Dark Elf Special Tactics
Dark Elf Specials:
When selecting Specials, you're usually picking just that, specialist units, stuff that's a cut above core troops without being some sort of warmachine or monster. Especially with a list as diverse as Dark Elves, Special troops can fit many different categories, and can either be used to fill in holes, or build your army around.
Cold One Knights:
These guys are probably my favorite unit in the whole Dark Elf army book, through a combination of great-looking models and good performance. Some have shunned them because of Eighth Edition's nerf to Heavy Cavalry, but they're still quite viable. Just don't expect them to break units on their own unless you're actually taking a large enough unit.
The first thing to specify here is that they are *great* with the Cauldron blessing. Regardless of how many you run, the extra S6 attacks on the charge are practically guaranteed kills. As well, if there aren't other, squishier targets, they are good recipients for the 5+ ward save, to save them from armor-penetrating warmachines.
There are two general setups for a Cold One Knights unit. The first is the old way to run them. 5-7, full command optional. These are generally run as flankers, and with the cauldron blessing can even make decent suicide units, especially against hard targets like Chaos Warriors and such. I6 means that they're striking first most of the time, anyways. They also can be used to hunt down shooting units, either drawing fire, but still likely causing damage, or running into them without being hurt beforehand and wipe out the unit. This type of small unit can also hunt Warmachines if they aren't destroyed by more dedicated units.
The second setup is the large unit. Generally, 10-12 is a good size, and characters such as a BSB, or Dreadlord with Ring of Darkness can also do very well in this unit. With this large a unit, magic banners really start getting tasty. There are a whole slew of new, good, banners for this unit in the core rulebook, such as +1 leadership, +1 movement, reroll first failed leadership, etc. However, my favorite is in our very own Dark Elf Army Book, and used to be part of a power-build with Black-Guard. The Banner of Hag Graef. The banner doesn't give much benefit during the first round of combat, but after that, it starts to shine. It gives you rerolls against practically anything but characters past the first round, and with the Knights good strength, they can actually do good in a prolonged combat with the rerolls. The Cold Ones themselves also ASF, and against low initiative opponents, they get the rerolls that they lost coming in from 7th edition. Other good options are Sword of Might for the champion, along with Ironcurse Icon for warmachines, and good-luck stone for saving your champ from allocated attacks by rank-and-file.
The use of such a unit should be obvious. A hammer. While it is kitted out to do well in a prolonged combat, it is truly devastating when it can crack something hard. 11-13 attacks without Cauldron, and 17-19 with, all at S6, with rerolls to hit, can crack open some very tough nuts. Doubly so if you add characters into the equation.
Cold One Chariots:
These serve a similar role to small units of Cold One Knights, in that they make great flankers to turn the tide, or can hunt shooting units and warmachines, however, these are generally better in a non-cauldron environment, though that's not to say you shouldn't run them if you have a Cauldron. Key differences are the higher toughness, making them almost immune to basic missile fire, and impact hits rather than lances, which emphasises that these need to be used only against units that can't really hurt them, and are small enough, or in a combat where you're likely going to negate steadfast.
Black-Guard of Naggarond:
Ah, the old favorite. The defining feature of Black-Guard in 8th is their flexibility, and reliability. With Immune to Psychology, Stubborn, and a high leadership, these guys are not going to be running away anytime soon. Rerolls every round, halberds, and a good WS mean that they can do well period in close-combat.
The first, most obvious use of Black-Guard is the large unit. Unfortunately, they're capped at 20-man, so there's only 15 and 20-man setups to worry about, and they're pretty much the same. Full Command for each is a necessity, but it's the magic items that really count. Unlike the previous edition, do *not* give these guys the ASF banner. They gain practically no benefit from it. In place of that, one of the best choices for a banner, is the AP banner. With -2 to armor saves, and their good profile, this means they can scythe through regular infantry, and stand a good chance at killing harder infantry or cavalry, probably before they strike back due to high initiative. Note that if something else has the AP banner, you can also give them the more expensive version from the rulebook. Better leadership, flaming attacks, and rerolling first failed leadership are also viable options.
