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Here's your Help on How to... Witch Elves (quite long...)

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:18 am
by Ehakir
Lately there has been quite some discussion about the use of Witch Elves. That is why I decided to express my own experiences with this destructive unit. At some times, they are even more destructive than the by many people loved Black Guard. But the Black Guard lack the poison and higher amount of attacks, however. A combination which makes the Witch Elves a foe to be reckoned with, as the effects of poison become a lot more clear when you have a high amount of attacks (in other words, few attacks give you few poisoned hits).
But what is the use of Witch Elves then?

The Combat Power of Witch Elves

Basically, there are two ways to field Witch Elves. The first way is to field them in an unit of 5-7 models, where the enemy will not consider them a threat. The other way, which will be discussed later on, is the way to field them in larger blocks of about 20 models.
The first mentioned way uses the main principle of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, where he says that if you know both your enemy and yourself, you will win every battle. Therefore, you should never give this unit a standard, as this might indicate that the unit has some hidden power given by the banner. 10 Points for a champion is better spent on another Witch Elf in this case, if not exceeding 7, or you must have a specific target for the Witch Elves. More on this at the Gifts of Khaine paragraph. A musician is not needed, as you do not intend to flee with them. If they are fleeing, they have lost their valuable third attack, and should go for a tablequarter if it is still possible for them. Musicians and standards should be provided by other auxiliary units if you are not sure of winning a combat. Your enemy mostly (especially at tournaments) does not know how to deal with this ‘strange’ unit of five armourless 1W T3 models. And yes, on paper they really seem to suck. But what happens if you charge them into a giant, for example? You get 12 (giant’s width is 50 mm) poisoned attacks that hit the giant on threes with poison. So each 6 you roll to hit is automatically a wound. The result is about 3-4 poisoned hits, and another 8 normal hits, which net you another wound. The giant is on the brink of taking a leave from the game, and there even is a 50% chance that he will not kill your Witch Elves, as he might ‘yell and bawl’ or ‘pick up and…’ in which case you’ll loose the combat or maybe loose a model. And not mentioned yet, is the advantage of not needing a terror test to charge!
This applies to other large creatures as well, but not in the same degree as with the giant, as some of the wounds will probably be saved by armour/ward saves. A dragon would for instance only take one wound where a giant takes three. So their first use is the use of crippling big monsters
Now think of the ‘normal’ infantry in the warhammer world. Poor WS, T3, 4+ armour save. If you would charge in frontally, this would result in 15-21 attacks, netting you about 3-4 wounds. That’s not enough to break such a unit, you say, and you are right. But you are playing Dark Elves, mate! So you should already have thought of the idea to charge a unit of Dark Riders in the flank of the unit. Now the tide turns in favor to the Dark Elf side, as the attacks who come back to the Witch Elves will not kill off a lot, and the Dark Riders’ attacks will kill enough as well to guarantee a decisive win. Here the Witch Elves fulfill [/b]a supporting role[/b], and as they will not strike last next round, and not cost as much as the Black Guard (which are also preferably fielded in larger numbers then 5-7 in consideration with hostile shooting targeting them), they seem to be the ideal elite-infantry unit to fulfill this role.
And now for the epic story of the Witch Elves. Imagine that the enemy had no armour at all! Think of Ogres, Minotaurs, Trolls, Flagellants, Skaven Slaves, Plaquemonks, Beast Herds, Skeleton Archers, Savage Orcs, Wood Elves, Zombies! And please notice that a lot of these units are meant to be protected by their fear-causing rule, which is negated by the Witch Elves! Your unit of 50-70 points will pay itself back really fast when facing these unit types. They will not need any kind of support, except maybe when fighting the bigger guys in this list, the Ogres, Trolls and Minotaurs. This is where the small unit confers the role of utter destruction, and the best is, that most opponents do not even notice that those five elven models can be a threat to their lines…
…Which brings us to their following, mostly just irritating part of use. The use which all of the extremely low cost units share. Units of harpies, executioners (5-7 again), dark riders. Witch Elves are indeed not meant for this use, as there are those others who can do it better, but the Witch Elves are the only ones that can eventually take a charge. No, I’m serious here, who can take a charge. Especially when having conferred the 5+ Ward Save of the Cauldron of Blood upon them. Most units rely on SCR to win their combats, combined with some hitting power. And some units take some more of the SCR, others tend to go better with some extra ACR. The ones with the SCR are the ones you should walk in front of. Angle your Witch Elves so, that the enemy cannot get away anymore, by standing one/two inches in front of him, and try to bring your cauldron and general within 12”. Now you have a stubborn wall. Beware of fear/terror causers though, as the girls loose their frenzy after having been beaten in combat. The next round, you will be able to charge in another unit in the to your battle line presented flank You can even try to make your unit as small as possible, to make sure the enemy cannot kill all of your Witch Elves. Swordsmen with one attack each cannot kill an unit of five witch elves if you rank them up one wide, but beware, as the enemy will get a flank bonus in the next rounds of combat as well if you let him charge your flank! This is the role of the tiny Witch Elf units as diverters.

