Welcome to High Elves . net

7th Edition High Elves Tactica – Part 5 – High Elf Order of Battle

Tactics, Part 5 –– High Elf Order of Battle

As noted in sections one through four, High Elves depend on maneuvering assault teams into such position where they can attack an isolated enemy and quickly destroy it. The longer your multiple units are tied up in combat, the longer the enemy has to react to your movements and bring in reinforcements. Remember, units engaged in combat are the least maneuverable units around . . . they are stuck in combat until the battle ends.

This article will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our various melee units: which situations they are best used for, what they bring to the table, whether they should be on the table against certain armies, and with which additional units that particular melee unit can effectively team. Notice that this concept of teaming only works if you’ve gained an advantage in the maneuver phase of the game . . . you can’t flank a unit if another unit is denying you that flank. Most of the analysis here will assume that one can get out on the flank and create the opportunity for multiple charges through one’s superior maneuverability.

Core Choices:

Spear Elves If one fields Spear Elves, they will often be in the center of your battle line, taking charges from the most fearsome enemy units while waiting for counter chargers from our “shock” melee units.

Spear Elves benefit from two special rules; (Martial Prowess (fight in extra rank) and “Speed of Asuryan” (always strike first, i.e., “ASF”) and are our best source of combat resolution bonuses. At nine points a model a unit of 20 with full command comes in at 205 points. I believe viable unit sizes are 10, 15, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, and 28. With the larger unit sizes, the +1 for outnumbering makes the Spear Elves very important. Remember the outnumbering +1 represents a 2 point swing in combat resolution. (+1 for the High Elves, and a loss of +1 for the enemy) With four ranks, standard and outnumbering they carry a +5 (+6 if you consider that the enemy does not get the outnumber bonus) combat resolution modifier into combat.

Rank Size for Rank Bonus is 5 Models: – New 7th Edition Rule

This rule affects the optimum size of a ranked infantry block. The 6th Edition standard, of 20, is still legal, however it loses rank bonus upon suffering a single wound. This seems to say that our optimum size might be greater than 20. If that is the case than the typical two spear blocks might be the next casualty. Two units of twenty four with full command are 588 points. I’m experimenting with “Uber” units of 28 (7×4) and 30 (6×5)

This comes down to a trade-off between attacks and static points of resolution and whether or not ones list has the points available for the larger blocks.

Spear Elves can be used for the following missions: Assault Team Anchor (large units with benefit of magic spell “Courage of Aenarion”), Assault Team Support (small units without command).

If stubborn, the Spear Elves are one of two or three units (others being White Lions and larger units of Phoenix Guards) that can perform the “stick” portion of the “stick and flank” tactic against any enemy “Shock” melee unit. If not stubborn, beware attempting this “stick” against weapon skill 5+ and/or strength 4+ enemy units. Against weaker units the new rule “ASF” should help carry the day. In addition a Battle Standard Bearer or “Gem of Courage” could prove very useful.

The Spear Elves can get off a large number (Martial Prowess) of attacks, 15, 18, or 21 (10, 12, 14 on the charge) depending upon whether one’s frontage is 5, 6 or 7 wide. The attacks are strength 3 however and should not be expected to do much against heavily armored or extremely tough opponents. Adding a combat character to the unit greatly enhances the combat effectiveness of the unit. Remember the combat resolution benefits of the Spear Elves are lost, if one allows them to be flanked. Do not allow this to happen.

Spear Elves are best teamed with fast units that can flank the enemy engaged by the Spear Elves (Dragon Princes, Silver Helms, and Ellyrian Reavers).

Archers are not a classic melee troop, but they can provide a melee boost in desperate situations. Units of Archers can threaten flank charges into important combats, and are also decent fighters when pitted against light enemy troops.

Archers are our best “Flank Superiority troops available. Light enemy forces will feel compelled to engage and destroy the Archers or be destroyed themselves by concentrated missile fire (often supported by “Curse of Arrow Attraction”). Archers can also be helpful as Assault Team Support near the end of the game, when most enemy units are engaged in combat and there are no attractive targets.

Archers can perform the following missions: Flank Superiority, Assault Team Support.

If one intends to use the Archers in melee combat, one may want to take more models then the minimum size of ten. Fifteen Archers can reform into a compact combat unit that packs a combat resolution punch (ASF, +2 for ranks and 15 for outnumbering purposes).

