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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-10-10, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Default 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.

Shades:

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.

Witch Elves:

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.

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Last edited by Masked Jackal; 09-11-10 at 07:22 AM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-11-10, 06:56 AM
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great write up.
short, concise and to the point.

From some one who's getting back into the Druchii, thank you.

*excited for your character write up*


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-11-10, 02:12 PM
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A lot of help, thank you.

Give me a character write up sharpish!!!
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-11-10, 04:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Orochi View Post
A lot of help, thank you.

Give me a character write up sharpish!!!
Take a level 1 sorceress with Ring of Hotek and Lore of Metal, it works every time! Really!

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-13-10, 07:38 AM
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I agree with a lot of what you have written, however I also have a different viewpoint on what you have said in the main. The below is not an attack on Jackals writting, its just a different way of looking at things for Special Units. (You did a good review Jackal, I am just offering some counterpoints).

Cold One Knights.

As Jackal has stated, they are probably the most fond of units and great eye candy for any Dark Elf General to field. However in the 8th edition game they are now much more vulnerable than before. The big question is why? The answer is Magic. When using the COK, you have to consider 3 things IMO.

1). This unit is how big? With 5 the likely hood of you being shot at least once on the advance is a problem. With 10, your in trouble as soon as one warmachine hits, with 15 your becoming expensive. (over 350 points)

2). ZOMG I gave him Sword of Might, Other Tricksters shard, Other random awesomeness item inserted. If your investing points in a strong unit of COK you must protect them. Tool your dreadknight or your lord if running with them as the protective type to an extent.

3). What is going to help these guys and hold a unit steady so I can get a flank charge.


Ideas;

1). Null Talisman. This lovely device will help against those rotten Metal Lore attacks that COK will attract like nothing else.
2). Ring of Darkness. I believe to be the weaker of objects as defence. If your COK are not hitting a flank by turn 2 or the start of turn 3 then your in trouble. Although the Ring helps, its a 2 turn helper at most until you hit the flank.
3). Iron Curse Icon. Although only simple and 5 points, it pays for itself well when that Cannon fires at you.

Banners.

If your General is here in the unit, your pretty much ok for leadership, as for a standard... I tend to go with AP. This gives me the edge over most opponents as I already have high I.


General Tactics.

The day of the deathstar is over.... get used to it. With COK your best use of these forces is running them in 7 or 12 and then using them to hit hard in a flank. They can and will chew through a unit if its being held in place by a spearmen block quite nicely. Do not charge 7 COK against a block, unless your landing a dragon to the left and your hydra is hitting to the other flank while your shades come up from behind. They are no longer going to over run easily and wipe the enemy out. They are now a sharp blade to be used against the soft sides of opponents, not front on attack at all cost units.

Black Guard

The meat of the list, the beef steak, the best we have. This unit is the killer unit of the DE staple list. As Jackal states, they are best deployed in a unit 20. However its when you deploy multiple of them that you really begin to exact vengance worthy of a DE sadist or your opponent.

Consider the following.

1 Unit of 20 blackguard are excellent at holding the flank. The stuborn affect will esnure they won't run away and they can take a few casualties and still chop down the enemy.

2 units of 20 blackguard however become game winning killers.

Unit 1.
Razor Banner. FC. Champion with Sword of Might.
Unit 2.
Flaming Banner. FC. Champion with Relic Sword.

You may ask why the sword of might and why the Relic Sword? Simple. Unless you give them magic items these units are very easy for ethereal opponents to take out. They are your elite. They are meant to hold the foe. Ensure they can.

The above is a killer combo when taken 7 abreast and 3 deep if you add assassins then it gets worse for your opponent. If you give them spell boosts from certain lores..... they become even better again.

Run them strait forward hit the centre and watch your opponent ground to a halt. This lets you hit the sides with anything else you can bring to bear, including shades, DR, COK, or anything else.

Shades.

I tend to run shades now as Jackal states as War machine killers. However they are also viable as other things, most notably character hunters that have protected themselves in units. People like Teclis the ungodly musical theatre lover in his mid 20's single male type annoying characters that should be removed.

