HIGH ELF TACTICA Draft Ver1.0
By Lord Brrrrp
It had been 70 years since ARARLIZ first wielded the longbow and only 30 since she practiced with the spear. She was blessed by Isha chosen early as a Handmaiden in training to the Everqueen. The pride of her family. With only 70 years of practice, this was the first battle in which she stood near her queen, a vantage point from which she could see that little was as it seemed in battle. Perhaps the dwarves being long lived would or should catch the subtleties of battle, but then again subtle is hardly synonymous with dwarfish. In fact, she suspected the dwarven way of practicing for battle included too much ale and too little discipline. They fought like the barbarians of Norsca or the savages of Ind.
2 General Thoughts on High Elves.
2.1 Who the Army Appeals to.
High elves should be considered by players who enjoy small, elite armies with great flexibility actual army build. This is an elite INFANTRY based army. The army is superior in leadership and steady but outnumbered inevitably. Frail yet fast. First to strike yet hardly tough enough to survive a second round. Skilled enough to consistently hit the enemy but lacking the strength to do as much damage. High elves are masters of magic and blessed with items to sway the very winds of magic. Their characters are elite yet frail. This is a very tactical army requiring great skill in deployment and troop management. Mistakes are costly to the high elf general, yet equally costly to the opponent underestimating the power of elite infantry or speed. High elves are designed to be a balanced elite army combining some archery, with blocks of core and elite infantry supported by war machines and flyers. If you want “special forces” without overreliance on one troop type or set of tactics, consider high elves.
2.2 A Note About Army Composition.
Much has been said and misunderstood about army composition with the new high elf book. For the first time, a radical change has been made to the number of elite and rare units that can be taken. But what is the effect?
With rare choices, the taking of eagles and repeating bolt throwers has been decoupled. You used to be able to take up to two per rare selection. You now can take one per selection but have twice as many rare slots. Hardly revolutionary but clever!
The real change is dumping virtually all troop types into special but adding +2 units of special to a standard 2k battle. Why? Essentially, high elves historically had difficulty hosting a strong infantry based army that had sufficient support. 0-1 limits to troop types left little imagination in what was being taken. Needing room for the only flyer or war machine available, elite infantry was difficult to squeeze into an army. The army lent itself to heavy cavalry play with silver helms as core and 3 of 5 special units being mounted. This was unbalanced with the core concept of high elves and the citizen levy.
Now, high elves have amble reason to take a mix of cavalry as support and special elite infantry. Consider this. If you want any cavalry support (say 2 units), you only have the standard 4 units of “other” special units. Much like a “standard” army.
Now look at the changes to core units. You are forced to take the key infantry that makes high elves what they are: longbows and spears but not at the levels of other armies. Still, you can’t have an all mounted army anymore. Nor can all your infantry be elite.
Removal of the 0-1 status for all units (dragon princes, white lions etc) allows you to take several small units versus larger ones, which is very important to a fast moving elite army.
Overall, this was a clever design with few of the problems people suspect. It opens some flexibility (you can have 3 RBTs versus 1, 2 or 4, etc. without overpowering elves.
2.3 Thoughts on Playing HE’s: General Advice
· You do not have the troops to sacrifice anything. Make sure that you fight only what you win.
· Play the odds but favor glory. That is to say, know if your troops have a 1/3rd or ½ or 2.3rds chance of winning. Play the odds but if you have a chance to destroy an enemy general or otherwise completely put the enemy in disarray, take the chance.
· Count points. Realize what the value of what you’re fighting is and what you are fighting with.
· Realize table quarters will be difficult for an elite infantry army and make sure you have some answer. . . if you need to.
· Know when not to fight. Your infantry and cavalry moves quickly. Avoid bad fights.
· In the same vein, deploy where your speed gives you an advantage. If you see the enemy deploying in the middle of the field, use an extreme flank. High elves rarely need to take the fight to the enemy. You can always shoot and cast.
· Avoid troops being on both sides of terrain features. Stay together and fight together.
· Stay together! You are an elite force which means you are a small force. Any smart enemy will try to get you to commit a unit to chasing or will try to divide your army or present two or more battle lines. Avoid the temptation.
· In the same vein, have troops dedicated to dealing with fleeing models. The last thing you want is to split your already small forces.
· Protect yourself from scouts. If your advantage is waiting and shooting or defining when and where fights will occur, don’t get slowed down by enemy scouts. Use a unit of your scouts or fast cavalry to keep the enemy from being able to deploy where they can march block (or better in your deployment zone) and often avoid deploying in terrain features or near them.
· Flexible builds are essential for smaller elite armies. Do not overload on any one aspect of the army without knowing exactly who you are playing and what they typically field.
2.4 Strengths and Weaknesses
· Strike First Always provides exceptional ability to infantry to defend or charge and makes frail characters potentially devastating with great swords but only if they quickly finish the job.
· Additional movement of M5 and M9 cavalry gives enormous advantage to getting in place for a coordinated strike OR maneuvering to avoid being flanked.
