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D.R.A.I.C.H. - Black Guard FOR DUMMIES. 
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Corsair
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Here below is what I’ve found in previous discussions, with a little added value of my own.
No great discoveries for experienced gamers (possibly chapters 23 Small units - 27 & 28 Kouran).
The detailed explanations might be interesting for a few young newbies.
Most importantly, this article allowed me to erase a few lines from the D.R.A.I.C.H..


1. Summary.

Take 15 BG, FC, ASF, RoH and move forwards regardless of the foe.
Full stop.
End of the article, why did you bother to click on the link in the first place?
…Or is there possibly something to say beyond that? In 31 (EDIT: 32) chapters? :shock:

1. Summary.
2. Bad asses.
3. Characteristics of BG.
4. Weaknesses.
5. Vulnerability to shooting.
6. Strengths.
7. In melee.
8. Comparison with other units.
9. Comparison to 6th edition.
10. Formation.
11. The Hag Graef “ASF” banner.
12. Other banners.
13. Magic objects.
14. COB.
15. Assassins.
16. Characters – BG as bodyguard
17. Main fighting unit.
18. Anvil.
19. Goalkeeper.
20. Tar pit.
21. Combos.
22. Best setups.
23. Small unit.
24. Medium unit, no ASF.
25. Medium ASF unit.
26. Large unit.
27. Kouran.
28. How hard is it to kill Kouran?
29. BG Death Star.
30. BG horde.
31. Why disregard BG?
32. Conclusion.



2. Bad asses.

BG have a sinister reputation. :evil:
As soon as your opponent spots your BG, he thinks that DE = cheese and that you are a powergamer.
No, you’re not, are you?
Well…, admittedly it may be true to a point.
As we will see, BG comes high in the list of broken units, with the appropriate, standard setting.
Actually, BG does seem to be the most obvious no-brainer choice. We’ll see to which extent it is true.


Last edited by Calisson on Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:24 pm, edited 10 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:20 pm
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3. Characteristics of BG.

They get the delightful DE elite Initiative of 6 (better than Execs & Shades), along with the nice DE elite WS of 5 (like all other elite save WE).
They have 2 attacks on a narrow 20mm base (more than any DE troop save WE & Hydra, and like COK, AHW Shades, Corsairs & Harpies).
They gain a selected S4 brought by the halberd (more than any troop save Execs, GW Shades and COK/COC).
They have an impressive privileged Ld of 9 (only COK/COC have as much).
They benefit from a moderate armour save of 5+, not that much but it is still nice among DE (only COK/COC & Hydra have better, and Corsairs against shooting).

In addition,

They have Hatred like anyone, but prolonged by the Elite warriors rule.
Eternal hatred allows them to re-roll misses in the first turn of combat against any enemy, whereas warrior elite allows them to re-roll misses in subsequent turns. Even against HE this rule is of some use because DE don't have eternal hatred against the monsters of the HE (only the usual hatred against an enemy), but BG hate their dragons etc. all the time as well.

They are Immune to psychology. This means that:
- they never panic from loosing 25% or more to magic or shooting or goblin fanatic or opposing stand & shoot or whatever
- they never panic from a unit in vicinity being totally destroyed
- they never panic from a unit in vicinity loosing a melee and failing morale
- they never panic from a fleeing unit getting across them
- they always pass fear and terror tests
- if beaten by a superior US, fear-causing unit, they have the normal morale test
However, they cannot select to flee as a charge reaction.

They are Stubborn: for morale checks, they always use their normal Ld, regardless of how many kills they had. And that Ld is 9! And it is rerollable if a BSB is in vicinity.

And all of this comes for a mere 13 pts. 8) Who said "broken"?


4. Weaknesses.

Armour.

Only a 5+ armour save... BG die easily, their biggest flaw. And they cost too much to be considered expandable.


Speed.

Elves are quick with M5 but still, they won’t run faster than 10” and can be march-blocked. Easily avoided, easily charged by an opponent who can deal with them (such as an ethereal).


Forced reactions.

There is another weakness that a clever opponent may exploit: :arrow:
- ITP Black Guard refuse to flee as a charge reaction, even when you wish they did (probably not very often).
- Like everyone with hatred, they always have to pursue. And being excellent in melee, they are going to be forced pursuing A LOT, so expect to be baited. Light agile troops having a chance to be totally destroyed, the most dangerous baiters are small units of medium cavalry or chariots, which can deal some damage, survive the retaliation and, when loosing, flee 3d6.


5. Vulnerability to shooting.

Even though they will stay till the last elf, it is not that difficult to shot or spell them to death.
BG seem to be screaming to the enemy: “Shoot us! Cast spells on us!” If your opponent has any understanding of how the BG are going to run, he's going to make it part of his priority to neutralize it. The wise opponent would just use the same tactics employed against ASF High Elves vs. the BG, bait and shoot.

You can resist spells with a magic-heavy army or an army with plenty of magical defence, in hat case the only thing they have issues surviving is a lot of focused shooting fire.

Shooting could be ignored: if a salvo from 10 handgunners kills 2.2 BG, 15 BG lose not much from their effectiveness for 3 such salvos.

If you want to protect from shooting your black guard unit, then there are several ways:
- Put them behind hill/forest and the black guard protect your flank (not a very effective use of BG).
- Harpies or corsair screen (excellent unless shooting comes from a hill).
- Give Ring of Darkness to a Master inside BG (very expensive)
- 1 big Shade unit with a Ring of Darkness character in it, use the shade unit too block line of side of enemy shooting (not cost-effective at all).
- Cauldron of blood power: ward save of 5+ (when COB not useful elsewhere).

The best protection is to dedicate a unit of screeners to help them get to the target.


6. Strengths.

The ultimate warriors.

Striking fast, Elite Warrior always re-rolling misses, with two S4 attacks and some armour, they are brilliant in melee and outshine pretty much anything else. Black Guard are without a doubt our best infantry (perhaps even our best unit).


Reliability.

ITP and stubborn L9 (rerollable if BSB is close), they can take a ton of pain without ever running. They remain a threat until your enemy has finally stomped every single last one into the ground.
Together with their martial performances, it makes them by far the most reliable unit in combat that we can dream of.


