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Topic of the Week - Slaves in battle! 
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Greetings Tyrants.

I hope you're all ready for a new topic of the week. I apologize for missing one out last week, but I'm back with plenty of ideas to last us until Christmas.

This week's topic is a fluff topic, concerning slaves in battle. A slave unit has been a popular item on the Dark Elf wishlist, and recently the debate was brought back in the ninth age. In Age of Sigmar, expanding the game through content creation has never been easier, and it's likely to come up as a topic sooner or later.
We all know Dark Elves have slaves by the thousands, and they love to employ them for all sorts of labour. But there is one kind of work they are rarely mentioned in, and which is the topic of this week: combat. In short the question is: do you think Dark Elves use or should use slaves in combat?

Now, before we all crack knuckles, and put on our boxing irons, I want to make a few things clear. Lore and fluff references are most appreciated, but they don't have to be the law in this topic. It's not a question of who's right or wrong. It's perfectly okay to say "According to the Lore, yes/no". But you can just as well say "I think they should, or should not because...". You can even willingly deviate from the fluff, "the fluff may say yes/no, but I think they should or should not".
What matters is your view, and sharing it openly. The knuckles and boxing irons will come later.

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:59 am
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Beastmaster
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yeah i've often considered this.

cheap, crappy troops like skaven slaves, but we shouldn't be able to field them in large numbers as we don't want to turn into a horde army do we?! perhaps max units of 10 that we can just force to walk ahead of units acting as a missile screen?


Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:11 pm
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Bronze Khaine Winner
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IIRC, the 4th (and 5th) edition DE army book did explicitly state that they use drugged slaves in battle. Didn't provide any rules/stats for doing so, however. And that was before DE became such a proudly militaristic society in 6th edition. Not sure it fits the newer DE feel quite so well.

What I'd probably like to see is something that can inflict quite a bit of damage until the drugs wear off (two hand weapons plus frenzy), and then auto-flee as soon as they're far enough from their masters. No command group, but can be led by a beastmaster or several. Obviously no armour. One unit only, no matter how big the army is, but that unit can be very large. So you'd never have a horde army, you'd have a DE army with a single 'horde' unit.

Maybe something that can be attached to a beastmaster character as an unorthodox retinue rather than a regular unit. Gives the beastmaster a big meatshield, but once the drugs wear off they might turn on him.

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 1:03 pm
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Slaves pushing a big war machine would be kinda cool or small units that could be used as shield walls for advancing troops.

Corsairs could have salves at their disposal as well / even capture enemy units and turn them on their own army :twisted:

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:37 pm
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Druchii use in combat tamed monsters as large as K-beasts and hydras.
There is no reason why some two-leg, elven-sized auxiliaries couldn't be used in the same way, if properly tamed.

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:31 pm
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It's a great idea and would be a lot of fun. But how would you differentiate between types and sizes of slave? Presumably, a couple of enslaved ogres would be tougher and stronger than a couple of enslaved goblins?

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:47 pm
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I'm not a huge fan of the slave concept. I do like the aspect of bringing fiendish monsters to bear, and in having a source of expendable fodder such as harpies but that's about as far as it goes with non-elves in the army.


Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:08 pm
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I'd say they shouldn't use slaves from a battlefield perspective.

In the "Rock/Paper/Scissors" environment of wargames, Dark Elves are meant to be an elite, surgical force. High points cost (back when we still did that) but lots of ability. Giving them cheap cannon fodder slaves kills their battlefield identity.

I think strictly in terms of fluff, it would make sense to be able to have some slaves in the field. I remember one of the books had a fluff story about releasing some slaves ahead of a battle so we could shoot them down, just so the battlefield wasn't so conducive to their enemy's cavalry charges. Awesome story. But as an actual, fieldable battlefield unit, I don't think it's prudent.

Plus, I don't want to buy/paint a great big horde of slaves. :)

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:17 pm
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I think direweasel has a point. I'd argue that Dark Elves view their slaves more as workers than fighters, and would feel too much scorn towards their captives to use them, unless it was absolutely necessary. After all, the slaves failed to defend themselves once, so they've already proved their incapability as warriors.

