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A Beginner's Guide to Army Selection [work in progress] 
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Hello fellow Druchii and a special welcome to our new members! :twisted:

With the ever increasing number of new players drawn to the dark side and joining our ranks here, I often find myself reviewing beginner army lists or give advice on what units are good to start out with and which are better left for later. Of course, I am not the only one, there are plenty of members giving good advice on this forum, but I often observe very similar answers on those topics and therefore it's just a logical step to write a more complete overview about beginner's army selection and post it here for reference. This topic here aims to fulfill this task.

Of course, this is not done in a few hours, so I'll expand this guide over the next couple days, until it hopefully is complete in a week or so.

Update (Sep 12, 2005): Ok, 'a week or so' was quite an understatement, as I must admit. It's been about two years now, that I started working on this guide, and I have made myself a pretty rare sight around here as well, even though I check the forums regularily, I just do not post much anymore. And while I have been quite busy, my time was sucked up mostly by other commitments. However, now I'm back on track and hopefully able to finish things up in a reasonable time. The druchii will always have a special place in my heart, and however long it takes, it will be finished eventually.

If you want to comment on the guide, you can do it in THIS thread.

Bye
Thanee


Sat Nov 15, 2003 2:22 pm
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Todo list

- UPDATE TO 7th EDITION CHANGES
- UPDATE TO 7th EDITION DARK ELF ARMY BOOK (not yet)
- Special Units (almost done)
- Rare Units
- Characters and Magic Items
- Dogs of War
- Some general thoughts about the Dark Elf army and what playing styles it supports
- Sample army concepts and some example armies
- Notes about themes

Only a good 4 years since I started... this is taking forever... :lol:


Last edited by Thanee on Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:47 pm, edited 5 times in total.



Sat Nov 15, 2003 2:36 pm
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First things first!

The very first step, after deciding on what army to play, the Dark Elves in our case, is to buy the armybook (getting the rulebook doesn't hurt either) and get an overview on what choices are available to you.

This should be done way before thinking about what models to buy and it's best to write up some army lists and discuss those choices with others, before finally moving on and getting the actual models done.

Of course, there will be a few models you especially like and which maybe even have drawn you to your choice of army, so it's just natural, that you want to include them to your selection. Your personal style will eventually influence your army list quite a bit, once you start getting used to the army as a whole, and that's a good thing actually, because it is one of the reasons that make this hobby so much fun.

Note: There are a few changes to the armybook detailed in the White Dwarf Chronicles (or Annual; they are also available for download on the GW website), which will be important to know, like the Dark Elf Revision, which does appear in the Chronicles 2004 (Annual III), the Albion Magic Items from the Chronicles 2003 (Annual II), or the Variant War Hydras from the Chronicles 2002 (Annual I). The Cult of Slaanesh from the Storm of Chaos campaign also includes some additional magic items, which can be used with the regular Dark Elf army. Additional rules updates can be found on the official Warhammer Chronicles website.


Mon Nov 17, 2003 1:11 pm
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The Basics - Part I

After you got an idea about the Dark Elf army by studying the armybook and the unit choices at your disposal, it's time to build up an army. An army is not just a conglomerate of some characters and units, it's a combination of these smaller parts into a whole. An army is there for a reason. An army has a purpose and there are different ways to look at this from different angles, which influence the unit choices you will make later. In the following, the most common approaches to army design will be discussed.

The themed approach: Many players like to think of their army in a roleplaying way and to build it up for a purpose defined in their army's background. Units are chosen with that background in mind, which often takes precedence over strategic considerations. For example, an army build around the Temple of Khaine should not be led by a High Sorceress, because of the sect enmity, while the Cult of Pleasure will more likely see Sorceresses rather than Witch Elves among their ranks. A Black Arc raider army should favor Corsairs over Spearmen, while a City Guard army would be the other way around, with Dark Elf Warriors making up the bulk of the army. A Dark Elf army hailing from one of the cities of Naggaroth will most likely feature unit types, that the city is commonly known for, like the Executioners from Har Ganoth, or the Beastmasters from Karond Kar. An exploration corps would mainly consist of lightly armoured and fast moving units, like Dark Riders and Shades, rather than Cold One Knights and Chariots; a cavalry army will obviously mainly consist of mounted models. The army background is often written down as part of a little story, with characters and units named and included in there. Painting & Modeling often is an important factor here as well. This is one way to start an army, think about a suitable background and then analyze the various unit choices available and how they could support that theme.

