forget missile to go and take something down – between disembarking, move and advance, and her charge roll, I’ve successfully crossed the whole of no-man’s-land with her in a single turn.

A bit like the Archon, the major flaw of the Succubus is that one is great but two can feel like a bit more than you really wanted. Still, for what she offers for so cheap, she’s a great addition to a list.

No flying away for you!

 

Haemonculus

Haemonculi are a funny old beast. For some reason they have more attacks than the Succubus, with a mighty 5. They’re a little slower than either her or the Archon (7″ movement rather than 8″), but critically they have T4 rather than T3. On paper they have the worst invulnerable save on offer at 5+, but since you’re going to be running Prophets of the Flesh just imagine that this is actually a 4+ and move on with your day. The other significant (and it’s really significant) buff they offer is Master of Pain – which adds +1 Toughness to all <HAEMONCULUS COVEN> units within 6″. This obviously gives the Haemonculus himself T5, and it also hugely increases the survivability of the rest of your units. We’ll talk about this more in the specific unit entries, but it’s a big deal.

Haemonculi have probably the most diverse list of weapon options available. At base they come with a stinger pistol (a poisoned pistol that wounds on a 2+) and Haemonculus tools (poisoned melee weapons). On top of this they can take an ichor injector, swap their pistol for a hexrifle or liquifier gun, and swap their Haemonculus tools for any of the “Weapons of Torture”, a list of weird and wonderful kit available to Haemonculi and their Wrack creations. Personally I prefer to keep them cheap and cheerful, but this is a rare bit of granularity in a Covens-heavy list, so it can be useful for using up a few awkward points.

There’s also a couple of tasty relics available to Haemonculi. For Prophets of Flesh, which you should always be, there’s the Vexator Mask. This has two effects – firstly, the bearer can’t be overwatched. Helpful to let you launch the Haemonculus face-first into an enemy unit and tie them up, stopping them firing at your Talos or Grotesques on the way in. Secondly, you can pick a unit within 6″ at the start of each Fight phase – yours and your opponent’s. That unit fights last. This is a fantastic trick, allowing you to fend off chargers, mess with activation order, and generally get to hit first – and when you hit first with Covens units, you generally hit hard. There’s also the Nightmare Doll, which gives you a 4+ Feel No Pain instead of the 6+ from Power from Pain. This is a bit second-order, but if you have two Haemonculi, it can be worth having.

Finally there’s Warlord Traits. Most of the Haemonculus-specific ones are a bit lacklustre, although not terrible, but once again Prophets of Flesh is the winner with the excellent “Diabolical Soothsayer” trait – this gives you an extra D3 command points at the start of the game, plus a free hit/wound/save/damage roll for the model with the trait. This has a couple of neat applications – the obvious one is straight up getting D3 extra command points, but it can also be handy to combine with Alliance of Agony, since you then make that stratagem effectively free.

Urien Rakarth

The special character version of a Haemonculus is Urien Rakarth. Weirdly Urien has 1 less attack than a basic Haemonculus, for reasons I don’t understand. However, he trades this for a basic Toughness 5, which means that he’s effectively T6 thanks to his own Master of Pain buff.

In terms of gear he comes with an ichor injector and a set of Haemonculus tools – not exactly a combat monster, this one! – and also the Casket of Flensing. This is a 12″ range, Assault 2D6, S3 AP-2 D1 gun which can only be fired once per game. Once I killed a whole Necron Wraith with it, but usually it’s very disappointing. I have no idea who dreamt this up and I don’t understand it – why is this very average gun single-use?

Whatever. You don’t take Urien for his damage output. His other rules include Haemovores, which gives you a chance to do mortal wounds to stuff near him in the Fight phase, and Contempt for Death, which halves damage he suffers (rounding up). He also has a Clone Field, which is just another way to say 4+ invulnerable save.

The real money with Urien is none of the above though, it’s Sculptor of Torments. This gives PROPHETS OF FLESH units within 6″ a +1 buff to both Strength and Leadership. This is huge. It makes Grotesques S6 and Talos S7, which hugely improves their damage output (particularly the latter – of which more later).

In terms of Warlord Trait, Urien is locked into having Diabolical Soothsayer – which is fine, since it’s really good. He’s a good choice for Warlord anyway, given that he’s usually running around behind a wall of Talos and Grotesques.

