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In defence of the Death Hag BSB led Executioner Horde (done) 
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Generalissimo
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So, I've been meaning to write this up for a while, as I have used a horde of Executioners, led by a Death Hag BSB with the Standard of Hag Graef for some time now and it has worked very well for me. Others don't like it, fair enough, but I thought I'd give a full write up of exactly how and why it works for me, including the unit's strengths, weaknesses and compensatory measures. Who knows, maybe if I'm really lucky, this may even make a DRAICH article (Dear Calisson, I humbly request that... :D)

This is now a complete article, so please comment away - but be nice :D

Contents:

A) Unit Description
B) i. Unit Strengths (base level)
B) ii. Unit Strengths (combined level)
C) i. Unit Weaknesses (base level)
C) ii. Unit Weaknesses (combined level)
D) Vulnerabilities
E) i. Compensating for vulnerabilities - things the unit can do
E) ii. Compensating for vulnerabilities - synergies
E) iii. Compensating for vulnerabilities - unit additions
F) Neither a Death Star nor a Points Sink
G) Unit overview: Synergies included
H) Sample Army List
I) The End
J) One final note...

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:41 pm, edited 14 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:14 pm
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A) Unit Description

The unit consists of two main parts:
-> Death Hag as a Battle Standard Bearer, with Standard of Hag Graef
-> 29+ Executioners with full command, in horde formation

In essence, the idea of the unit is to have a body of elves who deliver a huge number of high weapon skill, high strength attacks, striking before their opponent's in combat. The Executioner horde delivers the main body of the attacks, while the Death Hag BSB delivers the Always Strike First bonus which is needed to negate the Always Strikes Last detraction comes with the Great Weapons wielded by the Executioners.


B) i. Unit Strengths (base level)

Death Hag:
-> M5 - Yes, this is true of all elf infantry, but it's important to note because it means they are very maneouverable and suffer less from the problems of struggling to make contact with the enemy faced by some other races (e.g. Chaos Chosen or even Dwarven Hammerers).
-> WS6 - This is very handy because it means you are hitting the vast majority of your enemies on 3s and almost everyone else on 4s. It also means that many of your enemies will be hitting you on 4s or even 5s.
-> S4 - A base strength of 4 is very useful, as it makes you less vulnerable to strength based character tests, particularly dwellers below. You will be wounding elves, humans and other T3 foes on 3s, dwarves, ogres and other T4 foes on 4s, and T5 foes on 5s.
-> I8 - this is pretty fabulous, although a little irrelevant given that she will be carrying an ASF banner. It does mean, however, that she will usually get to re-roll all missed attacks during every round of combat, not just the first.
-> A3(5) - this is standard for a hero, however she gets an additional two attacks from frenzy and her additional handweapon, bumping her up to a fairly eye watering 5 attacks. Not bad at all for a hero.
-> Hatred - Another attribute shared by all Dark Elves. It is less relevant here, because ASF and I8 will likely trump it.
-> Poison - this is awesome for doing damage to high toughness foes and adds further to the power and utility of the Lady of Death.
-> Price - roughly 150 points is not too shabby for a hero of this callibre at all.
-> Leadership 9 - this is really useful because it helps the Death Hag not to run away and decreases the chance that any unit she accompanies who has lower leadership will fail leadership tests.
-> The banner that confers Always Strikes First - This means that the Lady herself gains ASF and any unit she is with either gains ASF or has their ASL negated. It's the last strength I'm listing, but ultimately it's probably the one that matters most.

In conclusion, this dame puts out a suprisingly large number of attacks which have a very high probability of hitting and a decent chance of wounding. And she gives herself and any unit she is with either ASF or negates their ASL. Not to be sniffed at.

Executioners:
-> M5 - Yes, this is true of all elf infantry, but it's important to note because it means they are very maneouverable and suffer less from the problems of struggling to make contact with the enemy faced by some other races (e.g. Chaos Chosen or even Dwarven Hammerers).
-> WS5 - This is very handy because it means you are hitting a lot of your enemies on 3s and almost everyone else on 4s. It also means that a lot of your enemies will be hitting you on 4s or even 5s.
-> S4(6) - A base strength of 4 is very useful, as it makes you less vulnerable to strength based character tests, particularly dwellers below. The difference between losing a third of your unit and half of your unit is massive. But more importantly, with their great weapons, Executioners have a whopping strength of 6, meaning that they will be wounding all T3 and T4 creatures on 2s, and even wounding T5 creatures on 3s and T6 creatures on 4s. That's really, really hard hitting. They will also be removing armour saves from any forces with a save of 4+ or worse, and severely reducing the armour saves of more heavily armoured foes.
-> I5 - Again, this is standard for an elf. Butit means that if they ever have the chance to strike in initiative order, they will be striking beforethe majority of their opponents. That's massively important for troops with great weapons.
-> Hatred - Another attribute shared by all Dark Elves. However it is particularly useful for models with one single, super strong attack, because it significantly reduces the chances of missing.
-> Killing Blow - This helps to deal with heavy cavalry and other shell encased opponents, improving the versatility of the unit further.
-> Price - Cheaper than Blackguard and just 2 points more expensive that Corsairs and Witch Elves, these guys are not badly priced at all.

In summary, when these guys hit, they hit very easily and extremely hard. They can cut through even the toughest of opponents like a knife through butter.


B) ii. Unit Strengths (combined level)

When the BSB is combined with a horde of Executioners, the unit becomes incredibly hard hitting. In a nutshell, you get:

-> A unit that moves quickly into combat
-> A unit that has leadership 9 with re-rolls of all leadership tests
-> A unit that strikes with WS5 (hitting on 3s versus most opponents and 4s versus a few elites), gets to re-roll its misses in the first round of combat, and that rolls to wound with S6.
-> A unit that almost always gets to strike first with these attacks, due to the fact that the ASL of their weapons is negated by the ASL of their banner. (Even against other Dark Elves or Wood Elves they will be striking simultaneously)

Given that the unit is deployed as a horde, that means it gets:
- 30 attacks at WS5, with re-rolled misses, and S6, with killing blow, almost always resolved beforeyour opponent gets to strike back. Against a horde of enemy models with WS4, T3 and a 5+ armour save, that translates as:
- 30 attacks, hitting on 3s = 20 hits.
- 10 attacks, hitting on 3s = 6.666 hits.
- 26.666 hits, wounding on 2s = 22.222 wounds.
- S6 versus 5+ armour save = 22.222 kills.

Add to that the Death Hags attacks (which would be resolved before them), which would be:
- 5 attacks, hitting on 3s = 3.333
- 1.666 attacks, hitting on 3s = 1.111 hits
- 4.44 hits, wounding on 3s = 3 wounds
- S4 versus 5+ Armour save = 2.5 kills
(note, I've excluded poison because it's too hard to factor in - but it would probably increase the likely damage by a little bit)

By itself, that is pretty devastating: 25 kills (rounded up) from a single close combat phase. The enemy may hit you back, but is unlikely to be able to produce that level of damage and will almost certainly lose combat...unless his unit is also a melee monster, but more on that lat

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:24 pm, edited 16 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:15 pm
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C) i. Unit Weaknesses (base level)

Death Hag
-> T3: Yup, like almost all elves, the Lady of Death is limited to T3. That means that anything that even so much as touches her has the potential to hurt her.
-> W2: Like most heroes, the Death Hag has just two wounds. It's not the best and makes her relatively easy to dispatch.
-> No armour save: This one really reallyhurts. Any attack that gets past her already pretty feeble toughness, no matter how strong it is, will cause a wound. Ouch.
-> Frenzy: While this adds an extra attack, which is very tasty, it also means she can't reform at the end of a combat and has to try to test against her leadership to avoid charging if she is in range of an enemy (although she is testing against leadership 9 with a re-roll here, so not too big of a worry).

