|Rant / request for help against HEs
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|Author:||Red... [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:03 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Rant / request for help against HEs|
Okay, so back in 7th edition it took me a little while to come to terms with the high elves, their ASF, power-dice spamming abilities and nasty archery fire. But I got there in the end, and my tailored army of ASF Blackguard, assassins, hydras and ring of hotek wielding champ would usually come out very well.
Enter 8th edition: same problems, much bigger scale.
Here's the problem:
Always striking first:
Against Dark Elves this is now absurd. Almost all of their units and characters get to strike first AND to re-roll their attacks (unless you're using blackguard to take on spearmen). Effectively they have hatred AND ASF.
That would be something I could deal with: blackguard and cold one knights are more than capable of outboxing high elves, but they won't get across the table because of...
Lothern seaguard are just brutal. Think about big blocks of these guys: they get volley fire, which is just brutal. How many shots does it take a unit of seaguard to make to take out a unit of dark elf infantry? remarkably few. Even cold one knights suffer: roll enough dice and you're going to gets some 1s.
But they ALSO have all the advantages of being high elf spearmen (extra rank for attack, ASF and re-rolls to hit against same I foes).
Oh, and don't forget that repeater bolt thrower spamming, which due to their special rules of "take as many of whatever type of unit you want, you're high elves so whatever" they can do much better than us.
Okay, so in 7th ed they had the ability to spam power dice pretty nastily (level 4 and 3 level 2s, buffed by the standard of +D3 magic dice).
But in 8th ed its even worse! Not because they get more boosts, but because power and dispel dice are now in such short supply that their boosts become even nastier. Picture this: he rolls an 4 and a 2 for magic, so he gets 6 dice and you get 4.
Fair enough right? Except its not, because he then reveals his banner of spamming d3 power dice, and a magic item (whose name I forget) that gives him another. So that's an extra 3 average dice. So now he's on 9 and your on 4.
Bad right? But wait, there's more. Now he fields his dragon mage, who gets to add a free dice to his rolls every time he tries to cast a spell: a typical level 2 will try to cast two spells each round, so thats an extra 2 dice. So we're up to 11.
From a basic score of 6 PD and 4 DD, you're now looking at 11 dice versus your 4. And he gets that +4 to +6 PD bonus EVERY turn. Even if he maxes out at 12 dice, he still gets the boost to his rolls for the dragon mage, so in that scenario he gets 14 dice versus your 6. Nasty, just nasty.
But it gets worse still: the spell lists are now much nastier AND ring of hotek has been nerfed (unless you're lucky enough to live in france or germany, which I don't). The only defenses left are dispel scrolls (which you can now take just one of per wizard, as you can't take two arcane items anymore), the feedback scroll (unreliable at best, and 50 points is a lot for a scroll that doesn't actually dispel - and bear in mind he's probably casting with 2 or 3 dice a turn, because he can, so is likely to take a single wound max (and if he has lore of life he can just heal that instantly for getting the spell off...)), staff of sorcery (which is useful, but not enough to change the balance) or the seal of ghrond (same deal).
Well, to start with hydras have been made much more killable in 8th ed by the new regen rules. And fire attacks are now much more common. (unit of lothern sea guard with 15 point banner of fire anyone? or perhaps a flaming sword of rhuin cast onto one of his archery units - cast because he has umpteen more power dice than you and there's nothing you can really do about it). So, unlike in 7th ed where you could rely on your hydras getting across the board and being a real pain in the backside for the enemy all game, now you're lucky to keep them alive past turn two.
Oh, and if you do get them into combat, remember that he strikes first and can now attack your handlers with between 2 and 5 models each (depending on his unit formation), with re-rolls to hit, dramatically increasing his chances of killing them (something which was actually quite hard to do in 7th ed). So he kills the beastmasters (+2CR) and does maybe one or two wounds to the hydra with his other 8 to 20 ASF attacks (+1CR). He then gets ranks, his standard and musician. You're quite likely to lose the combat and bam, off you go, because the beastmasterless hydra has a leadership of 6.
And even assuming you survive, if he doesn't break (which is likely, as he'll be steadfast) then his wizard will be sure to get flaming sword of rhuin off onto the unit in combat with your hydra at his next magic phase and bam, dead hydra.
And lots of other bits and pieces too.