Drazhar

Drazhar saw the biggest boost of any unit in the Phoenix Rising supplement, getting +1 Wound on his profile, gaining the Lethal Precision special rule, and an update to his Master of Blades special rule. Lethal Precision adds 2 damage to Drazhar’s attacks when you roll unmodified wound rolls of a 6, and Master of Blades now adds 1 to the wound rolls for INCUBI units within 6″ rather than the old version, which was +1 to hit. This is a large and welcome boost, but the fact that it doesn’t interact with neither Drazhar’s nor the Incubis’ Lethal Precision ability is a huge miss – it’s hard to tell if this was a deliberate choice, but if it was, it sucks. Otherwise though, he’s 100pts for a melee beatstick which can fight twice on the chareg with either 4 attacks at S5 and +1 to wound (which means he’s wounding many tough targets on 2s, and even vehicles up to T9 on 4s!) or 6 attacks at S4, doing 2 or 4 damage per wound, and with a 2+ save and a 5+ invulnerable. What many non-Covens Drukhari lists were really missing before was a cheap and effective counter-charger, but now Drazhar is it.

Troops

Units available:

  • Kabalite Warriors (K)
  • Wracks (H)
  • Wyches (W)

 

With HQs out of the way, it’s time to talk about Troops. There’s a single choice for each possible build, so we’ll discuss them all.

 

Objective secured… for now

Kabalite Warriors

Kabalites are the standard Drukhari warrior, just an elf in razor-sharp armour with a gun that shoots poison so they can really enjoy your suffering. Profile wise they’re the same as any other ordinary Aeldari, with a 7″ move, WS and BS3+, S3 and T3, a single wound and attack and Ld 7 (8 for the Sybarite, their equivalent of a sergeant). With T3 and a fairly mediocre 5+ save, they don’t tend to stick around for long, although that 6+ Inured to Suffering can sometimes surprise you.

On the plus side, they are cheap at just 6pts/model. Your basic squad is 5 guys, but they can go up to 20, though I can’t imagine why you’d want to. Their basic weapon is the splinter rifle, the archetypal poisoned weapon, and they can also take a splinter cannon or dark lance (one per ten) and a shredder or blaster (one per five).

There’s a couple of basic things you can do with these. Very common is 5 guys with a blaster riding in a Venom, often in a Flayed Skull detachment. This gives you a ton of anti-infantry (anti-everything that isn’t a vehicle, really) firepower, and then an additional high-damage shot coming from the blaster. This is cheap at just 47pts for the squad (though that doesn’t include the cost of the Venom).

The alternative is a bigger squad in a Raider. Realistically, any of the weapons are good – depending what you want the squad to do and what the rest of your army can handle, you might opt for shredders and a splinter cannon for infantry-murder, or to pop in two blasters and a dark lance to really shred some tanks, or even a mix of all of the above.

The only real downside to Kabalites is how fragile they are, and thus their reliance on transports. They’re still great units, but once they’re out of the boats they often disappear very quickly.

 

Wracks

Happily, your alternative option is to run very tough Troops. Wracks offer zero shooting output unless you give the Acothyst (sergeant) a special weapon, but they are T4, with a 4+ invulnerable save (again, assuming Prophets of Flesh) which can go up to T5 if they’re hanging out near a Haemonculus. They also have surprising combat punch, with 2 base attacks and Haemonculus tools mitigating their basic S3.

Wrack city bitch

There’s not a lot else to say about Wracks – if you’re using a Covens list you’ll want at least 15, they’re good tough dudes who can take a bit of shooting, and at 9pts per you can throw three squads in your list for under 150pts to fill a Battalion. To sit around in the backfield holding objectives, you can’t ask for much more.

There is one trick worth highlighting here, and once again it’s thanks to Prophets of Flesh. For 2CP you can use the stratagem “Black Cornucopians” which lets you whip a unit of Wracks off the board, return it to full strength, and drop them anywhere within 6″ of a table edge and more than 9″ from enemy units. If you’re struggling to reach a key objective, or you have a single Wrack left and you’d really like there to be more, this is a handy stratagem to have in your back pocket.

Wyches

And having discussed the tough guy Wracks, let’s talk about their complete opposite, the Wyches. These have a similar profile to the Warriors, although they gain an extra inch of Movement and an extra Attack. Their save is only 6+ though.

