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components and capabilities of a successful force 
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Executioner
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I am but a freshly bloodied corsair, only recently begun raiding, and so far things have not been going well. Since the lesser races persist in denying they a fit only to be our slaves, I'm considering how to adjust my strategy so as to give them no choice...

The list I've been using so far is weighted heavily towards speed, with handbow corsairs for thinning out numbers and a death mage for sniping characters. I've found this is very vulnerable to enemy magic and monsters, and heavy cavalry aren't fun to face either. This has lead me to think there are some core capabilities that any successful list must have. But what exactly are those capabilities, and which units in the dark elf list are best suited to bringing these to the table? So far I've identified:

<edit, 05/11/12, following text added>
Anti-armour. With the rise of monstrous cav, from mournfangs to demi-gryphs, and now skull-crushers, there are numerous units that are too fast to easily avoid and too killy to ignore. Regular attacks patter harmlessly off their arm our, so some sort of can opener is essential.

Crowd control. Huge units are powerful and resilient, so some way of scything through them is highly desirable. Winning combat and running them down is fastest, but not always possible, but killing them to the last man always works! With such big numbers, a chainsaw is better at this than a surgical strike, so number of attacks/hits becomes a greater consideration than the power of individual Hts.

Assassination. Enemy magic can be devastating, and the most reliable way to shut down enemy magic is to kill the magic user. A fast moving, hard hitting and precise attack is one way to do it, overwhelming force to wipe out the mage and his bodyguard unit is the other (but brute force isn't our greatest strength...)

Battlefield control. Obvious enough why this is needed, as without it we'd be fighting on the enemy's terms rather than our own. Can be done either by hard measures, like disposable or resilient units getting in the way, or soft measures such as the psychological effect of a much feared unit creating an exclusion zone. I'd suggest that there's a sub category of this that covers neutralizing the enemy's control elements; taking out the enemy chaff isn't an end in itself, but rather a means to allow us to control the battlefield.

Monster slaying. Some reliable way of taking down the big gribblies that can otherwise wreck battle lines.

So, are there other essential skills that are needed in an army? Are all of the above truly needed, or can one or more be dropped given sufficient strength in other areas? For instance, with enough chaff to control the battlefield, you may not need monster killers, or might not need crowd control, but could you get away without either?

Extending this line of thinking, it's pretty obvious that the more of these roles a unit can cover, the better that unit. But is an army where one unit can solve most of the above (eg ogres and their fearsome ironguts) easier to use? I'd say so. Is it necessarily more powerful? That really depends on the points values assigned to them and any weaknesses built into the list. And where on the spectrum of specialits-generalists should dark elves aim? After all, a unit of 50 executioners with a bsb with the banner of hag grief in the unit and a cauldron of blood granting extra attacks is a great way of shredding nearly anything and everything, but its cost might be considered prohibitive...


Last edited by Heartsbane on Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:45 pm
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Noble
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It looks like you were cut off in midsentence there?

Posting your armylist will help with the discussion.

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Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:49 pm
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Executioner
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Er, kind of. I tend to create larger posts by doing a little bit, then editing to add the next part, etc. That way if my tablet and the forum have a falling out I only loose a couple of paragraphs. Guess what happened between the first post and the first edit?

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Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:59 pm
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Malekith's Personal Guard

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I find a couple of things are necessary.

1) The ability to deal with high toughness models.

2) The ability to deal with high armor save models.

3) The ability to deal with hordes of cheap troops.

4) The ability to control the maneuver battle, thus ensuring that the previous three abilities are delivered to the combat in which they are needed.

5) The ability to mitigate damage from magic.


Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:42 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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If you want a stable force that can take on most armies and perform well, you have to think less offensive and more defensive. You need big units that has lots of wounds and can stand their ground as well as not putting everything into it... that's where our spear elves comes into the picture.

You have to have something that can hold up knightstars and other bad units that can kill you outright. That's where our pegasus masters/lords enters.

Then you need to have buffs and debuffs to make sure your spear elves works well and makes you win... or so you can snipe down enemy characters. That's where our sorceresses as well as the CoB should be added.

