Monday, 20 May 2013

Dark Eldar: Mathhammer Part 1

Dark Eldar: Mathhammer Part 1

So with the introduction of the Tau Empire, I was looking at moving back to a pure Dark Eldar army. The tricksy tricks of eldrad don’t provide a solution to tau whose rate of fire can only be combatted with…. Rate of fire and possibly speed. The question I now have facing me is well….. what should the make up of dark light and splinter weaponry be? Well the answer may lie in a bit of Mathhammer!


So lets have a look at the weaponry at our disposal and how we can get it in the list.

Dark Light:

Dark Lances,

Lets forget about the blaster pistol cause frankly its just too expensive. These are all our Strength 8 Ap2 weaponry. Useful for killing all the av2 nasties around at the moment aswell as tanks.

Splinter weaponry:

Splinter Cannon
Splinter Rifle
Splinter Pistol
Splinter Carbine

High Volumn of posion 4+ whats not to love? Good at killing marines, monsters and anything that has stepped foot outside a transport. With such a mass of ways to get these in the list getting A LOT of these shots is relatively easy.

Other ranged weaponry:

Heat Lances are good but require a very short range, The ravagers can use disentegrators which are good but not as all purpose as dark lances. At this point its hard to think of anything else a dark elder player needs rather than the above two sets of weaponry.

Unit options:

Lets start with heavy support. In my opinion these 3 slots should allways include 3 ravagers with dark lances. Why no flyers? As a alpha strike army using up a heavy support slot reduces the alpha strike and gives less options for an opponent to shoot. It also means the balance I’ll talk about later is easier to make

Fast attack holds two options for the above: Reavers and Scourges. Scourges are too easy to kill and too expensive. These therefore should be discarded imo there are cheaper options. Reavers however bring a little durability and can perform two functions. Filling these guys with darklight doesn’t adversely affect there troop killing ability due to sweeping. If your going for quantity (as I am) I don’t think this is a viable choice. If your going tricksy, then this is a perfect option.

Transports are easy. Both the venom and the raider are cheap and both have dark light. I prefer the venom A LOT more but ill get into that in a bit as it’ll require mathhammer.

Troops and Elites have the Trueborn and the dark elder warrior. Both can take darklight and splinter cannons. There are also relatively cheap. I’d stress here I’d never fill uptransports with just these two units. Wych’s are essential to threaten high armoured vehicles and give a small combat advantage now and again.


So essentially this is where things get geeky and mathematical.

Mathhammer is based on probability. This doesn’t show potential outcomes. Yes I know a dark lance can kill a land raider that’s obscured but what is the chance of actually doing that?

The formula for that would be as follows:
Chance to hit x Chance to Penetrate x Chance that opponent doesn’t save x Chance to Kill

So: 4/6 x 2/6 x 3/6 x 2/6 = 48/1296 or 1/27… not good!

Mathhammer for Dark Eldar

Essentially when I start building a list with the following in mind

Splinter wounds: 2/6
Dark Light wounds: 5/9
Dark Light Penetrates: 2/9

So 1 Dark Lance or Blaster shot is pretty useless. To get a pen on a vehicle you need (approximately) 4 lances. To wound 3 broadsides you’d need around 5 lances to shoot them and so on.


Now I said I preferred Venoms earlier. Aside from the underlying advantages (flicker field/Size) The gun is the best here. 12 Venom shots produces 4 wounds against it’s target whatever it’s toughness whereas a raider throws out one lance shot. The chance that one lance will do anything is very low. The chance a venom will kill or wound something is very high.

That isn’t the end of the argument. Dark lances are obviously better against multi wounded foes and obviously a venom can’t effect a vehicle at all. But there are cheaper ways to get dark light in the list. Remember this is volumn of fire list.

A ravager for example gets in 3 Dark lances for 105 points. To get that many from raiders that’s 180 pts. That’s 75 points saving per lance. Id rather spend less for a lance.


The Dark Eldar list is now a balancing act. How many Splinter/Dark Light shots do we need? How many units can we fit in and still have a well functioning army? My advice here is don’t take options just so you can fit in more of one weapon. Scourges are fine but using them to get more splinter fire isn’t going to work.

Next time I’m going to go through my Pure Dark Eldar Army and I’ll point out how many shots and why I’ve chosen the units I have.

Till then!


  1. Interesting article. :D

    This might be useful to you, someone did a really good maths break down on how many lances/lance equivalents you should expect to take.

    On another note I take it you are looking forward to the new eldar codex as much as the rest of us DE players. I look forward to listening to your podcast codex break down when it comes out. :)

  2. thats interesting Mush but i really don't think, relying on millisons of dark lances solves everythoing, but then again ill get to that the next ost!

    Yeah the Eldar are the first new addition to the Dark Eldar Army (feels weird saying that!) cant wait to see how it effects my army selection!