So a new Dark Eldar book dropped and helped to pull me back from the distractions I've been working on lately. I haven't gotten a game in with the new book yet, but I'll update more as I come across any other observations.
So my first impression of the book after going through the whole thing; did they have 3 different groups write this in complete seclusion from one another? Seriously, the book seems to be Coven units(who are only going to get better with their own supplement), other Dark Eldar units, and then special rules.
The Coven stuff all seems pretty good compared to the last book, I'd almost say everything is better. The notable exception to that may be Wracks. But I think if you could put these Wracks into the Troop slot, everyone would be raving over the fact we can actually put a ranged gun on them, and that the hexrifle is more viable. The rest of the units were generally tweak in a positive manner overall, there were some points increases and some simplification of abilities but it was positive overall.
The remainder of the Dark Eldar units were all pretty much the same or worse, with a couple notable exceptions for the worst units in the old book. I'd say 90% of this is because of the simplification of units and removal of the unique elements. The big one to me is that they took away one of the quintessential Dark Eldar items as the default loadout, the Dark Lance. Vehicles all start with Dissentigrators and have to upgrade to a Dark Lance, and pay to upgrade! Anyone who's played vs Dark Eldar know that they army has always been about Dark Lances, Wyches, 2++ save, then poison with the last book. There are even strategies that talk about Dark Lance/100 pts balance. So the gun boats got a little less 'gunny' and the heavy support main stay, the ravager, got kicked again while it was down as it can no longer fire all weapons when moving 6"-12". So now you have to choose 1 weapon that has to sit out, apparently that gunner is helping the other two target, or jumping up and down to provide stability.
Finally we got all the special rules, like warlord traits, combat drugs, force organization, special objectives, and wargear. Combat drugs were sort of a cop out, they all give +1 to a stat, but the only people who really get combat drugs are primarily combat focused, and not all of them are useful combat stats. I would much rather have the re-rolls to hit back over +1 T or +1 Ld. The warlord traits are plain generic garbage, not one thematic warlord trait in the bunch, no one use only abilites, no helping the army in any meaningful manner. I honestly feel that the warlord tables from the main rulebook are still a better option. All of the special objectives seem to require you killing a unit, in close combat often, but the book provides no meaningful way for you to get your very fragile units into combat with something. These objectives don't take advantage of your movement at all. Again, normal rules are better for the army. Finally the wargear and it's special rules, god what a HUGE missed opportunity. There were a few changes that just boggled the mind, Str 3 Liquifiers, no AP 2 weapons for the Archon (I don't mind the change to Huskblade but a combat HQ needs a powerful combat weapon), all the coven weapons were drastically changed, wych weapons do the same thing in differnt ways(would you like to re-roll, or re-roll hits, or re-roll 1s?), but bare non the biggest thing that missed the mark was the new fear weapons like the phantasm launcher. So these strike me like the old Terrorfexes from the 3rd edition book, but the problem, they don't work on models that are fearless or have ATSKNF . . . . so they work against virtually nothing; and where is the cool artifact or warlord trait that removes/negates fearless/ATSKNF???? Gods, the synergy that could have been made with these weapons. It could be worse, we could have nothing but that weapon on one of our flyers . . . sorry Eldar.
So overall, my initial impression is we have sort of come full circle, the 3rd edition book was a very predictable army, with far too many units being subpar that you were handicapping yourself., which resulted in only a couple optimal builds. While I think there may be a little more variation than in 3rd edition, I suspect we will only see maybe two or three viable lists coming out of the book, unless they get an awesome supplement as well, none of them will involve wyches. But unlike in 3rd edition, where bringing vehicles vs Dark Eldar was futile because of the number of lances, I think Dark Eldar will struggle against vehicles. I fully expect most Dark Eldar armies to be Coven supplement armies, and I'm personally fine with that, as I sit on 30 converted Grotesques, I just need figure out my anti-vehicle.
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