Real-life psychology.

They cause fear. No really, they do. Enemies will (often rightly, sometimes incorrectly) assume that the unit has the ASF banner, something nasty on the Champion and maybe even an Assassin. So they'll avoid combat with the unit, making it that much easier to outmaneuver the enemy with faster elements of the army.

At 13pts per model, these models are a steal and should be put into every DE army.


7. In melee.

BG are at home in melee, this is where they fear no shooting nor magic missiles… until they win, which may happen at the wrong time.
They can stay in melee for a long time with little or no support, with their high I and permanent hatred.
Being ITP and stubborn with high Ld, they don’t care much to be attacked in the rear or the flank, especially if a BSB is nearby.
The CoB boost will benefit them should the opportunity arise, providing routinely 1 more kill per 5 models. However do not take a CoB as only a complement to a single BG unit, it is more cost-effective to buy more ranks.

The delicate moment happens when they are charged, because their armour will not save many of them. There they will need their stubbornness to remain in the next rounds of melee where they get the lead. When facing HE, they suffer a lot, which is a reason why many players like to provide them with the ASF banner, getting the most of their high I. It does not help them from chariot charges, though.


Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:22 pm, edited 6 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:30 pm
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8. Comparison with other units.

- Execs get KB and WE get more attacks and poison, but they are Khainites, need a COB to be stubborn and have a Ld 8. Execs have less I and only one attack, WE have less WS and strength. Their hatred doesn’t last.

- COC/COK are quicker, armoured and stronger on the charge and cause fear, but for twice the cost and they are 25mm/50mm wide. After the charge is over, they need a rescue unit to get unstuck from melee.

- Hydra is an armoured, terror-causing killing machine, but at 175pts, with no SCR and much lower Ld.

- Shades can scout and corsairs are core, but they don’t fight anything close to BG.


Each of these units has one or two specific reasons to be taken, for melee purpose, rather than BG.
BG has many reasons to be taken over any of these units. And in addition, it is the only unit with an ITP, stubborn Ld9.


The closest competitors are the Executioners.
Like Execs, BG’s armour provides them with only a limited protection, not sufficient against shooting, magic or first-strike melee.
Compared to Execs, BG lack GW and KB but they have twice as many attacks, which make them more cost-effective against soft troops and less against armoured ones – it is the contrary compared to WE.
Both units can be improved with banners and characters, but the character you need for Execs must be Khainite, whether it be a Hag or an Assassin. Executioners are more aggressive than BG and can be brilliant with ASF on a Hag BSB and the cauldron buffing them, but yet they are not anvils, even with stubborn: once they are outnumbered, they run like the rest of us.


Overall,
If you need a stubborn ITP unit, take BG.
If you need some other specific property, take the appropriate unit.
If you just need an all-purpose (and fantastic) melee unit, then BG, no hesitation.


9. Comparison to 6th edition.

The biggest change brought by the present army book is the fact that black guard are no longer a rare choice but a special choice, so people can take them now, when previously they would stick to a hydra or 2 RBT.

BG hardly changed at all, apart from being special instead of rare; or did they?
They just got an extra attack.
…and have hatred all the time instead of only during the first turn of melee.
…and have access to a banner that allows them to ASF.
…and the Tower Master can take 25 points of magic items.
…and they are now immune to psychology.
…and are no more limited to 0-1 per army.
…and have a minimal size of 5 instead of 10
…and all of this comes along with a drop to 13 points instead of 16.

Unfortunately, they had two immensely frustrating cutbacks: :cry:
Their banner is now limited to 50 pts instead of 75 pts. A real shame!
They are limited to 20 per unit. Very annoying.

9 improvements, 2 small setbacks, no wonder why the BG became suddenly much more popular than before! :P


Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:30 pm
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10. Formation.

It is best to run your Black Guard in 7-wide units. There are two related reasons for this:

1) With 2 attacks, strength 4, and re-rolling misses, Black Guard are pretty good at dishing out damage. Running a wide unit gets you more of those attacks. Since you can generate more kills and more combat resolution, you don't need rank bonus so much.

2) Since Black Guard are Stubborn and Immune to Psychology, they stick around even if they lose, so rank bonus isn't so important for them.


7-wide is optimal since 7 is the greatest number of models you can get in contact with a 5-wide infantry unit on 20mm bases. As far as actual number of models in the unit, you need enough bodies so that the unit can soak up a little bit of missile fire, magic and impact hits. Starting with no fewer than 14 seems appropriate.

The 15 unit is more effective in 7 wide except against small tough targets such as monsters or chariots, for which you're better 5 wide.
Even 11 BG should be run 7 wide, because they are going to loose bodies anyway and therefore loose the rank bonus quickly, so better deal more damage.


11. The Hag Graef “ASF” banner.

A life insurance in melee.

As BG don’t care about being killed at distance, melee is an option that opponents have to consider when facing BG.
Knowing how good BG can be in follow-on turns of melee, the opponent’s goal will be to get the charge on BG (not that difficult, they are infantry) and kill as many as possible before they can retaliate. Simultaneous charges should be able to get rid of most of a large unit at once.

In order to avoid that, many DE players provide BG with the Hag Graef “ASF” banner. By doing so, they rob the charging opponent of the hope of easily decreasing the BG power in the first turn of a melee. Only chariots stand a chance - once. BG are T3 models with 5+ save for 13pts a piece, so investing 35 pts to make sure they live longer is not ridiculous.

Actually, the ASF helps BG only in two cases:
- Against ASF troops, namely HE, especially the haugty, expensive Swordmasters, though it works on all infantry but the Phoenix Guard.
- Against charging cavalry.

It is particularly useful when you have a very vulnerable, T3 save 5+ champion with a precious object (such as RoH).


