D.R.A.I.C.H. :: 8th ed "Shade-Deathstars"
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Author:  Furgil [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:14 am ]
Post subject:  D.R.A.I.C.H. :: 8th ed "Shade-Deathstars"

The Shade Deathstar

Table of Contents

  • 1. What is a Shade-Star?
  • 2. Shade-Star Unit Choices
    • 2.1 Shades
    • 2.2 Characters
    • 2.3 Magic Items
    • 2.4 Assassins
    • 2.5 Support Units
  • 3. Shade-Star Tactics
    • 3.1 Deployment
    • 3.2 Movement
    • 3.3 Magic
    • 3.4 Shooting
    • 3.5 Combat
    • 3.6 Points Denial
    • 3.7 Weaknesses
  • 4. Alternative Shade Armies
    • 4.1 MSU Shades
    • 4.2 Magical Shade-Stars
    • 4.3 Assassin-Heavy Shade-Stars
  • 5. Example Army Lists
    • 5.1 Sylvan Stalkers 2250

    1. What is a Shade-Star?

    A Shade-Star is an over-sized unit of Shades with multiple Characters and/or Assassins whose abilities and magic items provide a unit that is more powerful than the sum of its parts would imply. Shade-Stars usually have at least 20+ Shades and 3 Characters/Assassins, though alternative builds might break this up into multiple units of 8-10 Shades with only Assassins leading them. The purpose of a Shade-Star is to bring as much strength to bear on a single point each turn by having a massive skirmishing unit capable of deadly long-ranged firepower and close combat destruction! Usually the unit will have a combination of "Psychology Protection, ASF, Unbreakable, High Strength Attacks, Anti-Magic, Offensive Magic, Fear-causing, High Strength Missiles, Dangerous Combat Heroes, and much more."

    *** WARNING ***

    The Shade-Star in all it's forms is generally considered cheesy and unsportsmanlike. This is of course in the eye of the beholder, but many people hate armies that do not conform to the Dark elves MSU style that they've grown accustom to. In particular long-ranged massed missile fire is frowned upon by most gamers as being a gun-line even if that gun-line has more points in combat abilities than missile abilities! This is a competitive list that does not conform to the typical standards of army building that most players accept and might cause some hurt feelings in non-competitive gaming groups. Please use this list in a responsible way by keeping it to the tournament scene only!

    2. Shade-Star Unit Choices

    The Shade-Star Army is made up of primarily Shades, but these warriors alone cannot provide a significant threat to most armies. To make the Shades into a deadly fighting force one must adopt an army build and combat style that enhances the Shades natural strengths and reduces their weaknesses.

      2.1 Shades
      Shades are usually reduced to support roles on the battlefield, however with the addition of strong characters and supporting units of Fast Cavalry and Fliers Shades can dominate the field.

        Unit size
        Typically the Shades need to be 10-Strong if using MSU Mini-Shade-Stars or 30-40 strong is using a single massive Shade-Star! I typically suggest a large unit for maximum Stand-&-Shoot abilities, so at least 30 or more is a good idea.

        These units should be upgraded with a champion in order to help protect the character(s) in the unit and to bring extra attacks against the enemy in combat. The champion will be a valuable asset even at its high cost. His benefits far out-weigh an additional rank-&-file Shade's addition to the unit.

        Great Weapons
        The unit should typically be upgraded further with Great Weapons (GW). The strength 5 attacks made by a unit of charging Shades will hit with power greater than most heavy cavalry units! Since there is no option for shields, it is rarely beneficial to not upgrade to Great Weapons. If you are using ASF then GW's will strike in Initiative order rather than going last. ASF+GW would typically be the ideal setup to gain the best advantages in combat since the Shades have a superior Initiative and will typically strike before their enemies. The GW upgrade is a must for making the Shades valuable in multiple phases of the battle.

        Additional Hand Weapons
        Additional Hand Weapons are an option, but at strength 3 they rarely provide enough additional attacks to offset their limited ability to wound. Only use this option if you only want the shades to be limited to shooting and fighting light infantry. Adding in ASF will typically give you infinite hatred due to the high Initiative, but even that might not be enough to make up for the loss of strength compared to Great Weapons.

        Light Armor
        A 6+ armor save is rarely useful to the Shade, but if the enemy has several strength 3 attacks from bows or light infantry the high points cost per Shade can make a few successful saving throws worthwhile. This is a personal choice, however the points spent of armored Shades will usually be better spent on an additional unit of Harpies that will cost nearly the same points!
      2.2 Characters
      Characters are the only reason a Shade-Star works, so choose them wisely and choose several for the best combination of effects. You will typically want a mix of (missile defense, magic defense, psychology defense, and aggressive combat abilities like ASF). Individual choices are needed as you can't have everything in large amounts, but you can have most of these in reasonable amounts and just minimize the effects of the weak points through individual army tactics and support units.

        Combat Dreadlord
        The Combat Dreadlord's primary function is to fight powerful monsters and characters. He will be equipped with the Pendant of Kaeleth, Magical Armor (Blood Armor, Armor of Eternal Servitude, or Armor of Darkness), a Magical Weapon (Soulrender, Crimson Death), and possibly a support Item (Potion of Strength, Black Dragon Egg). This is a standard character setup in dark Elves armies, so he should be very well known for his combat prowess.

        Support Dreadlord
        A support Dreadlord will carry unit benefiting items such (Ring of Darkness, Pearl of Bleakness, Gem of Nightmares, The Guiding Eye, Deathmask, Ring of Hotek & Null Talismans). The Dreadlord will typically be able to have additional magical armor and/or a magic weapon to increase his combat abilities. A Dreadlord is also the perfect character to carry the Crown of command to give the Shade-Star Stubborn.