· Everything tied to cavalry, skirmishing and scouts is special so you have tradeoffs to make.
· All war machines and flyers are rare. You will have some support but can’t have either as a principal tool.
· HE are the very finest at shutting down an enemy’s magic phase both with items and spells.
· HE are quite good at overwhelming the enemy with bound spells and extra power die forcing them to make painful decisions on what to dispel.
· HE have the rare ability to actually shut down enemy magic while overwhelming their opponent’s dispel and defensive capabilities.
· Access to dragons is high and game altering but dangerous for you have already too few models.
· The flexibility of characters is extremely high. You can field several without magical equipment as decent warriors with Always Strikes First, or simply have a high mage who is a more than adequate general.
· You rarely flee and quickly rally from psychology, but your frailty often sends you running when overwhelmed or *gasp* attacked by multiple coordinated units.
· You have very few truly high strength (St 6 or beyond) attacks.
· You have one choice in war machines, though good is not a template attack.
· Your shooting is entirely St3.
· High armor and High Toughness troops are problematic.
· You have poor armor AND average T.
· You have one skirmisher and one scout.
· The advantage of +1 to dispel cannot be overemphasized especially for 2d6 spell cast attempts.
3 The Role of Magic to High Elves.
Magic was given to man by the High Elves and perhaps with the exception of Slaan few can match the High elf. Here are some things to consider:
· A High Elf mage has access to every college of magic and high magic (exception dragon mages we will cover later).
· If your enemy has to generate his spells first, you have a HUGE advantage. You both know his race (and thus what he likely will take as many armies have themes or areas of emphasis). You now know his lead mages’ spells. At this point, you have 9 options of spell lists to customize your choices.
· Note: The lower level mages you take, the more you can delay choosing a spell list until such time as you know exactly what spells your opponent has and what lores he takes.
· In tournaments, you do extremely well (depending on tournament rules of course) having a mage who can one game pick one lore then change lores for a new opponent/race.
3.1 Reviewing High Magic Spells.
· High magic should be taken by High Elves absent a pressing reason tied to a specific army (Tomb Kings facing Fire lore for example). High magic is ideally suited to protecting your elite infantry units.
· Your core default spell addresses the key concern of high elves, survivorability in either close combat or facing shooting. A 5+ ward save for a 5+ roll (easy on two dice).
· All High mages now know drain magic and the cost. . . 7+ (the most common number on 2d6). The new method adding 3 to a casting score is far more consistent that previous elimination of die (6’s or 6’s and 5’s or 6’s, 5’s and 4’s) depending on casting cost. Plus, it is cumulative. Blow your dispel dice early and potentially face all spells having a +6 casting cost modifier. OUCH!
· If your opponent rolled high cost spells, drain magic is next to impossible to deal with.
· Consider the difficulty with casting the Lore of Death with Drain Magic.
· The effect of Drain Magic is to nearly require 3d6 for even entry level spells to be confident of getting the roll.
· Curse of Arrow Attraction helps redress the fact that you simply must make the most of every shot because they are st3 which impacts to wound as well as to save. The spell is cheap to cast and brilliant at forcing 25% panic tests even on large units in horde armies.
· Courage keeps your troops around after one bad round of combat. Given the ability of elves to countercharge and then bring both the new unit and the original block to attack first the next round, surviving the first round is often more than enough to turn the tide. Courage helps enormously. You can almost keep an entire half of your line of battle solid for a turn under extreme attack with a single spell. Stubborn with HE leadership is a good thing!
· Fury arguably is expensive in that you have no cheaper attack spell but it will clear out small units that get in the way.
· Flames of the Phoenix can be decisive but it is expensive to cast. However, HE excel at creating bonus casting dice. NOTE: there are limits to the number of dice a caster can use. Short of having an archmage, it is iffy getting the spell off. Once off, it is problematic for your opponent to dispel it. Use 3d6 or 4d6 to dispel it and very likely you ensured that drain magic will be unable to be stopped. Another important thing to remember is that unlike templates, this spell hits ALL models in a unit. Each round the enemy continues to take hits including characters at higher and higher strength. It can be a game winner to cast this spell and in subsequent rounds overload the enemy with drain magic spells.
· Don’t dismiss Vaul’s spell even if it is a brutal 12+ to cast. I find it even more useful to see ALL the magic items in a unit than deactivating one. Don’t dismiss this spell with certain armies in just determining what magic items a unit has before committing to the game altering charge (especially against things like stunties).
3.2 Defense or Offense:
· Take a couple of lower level mages. You have high magic so +1 dispel and Drain magic and you have a mage that easily will be able to pick a lore most devastating to your enemy’s race.
· Take an arch mage and have a general and mage who can turn the tide on almost any battle. What more do you need to spend on points?
· Play to neutralize enemy magic OR play to simply outcast. Note: High magic is often support focused versus simply destructive.
· Magic items give you an enormous ability to go offensive of defensive. You have items that remove an enemy power die which is added to your dispel pool (net 2d6 difference) and items that completely negate spells and magic within a small range (yours too). On the other hand, there are items which increase power pools by D3.