So, whats the purpose of this rant? Well, its to ask for any suggestions/tips anyone might have really. I played a game against a high elf opponent recently and lost, although not by much. My issue is less with the loss, but more that I can't identify what I should have done better.
I took a big block of frenzied corsairs with the ring of darkness
Cold one knights with 5+ ward from a cauldron
Block of Cold one knight unit for their armour save
2 hydras (to keep him occupied)
Chariot (for toughness and armour save)
Several units of Reapers and crossbowmen to kill his infantry and shoot down his dragon mage
Some 'sweeper' units to kill his warmachines (master on dark pegasus, dreadlord on a cold one, dark riders, etc).
He had something along the lines of:
5 repeater bolt throwers
30 lothern sea guard
30 lothern sea guard
20 phoenix guard
level 4 mage with cloak of nothing non-magical can hurt me, haha.
Cadyran and some other nobles
10 shadow warriors
The game was close - indeed probably closer than it should have been. But for the life of me I can't figure out how I could reliably tackle the strengths of his list. How does one defend against volley fire that can wipe you out if left unattended, but converts to nasty multiranked ASF with re-rolls to hit if you charge it? How does one defend against huge numbers of power dice EVERY turn now that the ring is nerfed and our other options limited? How does one deal with nasty infantry blocks like phoenix guard who now effectively get hatred and ASF, with 4+ ward saves and multi ranked S4 attacks?
|Author:||Thanee [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:22 pm ]|
Don't you get those rerolls with ASF only when your I is higher?
|Author:||Red... [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:23 pm ]|
Equal or higher, sadly
|Author:||Thanee [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:39 pm ]|
In fact, you can only take a single Dispel Scroll per army now.
As for the high elves, I havn't played against them, yet. I expect them to suffer from the same problems as before. Vulnerability to shooting and high cost.
The free ASF reroll makes them stronger in CC, but otherwise they are pretty much the same.
Shooting, Magic and Cold One Chariots still kill them all the same.
RBTs should deal with Dragon Mages quite well, or not?
Black Horror or Soul Stealer cut those big blocks down quickly. Chillwind prevents a whole unit of 30 Lothern Seaguard from shooting for a turn.
Also Hydra firebreathing or the BDE are rather painful to those big blocks.
And we are not short on PD either, really.
Besides, that army you faced was rather extreme from the shooting perspective... 80+ bows and 5 bolt throwers is quite a lot.
If you put about 200 RXB Warriors on the table (which you could, technically), his army would be shot to pieces rather quickly.
But that is hardly the point of the game...
|Author:||Toddums [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:02 pm ]|
ASF with the new rules and high elves high initiative is pretty damn over powered imo
I'd def try and magic blast him, use shades maybe with an assassin to take out war machines (maybe 2 units)
|Author:||Ernie55 [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:12 pm ]|
What are you using for magic defense? You say you have a dreadlord so I take it you don't have a level 4 for your +4 bonus to dispell, I find that really helps stop the important spells (ignore the little ones if they have more dice than you). Also stop complaining he could be using more scary lores like shadow or life (IMHO fire is fairly mundane and dull in comparison). But we can do much worse for dice generation with the sac dagger, PoD and death magic...
Why don't you take the ring of hotek on your pegi master and plonk him down behind the enemy mage?
I do totally agree with you that its harsh they now get hatred most of the time in addition to striking first, but you need to counter this by bringing our higher I infantry, so black guard and witches are in order. Also shadow magic is awesome vs HE, Mekloth's (sig spell) and enfeebling foe are great for reducing their effectiveness in combat - being able to drop WS, I and S by up to 3 is brutal, the withering is also brilliant for boosting the effectiveness of our S3 shooting.
Hydras are in no way as gimped as you suggest and you are taking 2 and crying cheese???
|Author:||Saragos [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:31 pm ]|
A few things. As other posters have mentioned, our shooting is particularly devastating against high elves. They take 30 LSG? Take two units of 20 xbows...that's 80 shots...almost three times as many shots as he gets...and for cheaper. High elf magic can be nasty, it's true, but as mentioned, save your few dice for the big spells. Your own dark magic, again as already mentioned, can stop his shooting for a turn. Also, black horror is nice against the mere strength three of the elves.