Now for something completely different. The unit of about 20 Witch Elves. Witch Elves are the cheapest elite we have, being equally expensive as the Corsairs. What are the differences between them when fielding big blocks however?

Witch Elves:
- Have an extra attack through frenzy
- Have no armour at all
- Have poison
- Have an armour save of 5+ in CC, 4+ against shooting
- Can become frenzied by the use of the SSS, but cannot take another banner in this case.

Now, why would you take the armourless Witch Elves? Because you cannot field corsairs with poison, 3 attacks each, and armour piercing attacks. This is a real combat unit, which rips the badly to middle armoured units to shreds. Supported by their ranks, they can still beat knights as well, which is what the small units cannot do. Be aware of characters in units, and units like blood knights though, as they can be a real pain for this unit, as their high volume of low strength attacks will be undone by the heavy loads of armour these guys are wearing. If this was the only thing they had got, it would have been no problem, but as they can strike back with deadly attacks, they can even hold the charge against the Witch Elves.
What uses has this unit then?
The use I already mentioned in short, was the use of killing infantry. No matter how brave, no matter how strong, as long as the Witch Elves may attack first, and the enemy has no armour, they are going to win. This works the other way around too. If the enemy has clad himself with a lot of armour, but can only dish out one S3 attack each, he will have to struggle to do more than one wound. You, on the other hand, have 16-22 (incl. champion) attacks, and will kill as many as they do, and with armour piercing attacks, even more. It is highly advised to support the Witch Elves when facing full armoured units, as losing one combat, is loosing your frenzy, is loosing your hitting power, is loosing your Witch Elves. The same numbers apply to this unit as to the small Witch Elf unit, but the difference is that the big Witch Elf unit is, like you might have already expected, supported by its ranks and banner. This gives them the opportunity to charge the harder targets as well. This is the Witch Elves’ killing role, which is broader then the small Witch Elf unit’s killing role.
Next in line comes… well… not that much actually. The negative part of the great killing power of the bigger unit, is its cost. You pay 70 points per rank, which is a lot. Warriors with shields pay half the points, which is also due to the smaller frontage, but the Witch Elves as a killing machine, need their attacks. With 20 models, 6 attacks more is often better than one rank more, as one kill = one rank, but the kill does not get to strike at your valuable unit.

Why not to get Witch Elves

A lot of people are surprised when they see Witch Elves on the field, as they are ‘just’ T3 elves with no armour. And that is indeed just their flaw. When shot, they get shot as hell. And when they stand ready to charge, the enemy can present you an unit of Ironbreaker like men with some hero, and your Witch Elves will charge in. Frenzy, another double-edged blade. Big units are stricken the hardest by this double-edged blade, as the investment in the unit will have had resulted in a smaller army. Small units are more expandable however, and might even surprise the enemy when taking a hold to the last man if a cauldron is in the neighborhood. My advice has always been not to take huge units of frenzied troops, as the enemy can do with them whatever he wants (unless you are a very good warhammer player). Frenzy can be exploited, and that is why you will not see big units of Blood Knights as well, for example. In a full infantry army where everyone advances at the same pace, where the Witch Elves’ flanks are covered, and where you can give supporting charges with units like executioners the big Witch Elf unit may make its profit, but chasing fast cavalry around to get pinned or flank charged by tons of steel is no good for the Witch Elves. When facing a small Witch Elf unit most enemies ignore it for quite some time, as the rest of your army is big enough to be of a major threat. If this unit gets lost, it does not ruin your entire battle plans as well in most cases.

The Armory

No, this part isn’t about the armour of the Witch Elves, but about the magic banners and other equipement you can give to them if you do feel about fielding a big unit of Witch Elves. So what banners can we take?
- The Banner of Cold Blood
What this banner is meant for, is giving a higher chance of passing a leadership test. When do you need to test with Witch Elves? Right, if you have lost your frenzy. What were you at that time? Right, in deep trouble. This one is therefore a big no-no.

- The Banner of Murder
Whilst the 6th edition Banner of Murder was great for them too (granting an additional D6” movement on the charge), it suits them very well in this edition as well. The struggle of the Witch Elves was the armoured units, and this one helps you kill them off. Most selfspeaking, the effect of the banner gets smaller the less armour the target has. If he had a 2+ armour save which is turned into a 3+ armour save, you will inflict double the amount of wounds. If he had a 3+ armour save which is turned into a 4+ armour save, the amount of wounds will ‘only’ multiply with 1.5. This continues up until the targets with no armour, where this banner has no effect on them. Another case where the banner has no effect as well is the 0+/1+ armour save area, except if the unit is joined by a Death Hag, Assassin, or if the Hag has Manbane. More on this later.

- The Warbanner
Still a good banner, but overshadowed by the Banner of Murder. Indeed, this banner gives you a valuable +1 CR, but the Banner of Murder gives you much higher kill percentages against good armour. The Warbanner is better though if you need to defeat empire knights, chaos knights, etc., with an armour save of 1+ or even better. The Warbanner is better as well when fighting Daemons and Zombies, as they have no armour at all. In the current Tournament Environment the Warbanner might have an edge over the Banner of Murder.