· Unless you have a rather large army, you will likely not be able to take both the offensive and defensive magic items unless you are willing to sacrifice any hero or lord level combat characters (and even then the cost would be terrific).
· Personal Opinion: High elves are an elite army that often needs additional “punch” especially versus “big nasties”. They are a strike force. Even if you shut down an enemy’s magic phase, without offensive magical support can you win? Certainly, there are armies which themselves rely on magic (vampire counts) but in tournament or multigame campaign settings, magic is often support oriented. The High elf still has a natural advantage in dispelling (and a scroll is always available). On the other hand, the ability to pick offensive spells (via an item), to unleash 2d6 st 4 attacks a round, and to essentially blast the enemy with whatever lore they are weak against should hardly be overlooked.
· Nobles and fighting oriented characters can easily caddy magic phase oriented items. They have little need for a magic weapon (always strikes first with a great sword eliminates such need).
· On the other hand, the high elf army has the greatest opportunity to NOT take ANY mages and defend itself simply thru magical items (banners, talismans and enchanted items) and though risky, can often still shut out enemy magic. Of course, you can always take an item that converts a noble or commander to a level 1 high elf mage to really add defensive effect.
· For opponents, High elf magic is extremely hard to predict or prepare for. What lore? Offensive or defensive? Options for taking high mages are viable as generals. Options for taking no mages (especially using the gem of Hoeth) are viable.
· Few high elf armies will win who do not control the winds of magic in a battle. You should “outmagic” the enemy with the possible exception of a high generation Slaan.
4 COMMON BATTLEFIELD STRATEGIES FOR HIGH ELVES
4.1 ENTRAPMENT (Defensive)
High Elves can afford much more than other races to allow the enemy to advance towards them and to counter maneuver to exploit any weaknesses in the enemy advance such as unsupported units, poorly placed frenzied units etc. Staying back in their deployment zone for several turns allows archers time to whittle down enemy missile fire while repeating bolt throwers can either focus on war machines or advancing units. Likewise, you have time to actually move RBTs forward ever so slightly so that the enemy has a painful choice of approaching the machines on the flanks and getting charged the next turn by multiple units or ignoring the machines and having them in the quadrant that allows them to shoot down the front rank. This particularly works well if the enemy sends a wave of cavalry first. You should NOT remain static as the enemy approaches. Get your cavalry in position to charge a flank knowing your infantry can charge the next turn OR if the enemy does charge, you can quickly attack the flank. When entrapping do what you can to prevent march movement. Remember, High Elves are powerful casters with the right lores. Give yourself time to simply blast away at the enemy in multiple magic phases. Make sure your flanks are fast enough to counterattack or charge. TIME favors elite armies provided they can avoid shooting. To avoid heavy missile fire, consider taking the magic item allowing you to choose spells and pick Howling Wind. The enemy will often face dispelling your spell OR risking having Drain Magic casted. This strategy definitely favors a balanced army list. You must stop ranged spells and attacks but if you do this, the enemy is at a severe disadvantage approaching you.
4.2 CIRCLE (Offensive)
Put your RBTs forward but in the middle of the deployment zone. Use a unit or two of archers to clear screens, weak skirmishers or even other enemy missile fire shooting at your war machines. Two or possibly three units of infantry should plod forward in the middle of your deployment zone. The key is overemphasizing the flanks and the ability of High elves to take wonderful cavalry (if fragile) and chariots. Hit hard and fast moving from your enemy’s flanks to his center. If he emphasizes going after your cavalry you can move away, charge or accept a charge with some real opportunity to survive as you strike first. All the while, the infantry blocks are moving forward less impeded. Shooting again is damaging so take it out early with well placed RBT shots. War machines are less of concerns as you will spread the field early. Magic should be adequate but not overemphasized as you will want solid combat characters on both pincer flanks. Do not use this tactic on armies which grossly outnumber you as they have too many responses and can keep many units coming forward and splitting off both your left and right pincer.
4.3 SERRATED OR STEPPED LINE
Place cavalry and or elite infantry units forward by just a couple of inches and between these units place a unit of spearmen or missile fire. As the enemy approaches, he has few good choices on what to charge. Slightly angle the forward units so they would be able to see an enemy that was unfortunate enough to charge a support unit. Don’t forget to have reavers as a very fast and mobile reserve.
This is a good variation to the entrapment defence.
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4.4 Collapsing Attack
High elves do well attacking in clever waves now especially if the attacks are going against flanks or elite armies with just as few units. Charging and fleeing can bring frenzied troops into a trap and can eliminate low armor but fast moving cavalry.
Several other strategies exist which would require artwork to demonstrate. Safe to say, the high elves are perhaps the most flexible of elite and smaller armies.