A life insurance for getting out of melee. :arrow: :idea:

The advantage may be greater than what you think at first glance. Think about it.
When your BG are charged,
- if you don't have the BoHG, you are unlikely to win the combat with BG, but you are more likely to win in the next round, when comes your turn (especially with counter charges). Then you pursue, catch him or not, and find your BG remaining where the pursuit left them, you cannot choose where they go. Next comes the opponent’s turn with a new opportunity for him to shoot or charge your BG again.
- if you have the BoHG, you are likely to win the combat in the opponent’s round. Then you pursue, catch him or not, and find your BG remaining where the pursuit left them. Next comes your turn, and there you get a new opportunity to move or charge or protect them.


A waste?

However, it can be considered a bit of a waste to put this banner on a unit which:
- will hold even if it loses
- goes in initiative order anyway in 2nd combat round, and has I6 (higher than nearly anyone)
- would also like to increase its killing potential (only S4) with other banners.
- will be shot to death anyway.
BG should be able to do well without: even if they are charged, they will loose a few, most likely stay and during the next melee phase they will benefit from their high initiative.


A bad practice? :roll:

Also, take note that taking ASF on BG teaches you to play them mindlessly - just pushing ahead at full speed, with COK ready to flank anyone stupid enough to engage them. No need to have half a brain to make it work, and pretty boring after a couple of games.
Playing ASF BG gives you the image of the cheap, unimaginative “deathstar fanboy”.
This is not the way in which dark elves ought to be played. It's much more rewarding to do a lot of manoeuvring and get the charge yourself - in support of the image of Druchii players being tactically minded.


Conclusion.

Though the ASF banner is not always needed on BG, it's generally a good choice if you're making an all comer's tourney list, especially if your champion has some magic item.
As Codexes are getting updated, new units with ASF are released, making BG an ideal choice to counter them with their I6.
If you intend to win, efficiency should not be decreased by considerations for reputation.
On the other hand, if you want to have a pleasant game and/or improve your talent as general, don’t take ASF BG.


12. Other banners.

BG, like COK, are the only units which may take 50pts of magic banner without any BSB.


Is it really possible to do anything without the “ASF” BOHG? :?

Even though many DE players believe that the BOHG is the best choice, it isn’t that useful, it is more of a precaution and really cost a lot for what it effectively does.
With movement 5, BG should be able to get the charge against infantry (cavalry might be a bit harder but we also have many great baiting units).
Also, your opponents will think the BG will have ASF anyway, and will probably not charge them, so you’ll always be going first except against HE but then you could Word of pain them.


“AP” Banner of Murder

In order to cut through armour, Black Guard need the AP banner, which disallows the ASF banner.
With two attacks each, they are a great unit to give that banner. BG, like COK, should expect in average one more kill just because of the AP. Only WE benefit more from it, while any other unit (DR, corsairs, execs) struggles to get increase their kills by one thanks to that banner.
If your opponent believes that you have the BoHG on your BG, then the BoM will be a nasty surprise.


Dread Banner

Fear causing BG will auto-break your opponents if they have less US.
That advantage supposes that you won the melee round, and that you outnumbered your opponent.
The other advantage of the banner, i.e. to make your unit immune to fear and reducing terror to fear, is absolutely not useful at all for BG.
IMO, this unit is much more useful in a horde unit (warriors, corsairs) with a high SCR and he help of a master or an assassin’s SCR.


Standard of Slaughter

+1D3 SCR on the charge will improve your BG’s chances of winning the combat, however
- footed BG struggle to get the charge, unless the opponent believes you have the BoHG.
- BG have already high chances to win, and even if they loose, you’ll get more rounds of combat, where the SoS can’t help.
In my mind, this is a one-trick pony to be used when facing credulous believers that BG can’t receive anything but the ASF banner (and next game you resume taking the ASF, as your same opponent knows that SoS is negated if he charges beforehand).


War banner.

The only reason not to give it to BG is that you need it for someone else. If no other unit has taken this banner already, then you must give it to the BG, it is better than any other banner. Including ASF.


Just the mundane pennant.

The pennant is already enough to make your opponent believe that you’ve got the ASF. It is remarkably cost-effective. BG are strong enough to behave well even without any magic boost.


No banner at all. :shock:

There are some advantages not to take any pennant.
- cheaper unit, giving away less VP if destroyed by magic or shooting.
- a small unit looks innocuous, providing little VP reward and remaining still a pain to get rid of by shooting/magic.
- not giving away 100 VP if, eventually, your unit gets destroyed in melee.
- BG used as a tar pit need no CR at all, better have more bodies and a nearby BSB.
- you prove to your opponent that the unit is not ASF so both of you can behave like tacticians rather than powergamers.
There are drawbacks.
- lesser chances to win combats.
- No “real-life” psy uncertainty, as your opponent is certain of the absence of ASF.

I believe that BG is viable without any pennant, either in small unit or in a large tar pit.


Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:26 pm, edited 6 times in total.



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13. Magic objects.

BG, like COK, are the only units which may take 25pts of magic objects on their champion.

The problem with champions is that in melee, they can be challenged, or they can have 3 hostile models in contact with them. That becomes a liability when your champion has only a single wound and a 5+ armour save.


You have to address that vulnerability either:
- by avoiding melees (but it’s not always possible to avoid suicidal charges: a mere 3 harpies can get rid of your best magic object).
- with a babysitter: a master to take challenges or clear off the models which are too close.
- with the ASF banner, so the whole unit may clear off the models in contact with the champ; if the champ gets in a challenge, he may either accept the challenge if that object enhances his killing abilities, or refuse it and be sent to the rear of the unit (where hopefully his object won’t be useful because he cannot use it – but it lasts only during that phase).
- with an ASF assassin, who does the same job – and can take challenges.


Ring of Hotek.

If you’re going magicless, then you need a bearer for your ring. It can be a character, a COK champ or a BG champ.
The BG champ is the cheapest bearer, and you are certain that his unit will accept to be killed to the last one before you loose your ring. It is the most interesting candidate for that function.
Although more protected, a COK unit has much less wounds than a BG, and they are supposed to be in melee in turn 2, where the champ can be individualized and killed. Also, I’m not sure if they can use an object at all when stupid.
A character with the RoH may become reluctant to go in a melee, unless in a death star.