Wyches of course get Combat Drugs, and they have a Dodge save – which gives them a 6+ invulnerable save all the time, and a 4+ in the Fight phase. Finally, they get the same No Escape rule as the Succubus.

Much like Warriors, Wyches can be in squads of 5-20. Their basic kit is a splinter pistol and a Hekatarii blade, which gives them an extra attack for a mighty 3. Their leader, the Hekatrix, can take a blast pistol, and a power sword or agoniser, and depending on squad size 1-3 Wyches can also take Wych weapons as discussed for the Succubus.

On paper, Wyches seem like they might be alright. That’s a lot of attacks, and drugs can give them more, or alternatively S4 so that they hit a bit harder. However, they’re not cheap, and with T3 6+ they’re very fragile. With no ability to get out of a transport after it’s moved and then charge, they can struggle to make it to combat. Their best offensive use is the Wych bomb in a big squad, but that also makes them very vulnerable to Morale.

If you’re running a Wych Cult, though, you have to have them, so let’s talk about how to use them as effectively as possible. Firstly, the obvious solution is just to take 3×5 and keep them cheap to fill out a Battalion. It’s not great, but it’s possible.

Secondly, you might try them in a Cult of the Red Grief to go with your Succubus. This way they can zip up the board in a transport on turn 1, then on turn 2 they bail out 12+d6″ away and still get a re-rollable charge.

Thirdly there’s the Wych bomb – take a full squad of 20, drop them out of deep strike using the Webway stratagem, and charge into something. Using them this way your best option is probably to take Cult of the Cursed Blade, which gives you +1 Strength and also the pseudo-immunity to Morale, which can make that big squad stick around a bit longer after the initial charge.

This all ignores the real use case of Wyches, of course – tying things up. A cheap squad with a shardnet and impaler can walk into an infantry unit, see out the round with their 4+ invulnerable saves in the Fight phase, and then force them to try and No Escape on a d3 vs. d6 roll-off where your opponent has to win (not draw) to Fall Back. This is a great application for both keeping them around and also for preventing shooting units from targeting your fragile boats. In a post-Marines world it’s a bit harder to pull off – the 4+ save is great but a unit of Shock Assaulting Primaris Marines can throw out 17-32 attacks when charged, which will soon bust through them – but it’s still an effective possibility against many other units.

Dedicated Transports

Units available:

  • Raider (K, W, or H)
  • Venom (K, W, or H)

 There’s two transports available to Drukhari, and they’re both open to any of the factions. They don’t get much out of the main book factions, but the custom traits in Phoenix Rising can offer a little diversity.

Many boat, much gun

 

Raider

The Raider is the original 40k pirate boat, originating way back in 3rd edition with the first launch of the Dark Eldar. The old model was one of the best in a rather dubious range, and the new one is a great re-imagining of it. On the table, it’s a very strong option. T5 W10 4+ save doesn’t sound great, but it also flies with movement 14″ (on its top bracket), has the Night Shields rule to give it a 5+ invulnerable save against ranged weapons, and crucially is open-topped, allowing the up to 10 models it can transport to shoot out of it. For a mere 80/85pts depending on armament, that’s pretty great. Gun-wise it mounts a single dark lance or disintegrator cannon – not great, but not nothing. A cheap and cheerful way to shield your fragile Kabalites from incoming fire, and zip around the board unloading shots into people.

Venom

The Venom is a smaller, lighter transport, which has half the transport capacity 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 a high rate of anti-infantry firepower, for a mere 65/75pts, 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, which makes that Ming vase of a defensive profile go a little bit further than it otherwise would.

 

Elites

Units available:

  • Beastmaster (W)
  • Grotesques (H)
  • Incubi (B)
  • Court of the Archon – Lhamaeans, Medusae, Sslyth, Ur-Ghuls (K)
  • Mandrakes (B)

The Elites section of the codex is exceptionally poor. Beastmasters are just guys who hang out with Beast Packs, allowing you to throw good points after bad, and the Court of the Archon is self-admittedly a way for Games Workshop to include cool sculpts they were playing with, without much thinking about what they actually do on the table. The only use I’ve yet found for them is to take a single 15pt Ur-Ghul to ride in a Venom with an Archon, so that if the Venom is destroyed you’re at less risk of the Archon dying in the wreckage.

