Well, I received my White Dwarf early (subscription), and got my grubby paws on a copy of the Codex in a Games Workshop too. Three words – Oh My God!!!!
The models are great, and the stats for HQ models are just totally out of this world. Dark Eldar can field Harlequins now too (with the other troops they can field, I’m not sure why they’d want to except for the fact the models are gorgeous!), which works really well from the fluff. In addition, the wych cult/cabal divide is gone – both wyches and kabal troops are basic troop types.
There are two big changes, and both really work with the fluff, though I think Dark Eldar will remain a hard force to play well. The first is that although their weapons remain rapid fire, they count as poisoned with a 4+ to wound pretty much anything except vehicles. Thats right, wraithlords are now easy meat for the Dark Eldar basic troops.
The second is really interesting – Power through Pain! Essentially, the Dark Eldar feed on souls in agony, and it shows in the game! For every full unit of troops wiped out, the Dark Eldar Unit responsible gets a pain token from teh additional power of the souls consumed. There are three levels of enhanced power – (I’m not sure of the order, but I think its Feel No Pain (so an extra 4+ save!), furious charge, and then fearless). If you get stuck in successfully at the start of the game, you’ll sweep the board! If you get caught in front of a gunline though, its still very much a fragile force, so you really need to use the fast movement and take the fight to the enemy.
Wyches get invulnerable saves in close combat thanks to their dodging ability! Lilith has an amazing ability. Initiative of 9, so she’ll probably be striking first, then she gets an extra attack for every point of dfifference between her weapon skill of 9 and the unit she’s attacking. She has 4 attacks anyways, so if she charges a unit of guard she gets +1 for dual weapons, +1 for charging, and +6 for the difference in weapon skills – thats 12 attacks! She also takes advantage of the Power through pain rule, so she get even more resilient and stronger as the battle rages!
There’s quite a lot of little touches that work for the dark eldar as long as things go their way. The Archon can take a shadow field, giving him a 2+ invulnerable save … but if he rolls a 1, the field collapses and is gone for the rest of the game.
Loads more Dark Eldar models to come, with a whole slew of HQ models still to arrive, new beastmasters and better monsters, venoms (light transports), with wych models to hang on the side (which work on the raiders too, so you can mark which type of unit is onboard which ship). New scourge models supposed to arrive too! There are two aircraft listed in the codex, which for Spearhead games is an awesome advantage to dominate teh skies!
The models are gorgeous too, having seen them for real in GW. I’m so tempted to do a “Dark Craftworld”, and paint the models as an equivalent eldar unit, so paint wyches as banshees, Kabalites as dire avengers, mandrakes as striking scorpions, incubi as warlocks, reavers as shining spears and an archon as a autarch.
It really brings them up to date, but you still need skill to play them – against necrons, for example, take the wrong weapon choices and you’ll flail ineffectively against the we’ll be back rules and gauss guns. Take the right weapons and land a strong early assault and metallic parts will soon be spread all over the field.
I think horde armies like orks and guard would struggle most against them, but even marines won’t find it easy to fight off the onslaught! I can’t see Eldar being able to match them now – every eldar strength is countered. Howling banshees vs wyches, for example – the invulnerable save counters the banshees power weapons, and the wyches are at least as competent, though cheaper and a troop type so can hold objectives. Poisoned weapons can gun down the avatars, wraithguard and wraithlords, and mandrakes and incubi will mince Striking Scorpions.
For Eldar to face Dark Eldar, you’d need to play to the unique eldar strengths – firepower and psychic strength – with farseers adding their might to dark reapers, guardians with heavy weapons and eldar tanks, you’d have a very interesting match!
As an additional note, the latest Salamanders book (Firedrake) is superb to show the current Dark Eldar society and background from the codex. Well worth a read if you’re a fan of DE.