4.5 HIGH ELVES VERSUS
4.5.1 Brettonians: You strike first always and against T3 troops that is a huge advantage. As armored as Brettonians are, they don’t fare well attacking spearmen when those spearmen are supported by a flank of lanced cavalry. Brets will not outshoot you. RBTs are amazingly effective, but naturally the first targets. Brets like scouts so expect Pegasus Knights to be used. Counter by having the RBTs in front of spearmen blocks. Crews flee and the knights then chose. Pursue into spearmen? Bret’s magic is limited. High elves have the ability to charge and have chariots to boot. Wait for the Bret to make a mistake and get too close while advancing then strike. Brets require movement. Mistress of the Marsh is a default spell and horrible for them. For a high mage consider Lore of Beasts. Several of the spells directly impact cavalry more than other lores. Burning Iron again is a default spell and ideally suited for knights in high armor. A dominant magic phase can be crucial.
4.5.2 Orcs and Goblins: Horde armies are a particular challenge for small elite forces. You must use psychology to your advantage and avoid having to fight all the units through panic, fear and terror. Neither orcs or gobos are particularly well armored. Spear blocks are extremely effective as are archers even with T4 troops. Goblins fear elves which is an enormous advantage in winning the war based on psychology. Breakdown the enemy’s leadership which is fortunately not difficult with magic. Many of the default spells allow you to target individual models. Archers are essential to weed down ranks and RBTs are similarly extremely effective. Wait to attack until you can do maximum magic and missile damage.
188.8.131.52 Dwarves: Animosity exists for good reason. Dwarves simply are difficult to beat as high elves though hardly impossible. Dwarves have both high armor and high toughness. Sure you can take the fight to them and outmaneuver but they will remain standing. Their gun lines can be devastating to cavalry and they certainly don’t lack mar machines. Focus on speed and magic. Dwarves have no casting and two of the three anvil strikes will do little to benefit the dwarf against high elves. Go offensive and aggressive with magic. Dwarves fight in blocks, anything you can take offensively as a template attack helps. Similarly, your RBTs are amazingly effective and the dwarves will have little to no ability to get to them easily. You will be able to fend off whatever they send as “scouts” or flyers. Have a unit free to manage rangers. Be willing to retreat or flee. Dwarves don’t run and they certainly have few flying units and no cavalry. This is an enemy you pick apart piece by piece.
4.5.3 Lizardmen. You can better than any other race neutralize the potency of a slaan and that is a huge factor in winning against some army builds as the Slaan is bloody expensive. Fear the sheer number of skirmishers and scouts they can bring. You can ill afford to be swarmed. It can overwhelm your archers. Focus heavily on ensuring that there is no place for the skink to effectively scout. Keep them on their side of the table where your huge increase in range helps. Lizzies have no war machines. Take plenty of your own. They thin out skinks and drop sauri. Remember: skinks faster than elves faster than sauri. Much of the army moves just shy of cavalry speed but it is precariously fragile. Hit it first. You have no compelling reason aggressively advance an infantry based army with short range missile fire and no war machines or flyers (ok terradons fly but not that well!). Mop up the skinks and avoid the sauri. Sauri are deadly to high elves with 2 attacks (three with spears) high strength and toughness. Put it in perspective. You have 3 St3 attacks facing T4 targets with 5+ save. Their spearmen have 3 st 4 attacks facing T3 targets with the same save. Chariots and some cavalry will be critical. If you can weed out the skinks, kroxigors and salamanders early, you virtually ensure the ability to have coordinated attacks on the sauri.
4.5.4 Tomb Kings. Every small army should FEAR fear causing enemies especially those that can add models to their ranks after the game begins. Tomb kings cast uniquely and to an extent negate much of the dispel advantage of HE and other races. All characters cast for example. Magic is essential for movement, attacks and creating new models so it remains worthwhile to shut it down. Tomb Kings rely heavily on chariots. Watch out as their impact damage occurs well before ASF. Armies that refuse to break pose significant problems for elite troops that need to quickly dispatch of one unit to avoid having to fight two or more. The HE should keep his units tight and able to assist one another almost immediately. Mass attacks are more valuable than high strength attacks as undead are neither particularly tough nor armored. Spearmen are insanely valuable versus tomb kings. Let them eat chariots.
4.5.5 Hordes of Chaos: So many options can be taken by the horde, yet you need to focus on a few basics. They lack shooting but have high strength, toughness and armor. Lacking shooting, your war machines are excellent. Elite units with high strength can be devastating to horde cavalry with ASF. Don’t completely negate archers. Lacking shooting, much flying, scouts and war machines, fast cavalry is important to the Horde and important for you to rip to pieces with missile fire.
4.5.6 Beasts of Chaos: Frightening in that they can have so many chariots whose impact hits supersede always strikes first rules. They have frightful leadership which should certainly be exploited. Cause panic with arrow fire and RBTs. Very little armor will get in the way of a few well placed shots! Ambush can be extremely frustrating for a smaller force. Your cavalry out maneuvers beasts and your RBTs can crush their chariots. In battle, you have elite troops which can quickly dismiss their multi-wound elites (based on combat resolution and striking first) and your spearmen are ideally suited for wounding the gors and ungors. Dragon princes make short work out of most things other than dragon ogres. In the magic phase, there is little question the HE should dominate.
