Welcome back, friends, to the Dark City.
Today's meander through the shadows and alleyways will take us through some of the City's finest highlights; from the gladiatory arenas of the Wych Cults, to the deepest, darkest dungeons of the heamonculi where we will see some of their finest creations. And watch the shadows on the way... if they start hissing at you, it's a bad sign.
The Dark Eldar codex is graced with three Elite choices. The first and most oft seen being the well renowned Wyches. These gladiators of the Dark City are some of the galaxy's finest warriors, going toe to toe with the fiercest beasts, and making a mockery of enemy assault units. If you're feeling frisky, you can even opt to run a Wych Cult, using these fine (and scantily clad) fighters as your basic troops (those "slow" and "heavily armored" warriors moving to take over the Elites section).
So what makes Wyches so fierce? They sport the same moderate strength and toughness as nearly anything else in the codex, and don't even have a higher weapon skill to account for all of those arena battles. They have the standard assault-unit kit (stabby thing, and small shooty thing usually used to stab anyway). They're even lightly armored (and when you say that next to flak armor, that's something).
The answer to this quandary is simple. Wych Weapons. That oh-so-special gladiator gear that makes enemy assault units cry. I'm happy to throw my Wyches into just about anything that I want dead, but what makes them really shine is when you throw them against anything meant to be as CC oriented as they are - assault marines, kroot... anything that the opponent expects to wreck your day with in assault. Not only does this single-point upgrade remove your bonus for having two combat weapons, but any time you try to punch a Wych in the face your WS gets cut in half (hey, at least you get to round up).
But that's not all. Oh no, we don't just neuter your favorite killy toy. We're also on crystal meth.
That's right kids, combat drugs. Sure, it's random, sure, some are better than others. But it all makes me smile. Some are straight forward; higher strength or number of attacks. Increased WS adds to the "can't touch this" factor - even Marine's need 5's to hit back. Someone wasn't listening during the DARE presentation, and it makes me so so happy.
And of course, any hits you do land have to fight through a nice 4+ dodge save. Have fun with that one, power weapons. Yeah, it'll still go down to hordes of attacks, but if you haven't thinned out the target first you probably deserve it.
In short, an anti-assault unit assault unit. Not that I wouldn't send them against more basic foes. Unlike most (read; any) other units in the codex, these guys are happy fighting the war of attrition. Plink away with some S3 (or maybe S4) attacks while the Agoniser pops one or two a round, dance lithely out of harms way (for the most part, at least).
Next in line are Grotesques, those individuals who either were really into sadism, slaves who looked like interesting playthings, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Long story short here is they've been tortured so much that they don't really register pain anymore. Or, if they do, they kinda like it. Kinky.
So they're still T3 and don't have any armor at all... but all that attention from the heamonculi has paid off! These guys not only sport two wounds, but if you're trying to blast them from afar you'd better bring the big guns. Unless you can blow them away completely, you're not even gonna make them flinch. It's insta-gibb or go home when the Uglies come out to play. Of course, you can still hack them to pieces in close combat (which is where they like to be, as they don't even have a gun).
Okay, so they need an IC to prod them in the right direction... all that torture rattled their brains, and without passing a Ld test (at a massive Ld 5) they can't so much as move. But, they do have a nice S4 and 2 attacks (plus the standard WS4) when they find something in front of them.
Fun to use as a theme army, or can be added into a standard Kabal with some success. Either as a front wave to grant good mobile cover (just remember the IC), or as an actual survivable unit to camp on an objective (or go find some more slaves for the dungeons). Expensive enough to warrant a "know what you're doing" tag, but still useable.
And of course we have Mandrakes. Those Shadow-skinned assassins of Commorragh, perhaps tainted by the warp, perhaps some genetic defect bred through generations... no one truly knows the origins of these dark beasts, but many fall to their hand.
So what do you do to make a Mandrake? First, take a warrior. Then trade out his rifle for a pistol and a blade. Then nearly double his cost.
Luckily there's a bit more to it than that. Whereas Wyches provide an assault unit that can actually be expected to survive (at least while in assault), Mandrakes provide one of the most unique and sneaky units in the game.
Rather than setting up like... oh... anything else, you place three blips on the board (flashback to space hulk anyone?). These blips can do nothing but move, nor can you do anything to them. By turn three you have to pick one. This is where the squad actually is. Then they go forth and murder things.
After they pop out, they're still rocking a 5+ cover save out in the open and a +2 to any cover they're actually in (eat that, pathfinders). Plus, thanks to some wording having gone through so many editions (ie, count as being in cover even in the open, hence the save) unless you have grenades when you charge, expect to go last. Not that many things beat the standard I5 of DE anyway, but hey, it's good for kicks and giggles.
Again, a hefty price tag for some sneaky assault-based warriors, but if you know how to make use of that sneakiness they can add some fun to games.
So while our Elite section isn't exactly bursting at the seams with choices, what we have is actually a varied and fun selection. Not to say I wouldn't make a few changes with the new 'dex, but that's an entirely different post...