Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tactica: High Elves vs. Dark Elves

Dark Elves Army Analysis

  • Fast, mobile troops, just like every Elven army
  • Powerful magic users that can take potent magic lores
  • Powerful Dragons and the dreaded Hydra
  • Great selection of competitively priced and diverse units
  • Some lists can offer a sick amount of shooting
  • Powerful and unique magic items that can fill many roles
  • They hate High Elves so much they re-roll hits always
  • T3, 5+ save just like most Elves
  • Ring of Hotek now only effects casters within 12" of it
  • High Elves have a much better time in combat with DE thanks to ASF and re-rolls to hit at equal or greater Initiative.

Dark Elves Unit Analysis

These guys can take just about every sick, twisted and profane item combination that you can think of.  They can buff the unit they're in with Ld.10 Stubborn thanks to that new stubborn helm, they can become nigh unkillable because of pendant, and they can outright maul with with things like Crimson Death.  You never know which combo you're going to get, but most of the time, the dude will be geared to take damage.  The Dreadlord can take a good amount of protection and still offer up some solid damage with S6 Crimson Death, so be wary of engaging him in combat.  Popular new items are the Black Dragon Egg that gives him a dragon's breath in combat or in shooting range, or having him be a Ld.10 Stubborn roadblock that can tarpit all day with the BSB in range.  Speaking of which, the BSB will most likely be geared for protection as well, since DE (for some reason) have a lot of magical armors that can save the day.  A popular choice will be a 1+ armor save that's re-rollable since the DE can steal all the magic items they want from the BRB.  If any Masters or Dreadlords are located in a cavalry unit of CoKs, then expect them to be geared out for substantial combat.

Supreme Sorceress
Be prepared to see a lot of Dark Magic vs. High Elves.  Since they can have additional army dice outside the norm and have spells that can completely wreck your units (Soul Stealer, Black Horror), you need to be ready.  A Lv.4 can sit tight in a large unit of spears with sac. dagger and go to town on you.  She can also choose to fly on a Dark Peggy and use things like Pendant + Focus Familiar to touch you when she otherwise wouldn't.  In fact, any sorceress with Focus Familiar is going to be playing all kinds of LoS and combat denial with the ability to reach out 6" from anywhere she wants.  Dispelling is going to be your best friend.  Be ready to accept that 1-2 spells are going to get off and you only have one scroll now (unless you take a Sigil).  The spells that you should be very wary of are those that's going to do massive, massive damage to units.  Things like Black Horror having no partials, auto-hitting center on top with a 5" template is serious business.  Don't let these things go off or you're going to have a lot of dead Elves (the good ones) to put away.  It's OK though, we're High Elves and we have +1 to dispel so unless they IF, we can save all our DD for these spells.

DE Magic
Just so you know, Dark Elves also have access to all the other "killy" lores like Fire, Metal, Shadow and Death.  Go through the magic sections on my site and study each lore to the best of your ability.  Knowing which spells and what magic combos can hurt your army the most is pivotal in winning the game vs. another magical army.  An example would be you unknowingly letting Mystifying Miasma go off because you're so afraid of his other hexes just to find out that having lower I means you lose your re-rolls to hit on ASF.  They can even take Metal to make their units more durable in combat or increase their chances to hit you in close combat.  Lore of Fire can buff their shooting so they wound you easier and Lore of Death can pick off your precious heroes.  I think every player that wants to play High Elves should study the magic phase in much greater detail than the other factions.  Not only do we have access to all of them and we should take advantage of each lore, but it helps widen our understanding of the magical combos our opponents can field against us.  Here's a brief tactical exercise for you:  Go through my magic articles 1 & 2 and see how these spells can benefit the enemy.  Apply them to each of the units listed in this tactica and see the combos in your mind.  That will prepare you for every possible encounter ahead and you'll know exactly which spells to let go and which ones to dispel.