In summary - the Death Hag BSB is extremely frail. She cannot be relied on to take any kind of damage and survive. She has been known to be toppled by excessively strong winds.

Executioners
-> T3: Again, T3 means that anything that even so much as touches them has the potential to hurt them.
-> W1: These are no ogres people.
-> 5+ Armour save: It's fairly standard for a Dark Elf infantry model to have a 5+ save, but it's still relatively light by the standard of other army types out there, particularly when combined with T3. These are no Chaos Chosen or even Grave Guard.
-> 1 attack. That means the maximum number of enemy that they can slay is 1. These are not witch elves who can, theoretically, kill three numbers their own numbers.
-> Always Strikes Last. Having Great Weapons means that Executioners strike with S6, but they nonetheless strike last, which is a very bitter pill to swallow because at just T3, 1 wound and a 5+ armour save, 'Always Strikes Last' may very well translate into 'Never Strikes At All'.
-> Leadership 8. This is pretty feeble by elven standards. Without enhancement, Executioners risk failing fear tests and breaking too easily.

In summary, Executioners have a weak (albeit standard elven) toughness and armour save. This means they die quickly if hit. At their base level, they strike last, which means they will be hit before they can hit back, which is painful for such un-tough and lightly armoured troops, and they fail fear tests and run away far too easily (ironic for big dudes with double handed execution blades).


C) ii. Unit Weaknesses (combined level)

The unit suffers from an inherently fragility that stems from T3 and either light armour or no armour at all. It must always pursue and has to test against its leadership (admittedly with a 9 and re-roll) to avoid charging anything within 17".


D) Vulnerabilities

Okay, so I've discussed some of the strengths and weaknesses in broad terms, but I'd like to spend a bit of time outlining some of the specificvulnerabilities that the unit faces.

These include:

Death of the Death Hag
The Death Hag is what gives the unit a lot of it's umph. She lets it strike in initiative order, which means that usually the unit gets to strike before it's opponent does.

The Death Hag can be killed in a variety of ways, including:
-> Sniped by a ranged attack (e.g. Empire Sharpshooter).
-> Killed by a magic attack (e.g. lore of death spell).
-> Killed by an artillery attack after failing her 'look out maam!' / 'get outta my way!' roll.
-> Killed by an attack back directed against her in close combat.
-> Killed in a challenge attack.

If she does die, then the unit is suddenly in a lot of trouble. They will be striking last, with just T3 and a 5+ armour save. You are going to lose lots of soldiers, and quickly too.

Devastation or even destruction of the unit (including Death Hag)
This can be achieved by a variety of methods, including:

-> Shot to pieces by missile fire (e.g. massed archer volleyfire)
-> Shot to pieces by artillery (e.g. stone thrower)
-> Ripped to shreds by magic (e.g. fireball or dwellers below)
-> Flank charged (so that only 3 execs get to hit back)
-> Bogged down by a mammoth enemy unit who can take huge numbers of casualties and still hit back hard (e.g. 100 night goblins with spears or 60 Orcs with Spears)
-> Mass damage from impact hits (e.g. chariots, minotaurs, lucky ogres, etc)
-> Combat with forces that have higher I or ASF (e.g. high elves)

Prevention/Diversion
The unit can be prevented from having a real impact on the game by either being blocked or diverted out of the way. This can happen in several ways:

-> Forced in the wrong direction. Diversion troops (such as Chaos Furies) can be used to charge the unit in the flank and force it to pursue them when they lose combat (due to the Death Hag's frenzy). This pushes you in the wrong direction and loses you several turns while the unit turns around again and marches back the way that they came.
-> Held up by an enemy with lots and lots of cheap ranks. Rather than facing those 100 night goblins in 10x10 with spears, he may instead force you to face 60 night goblins lined up in 12 rows of 5. Okay, so you kill 35 of them - that still leaves 5 ranks of 5, giving them steadfast and a decent chance of staying put. This takes time and lets him deal with the rest of your army while you are stalled.
-> Blocked by a single stubborn, unkillable character (e.g. a Chaos Lord on Juggernaught with dawnstone, armour of fortitude and crown of command). You'll never kill him, and he'll never run away either. Looks like your 500 point unit is going to spend the rest of the game being held up by his 300 point character. D'oh!
-> Foiled by terrain. Yes, technically this is not something your opponent does, but I've played at least one game where my bad deployment has left this unit stuck behind a pile of impassable rocks, fuming quietly while the rest of my army withers and dies. Grrr, stupid rocks!

Ethereals
Not much to this one. An enemy of ethereal creatures can get into combat with you and mess you up bad, as your weapons are all mundane and even gifts of khaine won't help. You are either stuck taking damage or forced to run away.

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:53 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:16 pm
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E) i. Compensating for vulnerabilities - things the unit can do

So, how do you compensate for these vulnerabilities? Well, there are several things that you can do with the unit itself, including:

Deployment
-> When deploying other units, ensure that you leave sufficient space for the executioner horde to be well placed on the table. This may be a CoTBO (Case of the Blindingly Obvious), but it deserves saying because with a horde unit that is 10 models wide, it is suprisingly easy to not leave sufficient space in the front lines to deploy the unit in a favourable position.
-> Make sure you don't deploy too far on the right or left flanks, because you do need this unit to be in the game. It can be a good idea to be a little bit left or right, but don't go all the way out there. These guys are still just move 5 (sorry for another CoTBO).
-> Avoid deploying against the kind of opponent that this unit cannot engage well. Don't deploy directly across the table from a big unit of 80 orcs, for example, as you will probably lose in a face to face. But do feel free to deploy across from a unit of 12 Chaos Knights or 20 Chaos Warrios because odds are you'll win with ease.
-> Try to minimise your exposure to missile attacks or magic attacks, particularly those that have the ability to pick out the Death Hag. This can be hard to do, but you can try to deploy the unit so that a bunch of trees or other obstacle are between you and that unit of Ogres with sharpshooter pistols or that level 4 mage with lore of death.
-> Don't deploy behind a bunch of rocks (I know, *headslap* you'd think it would be obvious. You'd think! Curse you treacherous rocks!!).

Unit formation
-> Place the Death Hag on the extreme left or right of the unit. This means that when you get into combat you can often avoid the lady being actually in the fight at all, preventing her from being at risk from being killed.

Unit movement
-> When advancing, be very wary of putting yourself within charge range of units that have impact hits. That means staying roughly 16" away from Minotaurs and even further for chariots etc. Your ideal goal is for them to enter within your charge zone, so that you can charge them rather than the other way around. This can be tricky, but it's worth it if you can do it.
-> Try to advance in such a way that you do not expose your flank to the enemy. That can mean advancing at a slight angle, so that your front is facing both the enemy directly ahead of you and whichever sneaky enemy unit is trying to outflank you at the same time.
-> Do not be afraid of putting yourself within the charge range of units that are not a real threat to you (e.g. enemy units that are sufficiently few in number of have sufficiently weak attacks back that you will easily win combat and either annihilate them entirely or force them to all but auto-run away).

Target selection
-> Only commit to those fights you know that you can win. You're better off edging back and avoiding the fight against a unit of 60 Black Orcs than you are just rushing in and hoping for the best.
-> That said, don't deliberately engage with soft, diverting or blocking troops either. If you see a unit of Chaos Furies or similar in front of you, do not charge them unless you are absolutely certain that the run on will position you where you want to be.

During combat itself
-> As a general rule, use the champion to accept challenges as his death doesn't generally matter as much as the Death Hag.