4.5.7 Dark Elves: Until the new army book comes out, High Elves have a huge advantage. By always striking first, the dark elves lose most “evenness”. High elf magic can quickly overwhelm DE’s and shut down a magic phase. Both share the same war machines. Avoid taking a combat character and look out for assassins. The assassins will strike first based on their amazing initiative and they can kill a mage or commander quickly. Otherwise, right now dark elves suffer playing high elves.
4.5.8 Ogres. Here is the army that simply will have much fewer models than you will. Shooting will be difficult as there are so many wounds per model but panic can happen. . . but not often. Now is the time you coordinate multiple units to attack each Ogre unit. Expect cheap but significant screening for the bulls which are not large targets. Get elevation over the gnoblars. They won’t cause panic so you have to kill them all. Of course, bulls can get stuck behind unruly gnobs and they can’t charge thru them. Gut magic can overwhelm even a HE’s ability to dispel. It is all cast on units (pretty well) so heavy magic resistance items do little good. On the other hand, Ogres rarely can keep up dispelling HE magic. Drain magic is hugely important as it nearly forces the butcher or slaughtermaster to roll 2d6.
4.5.9 Vampire Counts. Slow them down with a series of well placed dispels. Ensure you have the dispel dice to stop the hideous rod of damnation. Take items that allow you to cast Vaul’s unmaking to be brutal. Focus your spells on those that can pick out a character (general) and do damage. Kill the general and the rest crumbles. Not being able to break enemy troops is frightful even with ASF. Eventually, the vampire will strike back and can often take on a HE commander or prince. Shut the Vamps magic phase down to keep him from raising troops or moving quickly. Be very careful of ethereal creatures who can challenge like wraiths of hold up your cavalry. You need some form of magic weapon.
4.5.10 Skaven. They will overwhelm you. They have plenty of power dice with warpstone tokens. Shooting is quite effective at thinning them out. Their shooting special weapons can be devastating. I don’t see many skaven enemy’s so I defer to how to beat them to others.
4.5.11 Wood Elves are designed as a small hit and run army. Facing anything that always strikes first puts them at an unusual and almost insurmountable disadvantage. They can outshoot you absent your RBTs. They will hide and try to only fight the battles they can win. Make sure you take the Ellyrion banner to ride thru their woods with heavy armored dragon princes . Fear the amber pendant that will negate the ability of ASF for all models in base to base with the WE character. Very favorable fighting for the HE. Beware of WE’s focusing on shooting. Mow them down with RBT fire.
5 REVIEW OF TROOPS
5.1.1 Commander. Key advantage to the extent you need it is LD 10. One advantage of taking high elf combat characters is their lack of needing many magic items either armor or weapons because they always strike first with great weapons. Very few items really require you go beyond 50pts of magic so often a noble is a better choice. Always use dragon armor as it provides both you and any mount protection from flaming attacks.
5.1.2 Archmages. With LD 9 and elite infantry and dragon princes that can effectively replace the need for a combat general, high elves can benefit greatly from allowing their best mages to lead. High magic as discussed above is brilliantly effective but even more importantly, your high mage can pick any lore to meet any particular army. This is exceptionally flexible for tournaments and other scenarios where you play multiple armies and races. With the book of Hoeth, while expensive and not leaving points for anything else, the arch mage can ensure getting an IR off by simply expending 4 dice (usually). Plus, he was able to pick the lore of choosing (the one that devastates his opponent). The combination is expensive but often battle changing.
5.1.3 Nobles. Notice the Noble battle standard bearer is NOT limited to using a hand weapon and with always goes first makes an extremely compelling case for always having one. Other nobles can lead the army and carry single important magic items ranging from a seafarer bow to a ring of fury. There are plentiful roles for your nobles to play.
5.1.4 Mages. If you don’t take an archmage, make sure you have a pair of mages. For one thing, you need a good mage if your arch mage takes a lore other than High magic. Drain magic is uniquely powerful. Mages can carry key valuable arcane items that just have nowhere to go. Note” They are +1 to dispel EVEN if all mages take from the colleges of magic. Having two mages with drain magic and the shield of saphery by itself provides amble reason to pick 2 mages over an archmage. It is a matter of preference. Two mages casting shield of saphery greatly improves survivorability.
5.1.5 Dragon Mages: The hybrid caster/warrior is certainly not the one you want as your general. This can be the cheapest dragon and mage combination in the game. Your mage can be up to level 2 with a great advantage in power die. The dragon still causes terror and still has T6 to absorb large quantities of damage and shrug off the attacks. The ability to always take the Flaming Sword of Ruin ensures the mage has a reasonable chance of being quite a potent fighter himself. The dragon mage is frail and often will die if subjected to more than one round of fighting. But, he is wonderful at breaking up small units, skirmishers and supporting charges.
