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The Tiger Roars 

The Death of the Dark Eldar?
The big 40K rumor floating around the Internet the last few months has been that the Dark Eldar may soon be phased out of the game, gone the way of the Squats—the “space dwarf” army that first appeared in the initial “Rogue Trader” days of 40K—that were eliminated with the arrival of 3rd Edition in 1998. The sources of this rumor are purported “insider” information and a cryptic reference to the Dark Eldar in Codex: Eye of Terror.

At Games Day Baltimore this year, I attended a Q&A seminar with Andy Chambers, the lead designer behind Warhammer 40K, and he was, of course, asked about the Dark Eldar’s fate. His response was to ask for a show of hands of how many people in the room played Dark Eldar. Many hands shot up, and Andy said something along the lines of, “There’s your answer.” It satisfied me, but you may or may not consider that to be an answer, depending on how you look at it. 

In White Dwarf #283 (U.S. version), the question appeared again, in the “Echoes of the Warp” column. The respondent, “Dirty Steve” Fuller, replied that the rumors “are certainly unfounded.” Well, that settles it then, right?  Again, maybe, maybe not. It’s very difficult these days to trust anyone in positions of authority, even if the authority is only over a game of toy soldiers. While I am confident that the Dark Eldar will stay, many others are not reassured.

Worst-Case Scenario
In any potential crisis, large or small, I deal with the uncertainty of the situation by asking myself, “What is the worst thing that can realistically happen?” Admittedly, the elimination of the Dark Eldar is not much of a crisis. But even in this situation, it helps to think about what could be the worst realistic outcome. To my thinking, the worst thing that could happen would be that “Dirty Steve” is wrong and the Dark Eldar really are on the chopping block. No more models, no rules for them in 4th Edition 40K (slated to come out in December 2004), nada. Down the “memory hole” with the Death Twinkies.

Seeing as how I own a Dark Eldar army (The Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions), this would certainly affect me. What to do about that, then? I would have only two real alternatives: abandon the army or adapt it. I’ve expended too much time and money on my Dark Eldar to simply dispose of them, so instead, I’d go with the flow. No more Dark Eldar? Fine. But that wouldn’t mean the end of my Ozone Scorpion army. Even if the Dark Eldar as we know them were eliminated, the regular, “Goody Two Shoes” Eldar would still be around, as they’ve always been very popular. My answer to this worst-case scenario would be to treat my Dark Eldar as regular Eldar.

To be sure, my Ozone Scorpions would still be bad guys—the archenemies of my Fighting Tigers—and would still remain an “assault force,” using speed, firepower, and hand-to-hand prowess to defeat their enemies. Their leader would still be a raving lunatic, and they’d still conspire against and betray each other at the first opportunity. I might have to change one or two background elements (such as their hailing from Commorragh, the Dark Eldar city), but “fluff” is easy to rewrite.

The hardest part would be realigning my army to conform to Codex: Eldar. And even that wouldn’t be very difficult. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll examine each element of my Dark Eldar army and describe how I would adapt it to Codex: Eldar. I’ll be using the “vanilla” Eldar codex and not Codex: Craftworld Eldar for two reasons: 

1) It will probably be easier to reconfigure my army using the main rulebook rather than trying to straightjacket them into a Craftworld profile; 

2) I’m adamantly opposed to using anything but the base codex for building a Do-It-Yourself army—if you want to, you can read more about why I feel that way. 

A Quick Inventory
In reconfiguring the army, the best way to start would be to empty my figure cases and place each model of my Dark Eldar army on a table before me to see what I had to work with. In doing so, I would find that I have: 
  • Fifty Warriors with splinter rifles
  • Seven Warriors with splinter cannons
  • Seven Warriors with blasters
  • Seven Warriors with shredders
  • Six Sybarites
  • Three Raiders with dark lances and horrorfexes
  • Three Raiders with disintegrators
  • An Archon on a jetbike 
  • Three Haemonculi
  • Ten Wyches (two with shredders)
  • Five Warp Beasts and a Beastmaster
  • Five Reaver jetbikes
  • Three Taloses
If I had to build an Eldar army using Dark Eldar models, I would want to re-use as many figures as I could and minimize any conversions. As I mentioned, I’ve already put a lot of time, effort, and money into the Ozone Scorpions: I don’t want to do a lot of re-work. 

With that said, let’s get started.

Raider Squads form the core of my current Dark Eldar army. I have five Raider Squads, each 10-man units. I also have one large Warrior Squad. Because I would like to continue playing my army in the style to which I’m accustomed, I’d want to replicate the Raider Squads I already have. 

The obvious answer is to consider each Warrior a Guardian and treat each Raider as a Wave Serpent. But frankly, Guardians are pretty darn pathetic, having lower Weapons Skill, Ballistic Skill, and Initiative than Warriors. Mounting them in a Wave Serpent and hurling them at the enemy is a waste of points, as they’ll simply get punk-pushed around by anything tougher than a Gretchin mob. 