E) ii. Compensating for vulnerabilities - synergies

So, clearly there are a few things that the unit itself can do to limit its vulnerabilities, but in fact the majority of the vulnerabilities are best dealt with by the clever use of synergies with other units and characters in the Dark Elf army. These include:

1. Cauldron of Blood
Well, it's easiest to start with this one, because it's something of a no brainer. The Cauldron has several potentially useful synergies for the unit:

Protection versus missile fire and magic missiles.
By embuing the unit with a 5+ ward save, the Cauldron adds a layer of resilience to the unit that makes a huge difference. For example, if the unit suffers from 18xS3 wounds normally, then 12 would die on average (33% chance rolling a 5). But with a further 5+ ward save, then only 8 would die (a further 33% chance of rolling another 5). That's quite a difference. The difference becomes even more profound against weapons that reduce or ignore armour saves, because the 5+ ward save remains untouched. The protection also extends to the Death Hag, giving her a bit more welcome protection.

Protection against units that can take huge amounts of damage and then still give it back.
So, okay, your guys end up in combat with those 100 night goblins. Uggh. But by giving them a 5+ ward save, you dramatically increase the number who will stay alive, even after your enemy's hit backs, which in turn will help you to either win combat or at least lose it sufficiently well that you don't run away, and have sufficient troops to finish the job next turn. In this circumstance, the 5+ ward also helps prevent the Death Hag from being cut down by return attacks too.

Maximising the carnage
Think 30 attacks at WS5 with hatred, S6 and killing blow, combined with 5 attacks with WS6, S4, hatred and poison, all striking before your opponent is good? With the Cauldron of Blood you can boost this to a whopping 39 attacks at WS5 with hatred, S6 and killing blow, combined with 6 attacks with WS6, S4, hated and poison.

That boost in damage output has several advantages:
-> Increases your odds of devastating the enemy unit so much that it is either entirely annihilated or is so badly crippled that it cannot do you much damage back in turn.
-> Enhances your chances of winning in a challenge, especially if your Death Hag is the one who has had to accept (if, for example, the champion had died earlier in the game). This can be crucial for keeping your Death Hag and her glorious ASF banner alive during the close combat phase.
-> Helps you to chew through enemy speedbump/quagmire units more quickly and effectively.

It also helps you to continue putting out large quantities of damage even after your unit takes some losses. A unit of 9 Executioners with Death Hag will still be able to pump out a massive 18xWS5, S6 and 6xWS6, S4 attacks.

Helping you out when it all goes horribly wrong
If you can keep the Cauldron within 12", the Executioners will benefit from stubborn. Hopefully you won't often be in a situation where they lose combat, but if for any reason they do, this helps to stop them from running away in embarrasing shame. It can be very handy for holding the line if you do end up in a nasty situation, giving you breathing space to bring in some of your other forces to help out (or rout the rest of his army while his uber unit is caught up with your executioners).

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:34 am, edited 19 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:16 pm
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2. Lore of Metal
Next up, my very favourite magic lore. Not only is the one that I know best, but it also synergises with the Death Hag BSB led Executioner Horde to minimise its vulnerabilities very well.

The spells offer the following benefits:

Searing Doom.
Executioners can sometimes struggle versus very heavily armoured foes. A unit of Empire Knights or Chaos Knights, for example, will still be saving on 4+. If your opponent fields as massive unit of these, they may be able to survive with enough of them to really hurt you. Searing Doom helps to toast these metal encased nasties while they are still across the other side of the battlefield, helping to ensure that they will either be totally destroyed or sufficiently weakened as to not be a threat to your Executioner horde by the time they reach you.

Plague of Rust
Not the world's best spell, but a nice quick way of diluting the armour saves of excessively heavily armoured foes, so that they can't resist you in the way described under the first portion of the Searing Doom entry.

Enchanted Blades of Aiban
This spell is incredible for the Executioner Horde. Because each model has just one attack, there is a reasonable chance of missing (even with hatred), especially if your opponent is WS5 or above. The Blades of Aiban make it far far less likely that you will miss, and thus helps to massively boost your damage potential. It also makes your weapons magical (goodbye Ethereal issues) and gives your weapons armour piercing to boot (very handy for dealing with foes with 1+ armour saves and means even your Death Hag is striking with a -2 armour save modifier.

Glittering Robe
The impact of this spell is massive. One of the biggest weaknesses of this unit is that it is limited to a 5+ armour save (and no save at all for the Death Hag). This spell completely changes things around though - by giving them a 5+ scaly skin save, it means they gain a jaw dropping (for dark elf infantry anyway) 3+ basic save. This makes them very resilient against enemy bow fire, stone throwers and even crossbow fire. In combat it means that units with S3 or S4 attacks are considerably less effective and means you can probably survive against a reasonable number of hit backs, even if something goes wrong and you fail to destroy or rout the unit opposite you on the first turn.

Ghenna's Golden Hounds
This is probably the worst of all the metal spells, but actually for the Death Hag BSB led Executioner Horde, it has one very important utility: Dealing with single character enemy road blocks. Suddenly that Chaos Lord on a Juggernaught is looking a lot less happy - D6 attacks, wounding on 2s with no armour save allowed has a very good chance of really hurting, if not killing him. It's still not a great spell and never one I'd choose in an ideal world, but it has value nonetheless.

Transmutation of Lead
Another fairly weak spell. It does have some potential uses though. For one, it can reduce the BS of an enemy missile unit, making it harder for them to hit the Executioners while they cross the board to get into combat. For another, it can reduce an enemy's WS, making it easier for the Executioners to hit their opponent or harder for them to hit the Executioners back. As examples: A unit of WS4 Chaos Warriors is hit on 3s in contrast to a unit of WS5 Chaos Warriors who are only hit on 4s. A unit of WS5 Chosen hits the Executioners on 4s in contrast to a unit of WS6 Chosen who hit them on 3s.

Final Transmutation
Whereas Searing Doom dealt with heavily armoured foes exclusively, Final Transmutation deals with allfoes, heavily armoured elites or lightly armoured horde blocks alike. It even has a chance of popping enemy characters (although don't rely on it for this).

The spell is very good at killing heavily armoured elites, as when cast onto a unit it kills single wound models on a 5+ (multiwound models on a 6+), with no armour saves, ward saves or regeneration saves allowed. That means that even that unit of 3+ Armour Save and 3+ Ward Save Chaos Chosen is going to be hurt.

But, perhaps more importantly, it really punishes horde units. By killing every single wound model in the unit on a 5+, the spell can destroy shockingly large numbers of models in a single go. That unit of 100 Night Goblins we talked about earlier? Roughly 33 killed. 60 Orcs? 20 Dead.

There's still more though. Next turn, every model within 12" of the unit affected - including the unit itself - has to test for stupidity. Yes, if you're running against High Elves, that's no biggy, you might (if you are very lucky) have him fail a single test. But against armies with leadership 8 or lower, this can be really devastating. I've seen entire armies grind to a halt because two or three surrounding units have succumbed to stupidity and lurched just d6" forwards, at a time when they reallydidn't want to. This gives you more opportunity to get your Executioners into favourable positions, avoid unfavourable match ups, and generally take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses.

3. Screeners
One of the biggest fears that people cite regarding this unit is that the Death Hag can be killed by sniping shots (or a lucky cannon ball).

One easy way to stop that from happening is through the use of screeners. Yes, your opponent may very well still be able to see the Death Hag behind that unit of harpies, but there sniper(s) will suffer from a -2 to hit modifier, dramatically reducing their chances of hitting you. You can even use a Dark Pegasus Rider (with lots of armour and other defence buffs) to block or hinder line of sight to the Death Hag herself.

Screeners such as harpies are also useful for limiting incoming damage from missile fire against the unit itself. In order to hit the unit, your opponent either needs to shoot the harpies away first, or has to suffer from a -2 modifier to hit the Executioners behind them. It's a not a cure-all, but it's another helpful synergy.