        Support Noble
        A Support Noble will be very common in a Shade-Star. He carries magic items that the Support Dreadlord can carry, but usually can only take one item and has little room for magic weapons or armor. He'll have to rely on other characters to protect him from dangerous enemy characters and monsters while he performs a specialized task. He will however be able to carry a mundane Great Weapon and suit of armor that should be enough to protect him from moderate amounts of damage and still give him the option to kill with relative ease.

        ASF Noble - BSB
        This Noble has a single purpose and it is to provide all the characters and Shades within the Shade-Star with the Always Strikes First special rule. The Noble must carry a Battle Standard and the magic Standard of Hag Graef plus mundane armor and weapons. It might be more beneficial to give him a shield and Beastmaster's Scourge for the extra armor and ward save, rather than going for a Great Weapon. ASF is to valuable to lose to a few pesky strength 3 attacks pointed at him. In addition the BSB will give you re-rolls on any Leadership Tests required making fear, Terror & Panic very low on your list of concerns.

        Lokhir Fellheart
        This special character is a great way to maximize effectiveness of the Shade-Star through combat. The enemy will likely try to fight you early on before realizing it is a bad idea. Because of this try to fight a mid-level unit with a few hundred points 200-300 by destroying this you'll double your points with Lokhir's special rule and gain a decisive advantage. He also causes Terror so psychology will be on little concern unless you worry about Panic Tests.

        Supreme Sorceress
        A Supreme Sorceress can add a potent magical attack as well as good magic defense to the Shade-Star. She will however reduce its combat effectiveness with only one attack at WS 4. Her multiple dangerous spells can reach out and touch several units where the shades can only target a single unit at a time. This grants the army a little more flexibility and that is never a bad idea! She can still carry the Pendant of Kaeleth and be all but immune to enemy attacks if you are worried about the enemy sending assassins her way.

        The Sorceress is a good support character in that she will provide some additional magic protection in the form of Dispel Scroll. She will die easily if targeted by the enemy, so if you are able, keep her out of the Shade-Star when combat is likely to occur.

        Death Hag Cauldron of Blood
        While it will reduce the number of support characters in the Shade-Star this is a great option for building a versatile army. Giving Shades extra attacks or killing blow or 5+ ward saves will greatly improve their ability to fight. Heck if supported properly, a Shade-Star can use the Banner of Nagarythe and a Cauldron to become Unbreakable and have a 5+ ward save giving excellent staying power and protection. Or with Standard of Hag Gaef the Shades will have ASF and can double their attacks making them very powerful!

      2.3 Magic Items
      The magic items are what make a Shade-Star so dangerous, so here are the common items that support the Shade-Star's mission.

        Standard of Hag Gaef
        ASF allows for all characters and shades to strike before their opponents. the characters with their high initiative will strike before most other units with ASF making this a formidable opponent to any enemy regiment!

        Banner of Nagarythe
        Unbreakable and +1 CR is amazing, however not having ASF can be a major drawback as the unit will suffer high casualties and requires multiple Assassins to have a chance at hitting the enemy with high strength before they can kill shades!

        Crown of command
        Easy access to Stubborn will keep the Shade-Star functioning for several rounds of combat against very large or very tough units. Many enemies will be able to swing back with deadly force (even a dozen Strength 3 attacks will drop a few unarmored Shades each round of combat). So keep this item at the top of your list.

        Cheap, Strength 6, Armor Piercing; the perfect weapon for a Dreadlord that has to carry lots of support items.

        Crimson Death
        Strength 6 is nice and at a good price, but is more useful if the unit doesn't have ASF as a Soulrender is more effective for fewer points in most cases.

        Whip of Agony
        Strength 5 and Armor Piercing plus it follows the rules for Beastmaster's Scourge which has the special rule Hand Weapon; meaning it can gain the +1 armor save from Hand Weapon and Shield!

        Blood Armor
        Cheap heavy armor that improves with each addition wound caused. ASF will mean the first round of combat will provide a 1+ armor save on average for only 15 points!

        Armor of Darkness
        1+ armor is excellent protection, little more is required of the average Dreadlord unless he plans to fight really nasty characters.

        Armor of Eternal Servitude
        Regeneration is great, but watch out for flaming attacks!

        Null Talisman
        3 Null Talismans will make the Shade-Star nearly invulnerable to low-level magic attacks!

        Pearl of Infinite Bleakness
        Immune to Psychology will prevent random panic checks from becoming a serious problem. There is no need to risk a failed panic check and lose 1000's or points!

        Ring of Hotek
        Causing Miscasts on high level spells will cause many opponents to avoid heavy magic meaning you are fee to purchase combat heroes instead of scroll caddies!

        Pendant of Kaeleth
        The best ward save in the game; the only ward save worth taking if you want a Combat Dreadlord.

        Ring of Darkness
        Forcing enemy missile units to fire at 1/2 BS in addition to the -1 for Skirmish and possibly long-range, this item will make enemy missiles to be worthless against the Shade-Star. It also helps protect the bearer from close combat attacks!

        Gem of Nightmares
        A One Use Only item that makes a large unit of dangerous high strength combatants cause Fear... YES PLEASE!

        The Guiding Eye
        When firing 80-100 Repeater Crossbow Bolts a turn, being able to re-roll misses is amazingly useful. The best use for this item is when a 4+ or 5+ is required to hit as it will yield the best results for the points.

        Potion of Strength
        Strength 7-9 on a Dreadlord will cripple big-nasties in a single round of combat, not a bad choice if you worry about Steam Tanks and high armor enemies.