Treating them as Rangers is out—I suppose I could consider those splinter rifles as long rifles, but then the whole character of the army would change from a fast assault force to an immobile shooty force. Yeah, it can be done, but that’s not really desirable. 

Treating the Warriors as Dire Avengers, however, would work very well. True, Dire Avengers cost more than Warriors, but they have a better Leadership and Save. Counting splinter rifles as shuriken catapults actually makes the former Raider Squads more effective: instead of each member firing one weedy Strength 3 shot at opponents before they assault opponents, now they each fire two Strength 4 shots. Booyah! Best of all, I can treat each Sybarite as a Dire Avenger Exarch with a shuriken pistol and power weapon. It’s possible to upgrade the Sybarites’ poisoned blades all the way to Direswords, but it’s probably not worth the expense.

Dire Scorpions and Exarch
Above: Raider Squads would become Dire Avengers

Dire Avengers can’t take special weapons, so to build my new “Dire Scorpions” Squads, I’ll have to use only figures with splinter rifles. No worries—I have something else planned for the Skinnies with the splinter cannons and blasters and shredders. 

Applied five times (to replicate the five Raider Squads I had), this would use 45 Warrior models with splinter rifles (leaving five left) and five (out of six) Sybarite figures. However, there wouldn’t be much I could do with the five Warriors left over. So instead, I’d choose to have four “Dire Scorpion” squads, using 36 out of 50 Warriors and four out of six Sybarites.

Each “Dire Scorpion” squad would need a ride, so each would get a Raider, now considered a Wave Serpent. “Wait,” you say. “Raiders and Wave Serpents aren’t anything alike.” True. As Raiders are open topped kites with guns and Wave Serpents are flying tanks, some imagination would be needed here. To explain away the open top and the flimsy armor, we’d say that the whole thing is protected by a vast energy shield that is especially powerful along the front and sides (as is the case with the Wave Serpent). This field would prevent passengers from firing. Figures would disembark from the rear of the craft, as Eldar must from a Wave Serpent, simply because it’s safer to do so. 

Each Raider would become a Wave Serpent
Above: Each Raider would be treated as a Wave Serpent with a starcannon or a bright lance

Each new “Wave Raider” would upgrade its standard issue twin-linked shuriken cannons to a “master-crafted” (i.e., twin-linked) starcannon (in place of a disintegrator) or “master-crafted” bright lance (in place of a dark lance). The horrorfexes would go (no big loss there), and the standard issue twin-linked shuriken catapults would be upgraded to shuriken cannons, represented by spare splinter cannons I have in my bitz box. 

So, each former Raider Squad would be reconfigured like so:

  • Nine “Dire Scorpions” with shuriken catapults
  • One “Dire Scorpion” Exarch with shuriken pistol and power sword
  • “Wave Raider” with shuriken cannon, “master-crafted” starcannon or bright lance.
At this point, I would have left over 14 Warriors with splinter rifles and two Troop slots. What to do with them? Because Eldar are so good at shooting, these would become fire support: two squads of seven Defender Guardians with shuriken catapults. Each Guardian squad would have a heavy weapon, either a starcannon (just because I like them so much) or a bright lance. Voila: all of my “regular” Dark Eldar would be used and my Troop slots filled.

All these guys would need someone to lead them. My current Dark Eldar army is headed by an Archon on a jetbike, and like all other Archons, Syryx Lynatharr has lots of nifty toys that make him a hand-to-hand combat monster:

  • Shadow field
  • Combat drugs
  • Power weapon
  • Tormentor helm
  • Hell mask
  • Trophy rack
It would be impossible to replicate Lynatharr using Codex: Eldar, which offers two HQ choices to lead an army: the Avatar and Farseers. Well, three choices, actually, if you consider Phoenix Lords, but seeing as how there aren’t any Phoenix Lords on jetbikes, I can ignore that option. 

While the Avatar is a close-combat beast, he’s strictly a pedestrian, and I would be loath to give up Lynatharr’s Vyper conversion that I worked so hard on. So my only real option would be to make Lynatharr a Farseer on a jetbike, with:

  • Rune armor (not as nice as a shadow field, but more dependable)
  • Fortune (to help with armor saves)
  • Witchblade (in place of a power weapon)
  • Ghosthelm (in place of tormentor helm and hell mask)
“Farseer Lynatharr” would no longer be an assault monster, but he would have lots of cool abilities. But if I needed a real “assault monster,” I could easily use former Beastmaster Wormwood as an Avatar. He might not be as tall as your average Avatar, but he is, I think, suitably scary-looking. 

Farseer Lynatharr
Left: Beastmaster Wormwood would become the Avatar. Right: “Farseer Lynatharr” on his bike

So what to do with my Haemonculi: Dr. Jheste, Dr. Fybze, and Vulnayvya? These figures would, naturally, become Warlocks. “Warlock Jheste” would be given a jetbike and would join “Farseer Lynatharr” and the new Ozone Scorpion jetbikes (more about those later). “Warlock Fybze” and “Witch Vulnayvya” would each lead a unit of Defender Guardians. All three would have Eldar weapons and Warlock powers to make up for the Haemonculi weapons and webway portals they would lose in the transfer from Dark Eldar to Goody Two-Shoes Eldar. 