DE Core Units
For the most part, he has the same unit you do in terms of stats.  The thing to note is that although they share the same I value as you, he doesn't have ASF.  This gives you a huge advantage over his spears in combat.  Their advantage?  Their price.  They can field almost every equivalent unit to you for a good amount cheaper. This means more of their units will be on the board and this means they'll have a lot more shots too.  Things to note:  Since their Spears are cheaper, this means they can get a lot more dudes in their units.  You might kill a lot of them when you first hit, but you know damn well that they're going to be swinging back (with Eternal Hatred too!).  Their RXB and Corsairs got exceptionally deadly in this edition.  That's because RXBs fire in 2 ranks and with a good amount of them on the board, you're going to see black-fletched arrows all over the place.  S3 arrows might not seem like a lot, but when your opponent starts rolling handfuls of dice a turn and telling you to take wounds with -1 armor thanks to AP, then you might start to sweat.  Corsairs got a pretty nifty buff too since they can shoot and opt to stand and shoot in 2 ranks.  That and the fact that they don't completely suck in combat kinda makes them the DE version of LSGs.  No worries, most of our troops can maul these guys once we reach combat.  Be prepared to eat a ton of lead before we get there though.

DE Special Units
Black Guard will still see a of play even if their max unit size of 20 will limit the amount we'll see on the battlefield.  This doesn't mean they're not good though.. Ld.9 Stubborn and ItP with 2 attacks each, always re-roll to hit, I6 and WS5 makes them extremely effective in combat.  Throw on the ASF Banner and they'll be going before us in combat (for the most part) and we won't get re-rolls to hit back.  This pretty much means that that stupid ASF banner has to die ASAP.  Such is the case in last edition, such is the case now.  If you think DE will have only Black Guard to throw at you in combat, you've definitely got another thing coming.  People have started to dust off their Executioners as well since they know they're going to get their attacks back no matter what.  S6 Killing Blow is no laughing matter and since they can put a character with Stubborn and/or ItP in there, Executioners will have plenty of face cleaving fun.  Even lowly units such as Witch Elves can do insane amounts of damage to your Spears.  I6 denies your ASF's re-rolls and the fact that they can have plenty of WS4 S3 attacks coming back at you could mean a lot of dead Elves.. especially when buffed by Cauldron.

The Hydra and the Cauldron
The Hydra has always been one of those units that are "questionably" priced.  It has good movement, causes terror, has a strong breath attack (proportional to remaining wounds), and has regen.  Although it's no longer the insanely undercosted beast it was in 7th Ed, it's still a extremely powerful monster to deal with.  It has a lot of attacks with Hatred and can now breath in combat.  Terror is no longer as powerful as it was, but the fact it's still a raw damage machine for fairly low costs makes it very powerful.

As for the Cauldron, that thing got buffed significantly last errata.  It is now T10 and has a 4+ ward which makes it extremely durable vs. enemy shooting and magic.  At the beginning of each turn, it can opt to give units a 5+ ward, Killing Blow or +1 attack.  The ward save keeps units in combat and protects them against our magic, Killing Blow is extremely dangerous on things that have multiple attacks (like Witch Elves or Black Guard) and +1 attack is good for everyone.  Expect to see this thing on the field a lot because of all the wonderful buffs it can offer the army.

Everything Else
This area is opened for suggestions and will be added based on player feedback/requests.

Recommended Magic Lores

  • Hex their unit's toughness to make them easier to kill
  • Hex their unit's strength to decrease their damage keeps our units alive
  • Pit of Shades threatens Dragons, Hydras and the Cauldron
  • Mindrazor on ASF units with re-rolls to hit mauls all of their scary big units
  • Easy to cast and diverse lore that gives us plenty of utility against DE
  • Flames of the Phoenix can now burn down entire units unless dispelled
  • Vaul's Unmaking can destroy the powerful magic items that DE relies on
  • Flaming Sword of Ruin puts the hurt on everything in his army
  • Damaging spells all over the place puts the hurt on low T models
  • Flaming Cloak adds to the damage once your units hit combat