- The Standard of Hag Graef

Is nice, but shouldn’t be your banner of choice. Your high Initiative means you get to strike first in most cases, and your frenzy means that if some Dark Rider unit is fleeing through the Witch Elves, you should not need to worry as they are Immune to Psychology. Only the General that is incompetent with diverting techniques should feel the urge to use it, or the general who faces High Elves a lot, as your Death Hag will get to strike first with her awesome lot of armour piercing (banner of murder) S4 attacks.

- The Standard of Slaughter
Witch Elves are one of the Dark Elf units that can take on prolonged combats if fielded in big blocks, and who should not concentrate on the charge only. On a D3 roll of a 1, this banner is equally good as the Warbanner, but it only gives its bonus on the charge. There are better banners for your BSB.

- The Dread Banner
Gives your unit fear. Nice, as there will be no need anymore to take your break test on double one when testing because of fear causing enemies. Nice as well, when the enemy hits your Witch Elves on 6’s. But Witch Elves are an offensive unit, not meant to be breaking. On the other hand, when facing units that do not cause fear, and you are able to kill enough of them, you will almost be sure of a failed break test, as after your hacking and slashing you might have inflicted enough wounds to have the outnumber bonus. And as we all know, outnumber + fear = double one for the enemy.

- The Hydra Banner
This banner can give you some extra punch in combat. It is only in the first round of combat, so you should be aware of this. A banner for the real death star killing Witch Elf unit, when combined with an extra attack from the Cauldron of Blood and the Banner of Murder. If you decide to go on the Witch Elf heavy infantry tour, take this banner and kill of anything standing in your way.

- The Banner of Nagarythe
Another banner which helps your unit hold a charge. Better used on a BSB in an unit of better protected guys to be a very solid anvil, or in a big unit of warriors for a somewhat more squishy, but still solid anvil. Not meant for units that can not stand losing a fight, like Witch Elves.
Conclusion: The best banners for the Witch Elves are most probably the Banner of Murder on the first place, because of its diversity, the Warbanner on the second place, to prevent losing a combat even more, and the Hydra Banner for the BSB to create a real punch packing unit.
The small Witch Elf unit should never get a standard bearer, as it would only pin an extra target marker on the unit, by allowing the enemy to score an extra 100 VP.

We have 25 points to spend on gifts, but which one should we choose? Again we need one which gives us additional punch against armour or additional punch on the whole. We have:
- Cry of War
The result should be, that you get more kills on the enemy. It works on every unit, even the ones immune to psychology, and requires the enemy to fail a leadership test in order to work in the following close combat phase. When all requirements are passed, it reduces the enemy’s WS by one. No, the enemy does not get WS 1, in which case the gift might have been of some worth, but it reduces it by one. Therefore it is only effective on units with WS 4 or WS 5. When WS 4 becomes WS 3, you now hit the enemy on 3’s instead of 4’s. When WS 5 becomes WS 4 they hit you on 4’s instead of 3’s But how many enemy’s with which the Witch Elves have trouble to beat do have WS 4/5? And how many of those have a high leadership value, or, a leadership value that is better than 7? Combine it with an assassin with the same gift, and it might work. Do not depend on this one.

Dark Venom
You loose your Poison special rule, and when in a challenge… hmmm better leave it for assassins. If your champion is involved in a challenge, it is usually in order to save the rest of the Witch Elves from a fighty hero. This one is nice however if combined with the Killing Blow gift of the Cauldron, where you get 4 re-rollable non-poison (more chances of KB) attacks. And when you killing blow your enemy, you get CR equal to the double amount of his remaining wounds. Situational, but can help you out of the danger. More effective probably to deny a challenge, and kill the bloke with 9 KB attacks from normal Witch Elves.

Hand of Khaine
Less attacks for the enemy you just killed! You can compare it to some extend to the Warbanner, but in a reversed way. One attack less for the enemy might be one kill less for the enemy, which is one CR less for the enemy which is the same as one CR more for you. It is however for a model in B2B with the champion, and the champion usually has some death zone around him. Can be combined however with the Dark Venom to make for a champion that can take challenges and might survive or reduce the overkill by one when not succeeding in killing her enemy. You can also go for the Rune of Khaine with the KB blessing from the cauldron and just kill the hostile character.

Black Lotus
Removes Poison, re-roll all 1’s to wound. Poison > Re-Roll 1’s to wound in this case. Meant to increase the Assassin’s chances of scoring a Killing Blow, it is contradicting to the Witch Elf Hag nature.

Removes Poison, but… gives you some sort of character in your Witch Elf unit! What Dark Elf master can strike with 4 S6 attacks? Nice when fighting armour, so this one is one of the better! Ok, the removal of the poison special rule is not very nice, especially against non-armoured foes, but the increase in strength makes up for it a lot.

Rune of Khaine
If you already know that you are going to face lightly armoured foes, this is the gift to get. In this case, each extra attack can be another extra kill. The best of the best, as it sort of gives you an extra Witch Elf to strike if you roll a 3 on the D3.