As discussed in the series From Idea to Reality, my Wyches are converted from Striking Scorpion figures, so in reconfiguring the army, this unit is a no-brainer. From Striking Scorpions they came, and to Striking Scorpions they would go again. The Wyches’ Raider would become a “Wave Raider” as described above. The only big change I foresee would be that two of the new “Silver Scorpions” would have to lose their shredders, but that’s of no consequence: Striking Scorpions are on par with Wyches with regards to combat effectiveness.

Striking Scorpions
Above:  An obvious choice--these Wyches would become Striking Scorpions if need be 

That’s the easy part. Now for something harder. I managed to transform all the Warriors with splinter rifles into “Dire Scorpions” or Guardians, but what to do with those leftover Warriors with special weapons? Though it goes against the Themed Army Idea that I used to develop my collection, I’d create more Elite units.

Blasters are short-ranged, tank-busting weapons that resemble fusion guns, so those seven Dark Eldar with blasters would form a squad of “Fire Scorpions” (Fire Dragons by another name). The “Fire Scorpions” would need to get in close to the enemy, so they would be given the remaining “Wave Raider,” which is armed with a dark—errr, bright—lance. 

Warp Scorpion....errr...Warp Spider
Above: “Warp Scorpion” armed with death spinner

Looking over my list, I see that I have seven Warriors with shredders. Shredders fire a cloud of monofilament wire, just like death spinners, so those seven Dark Eldar would become “Warp Scorpions” (Warp Spiders). I also have two spare Sybarites, so they would be given the spare shredders from the former Wyches, bumping this squad up to nine. I might or might not do some conversion work to model warp jump generators on each figure….

Fast Attack
My first Fast Attack unit is another no-brainer. My Reaver jetbikes would become regular Eldar jetbikes. Two of the Reavers pack blasters, which could easily be replaced: one would be armed like the rest of the squadron, with a shuriken catapult (modeled using a splinter rifle); the other would gain a shuriken cannon (modeled using a spare splinter cannon I have in my bitz box). The new jetbikers would accompany “Farseer Lynatharr” and “Warlock Jheste” into battle. 

Eldar jetbikesShining Spear. No, really
Left: Reaver jetbikes, which I converted from Eldar jetbikes, would become Eldar jetbikes again. 
Right: Though they don't look like bikes, my converted Warp Beasts would become Shining Spears. 
Everyone following along okay? Nobody too confused? I hope not....

There, that was easy.  On to something a bit harder. Looking over my list of remaining figures, I notice that I have five Warp Beasts, which—in Codex: Death Twinkies—form a swift assault unit. How could I translate that into an Eldar army? Shining Spears have the same squad size (3-5 models), are fast, and have the same modus operandi (rush into close combat ASAP) as Warp Beasts: sounds like a good fit to me. I’d have to use some imagination and pretend that the former Beasties can spit acid or fling spikes or shoot wrap energy out of their eyes or something to replicate the bike-mounted shuriken catapults. Or I could just eschew shooting all together with this unit. 

Heavy Support
My buddy Pat dreads my three Taloses, but they could be worse. If I had to convert my Dark Eldar army to an Eldar army, each Talos would become a Wraithlord, with claw-mounted flamers (just because I like flamers so much). The Talos sting would be best replicated by a scatter laser, so even though there are more effective weapons for a Wraithlord, that’s what each of mine would pack. 

"Wraithlords are cheesy! Wraithlords are cheesy!" Ah, shut yer yap....

Many players think that fielding three Wraithlords is “cheesy.” I don’t agree, but they’re welcome to their opinion—and with my new Ozone Scorpion army, I could even accommodate them. The seven Warriors with splinter cannons would become two squads of Dark Reapers, one with three members, one with four. Fourteen reaper launcher shots a turn might teach folks not to whine about Wraithlords….

The Price to be Paid
At this point in my little mental exercise, all my figures would have been reassigned with minimal fuss. In my opinion, many of the new units would equal or exceed the combat effectiveness of the old units. But nothing comes for free, of course. The new Ozone Scorpions would cost substantially more than the old: about 3500 points for the whole army, as compared with about 2300 points before. But it would be a small price to pay to keep my army and continue to use it the way I’m accustomed to. 

As I mentioned, I’m confident that the Dark Eldar will be around for as long as Warhammer 40,000 is. But if not, I’m ready. So while other Dark Eldar players fret and worry, I wait for 4th Edition with a smug smirk on my face. The universe won’t be rid of my Ozone Scorpions so easily…. 

(evil laughter) 

Related Pages
Themed Army Idea: Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions
From Idea to Reality
FAQ about the Ozone Scorpions

Posted August 2003 


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle