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7th Edition High Elves Tactica – Part 3 – The Strategic Purpose of your Army

Tactics, Part 3 — Determine Your Army’s Strategic Purpose

At this point the High Elf general should now sit down and determine the army’s strategic purpose, i.e., how is this Army going to win the battle? No army can dominate every aspect of a battle; the majority of armies will only dominate one category (if that) and have one or two glaring weaknesses. You should therefore, choose one or two aspects in which you want your army to excel.

The High Elves, as an army, are more suited to dominating certain phases of the game than others. High Elves are very good at offensive magic, better that average at maneuver, shock melee, average at defensive magic, attrition melee, and psychology, below average at missile fire, and are very vulnerable to enemy missile fire and magic.

The High Elves can be an effective “shock” army. We have the tools to concentrate a high volume of combat power onto a small area of the battlefield. Such tactics are completely dependent upon unit teams and isolating enemy units, meaning that a High Elf army must dominate maneuver in order to win the melee phase.

Quick review of what the term “phase” means in the context of these articles: it does not refer to the phases of a Warhammer game turn, i.e. Movement, Magic, Shooting, Close Combat. It does refer to the strengths and weaknesses of a given army that can be exploited by the High Elf general or by his opponent to gain an advantage on the battlefield:

Melee Troops
Shock Melee
Attrition Melee

Counter Magic
Mage Hunting
Magic Offense
Magic Defense
Maneuver Melee Psychology
Missile Fire

So, what kind of an army appeals to you? You should really try to dominate the phase in which you feel you will have the most fun. You can darken the sky with arrows, you can blast the enemy with magic, you can run over the enemy with an overpowering melee unit (Prince on Star Dragon), or you can play a tactical game all about creating uneven battles through assault with multiple units. Your army selections should be made with the goal of dominating your chosen phase(s) while reaching parity in or minimizing the others. Every general should consider how his army will fare in each phase of battle during the list creation process: Maneuver, Melee, Missile Fire, Psychology, Magic.

Ensure that your army can defend itself in each phase
Once one has decided the phases where one wants to achieve superiority or dominance doesn’t mean that one can ignore the other phases. There are inexpensive ways to defend yourself in all phases of the game, and its made easier if one uses “multi-purpose” units, or units which have benefit in more than one aspect of the game. Shadow Warriors, for example, can serve multiple purposes; they provide missile fire, limited damage interdiction, and march interdiction. Ellyrain Reavers can hunt enemy interdiction units, mage hunt, perform march interdiction, or run down fleeing enemy troops.

A word of caution, just because a unit is multi-purpose does not mean it can always perform all its roles at the same time. Using the Shadow Warriors and Reavers as examples, notice that the Shadow Warriors can do all three of its roles at the same time, but the Rreavers are not multi-taskers as they cannot mage hunt and attack enemy damage interdiction units at the same time. When creating one’s army, one need to make sure there are enough units to do all the jobs that need doing if multiple tasks arise.

Almost every phase has one or more complementary phases. If one has chosen to dominate the missile fire phase, for example, march interdiction should be a key secondary objective. The slower your enemy moves, the more time one has to do damage in the shooting phases. Along with the archers and bolt throwers, I would strongly suggest Shadow Warriors, Ellyrain Reavers, Chariots, and Great Eagles as integral parts of such an army. As a bonus, each of these units will be able to hold or contest a table quarter at the end of the battle. By choosing these units, one has defended oneself against an opponent who dominates Melee by keeping his units out of melee for additional turns.

So one has defended against the melee phase, what about psychology? Although all the units mentioned are vulnerable to psychology, it is not a big issue to this army. Hopefully, there will be few if any offensive charges where fear tests must be rolled. Panic and terror checks are always a problem, but a centrally located general will provide extra leadership as needed. On the whole, the High Elf army that chooses to dominate the missile phase is not too vulnerable to psychology.

The magic phase, however, could be a problem. Exactly how much magical punishment one feels one’s army can endure is up to you, but the High Elf army is known to crumble even under moderate amounts of magic damage. As noted before, five dice and three scrolls should be the minimum magic defense. Some of the march interdiction units above can dual-task as mage hunters. Also one could use the missile phase dominance to try and destroy or panic the unit(s) that are hiding the enemy mage(s). The High Elf general must be smart about eliminating these sorts of threats when he can, through active exploitation of one’s dominance in his phase of choice.

The use of multi-purpose units and a reasonable allocation of points to defensive magic should allow any High Elf army a chance to mitigate its weaknesses before it takes the battlefield. Remember that a weakness is still a weakness, and a general should be actively looking for ways to eliminate threats during the actual battle.

Disperse your Victory Points
Many generals field their armies with an “uber”-unit which contains their general and possibly a mage along with their best shock or attrition melee troops. The problem with this strategy is that the “uber unit” can’t be everywhere at the same time, and it often fails to accomplish much aside from wading through a couple of diversionary units. The bigger drawback is that the hope of victory will be destroyed along with the unit, since the army cannot win without the unit.

One of the great things about the High Elf army is the ability to field effective units at a relative moderate cost. Many very effective units can be fielded for around or under 200 points: 12 White Lions (180 points), 10 Archers (110 points), 5 Ellyrian Reavers with Bows (105 points), 5 Shadow Warriors (80 points), 24 Spear Elves (216 points), etc. Each of these units are very effective, but losing the unit does not spell the end of your army. This makes it difficult for the opponent to “concentrate” on any one unit of the army, and any “uber unit” will be wasted taking out a unit of 110 point archers/ reavers/etc. This while the rest of your army is destroying his supporting units and occupying table quarters.

I rarely take less than 10 deployable units (at 2250 points) in my armies, and I perfer to push 12 or 13. I find it an advantage to have many different tools at my disposal; and the more units I have the more things I can do on the battlefield. 10+ deployable units also gives you a good feel for what your opponent’s deployment is going to look like before you commit your major units, and keeps the opponent from tailoring his deployment to yours. I would feel very uncomfortable if I was forced into battle with say, only eight units. The more units the better.

Detail each Unit to a Team and an Objective
An often forgotten aspect of army construction is to assign each unit to a team, and each team to an objective, and then deploy the team together within striking distance of the objective. It does no good to deploy a unit of White Lions out on the right flank when they would best be used as a “stick” unit supported by a Dragon Prince (deployed on the left flank) flank charge. When infiltrators are deployed, you want to make sure the Shadow Warriors use their special deployment rules to give the best chance of achieving their objective, whether it is primarily mage hunting, march interdiction, or damage interdiction. We’ve all experienced games where we felt our units were deployed out of position, and I believe this happens because we failed to think through what the units purpose was, when we were creating the army list.

Teams and Objectives
Clearly you can’t detail your teams to specific objects, like “Kill the Helblaster”, when you don’t know what troops, or which army, you’re going to be facing. Unit objectives should be more general like so:
Archers – Kill enemy light units, cause panic check to larger units.
Shadow Warriors – Kill enemy war machines, mage hunting, march interdiction.
Dragon Princes – Team with White Lions, attack enemy Attrition/Shock Melee
White Lions – Team with Dragon Princes, attack enemy attrition/Shock Melee
Ellyrian Reavers – Eliminate Opposing fast Cavalry, attack Enemy missile/ War Machines, Support White Lions/Dragon Princes if needed.

This sort of unit allocation will help keep you “eye on the ball” during deployment. It’s too easy to make mistakes or fail to think through objectives during the “heat of deployment”. Save yourself the effort and do it before the game.

Reproduced with permission by PaperElf, additional source material for these articles can be found in the General’s tent at Machiara’s web site, Battle Glade.


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