Mandrakes

Mandrakes are our first Blades for Hire unit, which means that they don’t get any kind of Obsession buffs though they do retain Power from Pain. They come in units of 5-10, with an intriguing statline – 8″ move, S4, T3, with 3 Attacks. They also have that most bizarre of armour saves, 7+, which means they don’t get anything unless they’re in cover or have some other buff.

Special rule wise they have From Out of the Shadows, a rule which lets them reside in the shadow realm of Aelindrach (aka deep strike), and then the very cool Shrouded from Sight which gives them the double buff of a 5+ invulnerable save and being -1 to hit.

The interesting thing about Mandrakes is their weapons. In melee they have glimmersteel blades, giving them AP-1, and then for shooting there’s the baleblast – 18″ range, assault 2, S4 AP-1 attacks which also inflict mortal wounds on a 6+ wound roll. A squad of them can pour out a surprising amount of solid anti-infantry firepower, and then follow up with equally good melee attacks. Deep striking lets them be protected from early shooting, although the modern Tactical Reserves rules make that less effective than it once was. The only real strike against them is that at 16pts/model they’re not cheap, and like many Drukhari units they’re quite fragile. Probably not anyone’s first choice to include, but a neat alternative if you want to try out something a bit different – plus the models are really cool.

Grotesques

Once upon a time, Grotesques were what Wracks are now, except they were also shit and no-one used them. In the 5th edition rerelease, Wracks came into being to fit the small-guy Troops slot, and Grotesques became what they are today – ogre-sized mutant monstrosities. In 8th edition they come with a very tasty profile – M7″, WS 3+, S5, T5, W4, A4, and finally Ld8. Like their smaller Wrack brothers they only have a 6+ armour save, but who cares when you have the ubiquitous 4+ invulnerable from Prophets of Flesh? Well, except if you get Null Zoned or Death Hexed or play that really terrible Narrow the Search mission. But mostly who cares.

Your basic unit is 3 Grotesques, and you can get up to 10. Each one carries a monstrous cleaver and a flesh gauntlet – the first one makes them AP-2 and gives an additional attack, while the latter does mortal wounds to non-VEHICLE units on the roll of a 6+ to wound.

The application of Grotesques is extremely simple. Run them at things and hit those things very hard with a pile of high-quality attacks. They’re also very hard to get rid of.

The synergy here with a Haemonculus or Urien Rakarth should be obvious – boosting them up to Toughness 6, and potentially Strength 6 as well, makes them hit harder and much tougher to get rid of. About the only mark against them is not being Talos, although they’re also much cheaper and put more wounds on the table point-for-point. A great unit you can fully expect to build around should you so choose – although be aware that the “official” model is a single Finecast sculpt from the bad old days where that was acceptable, which can be yours for a mere £15.50 per. Our suggestion is to convert – Stormfiends, Crypt Fiends, or Ogor Bulls from Age of Sigmar make an excellent base.

Incubi

Following Phoenix Rising Incubi haven’t changed stats-wise, though their rules did expand a little so that Lethal Precision now applies to the whole unit instead of just the Klaivex. Also, the Klaivex now has access to a new weapon (or, if you’re the incredible pedant who commented on this previously, they are now once again able to use a weapon they had in previous editions but not in 8th ed): they can swap out their klaives for demiklaives. Demiklaives are basically strict improvements on the klaive, allowing you to choose between single blade and dual blades mode when attacking. Single blade gives you the exact profile of the klaive – S+1, AP-3, D1 – while dual blades lets you forgo the strength bonus for additional attacks – S User, AP-2, D1 and you get +2 Attacks. The option to fight in either mode is very cool, and Drazhar’s aura mitigates some of the downside of Strength 3. They also picked up a little point drop in CA, down to 14ppm. At 70pts for 5 I still can’t 100% recommend them, but they’re at least better now, and some people advocate for using them in Ynnari where if you expend a frankly gross amount of CP on them they can do ok. 