No outnumber bonus for the enemy, no flank/rear bonus, and no higher ground bonus. Clearly an item for smaller units of Witch Elves, as it has the same effect as the Warbanner or an ordinary banner for them. The enemy will always outnumber them, but not when this item is involved in the combat. It also costs 25 points, which is the same as the Warbanner, but does not give up another 100 VP when captured. Is a nice surprise for the enemy, and probably the only situation in which it might even be valuable to put in a banner bearer in the unit as well, equipped wit the Warbanner. When fighting a big block of infantry with your 7 Witches, you will have a banner and Warbanner, he will have three ranks and a banner, giving you a net result of –2. But then the hacking begins, the battlefield clears, and your 7 models might even win from the thirty Night Goblins that had come together in front of you. The banner makes them a prime target however, so you should be sure that the enemy has not a whole lot of shooting.

The best gifts for the Big Unit Hags are Manbane and the Rune of Khaine, followed by Witchbrew (for if your unit has had some smacking before entering the combat, and the hand of khaine/dark venom KB from Cauldron combo to give you a cheap mini-assassin.


And what you should expect from them. Let us first compare again. What are the advantages of an Assassin over an ordinary Hag?

The Assassin:
- has ASF
- has a better WS, BS, S, I, LD
- starts hidden
- can get a ranged weapon
- can take up to 75 points of Gifts of Khaine
- is feared by enemies
The Hag:
- is much cheaper
- can take up to 25 points of Gifts of Khaine
- can take Witchbrew
- is not expected to be able to kill a lot

You should never take an Assassin to protect a small unit of Witch Elves, as he will, just like a standard bearer, be a marker for the enemy saying: “Oh God, why don’t you shoot me?!”
The unit can however be used as an Assassin delivery system. Otherwise put, it is an infantry unit which you can use to be able to field another Assassin.
But what is it now that the Witch Elf unit lacks? Should you equip your Assassin, who is in a frenzied unit with a ranged weapon? Here come the answers.
The main advantage of the Assassin over the Hag is his ASF special rule. The only occasions on which he will not be the first striking is when attacking a model with the Nightshroud (VC), a model with the Noxious Vapours (DoC), or a Keeper of Secrets, who has an even higher Initiative value. So what should he kill? Your Assassin should kill the models that can not be killed by your Witch Elves or which are a threat to your Witch Elves. Models with a lot of attacks and sturdy armour. So what should the Assassin be equipped with? With Gifts that make him more effective against armour wearing types.
The Rending Stars also fall in this catogory, as they are S5+ (if combined with manbane), but as your Witch Elves are frenzied, they will either be in combat, or be charging, which does not allow you to shoot. You should only be able to shoot twice, to be honest. Once after having moved up to the enemy to allow your Witch Elves to charge the next turn, and once at a S&S if the enemy manages to charge you. The rending stars, which take up a lot of your Gift of Khaine points, are therefore out. The repeating handbow can be of good use however if you have some points to spare, but in most cases, those points are better spent elsewhere.

I’m not going to discuss all the gifts, as a lot have already been covered at the Hag’s entry. Gifts that are to be considered worthless and that have already been discussed, are the Hand of Khaine and the Cry of War.
Dark Venom
Meant to increase the CR generated by KB and other challenging wounds, this gift is effective if combined with KB and a lot of attacks, ergo, the Touch of Death and the Rune of Khaine. You can not combine this with Manbane, as it is a poison as well. But this combination does not give you the perfect anti-armour Assassin. He is somewhat specialized to the anti-hero side. Removes your Poison Special Rule however, so he is less effective against mean monsters. Increases thereby the chances of KB as well.

Black Lotus
For those who want to be sure that death means dead. More specialized to the confirmation of a certain death than the Dark Venom, this one can be trusted more. Again in combination with the Rune of Khaine and Touch of Death for the best results

Cloak of Twilight
You want your Assassin to protect your Witch Elves, and then you are going to equip him to fly away? Give this one to another Assassin, but do not remove your anti armour killing machine!

Here comes the anti armour type! Less effective than with the Hag, as the Assassin already has S4, but still very attractive. Combined with the Rune of Khaine, you can get up to 8 S6 attacks (if blessed by the cauldron), but you need the Cauldron to get KB. Combined with the Banner of Murder you will have a model that will put down about two charging knights. It depends on the type of knight how many you will put down, but it will really help in any case. Better than KB when fighting R&F, even though KB negates armour, as KB is less likely to occur. The Black Lotus, Rune of Khaine, Touch of Death combo might give better results at some times, but is more costly as well.

Dance of Doom
You do not want protection on a model that is meant to kill all that comes in his way…

Touch of Death
A must if you decide on killing characters, useless if you insist on blessing your Witches with KB all the time. If you give it to your Assassin, he does not need any cauldron support anymore. Combined with the Rune of Khaine, you already have a killing machine. Add in Black Lotus or Dark Venom and you are sure of a Killing Blow.