Finally you have the fill you need, things that is hard for your opponent to catch and/or kill. Hydras, shades, chariots, cold one knights.... and always use harpies to block things or kill warmachines!

And now you should have a stable force that isn't the most killy, but is harder to kill than when you use most of our special units as well as corsairs (Which is quite unstable).

Oh, and don't rely on magic to win your games for you, lots of people have some anti magic things to deal with you and ruin your day.


When all this is said, I love to live a bit on the offense. That's why I take the witch elves almost all the time. They outperform almost all my other troops every battle.

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Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:15 pm
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Vulcan wrote:
I find a couple of things are necessary.

1) The ability to deal with high toughness models.

2) The ability to deal with high armor save models.

3) The ability to deal with hordes of cheap troops.

4) The ability to control the maneuver battle, thus ensuring that the previous three abilities are delivered to the combat in which they are needed.

5) The ability to mitigate damage from magic.


Good post, Vulcan.

No. 5 is something I sometimes have difficulty with.

Could you please elaborate on your strategies in this instance?

Cheers :D

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:41 am
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Good checklist, I'll run it on my current list (discussed here).


Dreadlord Executioners Axe, Blood Armor, Potion of Foolhardness
Lvl 4 Shadow Scroll, MR(3)
Pegasus Master BSB, Pendant, Dragonhelm
Cauldron

34 Corsairs FC, Frenzy
12 Crossbows mus, champ
12 Crossbows mus, champ
5 Harpies
5 Harpies

20 Black Guard FC, Banner of Hag Graef
7 Shades xHW
7 Shades xHW

RBT
RBT

The ability to deal with high toughness models.
This is actually what I was missing in my previous lists. In this one, I bring the Axe and Shadow magic, giving me two possible tools against high-T models.

The ability to deal with high armor save models.
Same as above, with the added benefit of bolt throwers.

The ability to deal with hordes of cheap troops.
Massed small arms shooting, Corsairs, Black Guard, all boosted by Shadow magic.

The ability to control the maneuver battle, thus ensuring that the previous three abilities are delivered to the combat in which they are needed.
Two units of Harpies, few deployment options helps too, as starting the game means I can make the initial moves with my troops and dictate the battle. Pegasus Hero with Pendant is great for tying up that one unit that you don't want to fight.

The ability to mitigate damage from magic.
I run my characters in the same unit and buff them with the CoB as fast as possible, giving me a 2++ against magic. If facing Life (Dwellers), I'd probably try to split them up to mitigate the damage from that spell. Also, bringing no Hydra is actually a plus in this department, as the entire army is largely immune to Pit and Purple Sun. Also bring a Lvl 4 and a dispel scroll.


In general I think the first point is the hardest one for Dark Elves. S6 from Executioners is a good tool, but there are some things against which they just don't cut it (Sphinxes, Abos, Destroyers, Hydras). They can't really benefit from Shadow magic in the same way as other troops, so if bringing Execs I'd go with Death.

High AS models are also problematic, especially considering the recent Empire armies which can bring 1500+ points worth of 1+ AS models. I would like a Metal mage in my list to deal with this, possibly by dropping a Bolt Thrower.


Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:11 pm
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Ok, now that I'm at a proper computer (as opossed to my tablet, which although close, sometimes shows itself up as not actually being a real computer...) I've now completed the first post. And it seems that in the intervening time Vulcan has given a similar list only in much more susinct form, which is actully rather re-assuring in it's similarity.

The only real point of difference between our lists is monsters Vs high toughness. Obviously there's a fair bit of overlap, but is it the same thing? For monster slaying I'd conjecture that there are other ways to beat them then wounding them, such as beating them in cc, breaking and running them down. If a BSB on pegasus with pendant charged a monster he'd stand a fairly good chance of winning the combat by a couple of points, and as monsters don't have ranks it won't be benefiting from steadfast for the resultant break test.

@ Omichron: Analysing your suggestions into these headings, it looks like you advocate plenty of battlefield control, either through fast (harpies) or tough (dreadlord) units, with a big block of spears added in for resiliance and then using buffs to boost the spears up to cover other roles. Perhaps resiliance should be added as a new category on our list, or is it really just another way to achieve battlefield control?

