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Dark riders obsolete? 
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Beastmaster
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This topic is not about whether or not DR still have their uses but rather whether their uses have become more limited since 6th edition. In 6th, everyone ALWAYS used at least 2 units of DR but now I am reconsidering that.

I got the new book three weeks ago and had my first battle (against lizards) last weekend. What struck me most since 6th is that Harpies are no longer limited to one unit and no longer take up a special slot. This opens the option of having harpies as sole support units.

I lost the battle against the lizards tightly because I could not catch those skirmishing skinks with 360° view. I have the feeling that if I had spent points on harpies rather than dark riders, I would have been able to catch the skinks.

5 Harpies are just 55 points, do not panic other units, can skirmish, etc. Obviously, against armies with little shooting, dark riders can still be useful but for me they are no longer indispensable.

Hence, my questions for you guys are:
- Do you think there are strong lists possible without dark riders in 7th edition?
- What roles can dark riders fulfill that harpies can not (besides the obvious: shooting at wizards, ignore ranks, etc)?

Your comments are more than welcome.


Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:12 pm
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Lord of the Dragon Caves
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To answer your first question, I think you can build a strong list without Dark Riders -- but I think you can build an even stronger list with them.

On your second question, Dark Riders have multiple advantages over harpies, some of which you already meantioned:

1) Ability to shoot -- and not just at wizards, but at other soft targets such as enemy fast cavalry and the skinks you mentioned. Dark Riders may not be able to charge 360, but they can shoot 360.

2) Breaking ranks -- This is a HUGE advantage. A Dark Rider unit charging in the flank or rear of an enemy unit can be the difference between winning or losing a combat

3) Combat ability -- A unit of Dark Riders hits significantly harder on the charge than a unit of harpies. Higher Weapon Skill, spears and Hatred make the difference here. Dark Riders are significantly better than harpies in combat against other light elements. In games against Lizardmen, I've had my harpies charge a unit of skinks and lose the combat. Dark Riders may have a harder time getting into combat against those skinks, but they should win when they do.

4) Unit Strength -- A unit of just 3 Dark Riders can still cut down enemies who flee through them.

5) Better Bait -- Dark Riders can flee from a charge, rally, move into position, then do it all over again. If you use harpies as bait and flee from a charge, they might not rally (leadership 6 and no musician option), and even if they do, they are stuck for a turn.

6) Redirection -- If you chose to take a charge with a unit of Dark Riders, the enemy has to align to the Dark Riders, allowing you do dictate the direction that unti faces. You can take a charge with Dark Riders to set up flank charges or just to get a big nasty pointed in the wrong direction. If harpies take a charge from a ranked unit, the ranked unit dictates the line of battle an the enemy can use a "tactical wheel" to set up an advantageous (for him) overrun or pursuit.

Don't get me wrong -- I love harpies. They are better at march-blocking and hunting war machines than Dark Riders and are cheaper to boot. But there are lots of things Dark Riders do that harpies can't. Personally, I use both.

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Tue Aug 19, 2008 9:59 pm
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I'll just add a couple things. You can put heroes in Dark Rider units. Dark riders can be made to cause fear. Dark riders can get a decent armour save. Dark riders can get Cauldron bonuses.

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Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:17 pm
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I wholeheartedly agree with Dyvim's excellent post.

Dark riders have gotten more useful in 7th edition as a result of the AP rule for rxb's and the addition of multiple units of cheap, disposable harpies. Harpies new abilities allow the dark riders to run free to handle other tasks that they are particularly well suited for as opposed to harpies.

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 3:51 am
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I agree with vinschent. Harpies are much better for filling the harassment role mainly because of their range of movement and cost. I don't consider DR useless but perhaps they have become redundant in light of the new harpy rules. They are slightly more powerful but at a steep cost and I haven't found their shooting phase to be very cost effective either. I have been using them without RXB and primarily for flank charges and considering their use in my army, shields have become a more viable option.


Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:33 am
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They work great in harmony. DR are where I usually put my casters, but now I take 3 units of 5 harpies for march blocking, mage hunting, and crossfire. DR protect my sorcs as meat shields, yes, but also can shoot soft things and sometimes my mage will break away so that the unit can set up for a flank charge. Basically the things said above, but I put my support behind DR more now than ever due to their points drop and AP on the Rxb's. Before I thought them overpriced for effectiveness (and yes, partly due to my use of them).

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:09 am
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Quote:
5) Better Bait -- Dark Riders can flee from a charge, rally, move into position, then do it all over again. If you use harpies as bait and flee from a charge, they might not rally (leadership 6 and no musician option), and even if they do, they are stuck for a turn.

I would like to extend this a bit, because for me that IS the main advantage of DR over harpies. If you bait the chance is, as Dyvim said, much higher to rally LD6 vs LD9(with Muso), roughly 40% vs 80%. And with their high movement the chances that they are off the table is quite high in case they do not rally.