1 Null Talisman

For a more magic defence, a single Null Talisman can be put into your Black Guard unit.
However, most of the time your opponent will believe (for good reasons) that the champ has the RoH and will cast spells at anything else before considering the BG. Furthermore, BG can’t be panicked by magic and so are not very good candidates as spell recipients.
Overall it seems not to be a good investment.


Crimson Death

If you wish to go more offensive, then the Crimson Death on your champion is the way to go. BG champion with S6 becomes frightening. The risk is to see him killed by a challenge from a charging foe, as he remains very vulnerable and becomes quite costly. ASFing him solves that.
One of the best combos for them is the ASF banner and the Crimson Death for the champion.


Soulrender.

The soulrender is a good alternative, especially since it allows you to provide the CD to a character. It is 10 pts cheaper and provides S5 AP which is almost as good as the S6 CD. You must take the ASF banner, though, because otherwise you would strike last.


Armour of darkness

The 1+ AS has been mentioned. It will improve the survival of the champ. However, for the price of a BG champ with AoD, you can get 4 regular BG. I don’t see any use for such a combo, unless you have family ties with that specific champ.


14. COB.

The COB is useful, but not essential: +1 attack is only 50% more. KB is only two chances per model, not forgetting that the model is often able to kill without KB.
The unit is great already without a COB, so don’t buy a COB for the sole purpose of improving your BG.

Now, if you do have one COB in vicinity, providing it’s blessing to a BG unit is definitively a clever use.
Expect routinely one more kill thanks to the COB’s +1attack or KB.
Giving the BG +1 A, plus the BSB in them, anything that charges them will receive 15 S4 and 8* S6 attacks before the attacker gets to strike. Nothing wants to charge into 15 S4 and 8 S6 attacks, not even Treemen.


15. Assassins.

If the ASF banner is needed elsewhere (it’s a nice trick with COK), or if you're facing heavily armoured opponents such as WOC or Saurus, the AP banner with an ROK/Manbane assassin will be effective. The ‘sass will compensate for the lack of ASF. He will cut off several HE and cav before they will be able to strike at all. But that's for 171pts if he is maxed.

With an assassin, the big size is nice - make it 7 wide, take the full command, do not reveal the assassin if you charge yourself.


Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:31 pm
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16. Characters – BG as bodyguard

BG need not really much help from characters.
Ring of Darkness, multiple Null Shards are useful if you happen to have a character in the unit for other reasons, but not vital to the point of having a character for this purpose.


On the reverse point of view, a footed character cannot dream of better escort than BG, especially with the ASF banner. No wonder why Malekith sponsors them.

A DS-mounted character appreciates the BG escort as much as the footed character. It allows him to get safely close to the enemy and, when in range, to jump out and lone-charge or, if no appropriate target shows up, to remain there, his choice. This trick is nice for the mounted PoK BSB.

A BSB is extremely safe there: the unit won’t panic from distant attacks and fights very efficiently in melee, especially since the BSB will allow them to reroll their unlikely morale test.

I found that BG makes great babysitters for a sorceress as well, allowing her to get close to the enemy for short-range spells. ASF or an assassin is vital for the sorceress to survive a suicide-charge.


17. Main fighting unit.

A Master with PoK+Soulrender is an excellent choice if they have the ASF banner. The unit becomes then your main fighting unit.

A Lord with the Executioner’s axe will also feel much better in an ASF BG unit than in any other unit. Be aware that the higher Ld is not useful, as the Lord is not stubborn himself.


18. Anvil.

(quoting Lethalis) Look at the attributes you're looking for in an anvil-esque unit.
- protection in numbers: you want to keep the enemy at bay for as long as possible
- protection in quality: we're looking at high weapon skill, toughness, armour/ward saves/regeneration, number of wounds
- an ability that guarantees they're staying where you want them to; unbreakable is ideal of course
- the ability to reach the place/enemy which they should hold up.

Those are the attributes I'd look for in an anvil unit. Now one could pretty much rate all units in the book according to that list, but I'm confident that the Black Guard's characteristics of high weapon skill, the potential to drop enemies before they can strike (and thus have fewer models attacking yours, thus better chance of survival), the stubborn and immune to psychology combined with a naturally high leadership and the Elven movement of 5 will prove to be superior to any other units/characters. So I think it is a safe conclusion to say that in a general sense, Black Guard are the best candidate for an anvil role.

Now that we have established that Black Guard are a superior anvil choice, an opponent may count on Dark Elf players to use Black Guard as an anvil unit and thus read the Druchii battle plan before its execution. He may predict that units getting stuck fighting the Black Guard may be held up for a while and rather commit his forces elsewhere, instead trying to hold up the Guard themselves, making them a priority for ranged damage or commit more than normally necessary to destroy the unit in swift order.

The phrase 'no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy' may sound familiar to a few here. It's a phrase which can generally be considered truth, but if one is acquainted with one's forces, one may have enough experience and daring to calculate what may go wrong and anticipate on it. Par example, utilising the Black Guard as a lure or bait, a diversion as it were. An expensive one, sure, but I believe that part of the price is that you pay for the surprise factor.


19. Goalkeeper.

When you play magic/shooty, you should keep one or two units in reserve, to hold the opponent in case they were fast enough to get at you before you had the time to burn all of them to ashes.

Noting that your shooting requires core and rare troops, and your magic requires characters, therefore a special unit is something you can consider.

BG are a perfect unit for that purpose: they are ITP, good fighters, they can even serve as babysitter, what COC can’t do (otherwise COC are good candidates for that purpose, too).


20. Tar pit.

BG are the only true tarpit that we have.

Several small units can do marvels, if you have other units to rescue them and take advantage of them tar pitting the enemy. A single model surviving allows the unit to stubbornly stay with Ld9!

One large unit works the same, it just last longer and will survive some shooting.

The ultimate tar pit is, of course, the BG with Kouran, who makes them unbreakable. In that case, the maximum size of 20 should be taken and all efforts should be undertaken to allow Kouran to survive as long as possible, i.e. taking the ASF banner.


21. Combos.

BG is inherently nice to have, but should be considered along with the rest of your army: what will it help you to achieve?

Always keep a BSB nearby as it is a dreadful waste if they flee on a 9, which will happen one out of six times, ouch!

