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D.R.A.I.C.H. - Need a ride? The footed Master/Dreadlord 
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Need a ride?
Note: When referring to characters in this article, I’m talking about masters and dreadlords. Sorceresses and Death Hags do not have the same options, so they really require an article of their own, though some of the general principles might be applicable to them.

Mounting your character seems like a very good option for your fighting heroes. However, looking at the available mounts, it’s easy to see some of them come with sometimes unacceptable disadvantages:
- Cold Ones provide stupidity.
- Manticores, Dragons, Chariots and Pegasi prevent your character from joining a unit

Some reasons to mount your character
That leaves the trusted Dark Steed. Mounting your character on a dark steed for a mere dozen points, provides following benefits:

- +1 armor save
- +1 attack (from the dark steed)
- Movement 9
- Fills two spaces instead of one when joining a unit

Can anyone see the benefit of not mounting your character? Here’s a couple of reasons your character might find himself leading his troops on foot.

Why your character might be a footslogger

- A mere dozen points…
… could be enough to provide shields to your repeater crossbows, great weapons to your shade, or include command models in regiments. With some other left over points, you can also take some suitable magic items. And although the additional flexibility of a mount is nice, sometimes you just know he’s going to park into the Black Guard the whole game…

- Where’s me manticore?
So you read my last article and decided to use the manticore, only to have your character stranded after two rounds of (magic) missile barrage. :P Or maybe his chariot was shot out beneath him. Maybe next to him lays a crippled dragon, still puffing after receiving a cannon ball in the belly...

If this is the case, being prepared with the right equipment becomes important. You aren’t dismounted by choice, but with the right options and items your character isn’t reduced to a mere nuisance, but still a strong fighter!

- Look at my ace conversion!
You are a painter/converter, and made this nice master/dreadlord model only to find mounting him is more effective? Read on, there are very viable options for a footed master.

- Asmodeus Bak’stah-Bah is allergic to horsehair
Some of us make some cool fluff for their armies. I agree, I quite like that bit myself too. If your fluff supports a character on foot, go for it!

- You call that a knife? THIS is a knife!
Great weapons are a cheap way to boost your characters strength, leaving your magic item points allowance for support items, something that is less important for mounted characters expected to be in the thick of the fighting, away from the troops that lead it. Also, the +1 parry bonus from hand weapon shield only applies to models on foot.

- I am legion…
A dreadlord or master can be a hard hitter, but all dark elf characters are particularly vulnerable to static combat resolution. With the right magic items and some supporting troops behind him, you character can take dragons, bloodthirsters and other nastiness head on, while his troops stand in the back shouting and waving a banner. With the extra encouragement, he should be able to win most of his battles.

Magic items

It always boils down to the magic items doesn’t it. Yes, because the magic items decide the role of the character. Again, I’d like to point to Bounce’s article about magic items. It gives a more complete picture of all options, while the summary here is more in relation to characters on foot. So let’s get to it!

Weapons

- Executioner’s Axe is only usable for models on foot, and if you ask me, that’s a good reason not to take a mount. If you’re into oversized axes, this is your weapon of choice. Works best in a unit with the Banner Of Hag Graef.
- Soulrender is another great weapon (pun fully intended). While a viable choice for a mounted character with adequate protection, it really shines on footed characters. Armor piercing strength 6 is nothing to sneeze at. And you save the precious Crimson Death for another character.

Armor
- Armor of Darkness. A +1 save that cannot be improved in any way, who needs a dark steed then? This armor is well suited because of its point value (it combines nicely with other items), and the only other contenders are characters mounted on monstrous mounts.
- Blood Armour. The only item to form a nice synergy with the Executioners Axe (inside the allowed points value anyway). Nice and cheap. The fact it only offers protection after kills is not a big deal, as he usually has a trusted bodyguard to soak some hits, or is often found in a unit with the Banner of Hag Graef. More on that later.
- Armor of Eternal Servitude. The un-killable Dreadlord build with Soulrender and Pendant of Khaeleth performs very well as monster killer when backed up by some static combat resolution. Breaking is, after all, the big weakness of most druchii builds.