The strategic approach: Not everyone is into roleplaying, however, and some players prefer to build their armies around strategic considerations. An army's purpose is often defined by unit types or game phases, like the shooting or magic phase, just to name some common examples, or by its general nature - offensive or defensive. Unit choices are selected with a general strategy in mind. These armies often are, but don't have to be, specialized to a degree, so that the majority of the units will be tailored towards this purpose. An example would be a defensive army, which consists of units that whittle down the enemy while slowing down their advance and other units to take on whatever gets close to your lines. Strategic armies can also be build around single very special (but not necessarily overly expensive) units, which form the center of the army. Examples are the Cauldron of Blood or the Black Guard. Other units are then chosen to enhance (or be enhanced by) the presence of this center unit and make best use of its special rules. When building up an army this way, you'll have to take into account what kind of opposition you are likely to face and how to deal with the threats presented by those.

The merging of strategy and theme: Now that we know about the two main approaches in army design, we can move on to the most common and probably best way to build up an army by merging both - strategy and theme - into one. Like with the themed armies, you usually start out with a general idea about what your army should represent, altho this does not necessarily involve writing up a background story or naming your characters, but it might help getting in touch with the theme you have in mind. The main difference to the themed approach is, that units are not only included because of the army background, but also evaluated by the tactical options they offer. Sometimes strategic choices will outweigh background issues, like when including a single Sorceress for defensive purposes (aka scroll caddy) into an army build around the Temple of Khaine. While unit choices are usually limited due to the overall theme, the inclusion of a unit into the army is driven by strategic considerations. The army theme dictates the pool of units to choose from and to a degree the composition of the whole army, while the strategies involved are the foundation for picking units from this pool and making the final choices.

The Basics - Part II

Now that you have a general idea about how to begin, there are some important issues, which deserve further attention.

To specialize or to generalize?

During your first games you will often notice, that some units work better than others. This might be because of dice rolls and can change from game to game, but it can also be because they are simply more capable of taking on your specific opponent's units. Noticing this will inevitably lead to the wish to include more of these capable units and reduce the number of units, that did not work out that great. Once you start following this wish, you will enter the realms of specialization, where your army is more and more composed of similar units, dedicated to a single purpose. While this is a great way to make your army stronger against a specific opponent, it will likewise increase your weaknesses against others. For example, an army composed entirely of shooting units will work fairly well, until you face an army consisting of several units, that are extremely resilient to shooting and strong in close combat. Specialized armies will most often be either extremely strong or extremely weak against certain opponents. Now this doesn't have to be a bad thing at all, if you are much more likely to face opposition you are well-suited against, your army will usually perform as intended. A very common route when going for the specialized approach is to focus your attention on one or maybe two phases of the game (i.e. movement, magic, shooting, close combat) and build the army with units, that are particularily strong in those phases. The most typical specialized army is one, that is very strong in the shooting and magic phases, both of which complement each other rather well, but very weak in the movement and close combat phases, being stationary and consisting mostly of units, that have little to no chance to win a melee. Another specialized approach would be a cavalry-based army, which is very maneuverable and especially strong in the first round of close combat, but lacks the shooting.

Specialized armies usually play very similar and are often very easy to predict. In the end, games will often be the same as before, which is boring for you and your opponent. One solution to counter this, is to change your army after a couple games. Another solution is to build a more generalized or balanced army. A balanced army consists of several different unit types, which can fulfill different roles in a battle. The benefit of a more balanced army, besides the fact, that not every unit plays the same, is a lack of weakness. The mix of units means, that you often will have the one unit necessary to counter your opponent's tactics, something the specialized army cannot always do. Of course, it lacks the power of specialization, which has been noted earlier, to achieve this. Small-scale specialization is a method to combine both attempts. You can build one part of your force in a specialized way, while the rest of your army is there to balance this specialization with more diverse unit types. Of course, some units will usually be less useful against some armies, but once you realize this, you can use them for a different purpose. Such units can be used as a bait, or even a sacrifice, to divert attackers or to block their approach, or they can be used to slow down the advance of your opponent's units. In a balanced army, while your tactics will have to change from opponent to opponent, every unit will have some purpose against each of them.

The power of distribution.

When you think back about those units, that did especially well, there is another trend, which is often followed. When a unit was strong and hard to defeat, why not make it even stronger, by adding more models, more options and more characters to it? This will lead to a virtually undefeatable unit, that can easily bring victory to your side! While there is certainly some truth in this, it's more often dead wrong. Experienced opponents will know how to deal with such a unit, consisting of half or more your army's worth in points. What good will this ultimate unit be, when it never gets into combat, except against extremely small and inexpensive units? Sure it will crush everything on its way, but if there is not much to crush, the points spend on this unit will be wasted. Therefore it's by far better to distribute the power of your army among several units. This way, if one unit is taken out of the battle, the others are still active and only a part of their combined might is lost. If one unit is strong already, there is no need to make it even stronger, but rather add another unit, which is equally strong, or enhance a weaker one. You will be able to attack two targets at once, or defeat an overpowering unit in a combined approach. This is the power of distribution.

About winning and having fun.