5.1.6 Teclis and Other Special Characters. While pricey, Teclis represents something of a bargain for High Elves as a General. He is a LD 10 level 4 mage. He knows every spell in any lore he chooses so all randomness is removed. Generating D3 more power dice a turn and being able to cast IR on ANY double, it is safe to say he has the dice (especially if you add the banner of saphery to your army) to almost ensure IR and cast almost any spell. Note: while he wounds frequently with his sword, he only has one attack and can do a maximum of one wound. He must not get into battle!!! Etharion can be a real steal in lower point games allowing you to have a level 2 mage with a solid combat general. Karhil and Caradryan are fantastic (but not cheap) models to take when you know you will be facing a huge point target character (slaan, chaos lords, vampires, etc). They are geared ideally for challenges.
5.2.1 Archers: Solid troops with excellent range but little armor. They are the closest thing to an expendable troop for a High Elf . You can afford to place them forward. Similarly, they can take a charge from many light skirmishing, fast cavalry and other lightly armored or low toughness troops, as you might find as scouts. They both stand and shoot and then have a St3 close combat attack before the enemy can strike. Beware of enemy archers that skirmish. You start with BS4 that does not mean that modifiers can’t hurt you. Archers rely on ensuring that they hit with nearly ever y shot to overcome lower strength and no modifiers to saving throws. Stay in close range as much as possible. You have ASF if things get ugly.
5.2.2 Spearmen: Phenomenal often but not always. The ability to strike first with 3 ranks affects anything that simply cannot shrug off St3. In subsequent rounds, you likewise strike with an incredible number of attacks. Clearly, this is not the unit to take on heavy cavalry. Even T4 troops with poor armor fear 3 St3 attacks. Spearmen work well responding to fast cavalry, frenzied troops and other infantry. Spearmen can often be put behind archers or other troops that tempt the enemy to charge (or be shot). Should the unit break or flee, the enemy has a painful choice. . . pursue into 3St3 attacks or face the subsequent charge. Spearmen can anchor most coordinated attacks providing combat resolution cheaply (for elves). Of course their core weakness is mediocre armor and T3. Don’t forget the shield of saphery can turn these troops into an absolute tar pit for most of the enemy’s troops (even most cavalry after an initial charge).
5.2.3 Lotheran SeaGuard: Spearmen are better and cheaper as spearmen. Archers use longbows and are a couple points cheaper where Sea Guard use lower range bows. Range matters for short range attacks and especially stand and shoot. Negative modifiers to hit destroy the very benefit of HE shooting (accuracy). Still, Seaguard are the most flexible unit. In almost all enemy army builds, you can use either archers or spearmen. . . but which do you need? It is not that Sea Guard will often play both roles in a single game but they can play either. In tournaments, this can be significant. Put 10 in your first row and 5 in your second. Changing formation allows you to give up only ½ of your move and still shoot the round you are changing formation. This allows the Sea Guard to effectively be deployed as close to the enemy as possible. Take the shields.
Overview on Special Units: The only thing which is not considered special are flyers and war machines. Everything else is placed in the special category. This is the only place where you will find cavalry. In essence, if you want any cavalry (and you will), you share the same number of special slots with other armies.
5.2.4 Dragon Princes: Extremely good value. At 30 points they have two attacks and plenty of armor putting them on par in terms of cost with questing knights. Always strikes first benefits the knights in subsequent rounds mightily. Typically, your dragon princes will attack other elite troops often with WS4 or higher. However, when facing standard WS3 troops, their ability to hit is dramatically better than silver helms making them more flexible (as well as having the second attack). Being immune to flaming attacks simply depends on the enemy and their army. While not being able to outpace a Brettonian knight, they are equally quick and faster than most other knights. Two other key points: The unit champion can have 25 pts of magic. Very few items are 25pts or under but a couple of standouts exist. You could have your unit have magical attacks or a better chance at going first or be able to reroll all rally and psychology tests for one of your turns. In addition, you can carry a 50 pt magic banner. I like to take standard bearers for Dragon Princes just because then the enemy has no idea if I have a magic banner or not. Considering there are banners that make casting against me tricky or negate frenzy, fear and terror. . . want to take the chance?
5.2.5 Silver Helms: Ok Games Workshop really missed out on a good opportunity to make the Silver Helms have a place versus Dragon Princes. If shields came standard but barding was optional, you would have had an option of a 3+ knight at a full M9 faster than others. Oh well. What you have is a knight at almost 33% less points with ½ the attacks of the dragon princes. Generally not wanting to rank my knights, they tend to spend time on the shelf these days. If only you would have changed barding to be optional. . . sigh.
5.2.6 Tiranoc Chariots: Like all chariots, you face the threat of strength hits shattering the chariot. The thing to remember is that high elf chariots move at a remarkable 18 inches on the charge and they do exceptionally well being held back. Come to the High elves and face chariot impact hits followed up by an ASF set of coordinated attacks. One nasty problem is that you get one chariot per special unit slot. It often does make sense to take one. One not two.