        If you'd like to remove some of the tedious nature of cutting up lots of trash troops the Deathmask might help you by forcing a few enemies to flee, with a failed Terror check, before combat even starts.
      2.4 Assassins
      Assassins come in a variety of builds and each one cane of use in the Shade-Star. Each variation has it's own use, personally I like a mixed use Assassin with (Manbane, 2nd hand Weapon, Handbow & Rune of Khaine) to give a powerful character in both shooting and combat, but if you feel you need more combat or more shooting, then there are more options below. Of course you could go with several Assassins of various types and get every advantage possible! Remember that Assassins will receive some attacks in return if the enemy has any troops remaining in contact, so don't go revealing them until they are absolutely needed.

        Manbane, Rending Stars, 2nd Hand Weapon
        A Monster killer. The role of this Assassin is limited to sending accurate missile attacks against high toughness targets, but it does this well! The Manbane is still useful in combat, but he will only have 4 attacks, so must roll well to avoid being hit back.

        Manbane, Rune of Khaine, Handbow, 2nd Hand Weapon
        the Handbow has a short range, but gains bonus strength from the Manbane can take down high toughness targets. The Assassin also has D3 extra attacks, so will likely kill tough targets with relative ease!

        Touch of Death, Rune of Khaine, Black Lotus, 2nd Hand Weapon
        This Assassin is pure combat-oriented with several attacks using Killing Blow and the ability to re-roll 1's to wound will make short work of many armored foes!
      2.5 Support Units
      While the Shades can destroy some armies with no help at all, usually support units are required to take out small targets like war machines, missile units, and light cavalry.

        Dark Riders
        These are the best core unit available for the Shade-Star. With their high mobility, decent combat and shooting the Dark Riders should be in every army! they can divert the enemy away from the Shade-Star preventing duel charges that might severely harm the Shades and can also take out light targets that aren't worth the Shade-Star's effort.

        Harpies are the best war machine hunters available to the Dark Elves and at least one or two units should be in every Shade-Star force!

        Yes small units of Shades can support a Shade-Star. They are great at killing small targets and making dangerous support charges. If there is room, extra units of 8 Shades can be very helpful.

        It's big, mean, and fast! Hydras are strong enough to fight just about anything the enemy can throw at it and win combat! the enemy will likely know this meaning they will likely give extra attention to the Hydra instead of the game-winners, the Shade-Star!

        Crossbows and spearmen can add inexpensive support units to capture table quarters and to house Assassins. You can purchase multiple small units of Warriors with an Assassin in each one and then jump them all out to join the Shade-Star and add to its power!

        Cold Ones Knights
        Having decent speed and hitting power, the Cold Ones Knights will provide additional combat support for the Shade-Star by clearing out medium and light units that might harass the Shades.
    3. Shade-Star Tactics

    The Shade-star requires unique tactics to make it work, so here are a few of the important points. This is a finesse army, it will not play itself like Daemons or Vampires can. To make the Shade-Star fight effectively, you must be aware of your surroundings and destroy or divert potential threats before the enemy has time to setup counters to your army build. Most people won't know what to expect initially, but be confident that they will figure it out eventually. Use the first turns of shock to your advantage and keep them from being able to mount a successful counter-offensive.

      3.1 Deployment
      The Shades must deploy after all other units as per the Scouts special rule. this means you must know where the Shades will be as you place support units and characters that need to be joined to or nearby the unit. Usually I'll keep all my support units, especially the characters, behind woods or LOS blocking terrain. Then on turn 1 I'll jump all characters into the Shade-Star and begin my attack. Usually the Shades will be in center field so as to provide as large an area as possible for them to cover with shooting or charges based upon where the enemy chooses to deploy. Be aware of the enemy's first turn long range capabilities and be sure that your Shades are not placed in a location where they can be panicked or hit with magic before the characters can join.

      3.2 Movement
      Usually I'll begin the battle with turns 1-3 moving 5" forward firing bolts at any enemy in range. Then turns 4+ I expect to be close enough to begin combat and will move within 5-6" of enemy infantry regiments to encourage them to charge. If they charge I get a free turn of shooting with stand and shooting, so I usually don't bother getting too close and don't like to charge unless I absolutely need to. If required the shades can march 10" so as to redeploy in a new position for better missile fire or combat opportunities.

      3.3 Magic
      Shade-Stars usually don't have much offensive magic, but those that do should begin by targeting support units. The Shades' crossbows will make short work of primary units, but are wasted if they overkill a small 10-man unit with 80 shots! Magic missiles are perfect targets for enemy light cavalry and missile units. Be sure that if you are playing defensive magic that your Ring of Hotek is casting a large bubble around multiple units, not just the Shade-Star. If the enemy is using indirect spells at long range, then close with them quickly to encourage them to reduce their casting or to increase their Miscasts! Also remember that as long as a single model has Magic Resistance the whole unit has it too. Some people are confused thinking only if a spell targets the specific character or will affect him in some way does this MR help him, no a spell need only target the unit even if the character is completely safe from the effects.

      3.4 Shooting
      The Shade-Star is a concentrated volley of Repeater Crossbow shots and the law of large numbers means that it is much more likely that averages will be rolled making their shooting attacks very reliable. Always pick the most immediate threat that is worth a decent number of points, then attempt to completely annihilate it! Light cavalry can either support the Shade-Star's shots with their own or they can pick light support units or they can remove screening units so the Shade-Star has a worthy target for its own missile fire. The most important thing to remember is that if a turn of shooting is wasted for the Shade-Star then it was wasted for the whole army! Make every shot count! Because of the large size the unit will need to be deployed in only 2 ranks for the first 1-3 turns of the game in order to maximize shooting. Be sure to reduce frontage to prevent flanking units from receiving a healthy dose of ass-whoop'n.