When playing a game of Warhammer, it's just natural, that you are trying to win. It would be pretty strange to lead an army into battle, without that thought in mind. But winning isn't everything. There is a reason, why you are playing in the first place. This primary reason is not, or should not be, to win, but to have a good time, while spending it dedicated to your hobby. Your opponent will be there for the very same reason. If, after the game, you both can say "Wow, that was fun!", then it was a good game, regardless of who has won. The ultimate winner is the one who had fun! When deciding upon an army, therefore you should not only consider how it can win, but also keep in mind, whether it will be fun to play with and more importantly against this army.


Mon Nov 17, 2003 2:07 pm
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Army Composition

A Warhammer Fantasy Battle army consists of several units, which are divided into four specific categories.

Characters are the heroes that fight alongside your regiments, leading them into battle. Among these is your army's General.

Core units are the common regiments, which make up the bulk of each Warhammer army. These are usually very basic troop types (i.e. Dark Elf Warriors) or special troops that are a very common sight among the ranks of that army (i.e. Dark Riders).

Special units are elite regiments (i.e. Cold One Knights, Executioners or Witch Elves) or special purpose troops (i.e. Shades or Harpies), which fill the higher ranks of your troops. They are usually more specialized than the rather general Core units and often more powerful as well.

Rare units are those special units, which will never be seen in large numbers and therefore are extremely limited (i.e. the Black Guard or the Cauldron of Blood). They often have extensive special rules, that can have a great impact on your strategies or even the outcome of a battle.

When composing an army, you have to keep in mind certain restrictions, which limit the way you can add units from these categories to your list.

There always has to be a certain number of Core units (like 3 for the most common army size of 2000-2999 points) to make sure, that the army's common troops are well represented, and you always have to field at least one character as your army's General. Characters, Special and Rare units are limited to a certain number, you cannot simply add as many as you wish (see your armybook for details).

When spending your points on specific units, according to the general idea you have in mind, when building up your army, the best place to start is with the Core units, since you'll always need some of these units, as has been noted. Depending on the type of army you play, Core units can range from making up the bulk of your army to a bare minimum selection (usually 3 units of 5 Dark Riders), to leave points for the Special and Rare units, which your army will be build around.

Special and Rare units can then be added, starting with those that are absolutely required for your theme/strategy, and finishing with others that fit in with the general idea of your army.

Characters deserve special attention in this process. It's easy to spend lots and lots of points on your heroes, if you take the maximum number possible and equip them with everything they can lay their hands on. This will leave you with very few points to spend on troops and while those characters will be fairly powerful, a character rarely can fulfill the same role a regiment can, leaving your army with a lack, which cannot be compensated for. Characters should best be seen as supporters for your regiments. Magic items are often useful, but always expensive as well, so it's sometimes better to keep a character's cost low by equipping the model with only very few or even no magic items at all. A good estimate is to spend about 25%-35% of your total army points on characters (including equipment, of course).

Best always keep an eye on your total points spent during the design process, it's pretty easy to go beyond that total, if you just add what you would like to include. Dark Elf units are expensive compared to many other armies and you'll often find yourself struggling to get the few points needed to include another unit or even an option for an existing one. It's often better to start low, with the bare minimum, and then add in more units and options one after the other, than to start out high and decide on what to discard afterwards.

A very rough army composition guideline is to have about 30% of the total points in characters, 30% in Core units and 40% in Special and Rare units.


Mon Nov 17, 2003 2:54 pm
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Unit Roles

In the following parts, the different unit choices available to a Dark Elf army and their role within an army, will be discussed in detail. The various roles are explained here for reference.

Anti-Armour: These units provide the means to deal with heavily armoured units, i.e. opposing heavy cavalry, or tougher units, like large monsters. Warmachines are often able to deal with these threats, but hard-hitting units can also be used in this role.

Assault: A unit, that is used directly to attack opposing units, often combined with a flanking unit, when attacking tougher units. The main purpose of this unit is to charge and deal wounds in the resulting combat. Elite infantry regiments, heavy-cavalry, chariots or monsters usually fulfill this role.

Bodyguard: A unit, which is joined by weaker characters (i.e. Sorceress) to keep them save from shooting and pesky harassers. It's sometimes enough to keep the character within 5" of the unit to prevent any targeted shooting, but against template weapons and many magical attacks, it's necessary to actually join the unit to benefit from the Watch out, sir! special rule.

Charge Bait: A weak unit, or fast cavalry, which is placed within the charge range of an opponent to provoke a charge or otherwise limit advance movement to a degree. The unit usually flees as a charge reaction, which should in turn place the opposing unit in a position for your other units to countercharge. Note, that your opponent can redirect into another unit of yours, if after the flee reaction has been resolved, another charge target becomes available, which previously could not be reached (and therefore a charge declared on them). Therefore, this tactic needs to be used with care. A charge bait can also be used to divert attacking units by holding the charge and forcing them to align in a unfavorable way, which will in turn allow your other units to flank charge them. The baiting unit will often be broken in the process and you have to consider where the opposing unit could end up after a pursuit or overrun move.