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:06 pm
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Quote:
5) The ability to mitigate damage from magic.


There's no easy answer here, but some possibilities:

- Know the magic lores well. Many of the most powerful lores have key synergies, eithr between their own spells or with specific units. Lore of life, for example, becomes far more potent when Throne of Vines is cast and not dispelled. The key to mitigating some of the nastier spells is to know that you must ALWAYS dispel ToV as quickly as possible. Similarly, the Withering in the Lore of Shadow has incredibly synergy with Dark Elf RxBs - knowing that means you can focus on dispelling the Withering whenever cast by a Dark Elf army that has a lot of RxBs, while ignoring other spells.
- Spread your bets. Taking one uber unit of elite cavalry or infantry might be a good idea in some ways, but a single dwellers below, final transmutation, flame cage, infernal gateway (unless that's changed in the new WoC book...) and so on can ruin your day. By balancing out your strengths across a number of units, you can fight on even if one is destroyed.
- Take the usual panoply of anti-magic tools: a dispel scroll is indispensable, but having a level 4 wizard helps, as can the ring of hotek and even magic resistance items (although MR is - of course - of limited utility because most of the really painful spells ignore saves, so even having the aforementioned 2++ cauldron/3MR induced anti-magic ward save is not particularly robust).
- Take the usual panoply of mage killers: harpies, shades, pegasus masters, etc. An enemy wizard dead is an enemy wizard that is no longer a threat.
- I'm sure there are a few more, and indeed you probably already know most if not all of these, but still, there it is, for what it's worth.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:48 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Vulcan wrote:
I find a couple of things are necessary.

1) The ability to deal with high toughness models.

2) The ability to deal with high armor save models.

3) The ability to deal with hordes of cheap troops.

4) The ability to control the maneuver battle, thus ensuring that the previous three abilities are delivered to the combat in which they are needed.

5) The ability to mitigate damage from magic.


While perhaps less of a "requirement", I feel monsters and characters deserve their own point of evaluation. Magic only handles part of that. I would also add "The ability to deal with gunlines or defensive armies".

Solutions to each challenge can be complex. For example, playing aggressively with your combat troops will force a gunline to focus on those advancing units, buying your shooting units the time to weaken them where you want it, and perhaps even gain the upperhand in shooting.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:13 pm
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Thanks for your comments on anti-magic, Red.

I've never played a tournament so I find it interesting that some successful DE players appear to use no native magic defense (i.e. no anti-magic items at all) and no ward saves on their Sorceresses.

Others, like Omnichron, have a different strategy, stocking up on null talismans.

I'm assuming that those without obvious magic defense look to kill opponents magic users quickly through combat, or alternatively look to overpower with their own casters backed by PoD, Sac Dagger, etc.

I'm not experienced enough in this edition to have refined my own approach but I suppose I fall into the former "Give it and take it" school of play.

For those who take an active anti-magic (item based) strategy I'd be interested in knowing more about this approach and tactics.

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:40 pm
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There are two ways to mitigate damage from magical attacks.

The first is defensive. Most of the specific tactics of this have already been covered - don't clump you characters into one unit, offer multiple threats to diffuse attacks (and prevent the loss of a single unit from being crippling), strategic dispelling, etc. Add to that always take a L4 for that +4 bonus to dispel and always have a dispel scroll handy.

The other way is offensive. In short, making sure YOUR magic degrades your enemies' capabilites faster than HIS magic degrades yours.


Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:26 pm
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Heartsbane wrote:
@ Omichron: Analysing your suggestions into these headings, it looks like you advocate plenty of battlefield control, either through fast (harpies) or tough (dreadlord) units, with a big block of spears added in for resiliance and then using buffs to boost the spears up to cover other roles. Perhaps resiliance should be added as a new category on our list, or is it really just another way to achieve battlefield control?


Battlefield control is always important, but there's definitly a resilience part that I think should be added yes.