Running them in units of 6-8 with a bloodshade and Assassin allow you to hunt out a character. You are going to lose the unit, but you will kill that character that is ruining your day. This is how it works...

Charge with the shades at the unit that hides that pesky level 4 mage who usually is standing on the corner. The unit you charge is probably going to be 5 wide, the mage is typically sitting on a corner. Your assassin is ready and primed.... The champion will challenge, respond with your blood shade. They are now locked out, allowing your assasin to sit right up close and personal to the character you want killed. Note with HE, your assasin needs to survive. You can protect him a bit, with 5 ward etc. But ensure you have taken out any enemy boosting affects that give them even more than ASF. Sometimes you must take out the BSB or standard first with another option or using multiple units of the same thing. However even 400 points worth of shades and assassins can pay for itself if you remove the BSB and his level 4 mage allowing you to dominate the magic phase unmolested.

The other way to do this is of course with witch elves in units of 6 and throw multiple units until the chosen character is dead. The down side of this is that if your playing against who knows what.... the witch elf units are not as easily deployed ahead or ready to strike like your shades can be.

Shades are useful tools and have a lot going for them above and beyond. Mind Razor on a unit of shades with AHW will rip through even heavy opposition when used with conjunction with a dark peg sorceress and be a nasty turn 2 killer to remove something that is spoiling your day.

I wont comment on the Executioners or the Witch Elves as I tend not to use either in my own lists.


As i stated at the outset, this is not designed to argue against Jackal, but to be used in concert with to show people what a DE army is still capable of in 8th edition. Although most people have jumped on the HE band wagon, dont give up on the darker cousins. We have plenty of tricks, plenty of firepower it is of course how you use it.

Lexi.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-13-10, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexious View Post
I agree with a lot of what you have written, however I also have a different viewpoint on what you have said in the main. The below is not an attack on Jackals writting, its just a different way of looking at things for Special Units. (You did a good review Jackal, I am just offering some counterpoints).

Cold One Knights.

As Jackal has stated, they are probably the most fond of units and great eye candy for any Dark Elf General to field. However in the 8th edition game they are now much more vulnerable than before. The big question is why? The answer is Magic. When using the COK, you have to consider 3 things IMO.

1). This unit is how big? With 5 the likely hood of you being shot at least once on the advance is a problem. With 10, your in trouble as soon as one warmachine hits, with 15 your becoming expensive. (over 350 points)

2). ZOMG I gave him Sword of Might, Other Tricksters shard, Other random awesomeness item inserted. If your investing points in a strong unit of COK you must protect them. Tool your dreadknight or your lord if running with them as the protective type to an extent.

3). What is going to help these guys and hold a unit steady so I can get a flank charge.


Ideas;

1). Null Talisman. This lovely device will help against those rotten Metal Lore attacks that COK will attract like nothing else.
2). Ring of Darkness. I believe to be the weaker of objects as defence. If your COK are not hitting a flank by turn 2 or the start of turn 3 then your in trouble. Although the Ring helps, its a 2 turn helper at most until you hit the flank.
3). Iron Curse Icon. Although only simple and 5 points, it pays for itself well when that Cannon fires at you.

Agreed on a lot of these points, though a good CoK unit can break units even from the front, so long as they aren't too ludicrously large. Protection is a big concern however, and my current setup for them runs the last two of the items you mentioned.


Quote:
Banners.

If your General is here in the unit, your pretty much ok for leadership, as for a standard... I tend to go with AP. This gives me the edge over most opponents as I already have high I.
Is this for the CoK? The Banner of Hag Graef gives you a lot more benefit, I think. Rerolling to hit will give you more wounds in the end, and with S4/6 on the charge, getting more wounds is what you want.


Quote:
General Tactics.

The day of the deathstar is over.... get used to it. With COK your best use of these forces is running them in 7 or 12 and then using them to hit hard in a flank. They can and will chew through a unit if its being held in place by a spearmen block quite nicely. Do not charge 7 COK against a block, unless your landing a dragon to the left and your hydra is hitting to the other flank while your shades come up from behind. They are no longer going to over run easily and wipe the enemy out. They are now a sharp blade to be used against the soft sides of opponents, not front on attack at all cost units.
Quite true, although a largeish unit of CoK doesn't really have to be a death-star. In general, in the new edition, you'll want to throw your units against what they can actually do good against, and with 7 CoK, you're small enough you can hit a flank. Much better than the days where a tooled-out CoK unit could just rip apart a huge unit on their own by making them break.