Charge Blocker: A unit that can take a charge and hold, to allow your other units to countercharge, often also flank charge in the process. Fully ranked infantry with decent armour save or units with the Stubborn or Unbreakable special rules are best used for this purpose. A nearby Battle Standard Bearer can help to support the unit in this role and its usually a good idea to keep the General close to be able to use the higher Leadership value.

Flanker: Small units which outmaneuver the opponent's forces to get into a flanking position, threatening nasty combined charges this way. The unit should be of unit strength 5 or more and able to remove rank bonus to get the most out of this maneuver. They usually combine well with Assault-type units. Fast cavalry or large flyers are perfect for this role, but other units can perform it as well.

Flanking Hammer: Some maneuverable units are so powerful, that they can easily take on whole units on their own. However, they lack the rank bonus of proper regiments, which makes it difficult for them to win a close combat on a frontal charge. These units can often break opposing units in a flank charge on their own, however, if they have a unit size of 5+ so they can negate the rank bonus of the opposing unit this way. Large flyers, like dragons, primarily fall into this category.

Hammer: A hard-hitting unit, which can break opposing units in a frontal charge on their own. Heavy cavalry is the classic hammer unit.

Harasser: Highly maneuverable units, which move close to the opposing forces and prevent them from marching (by being within 8" during their movement phase), thereby threatening charges against weaker targets (i.e. lone mages) and generally annoy with their presence. Skirmishers, flyers and fast cavalry are best used in this role.

Mage Hunter: Lone mages often hide in spots, where regiments cannot reach them or within 5" of large units to prevent any targeted shooting. The units that are best to hunt such mages must be highly maneuverable and therefore be able to keep up with them or to move in a spot from where the mage will be the closest target to deny them the protection of a nearby unit. Skirmishers, flyers and fast cavalry are commonly found in this role, which only applies to very limited circumstances, however.

Missile Shield: A cheap and expendable unit, which moves in front of a more valuable unit and soaks up missile fire for them. This only works against missile units, that are not in an elevated position (i.e. on top of a hill). Skirmishers are good in this role, because they are maneuverable and are also harder to hit.

Missile Support: The role of missile support is to whittle down advancing units of your opponent's force to bring them down to a more manageable size and therefore give your own units a better chance to defeat them in combat, but it will also be used to cover an area and prevent weaker units from outmaneuvering your own forces, as described under the Harasser role, for example.

Special: There are some units, which serve no general role, but rather have a very specific purpose usually defined by their extended special rules.

Support Infantry: An infantry unit, which supports smaller elite units with numbers and rank bonus in combat. Fighting prowess is rarely an issue, since the mere presence of a number of models will grant your side bonuses during combat resolution. Therefore cheap core infantry is usually found in this role.

Warmachine Hunter: Fast units, that can quickly attack warmachines (usually on the second turn of the game) and therefore either force them to shoot on these weaker targets or otherwise prevent them from shooting your more valuable units more than once or twice. Skirmishers, flyers and light cavalry units excel in this role.

Character Roles

While characters are also units, they can often perform some of the above roles, but there are certain roles, which only characters can perform. Those are detailed here.

Combat Support: Often characters are joining units to increase their combat prowess. Characters can wield powerful or enchanted weapons, which greatly improve their combat ability and their ability to deal wounds. These wounds have a great impact on the combat resolution and in turn help the character's unit to defeat their opponents in battle.

Leadership Support: Some units are prone to failing Leadership tests, most notably the Cold One Chariots. Sometimes it is good to have a character with a higher Leadership score joining such units so they can benefit from the higher Leadership, or in case of the General have the model stay within 12" in order to let the unit test on the General's Leadership instead of their own.

Magic-User: Wizards are primarily used to cast spells, naturally. Their presence also improves the magical defenses against opposing spells and enchanted items.

Scroll Caddy: This is a special term used for a level 1 Wizard armed mostly with one or two Dispel Scrolls. A purely defensive Wizard, that is present to counter the nastiest spells the opposing Wizards cast to attack or hinder your units during their approach.


Tue Nov 25, 2003 12:58 pm
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Core Units

As has been said before, this is the place to start, when selecting the first units for your army, since you always have to field some Core units. There are four types of Core choices available to you, which will be outlined below. Warriors have been split into two seperate entries for this purpose, because depending on their armament, their uses are so completely different. In the armybook and also when buying models, they are the same unit, however.

Warriors with Spears

Warriors are the most basic troops in the Dark Elf army. They form the bulk of the army and city garrisons. Although armed with spears, they still have the option to fight with their handweapons, thereby taking advantage of the better armour save (4+ in close combat, as opposed to 5+ if fighting with spear and shield), thanks to the handweapon and shield rule. However, they lose the extra spear attacks from the second rank then, as all models in the unit always have to fight with the same weapons.

