Codex: Drukhari – Finally Up to Speed

Finally, we land upon another codex for a Xenos faction within Warhammer 40,000. That’s right, there’s not a set of power armour to be seen! The Drukhari have always struck me as an army that’s easy to learn, yet difficult to master. The faction features so many nuances and considerations that the Drukhari should be able to scratch the itch of many players and their preferred styles of play. Let’s dive into the new codex and see how the Drukhari cater within Warhammer 40,000 9th edition.

The new codex follows the formulaic structure of the other codex releases. A smattering of lore, a breakdown of rules and then datasheets. The first thing that I noticed was the use of colour throughout the codex. Despite the old moniker of “Dark Eldar”, the book is strewn with delectable contrast, making it eye-catching to peruse. The light blue of the pages stands starkly against the dark trims and images, making this codex exceptionally pleasing to thumb through.

Within the Dark City

The first chunk of the codex is unsurprisingly focused on the lore, as we see in other codex releases. Codex: Drukhari explains the terrors and titillation of Commorragh. The Dark City sounds as harrowing as ever with the unending strife of political and gang warfare raging endlessly amongst the Drukhari. Vect does indeed make an appearance in writing, but that’s all we seem to see of him; no new model this time, folks!

Extra attention is taken to explain the intricacies differentiating the sub factions of the Drukhari. The Kabals, Wych Cults and Haemonculi Covens are still present throughout the book in both lore and rules. With 30 of the 120-pages dedicated to lore and background of the faction, it feels like a fair balance. Although, speaking personally, I’d be quite happy to see a little more.

There’s also a small chunk of model photography, around 10 pages or so. Within, there are plenty of differing paint schemes to show the breadth of visual variety you can attain with the models. It helps to once again drag the Drukhari model line away from the somewhat trope “black and dark green” paint schemes typically associated. The range of models is so varied and diverse that it’s good to see what can be achieved with some visual disparity from what is probably a little bit tired at this point.

Owning Commorragh

As is becoming a theme through these codex releases, I simply have to dive into the Crusade Mode rules and why I adore them so much. Codex: Drukhari takes Crusade Mode and gives it an apt and thematic Drukhari spin. Through Crusade games, Drukhari players accumulate Raid Spoil Points. These can then be spent to purchase territories within Commorragh that would unlock certain bonuses for your army. For instance, you can spend 1 Raid Spoil Point to roll a D66 on the Territory Table. I roll 65, unlocking “Blackforge”, a Raidcraft Workshop. Raidcraft Workshops Allow you to ignore one failed “Out of Action”test for a Drukhari vehicle. This would no doubt prove invaluable for players fielding plenty of Venoms and Raiders, as most likely would.

However, there’s a risk to this! Each time you acquire a territory, you must roll a D6. On a 1, your Ascendant Lord suffers an assassination attempt! This could leave them with a Battle Scar, adding a wonderful sense of risk and reward whilst still being appropriate for Drukhari. Just imagine your Archon backstabbing and cheating his way to owning a much-sought territory, only to be deceived and attacked in response – how very Drukhari!

Additional ingredients add to the Crusade mix including the expected relics, battle traits and weapon enhancements. For me, it’s the Territories and Raid Spoils that steal the show and make the narrative-focused Crusade Mode particularly enticing for my budding Drukhari force.

Detached from Realspace

Drukhari have always been something of an anomaly when it comes to army composition. Codex: Drukhari continues this and brings through some welcomed changes. The previously, you could field numerous Patrol Detachments for initial Command Points (CP). However, an update to Battalions nullified this near-entirely. Within the new book, if your entire army is comprised of Patrol Detachments, it costs 0CP to field. This feels somewhat enticing for those players who have sufficient units available to take advantage of this.

You are, as always, welcome to field a restricted force of solely Kabal, Wych Cults or Haemonculi Covens. However, there is a plethora of options for those looking to field a mixed Drukhari army. This is where Codex: Drukhari becomes a little strenuous, as there are a handful of things to consider.

Firstly, to have a “Realspace Raid” force, you must field an Archon as your warlord. Additionally, a Haemonculus and Succubus must be fielded, too. You must then also field at least one unit of Kabalite Warriors, Wyches and Wracks. This is quite a tax to take, but one that I would foresee many Drukhari players happy to pay in a mixed force to take advantage of everything they have to offer. With this detachment you gain Drukhari Obsessions for each <Kabal>, <Wych> and <Haemonculus Coven> unit within the detachment. This grants associated Relics with the Obsesssions, despite the Warlord not being of a Wych Cult of Coven. The Warlord also gains an Overlord ability, allowing nearby Core units to re-roll hits of 1.