Quote:
Black Guard

The meat of the list, the beef steak, the best we have. This unit is the killer unit of the DE staple list. As Jackal states, they are best deployed in a unit 20. However its when you deploy multiple of them that you really begin to exact vengance worthy of a DE sadist or your opponent.

Consider the following.

1 Unit of 20 blackguard are excellent at holding the flank. The stuborn affect will esnure they won't run away and they can take a few casualties and still chop down the enemy.

2 units of 20 blackguard however become game winning killers.

Unit 1.
Razor Banner. FC. Champion with Sword of Might.
Unit 2.
Flaming Banner. FC. Champion with Relic Sword.

You may ask why the sword of might and why the Relic Sword? Simple. Unless you give them magic items these units are very easy for ethereal opponents to take out. They are your elite. They are meant to hold the foe. Ensure they can.

The above is a killer combo when taken 7 abreast and 3 deep if you add assassins then it gets worse for your opponent. If you give them spell boosts from certain lores..... they become even better again.

Run them strait forward hit the centre and watch your opponent ground to a halt. This lets you hit the sides with anything else you can bring to bear, including shades, DR, COK, or anything else.
Agreed on these points, though they are quite fragile, their points cost is modest, and their damage potential is insane. It is also quite true about ethereals, but unless you know you're going to be facing those, I wouldn't take the magic item on the champ. They're too easily killed in this edition.

Quote:
Shades.

I tend to run shades now as Jackal states as War machine killers. However they are also viable as other things, most notably character hunters that have protected themselves in units. People like Teclis the ungodly musical theatre lover in his mid 20's single male type annoying characters that should be removed.

Running them in units of 6-8 with a bloodshade and Assassin allow you to hunt out a character. You are going to lose the unit, but you will kill that character that is ruining your day. This is how it works...

Charge with the shades at the unit that hides that pesky level 4 mage who usually is standing on the corner. The unit you charge is probably going to be 5 wide, the mage is typically sitting on a corner. Your assassin is ready and primed.... The champion will challenge, respond with your blood shade. They are now locked out, allowing your assasin to sit right up close and personal to the character you want killed. Note with HE, your assasin needs to survive. You can protect him a bit, with 5 ward etc. But ensure you have taken out any enemy boosting affects that give them even more than ASF. Sometimes you must take out the BSB or standard first with another option or using multiple units of the same thing. However even 400 points worth of shades and assassins can pay for itself if you remove the BSB and his level 4 mage allowing you to dominate the magic phase unmolested.

The other way to do this is of course with witch elves in units of 6 and throw multiple units until the chosen character is dead. The down side of this is that if your playing against who knows what.... the witch elf units are not as easily deployed ahead or ready to strike like your shades can be.

Shades are useful tools and have a lot going for them above and beyond. Mind Razor on a unit of shades with AHW will rip through even heavy opposition when used with conjunction with a dark peg sorceress and be a nasty turn 2 killer to remove something that is spoiling your day.
Some good points here. The assassin thing seems...iffy to me. It can be used to kill those characters, but it is a lot of points, and you aren't guaranteed to have targets that are worth that amount of points, or will even care.

Quote:
I wont comment on the Executioners or the Witch Elves as I tend not to use either in my own lists.


As i stated at the outset, this is not designed to argue against Jackal, but to be used in concert with to show people what a DE army is still capable of in 8th edition. Although most people have jumped on the HE band wagon, dont give up on the darker cousins. We have plenty of tricks, plenty of firepower it is of course how you use it.

Lexi.
It's no problem. I'm not one of those people who feels offended when any of my work is criticized, and besides, you didn't come across as insulting at all. Maybe when I feel up to it I might even include some of your ideas in the OP. Too true about the bandwagon too. I actually like Dark Elves more in this edition, as tactics-wise, it's much more interesting. No more foolproof choices apart from perhaps Hydras, and making sure you have a Sorceress. That's it.