Apart from this I see the event that harpies rally as a potential thread to our army. Through they could not move the turn the rally the will sit at some place like dugs.
- Either the unit they baited the turn before charges again
- They block some other unit of your own, movement or LoS
- Another unit could use them to overrun and extend it's effective charge range (ok, here you can flee again)

Because of these reasons I see DR still being our only real bait. Harpies are good at marchblocking and hunting mages/warmachines.
DR still excell at the same and other roles.


Last edited by [llct]kain on Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:40 am
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Just a quick comment:
My main opponent is VC - which means that the Ld6 of the Harpies is a huge issue. He considers them to be very little threat to anything, since they're likely to fail their Ld test and so fail to charge. This makes them a lot less useful as baiters.

they stil, have their uses, and I loves them so very much, but they're not going to replace Ld8+muso dark riders in my armies anytime soon.

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:50 am
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Dyvim Tvar wrote:
4) Unit Strength -- A unit of just 3 Dark Riders can still cut down enemies who flee through them.

Doesn't this also count for a unit of 5 Harpies?

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:00 am
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Calibisto wrote:
Dyvim Tvar wrote:
4) Unit Strength -- A unit of just 3 Dark Riders can still cut down enemies who flee through them.

Doesn't this also count for a unit of 5 Harpies?


The point is that a unit of 5 Dark Riders can take casualties and still do this -- a unit of 5 harpies cannot.

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:03 pm
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Harpies make great baiting units. The oponent only gets to use tactical wheels if the harpies hold. If you flee, they have to follow the harpies and get as close the them as they can. If you look in the main rulebokk FAQ, you'll see that when skirmishers flee from a charge, the flee path is drawn from the center of the charging unit, then through the closest visable skirmisher.

This is a very important point; it means you can move the harpies in front of the unit to be re-directed (real easy, as they fly). Make sure that they block the units advance, and that the closest visiable skirmisher is off to the side, so the flee line goes where you want it to. The enemy unit then gets to either mess around trying to get past the harpies (not gonna happen), or charge the harpies, who flee. Because there is no 're-direct charge' any more (only enemy in the way), they unit follows the closest visable harpy, off to where you wanted them.

True, they may not rally. True, even if they do, they can't do anything that turn. But they only cost 55pts!

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:06 pm
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I don't disagree that harpies can redirect the enemy by fleeing and sucking the enemy unit off in a direction it doesn't want to go. But Dark Riders can do the same thing and are generally better at it because they can do it over and over again.

The problem with the harpies is that they can bait the enemy once, but then in the followiong turn the enemy unit can generally ignore them and get back to business. The Dark Riders can rally then move back into a position where the only options for the enemy unit are either to charge again or sit there and do nothing.

Also, sometimes you are better off taking the carge with a bait unit. There's a good dicussion on this point to be found in the following linked topic:

Baiting: Its time to stop escaping

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Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:37 pm
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[quote="Tenebrae"]Just a quick comment:
My main opponent is VC - which means that the Ld6 of the Harpies is a huge issue. He considers them to be very little threat to anything, since they're likely to fail their Ld test and so fail to charge. This makes them a lot less useful as baiters.

they stil, have their uses, and I loves them so very much, but they're not going to replace Ld8+muso dark riders in my armies anytime soon.[/quote]

I've never played in seventh (I only lightly played in sixth...it's been six or seven years since I've really played). However, I agree with that assesment, but I'd broaden it.

But I've always valued the threat that Dark Riders present over harpies. I like Harpies for light use, but I wouldn't ever want to rely on them to help out at something they aren't overtly useful for, such as the march-blocking or war machine hunting as opposed to helping out in a pitched fight between two units or a desperate charge if the game wasn't going my way for whatever reason.

In my experience most of the time my opponets see them as a unit that can be disposed of easily and so pay little attention to. And I don't blame them, because a unit of only five or six harpies aren't intimidating to a solid unit.


Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:44 pm
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and that's their power. 5 harpies tend to get ignored, and then they swoop down on a fully ranked block, allocate 6 attacks on that pesky level 4 archmage, kill him and break off.
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Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:49 pm
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[quote="Dalamar"]and that's their power. 5 harpies tend to get ignored, and then they swoop down on a fully ranked block, allocate 6 attacks on that pesky level 4 archmage, kill him and break off.
Game Winner[/quote]

Well, that is all well and good when your facing an army that has a lvl4 mage and you have the chance to do that. Harpies are certainly a usefull unit, and I would never disparage
them.

While I think Harpies are good for some thing, my point is that the increased cost of the Dark Riders, for me, has always been justified.

Dark Riders have the ability to do a lot more and if you only want a couple uses, Harpies are better, but if you want the more versitlie unit, it's the Riders.

(btw, when I click quote I seem to be doing it wrong, because the quotes keep coming up without the box, any help would be appreciated)


Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:13 am
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I'm confused why the OP could not catch Skinks with M9 Fast Cavalry. I seriously cannot wrap my head around that.

Can you please explain?