As people are reluctant to come forwards, you need other tough units to catch the opponent avoiding the BG. A hydra is perfect, COC are nice as well.

Baiting with RXBmen, DR, Shades, harpies & corsairs works, taking full advantage of the BG immune to psychology if they flee through them.

In order to help the BG survive the opponent’s shooting, nothing helps more than a screen.
- Harpies make the cheapest screen and easily get out of the way. However, they take only a little punishment before turning away.
- Corsairs and especially RHB corsairs are much more resistant as screen. The RHB corsairs are great to get rid of annoying light march-blockers.
The difficulty is to get out of the way when getting close enough to the enemy. If the opponent is kind enough to charge, then the corsairs can flee through the ITP BG (no possible panic) and let the real fighters do their job. Sometimes, the corsairs will be depleted enough for the BG to charge. Or the few remaining corsairs will be able to charge simultaneously, leaving enough room for the BG to get to the enemy (and getting the handy slaver’s rule).
- Other screens are more expensive per wound, so it would be just as effective to take more BG.


Last edited by Calisson on Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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22. Best setups.

The size is completely determined by the goal they have to accomplish:
- do you need to get a heavy hitting unit? go with 13 BG (7 on the front) with Hag Graef Banner and Crimson Death and maybe a BSB on foot with great weapon.
- But if you need to stop the enemy, it's the size that matters: having 15-16 or even 18 BG is surely more expensive than having 12, but the result in stopping enemies is proportional with the costs.


23. Small unit.

8 BG cost 104pts and need no command.
This size is enough to cope with one round of light shooting or any kind of charge, while a smaller unit of 5 would loose most of its efficiency with the first shooting. Always stubborn and ITP, it is perfect to delay the opponent if a BSB is close. Good against all troops, very dangerous with COB.


In small units, BG can cope with big soft targets or small armoured targets alike, which make them a good MSE all-around unit
- if you have a COB, the fighting unit benefits as much from it if it is 7 strong or 20 strong
- if you don’t take the COB, being ITP and stubborn will help them to stick any charging opponent until the rescue arrives.


2 BG unit work fine as long as they are part of a balanced list. Sure they have more trouble than large units to win melees, but the bigger unit has more trouble to get in melee at all! Once the enemy is tar pitted, you countercharge. Remember, the dangerous BG are the ones in the front, the rear ones are only more wounds!


Be cautious, though, a unit of less than 10 - especially if it includes Command - will be shot to bits by 100 points of Core choices from most armies in Warhammer.. One decent spell and they're gone. Definitively, BG units under 12 must not take any command - not even the muso.


24. Medium unit, no ASF.

If the BG/ASF combo is banned, it probably means that you’re in a heavily comped tournament which hits all the other power lists too. So no multiple Flesh Hound units, Helm of Commandment, Drakenhoff, double Flamers, blah blah.
Then consider using 2 units of 10 BG with maybe the Banner of Murder in one of them.

12 can be argued to be the optimal size.
7 men front and 5 back for the 1 rank. Not 1 model more. If you screened them with Harpies, the 1 rank often survives, and this 1 CR is worth the extra points.


Banner and champ to your taste. The more expensive, the best in melee but the worse it is to see it shot down.
The musician is not required! They won’t ever flee so won’t need to rally. They hardly ever tie up a melee. Better spare the pts.
As mentions Rabidnid:
The champ has no save and can be picked out by spells like bladewind or the nurgle or metal base spell. Black guard champs are always primary targets because a lot of the time they have null talismans or the ring of hotek. Save the points and put it into something that isn't going to die on the first turn its in range.


25. Medium ASF unit.

As seen above, the ASF is vital to improve the survivability of the champ, along with a master to take challenges.

Dark Alliance runs BG in one usual configuration:
11 to 14 with standard bearer and tower master + standard of hag graef and ring of hotek.
It all comes down to how many points he has to spend.
In all instances they are deployed 7 wide. He doesn't care about static res with these guys, they are there to tar pit and they do a damn fine job at that, and they are there to carry the ring. They do what it says on the tin!


14 BG with FC, ASF banner and Champ with soulrender comes in at just under 270 pts.
15 BG, FC, RoH, ASF cost 290pts.

That unit can pretty much take care of itself in most situations. They can easily cope with a charge by cavalry.

Again, the musician is not really needed, so if you need pts for something else, this is a good place to spare 7pts.


Last edited by Calisson on Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:27 am, edited 3 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:31 pm
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26. Large unit.

A unit of 20 BG, FC, RoH, ASF cost 355pts.
It can be considered as a basis for a Death Star. It may get a KB-maxed or anti-chariot-starred assassin.


Pros: Low cost über-unit, ITP. It does not really care about being side or rear charged. It is very effective in melee against anything.

Cons: Little inherent resistance to shooting & magic, the help of characters wearing magic items is required. Slow, it will have trouble to pick up its charges, and this alone may render it ineffective facing a clever, elusive opponent, unless you can magic-move the unit to force a charge.


BG in big blocks (note: 20 is the maximum) will win against almost anything. They are slightly less cost-effective than Execs for that result but they do not care about terror.


The extra rank bonus may be expensive for the benefit, but it is still useful enough to be justified: a guaranteed additional combat resolution may tilt the balance towards a winning melee.


Blocked up in a 5x4 formation, the unit can happily take a charge in the flank, do a whole bunch of damage to an enemy unit, and then hold them in place for a flank charge of your own. The unit is big enough, and survivable enough, to hold up two or three units by marching forward ahead of the main force and getting charged. In effect they go forward and give the enemy no choice but to try to deal with them.


Not forgetting that it means more wounds that the unit can soak, and this is probably a better reason to take that many. If half the unit is wiped out by shooting before they hit combat that's fine - you paid 160 points to get them into combat. If 15+ of them make it, even better. We might even have the outnumber bonus when we're done hitting things.


They are the centrepiece of your army. They allow to play the Druchii in a way they should be played: aggressively.
They give supporting and other combat units a chance to do their thing.
Sometimes it's just by taking fire from everything that can see them.
A character in there with the Ring of Darkness and armed with something big and sharp can be fun...
Having a unit of Black Guard in combat on three fronts, ahead of the rest of the army, with CoKs, Witch Elves or Chariots, occasionally supported by a Cauldron of Blood is a really nice place to be!


