Monday, July 5, 2010

High Elves in 8th - Tactics

Fellow Princes, we are less than one week away from 8th Edition and there is still a lot to cover.  In this blog post, I will talk about the different tactics we'll use to maximize our army's potential.  I will also cover some units that are not featured in today's list and how we'll use them.

First, the list:


Teclis = 475
Lore of Shadow

Noble (BSB, GW, AoC, GP) = 168
Caradryan = 175

20x Spears (FC, War Banner) = 225
20x Spears (FC) = 205
20x Spears (FC) = 205

20x Phoenix Guard (FC, Banner of Sorcery) = 380
20x White Lions (FC, Banner of Eternal Flame) = 340
8x Dragon Princes (FC, Banner of Ellyrion) = 305

Before we dig into the list, let me tell you about this dilemma that I have:

What do I take for my core choices?  Right now, I have the following choices at 2500 points:  The choice I have listed above; 60 spears total broken up into 3 units of 20 with Full Command.  My second option is the 30x LSG unit with Banner of Eternal Flame and another unit of 20x Spears in Full Command.  The bonus of the first is that I have 3 units top play with instead of 2.  Body count is 10 higher and each spear unit is fighting in 5x4 formation and have a lot of attacks going back against the enemy.  The advantage of the LSG combat formation is that they have bows that can shoot from 24" away and do a decent amount of damage.  They only have 10 less guys than the Spear regiment, but each LSG is 13 points and each dead is very costly to my army.  Personally, I think the 3 units of Spears are the way to do it.  More bodies means more combat efficiency and more units gives my opponents more to shoot at than just 2.

Let's see now.  I have a good amount of core, and they'll be used to push up the lines and provide an anchor for my elite infantry to chew up the enemy.  Phoenix Guard can take a lot of damage from the enemy and my White Lions with Caradryan gets a comfortable 4+ ward from magic.  Banner of Eternal Flame on the White Lions eats up enemy Hydras and other big scary things while my BSB goes happily in a unit of my choosing.  The only thing that stands out is my rather bizarre formation of Dragon Princes that goes galloping down one of the flanks.

A key note on how you should use these units.  In my first 8th Ed game I noticed one crucial aspect of war that High Elf players MUST adjust to:  Stone Throwers.  How will we avoid these giant rocks of doom?  The idea is to use a new game mechanic called "Swift Reform".  Before we go anymore in depth, this is how SR works:  In your remaining moves phase, if you have a musician, you can take a leadership check to reform however you like, followed by a normal move.  You cannot charge or march, but you can advance normally and shoot.  Now how does this help us?  Against Stone Throwers, Cannons or Bolt Throwers, we want to form lines of 10x2 instead of blocks of 5x4.  A ST (especially Dwarven ones) landing in the middle of our nice big block will kill a good amount of our expensive infantry.  We do NOT want that.  Instead, we keep our guys in nice lines until we're comfortable with our marching range.  This is really helpful with LSG as we can march up, shoot in the next round or reform and shoot in the next round if we're expecting a charge.  Just be mindful of your opponent's unit's position at all costs.  The last thing you want to do is get stuck in an advancing formation instead of a spear formation on the turn that he charges.  Not only will you lose rank bonuses, but you'll have less guys to attack back and will most definitely break from combat.

Contrary to what a lot of people have said, cavalry is still a very important part of your army.  You need it to decimate the enemy ranks so they cannot steadfast and chase down the enemy should they break from combat.  They are also great flanking units that can hit your opponent's flank or rear for an extra CR and give you movement advantage on the battlefield.  Another thing about cavalry is that they are always a target; especially heavy cavalry like Dragon Princes.  The way I'm running them is 6x3 with 3 extra bodies behind the main front.  I don't need them to get a rank and break the enemy, I just need them to flank charge and annihilate standard troops so the rest of my guys can run up the field. The way I see it, High Elves have two hammer units in 8th:  Dragon Princes and Sword Masters.  Both deliver an unhealthy amount of attacks but one of them is faster (both in M and in I), have more armor and is immune to fire.  You don't need a rocket scientist to figure out which one that is.  Sword Masters, on the other hand, are used as MSU (Multiple Small Unit) that sit on the flanks of larger units of Spears, Phoenix Guard or White Lions and function as supporting charge units.  You can use them to bail one of your units out of combat when the enemy has too many dudes, or you can just double charge them in at the same time and watch the fireworks.  Sword Masters will remain the MSU unit they were in 7th Edition.  Unless you want to +4T them every turn and just run them up the battlefield as fast as you can, they should never be taken in a large unit.

Now for what I plan on doing with Teclis.  He debuffs the enemy and casts Pit of Shades on anything that has low I or a warmachine that needs to die (auto-fails).  Okkam's Mindrazor makes charging something like Spearmen suicidal because they'll be taking a crap ton of S8 attacks in return with re-rolls to hit.  Getting to Teclis will also be a challenge because he'll have Smoke and Mirrors to play switch-a-roo with Caradryan.  That's going to be good at keeping him away from assassination attempts and force the opponents to think much harder than he otherwise would.  Don't be afraid to cast 4-5 dice at a simple debuff if it means it'll save Teclis' ass or prevent damage onto a unit that you need to stay in the fight.  The last thing you want to do is hold back with Teclis because he's not that kind of character.  He's there to power through your enemies' defenses so be really ballsy when using him to get off the spells you need.

