The Internets abounds with lame platitudes (nothing new) when it comes to armies and lists building. Submerged in the background noise is a trend that only amplifies the lack of thinking outside the box. With any pending release of a new codex people try to figure out the “next great list” and like some retarded mirror of Dancing with Stars most of us cannot help, but get sucked in. The only problem is we don’t have an S.O. as an excuse for watching.
List building in of itself is not evil, it is the proven way wargamers connect easily. Only problem is theory hammer: it is only good if tested, but often people aren’t really even trying– relying on old tactics and rehashing units into new dexes. What was the first thing the Internet do when it tasted the new Dark Eldar codex? Like drooling zombies they went to see exactly how many Dark Lances one could fit into 2000 point list. Followed by OMG!! Raiders are 5 points more!!?!?! Its as if only an FAQ came out and not a new codex. Same thing with the Nid dex: people checked to see if Carnifex spam was intact and when that bubble burst like Gremlins in a microwave, the Internet whack jobs cried themselves to sleep and took their armies straight to Ebay.
As for the MEQ dexes? Somehow Vulcan was the only special character in the Marine codex and Sternguard the only unit. Remember when you first heard about Thunder Cav all anyone could do was equipped with Storm Shields and Thunder Hammers. It was only months later that people began to experiment with Lords and cheaper Thunder Cav units as a better option. What of the Blood Angels? Well besides the perceived demise of 40k by the hands of Mephiston, it become clear everyone only wanted Assault Termies with FNP and fast Razorbacks.
The point to all this ranting is people need to stop applying what worked before and start thinking about what makes a codex different from another. Instead of complaining about 60 point raiders (btw nightshields are 5 points cheaper than before) start thinking about what makes the new Dark Eldar unique. Instead of thinking about how awesome Grey Hunters are start thinking about how to make Blood Claws work. Everyone wants winning lists and play like every other undefeated Internet jock, but hidden in every 5th edition codex is good uses for every unit (except for Pyrovores and the Legion of the Damned). Creativity should be rewarded over bland army building. Wouldn’t you rather have an argument about how the hell a certain list won a tournament or how you just lost the game to an Ogryn squad? It sure beats the inane conversations about pros and cons of four missile launchers or five in a Long Fangs squad.
So how does this rambling relate to the new Dark Eldar?
First off, the new Dark Eldar are amazing. From the models to the codex: Phil Kelly and the sculpting team have really pulled off something special. Phil’s mastery of the Force Org chart is sublime; where Cruddace and the Nid codex failed in allowing for different ways to play, instead Phil made all the right choices with the Dark Eldar. If you just skim the codex you can easily recognize four army builds right off the bat.
- Hellion List
- Kabal List
- Wych List
- Coven List
That is just the mono builds (securing the Internet’s focus for the next 6 months). The Dark Eldar need time and real generals to master and they scream for playtesting. Playtesting is so important with this codex, because list building is so unimportant.
You have the first codex that fully embraces a divergent way we are use to playing. Almost every unit changes depending on the circumstances on the tabletop not above it. Mathhammering is less important when you don’t know what drug your wych squad will have or how many pain tokens a unit might end up with.Take the pain tokens for instance a smörgåsbord of possibilities when you think about sharing the pain. With how fragile the Dark Eldar are you have a reward system for players that exploit terrain and movement. Making generals that have to adapt with the tools they are given.
The Dark Eldar codex is also filled with units that have unique abilities that are only useful if you know how to use them. Take for instance Reaver Jet Bikes only 5+ save, but can turbo boost 36″ typically giving this unit one chance to maximize its potential. Take the fragile Hellions, but have hit & run that if played right it can keep em from getting shot and leave an IC out in the cold. What about Beastmasters? Beastmaster squads play right into our love affair with wound allocation and this is just the fast attack slots. There is many more options as well from Trueborn units that would make IG vet squads cry. What about HQs that completely change the way you play and not based on how many dice you can throw; from Vech’s playing for 1st turn, to Duke Sliscus’s deep striking everything, or Lady Maly’s redeploying.
The challenge for our community is this: if ever an army needs creative minds the Dark Eldar are the one. The Dark Eldar codex is why we should play these games in the first place.