27. Kouran.

Analysis.

Kouran makes his BG unit unbreakable. This means that they pass automatically their morale checks, but also that they cannot accept any character (nor an assassin, not even Malekith!).
Kouran’s BG just cannot flee, be it from magic, shooting, terror, melee. They can only be killed to the last elf. Fortunately for the opponent, they are limited to 20.

Kouran has 2 magic objects.
- Crimson Death, S6 (having it means that you cannot get it for another hero, as there is only one such weapon). Great.
- Armour of Grief, requires a Toughness test or can’t hit. Fancy. It makes High Elves or DE much harder to kill him as they suck at T.

You have to pay 75 pts (+ 13pts for the model) instead of 14 pts (+ 13 pts for the model).
The Crimson Death costing 25 pts, it makes the magic armour and the unbreakable rule at 36 pts.


Drawbacks.

The unit is at its maximum and cannot be joined by any character, not even an assassin.
It is vulnerable to shooting and magic (if out of range of another unit with RoH), against which it must be protected from outside.
Slow, it will not be able to pick up its charges.
Kouran is vulnerable (relatively) to challenges and suicide-charges.

However, the one drawback that many people can’t stand is that Kouran has the very same characteristics as a regular Tower Master, i.e. just 1 more attack than a rank & file BG… and a single wound.
The main advantage, being unbreakable, lasts only as long as Kouran survives. Beware of sniping and challenges by a monster-mounted hero.


Overall, is being unbreakable so great for already ITP BG?
Many people think that Kouran is not worth it - expensive and hardly enough power to be worth his point sink.
Only for Malekith themed army... pure fluff and fun.


How to use that unit.

A few people believe that Kouran is very interesting if his options are made of good use. Some have tried and were happy with the result.

Let’s examine Kouran’s unit.
For his survival, you should consider doing what is required to guarantee that your expensive 1-wound model survives charges - i.e. the ASF banner.

20 BG, Kouran, FC, ASF cost 391 pts.

This is the lowest cost über-unit available to DE. That unit is so bad ass!

ITP. Likely to destroy the front rank of any charging unit, especially if COB-boosted. It will ignore whatever the combat result can be.

It may effectively be set in a single line, which will sweep the battleline clear of any enemy until it is destroyed to the last man by shooting (idea borrowed from clivegh in: Dark Elf's win the Broadside Bash (Indy GT)).
He experienced the unit and testifies: “The Biggest reason to take Kouran? YOU DO NOT NEED A BSB in an army with him.
The BG can wade out into the middle of no mans land and just kill anything that attacks it. Just watch everyone get out of the way.”



EDIT:
28. How hard is it to kill Kouran?

Some players are really worried because Kouran has only one wound.
So what?
It is a case of the game theory. Let’s analyse that.



Let's suppose the enemy sends an Anti-Hero (AH) character in order to kill Kouran (K) inside an ASF FC BG unit (BG).


Challenge? two possibilities.

1. The anti-hero does not challenge (or can't, in case of a suicide-charge by a unit with no command). You don't challenge either, otherwise see 2.
3 ASF-I6, hatred-S6 hits, plus 4 ASF-I6, hatred-S4 hits later (there are more hits if the anti-hero is wider than 39 mm), the possibly surviving anti-hero commando is allowed to strike back.

1a. If he aims at the mundane BG who are WS4 save5+, he faces BG's numeric superiority and banner and muso, so either he kills 3 at least and BG don't care because they are unbreakable, resume as initially except the anti-hero does not charge anymore; or he kills 2 or less and he must pass the Ld-1 (or worse) morale test, risk to be pursued and if he stays, resume as initially except etc...

1b. If he aims at least one of his attacks at Kouran, he must first pass a Toughness test because of the armour. If he fails, end of his turn, followed by 3 ASF-I6, still-hatred-S6 plus 4 ASF-I6, still-hatred-S4 hits again. If he passes, he can kill Kouran only once so he will loose combat by 1, risk to be pursued and so on (but at least there are no more S6 Kouran hits).

2. The anti-hero challenges.

2a. You are a gambler and accept.
3 ASF-I6, hatred-S6 hits later, the possibly surviving anti-hero is not yet allowed to strike back: first he must pass a Toughness test. If ever he fails... 3 more ASF-I6, still-hatred-S6 to face soon again. If you were your opponent, would you commit such suicide on a gamble?
Admitting he passes the T test, then he got a chance to kill your precious Kouran.
So what?
Even if he managed to kill Kouran twice, the combat would still be a draw but YOU have the muso and HE tests at Ld-1.
Only if he killed Kouran trice or a dozen times, that's a stubborn Ld9 test for you.
Next, there's nobody to accept the challenge, so the anti-hero faces 6 ASF-I6, still-hatred-S4 hits (see 2b) but he is not anymore benefiting from the charge.

2b. This is when you remember that you're a sneaky DE, and you refuse the challenge.
6 ASF-I6, hatred-S4 hits later, the possibly surviving anti-hero is allowed to strike back.
Even if he manages to kill 2 BG, it's a draw but BG have their muso so he looses by 1 and he tests at Ld-1.
Only if he receives no wound, and kills 3, then BG have a morale test at Ld9. What a big deal. 1/6 changes to fail this rather unlikely event, 5/6 chances to pass the test, and resume 6 ASF-I6, still-hatred-S4...



Let's sum up the choices:

1a. BG hit 3S6+4S4. K survives. AH likely looses, or at best, draws but can't overcome the unbreakable BG, so situation resumes except AH is not charging anymore.
Obviously 1a fails to accomplish AH’s mission and only puts AH in worse position.

1b. BG hit 3S6+4S4. AH may pass T test and hit K. AH is certain to loose combat unless bearing a specific CR banner. Even if AH manages to kill K, then he won no VP yet (must kill 9 more BG to get half of the unit's VP), while the BG have good chances to either kill or catch AH, getting full VP.