5.2.7 Lion Chariot: You can be charged or charge and there is an enormous amount of damage prepared to be done to the enemy. Your crew will always strike first at St6. Yet for 140 points you need to consider this as almost like having a monster as a special character. Again, you get one and only one per slot. Take one and only one and if you take a lion chariot, avoid the Tiranocs. If I can’t afford a Lion chariot, I often avoid chariots.
5.2.8 Ellyrian Reavers: Your only fast cavalry. For the high elf fast cavalry can be supremely useful. You are the best at herding the enemy to the infantry blocks. You can flee and rally. You have an amazing M9 and can absolutely march and shoot giving their bows the effective range of longbows. Start your reavers behind your battle lines. With 360 degree line of sight, it is doubtful the enemy will be able to place scouts anywhere too close or devastating (and if they do, run them down). Fast cavalry can almost instantly present a strong flank attack opportunity for nearly any infantry unit on the main battleline. But alas, at a low armor save. Keep the fast cavalry behind other units until enemy shooting has been neutralized. Certainly, Reavers are not the best fast cavalry in the game, nor the cheapest, but they are all the HE army has and valuable for the role only they can play.
5.2.9 Sword Masters. The heart and core of the new high elf army are elite units of infantry. Sword masters are frail in terms of defense but ohhhh their offensive abilities are stunning with always strike first and two attacks. Many forums on high elves dismiss them for phoenix guard or white lions largely because of survivorability. They miss the beauty of these warriors. Place a few behind archers or repeaters. Dare charge the high elf missile fire and know full well the next round you will be hit by multiple St5 attacks. Now that is a counter. Very often St5 will do the job just about as well as St6. You don’t need a unit per unit that might flee. It is enough for the enemy to know that next turn they are within 10” of the swordmasters. Swordmasters backup anything from your primary battleline that would happen to flee. Pursue at your own risk enemy! Do beware of enemy scouts who shoot, but then again the reavers 260 degree LOS should have limited those opportunities. Don’t overlook the extreme WS of the sword masters. They will hit virtually anything even many elite troops of enemy’s on a 3+. Huge advantage just keep them as your reserve troop or they will be shredded by missile fire. Standard bearers are wonderful as they force the enemy to wonder if a magic item is being carried as so many high elf banners impact an enemy’s attack plan.
5.2.10 Phoenix Guard. Absolutely able to withstand punishment between armor and a These are your troops that simply challenge the enemy “do you dare attack me”. They are the anchor of a battleline. With a banner providing magic resistance, they have some of the best defensive capabilities of any unit in the game. However, PG still are only 1 st 4 attack. Defensive CR and an anchor for your battleline. Against units that cause fear, the PG are a good counter.
5.2.11 White Lions. The offensive version of High elf infantry. They hit deadly hard with St6. They are stubborn and unlikely to flee which makes them extremely problematic for enemy cavalry (strike first won’t break) and they can avoid missile fire. On the relatively negative side, they don’t avoid chariot impact hits or war machine fire or anything that would be better served with the PG ward save. You can’t go wrong with any of the high elf elite infantry.
5.2.12 Shadow Warriors: They scout and skirmish for just a few points more than an archer. On the positive side, shadow warriors are very difficult to manage for enemy’s with weak or typical scout clearing troops. Shadow warriors can stand and shoot, then strike back first with hits where all misses are rerolled. Ok, then it gets bad quickly. Shadow warriors MUST pursue. So whether the enemy wins or loses combat, very likely the shadow warriors will be moving exactly where they don’t want to (off the board or straight to all the enemy’s units). It’s all you have as a scout and you will need to take out enemy war machines. Rerolling misses helps but fear the enemy fleeing as it may well be a trap! Again, you often need them.
5.2.13 Think High Elves Have Too Many Special Troops. . . Think Again. Look what you need to take:
· Cavalry Unit
· Scout (you need to stop war machines)
· A unit of Fast Cavalry to avoid having scouts in your deployment zone
5.3 Rare UnitsJust a quick thought. Once again, the change allowing you to take 4 rare items does nothing more than allow you to take a better combination of RBTs and Eagles which used to be 2 for 1 slot. Practically, what did happen was to allow the high elf to not have to share a rare slot with white lions or phoenix guard.
5.3.1 Repeating Bolt Throwers. You need one at least. The RBT is your only war machine. It is the only machine with enough range to get to the enemy’s war machines should your scouts and flyers fail. It has so much versatility in either being used to clear enemy units or penetrate armor and ranks. Don’t forget you really want to get the RBT to look down the files not the rank of the enemy units (they are wider typically). It is hard to be an elite force without the heavy artillery. Yet, it is limited. There is no template attack without spells or a dragon. You can avoid taking RBTs when you take a dragon but only then.
5.3.2 Great Eagles. Your only flyer. Not exceptionally strong either. Go after war machine crews but don’t expect to live long. The great eagle has too many roles to fill. You often won’t want to pursue with cavalry or fast moving troops as it is critical to keep a small army together. Great Eagles run enemy troops down.