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:50 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:16 pm
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4. Flank protectors
Another way to protect the unit's flank is to position a unit of unmovable stalwartness there. This unit is set up not so much to do damage, but to stop the enemy from bursting through and slamming into the Executioner Horde's flank.

A good choice for this can be a big unit of Warriors. I use a large unit of 50+ warriors, aligned in ranks of 5. These guys can take a charge by pretty much any unit and remain steadfast - even if hit in the flank themselves - and prevent the unit from pushing on into the exposed side of the Executioners. I imagine that other big blocks of cheap troops could serve this role too.

A nice bonus synergy here is that the flank protector unit will benefit from the Battle Standard Bearing being so close, further decreasing the chances that they will flee if/when bested in combat.

5. Counter-chargers
If a unit of flank protectors doesn't take your fancy, or if these get dealt with prior to them being needed, then you can invest in counter chargers. Effectively, these are hard hitting hammer forces that sit back just a little way from the Executioner block, and then charge in to save them if they get hit in the flank.

The tactic relies on the Executioner block not fleeing from the first round of combat, but hopefully the presence of the BSB and 3 ranks (and possibly a Cauldron of Blood within 12" of the unit) will help to prevent that from happening.

Some good examples of counter-charges include:
-> Chariots
-> Small unit of Cold One Knights
-> Another unit of elite infantry

Your counter-charge unit can be as big as you want it to be, but given it's slightly reactive role you probably don't want to overdo it. A unit of 6 Cold One Knights will work fine - a unit of 15 may be overkill and rob you of the ability to do other work in other areas of the board. But more on that later.

6. Warmachine hunters
Okay, so perhaps we are moving now a little into the territory of general Dark Elf strategies, but this synergy is worth mentioning nonetheless. The easiet way to deal with enemy warmachines who might drop big shiny rocks, cannon balls and other murderous artillery rounds onto the Executioner block is to hunt them down quickly and effectively with warmachine hunters, such as Shades, Harpies, Pegasus Riders and Dark Riders. By destroying the enemy's ability to use his warmachines early on, you remove his ability to devastate your unit by using them.


E) iii. Compensating for vulnerabilities - unit additions

Several additions can be made to the unit itself to

1. Magical Banners and Gifts of Khaine
Several banners can help to boost the potential of the unit, including:
-> Banner of Murder: This helps to make the unit a bit more killy, improving its odds of damaging heavily armoured foes such as Chaos Knights and even Steamtanks.
-> Lichebone Pennant: This adds some much needed magical resistance for the unit.
-> Banner of Swiftness: This helps you to get into the positions you want to be in more effectively and reliably, and helps to assist you with getting the charge against impact hit dealing foes such as chariots and minotaurs.
-> Banner of Eternal Flame: This prevents your opponent from getting regeneration saves - worth its weight in gold or more against foes such as Trolls and Chaos Trolls, who may otherwise give you a headache through their 4+ regeneration saves.
-> Various banners to buff leadership (Standard of Discipline, Gleaming Pennant and Banner of Cold Blood): These aren't generally needed, except for under the same sort of circumstances that Tullaris's fear buff is useful. (see his entry, below)

Several Gifts of Khaine can help to add to the killiness of the Death Hag BSB too (e.g. Touch of Death, Rune of Khaine and Manbane), help to protect her from damage (e.g. Dance of Doom and Hand of Khaine), and help to prevent the unit from being excessively damaged by unsuccessfully avoided rear or flank attacks (Witch Brew).

2. Tullaris
I mention Tullaris, not because I endorse taking him or indeed take him myself, he is not worth the points as a general rule.

However, he does deliver some interesting synergies to the unit that may - very very occasionally - make it worth taking him, including:
-> He carries a magic weapon. If you are fairly certain that you will be facing los of ethereal units and either don't want to take lore of metal or don't want to gamble on getting Enchanted Blades of Aiban off when you need it, then Tullaris could be a useful choice. With 2 attacks (three if boosted by the cauldron), he can do some decent damage to the opposing unit and possibly give your unit the edge it needs.
-> He makes the entire unit cause fear. Now, because the Death Hag confers the unit with leadership 9 and a re-roll of all leadership tests, this is probably not really needed. But, there are one or two scenarios where Tullaris's fear causing buff could be a bonus. For example, if a Warriors of Chaos player goes with the boring as death Daemon Prince (causes terror) with Diabolic Splendour (-1 to fear, terror and panic tests caused by the Daemon Prince) and a Battle Standard Bearer with Doom Totem (-1 to leadership of all units in sight), you may find yourself taking a terror test with a -2 modifier. The chances of rolling over a 7 twice are still not too likely, but certainly well within the zones of dubious. Tullaris could help out by making these tests into fear tests (if failed go to WS1) rather than terror tests (if charged and fail, you flee and he may run you down).
-> His added combat res bonus in challenges and his ability to re-roll failed wounds may add to the unit's killiness a bit, although frankly not very much

3. Crone Hellebron, Assassins and more Death Hags
As mentioned earlier, one limitation for Executioners is that they can deliver at most 1 attack each. That's okay, but it means that the maximum output for the base unit is 30 Executioner attacks and 6 Death Hag attacks, for a total of 36 deaths.

One way to deal with units that are bigger than that could be to pump prime the unit with a few more heavy hitters. Crone Hellebron, for example, takes up just one 20mm model space, but delivers a whopping 7 to 9 WS7, S10 attacks with hatred. That's stunning. Assassins with an additional hand weapon and rune of khaine put out a further 5 to 7 attacks, as do Death Hags with Rune of Khaine. These dramatically increase the number of attacks and potential damage that you can do (especially when you can add additional perks such as Manbane, Black Lotus and Touch of Death).

Crone Hellebron has a few other advantages too, including:
-> Providing a bit of desperately wanted magic protection to the unit.
-> Offering another magical weapon choice against ethereals.
-> Giving you the means to deal with even ridiculously high toughness foes (T8? No problem, I still wound you on 2s. T10? Okay, I still wound you on 4s).

However, unless you know that you are very likely to be up against a large number of huge melee mammoth units, or you don't think that you are going to avoid getting engaged by one of these, I would not advise this course of action. Each additional character planted in the unit costs more points, helping to turn the unit into a points synce. Which is not really a very good idea.

Which brings us nicely to an end of this section and on to...

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:29 pm, edited 18 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:16 pm
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F) Neither a Death Star nor a Points Sink

One of the wonders of this unit is that, for all its ferocity and game changing potential, it's baseline costs are actually fairly cheap:
-> Death Hag as BSB with Standard of Hag Graef: 150 points
-> 29 Executioners with Full Command: 378
-> Total: 528

That may sound like a lot, but in a 3k game it's actually not: it represents just 17.6% of your army. You have a further 82.4% to spend (2,472 points) to spend however you like.

Yes, it is true that some of the synergies require more points invested in them too, but these other purchases have utility of their own and can be used for great effect for other means. The unit of 50+ warriors that I use for flank protection, for example, usually houses my Level 4 Supreme Sorceress and acts as a bunker and Sacrificial Dagger fuel for her needs. The Cauldron of Blood that lingers nearby the Executioner unit, can just as easily buff my unit of 6+ Cold One Knights as it can the Executioner block, depending on the circumstances of the game. Lore of Metal can be used to damage the enemy or buff my own troops, quite independently of the Executioner block.

And this, to me, is one of the greatest selling points of the Death Hag led BSB Executioner Horde. It is priced in such a way that it can represent just one of many different tools available to you for winning the game. You can throw it forward and win with it, hold it back and wait with it, or even throw it forward and lose with it, without ever putting all of your eggs in one basket. The unit is neither a points sink nor a Death Star. I've played many a game where my opponent has fielded a third or more of his army within a single unit, only to find it either destroyed or diverted out of the game, allowing me an easy win. This unit does not face that same risk.