2a. BG hit 3S6. AH may pass T test and hit K. AH may loose or win combat, but even if K is killed, there remain 19 angry BG with stubborn Ld9. The least likely to hurt AH, and AH may fulfil his mission.

2b. BG hit 6S4. K survives but can't lead that turn. AH may loose or win combat, but there remain 16 or more angry BG with stubborn Ld9, and then K comes back.
This course of action is likely to kill AH, and is certain to fail AH's mission, unless
- AH survives the 6S4 hits,
- and AH kills at least 3 BG,
- and BG roll 10 on Ld test (1/6 chances).



What is each players’ preference?

Hits to AH: 1a = 1b > 2b > 2a
Hits to K: 2a = 1b > 2b > 1a

From AH's point of view:
2a > 1b > 2b > 1a

From BG's point of view:
1a > 2b > 1b > 2a if AH has good chances to survive the hits, or
1a > 1b > 2b > 2a if AH has good chances to be killed by ASF BG before he can strike.


What options will each player choose?

1. happens only if both players want 1, and then AH chooses 1a or 1b. He will select 1b, better for him.

2. may happen if AH wants 2, then BG chooses 2a or 2b. BG will select 2b, better for him.

2. may happen if AH wants 1 and BG wants 2, ending necessarily in 2a. As 2a is worse for BG than the likely 1b, there is no reason for BG to be so kind with AH and this course should never show up.

Therefore, the real choice lies with AH, between 1b or 2b. 1b is better for him.

Therefore, the theory of games predicts that a pair of intelligent gamers will select 1b.


Translation:

If the anti-hero challenges, Kouran should refuse! Chances are high that the anti-hero is killed, and even if he survives, chances are pretty negligible that the anti-hero wins enough and BG miss the Ld test and are caught. A very problematic situation for the anti-hero.

If the anti-hero does not challenge, then Kouran should not make the mistake to challenge himself! Challenging or not, the antihero will try and hit Kouran, so better be able to hit him with Kouran and other BG rather than Kouran only. Even in case Kouran is killed, the BG can be confident to have won the combat.


What can the anti-hero do to increase his chances?

Higher I ASF, i.e. an assassin. The gamble is to pass the T-test or waste your costly anti-hero. Note that the assassin is likely to be killed, providing 141 VP while Kouran’s death did not give up a single VP yet.

An ethereal anti-hero can be hit and even killed by Kouran. He may fluff his T-test. He will be struck in melee inside outnumbering banner holding BG. Who would risk that?

A PoK anti-hero on Manticore or any equivalent will face 4 mundane ASF BG. Only if he gets a banner like the SoS will him win combat, but BG remain stubborn Ld9 and are likely to stay long, when the banner has less uses. That is a highly risky tar pit for a very expensive hero.

A troop of knights will have to survive the many ASF hits, including Kouran’s, before getting any chance to try and kill Kouran, for which all surviving knights will have to direct their attacks on him, resulting in a very likely loss. The whole unit is at risk, while BG gave no VP.

Finally, a large troop of armoured cavalry with mighty hero inside will have a chance to get rid of Kouran's BG.
This is when you have to analyse: What are Kouran's chances against the unit's champ?
- If Kouran's sole hope lies in his armour, refuse challenge and hide Kouran in the rear. You risk only to fail a L9 test (1/6) while you bring a unit to rescue your tar pit.
- If Kouran's 3S6 ASF have some reasonable chances, then you may accept the challenge, but certainly never provoke the challenge yourself.


As a conclusion

I don’t see any reasonable way to kill Kouran in melee. :twisted:
The opponent has little hope less he commited his main unit, for a far but certain result and a much more likely glue on the tar pit.

The opponent better try with Hochland, cannonball, template breath or spell equivalent. Chances are low but still higher, risks are nil.
This is when BG needs some screen and dispel scroll.


Last edited by Calisson on Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:50 am, edited 12 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:32 pm
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29. BG Death Star.

Dark Alliance did the whole BG Deathstar thing back in October in Copenhagen, and before anyone was really using it with much regularity over here. He had 18 BG with a combat Lord (Ex Axe), BSB and an Assassin and it worked perfectly. :twisted:
Problem is now, everyone knows the potential of that unit so you need to be more cagey.

Add the RoH, back with a COB, on paper its seem close to the perfect/unbeatable unit. :x
No surprise, these guys with the army general and BSB in them, are pretty much the heart of the army. The death star super destroyer.
The ring makes them close to immune to magic, one of the harpies main jobs will be catching arrows for this unit. They should hopefully slaughter anything they can catch. Whilst the character deal with armour or any super characters they get stuck with, even zombie or plague bearer tarpits are not worrisome, because they are beaten pretty easily and quickly with the help of the cauldron.


30. BG horde.

You’re limited to 20 BG, are you?
Wrong! You’re limited to 20 x special slots available = 80 BG! (at 2k). :D

Imagine:
18 BG FC with warbanner, 19 BG FC with AP banner, 20 BG FC ASF, 17 BG FC with Kouran.
Fluffy! And not that easy for your opponent to beat…
With Malekith on foot, it comes to 2202 pts, leaving enough for 3 RHB corsair units and magic weapons for your champions.
Oh, you may wonder why 18, 19 and 20? Then you can easily determine on your army list which unit has which banner and so avoid to be called cheater.
Cheese, yes, cheat, no. Druchii mean to win but never cheat and rarely lie. :roll:


More seriously, an army fielding 3 x 15 BG, FC, with 1 RoH, 1 warbanner, 1 AP banner, 1 ASF banner and 3x10 RHB corsairs, one BSB COB, a COB general (1340pts so far), possibly some assassins, should pose an interesting challenge to your poor opponent.


Last edited by Calisson on Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:32 pm
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31. Why disregard BG?

Some people don’t take any BG in their army.
Why?

- models: you don’t own the models and don’t see why you would buy some.

- originality: you don’t want to look like another DE powergamer. The BG do seem to be the no-brainer choice and you would like to show you’ve got a brain.

- fluff: you don’t have Malekith as general so why would He commit His personal guard? or you’re running a Khainite faction where no BG is expected.