Recommended Units

Lv. 4 Archmage w/ Book of Hoeth or Book of Ashur
When spells need to go off and Teclis is not an option, Book of Hoeth is your best bet. High Elves with their innate +1 to dispel can take Book of Ashur for a total of +6 to dispel.  Personally, I think IF is still the better choice because it can force spells to go through regardless of whether or not they're willing to dispel.  If your opponent is not taking much Hydras and you think your units can take care of his monsters, then High Magic is the way to do it.  The last thing you want is to get stuck in combat with some unkillable lord or have your wizard in jeopardy because of Ring of Hotek.  Just Vaul's Unmaking the thing and continue on your merry way.  For more info on what lores to take and how they help your units, check out this previous post.

Prince and the BSB
The Prince should feel pretty comfortable with defensive builds such as AoC + Vambraces of Defense.  A humble GW will do against most enemies and you can throw in whatever unit needs more combat support.  I find that PG or Spears is the best place to put a S6 Prince because you can increase the damage potential of that unit by a good amount.  The BSB is also a must have in this edition.  The mounted version in a unit of infantry means he can get picked out by spells that would normally allow a Look Out Sir! roll, so you probably want to keep him on foot.  AoC/Guardian Phoenix + Great Weapon would be the best way to kit out the BSB, but if you need a 2+ armor on the Prince, feel free to take the more expensive version from the BRB.

Korhil, Caradryan
Korhil is there because his S6 and KB can threaten any anything in his army reliably.  He can buff up the Phoenix Guard with a nice Stubborn 9 and a good amount of attacks.  Just make sure he's on the edge of the unit and challenges as much as he can to stay alive.  Caradryan and his MR3 is invaluable against something like Dark Elves because their magic will be a serious pain in the ass.  The 3 S5 Flaming Attacks that each does D3 wounds is also going to be a solid answer vs. Hydras as well.

Lv.2 Mage w/ Seerstaff of Saphery
Supporting caster can take something cheap that can widen the amount of spells your army have access to.  Key choices here are a Lv.4 with High Magic and a Lv.2 with one of the other lores listed above.  Lore of Metal is also an excellent support lore because Glimmering Robes making White Lions 1+ vs. shooting threatens everything in the DE army.  Enchanted Blades or even Swords of Ruin just increases overall damage done to his army, which is always good.

Spears, LSG
LSG can shoot plenty, but don't ever expect to outshoot his army.  The only reason why you might want to deploy wide is to prevent getting breathed on.  In short, your units should win in combat vs. most of their standard troops because you have ASF, Martial Prowess and re-rolls in combat.  Even though they get tons of re-rolls vs. you because of Eternal Hatred, with good enough magic augmentation, you should be owning face left and right.  I recommend Spears simply because you can take more of them over LSG and they can be just as good as your elite infantry because of the sheer number of attacks vs. T3 units.

Phoenix Guard, White Lions, Sword Masters
Phoenix Guard with ASF and I6 can only be matched by his elite Black Guard.  If he takes ASF Banner anywhere else, the only other units you should watch out for is his CoK, Witch Elves and his heroes/lords.  Other than that, PG should be doing pretty good damage vs. the rest of his army because of their Fear, 4+ Ward and S4 vs. T3.  White Lions with a Eternal Flame Banner literally threatens everything in his entire army.  Elves die on a 2+, you chop off Hydra heads all day and even his Dragon should be afraid of ASF S6 White Lions.  The 3+ natural armor save is brilliant against S3 shooting and with Glimmering Robes giving them a 1+ save vs. shooting just because ridiculous.  Last but not least, don't be afraid to take some Sword Masters to apply pressure on the flanks and pull some shooting off your main forces.  As much as I hate saying this, our elite SM in MSU formation tends of take a lot of fire.  The reason why is because once they reach combat, they can pretty much chop up half a squad of units by themselves.  This is good and bad - good that SM pulls fire away from the rest of your army (big threat unit) and bad that they're an expensive unit to lose.

