- "Do not scorn these citizen-soldiers, for they have won many a battle - and their lives are expendable should an occasion arise when you must sacrifice part of your army to achieve a victory in the name of King Malekith. Lead your army with conviction and brook no interference, but also do not overlook the pettier leaders who serve under you. Make your orders well known to the nobles and lordlings who bow to your command, that they may more effectively take to the field and execute your strategy."
- —Furion of Clar Karond[3a]
Dark Elven Warriors form the bulk of most Dark Elf armies, being composed mostly of civilian volunteers and conscripts. The Dark Elves are a warrior race descended from the noble people of Nagarythe, thus all Dark Elves possess a certain degree of martial skill. The Dark Elves are descendants of the brave warrior-folk that dwelt in Nagarythe during the reign of Aenarion. They are raised from birth as soldiers and raiders, learning early on in their lives that they have only that which they can take.[2a]
Though their natural mistrust and selfishness occasionally undermines discipline, Dark Elves make up for this with heartfelt bitterness and are united by their mutual loathing for all other creatures. The role of these warriors is to defend against enemy counter-attacks threatening the flanks of other formations, and to protect the army's war machines and missile troops. All Elves are swift, and Druchii spear regiments can march quickly to seize ground or respond to the enemy general's plan. These spear troops provide a solid cadre of soldiers that allows the more unstable warriors in the army to roam freely, slaughtering at will.[2a]
Regiments of Dark Elves are made up of warriors, both male and female, drawn from the same city, and often the same extended family. Such formations are usually agreed upon not long before battle, as shifting politics and sudden promotions or executions make any kind of formal army structure impossible. Dark Elves sworn to a particular lord or ruling house will fight under the banner of their masters, though this has been known to change over time, and some regiments may even shift loyalty within the course of a battle. The commanders of the army instill a semblance of control by appointing leadership of the regiments to lesser family members, usually younger siblings or bastard offspring with very little standing in the circles of power.[2a]
Dark Elf armies are normally raised by the lords of Naggaroth, in some cases by the Witch King himself and rarely without his leave; nobles that gather large bodies of troops without Malekith's permission tend to incur his fatal suspicion. Such forces are usually gathered for a specific attack, or to bolster the crew for a particular raiding voyage. Dark Elf fleets are continuously sailing across the world to loot the settlements of other races, stealing the treasure they can find and imprisoning the inhabitants to be taken back to Naggaroth. The Witch King also requires huge numbers of Druchii soldiers for the ongoing war with the High Elves of Ulthuan. When fighting these most hated of foes, the Dark Elves are intent only upon wholesale destruction.[2a]
- Dreadspears - Dreadspears are spearmen, each is armed with a Drannach or Sky-Piercer. They are more disciplined than the Bleakswords whom they consider arrogant. They best serve a defensive function through the use of their shield and spear walls.[1a]
- Darkshards - Darkshades are crossbowmen, theirs is the mastery of the Uraithen, the Deathrain. Many were stationed at the northern Watchtowers of Naggaroth as lightly armoured Chaos Marauders were vulnerable to their bolts.[1a]
- Bleakswords - Bleakswords are swordsmen renowned for their arrogance. To them the Dreadspears are peasants and the Darkshards craven, they alone are the greatest.[1a]
- The dreadspear, darkshard and bleaksword labels were created for Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves 8th edition. Hitherto they were all simply known as warriors. Past information about spearmen and crossbowmen has been integrated into the new profiles. Bleakswords are an entirely new creation although past warrior Lordlings (regimental champions) were armed with swords.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 1a: pg. 39
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- 2a: pg. 44
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (6th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 6