For the champion, it's really optional what you want to give him. The fluffiest choice is probably the Crimson Death, but there are such a variety of potential options that I won't really specify much. Ironcurse Icon and magic resistance are both good choices. Kouran is also a choice, but he is expensive for a single-wound model, and generally will just die.
The second use of Black-Guard is a relatively new one, a stubborn flanking unit. A small unit of these guys is maneuvrable, and can do quite some damage in a flank, even staying there if the unit you're holding the larger unit with runs. They can also hold up enemey units by themselves for a turn or two, doing some decent damage. They're fragile, but also too little gain for focusing too much shooting on them.
While not the Death-Star that they were in 7th, Shades still definitely have their uses. They are one of the most fragile units Dark Elves have, but placed right, they can harass larger units to setup for that killer charge, play a decoy that the enemy has to try to shoot or ignore the pepperings of the Crossbows, or, their biggest role, they can hunt down warmachines, which can be about their worth or even more!
Generally, 5-6 man units are best. 6-man units are best for hunting warmachines, as you can charge in, and get all your attacks against the target. Other than that, there's only one option worth taking, and that's additional hand weapon, for the same purpose. The Bloodshade is negligible in actual performance, Great Weapons will allow the enemy to kill your Shades before they do anything, and Light Armor is practically worthless. Run these cheap.
Har Ganeth Executioners:
This unit has been very much insulted in the new edition, as losing ASF on the charge has hurt them a lot. However, they are still somewhat viable, as in larger units, casualties don't matter as much as coming out top on combat res, and, supported by Cauldron, as they're pretty much required to be, they are our biggest damage-dealer.
Small units are out, as GW's striking last would make such a unit useless, but larger units are in. Anywhere from 25-40, going from 5-wide, to 10-wide, is generally a good size, depending on the points level, and how much other answers to high toughness and low armor saves you have.
Obviously, on a large unit, full command is a necessity, but there's one niggling little problem that keeps Executioners from being very viable. 25 point limit for magic banner. Ideally, you could give them the ASF banner, but we're stuck with a Death Hag Battle-Standard if we want that, and Death Hags are notoriously easy to kill. Instead, there are some banners from the core rulebook that serve decently, such as Magic Resistance, +1M, +1ld, and flaming attacks. This unit isn't exactly great, but it can do decent with the right setup. Also, Tullaris is bad. Never use him.
This unit has a lot of cool value going for it. Frenzied half-naked chicks with poisoned blades rushing the enemy seems very cool, but there is just one problem. They have no armor whatsoever. A 5+ ward save from the cauldron can help, but it's not that much of a solution. Fortunately, they are cheap for a Special choice, and can be bulked out to compensate for losses, or run as suicide units.
First, the large block. These can be run at a variety of sizes, from 20-man to 40-man usually, with good effect. Unless your enemy has no shooting or magic whatsoever, these girls will need the 5+ from the cauldron to make it into combat. Once they're in combat, they get lots of damage, but suffer in prolonged combats, so throw them at something they can kill, if you can.
The best part of Witch Elves is the combination of their many attacks, poison, and hatred. Poisoned attacks are especially good against high-toughness models. In a large unit such as this, Banner of Murder is probably your best bet, though extra movement gets you into combat that much quicker. The last option to consider is what to give the Hag. Rune of Khaine is a cheap way to get more attacks, working well against rank-and-file, and Manbane allows you to take care of tougher targets the other girls can't handle. Either choice is viable.
The second choice is the small suicide unit, or flanker. 5-six woman units, completely naked (Durr). These are negligible on victory points, and can do plenty of damage slamming into a flank. Another use is against characters, especially weak wizards. The Witches can run in, kill the character, then die, due to their high initiative and number of attacks.
So, there you have it, my Special tactica. Comments, criticisms and ideas are all encouraged.
Last edited by Masked Jackal; 09-11-10 at 07:22 AM.