      3.5 Combat
      Deploying the Shades in long lines to be able to shoot will give you max missile power, but will reduce your combat ability if flanked. I suggest going 10-wide when combat is likely to occur against a significant foe. Fortunately characters will be able to jump to the front lines even if flanked, but need to have room to fit, so have a few ranks to get your dangerous combat characters on the edges and able to fight. Don't forget to reform to maximize attacks if the combat is going to last more than 1 round. And be sure to keep the BSB on a far edge where the attacks will be at their fewest so he's not getting unnecessary attention.

      3.6 Points Denial
      When using a unit with tons of soldiers in it and most of your characters, it'll be quite expensive. This means that with a couple decisive rounds of shooting or combat you should be able to earn enough points to retreat to safe positions and prevent the enemy from gaining additional VP's from your support units. Don't be reckless with the lightly protected units like Dark riders or Harpies, while they are relatively inexpensive, they still can result in a significant points loss when you only have a single combat/shooting unit available to make VP's.

      3.7 Weaknesses
      Indirect magic that bypasses the Magic Resistance and is out of range of Ring of Hotek can be very dangerous. Support spells such as Invocation of Nehek can go off easily and with no recourse for the Shade-Star, so be prepared for the dangers these pose by having plans to minimize the effects through concentrated efforts of the entire army or through mage-hunting! Duel and triple charges are very devastating and bypass much of the Shade-Star's strengths, so don’t allow yourself to be surrounded; backup if required and hide in forests or rough terrain to prevent excessive numbers of charges at once.
    4. Alternative Shade Armies

    While the original Shade-Star build uses large numbers of Shades and all combat characters, there are other options. Rather than using the characters slots all for roles within the Shade-Star you could make use of more wizards, Assassins, & Cauldrons to gain additional advantages.

      4.1 MSU Shades
      Groups of 8-10 shades with an Assassin can be very deadly. The units are cheap enough that losing one is not a big deal, but their combined effect is powerful enough that they can perform nearly as well as a single Shade-Star. All the Assassins can join a single unit and gain additional advantages from several ASF characters in a single unit making it very dangerous to fight. They can also flee freely from charges to setup flanking charges by other Shade units using their Great Weapons. This is a much more standard use of the Dark Elves and frees up characters for other uses than protecting Shades. This style can be a mid-way point with 2 units of 20 Shades each one joined by exclusively Assassins and the other regular heroes with the ASF banner.

      4.2 Magical Shade-Stars
      Multiple Sorceresses can join a single shade unit to gain much of the same advantages but rather than having combat be such a large part they use the Shades as a mobile bunker with 360 degree LOS to cast spells. Dark Magic is very destructive and combined with the vicious Repeater Crossbows of the Shades few enemies will find safety on the battlefield.

      4.3 Assassin-Cauldron Shade-Stars
      There is an option to take a modest number of Shades joined by a few support character such as the Banner of Nagarythe and then have 3-4 10-man Spearmen units to house Assassins. These Assassins pop out turn 1 and join the shades to create an Unbreakable bunker for the Assassins to fight from. Add a Cauldron to gain a 5+ ward save or killing blow and you've got a very deadly unit. This list is the style that has the potential to be the most brutal. With Cauldron support, Assassins leading shades will crush most opposition!

    5. Example Army Lists

    The following lists are examples, but are in no way the only ways to build Shade-Stars. Take these suggested lists and add your own preferences to create a cohesive force that fits within your own style of play.

      5.1 Sylvan Stalkers 2500

      Sylvan Stalkers
      A Dark Elves Army By Aaron Chapman
         General; Repeater Crossbow; Heavy Armour; Sea Dragon cloak
         Pendant of Khaeleth, Crown of Command, Crimson Death
         257 Pts

         General; Repeater Crossbow; Sea Dragon cloak
         Ring of Darkness, Armour of Fate (4+ Ward)
         252 Pts

         Beastmaster's Scourge; Repeater Crossbow; Heavy Armour; Sea Dragon Cloak; Shield
         Battle Standard; Banner of Hag Graef
         166 Pts

         Great Weapon; Repeater Crossbow; Heavy Armour; Sea Dragon Cloak
         Null Talismans (x3)
         147 Pts

         Great Weapon; Repeater Crossbow
         Armour of Darkness; Ring of Hotek
         150 Pts

         Level 1
         Dispel Scroll, Guiding eye
         150 Pts

      40x Shades                                                                         
         Great Weapon; Repeater Crossbow; Champion
         738 Pts
      5x Dark Riders                                                           
         Spear; Repeater Crossbow; Light Armour; Musician; Champion
         131 Pts
      5x Dark Riders                                                           
         Spear; Repeater Crossbow; Light Armour; Musician; Champion
         131 Pts

      5x Dark Riders                                                           
         Spear; Repeater Crossbow; Light Armour; Musician; Champion
         131 Pts

      5x Dark Riders                                                           
         Spear; Repeater Crossbow; Light Armour; Musician; Champion
         131 Pts

      6x Harpies                                                                         
         66 Pts

      5x Harpies                                                                         
         55 Pts

      Lords: 20% || Hero: 24% || Core: 25% || Special: 29% || Rare: 0%

Author:  Swab [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 5:48 am ]
Post subject: 

I only see 2 problems:

1. You are over on your hero cap. 25% maximum

2. Harpies don't (or probably won't anyway) count towards core %. You will probably need to get rid of them to add in another core unit.

You don't need the sorceress, with the ring, all high lvl spells are going to kill the caster and the scrolls are almost worthless now.

EDIT: I could have sworn you said it was 31% heroes.

Author:  Yourmumrang [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:06 am ]
Post subject: 

It's actually 50% heroes. 25% Lord and 25% Heroes.

Author:  Dumbledore [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:57 am ]
Post subject: 

I would say that Banner of Nagarythe is completely not worth taking, let alone considering. My understanding is that skirmishers do not get 360 vision. Scroll caddies are mentioned while the ability to load up on scrolls is now not possible. Multiple assassins are mentioned while you are limited to one assassin per unit, you would need to start the other assassins in other units and move them to the star. I believe that the shade star is much more limited this version as large infantry units are likely to have a fair few attacks back, while template weapons will hurt much more than before. Also, hotek, as far as I understand, will not prevent spells from going off. It may be worth the enemy to risk a brutal miscast in exchange for killing a fair few elves with a higher spell.

ps, very nice math sheet on your site!

Author:  Red... [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:23 am ]
Post subject: 

While I salute your passion and dedication in writing an 8th ed DRAICH article so quickly, I do think that it's not really feasible to write a reliable tactica for an edition that hasn't even been formally released yet.

My suggestion would be to wait a while, revisit this post and update it based on new experiences, and then include it in the DRAICH. I'm not trying to be mean, but it just seems like the DRAICH should provide concrete advice based on multiple players' experiences and knowledge, not speculation about an unreleased rulebook that a few people have played a bit with in the store but not yet had the opportunity to take home to study in depth (or benefitted from playing against those veteran players who do not regularly go into GW stores, but play instead in games clubs and other non-GW venues.

Author:  Calisson [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:27 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the upgrade. I'm sure that more edit will be required as we understand better the machanism of the 8th ed (not forgetting that the DE FAQ may change drastically some aspects of the game critical for SDS).

How does the new skirmisher formation affect the SDS? What about the 90°LOS instead of 360°LOS?

The 7th ed SDS relied on killing everything in contact before it had any chance to kill it back. Striking in initiative is considered, but is there any analysis about the hit taken back from the opponent's unit, now that casualties are removed from the rear rather than from the front?

Magic objects.
In the new list of universal magic objects, which ones are useful for a SDS?

Author:  Furgil [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

Swab wrote:
I only see 2 problems:

1. You are over on your hero cap. 25% maximum

2. Harpies don't (or probably won't anyway) count towards core %. You will probably need to get rid of them to add in another core unit.

You don't need the sorceress, with the ring, all high lvl spells are going to kill the caster and the scrolls are almost worthless now.

1) I was altering my previous army list and didn't change the percent values

2) You may be correct, I'm not sure how they will rule the "true-core" units, but if they aren't allowed it's easy to see how it would be different.

Author:  Furgil [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:09 pm ]
Post subject: 

Calisson wrote:
1) Thanks for the upgrade. I'm sure that more edit will be required as we understand better the machanism of the 8th ed (not forgetting that the DE FAQ may change drastically some aspects of the game critical for SDS).

2) Shooting.
How does the new skirmisher formation affect the SDS? What about the 90°LOS instead of 360°LOS?

3) Melee.
The 7th ed SDS relied on killing everything in contact before it had any chance to kill it back. Striking in initiative is considered, but is there any analysis about the hit taken back from the opponent's unit, now that casualties are removed from the rear rather than from the front?

4) Magic objects.
In the new list of universal magic objects, which ones are useful for a SDS?

1) Yes there may be some revision, but overall I believe it will be pretty much the same as before.

2) I mentioned that a bit in the article, describing that it will be necessary to anticipate combat better as your shooting is more restricted.

3) With the extra characters allowed killing everything is definitely a possibility, your looking at a potential 33 attacks with high strength hatred and ASF... most enemy units will be decimated in one round of combat and will not make a large dent in the Shade-Star.

Cauldron could also be a good choice as the ward is well worth it to protect these valuable troops.

Author:  Dalamar [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:30 pm ]
Post subject: 

Elves can't fight prolonged combats anymore.
All Deathstars are meant to take on all comers and come out victorious in the end.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending if you like deathstars or not) Elves can't do it anymore.

If you charge a horde of goblins say, 100 (that's 200 points!) deployed 10x10, you will be hit with 30 attacks back against your T3 low save (even your dreadlords have only 4+ save) elves. Your elves WILL die. Your entire army is in that unit while gobbos are worth 1/10th of theirs.

Author:  Swab [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:18 pm ]
Post subject: 

Dalamar wrote:
Elves can't fight prolonged combats anymore.
All Deathstars are meant to take on all comers and come out victorious in the end.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending if you like deathstars or not) Elves can't do it anymore.

If you charge a horde of goblins say, 100 (that's 200 points!) deployed 10x10, you will be hit with 30 attacks back against your T3 low save (even your dreadlords have only 4+ save) elves. Your elves WILL die. Your entire army is in that unit while gobbos are worth 1/10th of theirs.

That is true, although I would hope you were able to do some damage to the horde before it reached you... or run away from it and bait it since shades can march/shoot.

Author:  Dalamar [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:25 pm ]
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Except that horde is 200 points. You still have to deal with rock lobbas (will be DEADLY on such a large unit of shades) and around 1500 more points of orcs. The silly little units of dark riders and harpies won't last long.

Author:  Red... [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 2:47 pm ]
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1) Yes there may be some revision, but overall I believe it will be pretty much the same as before.

Based on what? Your magic 8 ball? I don't see how you can make this assertion when the game is not yet released. How many games can you have possibly played with the shadestar in 8th ed that you can reliably assure everyone that, by and large, any elements of it will be the same? In fact, yes, how many games have you played with your shade star since the start of 8th ed? Theory hammer is all well and good, but when you don't even have a copy of the book that you can look at outside of the store, even that doesn't cut it. This just isn't a credible article yet.

Sorry, I in no way mean to condemn the quality or thought behind what you have written: It is very thoroughly written and well laid out, and it does make for an interesting discussion piece. But without the experience and theory about the new rules you'd get from the period after 8th ed is released, I don't think this can really be considered an 8th ed DRAICH article. Perhaps a 8th ed DRAICH article update in progress, with future update to follow and caveat that the article has not yet been fully play tested or theory analysed.

This is a finesse army

Certainly the first time I've ever heard it referred to in that way. It's more of a "set up and then both immediately pack back up again because you've auto won" army imo.

Author:  Calisson [ Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:51 pm ]
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Red, don't be harsh.
Of course, the article will be considered completed only after the rules are released and the unit has been tested.
Based on what Furgil has written in the past, here and in Warhammer-Empire, I expect no less than a remarkable quality... in due time.

New concepts and revision of old concepts have to be imagined before they are theoryhammered and finally tested on the ground.
Furgil is still in the first step, obviously.

Author:  Bra55monkey [ Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:35 am ]
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I think the general idea is that the army will simply get to pick its choise of targets with the fast moving nature of shades. i do think this army is gonna get templated apart though. Especially with breath firing into CC

Author:  Timz [ Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:59 am ]
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Shades, Dark Riders, and Harpies are among the 3 most nerfed units in all of DE 8th edition it looks like.

Your army is one group 46 T3 models lacking any decent armor saves, but with gizmos to make them a bit harder to kill.
Then 31 T3 models with no protection whatsoever (Dark Rider / Harpy)
The 31 would vanish, and the 46 won't be able to survive more than a few turns of shooting or magic, and certainly won't be able to kill 2500 points worth of enemies.

For the same cost I could get:

Supreme Sorc. - Tome of Furion, PoK, Lvl.4, Lore of Metal (add 2 to armor save, +1 to hit, etc.) - 328

Master - Guiding Eye, Xbow, Dark Steed, Full armor + SDCloak + Lance - 141
Master - Ring of Darkness, Xbow, Dark Steed, Full Armor + SDCCloak + Lance - 156
in 40 Xbowmen - shields, musician - 445 (Xbow deathstar > shade deathstar.)

20 Xbowmen - shields - 225
20 Xbowmen - shields - 225
20 Xbowmen - shields - 225
18 Xbowmen - shields - 198
2x Repeater Bolt Throwers - 200
War Hydra - 175
War Hydra - 175

Total: 2493, Models: 125. Magic level: 4, Dispel level: 4

The dark riders and harpies just get instantly pulverized by arrows. That leaves one single unit of yours that can't move after shooting. So if you're out of range for me to shoot you, then you're doing absolutely zero damage. Once both armies get in range, the shades army instantly folds because it only has 40 T3 no-armor shooters compared to the 120-something of the crossbow army.

The shade army can't charge, it'd get shot down and finished off by stand-and-shoot, possibly killing one of the 5 squads of xbows before it dies.

A massed combat army could do just as effectively. The shade-star loses any and all wars of attrition.

It'll also be vulnerable to magic.
Could cast Fulminating Flame Cage using maximum number of dice on turn 1 or turn 2 (which the shade has no way to counter more than a single time.) With every dice used, the chance of an IF is huge. PoK on wizard means it takes no dmg itself on 2+ since it's probably a S10 hit.
Then your shade unit is unable to move at all for a turn or else it suffers like 45 S4 hits (instant game loss.)

Could cast the metal final spell, would on average kill 13 shades and a random 1 of your 6 characters. It can be cast from 26" away in a big unit of 30-40 archers so there's no real retaliation.
(As soon as you lose Ring of Darkness or Ring of Hotek, the game's over.)

Lore of Shadow's basic spell, reduce your ballistic skill and movement by d3. M3 BS3 shades not so impressive anymore.

Dark lore Chillwind will probably scale like Fireball. Kill a few shades, no shooting by entire unit for the turn. Repeat.

Other lores used by non-Dark Elves are even more impressive. The shadestar's life is over as soon as miscast+IF is possible combined with spells which pretty much vaporize an entire unit.

Shades can only fire in 2 ranks, they still get -1 shooting if they move, they aren't immune to being killed by angry forests, and their point cost hasn't been lowered. While stuff like Xbowmen were buffed with no points increase.

Author:  Calisson [ Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:33 am ]
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The rules are not yet thoroughly explored.
What are the consequences of a SDS fighting from inside a wood?

Author:  Dalamar [ Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:02 pm ]
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It becomes Stalwart in the wood... But there's no need to charge it in there at all.

Author:  Omnichron [ Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:58 am ]
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Even though this thread is old, it's on the D.R.A.I.C.H, and hasn't been met with much enthusiasm... so I wanted to add my thoughts about it now that we are well into 8th edition and having used some shadestars for a while.

First off, I want to add something that isn't in the OP about magic items (and part the dreadlord builds:

Executioner Axe
If you run a shadestar with ASF banner, you could consider fielding a dreadlord with Executioners Axe, Blood Armor and Potion of Speed. This gives you a superior close combat lord which will absolutely trash any kind of monsters and most characters outright.

When that is said though, I think the null talismans and ring of darkness are more important magic items for the shadestar, so I'd only have the Executioners Axe as an optional extra tbh.

Now, the lists I've been using this shadestar has been for tournament matches and mostly used in test battles against ETC lists at about 2400 pts, but also against normal lists. As far as the results, in the last ten battles I've had two losses which came because I did rather huge mistakes, one draw against a dwarf list with two template weapons, and 7 wins.