Lothern Sea Guard
The Lothern Sea Guard is our second unit that benefits from the “martial prowess” special rule. They are also (almost by definition) an Archer melee unit.

According to the fluff the Sea Guard are said to offer the best of both the Spear Elves and the Archers. However with shields they cost 44% more (13 points) than the Spear Elves (9 points) and they are armed with bows (24” range) as opposed to the Archer’s longbows (30“range).

Their expense makes really large blocks, cost prohibitive, with optimum sizes being 10 or 12 models with Shields.

The Sea Guard are however very flexible from the sense that, they can be played as either Archers or Spears as the occasion demands and can perform the following missions: Assault Team Support, Flank Superiority, and Fire Base Rear Guard.

The versatility benefits of the unit are difficult to achieve as it takes different formations to maximize either the spears or the bows. The strongest option is probably to deploy as a Spear Block performing a Fire Base Rear Guard mission and look for targets of opportunity (i.e., large targets or units on a hill) where all ranks of the block can shoot.

The Most “esoteric” 7th Edition Rule Change

Ranked missile troops (Sea Guard?) now have the ability to shoot from ALL ranks of the formation, IF the formation is on the “Flat” and the target is a “Large Target” or the target unit is in an Elevated Positions”. (i.e., on a hill.) “Give your opponent the hill piece in terrain selection, take Sea guard and blow him away!” (page 9, BRB)

Lothern Sea Guard are best played as Fire Base Rear Guard with fast armies capable of engaging the enemy on turn two (Dragons, Eagles, Dragon Princes, Silver Helms, Ellyrain Reavers, and Chariots).

Special Choices

Sword Masters of Hoeth
Sword Masters are excellent fighters and one of only three units in the game with a weapon skill of 6 (other units: Wood Elf Wardancers, Chaos Chosen). They “always strike first” and have two weapon skill 6, strength 5 attacks per model. For all these advantages, Sword Masters have two major weaknesses: toughness 3, and a 5+ armor save.

Missile fire can make mincemeat out of an expensive unit of Sword Masters, so you’re going to want to shield them from such ranged dangers as best you can. This normally means approaching the enemy battleline from behind a wood or other obstacle (Banner of Ellyrian and/or Sacred Incense can be helpful).

Sword Masters can perform the following missions: Assault Team Hammer, Flank Superiority, Assault Team Support, and Mage Hunting.

Sword Masters can bring the hurt in Melee combat. Ranked seven wide with champion they bring 15 weapon skill 6, strength 5 attacks, striking first, that typically hit on 3’s and wound on 2 or 3+. Give them the “Banner of Balance” and they will decimate the undead (i.e., no fear checks or auto breaks) If one knows that they are playing the “shambling hordes”, I strongly suggest two units (give the second unit “Lion Banner”). I believe viable unit sizes are 5, 6, 10, or 12 as support units. As main battle units (unusual, rare and not really recommended) 20 or 25 played in “square” blocks with the champions and/or nobles in the corners. This gives maximum attacks regardless of direction of enemy assault.

Sword Masters should team with an “attrition” melee unit or a fast “shock” melee unit.

As mentioned above Sword Masters can be fielded in small units of 5 (with or without Blade Lord) as assault team support. This unit would cost 75 – 87 points making it one of the more expendable units we can field. When fielded with a larger unit of Spear Elves or Phoenix Guard these small units could act much like an Empire detachment. They don’t get the automatic flank/countercharge, put the parent unit’s ability to hold in combat means that your opponent faces a heavy flank charge on your next turn if said opponent is unable to break the parent unit. This small unit is dishing 10 – 11 strength 5 attacks at weapon skill 6 which coupled with the parent unit’s static combat resolution will break most units.

The small unit is better than an Empire detachment because with ASF they can seriously damage light units thrown their way in an attempt to tie them up. If the small unit is charged with a substantial unit, flee. If the enemy fails to catch the Swords, than the big unit is set up for the countercharge from the parent unit, “Right out of the Empire handbook”.