G) Unit overview: Synergies included

So, up to this point I have considered each of the salient weaknesses and strengths of the unit in isolation. But what, you may be asking (and if you're not, I'll be sending Shadowblade around to have a quiet word), does this all add up to in real game playing terms, when all the synergies are included?

Well, in a nut shell, it's this.

You have a unit of 30+ models who can have up to a 5+ ward save and a 3+ armour save, combined with some screeners in the way and warmachine hunters taking care of artillery threats, making them fairly well defended against enemy missile attacks and magic missile.

This same unit can move quickly across the board, free from the threat of being outflanked, and will strike before their enemy against the overwhelming majority of their foes.

If the buffs are applied right, this can end up being 39 magical weapon attacks, hitting on 2s - with misses re-rolled - and wounding on 2s, with a -4 armour modifier. The unit is only ever engaged in fighting those foes that it can definitely destroy in a single round of combat, and those which it cannot are either avoided, destroyed in advance or diverted through other means.

This enables you to deliver an attack that is both very very hard, and reliable at the same time. And all for less than 20% of your army's costs.


H) Sample Army List

Here is my current 3k army list, with this unit included as an important - but not sole - component. You can find it here and copied below:

Lords (530 points)
1 Level 4 Supreme Sorceress (metal), with Pendant of Khaine and Sacrificial Dagger
1 Dreadlord on Cold One, with Whip of Agony, Heavy Armour, Seadragon Cloak and Shield

Heroes (669 points)
1 Death Hag as BSB with Standard of Hag Graef
1 Master on Dark Pegasus, with Cloak of Hag Graef, Dawnstone, Lance, Heavy Armour, Shield and Seadragon Cloak
1 Cauldron of Blood
1 Level 1 Sorceress (metal), with Dispel Scroll

Core (767 points)

58 Warriors with full command and Gleaming Pennant (Level 4 goes here, Level 1 may go here)
5 Dark Riders with musician and crossbows
5 Dark Riders with musician and crossbows
16 Crossbowmen with musician (Level 1 may go here)

Special (1034 points)
29 Executioners with full command and Banner of Eternal Flame (BSB goes here)
7 Cold One Knights with full command and Standard of Swiftness (Dreadlord goes here)
6 Shades with additional handweapons
3 Chariots

Total: 3000 points

The Executioners and Cold One Knights operate as hammers, while the big Warrior block acts as a anvil (and believe me, it is a pretty impressive anvil - very hard to get rid of its steadfast indeed) The Chariots act either as a hammer, or a counter hammer (great for charging into the flanks of enemy flank charges against the warriors, for example) The RxBs give me versatility to take out enemy light cavalry or skirmishers using quick reform from the musician, or simply to whittle down and distract my enemy's main fighting blocks. The Dark Riders, Shades and Pegasus Master give me the manoeuverability to take out warmachines, enemy fast cavalry and generally harrass/take advantage of my opponent's weaknesses.

The Level 4 goes in with the big block of warriors, with the level 1 either goes with the crossbowmen or (depending on her spell list and the enemy's deployment) with the warriors as well (the latter has the added advantage of allowing me to bump the level 4 back in the second row...hehehe...) I take metal because its the lore that I am most familiar with and because it synergises really well with the army (Glittering Robe making my otherwise quite lightly armoured troops very heavily armoured, and giving the chariots a stunning 1+ save, Enchanted Blades of Aiban making my melee troops into death machines, Final Transmutation ripping up expensive elites and hordes of cheap forces alike (and even potentially popping a character or two) and Searing Doom letting me take care of any remotely well armoured opponents with beautiful ease).

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Last edited by Red... on Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:11 pm, edited 6 times in total.



Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:17 pm
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I) The End

And that, my friends, is the end of my case.

I hope to have shone a bit of light onto how the Death Hag led Executioner Horde works, as well as how its strengths can be boosted and its vulnerabilities compensated for by clever use of the unit, good synergies and well considered unit additions.

You don't have to agree with me, nor take the unit, but hopefully it may at least have given some new thoughts and insights into the unit.


J) One final note...

Don't bother even considering taking this unit against High Elves. Replace the Death Hag BSB with 12 or 13 Executioners instead, because the Asur's eternal ASF means that you'll still be striking last, even with her negation of ASL for the unit.

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Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:17 pm
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This is now a complete article, so please comment away - but be nice :D

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:35 pm
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Thanks for a well written article. You sure did put some effort in to this one :)

Overall, i like big executioner hordes, but only really in theory. I think that point for point they are probably the most destructive unit in the game, when couppled with cauldron and death hag. ok, mindrazor really puts everything on its head if you are counting buffs but still.

However, i do not play this unit and i will not, because i do consider it a deathstar in the sense that it does cost a lot of points, and it is a "one trick pony". It will murder almost anything it touches, but just as i specialize in delaying enemy "deathstars" and force them to do nothing all day long, so can my enemy do the same with me if i let him. Also, i generally hate units that can win on their own. it does not agree with the way i want to play the game. but thats my personal choice so screw that :D

I have a few comments though, if you are interested.

1) the death hag in your example is naked (lol). Since she is in a combat unit and will more likely than not have to fight at some point, wouldnt it be wise to give here +d3 attacks and manbane? she goes from being pretty nice in combat to being a complete beast. 7 attacks hitting on 3s with rerolls and wounding on 3s averages out on 4,76 kills if you ignore the armour. She can even accept challenges and reliably slay many other types of characters before they get to hit back :)

2) you talk about the death hag dying in a challenge. this is unlikely. you (probably) wont want to challenge enemies, and if the enemy is foolish enough to challenge you you simply refuse and hide her in the unit! with the current rules you only lose the ability to use her Ld, and they shouldnt be losing combat any time soon anyway. meanwhile you just lost your biggest weak point :)

3) you may want to mention that the hag can and should be placed on the edge of the unit. if you charge an enemy that is less than 8 models wide (assuming small bases) you can chose to leave her out of combat and still maximize models in contact. if the enemy charges you, and he is not a horde himself, he will not be able to get more than 2 models to fight her, since she will only have edge contact with the unit to maximize fighting models. even frenzied khorne warriors can only put out 5 attacks on her that way, hitting on 4s, meaning 2,5 will hit and 1,7 will wound. she may actually survive one round :D

4) you are assuming a unit of 30 executioners, but is this really wise? 10 kills and you lose all benefit from horde formation, and given T3 and 5+ save, most armies will be able to knock off at least that many before they get to fight anything. if i theoretically would use these, i would probably go for a proper deathstar of 40, or rather 50, so i had some meat on the bones. 30 is much cheaper, yes but it is incredibly fragile.

ps. as for the maths for your hag, she will cause 3,33 kills minus whatever save the target has, assuming hitting on 3s with hate and poison. poison bumps her from 2,96 to 3,33, so its a quite nice bump :)

thanks again for a great post
/T

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:54 pm
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Amazing stuff, my man! Very intrigued. A well thought out and easy to follow article that will help me make the best of my favorite unit. The Executioner models arguably helped tip the scales in favor of starting not just DEs but Fantasy in general.

That said, a couple questions:

On the modelling end (keeping in mind I'm still new and trying to convert my thinking from games that allow a lot less modding) - what do you use to represent your Death Hag BSB?

How do you feel about 39 Exes instead of 29? It would allow you to take some casualties while continuing to churn out 3 ranks of attacks.

Finally, and meaning no disrespect to all the hard thought and experimentation on the Death Hag, but why not a Master in her role? Aside from Poison and the extra attacks, would the Master's higher resiliency be worth it, in your opinion?