Fast Attack

Units available:

  • Beast Packs – Clawed Fiends, Khymerae, Razorwing Flocks (B)
  • Hellions (W)
  • Reaver Jetbikes (W)
  • Scourges (B)

Beast Packs nowadays are three separate units, each more useless than the last. Right at the start of the edition there was a now-infamous build which relied on taking as many Razorwing Flocks as humanly possible and clogging up the entire board, ruining both your and your opponent’s day, but happily that’s gone the way of many early-edition gimmick builds. Sadly that was also the only use for any of the beast options. Hellions are less bad so much as a bit mediocre – they’re not unusable but much like the ordinary Wyches you want a big unit but it’s vulnerable to Morale, and at 14pts/per they’re a little too expensive for how easily they die to any anti-infantry fire which cares to come their way. One possible usage of them now is with Ynnari, where they can gain a 5+ invulnerable save which will keep them around that bit longer.

So nearly good

 

Reaver Jetbikes

Reavers are exciting for two reasons. Firstly, they’re a Wych unit which is actually reasonably tough! T4, W2, and a 4+ save mean they’re vastly less likely to be deleted by a passing breeze than the rest of a Wych Cults army. Secondly, they have a gigantic 18″ movement, and then on top of that they can Advance another 8″ by default. If they’re in a Red Grief detachment which lets them advance and charge, they have a completely wild 26″+2d6″ threat range.

Weapon-wise, each of them totes an underslung splinter rifle, and the bikes have bladevanes which make them S4 AP-1, which is nice. You can throw in blasters or heat lances if you want, and there’s also the option of grav-talons or cluster caltrops to give them some mortal wound capacity.

There’s a couple of different ways you can go with the bikers. An obvious one is an Outrider detachment with the previously-described Red Grief Succubus and then 3×3 Reaver Jetbikes to fill it out. Their job is to suicide forwards on turn 1, tagging as many enemy units as possible to prevent them from shooting and giving your army a turn to get up the pitch. This works best against things like Guard gunlines, and is more or less useless against armies with a high preponderance of FLY or other means of falling back and firing. Alternatively, you can utilise the high max unit size (12) to throw in big units of them with grav-talons, giving you an effective turn 1 alpha strike of bikes flying across the table into your opponent’s face. There’s also the Eviscerating Flyby stratagem, which for 1CP lets you drop even more mortal wounds on something you’ve Advanced over. The former option is probably more effective, but the latter could be good fun and may surprise an unwary opponent who isn’t expecting you to pile into their deployment zone on turn 1.

Stop touching me!

              

Scourges

Scourges are the second Blades for Hire unit under discussion here. These are somewhat like Swooping Hawks from the Craftworlds book, being jump pack infantry with a high-rate-of-fire gun. They move 14″, and have a 4+ save and 6+ invulnerable save, and like other jump pack infantry they can deep strike (here called Winged Strike). The real strength of Scourges is in their weapon options, however. Up to four of them can take an alternative weapon from a nearly-exhaustive list of what’s available in the book – any of splinter cannons, dark lances, heat lances, shredders, haywire blasters, or regular blasters.

The most effective of those choices are either the blaster, for a concentrated burst of high-damage shots, or the haywire blaster. Massing the latter is the best application of Scourges – either utilising their high movement stat and FLY or deep-striking onto the board to drop a pile of haywire shots into a hard target like a Knight or other crucial enemy vehicle. Like many other things in the Drukhari codex, this worked a lot better back when you could utilise Doom to make the haywire effect very reliable, but the theory still holds.

 

Heavy Support

Units available:

  • Cronos (H)
  • Talos (H)
  • Ravagers (K)

Another rather thin slot here, with once again only 3 options. Happily, both Talos and Ravagers are good. Cronos are a bit whatever, but they’re not actually bad, which is a nice change, though they won’t be discussed here.

Talos

You may detect a certain love for Talos in the following. This is because they’re really, really good. Talos come in unit sizes of 1-3. Their base profile is strong on its own – M8″, WS3+/BS4+, S6 T6, W7, A5, Ld8, Sv3+. Then throw in a 4+ invulnerable save (Prophets, remember?), and the buffs from Haemonculi/Urien which can bring them up to S7 T7. And they FLY (check the errata).

Then there’s the weapons. By default they have two macro-scalpels, but you probably want to switch one of them for a chain-flail. Additionally they have a gun mounted in their tail – there’s a few weird and wonderful options here, but by far the most common is the twin haywire blaster, functionally the same as the one mentioned before but twice as much of it.