If you have big units that are cheap or expensive ones that is next to impossible to kill, you can control the amount of points you will lose and make easy sacrifices as well as gains. Glasscannon units have a tendency to give you lots of VP in a battle, but is as quick to be the one that makes you lose VP. A big spear elf unit have less chances of giving you a lot of VP, but gives really little back to your opponent, and is much harder to take down because of their numbers. The idea is that you don't only win a battle by killing stuff... you win a battle by not loosing stuff as well. If you add things like the CoB, sorceress of shadow or death, "invincible" pegasus builds and so on, you can both do damage and soak it.

Tyrannus Deathbringer wrote:
Others, like Omnichron, have a different strategy, stocking up on null talismans.

It is not my most regular or best strategy against magic attacks. As Red mentions, there's lots of spells that overcomes MR and wardsaves. However, when you take powerunits like the shadestar I used, a Knightstar or a BG star... you end up with a ton of points in one place and key characters that is used to boost the unit to that deathstar level. That's when you need to think about how you can protect your powerunit and add things like the null talismans, ring of darkness and so on...

My best defense against magic is my level 4, denial of effective spell use, an occasional dispel scroll, or killing the source of magic... and common sense. With a level 4, the low level wizards won't get much spells through. Scroll is easy to use and killing the source... everyone knows that. However the denial of spells is more interesting. You can use range or terrain to make sure he won't get to use half of his spells, meaning that you can use all your dispel dices on the few spells he actually can use. Or the more situational strategies like template magic, you can spread out in one long line... Altogether it's about denying your opponent to get max out of his magic phase due to strategic use of units/the battlegrounds. What good is 3x death sniping spells when all your characters and monsters are out of range? :)

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:59 pm
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Omnichron wrote:
However the denial of spells is more interesting. You can use range or terrain to make sure he won't get to use half of his spells, meaning that you can use all your dispel dices on the few spells he actually can use.


Good point 8)

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Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:41 pm
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Omnichron wrote:
However the denial of spells is more interesting. You can use range or terrain to make sure he won't get to use half of his spells, meaning that you can use all your dispel dices on the few spells he actually can use.


I second that as well, and that is also why I like the combination of Magic Resistance and the CoB buff. What good is three Death snipe spells when all my characters have LD10 and 2++ against Magic? If up against a dedicated Death-snipe list (like Lizardmen with Banehead), I'd even start with my Pegasus inside the magic resistance block. I'd probably leave the unit very early in the game, but at least I'll get some protection during the first turns.

You can also deny the opponent spells simply by paying attention and knowing what his spell does. If your opponent has a lot of Hex spells, you probably don't have to worry too much about them in the beginning of the game and should save your scroll until it really matters. Similarly, if your opponent mostly has Direct Damage spells, you probably will suffer more damage as your army closes the distance, than later when your units are getting engaged.


Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:46 am
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Lore of Shadow is for allowing Crossbows to shred average toughness, if I was facing something with T5 or higher I wouldn't rely on reducing an enemy by D3. I wouldn't hesitate to use Executioners over the corsairs I normally take, however, or send in Cold One Knights.

That being said, I find at least a Lvl 2 Sorceress is a must, as well as a dispel scroll and making sure my units are meaty enough to actually survive a particularly nasty spell. As I tend to keep my force tight, I find just spreading out my Dreadlord and Master is much more cost effective than actually going up to horde-size.

As for dealing with gunlines, I'm interpreting that as High Elf archers with a mage or two, for which I find any fast moving and/or flying unit, effective armor, and long-range shooting/magic is the key. In other words, I scythe down archers with a Reaper on multi-shot, always have some kind of long-range damage spell on my sorceress, and keep my knights far enough out to give me area control through intimidation yet close enough to actually protect from combat units or serve as distractions with their 2+ armor.

To finish off, I would say that not being afraid to move up to the middle while weaving through terrain is the best anti-range and battlefield control we have, as not being hit in the first place by hiding through cover is better than living after taking a hit, and having the movement to beat most enemies to the punch is one of the most satisfying things in-game. I watched Brettonian infantry slog to the middle over 3 turns... it was sad.

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Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:46 am
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