That said, great article! I'll have my Exes soon and am eager to try this out.

Btw, played my first game with my own models (second game ever) and had a blast. This discussion (and the other threads I've read/started) all makes SO much more sense now... haha

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:07 pm
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Fantastic article. Very well thought out and written - thanks for taking the time and effort to share it with us all, Red :D

nuriochi_sol wrote:
Finally, and meaning no disrespect to all the hard thought and experimentation on the Death Hag, but why not a Master in her role?


Hi Nuriochi

It's a Khainite unit so only Khainite characters can lead.


General comment:


Has anyone attempted the deathstar build of the above plus Flaming Banner plus Rending Stars assassin?

Would offer the Death Hag some extra protection while adding extra irritation to favoured targets such as regen monsters/monsterous infantry?

Cheers,

T.

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:22 pm
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First of all, thank you Red for such a well thought out article on my favoruite unit in the game.

I just used this unit last night for the first time in 8th myself (with the ASF BSB)

The results were astounding, I massacared a fairly large Minobus while only taking 2 wounds from the Doombull in the unit, then went on to eradicate a unit of Gors after pursuing into them.

I like the unit as 30 because it leaves me enough points to have it not be quite a "deathstar" in the sense that if I lose the unit I still have a large portion of my army that can win me the game. This way its not all my eggs in one basket, plus it puts some onus on me to maneuver my army in a way to minimize casualties on the way there, utilizing strategy.

My list is slightly different from yours, and I have a unit of 21 Witch elves in mine as well. I find there is definite synergy between the two units, but where this comes in handy is if I am facing a high elf army (we play in an environment where we use all comers lists) I simply put the ASF BSB in the witches instead. That way they get to strike first and massacre with their high attack volume. The executioners will be far from optimal at that point, but everything else is striking last as well so the executioners are no worse off than any other unit (other then the asf'ed witches)

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:37 pm
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I have run a unit of 30 with Death Hag BSB and ASF banner in several tournaments. I give the unit the banner of swiftness so that it can get to where it needs to go quickly. I usually put Crone Hellebron in there too but not always and depending what I'm in combat with, I will bless it with either the extra attack but more often the 5+ ward save.

The unit wrecks things.... in a big way. it has killed an entire unit of 25 stormvermin in a turn, killed most of a unit of 18 rat Ogres in a turn, ground its way through 50 skellies in 2 turns, killied a huge horde of squigs leaving only 8 handlers in 1 turn and in one of its best performances it has killed 24 warriors in a turn (without CH), with the help of an initiative debuff from the Lvl 2. Most of my regular opponents now try to avoid it at all costs.

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:43 pm
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I've run a big unit of executioners (30) several times and I really like it. However, I really don't think it needs the Death Hag in there to be effective. In my most recent game using them, the unit carved through a unit of 6 Chaos Knights and then a unit of 18 Khorne Warriors (5+ Ward Save from the Cauldron came in handy). A Death Hag may have made the unit even more powerful, but they didn't really need it.

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Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:06 pm
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Nice to see the tradition of the D.R.A.I.C.H. brought back to its finest.
Compliments. Well done. Kudos.

EDIT:
Setomidor, Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 8:23 am, wrote:
I've been playing the Exec horde a lot and I'm one of those people who prefer not having the ASF BSB in there. Without the BSB you'll suffer more casualties before you strike, but on the other hand you do not have to overrun when an enemy breaks and your unit is worth 150 points / 250 VP less (so from ~700 VP down to ~450). My advice is to try both variants out and see which one suits your playstyle better, and I find this choice to affect the strengths and weaknesses of the unit a great deal:

Without the BSB, weighting in at ~450 pts, I'm quite content with the enemy focusing much of their magic, shooting, and redirectors at less than 20% of my army. This unit will constantly have the 5+ Ward from the cauldron and buffs such as Glittering Scales, making this unit the best unit in my army to soak up damage. For example; 60 High Elf Archers at long range will only kill ~3 Glittering/Ward Executioners in a single volley. The huge threat of the unit will force the enemy to deal with them, even despite the buffs. This way, the Execs fills a vital role without even rolling dice. Once in combat, the unit is very likely Stubborn within 12" of a Cauldron, and with a reroll from the BSB they most often has to be killed to a man rather than broken. Hopefully, at least a few Execs remain in the unit which means the enemy will not score any points for them.

When bringing the ASF Hag I find myself more pressed to go on the offensive. The unit is no longer an Anvil, but rather a Hammer that needs to start taking their points back. They're an even bigger threat than before (most people will know the Hag has AFS banner on sight), but they're now at 10 less models to compensate for the extra points spent on the Hag. This means 10 less wounds to soak up the inevitable shooting and missiles coming their way, and 10 less models that can survive the game and deny the enemy their VP. I'm also suddenly afraid of stuff like Chariots (I5 or higher), Death Snipes, Witch Hunters, Ethereals, or Maneaters with Sniper rule that either can kill my Hag from a distance or simply suicide in and try to score two wounds on the Hag. Once the Hag dies, not only have you lost your BSB (250 VP), but you also lost the very important BSB reroll to make sure your Executioners doesn't break and give their VPs away. In addition, if someone plants a redirector in front of the Hag:ed unit, you are more or less forced to charge and subsequently overrun, potentially leaving your unit in a very unfavorable position. (for example outside of CoB range).

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Last edited by Calisson on Tue May 15, 2012 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:25 pm
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I really enjoyed this article.

One thing I would say though, as someone else who uses Lore of Metal as first choice, is that Ghenna's Golden Hounds can actually be really handy. The way I see it, if someone has a Steam Tank, Hydra, Treeman or some other big armoured single model and you cast Searing Doom and Hounds, once their scroll is gone they can only realistically stop one or the other. This means you can get a few crucial wounds through before they engage.

The two spells I'm never fussed about are Transmutation of Lead (I usually have a Shadow L1 to reduce WS) and Plague of Rust (handy but i'd rather have the other spells).

Thanks for putting all the effort into this.

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:21 am
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I found another little comment:
Quote:
C) i. Unit Weaknesses (base level)

Death Hag
-> T3: Yup, like almost all elves, the Lady of Death is limited to T3. That means that anything that even so much as touches her has the potential to hurt her.
-> W2: Like most heroes, the Death Hag has just two wounds. It's not the best and makes her relatively easy to dispatch.
-> No armour save: This one really really hurts. Any attack that gets past her already pretty feeble toughness, no matter how strong it is, will cause a wound. Ouch.
-> Frenzy: While this adds an extra attack, which is very tasty, it also means she can't reform at the end of a combat and has to try to test against her leadership to avoid charging if she is in range of an enemy (although she is testing against leadership 9 with a re-roll here, so not too big of a worry).


as i understand it, frenzy means you can not reform instead of pursuing. you can reform at the end of each round of combat as normal, and you can reform if you wipe the entire enemy unit, it is just that you have to pursue if they flee. maybe this is what you meant, but it looked a little confusing to me :)

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 6:30 am
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A great article. Nice work Red!

Personally I don't like the idea of putting so much into one unit. Of course, in games of 3k+, the use and loss of such a unit would not be such a huge gamechanger as in the lower point matches, I still think that such a unit could eaily be withered down or completely destroyed too quick to really be worth it.

If I've met such a unit with my army, I'd quickly wither it down with crossbowfire and have my witch elves massacre the unit quite quickly. Of course, that's much more easily said than done, because there are many factors in a match, but there's just so many ways to take the unit down that I would be careful with putting too much in it.

I do like the Executioners more now than I did some months ago, after testing it a bit against a friend. However, having a unit of 25-30 executioners with only standard and musician, and only backed up by the cauldron of blood, seems like a better idea to me. Less points lost whenever they are brought down, and so they wouldn't need to do as much for me as they aren't such a big part of my army.