Primary Role: Support Infantry, Charge Blocker, Charge Bait, Bodyguard.

Unit Composition: Warriors are best used in fully ranked regiments, with at least 3 extra ranks to provide full rank bonus in combat. The few extra attacks from a wider formation usually don't make a difference, but having full rank bonus even after some losses often does. Therefore the best option is to deploy them in a 4 wide formation with 4-6 ranks (unit size 16-24). A fully ranked unit should always have shields and full command as well. If used as a charge bait, the unit should be as cheap as possible, with minimum size and no options, except maybe a musician for the +1 to rally.

Cost (pts): Spear-armed Warriors are the cheapest Dark Elf models to include in your army. This means you can field them in reasonably large numbers, which helps to preserve rank bonus or to avoid panic. And you can include fully ranked units of Warriors without restricting your other choices too much.

Cost ($$$): Warriors are available in boxes of 16 plastic models, containing sprues with all accessories needed to build either spear- or RXB-armed Warriors including full command. Being the only complete plastic models in the Dark Elf model range, Warriors are the cheapest option to start out with or to add an extra unit to an existing army.

Modelling: Plastic models offer a lot of options, when it comes to modelling. They consist of several parts, which can be glued together in different ways to have every model look different or take a slightly different stance. While glueing these models together, always keep an eye on the fact, that they will have to be ranked up as a unit. Spears in the back ranks are best pointing upwards to be 'out of the way'.

Warriors with Repeater Crossbows

These are the basic Dark Elf missile troops. The repeater crossbow (RXB) is a weapon unique to the Dark Elves and in some way archetypical for them as well. With their ability to shoot twice, they can unleash a hail of bolts on their opponents. Besides the low strength of the repeater crossbow the high number of attacks can still deal decent damage, unless shooting at very high toughness or heavily armoured units. Because these Warriors can still take shields, unlike many other missile units in other armies, they retain the close combat abilities of their spear-armed cousins, especially the 4+ armour save with the handweapon and shield bonus. Therefore they can still fulfill the role as support infantry in the same way spear-armed Warriors can, even though they are more expensive, paying for their versatility to provide both, missile and infantry support.

Primary Role: Missile Support, Support Infantry, Bodyguard.

Unit Composition: There are basically two options to field RXB-armed Warriors. Either as pure missile support in units of 10-12, deployed in a single rank (or two ranks on top of a hill). These units can be outfitted with shields for better missile protection and can employ a musician to help with rallying, should they panic or have to flee from a charge. Both options are not necessary, however. The other way to field them is as a fully ranked unit, usually consisting of 16 models to keep the cost low and to be still able to deploy them in a single rank without taking up too much space in your deployment zone. This unit can reform at some point during the game and then march into combat, if it's running low on shooting targets or you need another ranked infantry unit, thereby providing you with more options during the game. As the spear-armed Warriors, they should be equipped with shields and also have a full command (or at least the musician and standard bearer), if used this way.

Cost (pts): RXB-armed Warriors have a moderate cost. They are not really cheap, but not overly expensive as well. They are cheap enough to field in numbers without restricting your other choices too much and usually perform well enough to justify the points spent on them.

Cost ($$$): As above; two boxes of Warriors (16 models each) can be split into 20 spear-armed and 12 RXB-armed Warriors, resulting in two decent-sized units.

Modelling: As above.

Corsairs

Corsairs are a rather offensive type of infantry. With their additional handweapons they can take on most regular infantry units singlehandedly, except those with high Toughness or very high armour saves. Their decent armour save against missile fire protects them on their way to the opposing line. Corsairs are somewhere in the middle between the most basic regiments and the more elite units. A large unit of Corsairs is a good place for a Sorceress on foot to keep her safe from shooting.

Primary Role: Assault, Support Infantry, Bodyguard.

Unit Composition: As usual with regiments of infantry, there are two options to field them, either in a larger block with full rank bonus and some extra models to retain that bonus even after some losses, or as a small, cheap unit. 20 is a good size for a Corsair unit with full rank bonus (usually fielded in a 4 wide formation). A full command should always be taken with them. Smaller units consisting of 10 or 12 models can provide a good number of attacks if you have other means to bring rank bonus into play or remove the rank bonus from the target by flanking them. Depending on the opposition, it's sometimes better to field them in a wide formation (5 or even 6 models wide), mostly when going up against a weaker enemy where the high number of attacks will cause a good amount of wounds. Against tougher opponents, the few extra attacks rarely make a difference and therefore the minimum width of 4 is adviseable in that case, because rank bonus will be preserved longer. This is also true, if you plan to use the unit in a combined charge, with a Cold One Chariot for example, because the limited frontage is absolutely no disadvantage there.

Magic Items: Corsairs are the only Core unit available, which has the option to take a magic banner. From the choices available, only the War Banner is really worthwhile, however, as it will add to the Corsairs primary infantry role. The War Banner is a great addition to a fully ranked unit of Corsairs.