You say your hydra would lose combat...it sounds like you're doing it wrong. First of all, he cannot target the handlers in close combat, period. Check out the rules; handlers are ignored for all purposes of being in CC. Secondly, it sounds like your hydra was working in a vacuum, having charged a block of infantry unsupported. This isn't 7th edition. A hydra should not be charging a block of infantry alone. Use it to support your own blocks of ranked infantry and charge in the flank or rear.
As for his warmachines, we have plenty of ways to deal with those. Dark Riders get a vanguard move, shades can deploy 12" away from him, and harpies can fly to get there quickly. You should be engaging his bolt throwers by turn 2 at the latest.
High elves are indeed a tough army for us, but we have all the tools we need to properly deal with them.
|Author:||Red... [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:34 pm ]|
Thanks for the suggestions.
Thanee, yes, in many ways you are right and those are some really good suggestions. We can't go toe to toe with them in a missile duel as easily anymore though because volley fire provides them with the edge.
I'll consider going more magic heavy as well, but its fickle (in the game I played, I rolled three miscasts over 4 turns, on 3 dice, 3 dice and 4 dice) and I've never been keen on magic heavy dark elf armies. It may be time to break out the sacr dagger again...
Toddums, thanks for the suggestion: I'll give taking some shades some thought. The new rules on their deployment does make them a bit tastier against high elves, especially as he can't move and volley shoot.
Ernie, I did bring a level 4 as well (it was a 3k game), with staff or sorcery, but when you're up against innumerable dice even the +5 bonus isn't game changing.
In the game I'm talking about he did use lore of life for his level 4 (the dragon mage was fire). I faced a nasty choice each turn: I could either dispel the lore of life buffing spell and pretty much then let him have all the other lore of life spells for free (+2 toughness, etc) and heal up any lost wounds, or let that one go and hope to dispel his other buffing spells (which was also problematic: at least one other spell would get through, buffed by the buffing spell: T7 phoenix guard and regenning lothern seaguard are not fun at all )
The pegasus ring bearer is a good idea, but I'm not sure how long it would work, especially as he can now just move the unit around to get out of the bubble to cast.
Yeah, I took 2 hydras in a 3k game, which is a bit than I would usually take (0-1 is more normal for me) but I knew I would be up against a very highly skilled player with an army of super pain, so didn't feel too badly doing it.
Blackguard and witches are a nice idea, but they would get slaughtered by volleyfire and bolt throwers it wouldn't even be funny. As it was my unit of 12 cold one knights was shredded down to 2 models left by turn 2. And that's with a 2+ save.
|Author:||Azlann [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:01 pm ]|
2 weeks ago i played my friends High Elves and I managed to get a victory out of it. It mainly came from using my favorite lore of death against their characters. Seriously u have no idea how easy it is to kill elves and men as their toughness 3. On turn one I had his level 4 down with The fate of Bjuna and his Battle standard died to the caress of Laniph the next turn. On turn 4 his level to fell to fate again and i turned to burning his army down with fireballs at max setting as he had no real way of dealing with it. i like the argument for dark magic as well and the others are right when they say it works.
The other guys are right as well. If you are playing against high elves make sure u have lots fast units. A few dark elf players are still making the mistake of going all infantry with dark elves. In my opinion even with our sexy special choices we are still only t3 with on average a +5 armor save. its not great. The way we have got round this in the past is to out maneuver our opponents and use this to choose our combats. We are not an army you can just line up a battle line and then have a big mash and hope to steam roll over our opponents. I've lost too many times in 8th and 7th with investing to heavy in infantry. i love my cold one knights to bits and chariot impact hits overrule strike first. Oh and our chariots are t5! I would advise giving these units a try against them and see what you think. i usually field 8-10 cold ones and sometimes i pop a master in there just for some added spice. give them a cauldron and there can be great fun to have.
|Author:||Ernie55 [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:17 pm ]|
Apologies, hadn't realised it was 3k. Which lores were you using? I'm not sure I'd go magic heavy per say, however people view on heavy changes from person to person. I take a lvl 4 - shadow/sac dagger and lvl 1/2 - death/tome and seal most of the time.