Grim death approaches

What do those two melee weapons do? First there’s macro-scalpels, with the mighty profile of +1S, AP-2, D2. This can get you up to an effective Strength of 8 with Urien’s buff, and with the AP and Damage to really hurt what you’ve hit. Great for beating up on Knights, Primaris Marines, tanks, planes – basically anything you really want dead. The alternative is the chain-flails. These don’t buff your strength and they don’t give you any AP. What they do instead is to double your number of attacks, and also grant re-rolls to wound. That means each Talos is throwing out 10 S6 or S7 attacks at WS3+ which re-roll to wound. For murdering light infantry, or indeed anything with mediocre saves, these are fantastic. The sheer weight of dice can overcome a lot. Knowing the right time to choose between these two great melee options is crucial to utilising Talos effectively.

All this on a unit which is also blasting out 2D3 haywire shots per model and still benefits from Power from Pain, giving you a 6+ Feel No Pain, and then the potential to advance and charge and add +1 to hit rolls, meaning that by round 3 you’re piling in all those attacks on 2s to hit.

On top of all that, for 2CP you can re-roll wounds with the unit, perfect for when you really want to deploy macro-scalpels instead of chain-flails.

And they’re only 98pts per with the build described above. What’s not to like? Well, except that they give up secondary objectives in ITC like it’s their job, and they’re kind of slow and the best support that was available to them (Doom and Jinx) has been taken away. They’re still cool as hell though.

Ravagers

A Ravager is effectively an upgunned Raider. It loses the transport capacity, but gains T6 and mounts three disintegrators or dark lances.

Like many of the good Drukhari units, the application of Ravagers is very straightforward. You put them on the table with as many disintegrators strapped to them as possible, place your Archon next to them as described previously, point their 9 S5 AP-3 D2 shots at whatever you want dead, and roll dice until it goes away. A Spearhead detachment of the Archon and 3 of these is a common sight, whether in a larger Drukhari army or souped in with other things. Previously they only cost 125pts which at 3 for 375pts plus the Archon was brutally effective, and you saw them included both in pure Drukhari armies and also Eldar soup. They’ve gone up to 140pts now, which wasn’t really necessary and hurts them for no good reason – Craftworlds stuff got better simultaneously, so it didn’t really fix the internal balance of the AELDARI keyword, and it’s not like there were other Drukhari units these were keeping out of your Heavy Support slots. Dark lance ones are slightly more palatable now that they cost the same as disintegrators, but realistically dissies still have a wider target application, and in Marine meta with lots of Primaris bodies running around they still seem essential to me.

Dakka dakka

 

Flyers

Units available:

  • Razorwing Jetfighter (K or W)
  • Voidraven Bomber (K or W)

There’s two flyers available to Drukhari, the Razorwing Jetfighter and the Voidraven Bomber. The Razorwing is clearly better than the Voidraven, but both have useful tricks and a Voidraven is far from the worst way to spend 165pts.

Razorwing Jetfighter

A Razorwing is an all-singing all-dancing murderer of the skies, with an armament including two disintegrators/dark lances, a twin splinter rifle/splinter cannon, and the wonderful triple-profile Razorwing missiles. The most common loadout is to take the first of each option, i.e. disintegrators and twin splinter rifle, to keep the plane cheap at 145pts. This gives you a pile of mid-strength high-AP mid-damage shots, plus the Rapid Fire 2 poison, and then your choice of missiles – of which the two most relevant profiles are either the shatterfield, which are d6 shots at S7 AP-1, re-roll wounds, or the necrotoxins, 3d3 poisoned shots which wound non-VEHICLE units on 2s. Much like Ravagers these took a little bit of a hit in CA, with a 10pt increase – not wholly unjustified given their prevalence in Eldar plane lists, but also not really helpful to Drukhari either.

There’s a lot of guns on this thing

Movement wise you’re looking at (on top profile) 20-72″, which you may recognise as the entire length of the board. You can always get a Razorwing where you want it, although sadly they lack the double-turn of the Craftworld flyers so it’s a lot harder to get them back out again if you misjudge your landing zone.

Defensively they share the same profile as a Ravager, though they gain the “Hard to Hit” rule common to all flyers, and of course you can only charge them if you have FLY.

Overall, Razorwings are a great way to deploy a brutal amount of firepower wherever you want it, although they do suffer a little from being so fast as they’re rarely in range to be buffed in the way that Ravagers can be. Still, they’re usually consistent performers, and the new Test of Skill rules for Wyches may give them a new lease of life.