The unit with the death hag costs 528 pts... for about 600 pts you could have 28 executioners and 21 witch elves. At least in a tournament perspective, where you can meet all kinds of armies, I think that is a better idea. As you mention, particulary High Elves will be a pain against Death Hag/Executioner unit.

Anyways, I'll give this idea a try now and then and see how it goes. Most of my games are below 3k though, so it mean the army will be focused on this one unit, and be the main target for my opponents.

Good work though! :)

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:15 am
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Many thanks for the kind and helpful feedback, all of which is much appreciated :) I enjoy doing occasional DRAICH articles like this because I learn from the process as well (by considering all of the possible factors involved, I am forced to take into account ones that I would otherwise miss...).

As to the comments themselves, a few responses if I may:

@Lord Tsunami: many thanks for the very thorough read through and comments. As to your specific feedback:

1 - Yes, I tend to take the Death Hag naked, but I have noted in E iii 1) the potential for taking Gifts of Khaine to buff the Death Hag BSB up to be better protected and/or more killy. I tend to run the Death Hag naked because the unit itself generally deals enough damage within my gaming group to make the Gifts unnecessary and if she does ges hit then a 5+ ward isn't going to help her reliably enough for it to justify the 30 point price tab imo (the 5+ ward can also be provided by the Cauldron, leading to a potential waste of points). That said, in other gaming groups, adding to the killiness and defence of the Death Hag may be vital, so it's really a question of context.

2 - Yes, you're right, I would never challenge with a Death Hag, but I had not considered your point about the advantage of declining a challenge and moving her out of danger as a result. That's an excellent insight! That said, I have found that making a pre-emptive challenge with my champion can be a good way of preventing my opponent from aligning his lord of doom with initiative 6 or above in a position from which he can dispatch the Death Hag before the Execs get to strike, pushing them back to ASL. (That latter is actually a new danger I only encountered last night, and I'll add it to the article in a bit).

3 - Good point. I do mention it (E i - unit formation) but perhaps need to highlight this more so it stands out.

4- Another excellent point. I assume taking 29 as the minimum, as that's how many you need field a horde formation and maximise benefit from it, but it can be a good idea to take more. I'm against taking too many more, though, as these do become waste if the enemy doesn't target the unit, and the more models you take the more you a) risk it becoming a points sink and b) draw attention to the unit (I prefer my opponent to see the block to be as little of a threat as possible - something that does tend to happen quite a bit in my gaming group (but more on that in a bit)).

Thanks for the Death Hag poison stat, very handy :)

Yes, you're right, I could probably have been more clear about the disadvantage with regard to frenzy and not reforming. It's a rule book rule, though, so hopefully folk can look it up if they get confused. I'll try and give it a tweak in a bit to be clearer.

@nuriochi_sol: Thanks very much for the kind feedback.

My Death Hag BSB is a bit unique. She's a 5th edition Witch Elf, with one of her two daggers removed and replaced by a Banner that I originally found on an undead standard bearer that was in my rummage boxes, but may originally have originated from an early orc model. The banner itself is card - painted and glossed.

I'm not a good painter, but my converting is half decent and I enjoy doing it. I inherited a huge pile of warhammer bits and pieces when I started re-playing a few years back, and find these to be great fun to use as modding pieces and scratch build materials.

Yes, you can certainly take more Executioners. I've previously run the unit with anywhere between 29 models and 38 models. The challenge is that, as mentioned in my response to Lord Tsunami above, the more models you put in there, the more you risk turning the unit into a points sink, the more you draw attention to it, and the more you risk that some units will sit at the back not adding any real value. That said, you are both absolutely right that taking too few can mean you get too damaged by missile fire and magic as you cross the board to make the unit effective enough to win the day when it finally makes it into combat. So it's something of a balance, one which depends in part on the context of your gaming group (again, more on that in a bit).

Yes, Tyrannus Deathbringer is correct. Only Khainite models can join Khainite units, so the BSB has to be a Death Hag. It's a bit of a bummer, but is probably more fun that way as a Master with a potential 3+/2+ save would be a bit too good, even for Dark Elves!

@Tyrannus Deathbringer: Thanks for the very kind feedback, it's much appreciated.

Personally, I usually run the Banner of Eternal Flame on the unit, as it's cheap and prevents me from having problems with either trolls etc or a unit buffed by a regen spell or magical ability (e.g. the lore of life spell or a Festus led unit).

I've never tried putting a rending stars assassin in with the unit. It's an interesting idea, but for me personally I think it'd make it too hard to commit to an action. I'd feel like I was either inclined to sit and shoot at the enemy once within the 12" range (wasting the unit) or charge in and focus on melee combat (wasting the rending stars). That said, this is the same problem I have with RxBs and - in Warmachine - the Defender, but I know others are excellent at managing units with multiple strengths, so my probably failure with the approach doesn't mean it's not a good one to test out.

@Tzelok: Thanks for the very nice comments, which are much appreciated.

Yes, your appraisal of why to take 30 is my reasoning as well. More will work, but it does become a balancing act of not sinking too many points into one place.

I like your idea of taking 21 witches as well, as shifting characters between units to cater for potential high elf enemies. That's a really nice way of doing it and probably beats my slightly sulken "well, I'm replacing her with 12 Executioners" throw my toys out of the pram response to playing them...

@Grimma: Yes, I've found this to be the case. I imagine that Crone Hellebron makes it even more powerful. I think that there are ways for people to respond to it (which is why I don't consider it a Death Star unit tbh), but find that so far none of my opponents have come up with a really effective response to it.

@Dyvim Tvar: I'm a little suprised that the unit of 30 Executioners managed to win out against Chaos Knights and Khornate Chaos Warriors. I can just about these the first (although you'd presumably take heavy casualties), but the second seems very suprising. Presumably he had made the cardinal error of giving the Warriors Great Weapons (which they don't really need) rather than Halberds (which are a much better choice)? Otherwise, he'd have been striking before you, with 25 attacks, which again should have done some really serious damage before you got to strike.

That said, you could be right. It may be possible to win through without the Death Hag. Possibly the nicest thing about the Lady as an inclusion, though, is that she means that the unit generally takes no damage whatsoever in close combat, because the opposition is often dead or sufficiently devastated for their hit backs to make any real impact. To give an example, yesterday I ran a unit of 29 Execs + Death Hag BSB in a 2.5k game against the Empire. He charged the unit in the front with a unit of 4 Knights of the Inner Realm, led by his General and another hero, as well as a unit of 6 normal Knights. By the time he got to strike, only his Lord (who had been in a challenge with my Exec Champion) and his Hero (who he had (arguably) sneakily not identified to me as being in the unit) remained. Had he struck first, I may still have won, as he would probably have only killed roughly 10 to 20 and I would have had hitbacks after, but my unit would have been utterly devastated and its remaining power reduced accordingly.

@Calisson: Many thanks for the kind comment and for including the article in the DRAICH. It's a great project and I am honoured to be a part of it :D

@Sisstros: Thanks very much for the nice feedback. Your suggestion about Ghenna's Golden Hounds is a very good one and I'll keep it very much in mind :)

@Omnichron: I agree that as you scale down in points, the unit becomes more of a points sink. However, even in a 2k game, 528 points is still just a quarter of your available allowance: not a huge amount really.

My slight concern with investing in 28 Executioners and 21 Witch Elves without the Death Hag BSB is you are purchasing two units who are both okay, but not incredible. The Witches lack the punch to deal with heavily armoured foes, and the Executioners strike last, meaning they can get killed too easily before striking back, especially if your opponent can whittle them down a little bit with magic or missiles before you get across the table. It's a matter of choice though really.