Dragon Princes, Eagles
Eagles are just dirt cheap target practice RXBs or Corsairs to say the least.  They are there to apply pressure and nothing else.  March blocking isn't that powerful anymore, but the ability for you to take a good amount of them for a reasonable amount of points puts Eagles to good use.  Just fly them at your opponents missile troops and force them to deal with them or be locked up in combat.  Dragon Princes, on the other hand, are still rock hard I6 WS5 units wearing 2+ armor and is immune to flaming attacks.  They pose a huge threat to the army because almost nothing is faster than them in combat and they do a lot of damage.  The 2+ armor saves them from a lot of attacks but with enough armor piercing shots, even our mighty DPs can drop dead.  I'm afraid to say it but I'm going to anyway:  DPs and Eagles are great distractions and fire magnets, nothing more.  It's our infantry that's going to be doing the damage to the DE forces.

Lion Chariots
I'm not going to say much about these guys except.. if your opponents don't shoot at these, once they reach combat, a lot of Dark Elves are going to die horribly.  Except these guys to get shot up to all hell, but they're really good at doing damage to DE units.

Recommended Strategy
  • Neutralize or pressure his RXB and shooty units so the rest of your units can reach combat.
  • Be mindful of character bombs holding the Ring of Hotek.  The way it works now is that it only effects casters within 12" (not targeting within) of it.. so they might try to rush in and deny your magic phase that way.
  • Expect to eat some really hurtful spells from Dark Magic, so save your DD and scrolls for these.
  • Use your own magic to the best of your ability to neutralize, disable and destroy his magical item's advantages.
  • Flames of the Phoenix or another mass destruction spell can seriously hamper a Supreme Sorceress' ability to use Sac. Dagger.
  • Your units can win most combats once they reach the frontlines, so make sure you do damage to his shooting units first unless..
  • ..Target priority suggests you might need to switch targets and disable his more fighty units if they cause higher threat to your army.
  • Dark Elves are fast, so you must compensate your movement to his.  Most of the time, he can move just as fast as you can so be extra careful about where you position your units.
  • Dark Elves are also very angry when fighting High Elves.  Expect to take more damage than normal because they get to re-roll all their attacks vs. us.
  • That is also why Standard of Balance makes a great banner to have on our elite infantry when fighting DE.
  • Assasins - they're out there and they're faster than you and have ASF.  Good thing that once they do damage, they're going to be taking it to the face.
  • Don't forget your Valour of the Ages special rule when fighting against your Dark kin!
  • Hit the Hydras hard and their breath will be a lot weaker.  Banner of Eternal Banner should go on whatever unit you want to kill those damn things.
  • Be wary of which units he plans on buffing with his Cauldron of Blood.  Unless you have Pit of Shades on it, I would just ignore it and go for nuking the unit he's trying to buff instead.
  • When facing Dragons, go for the Dragon first!  The Lord on top is probably going to be impossible to kill, so unless you Vaul's Unmaking his items, the Dragon will be easier to get rid of.


Anonymous said...

Some handy hints, though why in the characters section do you always include SC's as the hero-choices? Might be nice to suggest some Noble builds that don't involve spamming SC's? (I know they are very good and undercosted and work better when not leading their unit (i.e Korhil in PG/ Cardyan in WL)).

On another note; with multiple small units of X-bow toting Dark riders someone with lore of Fire or a single repeater X-bow can easily put paid to them in a single volley/spell...

HERO said...

Yah I'll put up some normal Prince/Noble builds later today.

Anonymous said...

Got a ton covered, but how about a example army that would be good against DE

Anonymous said...

My main opponent is going to be DE. Every unit of his that can shoot does. Last week he smashed a Dwarf army even though he left one of his units off the board and his Hydra never made it to combat

Anonymous said...

These tactica are very very very much appreciated! As an O&G player I am in the middle of painting a HE army and have yet to play my first real HE battle. Your tactica help me get to grips with 8th ed HE. Again, thanks!

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