Phoenix Guard
Make the Phoenix Guard stubborn (Korhil, Magic Spell) with ranks and banner and one has perhaps our finest attrition melee unit. Give them the “Banner of Arcane Protection” for magic protection, MR(2) (or play Caradryan for MR(3)) along with their 4+ ward save, weapon skill 5, strength 4 attacks, striking first with leadership 9, resulting in a formidable melee unit.

The Phoenix Guard’s ward save is helpful against missile fire, however a Noble with “Sacred Incense” (-1 to hit) can provide additional missile defense. Their ability to cause fear (i.e., immune to fear) make them the elite of choice against the undead armies. If you field Phoenix Guard, they will often be in the center of your battle line, taking charges from the most fearsome enemy units while waiting for counter charges from the less stable, but more deadly members of the assault team. Phoenix Guard can be used for the following missions: Assault team anchor (large units with or without character), assault team support (small units without character).

As previously noted, the Phoenix Guard are one of three units, four if one counts the Seaguard, along with White Lions and Spear Elves that can perform the “Stick” portion of the “Stick and Flank” tactic. Their weapon skill 5 means they will hit more often and, possibly more important, not be hit as often by elite (WS 5) or substandard (WS 2) enemy troops.

Phoenix Guard are very good troops, and in my opinion the most improved unit in the 7th edition list. A unit of 20 Guard with combat character (perhaps a battle standard bearer with great weapon and “Armor of Caledor”) can give a very tough object in the center of your line. Given full command and the War Banner a unit of 20 costs 350 points not counting the character, a big investment in what will probably be your most expensive unit.

Phoenix Guard are best teamed with fast units that can flank the unit engaged by the guard (Ellyrian Reavers, Silver helms, and Dragon Princes). If the Phoenix Guard have a Battle Standard Bearer, White Lions are very attractive teammates. Again with Battle standard Bearer, small units of Swordmasters or Spear Elves are also decent teammates.

White Lions
White Lions are now “stubborn”, an ability that makes them a natural for the “stick” assignment of the “Stick and Flank” tactic. In addition they are “Woodsmen” yielding good flexibility, come equipped with “Lion Cloaks” giving missile resistance, and at strength 4 the strongest Elf unit in the entire list. White Lions can perform the following missions: Assault Team Support, Assault Team Hammer, or Assault Team Anchor.

White Lions are excellent flakers; if they hit almost any unit in the flank, it will probably break.

Unfortunately, their great defense “stats” does not mean that they are a great anchor unit. They have two big weaknesses; toughness 3 and armor save of 5+. They tend to lack static combat resolution (absent exorbitant and completely unjustified expense). I believe the viable unit sizes to be 5, 6, 7, 10, or 12 and prefer the single rank formations where all models are in the fight. Their cost often means that they will have lower unit strength then the opposing enemy unit and must rely on inflicting wounds and avoiding casualties in order to win combat. With a leadership of eight the “Stubborn” break test is a nerve racking proposition as they are odds on to being run down against fast “shock” melee troops should they break. Note well, that “Stubborn” and “Un-breakable” (I wish) are two completely different things.

Good generalship can overcome these drawbacks in several ways. The first is to expand the White Lion’s effective charge range. This can only be accomplished through employment of a usefully located forest. The White Lions can then approach the battle from behind and very, very slightly to one side of the woods, forcing any enemy unit wishing to charge them through or around the forest, functionally reducing the enemy unit’s charge range. Many opponents will have difficulty with this due to their unfamiliarity of estimating charge ranges through difficult terrain. This leads to failed charges or undeclared charges that would have been successful. This strategy is especially useful when teamed with another more effective anchor unit such as a big spear or Phoenix Guard block. This unit will be fielded slightly ahead of the White Lions angled in towards the woods. Enemy units will now be unable to skirt or go around the forest without engaging the other anchor unit, but if they engage the other unit they expose a flank to the White Lions.

The problem with this tactic is that you have to convince your opponent that he wants to fight in the area where the forest is located. Of course denying your opponent a central portion of the battlefield in this manner can be a tactical victory all in itself, especially if you force your opponent to split his forces to avoid your forest supported small White Lion unit.