Talismans & Enchanted items

Whether it’s the Seal Of Ghrond, the Ring Of Hotek, some Null Talismans, the Crystal of Midnight or the Pearl of Infinite Bleakness, they all have some things in common: they are nice to have, but when taking them, points for both a magic weapon and sufficient magic protection quickly becomes scarce. With a footed character you can just take a great weapon or halberd, and forget about magic weapons. Since he’s harder to single out from a distance, he is better protected, and your cheap character usually enhances the unit he’s in. As a consequence, your opponent usually has to spend more resources to take it out.

The Amulet of Darkness is also worth a mention, as you can combine it with a cheap weapon.

The cheapest combination possible is master with Soulrender and Armor of Darkness. He hits very hard for a dark elf, is protected against all but the highest strength attacks and costs a mere 120 points! Making him the battle standard bearer provides a rock solid anchor in your battle line, for a very decent price. If you only expect high strength attacks, Soulrender and Pendant Of Khaeleth is another nice combination for a hard-to-get master…

Mobility

Mobility, or the lack thereof, is the greatest drawback a character can suffer from not being mounted. A dark steed provides the second best mobility available in the dark elf arsenal to a master or dreadlord (first being a flying mount). While not always a necessity, the versatility of having the option to move 18” provides a significant edge that might catch your opponents off guard.

This problem can be partly mitigated by shadow magic. The shadow lore contains two movement spells. The default spell, Steeds of Shadows, allows for a flying move to be made. With the inclusion of two sorceresses and an assassin with the Cloak of Twilight, there is a good chance you can propel your character to the other end of the battlefield, even into combat. If you’re lucky enough to roll Unseen Lurker, you’re even better off. While you can only make a normal move with it, you can take the whole unit with you. This means a canny opponent will know this too, and do anything in his (or her) power to stop this spell from coming through on those pivotal moments.

This build is very popular in combination with the Executioner’s Axe/Blood Armor equipped Dreadlord, who benefits most from this, as on his own, he’s a real killer.

The bodyguard unit
The bodyguard serves two purposes:
- Provide additional combat resolution, be it static or active.
- Protect your character from being singled out.

The first option is also available to a mounted character, but as mounted units tend to be expensive points wise, it’s often more beneficial to have a character that isn’t armored to the teeth in an infantry unit. Because you need at least 5 rank or file models to protect your character from shooting randomization and sniping, it can take a few turns before an infantry unit is sufficiently depleted to put your character at risk. A cavalry unit on the other is usually small by nature, and just a few kills can be enough.

Also nice to point out is that characters in a unit with US 5 are usually more effective at anything they do than characters that aren’t. They can break ranks, destroy units who flee through them, etc. The higher the unit strength, the more safe you are from psychology attacks, as the enemy needs more kills to force a panic check, or be with greater numbers to outnumber you with fear causers. Again, those numbers are a lot cheaper for infantry than for cavalry (although they count double).
So let’s take a look at what kind of infantry a druchii general has available.

Since Masters and Dreadlords can only join non-khainite units, I’m going to ignore Witch Elves and Executioners for a moment.

- Spearelves and Repeater Crossbowelves
These guys are worth taking in big blocks, and provide static combat resolution for the cheapest price available (in the case of spearelves anyway). They will not kill much, but their numbers should be enough to provide the edge, especially if given the warbanner. As a fail-safe, the character can be upgraded to carry the Battle Standard.

A unit of 25 shielded spears with Warbanner and a Battle Standard Bearer with Armour of Darkness and Soulrender costs a mere 335 points, and dishes out two ranks of attacks (unless you use the hand weapon option), 3 S6 armour piercing attacks from the master, and has (usually) 7 extra static combat resolution. This should be able to hold versus all but the hardest of hammers.

If you take a block of crossbows, don’t forget to give your characters handbows if possible. Since the handbows have a shorter range, and a stand and shoot happens when all models are in range, it guarantees your crossbows fire at short range when performing a stand and shoot. Ranked crossbows are most excellent against large targets, so are worthwile to take on dragons, greater daemons and the like.

