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Themed Army Ideas
From Idea to Reality
Getting started <> Color schemes <> Raider Squads <> Transports <> Warriors <> 
Haemonculi/Talos <> Reavers <> Wyches <> Warp Beasts <> Archon <> Final

From Idea to Reality, Part 10: Archon 
It almost goes without saying that a Dark Eldar army should be led by an Archon. I’ve seen (and played against) an army led by a Dracon, and armies centered around Haemonculi are becoming more and more common, but I (and a lot of DE players) prefer the Archon. The Archon can be extremely effective on the battlefield (he’s a hand-to-hand nightmare) and works well from a “fluff” or background, standpoint. He’s the Main Villain, the Evil Overlord, the Big Bad Guy.

When I was creating the initial idea for the Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions, I found it helpful (and fun!) to create a history and personality for my Archon, then create the army to complement that idea. I’ve had to make some adjustments for playability, but I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. 

My Kabal is a “cult of personality”: Archon Syryx Lynatharr, a raving madman, rules the others through guile and fear. He has surrounded himself with many Warriors, whose leaders he sets at odds to keep them from plotting against him. Utterly paranoid, he eschews Incubi guards and has only a small cadre of Elite fighters (10 Wyches and 5 Warp Beasts). His most trusted servants are his Reavers, and even they are few in numbers. Three Haemonculi, who each control a single Talos, attend Syryx, but they, too, are aligned against each other. Thus, while Lynatharr has many external enemies (including the Fighting Tigers of Veda and Asdrubael Vect), he has few threats from within his own organization.

The Kabal was exiled from Commorragh after losing a power struggle against Vect’s Kabal of the Black Heart. Lynatharr and his Scorpions descended on Veda before its re-discovery by the Imperium and enslaved the native population. The Fighting Tigers surprised the decadent Eldar, captured Lynatharr, and drove the rest of the Kabal into the Maelstrom, a nearby area of space similar to the Eye of Terror. Lynatharr managed to escape and rejoin the Kabal, but his sanity had snapped after centuries of confinement. Now he plots revenge on the Tigers, the destruction of Veda, and a return to Commorragh. 

The Archon
There are a couple of problems with having an Archon in your army. The first problem is that just about every Dark Eldar army has an Archon, and each is toting the same stuff: shadow field, agonizer, and combat drugs. And who can blame anyone for that? Even without those wargear goodies, the Archon is a hand-to-hand monster, even more so if you surround him with the Nigh-Ubiquitous Incubi Bodyguard. Tedious, perhaps, but sometimes you have to go with what works, especially given the limited choices in Codex: Death Twinkies.

The second problem with the Archon is that he attracts a LOT of gunfire. To get your Archon (and his Incubi) into the relative safety of hand-to-hand combat, you may be sorely tempted to put them in a Raider. Doing so might get your Blade Boss into the thick of things earlier, but it also makes him Target Numero Uno for any opponent of yours with some heavy weapons and an IQ over 15. While your shadow field-protected Lord is likely to survive the crash of his ride, it’s a safe bet that some of his bodyguard won’t, and in any event, then they’ll have to plod along on foot. If your opponent is bright enough to down your Archon’s Raider right off the bat, you can be sure he will be bright enough to sit tight and let your Archon come to him, through a storm of weapon fire. After, that is, he’s killed all your other Death Twinkies. 

The Role of the Archon
In the interests of saving points, of protecting my Archon, and of doing something moderately different, I decided to forgo the nigh-obligatory Archon + Incubi + Raider combo. Instead, I put my Archon on a Reaver Jetbike, which does a number of interesting things:

  • increases Strength and Toughness to 4;
  • provides 12" move, ignoring terrain, and a 24" turbo-boost move;
  • allows him to join my Reavers and grant them the benefit of his Leadership 9.
Under the current rules, it’s a lot easier to shoot a vehicle than a character within 2" of a squad. Reavers are just as zippy as Raiders and don’t suck in hand-to-hand combat either. Granted, Reavers are not the assault monsters that Incubi are, but I’ve decided to trade punching power for speed and survivability. While it’s easy to shoot down a Raider and make everyone on board walk, there’s no way your opponent can take your bike away from you. 

So now that I have (hopefully) bettered my chances of the Archon getting into close combat (where he excels), what toys should he play with when he arrives?

Let’s start with the obvious ones. I hate doing the “popular” thing, but there really is no substitute for the shadow field and its 2+ invulnerable save. True, the jetbike offers a 4+ invulnerable save, but only when using the turbo-booster: other than that, your Big Bad Honcho is relying on his 5+ armor save. No thanks. 