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I've tried out a COK block with the ASF banner, a dreadlord on COK with 1+ AS, PoK, and crown of command (makes the unit stubborn), and a BSB on a dark steed with 1+ AS, dragonhelm, and dawnstone re-roll AS). The unit has great synergy with a Cauldron with the 5+ ward save, killing blow and +1 attacks always coming in handy. The ASF banner gives a great chance of re-rolling to hit each round in combat. The stubborn dreadlord and BSB combo means that stupidity is not an issue and the unit does not break. However, the 2+ AS and T3 of COK models is tough to overcome and I found that I often lost the entire COK unit and was left only with the dreadlord and BSB at the end of the game in five games this last weekend against tough competition. The COK unit typically kills off enough (BSBs, heroes, casters and one or two units) to pay for itself, but I was left with so few and weak other units and the COK units was so often tied up in combat with a steadfast unit for multiple rounds of combat that, given the points investment in the unit at 2250 points, I just did not have enough other units to fight with and often ended up losing most of the rest of the army. Also, the S4 attacks of the riders and the mounts absent the charge in the first round are just not enough to quickly cut through tougher or more heavily armoured units and even weaker units with lots of models and parry saves could hold up the COK unit longer than I'd prefer due to the low number of attacks per model for the points cost. With 8th ed terrain and dangerous terrain, the opposing army can often force the unit into a battle with something that can either tie up or wear down and slowly kill off the COK models over time. Also, the 5+ ward save is not enough protection from magic, cannons and bolts and that can cut through or reduce the AS on COK models (even with a mounted sorc with MR2 initially in the unit at the beginning of the game). Thus, the COK unit, as others have mentioned, must have support from at least one and preferrable two hydras and is not as viable at 2250 points, only somewhat viable at 2500 points, but very viable at 2750 points battles.

You also need magic to enhance and benefit the unit. I used Dark Magic word of pain spell (WS=1) successfully to increase the effectiveness of the unit and Lore of Metal to boost the AS (5+ scaly skin for the rider is worth boosting the AS from 2+ to 1+ when in combat with units that have S4 or greater or AP; the +1 to hit and AP and magic atttacks augment in Lore of Metal really accelerates the rate the unit cuts through the unit it is facing). The Power of Darkness spell on the sorceresses meant that these spells could often get off since I could cast PoD late with single dice and, if successful, get off another spell at the end after the dispel dice were gone. That often forced my opponents to let through the augment spells whenever I got lucky and rolled high.

On other units:
I know one DE army using execs with a death hag BSB (manbane and +D3 attacks) with the ASF banner and cauldron. He swears by it. But I'd not use this combo. The death hag does a ton of damage on turn one and then typically dies, so she better be in a challenge with something she can kill or kill a lot. Losing one's BSB early is not good in 8th edition. The ASF banner overcomes the strikes last problem and lets the execs kill a lot as well, but they also die too quickly in the face of shooting and magic.

Since I've had the chance to play a lot of 8th edition (two tourneys and lots of testing games), I still find that Black Guard with ASF are still very good once in combat, especially with the BSB nearby for stubborn break tests and the cauldron for the blessings. Expect to lose the BG unit by the end, but have the BSB and dreadlord survive (which why I still leave the dreadlord with crown of command and often have the cauldron as the BSB) but to act as a tarpit for the COK unit and hydras and other units to hit flanks and do damage and to to kill off its points worth in the process. I think the dreadlord and BSB nearby with BG and cauldron is a very viable strategy, especially if boosted occasionally with Lore of Metal augments (+1 to hit plus AP and magical attacks; 5+ scaly skin AS boost) and protected by word of pain but the unit really dies to anything with killing blow (bloodletter horde). BG don't need the large numbers because they are arleady stubborn. In that format, one marches the unit within range of two hydras and possibly a modest COK unit close enough for the BSB to provide re-rolls on panic and stupidity tests.

Witch elves are only viable in my experience as a flanking unit initially held back, screened and potentially protected by the cauldron. If they hit a high T but lower AS unit in the flank, they can do a lot of damage and, if blessed with the 5+ ward save, might survive enough to disrupt ranks for one turn. In the flank, the enemy will not get the supporting attacks.
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