Rune of Khaine
Compulsory. Extra attacks at such a price are just great. No further explanation needed.

Venom Sword
Broadly discussed in other threads, this item only seems to cut is when put on an Assassin in a unit of frenzied corsairs with a BSB bearing the Hydra Banner blessed by the Cauldron for an extra attack. The Venom Sword bearing Assassin does not have enough attacks or strength to cut it. Situational as well, so a big no-no here for the Witch Elf protecting Assassin.

The Cauldron’s Blessings

This applies to both the big unit of Witch Elves and the small one. Apart from granting the Witch Elves Stubborn which may be handy for the small unit (remember, the big unit should NEVER EVER loose!!!), the Cauldron can bless the Witch Elves in three ways:

- The 5+ Ward Save. Interesting for the Big Block of Witch Elves, this gives them an equal protection to incoming fire as the protection of most of your other infantry units, but this one cannot be negated by higher strengths. Not to be used on the small unit as it draws too much attention to them.

- The Extra Attacks. Interesting for both units, when facing lightly armoured troops. I believe Calisson has made a calculation on when to grant any Dark Elf unit Extra Attacks and when to grant KB, and I would be glad to put a hyperlink here. The extra attacks should be seen again as some kind of Warbanner, giving you the needed edge to turn a loss or draw into a win. Useful against zombie-like units.

- The Killing Blow gift. Also interesting for both units, making them more capable of dealing with cavalry. Do not expect your 7 Witch Elves to kill off entire units of Knights however with this one, but you can win because of it. A rough calculation:
7 Witch Elves = 21 attacks = 15 hits = 2.5 KB = 3 kills (normal attacks kill some as well)
The knights strike back, with, depending on the type, 4-10 attacks, killing between 0-4 Witch Elves. You can take on the weaker knight types in this way, but not the stronger like Blood Knights, or Chaos Knights. Nice to cripple the Chaos Knights however. This is by the way a situation in which the big Witch Elves’ unit makes great use of its ranks to kill of the bigger units of knights.

Calisson included a quote of another thread where all the calculations have been made, and gives this conclusion:

If your opponent has an armour with save 3+ or harder, it is always more interesting to get KB.
For armour save 4+, take +1 attack, unless you wound only on 5 or 6, then KB is better.
For armour save 5+ or 6+, one more attack is always best.

Hopefully, you have all been enlightened a bit more on the use and abuse of Witch Elves. I would like to hear your reactions on where you think I have been truly right, and where I have proclaimed utter crap. C&C appreciated

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:07 pm
by Pops71408
Very well done. You can up with some good conclusions and ideas

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 2:25 pm
by Stonecutter
Superb analysis and excellent recommendations. Well done!!

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 3:35 pm
by Ehakir
Thank you for the positive reactions and kind words. I think however, that I might not have discussed all of the things surrounding Witch Elves. So if you have some additions/disagreements/critics, please post them.

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 4:37 pm
by Skilgannon
Good work here there are two comments I would make.

14 Witch Elves Full command are also a nice unit and at just over 200pts are still very cheap, or 12 with musician gives you enough to be safe from some light shooting.

Other than that the Death Hag BSB is a great addition and I think you have undersold it. People will know the BSB will have ASF and being able to march your unit right up to the opposition and give them the choice of charge or be charged is really valuable if time is not on your side such as when you are using an offensive army. I have used this combo many times and it can really do over alot of the enemies plans as you don't have to muck about with it you can apply pressure straight away.

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:11 pm
by Dalamar
Great article, I would disagree with one thing though.

Dread Banner
If you do go for a large unit of witch elves with a BSB in it, Dread Banner allows you to combine your high killyness with high US usually resulting with the enemy breaking on a double 1

Re: Here's your Help on How to... Witch Elves (quite long...

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:44 pm
by Dyvim tvar
Great job!!!

Ehakir wrote:This applies to both the big unit of Witch Elves and the small one. Apart from granting the Witch Elves Stubborn which may be handy for the small unit (remember, the big unit should NEVER EVER lose!!!)

Well, you hope they won't lose, but there are other big bad units out there that will beat a big block of Witch Elves if they happen to get the charge. But being Stubborn allows that big block to stick around and make use of its high initiative in the folowing combat phase.

Also, anoth thing worth noting is that if you are counting on being Stubborn from the Cauldron, you should also use a BSB (can be on the cauldron or elsewhere) to substantially increase the chance that the witches will stick.

Posted: Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:17 pm
by Calisson
Thank you, Ehakir, for this excellent analysis!
Even better to know it comes from someone who has thorough experience in the topic.

There is one argument I would dispute: the Hydra banner.
Sure it gives one more attack, but that is just one more added to many!
Did you evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the hydra BSB DH, compared to increasing the width of the unit to 7 and buying more WE to fill in more ranks? Or to the price of another COB (assuming you've got one already) instead of the BSB (which is much more versatile than the hydra)?
I really don't see this banner given to any unit else than cavalry, because it is very expensive for only 1 more attack per model, which WE have already plenty of.
More discussion on pennants in: The D.R.A.I.C.H. Boot Camp – flag-doping, but basically, besides the Hydra banner, I fully concur.