White Lions can also be very effective when teamed with a redirection unit. The White Lions can approach the dangerous enemy unit while a Great Eagle lands in front of the unit to angle it to one side. The enemy can either charge the Great Eagle and expose a flank to the White Lions, or hold and receive a charge from the White Lions in the front. As a variation the white Lions can be used as the countercharge unit in the “Flee” tactic discussed in Part 4.1 of this article. One easy way to employ this tactic against cavalry units, if you don’t mine sacrificing the redirection unit, is to put the redirection unit very close to the enemy (i.e. one to two inches). Meanwhile keep the White Lions and other combat units in position 16-20 inches away, depending upon the speed of the unit you’re planning to trap. Again the Eagle is a good sacrificial unit, both because it’s cheap, but more important because it tends to influence your opponent into thinking you are trying to redirect his unit without adequate support. Your opponent charges the unit, but instead of holding, you flee. If all goes well, your opponent runs you down, and therefore must move his entire charge distance right into the middle (one-two inches) of your trap and the White Lion countercharge. As an added bonus, have a fast unit available as part of your countercharge force so that your opponent has little hope of getting away should he elect to flee from the countercharge.

Bottom line, the White Lions are difficult to play, but they have serious potential and if played properly can become an integral part of a successful battle plan.

Shadow Warriors
The changes in the 7th Edition High Elves Army book with respect to the Shadow Warriors are in my opinion all good. However, the changes to the skirmisher rules in the Baseline 7th Edition Rule book are not so good. Skirmishers have lost the ability to move at “Double Pace” and now march like other individual models. This means they are now subject to being march blocked. This greatly harms their flexibility and coupled with the fact that they can be forced to deploy in own deployment zone on low terrain tables makes them a problematic army selection.

One of the bonuses of fielding Shadow Warriors, (if you play open lists) comes during your opponents deployment, as he will have to place units inside terrain features such as woods if he doesn’t want the Shadow Warriors showing up in the middle of his battle line. If your opponent does not have access to scouts, this can be a big problem for him (ranked units take forever to get out of the woods, since they cannot march and are slowed to half speed). Even if he does have scouts, you are forcing him to deploy them in the woods, which is often not the place he would have preferred.

Ellyrian Reavers
The Reavers are fast. With movement 9 and fast cavalry rules, they are very, very fast. They are also vulnerable. With only toughness 3 and a 5+ armor save, they are very, very vulnerable. Enemy shooters will tear them up, as will even the most basic damage spell (D6 S4 is bad news to these guys).

Ellyrian Reavers can be used for the following missions: Flank Superiority, Assault Team Support, Mage hunting, War Machine Hunting, March Interdiction, and Redirection.

Ellyrian Reavers assigned to a “Flank Superiority” mission will work with a team of other units to eliminate all enemy light units on a particular flank. With their excellent speed, they can perform as effective “shock” melee against low toughness, light Armor units. Their bows allow them to cause panic checks and inflict long range damage on such units as well. This will allow heavier units such as Silver Helms or Dragon Princes or slower, vulnerable units such as Swordmasters to freely support the main assault teams without having to worry about fast cavalry, missile fire, skirmishers, or small units of heavy cavalry crashing in from the flank. Archers, Bolt Throwers, other Reaver units, Shadow Warriors, and Chariots can all be effective members of this team.

Ellyrian Reavers assigned to a “Assault Team Support” mission are primarily concerned with either moving into position to provide a flank charge on enemy units engaged to the front by heavier “anchor” units such as Spear Elves, Lothern Seaguard, and Phoenix Guard, or “Hammer” units such as Dragon Princes, Silver Helms, Swordmasters, and White Lions (if “Stick and Flank tactic is used) or with drawing failed enemy chargers in to charge range of “Hammer Units” (if “Flee” tactic is used). The Reavers speed and flexibility make them an ideal choice for the “Flee” tactic, but their Fragility makes the harder hitting Dragon Princes or Silver Helms better choice for Assault team Support When “Stick and Flank” is used.

Ellyrian Reavers assigned to Mage Hunting will attempt to close with and engage units containing enemy mages, placing as many attacks on the Mage as possible before breaking. Those assigned to War Machine Hunting will close with and engage War Machine Crews. March Interdiction and redirection tactics have both been previously discussed. Suffice to say that the Reavers are not the ideal for either of these missions, but can perform them if no other units are available.