The lists have mostly been quite identical with a cauldron of blood, two or three big units of spear elves, a hydra and/or chariots for backup, and harpies to block/redirect/hunt warmachines.

The three main shadestars I've had, are these (with the most basics of equipment I feel I need too):

1. Executioner Axe, Death and Assassin!
- 20 Shades with great weapons
- Executioner Axe Lord (Different options at first, but ended with the combinations mentioned earlier in this post)
- Master with ASF banner, armor, cloak, repeater crossbow and great weapon
- Level 4 Supreme Sorceress, Death Lore with 3x Null Talismans
- Support Master with Ring of Darkness, armor, cloak and great weapon.
- Assassin with AHW, Rending Stars and Manbane

2. Executioner Axe and Assassins!
- 20 Shades with great weapons
- Executioner Axe Lord with Blood Armor and Potion of Speed
- Master with ASF banner, armor, cloak, repeater crossbow and great weapon
- Support Master with 3x Null Talismans, armor, cloak and great weapon.
- 2 x Assassins with AHW, Rending Stars and Manbane

3, Death and Assassins!
- 20 Shades with great weapons
- Level 4 Supreme Sorceress, Death Lore with 3x Null Talismans
- Master with ASF banner, armor, cloak, repeater crossbow and great weapon
- 2 x Assassins with AHW, Rending Stars and Manbane

The first unit is the original I went with for as my ETC list. In the first round, when you jump in with all your characters and give the unit 5+ ward, you have 2+ ward against magic attacks, and everyone shooting at you with BS missiles, will have their BS halved! This means that most will hit the shades on 7+ at long range!

In the magic phase, you have the sniping abilities the death lore gives and a LD 10 from the dreadlord as well. With the mobility of the shades, and with the safety in having such a tough unit, you can move close without having to fear for the loss of the sorceress as much as you would otherwise. This way, you kinda negate the negative side of the death spells when it comes to range.

In the shooting phase, you will have 42 shots and can get into close range against most enemies without being afraid of charges. Also with the assassin, you have 3 shots that will get up to str 7. This means you can deal with most issues with range alone.

Last but not least, in the combat phase you have a lot of killing power. When you charge in, you can get +1 attack, although I would most of the time prefer to keep the 5+ ward as most of your characters and all your shades are rather naked. There is little this unit can't take in close combat tbh. The worst I've met thus far is a chaos lord with 3+ ward and 1+ saves. One unlucky roll on ward from the exec lord, and it might die outright.

The second option has most of what the original list had, but without the sorceress. This is for 2k battles, and I can say that the list does work without magic, even though I really missed it. I had two assassins instead of one, increasing the dangers from the shooting phase, but the lack of the ring of darkness means this unit can be shot down more easily. The shades needs forests much more (Which you should aim for anyways with skirmishers). I had one battle where I didn't get much of a win as I didn't manage to get into enough close combat with the shade star nor shoot down a lot of things, and had one loss as well as I couldn't snipe important characters (daemonettes with ASF is hell for a shadestar, especially when they can force you to charge them or force you to only stand from their charge).

The third option is my favourite for 2k games. It has most of the flexibility of the original I made at first, although it's not as safe in close combat and lacks the ring of darkness. With 2 assassins, it's still something that most won't get into close combat with, and it has a very dangerous shooting phase against almost all kinds of units. The sorceress can pick out characters, lower T by one and/or give a unit 3 less LD, and with some smart movements, she will get most spells in at least in the later part of the game.

The backside to this kinda army, is that there are some certain weaknesses that can't be countered. First is the magic that don't allow saves. Dreaded 13 is made for killing this unit, and will do it well. Template weapons are another thing, although you can field the unit in one long line to minimize your losses. Another thing that is kinda bad, is cheap(ish) horde units. You might take out tons of their numbers, but as long as they have one rank, you won'd break his stubborness, and your lack of defences means that you will loose considerable numbers in some of those close combats. Savage boys, witch elves and daemonettes are really bad for you, but you also have things like rat slaves and zombies that can hold you up for a long time (Although the latter will loose a lot and not do much damage).

This brings me up to the last point I want to make.

Safe Haven Unit!
In some battles, your shades will fall. That is okay. The points are not really in the shades, but what powers them... the characters. This means not only that you have an awesome unit which can do tons of damaage, but when you are about to loose the unit, you can run the most dangerous parts of the unit to another and make it almost as dangerous!

As a backup unit for the shadestar, I've chosen to have two or three units of 40 spear elves. You will gain the same benefits as from the shadestar except the massive shooting you originally had. Now you have a more focused close combat unit though which can break anything in its path due to all the ranks! Also, with the flaming banner on one of them, you can start out the battle with your assassins hidden in it, and take out regen monsters in the very start of the battle.

The final reason to why I have the spearmen as backup, is that they work very well with the shadestar when it comes to breaking ranks as well. If you meet a horde, the combined charge of the shadestar and spearelves, should utterly break any hordes or heavy units.

There are other backup units to consider as well. A frenzied corsair unit would be utterly devestating for anyone with these characters in them.

Final thoughts.
So, what I think of the shadestar? Great if you want a flexible and tough army, although with almost everything in one basket it's a big risk for failure. Especially bad is the combination of doom & darkness and a hellcannon. Still, compared to our knight star and executioners stars, I kinda like this one more. It's more flexible and can do tons of damage without ever getting into close combat. It has less of the drawbacks which we find in the other stars as well as it has a better survival rate (And it can just shoot down HE units coming at it very quickly). All in all I'd rank it quite high amongst the deathstar units out there :)

Author:  Calisson [ Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:58 pm ]
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Thanks for the follow-up.