Cost (pts): Corsairs are more costly than Warriors, while still in the lower cost range for elven models, and they also have a few advantages over Warriors, namely the better armour save against missiles and the higher number of attacks in close combat, when charging. They are well worth the points spent on them.

Cost ($$$): Corsairs are available in blisters of 3 metal models and in boxes of 10 metal models. There are special command blisters containing a full command unit (the box has no command models). Like all metal infantry, that is fielded in larger numbers, Corsairs are fairly expensive, but the models are fantastic and well worth the money spent on them.

Dark Riders

Dark Riders are one of the Dark Elf signature units, a unit which everyone expects to see in any Dark Elf army. There is a good reason that Dark Riders are seen often, because this versatile light cavalry offers a lot of tactical options. They are often a key element in outmaneuvering the opposing force and in breaking units with a combined flank charge. With their spears, Dark Riders even pack some punch on the charge, but not as much as a heavy cavalry unit, of course. Supported by a Noble, a unit of Dark Riders can even form a formidable fighting force on their own. Dark Riders are often used to prevent the opponent from shooting a mounted Sorceress, thanks to the targeting restrictions for characters.

Primary Role: Harasser, Flanker, Charge Bait, Warmachine Hunter, Mage Hunter, Bodyguard.

Unit Composition: Since fast cavalry does not count rank bonuses from any extra ranks, there is no real point in using large units of Dark Riders. They are best used in units of 5-7 and it's often better to add a second unit than to increase an existing one in size. Thanks to their fast cavalry special rules, Dark Riders excel as a charge bait, because they can flee from a charge, rally and then still move as normal, unlike other units. The free reform makes them valueable as a flanking force, as they can usually get into a good position. Depending on their role, they can also be armed with repeater crossbows, which are especially useful for harassing and can also provide a threat to opposing characters, especially mages, that are running around on their own. When used as flankers or charge bait, the RXB often prove less useful, since they cannot use them in combat or during the turn they rallied. Command models also need special consideration when fielding Dark Riders. A musician is by far the most useful command option to them, as it helps with rallying and when attacking warmachines or other units without command options. Sometimes a standard bearer is a good addition for similar reasons, especially when the unit is going into combat on its own, either flank-charging a weaker unit or attacking warmachines and the likes, as it will increase their chances to break the enemy. The standard bearer, however, carries the risk to grant 100 bonus victory points to your opponent, if the unit fails and the Dark Riders are broken in combat themselves. The Herald is not worth the points spent on him and should therefore only be considered for theme purposes.

Cost (pts): Dark Riders are expensive, especially when considering, that they die as easily as a Warrior. However, they are far from overcosted. The high movement rate and fast cavalry special rules are absolutely worth the point investment and Dark Riders rarely let you down, if they are used right.

Cost ($$$): Dark Riders are available in blisters of 1 metal rider/plastic horse model. There is a special command blister available, which contains all parts needed to build either a musician, standard bearer or Herald. A unit of Dark Riders is fairly cheap, as the blisters are not very costly and you only need few models to field a highly useful unit. It's absolutely adviseable to invest in some of these (at least 5) early on.


Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:17 pm
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Rending Star
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Special Units

The Special units are elite regiments, like the furious Witch Elves or the dreaded Cold One Knights, or special-purpose units, Shades or Harpies especially. They are generally more powerful than the more basic Core units, but also more expensive and often more specialized towards a specific purpose.

Shades

Shades are the Dark Elf scouts and infiltrators, sneaking behind the enemy ranks with their Scout special ability and preventing some of the opposing units from marching that way, while they stay out of sight using their superior Skirmish formation. In some cases, they can also attack lone, weak models, enemy mages in particular, or a warmachine crew. With their repeater crossbows (RXB) they can also provide some close range missile support, relying on their Skirmish formation and terrain to avoid getting hit easily. If they are deployed inside a wood, they are also reasonably save from getting charged, since they can then flee and the attacking unit will have trouble to keep up through the difficult terrain. Sometimes, Shades cannot make use of their Scout special ability, depending on terrain and the opponent's deployment. They still make a fine missile shield then, moving in front of some fragile or expensive unit in order to keep opposing missile units at ground level from firing at them.

Primary Role: Harasser, Warmachine Hunter, Mage Hunter, Missile Shield.

Unit Composition: Because of the way Scouts have to be set up out of sight and behind terrain, it is often adviseable to use small units only (unit size 5-7). Unless all Special choices are used up, it is also better to deploy two small units of Shades than a single bigger one (unit size 10+). The Bloodshade is a waste of points, as is the light armour upgrade. Those should only be considered for theme purposes.

Cost (pts): Shades are not too expensive, especially since a unit of only 5 models can already provide you with great tactical advantages. Most armies can benefit from such a unit, but they cut down the available Special choices, which can be a problem for some armies, that rely heavily on the other elite units.