The agonizer is normally a “no brainer” choice for an Archon. For 20 points, it wounds anything on a 4+, ignores armor saves, and can even do a Glancing Hit to a vehicle on a 6. Sounds good, and usually is—if your Archon is on foot. 

The Reaver Jetbike jacks your Archon’s Strength to 4, meaning you’ll wound your average Space Marine (Chaos or Loyal) and Ork on a 4+. Furthermore, you’ll wound your average Guardsman, Tau, Goody Two-Shoe (i.e. Craftworld) Eldar, and Potential Rivals For Power (i.e. Dark Eldar) on a 3+. Keen, huh?

Sure, you’d want an agonizer for going after Plague Marines, Greater Daemons, Wraithlords, Big Nids, or anything else with a Toughness of 5 or higher—but why would you want your Archon to get up close and personal with tough guys like that? Your Archon might get hurt tangoing with them, and no self-respecting Death Twinkie ever rose to power by picking fights he or she wasn’t 100% certain of winning. No, no, no—while it might be tempting (and gratifying) to try to beat a Wraithlord or a Hive Tyrant at its own game, better to use your agility to avoid such opponents and leave them to your kabal’s dark lances, blasters, and other Weapons of Mass Destruction ™.

(And as for using an agonizer against vehicles: if you’re so desperate that you’re counting on a Glancing Hit from an agonizer to take out a tank, you’ve lost that game anyway)

No, I intend to save 5 points and go with the good old power weapon. Backed up by the Strength 4 from the Reaver Jetbike, it should be good enough for the typical battle. I will leave myself the option of upgrading the power weapon to an agonizer (in case I’m against an army with lots of Plague Marines, for instance), but don’t foresee much need for it.

There’s not an Archon in (or outside) Commorragh that “just says no” to combat drugs, and I certainly see no reason why mine should either. Lots of players like to pile on the dope, betting that their Main Guy won’t suffer an overdose, but I prefer to be more cautious. Let’s take a look at each drug effect and I’ll give you my comments as to how they would pertain to Syryx. 

Effect A: “Make 12" assault move and 3d6 pursuit/fall back move”
The only thing to gain here would be an extra 6" of assault distance, as a jetbike already gives a 3d6 pursuit/fallback. I suppose by a strictly technical interpretation of the rules this is legal to use with a jetbike, but it defies common sense (“So let me get this straight: your Archon takes a dose of adrenaline and all of a sudden the machine he’s riding on moves faster?”). When I encounter legal gray areas like this I apply the “Don’t Go There” Principle: when in doubt, forget it and do something else. I know I wouldn’t want someone trying to pull this [male bovine excrement] on me, so I certainly won’t attempt it myself.

Effect B: “+1 WS”
An Archon already has WS 6, which hits anything you should be fighting against on a 3+. WS 7 will also not do jack for you when fighting Marines or Orks, who will still hit your guy on a 4+. WS 7 is better than WS 6 when fighting opponents of comparable ability, but if your guy needs WS 7, he’s in the wrong fight. 

Effect C: “+1 S”
The jetbike gives your Archon Strength 4, good enough to wound Space Marines and Orks on a 4+. I suppose you could use this option to go to Strength 5, but I argue that Effect E should be your first choice.

Effect D: “ Always strike first, regardless of cover or weapons”
Your Archon has Initiative of 7, for God’s sake. How much faster do you want to be? You already beat everything out there that you should be fighting. If your Archon needs to have Initiative 8, he’s probably not going to survive against whatever he’s fighting.

“What about targets in cover?” Why the heck are you going after guys in cover? You don’t have enough targets out in the open?

Effect E: “Re-roll any misses in close combat”
In my opinion, this one is mandatory. This option almost guarantees that every attack hits. If you combine this with Effect C (“+1 S”), your Archon will carve through almost anybody he can reach.

Effect F: “+1 Attack”
Your guy starts out with 3 attacks and will have an extra one for charging. So the Reaver Jetbike doesn’t let you use a second weapon to gain an extra attack: waaaah. Take a tormentor helm for a measly 5 points and get your additional attack that way. Now you’re up to 4 attacks, 5 when charging—and you want MORE? 

It’s important to remember that you can switch combat drugs during the battle. But for Syryx Lynatharr, Effect E is my first choice. If I need or want to, I’ll combine with Effect C. 

I like to pick wargear for my characters based on what the model actually has. So in addition to the items I mentioned above, Lynatharr will have a hell mask and a tormentor helm.