Silver Helms
Silver Helms have become the red-headed step child of the 7th Edition High Elf list. As a special selection they compete for playing slots with the improved elite units. They have not improved; in fact they have lost the ability to carry a magic banner, or to be fielded as light cavalry without barding.

Silver Helms however, can still be fielded with a 2+ armor save and still bring strength 5 attacks on the charge and can be used in Flank Superiority, Assault Team Support, Assault Team Hammer, and War Machine Hunting missions.

Silver Helms are the second best Flank Chargers in the High Elf army, so to the extent possible one should be using them in that role as part of one of your assault teams. They team with any anvil or support assault unit that can break ranks.

Dragon Princes
Dragon Princes have lost access to their ithilmar barding, thereby losing an inch of their movement and two inches off their march and charge ranges. Their costs have moved to 30 points a model and 50 points for full command from 26 and 45 points respectively. On the upside they now get two attacks and are no longer a restricted 0 – 1 choice. They benefit from ASF and are now perhaps the finest “Heavy Cavalry” hammer unit in the game.

Dragon Princes are strength 5 on the charge, have weapon skill 5, Initiative 6, leadership 9, and an armor save of 2+; all above average statistics. They are immune to dragon breath, fire and flaming attacks and can carry a 50 point magic banner plus a 25 point item for their champion.

Dragon Princes can be used for the following missions: Flank Superiority, Assault team Support, Assault Team Hammer, and War Machine Hunters. Dragon Princes are the premiere flank chargers of the High Elf Army, so to the extent possible you should be using them in that role as a part of one of your assault teams. Against some armies you will be able to engage the enemy’s lighter or flanking forces with your dragon Princes before they assist the assault teams, but if you don’t have time (i.e., your opponent has several fast shock units bearing down on unit) you should try to clear the flank with your Ellyrian Reavers, Chariots, or other flank superiority forces to allow the Dragon Princes the freedom to assist your main assault teams.

Dragon Princes can be used in tandem with almost any sort of anvil or support assault unit that has the ability to break ranks. One of the problems with using the Dragon Princes with a shock unit such as a chariot is that the Enemy unit can turn to face the Dragon Princes leaving its flank open to a unit that cannot break ranks. One will want to make sure you have two rank breakers available against any sort of big infantry or cavalry unit.

With only toughness 3, and loss of the +2 charge initiative, one wants to avoid being charged or stuck in combat. Dragon princes can take unacceptable casualties if charged by any tough 4+

Tiranoc Chariots
Tiranoc Chariots are the longest range “shock” unit available to the High Elves. The downside is they cannot march, enter difficult ground, break ranks, or gain the flank bonus on flank attacks.

Tiranoc Chariots can be used for the following missions: Flank Superiority, Mage hunting, War Machine Hunting, March Interdiction, and Redirection

Tiranoc Chariots assigned to a “Flank Superiority” mission will work with a team of other units to eliminate all enemy light units on a particular flank. With their excellent speed, they can perform as effective “shock” melee against low toughness, light Armor units. They have D6 strength 5 impact hits, two strength 4 attacks (crew with spears), and two strength 3 attacks (horses) on the charge. The team of other units could include Archers, Bolt Throwers, Reaver units, Shadow Warriors, and other Chariots.

Mage Hunting with Chariots is problematic unless the target unit is small. Any impact hits are distributed as shooting and cannot target the mage specifically. The attacks of the crew and horses can however be targeted and can be effective against a lightly armored mage.

War Machine Hunting is the Chariots forte as all attacks are directed against the war machine crew.

Again March Interdiction and redirection tactics have both been previously discussed. Suffice to say that the Chariot is almost a natural for redirection. It’s cheap (by High Elf standards, 85 points) it is fast and is unit strength 4. One must however pay attention to alignment as the chariot will destroy itself if it flees into difficult terrain and if will inflict impact hits if it flees through a friendly unit.

Lion Chariot of Chrace
The Lion Chariot is the High Elves hardest hitting “Shock Interdiction” unit. Lion Chariot’s have D6 strength 5 impact hits, two strength 5 attacks from the White Lion crew, and four strength 5 attacks from the War Lions, and causes fear. The Lion Chariot is a new unit introduced in Seventh Edition and can be used in the same manner and for the same missions as the Tiranoc Chariot above. However, the Lion Chariot is slower with a movement of eight inches and a 16 inch charge range.

