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Tactics on Winning with Ellyrian Reaver Knights

Chracian from the Ulthuan.net has posted a great write up on the strategy and tactics for using High Elves Ellyrian Reavers. They have lost a lot of love in this 7th edition. I hope with this tactics article we can bring them back into our game.

Ellyrian reavers are the fast cavalry of the HE army. As such, they have a very different role to play than silver helms or dragon princes, and I will try to outline how reavers can be used. This is intended for newcomers to either HE or WHFB, so please excuse me if I cover what may seem to others to be obvious ground. A lot of this advice can also be applied to DE dark riders.

First of all, reavers are fast cav. It is important that the rules concerning fast cav are understood in order to get the best out of this unit. I will not repeat the rules verbatim here (as we’re not allowed to, although I will refer to them) but direct readers to page 70 of the rulebook.

Roles that reavers can perform

Reavers are fast (obviously…). As their horses are unbarded, they can move very quickly indeed. Also, given the ability of fast cav to reform freely, they can move through narrow gaps left by terrain or even blocks of troops (move through in single file and then reform once through the gap). These things allow them to quickly get into a position within the enemy lines. Once there, they can perform many different tasks:


Units cannot march if an opponent’s unit is within 8”. If you can get reavers this close to an enemy unit, it prevents them from marching and thus slows them down. This is particularly useful against fast moving units, such as other cavalry.

Make sure that your reavers are not within the charge arc of the enemy units, unless you want them to be charged, which brings me on to the next thing…


Tempt an enemy unit to charge you by deliberately placing your reavers within charge range (or better still, just outside of the charge range) and within the charge arc of the unit. As reavers are lightly armoured, the enemy might well see them as an easy target and charge. Declare your charge reaction as flee. Given the high Ld of HE, it is likely that they will rally and so you are now in a good position to follow through in the next turn, as reavers can move after rallying.

This approach can be used to either tie up an enemy unit for a turn (or more, if they carry on following the reavers around, such as frenzied troops) or to lead an enemy unit into a position where they can be charged by your better armed and armoured units, such as dragon princes or swordmasters. Make sure, however, that your reavers are at least 6” from your other units – if they are (heaven forbid) destroyed, you don’t want them causing panic.

War machine/character hunting

Given the speed at which fast cav can move, it is not unreasonable that they could well approach a war machine quickly and dispose of its crew. This can be risky as war machines could well decimate a unit of reavers if you don’t get there first.

Alternatively, reavers can be used to hunt for that pesky wizard that hangs around the back of all the other units, making a nuisance of himself. Don’t forget that reavers can shoot after marching and have 360 degree line of sight, which helps enormously when using this approach.

Outfitting reavers

Reavers are special choices and so the overall army composition needs to be taken into account, but assuming you have decided to include a unit, what should you include in the unit?

Size of unit and Command group

Reavers are usually put together as units of five. Fast cav don’t get any rank bonuses, so an extra rank won’t provide combat resolution and can’t take part in close combat. They are there to annoy enemy forces, not engage in close combat, so five is usually considered optimal.

A reaver champion (harbinger) has an additional +1 to his BS rather than +1 attack and so is more likely to hit with his longbow, if equipped. This is a personal decision but I don’t think the points spent on a harbinger are worth it.

A standard bearer will probably not be useful either. It is more likely (from what I have seen) that the standard will be a hindrance (100VP to the opponent if he captures it) rather than a help (+1 combat resolution). However, if you are using reavers as bait, a standard does make them more tempting.

A musician, on the other hand, is very useful, especially if the reavers are used as bait. The +1 Ld when rallying can be invaluable, and so overall I would recommend a unit of five reavers with a musician.

Equipping the unit

Reavers come equipped with a spear as standard. This can be swapped for a bow or the unit can have both spears and bows at extra cost. How you equip them is entirely down to how you want to use them. If you expect your reavers to get into close combat, take spears; if they are hunting take bows. Taking both is the best option, but of course there is the extra cost involved; personally, this is my favorite as it allows you to cover most options during the game and means your reavers can take on different roles.


Although eagles and shadow warriors can perform the same tasks as reavers, there are restrictions to them. Shadow warriors are expensive for what they do whereas eagles are a rare choice. Reavers are versatile and as long as you can guess distances well and use terrain to your advantage, a very useful addition to any HE army.

