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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Army List: Evil Clowns 1850 pts Counter-Meta

Here is an 1850 pts Harlequins and Dark Eldar army list in response to this reader request:

"Any recommendations when the meta is heavily armored transports and Eldar D strength weaponry builds? I am desiring to build an 1850 and 2000 point Harlequin/Dark Eldar army that will chew up multiple tanks, Imperial Knights, and be holding the Objectives at the end while still being able to contest those spammy Craftworld players."

Let's see if we can create a competitive build out of two second-tier Factions.

Destroying Heavy Armour

Both Harlequins and Dark Eldar are quite capable of dealing with heavy armour, thanks to their access to Haywire weapons. Harlequins have the edge on their Kabalite cousins here, since they can take MSU Skyweaver squads with Haywire Cannons, which are faster, tougher and more versatile than Scourges.

Surviving D Weapons

The best way to counter D weapons is with a MSU build. Those 300 pts Wraithknights aren't too impressive when they're nuking 50-100 pts redundant units. Both Harlequins and Dark Eldar can build MSU—Dark Eldar are one of the best Factions for this approach—but you have to be careful to keep your clown squads cheap.

Destroying Mass Armour

If you're bringing Haywire weapons then you've got anti-armour covered, but if you're playing against Space Marine double-Demi builds with 10+ light vehicles then you need to be capable of spreading all that Haywire lovin' around. But since we're already building MSU style to counter D weapons (damage compartmentalisation) we also enjoy the benefit of threat distribution, and should be able to deal with mass armour equally well to heavy armour.

Holding Objectives

Again, building MSU style helps a lot with scoring VP from Objectives. Noting that this reader request called for "holding the Objectives at the end" i.e. Eternal War missions, if we bring lots of Jetbike and Fast Skimmer units then we should be capable of winning through good old Eldar Ninja Tactics if nothing else. Objective Secured is essential so you can "contest those spammy Craftworld players", so we'll want a Combined Arms Detachment somewhere in this army list.

Evil Space Clowns from Space

Putting all these principles together, we can build a list that looks something like this:
Combined Arms Detachment: Dark Eldar
Court of the Archon, 1x Lhamean, Venom [75]
Kabalite Warriors, 4x Warrior, Sybarite (Warlord), Venom [105]
Kabalite Warriors, 5x Warrior, Venom [105]
Fast Attack
Razorwing Jetfighter, 2x Dark Lance, Splinter Cannon [150]
Razorwing Jetfighter, 2x Dark Lance, Splinter Cannon [150]
Razorwing Jetfighter, 2x Dark Lance, Splinter Cannon [150]
Heavy Support
Ravager, 3x Dark Lance, Nightshield [140]
Ravager, 3x Dark Lance, Nightshield [140]
Formation: Scalpel Squadron
Wracks, 5x Wrack, Venom [115]
Wracks, 5x Wrack, Venom [115]
Formation: Faolchu's Blade
Skyweavers, 2x Skyweaver, 2x Haywire Cannon [110]
Skyweavers, 2x Skyweaver, 2x Haywire Cannon [110]
Voidweaver, 2x Shuriken Cannon, Haywire Cannon [75]
Formation: Faolchu's Blade
Skyweavers, 2x Skyweaver, 2x Haywire Cannon [110]
Skyweavers, 2x Skyweaver, 2x Haywire Cannon [110]
Voidweaver, 2x Shuriken Cannon, Haywire Cannon [75]
1845 pts
This army wants to go second whenever possible, and null-deploy; your Scalpel Squadron Venoms will automatically arrive from Deep Strike Reserve on your first turn, so you have the opportunity to completely deny one turn of enemy shooting. If those Venoms also manage to gank an enemy squad then you get D3 VP for First Blood as a nice little bonus.

The token Sybarite is just there so you can have a character Warlord and get a rerollable Strategic Trait; if you're more concerned about giving up your Warlord VP easily then don't take an Sybarite, and instead designate the Lhamean as your Warlord and hide her out of LOS all game. But I would probably rather risk 1 VP to get a decent Trait.

This army comprises a total of twenty units, not counting the mostly useless Lhamean. No single unit is critical to success, so you have little to fear from D weapons. You have two Objective Secured Fast Skimmers, and two Objective Secured squads, which is not huge but should help you counter-ninja Craftworld opponents. The Venoms should Deep Strike, and the squads should independently walk on from Reserve, so you can preserve them for scoring. Whilst lacking Objective Secured, your four Jetbike squads are still good Objective grabbers—remember that Faolchu's Blade units reroll Jink saves, and all have an invulnerable save too for a bit more resilience.

Your anti-armour firepower comprises:

  • 10 Haywire Blasters on six different units
  • 12 Dark Lances on five different units
On an average turn you should attrite about 12 HP from your opponent (before saves), so you can drop Knights fairly well and grind through neo-Razor spam too.

Your anti-personnel firepower comprises:

  • 13 Splinter Cannon on eight different units
  • 4 Shuriken Cannon on two different units
  • 12 Monoscythe Missiles on three different units
  • 8 Star Bolas on four different units
That's plenty of shooting to deal with infantry and Monsters alike, but against Gargantuans you will be relying on your Dark Lances instead—the Flyer Dark Lances in particular, which are less vulnerable to Gargantuans.


By adhering to MSU building principles, and making best use of Formations, it is possible to build second-tier Faction lists that can give the top-tier Factions a run for their money. Of course, you will need to play well to compete with the raw firepower of Craftworlds, Necrons and Space Marines, but victory is never out of reach of the skilful...


  1. This might be the first time I've honestly been impressed with a Harlequin Detachment, haha. I'll have to try it out sometime! Excellent read, keep it up.

  2. Thanks Erik, I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Don't you need an Archon to unlock the Court of the Archon?

    "Retainers: For each Archon included in a Detachment, the Detachment can include a Court of the Archon that does not take up a slot on the Force Organisation chart."

  4. No, but it's a common misconception.

    The Court of the Archon has a 'HQ' Battlefield Role symbol. This means that it can be taken as a HQ slot. The Retainers rule just allows you to take one non-slot Court per Archon in the same Detachment.