I've found from my experience of Lore of Life let throne of vines (the buffing spell) through and then throw all the dispell dice at Flesh to Stone, Regrowth or Dwellers Below
|Author:||Meteor [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:41 pm ]|
The only thing that makes me frown with HE is swordmasters still getting ASF despite wielding GWs, not striking at I order since ASF and ASL cancels out normally.
|Author:||Dangerous Beans [ Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:42 pm ]|
Hiya Red - sorry to hear your having such a dismal time gaming against our poncy blonde haired beach bathing bimbo cousins. It seems that your opponent is not really playing much of the spirit of the game - rather reminds me of a few friends in my gaming circle
How to deal with it? I think that magic is a major part of the help: 2 level 2s to take dual chill winds, a level 4 to rival his power output - possibly with death magic to kill of that freaking flapping fiery flower loving fairy dragon.
You talk a lot about the issues with volley fire from sea guard - why not take harpy screen spams? 4 units of 5 harpies can screen you units (especially cold one knights as the wings cover most of your models) and threaten his bolt thrower teams.
Cold One chariots (with characters mounted) always help deal with the ASF/keep in the fight to finish off the job, of course cold one knights are super lethal too - try something like this:
12 Cold Ones
Standard of Swiftness (+1M) or Hag Grief Standard (vs I5 and less enemies)
Potion of Foolhardiness
combo with the old tried and ever handy BSB with Hydra Banner (on cold one obviously). 3 attacks per knights and 2 attacks per cold one on the charge. Drop the enemy's S and T by one (death spell) and there'll be none left.
For the true coup-de-grace add a cauldron for either +1 attacks (4 attack knights should slam those seaguard in one move) or 5+ ward save (on way in/vs white lions/swordmasters).
Similarly - 10/12 Dark riders with shields as a flank negating force will stop the stubbornness/not receive many attacks in return.
So in summary:
- stronger magic to punish his shooting/hex his combat units.
- harpies to screen and attack his war machines (6 hapries vs 2 crew should kill them off even with ASF)
- Knights with multiple attacks/Cauldron too should see of his largest units.
- Crossbowmen to mop up the smaller enemy units
- Multi-Chariot charges to negate his ASFness (add characters to really tip the balance further)
Don't bother with Hydras IMHO - they die too quickly to the fiery elves - chariots are better and tougher in some respects.
Hope some of that helps mate - let me know how it goes. If all the ideas from this thread fail then tell your opponent how lame it is and that you refuse to play him. Its pretty likely your not alone in that opinion and he'll quickly learn to change tact. (if he has any sense )
|Author:||Cappenverra [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:53 am ]|
I have a friend who plays HE and, for a while, he was undefeated. At 2500pts, he had a high magic list with a mammoth unit of Seaguard contianing the BSB, Teclis and another lvl 2 caster. He had the anti-magic banner and all the other good stuff that gave him the extra dice for casting. He used 3 RBts and also had a unit of white lions, a small unit of his skirmisher with bows and a unit of the 4+ ward elves (cannot remember thier names) with another Hero of some kind in there.
Anyway, his strategy was much like Red described: Shoot like crazy and cast Purple Suns like there was no tomorrow (having Teclis helped a lot). He would wipe everyone by the 3rd turn.
I wanted to bring him dow a few notches so I took the following list:
The Lone Guardian at the Gate
The Bearer on the Wing (lord version with BDE)
DH CoB BSB
A unit of shades with a KB assassin
35 spearmen with Shields (full command & AP banner)
2 units of DRs with Xbows
5 CoK with ASF banner
I concentrated on charging his mammoth unit with the Lone Guardian and blitz his war machines with my harpier and DRs. The Bearer flew in behind the lone guardian and provided the RoH bubble. With the Guardian doing his job, I was able to reveal Shadowblade on turn 2 and charge in with my shades and other assassin. The Guardian challenged the first combat round and killed his champ. The second turn the challenge was accepted by his level 2 mage. (not wanting to risk his BSB or Teclis) However, that left Shadowblade free to clobber Teclis and my other assassin to take out his BSB. All the while, his seaguard could not shoot because the unit was in combat. At the end of my second turn, Teclis and the other mage were dead and his BSB only had one wound left. The Bearer with the BDE (charging on the side) also garanteed that I caused more damage than I received making him loose the combat. He was steadfast and held but the next turn, I finished off his BSB and even though he killed my Shades, Shadowblade and the Assassin, the Guardian did his job and held the line. On my third, my mammoth charged in and then it was all over for him.
His other units did not do much as they concentrated on my hydra and the CoK. My DRs and harpies did their job of taking out his RBTs and my xbows did a good job of knocking out most of his 4+ ward unit.
After the 4th turn, he capitulated.
After the game he was pretty depressed as I had completely negated all of the advantages of his list.