Voidraven Bomber

Compared to the Razorwing, the Voidraven is a little lacklustre. It gains 2 wounds, which is nice, and it has a couple of unique guns – either of dark scythes or void lances. Dark scythes have the familiar S8 AP-4 profile, but they’re both d3 shots and d3 damage, while void lances are the only S9 weapon in the book and retain the d6 damage of the dark lance. Neither is really as good as just having more disintegrators. Voidravens also get missiles, sharing the shatterfield profile with Razorwings and also getting the unique implosion missile – Assault D3, S6 AP-3 D1. Quite why you’d ever want to use the implosion over the shatterfield is beyond me, and losing the option of necrotoxins is a real shame, but I guess it’s something.

Finally there’s the void mine. This is fantastic albeit gimmicky. Once per battle, you can pick an enemy unit you flew over, and roll 1d6 per model in the unit (up to a max of 10). For each 3+, do a mortal wound. Against vehicles or monsters, you roll 3d6 – and against a unit of vehicles or monsters, you roll 3d6 per model. Ironically the most relevant application of this is against other Drukhari armies to beat up on their Talos, but it can also be highly relevant against Kastelan Robots.

Overall, Voidravens are probably inferior to Razorwings – they trade the pure, straightforward brutality of the pile of guns for a couple of unique gimmicks which don’t really work out into a cohesive whole, and they pay 30pts extra to do it. When the gimmicks work though they really work – there’s nothing like straight up eliminating something with the void mine for a feels-good moment.

Bombs away

 

Lists

The original version of this article didn’t feature any lists, but now you’re in luck! We have two lists to share with you which, at time of writing, have recently been successful at events.

Ridvan Martinez

Critical Hit GT, 4-0-1 (2nd)

Kabal of the Black Heart Battalion

HQ: Archon w/ VB, Warlord
HQ: Archon w/ Husk, blast Pistol

Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster
Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster
Troops: 5 Kabalites w/ blaster

DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom
DT: Venom

Flyer: Void Raven
Flyer: Void Raven

Custom Wych Cult Battalion
Test of Skill / Berzerk Fugue

HQ: Succubus net/imp
HQ: Drazhar

Troops: 5 wyches w/ net, blast pistol
Troops: 5 wyches w/ hydra gauntlet, blast pistol
Troops: 5 wyches w/ hydra gauntlet, blast pistol

Flyer: Razorwing w/2 disintegrator cannon, TL Rifle
Flyer: Razorwing w/2 disintegrator cannon, TL Rifle

Prophets of Flesh Vanguard

HQ: Haemonculus w/Hex Rifle, Relic: Vexator Mask

Troops: Wracks x10 w/Ossefactor

Elites: Mandrakes x5
Elites: Mandrakes x5
Elites: Mandrakes x5

This list was originally featured in our January State of the 40k Meta article with the following commentary from the man himself, Archon Skari, describing how it works:

“The list was mainly designed to be able to hide against a turn one alpha with minimal terrain. The Wyches are there to tie units up in close combat, and the Prophets of the Flesh detachment is there simply to give him a tough Troops choice that can be recycled with Black Cornucopians, and to access the extra command points from the Diabolical Soothsayer warlord trait as well as the Vexator Mask relic (Corrode: Ignores overwatch, makes a unit within 6” fight last). Drukhari have been out for a while so it’s hard to surprise anyone with obscure choices. The Vexator Mask is the go to relic, Labyrinthine Cunning is the main warlord trait , and then with Alliance of Agony, the Haemonculus gets the Soothsayer trait for extra cp (and a handy re roll). The Succcubus warlord trait would normally be 6+ to wound in the Fight phase causes a mortal wound, this is probably the most interesting as it combines with “Test of Skill” so against big monsters and vehicles she does mortals on 5+.

The list is designed to be balanced enough to tackle every matchup, from Centurion spam to Possessed bomb (both of those I have played and won). I was surprised at how well it did against Jim Vesal and his Possessed bomb! Having a lot of the army strength diversified all over the units in the army really helped!”

He considers that this list, for now, is a well oiled machine, and that each point and upgrade has a purpose. Once the meta shifts again he will be looking at tweaking it but for now, this is his competitive ITC list. Thanks again to Skari for talking us through the army, and if you’d like to hear more from him, check out his Twitter (https://twitter.com/Skari2) or consider supporting him on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/skaredcast).