[ Strategy and Tactics ]

How to Deal with The Dark Elves Hydra with Our High Elves Reavers

Elaithnir from the Ulthuan.net proposes a really good tactical idea in his post titled: The Reaver Conga

Well, I was browsing through the anti-hydra tactics discussed over here previously and I came across a rather interesting use of Reavers (or any fast cavalry for that matter) : Large Monster hunting.
The reasoning is as follows: Buy a unit of five Reavers with a champion and a musician. Move behind the enemy hydra/stegadon/Greater Daemon, ending your move in a long 1×5 line, with the champion at the front. Charge the enemy in the rear next turn. The enemy can’t challenge, and can only attack the champion, thus netting a maximum of 1 CR. The Reavers have 3CR, and thus win by 2 (Rear + outnumber). Hopefully the enemy breaks and the Reavers can run them down.

What I like about this is that even if the Reavers fail to break the Hydra, they tie it up for a few turns at least, and should they survive and break, the hydra must pursue, back to the enemy deployment zone. This could even work against a large block of infantry with hatred.
Obviously only usable if the enemy can’t challenge.

What do you think about this idea? Workable?

I personally like it. It is simple and relies on a formation not some special trick or magical item that you would waste extra points on.

[ Strategy and Tactics ]

A Self Improvement Guide for your Tactical Mind

Natio from Ulthuan.net has agreed to share his wonderful article that focuses on preparing the mind rather than the usual focus on the armies or units. Enjoy!

I am writing this self help guide for all of us who sometimes get ahead of ourselves when preparing to play a game of Warhammer. It is a check list of sorts that (hopefully) helps the user improve their tactical skills in Warhammer. It will cover each gaming-related area of the hobby; building your army, deployment & battle.

This article is about the difference between the Tactical Mind & the Emotional Mind. The Emotional Mind is basing your decisions in Warhammer on what you think is cool or how you feel. The Tactical Mind is making decisions without emotions influencing you. Obviously it doesn’t mean you can’t have emotions, but they need to be recognized & funneled it into your gameplay, instead of subconciously affecting it.

Note: Much of this Guide will be reiterating the basics but it is often the basics that are forgotten at a crucial moment in battle.

Part 1: Building your Army

Making a good army is generally always a 3 step process;

• Gathering the models.
• Painting said models.
• Putting an army list together.

Now I have written the above steps rather simplistically but for the sake of my argument bear with me.

Generally people make mistakes in 1 or all 3 steps, and don’t know it or don’t care. Below each step you will see questions in italics. Ask yourself these questions when doing the relevant step for each unit or character & improve your Tactical Mind (probably Wink).

Step 1
In the gathering of models certain emotional attachments are often made to special models or units. Why can this be bad? It can be bad because the model/s can be overvalued in game just because it/they look cool. So avoid overvaluing a model because it has a nice sword, pose etc and thus avoid lavishing magic items on it or getting more to construct a ridiculously large unit. Why spending lots of points on items or large units is bad will be covered later in the article.

Is this cool looking model or unit going to detract from my armies tactical ability to win games if I have more of them, or make them central to my army battle line?

Step 2
Painting models well places an increasing value on certain models or if poorly painted does the opposite. It is simple psychology; if you spend more time painting the Hero or Elite unit then you’ll be more motivated to protect them with expensive items or tactics. Why can this be bad? It can be bad because it creates emotional reliance on those units. People get upset about losing the fully kitted out, well painted Prince on a Dragon and practically hand the rest of the game to their opponent because the game is “nearly lost now anyway”. Ask yourself these questions when doing step 2.

Does the fact that I’ve spent lots of time painting this mode or unit influence my game play?

Will I get upset if my incredibly well painted General/Mage/Dragon etc gets killed or threatened in the game? If yes, will it affect my game play?

There is also an opposite of this. It is when you don’t care about your troops & throw them away needlessly. Even Skaven Slaves have value in the game but a callous disregard for the poorly painted units could lead to blaze` sacrifices. So poorly painted massed rank infantry shamelessly pushed forward in clumps is not highly regarded by the player & is readily sacrificed, forgotten or just too bothersome to move. So the player has paid points for this unit, using a finite amount of points & doesn’t use them to their full capacity.