To counter his magic, I used the ring of H, Shades with assassin and Shadowblade
To counter his shooting Seaguard I used the Lone Guardian
To counter his mammoth I used the BDE, the Lone Guardian, and a mammoth of my own
To counter his RBTs I used harpies and DRs
To counter the rest, I use the hydra, CoK and RXbows.
As a note, he did cast the purple sun at my Lone guardian and the bearer, but being high I, they passed both test. He also managed to hit my mammoth behind but I only lost 4 spearman to failed tests. After round 2, his casters were dead.
I must admit that he made some mistakes and it could have gone worse for me, but it did not and I am not ashamed to admit that it felt good to have given him a shot to his ego.
Anyway, after that game, he declared that he was ``retiring`` his list. He has played with his dwarves since then.
|Author:||Ebonyphoenix [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:27 am ]|
Congrats on the victory. That taking the loss as a challenge to succeed is something I love to see in players.
Regarding your friend, I'm suprised he "retired" the list instead of adjusting it. He should have been willing to step away from the Sea Guard and Teclis to try something new as well. Of course he could be waiting to spring it on you later, too.
I'm glad that the Lone Guardian at the Gate and Bearer on the Wing builds worked for and inspired you. It's always good to hear about how those builds work in the field.
|Author:||Cappenverra [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:39 am ]|
I've used the Lone Guardian frequently and he has always been awesome. Once I held up an Ogre Tyrant and 6 Ironguts for an entire game. Another time, I also used him very effectively to shut down a Stegadon. I LOVE this guy.
I've also used the hero version of the "Bearer" a few times. I only upgraded him up to a lord because I had to make room in the Hero points limit for Shadowblade.
Well, the reason for him retiring his list may be because I specifically told him that if I ever saw him field Teclis again like that, I would bring out my "Anti-Teclis in a mammoth" list again and clean his clock. I suspect that he was relying too much on the Teclis-Mammoth unit and now that I have beaten it, it's not a "sure thing" anymore.
|Author:||Ebonyphoenix [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:48 am ]|
If it got rid of another potential Deathstar-list addiction, I have no problem with giving somebody a politely worded threat in the guise of a promise.
|Author:||Cappenverra [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:55 am ]|
Yeah, I'm with you on that one.
However, I'm just counting the days until he comes up with some other uber-list with the dwarves...
|Author:||Ebonyphoenix [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:23 am ]|
Then you can have fun with a floating ball of plasma. Dwarves vs. Purple Sun = Dead dwarves.
Shooting dwarves vs Chillwind = non-shooting dwarves
Any dwarves vs Lore of Metal = liquified dwarf
Granted you have to deal with the Dispel Dice spam, but that is the real purpose of the Power Scroll. Getting one spell through an opponent after they've proven their defense is too tough to crack naturally. Add in the Sacrificial Dagger on another mage, and yon dwarf is going to have some technical difficulties.
|Author:||Aeglos [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:39 am ]|
Yesterday I defeat an HE...but it was hateful...
What would you do against a mage with Life Lore and Book of Hoeth????
|Author:||Caemdare [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:41 am ]|
When I first got my hands on 8th, I must admit my first reaction was to play a few games with the High Elf army i'd got. Mostly to see just how, realistically, their spear-blocks fared vs...well, stuff now. (OK, the other reason Is I own the studio's army from a couple of books ago, the last one with maiden guard in. They hadn't gotten an airing in a while >_>).
Admittedly, it's no lothern seaguard, overload-on-the-archery list, but it had strong shooting from longbows rather than the 24inch regular bows the seaguard carry, but it did help to get my head around things. Yes, ASF and high initiative is nasty, especially when back with spears. Or Swordmaster greatweapons. However, they were nasty in the previous edition, so not too much has changed there; the old maxims of 'don't charge the swordmasters' still holds true, although there are exceptions. One particular nasty game vs a Beastman player with 3 charriots helped to reinforce just what a reasonable number of impact hits does to Toughness 3, 5+ Armour Save elves.
I can't speak for 3K + games, as I tend to avoid going that high as a regular game-size... stuff starts to get very nasty very quickly, simply due to the large quantity of certain things that start happening. Much like the bucket of archery-fire-dice you were facing here... But for a more general case...