George McCoulough

Cross-Swords GT, 2nd

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [26 PL, 5CP, 438pts] ++

Detachment Type: Cult of the Red Grief

HQ: Drazhar [6 PL, 100pts] HQ: Succubus [4 PL, 50pts]: Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Archite Glaive, Hyper-swift Reflexes, Splinter pistol, The Blood Glaive

Troops: Wyches [2 PL, 48pts]: Grave Lotus (Combat Drug), Hekatrix [8pts]: Hekatarii blade, Splinter pistol, Wych with Shardnet and impaler [8pts] Troops: Wyches [2 PL, 48pts]: Hypex (Combat Drug), Hekatrix [8pts]: Hekatarii blade, Splinter pistol, Wych with Shardnet and impaler [8pts] Troops: Wyches [2 PL, 48pts]: Serpentin (Combat Drug), Hekatrix [8pts]: Hekatarii blade, Splinter pistol, Wych with Shardnet and impaler [8pts]

FA: Reavers [10 PL, 144pts]: Painbringer (Combat Drug), Arena Champion [16pts], 8x Reaver [128pts]

++ Battalion Detachment +5CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [55 PL, 5CP, 885pts] ++

Detachment Type: Prophets of Flesh

HQ: Haemonculus [5 PL, 72pts]: Diabolical Soothsayer, Splinter pistol, The Vexator Mask, Venom Blade [2pts] HQ: Urien Rakarth [5 PL, 90pts]

Troops: Wracks [3 PL, 45pts], Acothyst [9pts]: Haemonculus tools . 4x Wracks [36pts] Troops: Wracks [3 PL, 45pts], Acothyst [9pts]: Haemonculus tools . 4x Wracks [36pts] Troops: Wracks [3 PL, 45pts], Acothyst [9pts]: Haemonculus tools . 4x Wracks [36pts]

HS: 3x Talos [18 PL, 294pts] w/Chain-Flails, Macro-Scalpel, 2x Haywire Blasters
HS: 3x Talos [18 PL, 294pts] w/Chain-Flails, Macro-Scalpel, 2x Haywire Blasters

++ Spearhead Detachment +1CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [37 PL, , 677pts] ++

Detachment Type: Kabal of the Black Heart

HQ: Archon [4 PL, 61pts]: Huskblade [6pts], Labyrinthine Cunning, Splinter pistol, Warlord, Writ of the Living Muse

HS: Ravager [7 PL, 140pts]: Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts] HS: Ravager [7 PL, 141pts]: Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Shock Prow [1pts] HS: Ravager [7 PL, 140pts]: Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts], Disintegrator cannon [15pts]

DT: Venom [4 PL, 65pts]: Splinter Cannon [10pts], Twin splinter rifle
DT: Venom [4 PL, 65pts]: Splinter Cannon [10pts], Twin splinter rifle
DT: Venom [4 PL, 65pts]: Splinter Cannon [10pts], Twin splinter rifle

++ Total: [118 PL, 10CP, 2,000pts] ++

This one is a pretty bread-and-butter Drukhari army – it has a Black Heart Spearhead of 3x Ravagers with a Writ of the Living Muse-toting Archon Warlord, and 3 Black Heart Venoms which scoop up the Wyches to deliver them into key targets for tying up. It also has a brick of 6 Prophets of Flesh Talos to float forward, blast out haywire, and fight whatever comes in range. It also boasts a healthy 14 CP from its double Battalions and Spearhead, allowing you to make great use of the good Drukhari stratagems.

The big block of Red Grief Reaver Jetbikes is surprisingly cheap and versatile. It’s a great candidate for a turn 1 charge to gum up the works, with tons of potential for charging into a gunline and touching as many tanks as possible and limiting their shooting effectiveness – a really important thing for Drukhari to stop your enemy’s biggest guns from blowing your fragile boats off the table. It’s a neat, well-balanced list and if you’re looking to play pure Drukhari this is a great place to look. Much like Ridvan’s list, it also features Drazhar, who seems to be becoming ubiquitous.

 

Conclusion

So that’s it – over 17,000 words on how to play Drukhari. Maybe you’re reading this with visions of your torture elves flying across the table firing splinters into everything they see, or Talos 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.

 

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