Are my less well painted/modeled units going to be ignored or used poorly?

Step 3
Now if a gamer has slipped up in step 1 or 2 then step 3 might also be at risk of emotional attachment. The most expensive models & better painted ones often garner more attention when assigning equipment in building the army list. This might lead to overprotecting the unit or model with expensive items, sacrificing other units to protect them in game or purchasing more troops for the elite (pretty) unit than the effective. Balance in an army is an effective way to win battles. Why? Because most players cannot gear their army specifically to yours & vice versa, making Warhammer very similar to Russian Roulette if you load most of your points into one aspect of the game. The phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” comes to mind as there is always a list that can do what your army list can. Then it all comes down to luck, just like Russian Roulette.

Are there models I have that make me want to spend extra points on them?

Do they really need that extra protection or hitting power?

Is my winning specialization prone hampering the other parts of my game too adversely?

Can this unit do what I need it to do without spending as many points on it?

Why have I spent 40%+ on Characters & what was I smoking at the time I wrote this list?

Summary of above
So how it is exactly that valuing certain models or units but not others is bad? In a game of Warhammer each side has an equal amount of points to spend on troops, characters & both magical & mundane items. So it is necessary to spend these points in the best way possible. If a unit is the crux of your game plan then any opponent can identify it & neutralize it. Singular units & models are also vulnerable to bad luck, which can also ruin your game plan. The reliance on “Uber units of Doom” or incredibly expensive combat characters is generally the act of “The Emotional Mind”.

By this I mean in a game of Warhammer a player can revert to the “Rule of Cool” instead of the practical, that is, they grab some characters & elite units, then, spend lots of points on them. This splurging of points leaves few points for the Core troops & Support troops, which then causes all sorts of difficulties for the player later on. Difficulties such as fewer troops to soak up casualties. Fewer units to prevent the opponent from identifying your deployment game plan & to discover theirs. So what we all should be aiming for is a balance between quantity & quality of units & different roles for our characters, other than just the combat character.

Good Tactics starts with you. As Sun Tzu said;

‘Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril’.

So mastering yourself & your emotions can lead half way to victory, or maybe even further……

So the idea of this section is:

Know thy self implicitly, recognize attachments before the game & don’t let them get the better of you so you start on the right foot before every game.

[ Strategy and Tactics ]

What do we do with our Silver Helms?

Many High Elves player lament the move of our Silver Helms (SH) into the Special section thereby competing with the Dragon Princes (DP) for a fighting slot in our army builds. While the Dragon Princes are a no brainer, I believe the Silver Helms still have a role to play.

A debate at Ulthuan.net between Seredain and Prysitha explores this issue very well. Seredain writes:


You do make an excellent point. In MSU armies especially, SH sometimes really can’t justify their slot, and a unit of 11 hardly fits with the theme…

It just so happens that I do use scouts and elite infantry, but have the slots to spare because I prefer the concentration of force, using fewer and more powerful units, the 2 main fighting units being supplemented with fighting characters- one infantry (WL) and one cavalry (SH). For the cavalry this means, however, that a smaller unit relying on kills isn’t necessary with the BB’s +D6 CR: I just need to ENSURE victory in round 1 (which is why I use a character- I want to KNOW my knights will win every time against basically anyone), and have enough elves left over to cover the BsB and take out enemy rank bonuses for the rest of the battle. So, numbers are the key for me.

Even on kills, though, the maths is interesting. 11 SH’s (285 pts inc. SB and Champ., unit strength 22) will clear the front rank of average infantry easily enough, as will 8 DP’s (280 pts inc. SB and Champ., unit strength 16), especially if they have a character. But what about eilte infantry or decent cavalry?

Let’s use the rock solid example of 25 Dwarf hardcore infantry (5×5) with SB and Champ. (WS5, T4, AS 2+),
charged by our cavalry and HERO, with 6 models in the front rank (we’ll forget about horse attacks)-
11 SH: 6 attacks, 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound vs AS 4+ (US 24 inc. hero).
8 DP: 11 attacks, 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound vs AS 4+ (US 18 inc. hero).

Our knights kill on average:
DP- 5/6 hits, 3/4 wounds= 1/2 kills.
SH- 3 hits, 2 wounds= 1 kill.
Hero- 2 Hits, 1/2 wounds= 1/2 kills.