Firstly, do not neglect the Dark Magic lore. Yes, the 'basic' lores definatly got a buff, but that doesn't mean it got any weaker. If the enemy really is going for the Horde of Lothern style strategy, well... that's one unit that can be completely shut down by a single Chill Wind, as opposed to the same ammount of bowfire spread over several units. Word of Pain never hurts either. And as with all hordes, dropping templates like Black Horror is never going to leave you feeling unsatisfied. Others have also pointed out the value of the Shadow lore, which DE also dislike facing with our own Toughness 3, 5+ Armour Save troops.
As I mentioned above, give chariots some thought too: impact hits are good, forcing him to have to dump a load of shots or magic into a single discrete entity is always nice too. Although, much like hydras, really don't send them in unsupported against an intact infantry block.
Sometimes, the old Target Saturation plan can work well, especially against someone that really has concentrated alot of their shooting into a big block like that: the monstrocity can shoot only one thing a turn. So give him 3 things to shoot at. Something will survive. Try to make the 'best' thing he could shoot at each turn unobvious, or offer up a juicy, if not as critical, alternative.
For the vs Magic part... well, it was Teclis. We can think of it as similar to a mage toting the Book of Hoeth in the 'I can get lots of IF' department, but even if neither are present, yes, they can get a lot of powerdice. So can the druchii. Some of it comes down to the tried and true method of 'what, exactly, do I _have_ to dispell this turn', although I would also certainly suggest giving some of the...alternative scrolls in the BRB a try. I've seen some players that have been on the wrong end of a Hex scroll be rather reticent to start throwing lots of magic around in the future. Same for the Feedback scroll. Of course, neither of these actually work vs IFing, but certainly give a nasty toy to toss at them. Powering through, (no pun intended) a nasty spell of your own with a power-scroll, onto the unit of 'I've put all my characters in here', also won't hurt. And never forget, spells which hit every model in the target unit, only get even more ridiculous when there is a horde of them...
As an aside, there is also an increasing number of people who seem to think the very act of rolling, then successfully casting, purple sun, automatically guarantees them a win, even vs armies who aren't pre-disposed to having low I models. It is harsh, but only one person on the enemy side can have it, and if you are really genuinely concerned about it, just save your dice for it. For DE, it's kind of a 'well, I can dispel it, but it's not fatal'. As has been said, it COULD be worse...
Dragon mages are Dragon mages: a generally fairly vulnerable mage atop a nasty dragon. Due to the change Flaming Sword of Ruin, he can't even be considered that nasty in close-combat anymore, leaving just the dragon. Bolt Throwers could help, but as has been mentioned, vs that ammount of shooting their lifespan is limited... but this comes back to target saturation. If he's shooting them, he's not shooting your warriors, crossbowmen, witches etc. He's not likely to oblige you by engaging you in combat in a place you want, but still, forcing him into a fight and then just killing the mage is never bad. Afterall, if he has the 4+ ward talisman, someone else doesn't...
|Author:||Lord tsunami [ Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:28 am ]|
to kill a unit of 30 warriors you would need 120 shots. to make it useless in close combat, you would need fewer. use ring of darkness if you are scared of BS shooting. maybe on a hero in a big unit of CoK if you like those guys. he only gets one round of shooting + stand and shoot. 12 should be enough to show them who is boss when you reach CC. Also, as mentioned, chillwind is neat
agreed. either dont take em, or use them as meat shields. if he is shooting at your hydra he isnt shooting at your other units.
note that he can NOT attacks the handelers. they are ignored except as "wound markers" and with our special handelers rule they can never be killed. neither do they increase the hydras frontage in close combat.
when/if your hydra reaches combat its just as unstoppable as usual. with breath attack i finished off a unit of 15 white lions in a single turn last game. just make sure you roll good on your regen
lol. have you played against DE? witha single lvl 4 mage we get even more extra PD just by sacraficing our 6p warriors and casting PoD. They have a nasty magic phase, but ours is even nastier imo.
a noble with RoH and cloak of hag graef on DP can take missile fire and easily get close enough to blow up his lvl 4. the dragonmage can be sniped with RBT if you didnt take the hydrae
All this being said, you can always fight fire with fire so to speak. he wants to stay ranged and shoot you down? take rxb and rbt and lvl 4 + lvl 2 mage and see whos laughing at the end. two can play at that game and my bet is that you will come out on top if you designed a "gunline" list with plenty of harpies to murder his rbt. boring as hell though
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