I honestly see Teclis playing a much bigger role in 8th Ed than I do in 7th.  Spells got much more devastating and the Star Dragon is pretty much out of the picture because of all the field artillery.  Is taking him cheesy?  I think Teclis is even more risky than he was in 7th Ed.  There's almost no guarantees on how the battle will turn out.  Some spells have a chance to backfire, your casts and dispels have a chance to shut you down and random charges keeps Teclis on his toes more than ever.  With TLoS, I can't even take Teclis out of a unit for the fear of someone gunning him down.  All in all though, with careful play and precise execution, I think Teclis will be THE competitive build for High Elves in 8th Ed.  We need magic now more than ever.


Alex said...

It's an interesting list, and I like the number of foot troops.

If you're regularly allowed to field special characters, Teclis is hands down, the best HE choice, if not one of the best all-round choices in almost any army especially in terms of casters. You can actually take him out of a unit. I can't remember the rule as it was one I read last week about being near a unit of similar sized models.

Great point about reforming.

As for cavalry, I think certain types will be very effective, Dragon Princes in particular.

I do think that your list suffers from 2 problems.

I don't think units of 20 spears will be good for "holding the line." Last edition they were actually better static res than they are now (again speaking in terms of 20). Your large LSG unit will provide both utility and will be more likely to stay. I think one unit small unit is good, while the other would be useful as a larger group. The benefit of "lots of attacks" at Str 3 just don't mean anything, especially where it counts, but maybe rerolling to hit will count for enough. Either way, spears have to kill most other "basic" infantry at a 2:1 ratio to be effective and that's tough to do at STR 3.

Which brings me to my next point and the other problem with the list. I think that once your dragon princes are dead (and they will because T3 cav models are going to be taking saves this edition), you're going to have a hard time killing anything except with magic. The army has incredible staying power but staying power will be a common theme this edition and since HE troops are more expensive, you need to find a way to kill things. Of course, some of that will come down to how SoA works, but my guess is that it will simply be strike at initiative.

Just some thoughts and I hope they're helpful. Unfortunately, I won't be able to test out my own HE theories as I'll be playing DE this edition in my local gaming group.

Dangermouse425 said...

I concur with the comments above about unit size. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, HERO, on running two units of 30 Spears, FC, rather than 3 x 20.

HERO said...

32x Spears (FC) = 313
32x Spears (FC) = 313

Min core for 625. I'm ready to give it a try! :-D

Anonymous said...

How do you field 8 dragon princes as 6x3 with 3 extra bodies behind the main front?

"especially heavy cavalry like Dragon Princes. The way I'm running them is 6x3 with 3 extra bodies behind the main front. "

Dangermouse425 said...

Let us know how it goes. I'm thinking of running 2 x 30 spears, FC (one with a banner) in 2000pt games.

Allonairre said...

Hi Herofox

I suggest if you want to experiment with our units take Teclis out of your army. I think that you will struggle to decide what's better when you have irrisistable force without miscasts bouncing around the field, this backed up by a very strong dispel phase as well.

I am not saying go without magic only take Teclis if nothing else will cut it. You already know that he is good, with the right lore I think you could surround him with crap and still come out ahead, almost.

Just a thought anyway, ths will probably mean losing alot of games though.

HERO said...

Archmage with Book of Hoeth then :) Or you can go cheap with a Staff of Solidity. With the second, you have enough points to add in Korhil. I'm competitive though, I like guarantees.

Anonymous said...

How do you field 8 anything in a 6x3 formation, THEN with 3 extras behind?

Thats 21 models.

Anonymous said...


Warriors of Chaos Strat!!!


I go to battle for the top seed and have no idea what to do... I LIVE OFF YOUR STRATS IS TRUE!!!


Anonymous said...

6x3 with 3 extra bodies behind the main front
may have been a typo ie 5 being the front and 3 extra bodies behind the main front
my 2%

Anonymous said...

Swordmasters are GREAT in high numbers..
28 in horde formation, with BSB and life giving archmage with life.. awesome deathstar unit that just wont go anywhere

Giving the archmage talisman of saphery and forliaths robe - whats that, your chaos lord issues a chalange? hmm my archmage accepths. WHAT? errr.... your chaos lord cant touch me, hehhee =)

Anonymous said...

i think 50 spears is a good formation. plus the PG on one side and DP on the other!

Anonymous said...

whats up guys i've been out of the game for 12 years and just now getting back into it. I missed the entire 7th edition rule book and HE book so I'm still a little confused as to how exactly the game has evolved. With the help of some friends i'm becoming more familiar with 8th edition, which is nice because it seems our high elves kick ass. Quick question though... could someone please explain to me what benefits you have by forming your dragon princes into 1 row of 6 but with 2 models behind the center guy (forming a "T" if you look at it from above). Call me old school but i thought units had to be set up in a particular manor?

HERO said...

No benefits at all. In 8th, you're losing attacks if you rank Dragon Princes from the back (they only get 1 supporting attack).

Anonymous said...

Where do you guys usually bunker your lvl 4 archmage? If you're battling a wood elf- or any other shooting heavy- army, do you find yourselves having to place him in 2nd row of PG to avoid being picked off? This forces you to place your BSB and another hero in this unit, making it a bit saturated for a unit that I see as being a defensive one.

By the way, does anyone know if wood elves can march AND shoot?

Anonymous said...

Also, how often do you find yourself bringing the world dragon banner along? I typically bring them on my PG unit (where I bunker my mage). I figured our enemies will throw everything they have against our mages because, lets face it, we're completely screwed without them.

Another quick question. If my support mage uses the same lore, and rolled for the same spells, can I cast two of the same spell in my magic phase?

spuge said...

sadly teclis lore selection in illegal. he know hig magic OR 1 spell from every 8 lore. he cannot field full normal lore

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