Boy oh boy do I have my work cut out for me this episode because I decided to see if I can make Mandrakes useful. Well, here goes…
Mandrakes have Infiltrate, Move Through Cover, and Stealth, as well as a 5+ invul save on top of the normal Dark Eldary abilities, plus they have S 4. So far, they sound pretty cool, a nice cheap harassment unit that get a buff to it's cover save. However they are only T 3, have 2 attacks, and only 1 close combat weapon. which makes them a flaming cow turd for the 15 whopping pts you pay for.
Where the cost is justified is in their special shooting attack that is 18” S4 AP4 Assault 2 Pinning. There is a catch, you only get this when you have a pain token. So, the unit only becomes worth it’s points when it kills something, but it sucks at killing things until it kills something. Catch 22 much?
Those are some of the pros and cons on the unit, so let’s talk about how to use it so that you don’t waste all those points. Now, because it has Stealth and Infiltrate you will automatically want to use it to harass your enemy’s flanks. Unfortunately, there are very few units that the Mandrakes can effectively kill, never mind surviving to make the kill. You will have to be very careful as to what targets you choose, and you have to make sure you can kill them quickly because a prolonged fight against a durable unit is not something Mandrakes want.
Mandrakes can be used to harass backfield objectives against armies that push forward with the majority of their army and leave weak units to guard “home base”. Orks with artillery is a good example. The horde will surge forward and you can slip around the side and hopefully get an artillery piece by turn 3. This will then give you your decent shooting attack to do some proper harassment; of course the game is nearly over by now.
You can use them to counter infiltrate and kill off forward deployed units such as Tau Pathfinders.
However, I believe that these guys are a decent counter attack unit. A Haemonculus comes with a pain token, and an Aegis defense line gives you a 4+ cover save. Combining all these things gets you your shooting attack right off the hop and still gives you a 3+ cover.
Alternately you can take a Bastion, deploy it as close to the middle of the table as you can, and infiltrate these guys into it, because you are deploying in the building, you are out of LOS which means you only have to be outside of 12” from the enemy. Then you whittle down a unit with the rest of your army and finish it off with the heavy bolter or quad-gun on the bastion. BAM, pain token!
As a final attempt at making these awesome looking models worth using, bringing them onto the table with a Haemonculus via webway portal is another option. I’m not going to go into any tactics on how to use the webway portal, but since you can no longer assault if you come in from reserve, the Mandrakes, I think, can make the most out of the webway. This also sort of fits in with their fluff, being all sneaky and stealthy and partially extra-dimensional like, if you’re into that sort of thing.
If anyone has any units or ideas that they would like me to talk on, please list them in the comments.
Also, for you “easter egg” hunters out there, each episode has a clue as to what unit will be talked about next episode. You can post your guesses, there isn’t a prize or anything, cause I’m cheap, but it’ll be funny.