Modeling and Painting the Archon
As I had assembled the models for this army, I had used two visual themes: “scorpions” and “fallen Eldar.” I had used “scorpion” visual elements with:

Scorpion bikesGiant scorpion figure
Above: "Scorpion" visual elements used throughout the Dark Eldar army

I had used “fallen Eldar” visual elements with:

Malekyth the AccursedWych
When Eldar go bad, they do it well. Left: Converted Harlequin. Right: Wych with Striking Scorpion helm 

I wanted to continue using those themes with my last piece, the Archon.

As you can see below, the Lynatharr figure uses the miniature for Karandras, the Striking Scorpion Phoenix Lord; I wanted to do only minimal conversion work so that people would easily make the connection between them. 

Syryx Lynatharr
Above: Syryx Lynatharr, Archon of the Ozone Scorpions

I removed Karandras’ right arm and replaced it with a claw from the GW Giant Scorpion figure I had used for the Beastmaster. Like the rest of the Ozone Scorpions, Lynatharr has suffered severe mutations through his exposure to strange radiation deep within the Maelstrom, where the Kabal has made its new home. The claw is one of these mutations and will serve as an equivalent to a power weapon, able to snip through armor with ease. Not to mention, it provides some much-need distinction between the Karandras and my Archon—can’t have people getting confused and asking why a Phoenix Lord is leading my Dark Eldar, can I?

To further this distinction I also removed the blade of the chainsword from the figure’s other arm, but here I ran into a problem. The hilt basket of the sword is molded right against the figure’s leg and I couldn’t remove it without significant damage to the mini. Instead of trying to remove it, I decided to hide it. I wrapped some plastic mesh from a small fruit crate around the figure’s hand until the basket hilt was totally obscured. The mesh represents a net that Lynatharr uses to snare captives. The net has no effect in game terms, but it looks very much in character and even fits in well with the rules, as a character riding a Reaver Jetbike cannot use two weapons anyway. 

As I mentioned above, I like to pick wargear based on what the figure already has. Karandras’ helmet makes a great tormentor helm; with a few added spikes it can also sport a hell mask. Karandras has a few belt pouches—these can hold his combat drugs, and the big pack on his back is a shadow field generator.

Archon on jetbikeSyryx on his jetbike
Above: Syryx Lynatharr on his jetbike, a converted Vyper. How about them claws?

Because I painted my army in Enchanted Blue and Mithril Silver, I thought it very apropos to represent Lynatharr’s shadow field with a coat of Chaos Black from head to toe. Just straight black is a bit boring though, so I drybrushed it with Enchanted Blue and Mithril Silver. I picked out Lynatharr’s eye lenses and the scorpion emblem on this chest with Blood Red to further break up the monotony. He’s still a dark figure, but I think he will stand out among his colorful sycophants. 

I wanted Lynatharr’s jetbike to be suitably grand, so stealing an idea I’d see from Eldar players, I converted a Vyper to be his ride. I cut down the canopy and mounted Lynatharr on the back, using a piece from the Vyper’s rear weapon as a kind of stirrup to hold his foot to the bike (we can’t have the Lord of the Ozone Scorpions falling off whenever the turbo boost engages, can we?). 

Lynatharr with Reaver escorts
Above: Lynatharr with Reaver escorts

I added some Death Twinkie decorations—panels and blades from a Ravager, some mechanical “claws” made from bits off a Raider, ubiquitous spikes from the Warrior sprue—and gave Lynatharr a driver. For myReavers,I had used Eldar Guardian jetbike riders, but this time I chose a regular GW Reaver figure (below) because my Archon and his bike were already converted using “Goody Two-Shoes” Eldar miniatures, and I wanted another visual Dark Eldar element. 

The Reaver’s torso fit quite well onto the legs of the Guardian driver that came with the Vyper. By happy accident, the figure is throwing his head back: either he’s baying out a fierce war cry or he’s just trying to see what direction the Archon is pointing at ("Which way do you want me to go?").

The driver
Above: The driver, who's smart enough NOT to suggest 
pulling over and asking directions

Like my Reavers and my Raiders, the bike is mounted very low to the table (hey, it’s a skimmer, isn’t it?) and based the same way. 

From Idea to Reality
Getting started <> Color schemes <> Raider Squads <> Transports <> Warriors <> 
Haemonculi/Talos <> Reavers <> Wyches <> Warp Beasts <> Archon <> Final

Related Pages
Themed Army Idea: Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions
Armies of the Jungle: Kabal of the Ozone Scorpions

Posted February 2002


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