COB's calculation on when to grant any Dark Elf unit Extra Attacks and when to grant KB: hyperlink here=> The D.R.A.I.C.H. Boot Camp – doping with a cauldron of blood
and the recommendation is, for frenzied WE:
If your opponent has an armour with save 3+ or harder, it is always more interesting to get KB.
For armour save 4+, take +1 attack, unless you wound only on 5 or 6, then KB is better.
For armour save 5+ or 6+, one more attack is always best.
You're welcome to copy/paste that in your post.

Tar pit in association with COB: I believe this use deserves a paragraph of its own in your post. Of course, it implies to accept loosing frenziness, here what is important is stubborness and the availability of another unit to get a side charge.
As I highlighted in The D.R.A.I.C.H. Boot Camp - best setup for any Druchii unit, WE must be considered as a cost-effective tar pit in which any melee opponent will find itself glued, leaving its flank to your attack.
The COB is quite effective with WE, a COB would routinely give them one more kill, especially if they can use KB. But the main interest of the COB lies elsewhere: WE die quickly, however, these frivolous chicks refuse to quit if they are made stubborn by the CoB! Especially backed with a COB BSB, they make a highly effective tar pit… as long as they last, loosing 2 to 4 of them each round.
Being initially frenzied, they ignore fear and terror.

Reviewing what has been written in previous threads about WE (and mostly made obsolete with your present thread), there remain some questions to adress, or a couple of topics that you may be willing to insert somewhere in your analysis:

Witch Elves
- The main problem is the ASF High Elf infantry go first.
Swordmasters- 11 attacks,7.33 hits, 6.11 Dead Witches
White Lions/ Phoenix Guard- 6 attacks, 4 hits, 3.33 Dead Witches
Spearelves- 16 attacks, 8 hits, 4 wounds, 2.67 dead witches
Against Swordmasters you won't even attack back. Against White Lions or phoenix Guard you will get 2 Witches assuming the HE kill the Hag. You will still probably lose the combat here. So generally HE are not a good opponent for witches at all! Unless you take the ASF banner. Then you can butcher them.
=> if I was fighting a HE player, I would throw my assassin in there to protect them so. . . who would be striking back?
and =>What DE infantry is going to be able to go head to head with sword masters and win? And the WE lack of armour is moot in this point, since nothing we have will get an armour save against sword masters except spear men with a 6+. No matter what you engage them with, you are going to take damage [except with the ASF banner because sword masters are I5]. The best way to deal with sword masters is shooting, magic and other non direct approaches.

Are many people using Witch Elves? (pretty much superseded)
One thing about Witch Elves is the attention they draw. They look different than much of the rest of the army (all that pale, exsposed flesh with the usuallty dark paint most other units get) and the aura of potential that frenzy poses (possibly a hangover from the double attack days) and people will often devote extra magic or firepower to keep them out of the fight.

Witch Elves: Ever? Never?
If you know what type of army your opponent runs and his typical troop choices, then Witch Elves can be an excellent choice. They do very well against Undead and Daemon infantry in particular. (guess who are the leading armies in many tourneys?)

The problem with Witch Elves is that they are very specialized.
Problem is that due to Frenzy-baiting, inability to flee, and problems with armor, they can be a liability in a tournament environment where you don't know what you will be facing.

Witches need screening, both to stop baiting and so they charge the right thing, but are relatively cheap and hit like a truck load of broken glass.
Without a Cauldron, 1 unit isn't bad but more, you may struggle, just like in 6th edition but with a Cauldron 2 units aren't that bad since Stubborn changes their power by a mile.

Although they have no armour I have found just taking them in a large unit is enough to stop people shooting at them at all. This is a bit strange but usually they are more preoccupied with all my dark riders and harpies racing towards them.
I have found the main problem is magic missiles and other such spells which can easily kill 7+ in one go and thats with a fairly basic easy spell so putting the effort into stopping it means you might miss even worse stuff.
To stop this i try to keep them near the ring of hotek which is a fairly good shield as the threat of a miscast is often too big for my opponent and he will leave them alone.

Witch Elf unit o Doom many wary comments against that large unit which didn't impress much.

Stats, for a large unit:
Without Banner of Murder vs 2+ Armoursave you do 4 wounds
With Banner of Murder: You do 2 KB:s and 4 ordinary wounds = 6 wounds vs 2+ AS.

Optimal Size for witch elves?? provides many interesting testimonies. There are setting with 14 which seem successful. Possibly you could open a paragraph about the merits of such an intermediate unit?

In 1000 to 1500 point armies, Rabidnid takes 14 with a hag and standard, and mayby a banner, and a second unit of 5-7 in addition to the 14 strong unit.
The small unit is good as a counter attacker behind a line of crossbows. If you have a unit that is threatened by a charging unit, let them flee though the witches, who don't care as they are ItP, so they can counter charge the enemy unit next turn.
Its also a cheap unit to throw at bloodthirsters and dragons to hold them up for a turn and maybe inflict a few wounds.