The initial lack of enthusiasm for the Shade Death Star came from a negative view against such unit in late 7th edition, which was carried over somehow. At that time, the SDS would raise "cheese" comments and would not meet ETC restrictions.

Furthermore, with 8th edition, it was immediately perceived that very large units would become a common sight. Furthermmore, BS shooting has lost much of its appeal. Most of all, steadfast seemed to be the bane of SDS.

It is nice from Omnichron to have tried anyway, and to have found the complement (spear bus) to make it work.
Nowadays, I doubt that people seeing that unit would yell "cheese" anymore. They would rather doubt that it could work, and see how it does.

Author:  Tyrannus deathbringer [ Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:20 pm ]
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I enjoyed Furgil's initial article and want to thank him if he is still around reading these forums.

I like the evilness of the list in particular - whether it works or not I don't really care(!)...just the confusion on the opponents face would make it worthwhile to try out IMO :P :twisted:

Thanks to Omnichron as well for the battle-tested review.

@ Omnichron - how do you think a supporting Superbomberwoman Peg Sorceress would synergise with your lists? As well as a change of LV4 lore?


LV 2 Death Pegasus w Ring of Hotek to get in enemies face, threaten miscasts and Purple Sun.

Lv4 Shadow, Metal or Fire in the Shades. Choice of:
Fire for range and shade shooting buffs
Metal for armour and shade shooting buffs
Shadow for protecting unit by debuffing enemy

Author:  Omnichron [ Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:47 pm ]
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Happy to follow this one up :)

Tyrannus Deathbringer wrote:
@ Omnichron - how do you think a supporting Superbomberwoman Peg Sorceress would synergise with your lists?

I don't really like the superbomberwoman initially, as I mostly like to keep my sorceresses alive. However I could very well see the use of such sorceress in the Executioner list where I had no sorceress. It could give you the anti magic I felt the list somehow lacked as well as a huge punch now and then. If you have the extra points for it and feel that you don't need to have any other gear on someone from the master slot, it'd work alright.

Otherwise the shadestar will give you so much movement and have so much strength that just have a sorceress on foot is good enough. A master with a ring of hotek would be kinda neat as well, and as you see from the OP post, there are other things as well which would be very good to add to the star. Especially a crown of command ;)

Tyrannus Deathbringer wrote:
As well as a change of LV4 lore?

The reason I chose death is that I almost always meet a list with some crazy characters that can fly around and avoid my army, or strong characters which is just nasty to get into close combat. The death lore enables me to take care of the problem before it strikes. Especially the heralds for daemons can boost their units to be very strong an decimate the shadestar (Daemonettes especially).

Shadow would be the lore I'd go for if I wouldn't want death, and I value both about equally when it comes to what I want for the shadestars... what makes me tip to the death side, is doom & darkness and the -1 toughness with soulblight. That way you can easily wound with your shooting and break them immediately.

Fire can be very nice as well with the flaming and +1 to wound, however I feel that the lore doesn't cover up any weaknesses the DE army has, so I very rarely use it. When I run the spear elves, I also use the flaming banner on one of them. This was I can have the assassins do some flaming shooting if need be.

Metal is also a good option as it gives you some sniping ability and might give you the magic attacks on your shooting. Cavalry can be a problem for the shades, so I would defenitly consider using that lore as well.

Finally I'd say that I consider dark magic as well. The main weakness with that lore is the short range, but when you have a sorceress in a shade list, you get close very quickly. I'll be trying a level 4 with dark and lvl 2+furion with shadow soon enough. We'll se if it works ;)

Author:  Tyrannus deathbringer [ Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:22 pm ]
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Cool. Thanks for the follow up.

The problem I see with Death is range...but if the opponent is making a beeline for the Shadestar then I suppose this isnt as much of a problem, and as you say the mobility of the unit compensates for range issues. With two casters there is the possibility of squeezing a FF onto your Death/Dark mage as well.

Look forward to any battle reports featuring this rare build :D

Author:  Lord tsunami [ Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:54 am ]
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isnt it a bit of a drag to have to deploy the unit in 2x12 formation just to be able to shoot properly? in 7th you could have the unit as a nice skirmish lump when not in combat, and still shoot, but now it has to be 15 inches wide. it sounds like a big problem to me, but i have no real experience here.

Author:  Omnichron [ Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:11 am ]
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I'll make sure that a more proper battlereport is made of at least one of the tournament battles I'm having this very weekend. Yep, I'm taking my shades into the tournament! :D

Lord Tsunami wrote:
isnt it a bit of a drag to have to deploy the unit in 2x12 formation just to be able to shoot properly? in 7th you could have the unit as a nice skirmish lump when not in combat, and still shoot, but now it has to be 15 inches wide. it sounds like a big problem to me, but i have no real experience here.

Yes, the wideness of the shades might be a problem, especially when it comes to blockers against the unit or when you have to take them in one line due to template bombardments. However when you field such a list, you don't really have much of anything else, so you have enough of space to play the unit. If you also field lots of harpies, you can take care of most kinds of chaff which would be a problem for you.

Thus far, the wideness of the line hasn't been that bad... with the exception of figuring out who has got what range and potiential covers and so on. The other day I ended up rolling for one shade with long range, cover, then two with long range, then two with short range but cover, and then the master, before I could roll for the rest :p

Author:  Calisson [ Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:21 am ]
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Omnichron wrote:
I just wanted to add that if you have asssasins in the shadestar and keep the cauldron of blood close enough, the whole unit will gain the stubborn rule. 8)
Mod's note: I'll move this part of the discussion to "Rules".Khainite characters in regular unit

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