Cost ($$$): Shades are available in blisters of 3 metal models. To field a whole unit only 2 blisters are needed, which makes them one of the cheaper unit choices.

Witch Elves of Khaine

The Brides of Khaine, as they are also called, are extremely aggressive infantry. Driven by their insane fury, they cut through enemy rank-and-file like a hot knife through butter. However, while they still have a fairly good chance to wound even higher Toughness models with their poisoned attacks, their low-strength blows will simply bounce off heavy armour (3+ armour save and better). Heavily armoured units should therefore be avoided. In addition, their Frenzy ability is a two-bladed sword. The benefit of an additional attack, immunity to psychology effects and being able to premeasure the distance before having to charge is great, but the downside is, that they must charge, if an enemy unit is within range, and often your opponents will try to take advantage of that by using cheap charge bait units to lure them into a position to get flank-charged and routed. More than most other units, Witch Elves need to get the charge to be truely effective. With all their brutal might, Witch Elves are more of a finesse weapon on the tactical level, which is difficult to use, but can be devastating if used properly.

Primary Role: Assault.

Unit Composition: As with most infantry regiments, there are two options to field Witch Elves, either as a small unit of only 10-12 models, which can take on weaker infantry units on its own, but otherwise will require a flanking unit or support infantry unit to work well, or as a large unit with full rank bonus, ranging from 16-25 models in size, which will drastically increase the cost of the unit, always a risk with their Frenzy special ability. Full command should always be taken with them in any case. With their great number of attacks, Witch Elves benefit greatly from a wider formation (6 or 7 wide), but that only really works with a small unit, because otherwise the cost will grow too quickly for adding ranks.

Magic Items: Like most elite regiments, Witch Elves can take a magic banner. The War Banner is by far the most useful choice here, as bonuses to combat resolution often allow them to keep their Frenzy longer. Unfortunately, you can only have one War Banner in your army, so you will have to decide which unit needs it most. In some armies, the Banner of Murder can also work well, because it allows the Witch Elves to declare a charge against a unit farther away than their usual 10" charge range, which can turn your opponent's plan to bait their charge with a sacrificial unit into a disaster, when the witches charge past that unit with their increased charge range. Witch Elves work well enough without a magic banner, though, and the fragile models will grant less victory points to your opponent then. The unit champion, the Hag, can also take some magic items and she even has some special choices available to her from the Temple of Khaine. There are two items, which deserve special attention. One of those is Manbane, a poison, which allows her to hit really hard in close combat, and the other one is Witchbrew, which will provide a small unit of Witch Elves with the ability to ignore some modifiers in combat resolution, which in turn will allow them to keep their Frenzy longer. Since the Hag dies as easily as her furious sisters, the enjoyment of these benefits will only be of limited duration, usually.

Cost (pts): Witch Elves are cheap considering their offensive potential, but they have no protections whatsoever and they die easily to enemy missile fire. With that in mind, their cost doesn't look that low anymore, but it's still appropriate.

Cost ($$$): Witch Elves are available in blisters of 3 metal models and in boxes of 10 metal models. There are special command blisters containing a full command unit (the box has no command models). As all metal infantry regiments, Witch Elves are expensive, if fielded as a fully ranked unit, but for a smaller unit the cost is reasonable. It's probably best to start out with a small unit (3 standard blisters + 1 command blister) and try them a few times before increasing the unit size.

Cold One Chariot

Cold One Chariots are a good way to add some punch to an army. They are reasonably cheap and can deal a considerable amount of wounds on a charge. Cold One Chariots are also among the toughest Dark Elf units, but like all chariots, they are immediately destroyed if they suffer a single wound from a Strength 7+ attack, so watch out for those cannonballs. Their high movement is lessened somewhat by the special rules about chariots, which prevent them from marching, but it does give them a good charge range, which coupled with their offensive nature makes them a threat, that is hard to ignore. They are best used together with an infantry regiment, that can act as support, providing numbers and rank bonuses for combat resolution, but chariots can also attack weaker units on their own or as a pair, or team-up with cavalry units. When positioning them, one always needs to keep in mind the rules about Stupidity. If possible, Cold One Chariots should stay within the Leadership radius of the general, if there is one with 9 or 10 Leadership, in order to lessen the chance for the Cold One's Stupidity to prevent them from moving freely. There is one additional option with Cold One Chariots, they can serve as a mount for a Noble (or Highborn, but using them in combination with a Noble is much more common). This way, the Noble will benefit from the chariot's durability (unless facing high Strength attacks), while the chariot benefits from the better Leadership, and - most importantly - the Noble will increase the chariot's unit strength to 5, which is enough to use them as a formidable flanking unit and to prevent an opposing unit from counting its rank bonus in combat resolution.

