I play several variants of Dark Eldar, so I'll respond with more than just the brief "weee, I missile-killed all the reavers!" I already mentioned.
Ire wrote:Think of the DE as a scalpel. Their greatest strength is in their offensive capbilities and mobility - where *they* deploy is actually less important than where *you* deploy, as they are most likely not staying where they start, but are coming to you.
A good DE player has his target priorities down pat, and he'll look at spreading your forces out with diversions and bait so that he can get at the unit he really wants to kill. Having no way around your hardened front rank to the creamy center can be very frustrating to a DE player, so as I said, the key is to fortress up, kill his transports/mobility, then once hes left with just footdar and your jet packs have mobility on him, then you can go hunting.
This is dead on the money. Whether I'm fielding Duke Sliscus with a two cannon squad (trueborn with carbines in raider, 20 elf foot squad), running the Baron with Hellions, or pulling Haemonculi cult shenanigans I need to have my targets prioritized. I need to know where my reavers will do the most significant damage--not just the most, but the most significant--and I need to determine where to focus my firepower to help isolate a target, or to plant bait in order to draw out a target.
BlueFin wrote:Dark Eldar do what is referred to a slicing the pie. They shave off parts of your army using their extremely high mobility and then via localized superiority they remove that part. The army focuses on using its mobility to enhance its 'dagger' type of play.
Expanding on this, mobility isn't just used to isolate targets. Mobility allows the Dark Eldar player to pounce on any element that ends up isolated through mistakes on their opponent's part, through successful bombing/missile runs from their aircraft, through precise application of medium-long range weaponry (lances, cannons), or target saturation.
As a Dark Eldar player, you look for openings and exploit them. If they don't exist, you create them.
Oddly enough, this kind of thinking worked well for mobile/mech Tau--however, we're not as mobile as we used to be, as the Dark Eldar player pointed out in the battle report link(s) provided.
BlueFin wrote:So how do we stop this? There are 3 keys and they are:
Cut the cutter - target priority is hugely important against Dark Eldar. You have to be able to target and remove his 'slicing' elements - these usually include reavers and occasionally a scary CC unit in a Raider. So we want to use our tools to remove those - for reavers it is using our markerlights to nullify their otherwise great cover save and punish their 5+ save. Against the Raider CC unit it is a bit trickier because we cannot 'laser focus' on its removal to the detriment of the rest of the game. Generally I find a turn of focused fire about a turn before a potential assault will do the job. Remember to take advantage of the fact that our guns can penetrate their armor.
I had great success in cutting my opponent's cutters with the TL-SMS due to the system's special rules. Other systems that can punish overly-aggressive reavers include the AFP and the always fun flamers (and the TL flamers). If you're bringing someone who can take on signature systems, there's a system that outright denies cover as well--at the expense of the bearer itself not firing. Marker lights received a boost in their ability to strip cover that makes them more efficient against 4+ or better cover saves than our previous codex.
For the killy CC unit in a raider sneaking up, between their jink save and potential flickerfield, I'm less inclined to put a heavy investment of firepower on them until they're at about 24-30" from my guns. My opponent in my last Dark Eldar game was using two 6-bike reaver squadrons and an archon with 9 bloodbrides in a raider as his dagger elements. Target priority went to killing the reavers first (accomplished in turn 1), because their 48" threat bubble ensures that if I moved out of my castle, I would lose units to their caltrops and bladevanes. The raider can dart up as fast as it likes to drop off the bloodbrides wherever it wants (it did, they finished off my missile-sides--which I left out as bait for them), as long as it cannot get into the core of my castle. My opponent's intent was to bladevane elements to isolate units and finish them off with the bloodbrides, while his hellions and fighters kept my firepower tied up--at least until the bloodbrides gain FNP.
BlueFin wrote:Don't deploy on his terms
These are the most important pieces of advice. Deploy on your terms and on the terms of the terrain
. Put your firepower where it has overlapping fields of fire and wide open shooting galleries, but have your elements postured to make use of Supporting Fire and to cover flanks and prevent being run over. Dark Eldar aren't holding still, so don't worry about lining up the perfect shot on elements that are deployed as is. They won't be there when it comes time for you to actually shoot--unless your opponent wants you to waste shots on it.
Above all else: don't panic.
Play like you're a stubborn leadership 10 command and control drone that can reroll failed leadership checks. Have fun, enjoy the thrills and chills of near misses and the agony of things dying or overheating when you need them most--but never panic. BlueFin's description of establishing threat bands is spot on the money. Flip open the Dark Eldar codex and look at the threat range of their weapons and elements. Look at the weaknesses and strengths of each element. Hellions are fast and hit hard, but die quite fast if you're lobbing out large blast templates that are S5+ when they bunch up, or hammer with storm of fire on a rifle squad (trust me, they will be close enough) if they spread out. Beastpacks are fast and can hit hard and be resilient, until their handlers die. Then their leadership drops to the point where you can count on pinning them reliably (ATS on stealth suits with gun drones can do this within a single unit). All of their vehicles are spiky cardboard boxes--they will collapse under fire--that function at what the Tau consider medium range. They are anti-infantry par excellence across the board.
All this being said, you don't need to tailor your list to deal with the Dark Eldar. Cover-denial from SMS works wonders against Orks, IG, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Tyranids, and other Tau. Marker lights and medium to long-range high strength attacks have a purpose against all forces that aren't coming in massive hordes of small elements. With deployment and maneuver considerations, that depends entirely on what your opponent brings and the table looks like--and functions almost independently of your army construction (if you're building to castle up, then castle up according to the terrain--otherwise adapt your maneuvering to the terrain and availability/threat of targets).