Skilgannon: 14, FC, Banner of Murder (really worth while), Manbane (also really worth while): 215pts
This gives a reasonbably priced unit that packs massive killing power it works really well against things like Daemons and Undead or anything with low defence. Even against higher defence units like dwarfs it does really well but preferably could do with some assistance such as an assassin or shoting getting rid of a rank and making it likely that you will outnumber after the first round of combat.

Other option, same as above but with:
Death Hag BSB: Banner of Hag Graef, Manbane, Rune of Khaine: 200pts
This turns the witch elves in to an uber killing unit that can park infront of most things and do them over I have wiped out full units of charging cavalry easily with this unit. However, it is obviously very expensive but you do get amazing killing power in return.

Witch Elves ... how best to use them ? has more testimonies, in which:
you shouldn't put too many points in a frenzied unit; the enemy will be able to redirect them. If the unit is expandable, this is not a problem.

Rabidnid's association between WE and RXB: They tend to lurk behind my RXB. The beauty is that they ignore routing RXB due to ITP, and if they take casualties when losing combat they are usualy under 5 so the RXB ignore them if they rout.

Crone Hellebron and core WE needs a full paragraph in the leading post.

Waves of Witches provides some very intersting theories, and shows the association of:
5 witch elves + 5 harpies is 105 pts

A very succesfull kainite list 2k describes how effective is the result.
Crone hellebron
8 x 6 witch elves (no command)
after a tourney today, hellebron has gotten enough blood to rejuvenate herself for a couple of centruries non stop.

Again, thank you for your article, I hope that my quotes from older threads will inspire you a complement to your post, which I strongly suggest you inserted in the first post of the thread by editing it. That will help future reference.

And thank you for all D.R.A.I.C.H. readers, for I am now able to shorten the references to WE to your single thread instead of the previous many threads that are all quoted here above. :D
Of course you can rename your thread with a title starting with D.R.A.I.C.H., it is true to the spirit (and already hyperlinked there as THE lasting reference on WE).

Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:10 pm
by Dannyisevil
Ehakir very nice writen.
Thank you very much :D

Calisson nice long reaction. :D

- The main problem is the ASF High Elf infantry go first.
Swordmasters- 11 attacks,7.33 hits, 6.11 Dead Witches

With the COB 5+ ward safe there is 2 less kills?

Posted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:29 pm
by Rabidnid
Dannyisevil wrote:Ehakir very nice writen.
Thank you very much :D

Calisson nice long reaction. :D

- The main problem is the ASF High Elf infantry go first.
Swordmasters- 11 attacks,7.33 hits, 6.11 Dead Witches

With the COB 5+ ward safe there is 2 less kills?

With the ASF BSB they are initiative 6 to 8, so they go in front of everything in the HE list. Dread banner is a cute idea versus some specific lists, but the ASF banner is best in tourny style enviroments to take care of HE and deamonettes with their own ASF.

The main key to using witches is screening them so that they cannot charge anything but what you want them to charge. Fleeing or redirecting with the units in front of your witches will improve their effectiveness drasmatically. In 20 games I don't think my witches have ever been shot at, and only hit once by a magic missile. They are a very small unit at 14 strong, and not particularly frightening to look at, but the hag, death hag BSB combination can do appalling damage. Because the unit is so well protrected its a great place for an assassin. The assassin dosen't need to stay in the unit, but the 15+ S-6 AP attacks from 3 models is worth it just to frighten dragons and BT.

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:10 am
by Ehakir
Skilgannon wrote:14 Witch Elves Full command are also a nice unit and at just over 200pts are still very cheap

Just over 200 pts is what my most expensive unit in my army costs, looks like my interpretation of expensive is different to yours :lol: . But I would advice against the use of such a unit however, as it is still easily smacked down by knights (which most good generals will know), and as they are frenzied with a very specific role, they will be a lost 200 VP at some battles. Just like Dispel Scrolls in battles where your opponent has no magic at all. My opinion might be influenced by the fact that nobody has ever shot at my Witch Elves except when they could shoot nothing else or the threat was very very clear.

Dalamar: I edited the first post to include your point in the Dread Banner's entry.

Dyvim: You are right, they will hang around some longer. But would you really want to spend the points of such an expensive unit to get some unit that can hold his ground because of stubborn? After having lost a combat, they are T3 elves without armour and without enough hitting power to kill what killed them in the previous round whilst they still had hatred and an extra attack. You might want to use a 10-12 strong unit to function as a tar pit, but here I would be happier using executioners. They have to take a terror test when charging a terror causer, which will mean that the terror causer will only cause fear after a lost round of combat. As he will probably not have gained the outnumber in the first round of combat, you will keep your stubbornity. Witch Elves that have lost however, loose their frenzy, get to know Mr Terrorcauser, and need a double one to hold their ground.

Calisson: I copied the KB/Extra Attack part.
Being initially frenzied, they ignore fear and terror.

That is exactly why I would prefer Executioners or Black Guard in this case. If you are facing terror causers, and your Witch Elves loose their frenzy while having charged without having had to take a terror test, your stubborn will be of no use.