Primary Role: Assault, Anti-Armour, Flanker (if ridden by a Noble).

Unit Composition: Since each Cold One Chariot is a seperate unit, there isn't much to say about unit composition. As one Special choice, one can deploy two Cold One Chariots, which usually is a good idea, when Cold One Chariots are being used. There is a lot of competition for the Special slots in the Dark Elf army, and one wants to get the most out of them. The spear option should always be bought for every Chariot, but the repeater crossbow is too expensive and will only be of little use, especially since the Chariot should aim to get into close combat quickly; on the plus side, Chariots cannot march and therefore the crossbows can be used every round in which they are not in close combat.

Cost (pts): The point cost for a single Cold One Chariots seems fairly high, but they are well worth it.

Cost ($$$): Cold One Chariots are available in a box of 1 metal model with plastic Cold Ones. The cost is reasonable, neither cheap nor overly expensive, and you will get a unit, that is a good addition to many armies. Of course, when you use them, you almost always want two of them.

Modelling: Since it's possible to mount a Noble in a Cold One Chariot, and since there are no directly suitable models for such a Noble available, you will need to convert another model for this purpose. A very simple method is to use the lower half of one of the drivers and the upper half of a suitable Dark Elf model (i.e. Corsair or Executioner champions) and fit them together. As an additional note, there is a rather cool repeater crossbow in the box, which could be added to a character model.

Cold One Knights

The Cold One Knights are one of the Dark Elf signature units, for good reason. There are few other units in the army, which instill as much fear as the lizard-mounted heavy cavalry of the Druchii. Like all heavy cavalry units, the Cold One Knights deal considerable damage during a charge with their lances and their Strength 4 mounts, and with their good movement they usually will get the charge, especially against infantry regiments. Unlike most other cavalry units, winning combat resolution by only one is often enough to break the defending unit, because the Cold Ones cause Fear. When they get stuck after a charge, heavy cavalry becomes significantly less dangerous without the bonus from their lances, which is why breaking the defending unit on the charge is so important, but at least the Cold Ones' Strength 4 attacks lessen this some. With their good Leadership, the riders have little problems controlling their Cold One mounts, but eventually their Stupidity will cause them to not move where you want them. This is something one has to keep in mind, when positioning the unit during the game, that on the next round it might happen. Most often, they perform as intended, however. Thanks to their 2+ armour save, the Cold One Knights are fairly resilient to shooting and to the attacks of regular infantry, but warmachines and other high Strength attacks can quickly diminish their numbers.

Primary Role: Hammer, Assault, Anti-Armour.

Unit Composition: When deciding on the size of the Cold One Knight unit, there are two main considerations. For one, they cause Fear, which means, that they benefit from a high unit strength. A unit of 10 Cold One Knights has a unit strength of 20, which will be enough to outnumber and thus break most infantry regiments after a charge. The numbers will also allow the unit to function still after sustaining a few losses on their way towards the enemy lines. 8-12 models is a good size to aim for, deployed in two ranks. Such a big cavalry unit is very powerful, but also very expensive. Therefore, it is sometimes sufficient, to have a small unit, only 5-7 models in a single rank, which delivers the same punch while costing significantly less, but does not benefit as much from their Fear ability and is more susceptible to shooting losses. Musician and standard bearer are a must for such an expensive unit, you absolutely do not want to lose a combat only because you did not include those, but usually a full command is best. To further increase their combat ability, adding a Noble on a Cold One is often a good idea, especially with a smaller unit.

Magic Items: Like most elite regiments, Cold One Knights can take a magic banner. There are a few banners, which will work great in this unit. The Banner of Murder is a great choice, because the unexpected increase in charge movement gives them a tactical advantage. Just don't try to aim too high, because a failed charge, if you roll too low for the extra movement, is rarely a good thing. This needs some practice to get right. The War Banner is also good, especially in a smaller unit of Cold One Knights, as it helps in breaking your enemy units.

Cost (pts): Yes, they are expensive, especially a bigger unit, which can reasonably benefit from their Fear ability, but Cold One Knights are both resilient and powerful, and therefore they are well worth the points spent on them. One unit of Cold One Knights is a great addition to almost every Dark Elf army.

Cost ($$$): Cold One Knights are available in blisters of 1 metal rider/plastic mount model and in boxes of 4 metal rider/plastic mount models. There is a special command blister available, which contains all parts needed to build either a musician, standard bearer or Dread Knight. They are quite expensive, but eventually you won't get around them. Since a small unit can already be used to good effect, you can start out small (i.e. 1 box and 1 command blister) and add more models to them over time. More than 12 models will only see use in highly specialized all-cavalry armies.



COMING NEXT...

Executioners

Primary Role: Assault, Anti-Armour.

Harpies

Primary Role: Warmachine Hunter, Mage Hunter, Harasser, Missile Shield.


Mon Sep 12, 2005 4:41 pm
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