Back to the original topic; I agree that Dark Riders are not as much of a no-brainer as they were before, but I still believe most successful armies will use them. They are FAR superior to Harpies in combat due to Hatred and Spears, are more reliable, can be boosted with the Cauldron, can negate ranks, can shoot, etc.

I personally use both in my armies now.

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:34 am
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Main reason - harpies don't count as minimum core. So fast army will always have at least 3 units of dark riders ;)

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:46 am
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Dyvim Tvar wrote:
The point is that a unit of 5 Dark Riders can take casualties and still do this -- a unit of 5 harpies cannot.

Actually Dyvim mentioned 3 Dark Riders. So they wouldn't be able to take any casualties either. Wasn't it something about flyers being skirmishers and skirmishers not able to negate rank bonusses in flank and rear attacks?

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:43 am
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Calibisto wrote:
Wasn't it something about flyers being skirmishers and skirmishers not able to negate rank bonusses in flank and rear attacks?


Indeed.

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:25 pm
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They are talking about crossfire, not removing ranks.

Dyvim said that DR's can take a couple casualties and still crossfire, while Harpies cannot.

Granted you can get 2 units of harpies for the same price as a RxB DR's.

The general point being, that DR's are a strong unit for a variety of reasons.

Harpies can fly which is a great help, but the fast cav rules allow DR's to perform tactics and strategies that harpies cannot. The advanced mobility tactics involved in the game and specifically with Druchii are stronger and more reliable with fast cav.

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Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:00 pm
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First of all, thanks for all the comments guys. My apologies for the late reply, but D.net did not load on my computer the last few days.

GrogsnotPowwabomba wrote:
I'm confused why the OP could not catch Skinks with M9 Fast Cavalry. I seriously cannot wrap my head around that.

Can you please explain?


There are two explanations for that: 1) he could use the terrain to his advantage (forest and pool) => I had to choose between getting shot or failing a charge and getting shot the next turn 2) the other DR unit panicked because of skinks stand and shooting.

Regarding the "could not catch his skinks" actually referred more to the fact that -when the DR were already dead- my CoKs could not catch the skinks since they always moved out of their sight with their 360° LoS.

The point is that for the same points of two Dark Rider units, I could have taken four units of Harpies. Two would probably have died before doing anything but the other two could have done the job and cleared the way for the CoKs.

My conclusion; I am going to leave DR out of my next lists against shooty armies such as Lizards, Dwarfs, Wood Elves,... and see how well our beloved harpies can take over their job.

One advantage of DR over harpies not mentioned before is that they can benefit from the CoB. While you would not generally use the blessings on them, their M9 could allow them to be in combat a turn before your other troops.


Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:57 pm
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vinschent wrote:
There are two explanations for that: 1) he could use the terrain to his advantage (forest and pool) => I had to choose between getting shot or failing a charge and getting shot the next turn 2) the other DR unit panicked because of skinks stand and shooting.


Fair enough. I see what you mean. But I would argue that Harpies would not have done too much better. They cannot fly into the forest. They are also arguably more vulnerable to the shooting because of their low leadership and lack of armor.

What you need to deal with those Skinks is a Hydra!! :twisted:

vinschent wrote:
One advantage of DR over harpies not mentioned before is that they can benefit from the CoB. While you would not generally use the blessings on them, their M9 could allow them to be in combat a turn before your other troops.


I mentioned the Cauldron. ;)

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Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:14 am
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I like the idea oif shielded DR for chasing down Skinks and also the skirmishing bits of a Scaven army. My own solution though is lots of magic and shooting.

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Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:47 pm
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after reading this page I figured I could use some harpies to augment my strategy. Dark Riders are great, and I use them constantly, but if they're march blocked, its kinda hard to maneuver them properly to get into a good position. Not to mention how my dark riders usually die within seconds anyway.

Anyway, a small unit of fliers could be very effective in dancing around getting charged, and probably not getting hit too much, due to their skirmishing. I'm very poor right now, and I always disliked the proper harpy models, I figured I'll make my own. I got some wire, green stuff, and a lot of experience from making a chaos dwarf army... We'll see how it goes.

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Sun Aug 24, 2008 10:42 pm
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I think DR are totally valid in this edition..even better so:

1) "hate" rule make their charges more efective (now warmachines should be more condemned than before :D even dwarves one)

2) the new "penetration" rule of crossbows (sorry I´m spanish and dont know how is translated the new rule for crossbows) makes them more dangeorus to the rest of support units of the contrary, skirmishers other fast cavalries and not well armoured units)

If in 6th ed. you used them, now you will use them at least the same... (in my opinion)..harpies are not used for the same function


But, not all is fine, they have a lot of pros...but also cons.."hate" rule is a double-edged sword..because you must pursue always and (dont know how to translate "arrasar", action after destroying completely an unit after charging it) which can be usually dangerous and a not wished action...

Usually if you charge a warmachine near the contrary side, after pursuing you´ll end out of the tabletop, so next turn you wont be able march or charge, actions you were be able to do in 6th...

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Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:13 pm
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