Fighting is the domain of the worthy elite. Slaves are best left at home, doing the drudgery work that is the most that they are worthy of undertaking.

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Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:09 pm
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I think that slaves would be in war host for sure as pack animals and the such. I also think that CoB, death hag, and sorceresses would have a few around for sacrifices and the such, you know for more "murder for the murder god".
But I do wish there as mechanic for them in combat. I think the Idea that you have a slave master as the leader of the unit, if he dies then the remainder of those models could go to the your enemies army if they are so far away from a different Hero.

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Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:53 am
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Red... wrote:
I think direweasel has a point. I'd argue that Dark Elves view their slaves more as workers than fighters, and would feel too much scorn towards their captives to use them, unless it was absolutely necessary. After all, the slaves failed to defend themselves once, so they've already proved their incapability as warriors.

Fighting is the domain of the worthy elite. Slaves are best left at home, doing the drudgery work that is the most that they are worthy of undertaking.


In the current setting, I'd completely agree with Red's observations. Dark Elves value power, first and foremost, and they enjoy demonstrating it. That has been a consistent point about the scions of Nagarythe, ever since the first fluff concerning that kingdom was written. They took joy in fighting and winning, and in proving their pre-eminence over the vanquished. During the dark days of the first great war against Chaos, such strength was what kept the elves alive - it was a thing to be proud of, even as the horrors of endless war took their toll on the spirits of Nagarythe's inhabitants.

Pressing slaves into battle, as a general rule, would not achieve that result. All of druchii society values the ability to demonstrate superiority, whether that be over the lesser races or druchii rivals. On the battlefield, there would be little opportunity to prove such supremacy to other druchii by bringing herds of subjugated inferiors to hurl into the fray - if anything, it would likely be scorned as a waste of resources and a display of weakness (hiding behind the lesser races). There would also be the risk of a slave revolt - whether on their own initiative, or at the instigation of a would-be rival. On rare occasions, it might be appropriate, but the sole purpose would be to wear down the foe before the Dark Elves attacked. I remember an excellent story in the 6th edition book involving a Dreadlord loosing his slaves onto an open battlefield and having the cut down by repeater crossbow fire so as to choke the field and prevent the enemy (Bretonnians) from properly exploiting their heavy cavalry.

While I'd love some cheap meatshields, I think that's not how the druchii roll. If you're after cheap bodies, ally in some greenskins, Skaven or undead to take the beating for you.

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Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:05 am
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Malekith's Best Friend
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I'm joining the camp that says "nahhh". I can imagine Dark Elves whipping slaves into an enemy to block him, but it seems weird that they'll let the actual fighting be done by anyone else but them. Aside from a few occasional exceptions, I don't think they employed slaves in battle, at least not so systematically that it would be part of their army.

But seeing some pointers being made here, and there, I'll try to re-read the army books to see if I'm right on this ;)

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Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:23 am
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Executioner
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Speaking on the subject, is there a mechanic for this in AoS. I was wondering cause I was looking at the corsairs an they have a capture mechanic, but I don't really know how that plays out.

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Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:02 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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They increase the number of models lost that flee as a result from a failed battle shock test.
In 7th ed WFB they would decrease the flee distance of the enemy troops to increase their chance of catching them.

But this is all focused on the capture of slaves, not employing them.

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"I move unseen. I hide in light and shadow. I move faster than a bird. No plate of armour ever stopped me. I strike recruits and veterans with equal ease. And all shiver at my coldest of whispers."
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Wed Oct 14, 2015 2:42 pm
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I never been a fan of the idea of using slaves in battle.

On top of the allready mentioned 'letting inferiors fighting for you, is beneath proud druchii' argument.
I always figured that Dreadlords dont have any regard for the lifes of the troops at their disposal.
Why use "expensive", hardgained merchandise to do your fighting, when you can reduce costs by sacrificing a couple of dreadspear units to ensure victory.

Apart from in the arena, slaves have no place in battle.

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Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:45 pm
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