The problem with Witch Elves is that they are very specialized.

Which is why I would never invest 100+ points in one unit of them, unless kitted out fully to the top. Other units might be better then, though.

Without Banner of Murder vs 2+ Armoursave you do 4 wounds
With Banner of Murder: You do 2 KB:s and 4 ordinary wounds = 6 wounds vs 2+ AS.

I actually think that that is highly impressive! You have an unit specialized to kill lightly armoured or armourless units, and they can kill up to 6 models if the enemy has one of the best armour saves in the game! What units do have such armour saves and can subsequently stand up against the ranks, banner, BSB, probably outnumber of the unit? And remember who will get to strike first in the next round... probably the WE.

Re: Here's your Help on How to... Witch Elves (quite long...

Posted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:38 pm
by Camaris
The only occasions on which he will not be the first striking is when attacking a model with the Nightshroud (VC), a model with the Noxious Vapours (DoC), or a Keeper of Secrets, who has an even higher Initiative value.

Assassins and a Keeper of Secrets both have I10. As a result of this, using the threat of an assassin to protect your lines from the Keeper can prove effective. For example, the other day, I faced the Slannesh LD drain army, so I spent the first couple of turns lobbing Single Bolts from my RBTs at his keeper until he had about two wounds left. At this point, my opponent is a bit hesitant to charge my BG with his keeper because he was convinced that the only logical place to put an assassin is in a cc unit like BG, and he did not want to risk losing his greater daemon in a dice off. This hesitancy more or less cost him the game.

Anyway, don't mean to be too critical. As a whole I thought the article was great, and I think I might just have to dust off the witches and give them another try. :)

Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:46 am
by Coeur de lion
A very comprehensive run-through of WE and very valuable. It even tempted me to try out a Hellebron/WE/Khainite list with multiple units of 7 WE. WHile they did not do a lot of damage, they served as wonderful re-directors of Chaos Knights!

I managed to send a Khornate Exalted BSB off to the corner of the board for a couple of turns regrouping and anothe unit of Knights went to another corner, delaying their arrival while I beat up on his other units. The WE themselves were little more than speed bumps, but they did a good job. One unit did manage a flank charge on the Knights and managed to kill 2, thanks to a couple of 1s on the armour save rolls. The Knights fled, but couldn't catch them.

Later on thanks to Stubborn from the Cauldron, the WE managed to hold after being flank charged by Knights and then I was about to flank charge them with Hellebron on Manticore when he conceded.

I had not used WE before, but thanks to the tactics and ideas above, they did well and will use them again, though maybe not against High Elves :)

Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:34 am
by Sadisticity
Most people forget Witchbrew... They really help out with the combat resolution.

I fought this Unit of Dwarves with my Witchelves supported by a Harpy Flank. He used some effy rune to give him double unit strength (Example, unit strength 20 becomes 40). Unfortunately, because of Witchbrew and flank, he was unable to claim combat res for outnumbering and flanking.

His Dwarves broke and ran... lol

In a small army (1000-1500 points) you can easily field 7 witch elves at just 70 points and have them running all about the place.

Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:54 am
by Eccelex
Amazing read for sure, although I'm surprised that the asf banner isn't the best one in your opinion: since the game is mostly about heavy cavalry nowadays I kept thinking that the best for witch elves was a 5x4 setup with asf in order to be able to handle a charge; asf is also a good way to negate the main frenzy drawback aswell (ie the enemy manage to force you to move somehow..) since it doesnt matter that much where the enemy charge if you attack first with enough units (assuming you're not facing very nasty stuff like blood knights)

(Assuming that if you're using witch against cavalry army, you've got the cauldron for kb)

I just want to face undeads to give this a try... I feel like this kind of big unit will juste massacre his whole army while my nasty stuff take care of his nasty stuff :)

Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:00 am
by Rabidnid
EcceLex wrote:Amazing read for sure, although I'm surprised that the asf banner isn't the best one in your opinion: since the game is mostly about heavy cavalry nowadays I kept thinking that the best for witch elves was a 5x4 setup with asf in order to be able to handle a charge; asf is also a good way to negate the main frenzy drawback aswell (ie the enemy manage to force you to move somehow..) since it doesnt matter that much where the enemy charge if you attack first with enough units (assuming you're not facing very nasty stuff like blood knights)

(Assuming that if you're using witch against cavalry army, you've got the cauldron for kb)

I just want to face undeads to give this a try... I feel like this kind of big unit will juste massacre his whole army while my nasty stuff take care of his nasty stuff :)

I did use the BSB/witch unit and found it to be too fragile for it 400 odd points. These days its a CoB and 2x10 with full command and RoK on the hags. A frontage of 7 get 23-25 poison/KB attacks which can handle anything as long as they get the charge.

Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:27 am
by Layne
Death Hag BSB w BOHG = 140pts.

Unit of Harpies to get you a nice countercharge = 55pts.

So forget ASF and get two flocks. Or DR, do the same job, look better doing it, cost more, but still less than your BSB, and might even shoot someone you hate while they're about it.