It’s a lot to take in. In fact, the example shown in the book on page 66 takes up two entire pages! It feels like a bit of work to wrap your head around it and everything that the rules touch upon, but it feels like an investment. It gives Drukhari players the chance to really tinker with and tailor their list with numerous options and customisations. Be it down to the Wych Cult that their Succubus has ventured from and how it will integrate with this, to the Relics that the Archon will choose to take alongside his Kabalite Warriors as the Coven units tie up their foes.

The Raiders

There’s a great deal of content within Codex: Drukhari, so much that I can’t possibly cover in this article. However, I’ll do what I can! We’ve already seen some of the changes to Kabalites and Splinter Cannons, becoming deadlier. All whilst not changing in points cost at all, and that goes for Blasters and Shredders, too. This should make the new Drukhari Combat Patrol box all the more appealing. It really is the best Drukhari box in some time! With Venoms now having a capacity of 6 and the Raider becoming Toughness 6, the box seems the perfect force to start with or expand with.

Speaking of Drukhari boxes, Scourges seemed to come within most boxes in droves. With their absence in the Combat Patrol box, does that mean they’re now less alluring than they were? The cost of Scourges and their gear hasn’t changed, including Dark Lances which now deal 3+D3 damage, making them more reliable. Haywire Blasters also changed, now being Heavy D3, S3, AP-3 and D3 damage, whilst gaining Blast and always wounding Vehicles on a 4+ with unmodified Wound rolls of 6 dealing D3 Mortal Wounds in addition. Scourges have also gained an additional attack and their Invulnerable Save is now 5+ as opposed to 6+. I don’t know outright if these changes are enough to make them an auto-include. However, I’m keen to see how they perform, especially with them being slightly more difficult to wipe off the table.

Reaver Jetbikes have gained an additional attack whilst dropping to 10 points per model, halving from their previous cost! Heat Lances are now Heavy 1 at S8, AP-4 and Damage at D6+2, also whilst not changing in points. I’d always been enamored with the sleek and dangerous look of the Reavers. Thus, this massive drop in points makes them particularly tempting to field in a Wych Cult army.

One particular unit to has seen a big change is the Court of the Archon. Previously, you’d field each character as an individual unit which would make for easy pickings for snipers and assassins. Within the new Codex: Drukhari, they’re back to being grouped together in a unit. They must be a minimum of four (of your choosing), but can seemingly be taken at a maximum of four of each – a 16-model Court of the Archon! Whilst such a visage would be preposterous, it certainly presents players with options, especially as it doesn’t consume a detachment slot. Sslyth are still able to prevent the Archon from being shot at whilst close by, so this extra layer of protection will keep your Archon alive a little longer.

Complicated Affairs

Overall, Codex: Drukhari feels like it brings the faction to where it should be. Whilst it’s unfortunate that the Codex is lacking a Lord of War where Vect should clearly be sat, it’s no deal-breaker. For me, Drukhari are now a viable option and more than anything else I’m excited to see how these changes translate onto the tabletop. With Raiders and Venoms getting slight improvements and the Kabalite Warriors getting an increased save, it really fuels my inspiration for an all-Kabal force to sweep across the table in transports.

Elements of the book do seem quite verbose. The wordiness especially can make things seem a bit more complex than they are. I’d not say this would be enough to put someone off the faction, but it simply further emphasises that Drukhari are not a one-dimensional army. There are many facets and moving parts in a strong Drukhari army. These all need to be learned and nailed-down to achieve the best results. Codex: Drukhari feels like a manifestation of this, for better and for worse.

Generally speaking, as a Drukhari player, I’m very excited. It’s impossible to say if we’ll see Drukhari climb up the tournament tables in a Space Marine-dominted world, but one can certainly hope. Be it through sheer numbers of blades and Splinter Rifles, or through dizzying speed and hit-and-run attacks, the Drukhari have arrived in 9th edition. Be wary of them and the tricks they hold up their sleeves, for if you or your opponent take your eyes off them for even a moment, things will get very sour, very quickly for one of you.

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Article originally written by the author for The Unrelenting Brush blog in affiliation with Boards and Swords Hobbies.

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