• Coming in at a not inconsiderable 100 points for 10 Darkshards, you can also increase the unit size to a maximum of 40.
I’d recommend giving them shields to boost survivability (5+ to save re-rolling 1’s, and 1’s and 2’s in combat).
• Thanks to ‘Lethal Coordination’, a unit of 20 or more Darkshards (or a smaller unit within 6” of enough other Darkshards, Bleakswords or Dreadspears to make 20 models) adds +1 to hit, meaning they’ll now hit on a hugely reliable 4+.
With a generous 16” range, a unit you’ve sunk 200 points into will cause a whopping 20 hits and 10 wounds on average. If they have a 4+ save, that’s 5 whole wounds!
How’s that for fearsome Aelven shooting? Only top tier players need rend or any sort of reasonable range on their missile weapons!
If your enemy survives that murderstorm of bolts and has the temerity to charge you, Darkshards have a single 5+ to hit and 5+ to wound attack to look forward to. Elite.
• Unlike every single other Darkling Covens Battleline Unit, there’s no horde discount for taking larger units. Why anyone would bother sinking 400 points into a unit of Darkshards is beyond me. Literally every other battleline unit in the Darkling Covens faction is a far better choice for your points.
Units That Synergise With It
- Other Darkshards, Bleakswords and Dreadspears using the Darkling Covens ‘Lethal Coordination’ battle trait
- An allied Knight-Azyros could help them re-roll 1’s to hit, but taking one to try and make Darkshards good is like trying to polish a turd…
Units it Synergises With
- Other Darkshards, Bleakswords and Dreadspears using the Darkling Covens ‘Lethal Coordination’ battle trait.
- You can also stab one of them within 3” of your Sorceresses to get a handy +2 to casting rolls until your next hero phase using her ‘Blood Sacrifice’ ability. This is probably the most efficient use of Darkshards.
- Lethal Coordination: This improves the output of any of your basic 3 battle line units (Darkshards, Bleakswords and Dreadspears) if they are within 6” of each other. Darkshards get the worst bonus out of this rule compared to the other two units though.
- “Oh mighty Lord Malerion, Morathi, Teclis and Tyrion, hear my humble plea and make this unit worth taking when we finally get a battletome”
The nastiest thing about Darkling Covens is their Thrall Warhost Warscroll Batallion. This is the only batallion available, but it can cause some serious and unexpected damage when combined with Executioners or Black Guard.
How to Use the Unit in Game
Darkshards are too pricey to act as a good screening unit, don’t really have enough range to shoot from behind other units to support effectively and don’t do enough damage to be worth considering. Take Bleakswords instead.
Or, if you really want to shoot, an allied Celestar Ballista costs the same amount of points as a unit of 10 but will actually do something.
Pros & Cons
• Like all Darkling Covens units, they do look pretty cool on the tabletop.
• If you take them in your army, people will either respect your commitment to the narrative, will think you have some sneaky Darkshards tricks up your sleeve or don’t understand just how bad they are.
• All of them. One of the worst units in the game for their points cost. Don’t do it, they are just not worth spending time trying to make work.
• You will literally waste gaming time picking up, counting and rolling a huge amount of dice, only to have their shooting do very little, if any damage.
Wait until the next GHB or the Battletome comes out and if they don’t get any better or much cheaper, fill the GW rules feedback email inbox with feedback about how crappy Darkshards are. Why are you still reading this? No one plays Darkling Covens…
If you really must insist on making a unit of them, cut the arms off the back of the shields you get in the kit for making Dreadspears & Bleakswords, file the backs down and glue them to their backs – so the shields look like they’re slung over their back.
Alternatively, try to track down some of the shields that were in the previous edition of Dark Elf Spearmen/Repeater Crossbows plastic kit as they don’t have any arms already attached.
Pretty sure there’d be a few available on EBay from people who didn’t massively overreact and burn their old Dark Elf armies…
The new multi-kit that they come in is pretty quick to put together, as for most of the unit it’s really just the 2 arms and helmet crests you have to glue on.
Currently, you’ll also need to buy some additional 25mm round bases to AoS-ify the unit.
You can really go to town with the details on these guys, but just basecoats and a wash will still look great. The only challenging part to paint in detail is the crossbow bolts held in the magazine – they’re not easily accessible with a brush and have curved cutouts which overlap the bolts.