Dark elves are one of the most aggressive armies in Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Using the right combination of characters, units and sneaky unhand tricks they can overcome any foe. In this thread I will describe a strategy I used against a Vampire army, to such an effect that I won the game 3050vp - 0vp in 3 turns.
As ever it all starts with the list. Dark elves have some of the most dangerously aggressive units in the game, witch elves with 3 poison attacks, black guard being stubborn, warriors having spears and hatred. I always base my DE lists with a solid unit of 28 warriors and often give them a war banner or the banner of murder just to give them the edge, the unit is to be deployed 7 wide for a max output of 15 attacks (all but equalling a 5 wide unit of high elves), this is a cheap and highly effective unit perfect to form the back bone of the army.
Next for this game I chose a witch elf unit and as I wanted to use a cauldron of blood I was happy to take them at 20. Witch elves are spot on for the points these days and can be given a banner up to 25pt too but be careful with your banner choices as there are only 3 at or below the 25pt mark. I gave the Hag manbane (though witch brew is often a popular choice) as it lets her wound on 3+ up to max S6, solving the strength shortage.
Next I chose the Death Hag and cauldron of blood, this spectacular piece of kit allows me to bless one unit within 24” with either an extra attack, killing blow or a 5+ ward save. Combine that idea with the typical front of the witch elves for 16 killing blow attacks or 21 infantry munching poison attacks or the spears for 15 killing blow or 29 infantry mutilating attacks.
So I have a solid combat formation, I added another spear unit to this to cover the other flank and turned my thoughts to speed.
First choice Shades, they are the best skirmishers in the game, BS5 with reapeater crossbows and the have have great weapons and such a handsome stat line. Now the really cunning bit here is the addtion of an assassin, he will lend some real punch either as a combat monster or as another shooter. I gave this assassin manbane and rending stars, this nasty stunt gives you a strength one higher than the targets toughness upto strength 6 then plus one so yes S7 against T5 chariots, OUCH.
Next some support for those shades (don’t forget skirmishers cant break rank bonuses even ones as dangerous as shades) so dark riders are an excellent choice (and also a core so that’s a selection of the list). Dark riders are pretty much the best fast cavalry in the game, they have a ferocious firepower output and are devilishly fast. I planned to use them in a simultaneous charge with the shades.
Next some magic. Dark elf magic is very very very dangerous. They have perfect spells for killing big units, armoured units, characters in units, all in all one of my favourite laws. Another important part of DE magic is that your casters can use as many power dice as you like, so even your lvl 2 can cast big spells.
I took as Supreme sorceress and gave her the black dragon egg (useful item can either save her ass by making her T6 for a round or can help dish out the punishment and gives her a breath attack) and 2 power stones to help really dish out the pain, I put her on a pegusis to get her in the right place at the right time. In support I chose two lvl 2 sorceresses one I put in a unit with pearl of infinite bleakness and a dispel scroll just in case, the other I gave the focus familiar and planned to hide either behind units or in terrain (another big point of the familiar is the range increase) and a power stone for her too.
My last thoughts for my list were 2 more assassins, these guys can really turn a fight for you or help break a charge against you, they are the perfect sneaky back up plan.
So on to what I did.
Here is a shot of the games set up.
You can see the battle line with the witch elves in the centre and spears on their flanks, then on the armies flanks a lone sorceress (oh yes she can hold a flank) and on the other the Supreme sorceress and those dark riders ready to move up. The Shades got deployed next to that hand
So my first turn moves were to take position on that flank, get the dark riders ready to run through the gaps in the enemy line and to move the sorceress on the right flank into range.
From this position i proceeded to my magic phase and what an opener. I used Black horror and blade wind a lot in this game. Black horror is a great big unit killer ( a strength test or die no armour for anyone under a large template) and bladewind is a character hunter (it inflicts close combat style hits that can be allocated against charcters). In this game i used black horror on the farthest right ghoul unit and the grave guard and i cast blade wind at the skelington unit with the two vampires in, resulting in this.
In one round of magic about a quarter of the enemy infintary is destroyed and one hero choice is killed.
My second round of magic was equally devastaing, the second skelington unit vampire was killed by the ever useful bladewind spell and the large zombie units were heavily trimmed, one started at 35 and finished on 11 such is the power of black horror.
Shooting is also a big skill for the DE, i didnt have too much in this list but it should still be said that missile fire put a lot of grave guard down.
You can just see at the top left the supported charge, Shades and assassin charged the rear and dark riders the flank. This gets you a 3-2 head start without the darkriders your on a 2-5, so they are a must. The assassin of course does his work and in this scenario the resolution was to much for the vampire lord to bear and the unit was destroyed.
Just to finish of the battle notes, some of his units reached my battle line but the high attack output increased by the cauldron made a nasty mess of the foe. The reserve two assassins never came into need but important to have them non the less.
To conclude, Use the speed and aggression of Dark elves, move through or over the enemy and surround him, hammer him with dangerous magic and or missiles. Finally make sure he underestimates your units hide assassins take death hags with rune of khaine and the dreaded manbane for 6 - 8 attacks wounding on 3+, use a cauldron to boost your killing out put were you need it.
The weakness of Dark elves is the same as other elves your toughness is poor and your armour is lacking, make sure you hit first, hit hard and fast, but most of all enjoy it with no remorse for that is the Druchii way.