Great Eagles
Great Eagles are, bar none, the best and most useful troops that a High Elf general has at his disposal. At 50 points a copy, Great Eagles perform a whole host of tasks on the battlefield while risking little in the way of points. Great Eagles are fantastic march interdictors, excellent diverters, the best unit we have to draw out Goblin Fanatics, and very good at deep strikes against light enemy units such as war machines.

It’s not too difficult to see why great march interdictors. 50 points for a flying unit that prevents enemy marching is a very good deal, and if the Eagle is targeted by enemy magic or shooting, that just means that fewer elves will be in harm’s way. Two Eagles, for a 100 point investment, can slow the advance of your opponent’s entire assault team.

The problem is getting your eagles behind enemy lines in the first place. This is where patience is important. You will most likely not be able to fly your Eagles behind the enemy on turn one, since the enemy starts out 24 inches away and the Eagles only fly 20 inches. This is why your first move with the eagles should only be 6 – 8 inches out in front of your battle line, ready to swoop behind the enemy advancing forces on turn two without exposing themselves to enemy charges on the way. You may have to alter this plan if the enemy has cavalry, especially if they get first turn, since the cavalry can be halfway or more across the board by the first turn. In this situation, place the eagles across from the cavalry (if you wish to interdict some or all of your opponents heavy mounted units) so that the Eagles will be ready to immediately interdict (or redirect) if they move quickly forward.

Great Eagles are also great at redirection, which has been discussed extensively elsewhere. Sending a 250 point enemy unit with a 250 point character off in the wrong direction, taking them out of the game for two turns, is not a bad return for a 50 point investment. As an added bonus, under seventh edition rules the Eagle no longer has to hold to force the redirection, but can flee the charge. The charging unit can no longer freely redirect his charge (as in 6th Edition) but must chase after the fleeing unit giving the redirecting Eagle a better chance of survival than before. This allows for rally and flying back into the game (following turn) for more redirection later in the game.

Drawing out Goblin fanatics is another great use for Eagles. 50 points is a small price to pay for getting those fanatics out of the Goblin units as quickly as possible, and the Eagle might survive the process if the first fanatic doesn’t reach the Eagle (since subsequent fanatics cannot go through the first one). Goblin fanatics can really mess up a battle plan, and getting them out of their units should be a primary priority.

Finally, there are few war machine crews (dwarfs excepted) or missile units that can stand up to a dual charge from a pair of Great Eagles. Even a single Great Eagle can normally do the job on a toughness 3 crew like humans or elves. If your opponent has gone war machine heavy, Great Eagles can make him pay; if the war machines can see your troops, your Great Eagle can see and charge the war machines.

Repeating Bolt Throwers
Repeating Bolt Throwers can be operated in one of two ways; either a single bolt or a six bolt volley at a range of 48 inches. The single bolt is strength 6, rank penetrating, no armor saves and does D3 wounds. The six bolt volley is strength 4, -2 armor save, and is not subject to the multiple shots special weapon rule.

Repeating Bolt Throwers can be assigned missions of flank superiority and damage interdiction.

Dragons, while not technically a unit, are character mounts with formidable fighting ability and maneuverability. There are three flavors of dragons; Sun, Moon, and Star with each being incrementally stronger than the one before. They all fly 20 inches, are toughness 6, cause terror, have scaly skin saves of 5+, 4+ and 3+, and a breath weapon of strength 2, 3, and 4 with weapon skill of 5, 6, and 7, attacks of 4, 5, and 6, and leadership of 7, 8, and 9.

Any enemy unit that takes a single breath weapon casualty from a Dragon must take a panic test.

Dragons are the ultimate hammer unit, and can be assigned the following missions; assault team support, mage hunting, and psychological attack. The Dragon’s terror is an excellent offensive weapon; as a proximity weapon any unit that starts its turn within 6 inches of the dragon must test for terror. Should that unit fail the test it must flee directly away from the dragon. The critical point; is that this happens on the opponents turn, and any failing units do not get a chance to rally before you get a chance to run the unit down or off the tabletop.

Dragons can be teamed with any assault anvil unit or ranked support unit.

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.


Subscribe via RSS feed?

RSS Feed

Elsewhere on the Web

Other websites I own and manage that you might be interested in.