@General: Finally, I should add a word about context. How your gaming group plays will influence, at least to some extent, how effective this unit is and how you should build it and play it (or not, as the case may be). For me, many of my opponents continue to play with almost 7th ed play styles - going with smaller units with high output rather than big hordes with low input per model but lots of survivability and ability to hit back. So, for example, the ogre player tends to take ogres in two ranks of 3 or 4, while the empire player and warriors of chaos player both take their knights in one or two ranks of 6. Some are better than others, but generally it means that they have no answer for this unit at all. If they charge me, I destroy them. If they don't charge me, I move into them. If they try to evade, I buffet them with powerful druchii magic, harrasment from my fast troops and support this all with some missile fire too. So, it works very well. I can imagine, however, that if your opponent runs hordes of 50 Chaos Warriors, 60 Black Orcs, 100 Orcs, 30 Chaos Knights or 40 Knights of the Realm as the mainstay of their legions, for example, that the unit might struggle to do as well. So, play it by ear and don't forget the context :)

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:50 pm
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Red... wrote:

@Dyvim Tvar: I'm a little suprised that the unit of 30 Executioners managed to win out against Chaos Knights and Khornate Chaos Warriors. I can just about these the first (although you'd presumably take heavy casualties), but the second seems very suprising. Presumably he had made the cardinal error of giving the Warriors Great Weapons (which they don't really need) rather than Halberds (which are a much better choice)? Otherwise, he'd have been striking before you, with 25 attacks, which again should have done some really serious damage before you got to strike.



To be fair, in the first combat against the Chaos Knights, the Executioners were part of a multiple combat, in against the knights along with a unit of Corsairs. Not all the knights could direct their attacks at the executioners, so that minimized the casualties (only lost 2). i also had the 5+ ward from the Cauldron in effect on the execs, which saved 1 model.

However, the second combat against the Khorne Warriors (who were equipped with additional hand weapons) was a full-frontal 1-on-1 battle. Again, the 5+ ward from the Cauldron was in effect and this time it was a real difference maker. I lost 9 guys, which would have been 14 without the ward.

I note that in both combats, having the Death Hag BSB would not have reduced my casualties since I would have been striking simultaneously rather than first (Chaos Warriors and Knights are I 5). I do see how it would be pretty devastating against troops with lower I.

I still somewhat wary about the setup since I have recently fought a fair number of players who have character-sniping ability through spells or shooting (Ogre Maneaters).

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Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:12 pm
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Red... wrote:
My slight concern with investing in 28 Executioners and 21 Witch Elves without the Death Hag BSB is you are purchasing two units who are both okay, but not incredible. The Witches lack the punch to deal with heavily armoured foes, and the Executioners strike last, meaning they can get killed too easily before striking back, especially if your opponent can whittle them down a little bit with magic or missiles before you get across the table. It's a matter of choice though really.


The withering down will be a problem anyways, however by having so many more models to take damage, you'll also be able to get some units in close combat even though it's a fireline you'll meet. Both your option and mine, would be backed up by the cauldron of blood, although only one of the two would get the ward buff with my example. The other option would be to use all the extra points on executioners only, giving you 40 with full command for 510 points.

However, again I am a bit against such big units as it will be focused down quickly. With a split of two "cheap" units of witch elves and executioners, you would be able to deal with most threats you meet on the battlefield, instead of one unit to rule them all (And fail miserably if it gets blocked, misdirected or stopped by etherals).

I guess it's more up to personal preference. I always try to get minimum cost with maximum damage dealt when I field an army. It has worked out nicely, although I always loose a bit of points in every fight.,,, I usually win by taking out those big blocks quickly though.

Oh, and I'd always field witch elves with banner of murder to have some chance against those not lightly armored.

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Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:24 am
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Well, indeed, although all such threats can be dealt with by some of the methods outlined in the article:

- Ethereals can be easily bested by using Enchanted Blades of Aiban or taking Tullaris or Hellebron (see Eii 2 and Eiii 2 & 3 above).

- Misdirectors can be dealt with by not charging decoys unless you know that you are going to end up pursuing in the right direction after. If they charge you in the front, they will be wiped out, so you can reform as normal at the end of combat as you didn't charge them (p70 "if the enemy is wiped out in combat but the Frenzied unit did not charge that turn...then the Frenzied unit will reform as normal"). If they just linger there, you can charge them with your own fast troops or flankers to get them out of the way. Flank protectors can be used to prevent them from charging you in the flank and thus not succeeding in cutting them down in a single turn.

- Blockers (e.g. 100 night goblins) can be avoided by sensible deployment - particularly if you bring a range of light or small units to let you deploy your major units later than your opponent (e.g. my sample list has 3 chariots, each of which gets deployed separately). You can then use your own misdirectors and flank protectors to get in the way of any big units that do threaten you (such as the 100 night goblins) and allow your Exec block to deal with more suitable foes.

As regards the witch elves - sadly S3 with AP versus a 1+ armour save is still a 2+ save. Witches have value, but even the Banner of Murder won't help much versus heavy cavalry in big blocks. They are incredible at what they do well (dealing with massed infantry and high toughness, low armour infantry), but will never be tin openers.

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Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:52 pm
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MHmm... I will give it a shot in the test lists for tournaments which will be for about 2500 points.

Are there any good models that can be used as executioners, other than those we have from GW? The isles of blood HE ones are quite nice with a bit of work. I kinda want plastic/resin and different poses, as well as not having those weapons drop off all the time.

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Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:57 pm
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Red... wrote:

I've never tried putting a rending stars assassin in with the unit. It's an interesting idea, but for me personally I think it'd make it too hard to commit to an action. I'd feel like I was either inclined to sit and shoot at the enemy once within the 12" range (wasting the unit) or charge in and focus on melee combat (wasting the rending stars). That said, this is the same problem I have with RxBs and - in Warmachine - the Defender, but I know others are excellent at managing units with multiple strengths, so my probably failure with the approach doesn't mean it's not a good one to test out.


The idea behind this potential build is to give the unit a stand-and-shoot.

At the moment I don't have enough models for a horde so Ive been playing vanilla Executioners. ASL means that it doesn't matter whether I charge or get charged so I use them as an Anvil.

Either a defensive anvil where they hold position and then get charged, or an "offensive anvil" where they move ahead of the main force to draw out the opponents' charge. More mobile units counter-charge attempted outflanking by the opposition.

The beauty behind the ASF executioner build is that they can be utilised in exactly the same roles: defensive/offensive anvil...except of course they are going to strike first and strike very hard indeed :twisted:

Given that they are most likely surrendering the charge, stand and shoot gives added punch. And in the offensive anvil role it means that if the opponent doesn't fall for the bait then the unit can (unexpectedly) shoot at them.

Given the fragility of the Hag the flaming rending stars assassin has the following benefits:
- flaming stand and shoot gives the possibility of de-regening foes before the main body of the unit get to hit (and thus probably kill) the offending gribbly/magicked up thing
- vanilla stand and shoot takes wounds off monsters/models off units thereby further reducing the possibility of attacks on Hag
- assassin can be used as well as champion in challenges (may be better against certain foes)
- if champion takes the challenge then the assassin can be placed beside Hag to kill off models in b2b/present another target for enemy models to allocate attacks to

It's not the most expensive or cheesy of 'deathstars', and as Tzelok has noted, the characters can be re-allocated vs high elves i.e., ASF Witch Elves, Star Shades.

...I don't think I would have considered all this in any depth if you hadn't made your great summation Red - so thanks again! Executioners with their power/attack ratio make the most sense out of all our units in horde formation, and the numbers help to keep them alive and in business. The potential damage output is frightening and with ASF this unit is the ultimate in anti-heavy cavalry :shock:

The more I think about this build, the more I want to try it out :twisted:

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Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:35 pm
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