The Dwarfs kill (on average):
0 DP’s (1 wound at AS 3+)
0 SH’s (1 wound at AS 3+).

Our knights’ combat res=
DP’s- 1/2 kills, 1 banner =2/3;
SH’s- (1 kill + 1 banner + 1 rank + 1 outnumbering) =4;
plus BsB- 1/2 kills + 3/4 for Battle Banner =5.

Dwarfs’ combat res.=
vs DP’s- 1 banner + 3 ranks + 1 outnumbering =5.
vs SH’s- 1 banner + 3 ranks =4.

The result is a win for the Dragon Princes of 2/3, and for the Silver Helms of 5. Especially if the dwarfs have their general nearby, the difference between those results becomes enormous: the Dwarfs will take a break test on Ld 8/7 against the DP’s, but on Ld 5 against the Silver Helms. If there’s no general near, then the dwarfs will test on Ld 4. Watch them flee, laugh, then run them down.

Interesting, eh? Remember both units have the same character and cost roughly the same points (the SH 5 pts more).

Prysitha wrote:
Putting a character into the Helms unit make them THAT much more expensive. Also, if you plan to put a character into the unit to make it effective, putting the same character into the DP will make them even more effective.

In certain situations, then, this isn’t true. Out there are hard-as-nails units of massed armoured infantry which can shrug off the extra attacks which Dragon Princes give you. But, for roughly the same points, the combat res. from the rank and numbers of Silver Helms will go through any toughness and armour…

Use your Dragon Princes to slaughter mobs of anything or flank the hard bastards, but if you want to crack the hardest units front on you’ll always need a powerful character and he’d be better off with Silver Helms (unless you can afford 10/11 DP’s and don’t mind wasting all those attacks in the rear rank). Those dwarfs tend to put their unbreakable/stubborn units on their flanks. Just watch the look on your opponent’s face when you decide not to flank him and just run over his centre! For the same points the DP’s+hero COULD do it, but the SH+hero would take all-comers. In a game of dice, fixing the odds is a good idea. In my 2500 pt all-comers list I like the feeling that my block of Silver Helms can run over basically everything, and they even gain Ld 9 from the BsB. Joy.

My reply slightly edited as it was not clear before:

Seredain is right on the money with his analysis.

Let me put it to you in another way. Most people who play this game for a while, do their very best to never rely on dice. If you can get a benefit without rolling a dice it is a CONFIRMED benefit.

In this case an extra rank and outnumber as per Seredain’s analysis, is worth its weight in gold! This means you are up against your opponent with two kills, and your opponent has to kill you back 3 of your SH to break even.

The problem with DP as I have playtested is while they have a huge ass amount of attacks they can bring to bare, the moment they start taking casualties you lose your effectiveness very quickly as its 2 attacks each.

Let’s use a unit of 5DP full command (200pts) vs a unit of 7 SH FC (201pts)

What I am saying is that most of the time a unit of CAV will take 2 hits (magic/shooting) before they hit another unit.

So the reality of it is there is no real difference between the attacking potential two, as a unit of 5 DP taken 2 hits is the same as unit of 7 SH taken 2 hits.

Wait, that is incorrect as you have 5 horses vs 3 horses and we all know the horses do the killing!

In other words as a DP as 2 attacks each, the attacking potential drops very quickly when each DP dies. And a DP dies as easy as a SH. T3, 2+AS .

By only seeing the 2 attacks each as the main thing, you rely too much on your dice, and to me that is a risk i rather not take.

Finally, I will rather a bigger unit of SH to escort my character rather than the DP, a bigger unit takes more hits before it gets to its panic from shooting.

You see the main issue here I’m finding out from my play testing is that HE units need to be self sufficient, as we just don’t have enough units to gang bang anyone these days.

ASF helps alot making each unit self sufficient, but I am finding MSU in our new list is just not enough.

I think we need to be extra careful and consider the use for each units not more than ever. DPs have their role, but i would not weed out SH completely. It is perhaps we are not playing them correctly.

[ Strategy and Tactics ]

High Elves Strategies and Tactics Section Updated

With full permission of the authors, HighElves.net’s Strategy and Tactics section has been updated with the following very cool and informational tacticas. Do check them out!

Army Playing Strategies


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