6 Magic Items
6.1 General Thoughts.Don’t forget just how many units can carry banners. Your opponent should never be able to guess who has a magic banner and who does not. Don’t forget that so many unit champions can carry up to 25pts of magic items. Many of the very inexpensive items belong somewhere such as the ability to get the first turn or making all unit attacks magical. Magic items generally play to your strengths or bolster weaknesses. I generally try to use items which reflect the opposite of what my battleline looks like. For example, if I am charging, I want to ensure I have a bit more protection. If I am awaiting the enemy coming to me, I want to increase the amount of offensive pressure and damage I can impose upfront.
6.1.1 Magic Weapons
· You generally don’t need anything other than a mundane great weapon with the ability to always strike first.
· Magic weapons that can be astonishing are typically the two fine bows. The Reaver bow is quite good and can be taken by a noble. Like I wrote, if you have a defensive army waiting for the enemy to come to you, take offensive weapons and use the extra couple of rounds to get in more damage. When the enemy charges not only do you stand and shoot for 3 st5 attacks but you proceed to finish the job with great weapon swings on always strikes first! The Seafarer bow has a unique advantage of being used by a BS 6 model. That is an automatic hit. Even at long range after moving your hitting on a 3+. God forbid the enemy take a monster or any single large model. The Lord can also sneak himself to shoot down the file of a unit of knights.
· The Star lance is overrated. What is the chance that a St6 hit will not effectively go thru armor? It helps on subsequent rounds certainly by avoiding armor.
· Why take a seafarer bow over say Alith for only 30 pts more. Sure, his bow has range but he has light armor and worst of all no great weapon! Similarly, he tends to run after everything that breaks!
· Magic Armor: You may want to invest a bit in it but then again, you strike first. Still, there are lots of cheap items that can make a difference. One overlooked item is the Mask of the Merlord. It is an extra +1 save.
· The helm of Fortune is better than the Dragon Armor for the simple reason that you get to a 3+ save (shooting) or 4+ save (with great weapon in combat) and you reroll all failed armor saves.
· There are a lot of magic items which do not replace mundane armor. Use it to get even better armor saves (a core weakness of troops on foot).
· Several talismans standout but it is always a matter of cost. Sure the Talisman of Defense is remarkable 4+ ward save with the right to reroll armor saves. At what cost? What will you have left to take? For a defensive Lord ok. For an archmage? Maybe not. Having a ward save at 2+ against all wounds from magic for a whole group should not be missed either, but is there room for it? Hmmm. . . a noble could in theory take it, but for what unit? Dragon Princes come to mind.
· Magic banners of High Elves are phenomenal and so many units can take all but the most expensive. On battle standards, the battle banner has won more battles than almost any single magic item. I can’t overemphasize the role of +d6 to combat resolution. It can turn a slaughter into a win and send the enemy running. All other banners save Battle and World Dragon can be carried by most elite units. The possibilities are astonishing from having dragon princes run through woods to good cheap ways to avoid fear and terror (playing undead anyone?) or have exceptional magic resistance. Cheap too. Don’t forget to find room for the banner of sorcery. D3 power die have an amazing effect.
· Arcane Items: Incredibly effective cheap items abound. Gain an additional spell for 10 pts. Why do it? Because that way a level 3 mage has ½ the spells in a lore and you take far less risk of missing the one you need. My all-time favorite gives a wizard an extra power die each of his magic turns for less than the cost of 2 archers. The other amazing item allows a wizard inexpensively to pick his spells versus rolling. In a tournament where the high elf mage can take any lore, this item is astonishing. Certain spells devastate certain armies. Knowing you have the Howler Wind or Rain Lord can alter the best of dwarven plans!
· Enchanted Items: Cheap items can have amazing effects. The Talisman of Loec might cost you a wound but the ability to for one combat round reroll to hits, to wounds and saves often ensures you win. My read is that you take any dice you do not like, but I understand some think you have to take all to hits or all to wounds. But under that logic, why wouldn’t it be read to have to take BOTH all to hits and all to wounds to reroll? A lot of the items that impact the entire army or a unit should be taken by unit champions such as items allowing you to go first or have all unit models strike as if with magic weapons. Even the Dragon Horn can be carried by an elite unit champion. The ring of fury puts out such a high number of hits on an opponent it is sure to keep the enemy using dispel die to avoid it. Folariath’s Robe can be one of the best in preserving your mage. Just make sure a unit champion handles the character with a magic weapon. You can afford to leave a unit so long as nothing is within charging range. It most cases the robe beats a ward.
One hundred years later, Araliz now a full handmaiden, watched as finally the Norse were beaten back off the outer isles. A clear victory for the High Elves. Being young and impetuous by elven standards, she cheered when the longboats sailed toward the horizon with the remnants of Erik’s army. Quickly, her queen admonished her. “The Norse will be back again and again will we fight these battles. Each time they will bring more ships and crew and we will have ever fewer elves to defend. We are a dying race. May the dragons awake soon..”