- Corsairs
With the addition of the Sea Serpent Standard, the corsairs can punch out a bucket load of attacks, and become Immune To Psychology when closing in. But there’s more. The Sea Serpent Standard makes the entire unit Frenzied, thus also the character that joins it. Masters and Dreadlords that join this unit are thus not only in our most missile resistant infantry unit, they also gain an additional attack and aren’t running anywhere except towards the enemy.

The characters can also be equipped with great weapons (or one of their magical equivalents) , complementing the low strength attacks of the corsairs with some high strength punch. Without the Sea Serpent Standard, the same tactics remain, though the unit hits less hard. On the plus side, it can’t be redirected or lured into a charge it can’t win.

- Shades
Shades can form a good bodyguard for any character. However, their role is more specialized, as Shades do not provide static combat resolution. While it’s possible to enhance the offensive capacities, I’d like to refer to Furgil’s excellent article about the Shade death star.

This is of course an extreme, and in lesser extent various combinations work fine. The Lifetaker is something that immediately springs to my mind.

- Black Guard
Black Guards are elite bodyguards by nature. While restricted in size, they have the option of taking the Banner Of Hag Graef, reducing the Strikes Last problems you might face with Great Weapons. As such, they are better at providing active combat resolution than any other infantry unit in our army. Their special rules also reflect this. Between a character, the unit champion and a standard bearer there’s also plenty of options for magic item combinations. You can never go wrong with Black Guard. After all, if they’re good enough for Malekith, they’re good enough for me!

Afterthought
Warhammer isn’t just about RAW, it’s also about cool models. And while it might seem more beneficial to mount all your characters on a dark steed, a footslogger is most certainly not without its uses. Unless you min-max to the greatest extent, you can equip a master or dreadlord to form a solid anchor in your battleline, and equip him with goodies that might lose out on a mounted character because they need better protection or more hitting power.


Last edited by Thanatoz on Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:14 pm
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Corsair
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:00 pm
Posts: 8714
Location: Hag Graef
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One reserve on what has been said:
The lifetaker is a great weapon for Sorceresses. A Master has naturally a better talent at aiming and the mere crossbow, or a pair of handbows, could be considered for much less.

Thanks for the article! :D


EDIT
Benefits for going on foot rather than mounting a DS.

- One more reason to take a footed character is to be able to charge at 360°. Or so my dwarf-playing son taught me...
For DE, that could be useful within a shade unit (but can't start scouting in the middle of the no man's land), or if slinged by the Cloak/Steeds of Shadows (provided you went out of your ranked unit during the movement phase).

- Another benefit of going foooted is the ability to attack buildings and enter them. A mounted Master just can't, and even worse, he prevents the whole unit to do so.

- Finally, remember that there are spells which affect mounts but not footed characters. It would be annoying to have your whole unit remain pinned dowm because a single steed has turned unwilling to move!

As a summary, going footed is good if:
- You want to play the footed model, for the fluff or for the model
- Can't find 12 pts
- GW, Executioner’s Axe, ASF dagger, scourge weapon...
- Leading Shades
- 360° LOS
- Terrain (building)
- Not affected by mount's magic illnesses
- Steed of Shadows


The advantage of mounting a Dark Steed.

You recalled that it is usually better to mount the Master on a DS than keep him footed, except for the cases you mentioned.
Let's summarize why.

Most combo for a footed master/dreadlord work as fine with the same mounted on a dark steed. Including BSB.
A master (or BSB) on a dark steed can join the same units than on foot, except skirmishers (only footslogger with them).
For a mere dozen points, it provides following benefits:

- +1 armour save
- +1 attack (from the dark steed) (or even +2 attacks inside SSS corsairs !)
- Fills two spaces instead of one when joining a unit
- On a steed, he fills in two ranks so there is one less model needed for the 2nd rank.
- The option to have the master charge alone while his unit stays is more realistic with a steed.
- On a DS, it adds a lot of mobility to transfer the master from one unit to another one, if you want to get out of the unit (or if the unit has been destroyed). Movement 9", charge 18"!
- using a lance (especially a magic one)

So if you want a specific advantage of being footed or being on DS, go for what you need.
If you don't have such reason to choose, then the DS is probably better.

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Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:45 pm
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