- coherence: you’re building an all-cavalry army, a guerrilla party, a monster mash, the Druchii RAF.

- special slots: you’ve got already enough Execs to fill up a similar role, or you’re in love with shades, or your 4 chariots used to take 2 slots back in 6th ed AB and now take 4 slots, so no special slots remain available.

- look: you don’t like black.



The remedies are obvious:

- models: read again this article, go and buy 15 FC and try them.

- originality: avoid the 15 ASF RoH. Try instead 8-10 BG MSE units or a huge horde of 3x15 BG, or even just a unit of 15 BG without any pennant bearer so that the opponent knows beforehand that you’re not playing that sort of game.

- fluff: “counts as”. My own “count as BG” are supposed to be veteran corsairs, with same 2 attacks as regular corsairs but higher strength, initiative and combat ability due to experience. They’ve seen it all and are not impressed by anything, even death (especially other's). However, they are not as swift anymore and don’t run quickly enough for the slavery rule. Also, their very old SDC has torn off somehow and its efficiency against missiles has decreased.
Anyway, if you’re a hard believer that only Malekith should get BG services, then tell me why Malekith cannot join the unit with Kouran? ;) Proof that fluff is not a rule.

- coherence: take the fear-causing gem. Get a level 4 with tome of Furion, select Shadow Lore #5, making them move twice i.e. as fast as the rest of your army.

- special slot: play 3k or vary your special units from game to game.

- look: get some “pink guards” for your Cult of Slaanesh army. :lol:


32. Conclusion.

For character bodyguard: Black guard, obviously.
For hammer, anvil, big unit: Black guard again.
Against demons, undead: Black guard (as Exec seem to fail their fear tests exactly when needed not to).
As has been said many times, BG are overall superior. Cant miss if you take them.

ASF Black Guard are always, always reliable, and work in almost any list, no matter how the rest of the list looks.

BG FTW! :)


As I told you initially, Take 15 BG, FC, ASF, RoH and move forwards regardless of the foe.
Why did you bother to read the whole article? ;)

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Last edited by Calisson on Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:33 pm
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Fantastic article Calisson!

I ran 20 mine with FC, ASF banner, master with Crimson Death, BSB with RoH, Armour of Darkness and great weapon and a Dreadlord with Soul Render, armour of eServitude, Ring of Darkness and sea dragon cloak. That's 10 str 6 attacks (4 are AP) and 6-8 str 4 attacks. ASF. I think an assassin would be overkill. :P Nuff said.

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Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:36 am
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:oops: thanks. I was not so proud of it as it is (as usual) ways too long. I cannot synthetize.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I understand you don't use a CoB either.
What do you use in coordination with your über-unit?
escorts against shooting: Harpies? Corsairs? nothing, the ring suffices?
flankers: COC? COK? DR?
How do they behave? What are your tactics?

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Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:08 am
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Some smart lad once said that things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. Your article is long, but I can't see a way to make the wealth of information you've put in it shorter.

As you wrote, when you play a deathstar unit (altough this isn't the true game winning deathstar, because you still need some tactics and support to win), the whole army is built around it. I learned that harpies aren't really very necessary for screaning, because most opponents will not be shooting with bs more then two and that's hitting on 5s in best case. Often, they'll want to move or hit at long range so it's 6s or worse. At this point, most people will stop bothering. The real thing for me with harpies is warmachine hunting, or at least tying them up so they can't shoot me much. Here's a a short summary:

Thigs you're good at:

-Next to all CC units. The only thing that almost killed me (I was saved because the game ended) was a toughness 5 1+ rerollable AS 4+ WS 6attack str 6 dwarf lord in a unit of hammerers.
-10 str 6 attacks hurt everyone, even 1+ armour save knights and things that BG alone struggle against
-Most opponents will give up shooting at them after a round or two because they fail to hit squat
-Holding ground, re-rollable ld 9 is awesome
-Avoiding magic and creating a 12'' ''nullzone'' around, so make sure you group some units around.
-Looking good 8)
-Much much more

What sucks:

-Stone throwers with people that are good at guessing ranges; no ring helps against these.
-Big nasty things charging into flanks if you don't have support units
-Organ guns, breath weapons, pretty much all things that come around the RoD
-Nasty characters like Tyrion
-Having to pursue because of hatered. With most units, this comes down to your unit in question getting a flank charge and getting destroyed. With BG, most of the time the worst case scenario is being lured away from the battle or getting stuck in some crap which you'll have to pursue again.

For support, I use two big blocks of warriors (also under protection of Ring of Hotek) and 2 big units of Harpies, but I'm thinking of taking more. Harpies help with movement control and warriors are for flank charges when something hits you in your flank and you need some SCR. Also the obligatory 2 RBTs and 12 xbowmen. I'd take more xbowmen but couldn't fit them in because of the comp. :P

The army also works well with a lvl 2 running down on each flank+ some other light support units. I use shades and a chariot but it's personal preference really. I spent about 2 months perfecting this list now (within limitations of a pretty severe army comp) and I can say I'm very happy with the way it works. I've had the worst luck ever on the tourney this weekend (IE, my 10 str 6 attacks failed to do a single wound on a sTank in 6 combat phases) but in most of the games I've played, it worked really well.

All that being said, it's a great unit and a great army. But after about 50 games, I grew bored of it and I'll try to do a good tourney MSU build now. At the end of the day, this is the unit that can easily dominate the whole game and that kindda takes away the fun from the game. The fact that it has some holes and glaring weakneses may give you some satisfaction, but the nagging feeling that a single unit and luck (or lack of it -.-) are winning (losing -.-) the game is not pleasant.

12 Black Guard no command you say? I'll give it a shot. ;)

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Mon Oct 12, 2009 11:00 am
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Cracking article, a really pleasent read.

I have been in love with my executioners for too long (you can see why of course, strength 6, killing blow, ASF (banner with hag) and 2 attacks (with cauldron)). They are a nasty unit of utter butchery.

Inspired by this article, i have got my poor neglected 20 Executioners out (only undercoated in black) and am currently looking at some paint schemes for them!

Regards

D


Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:56 pm
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I've studied a little bit more Kouran.

See the chapter 28 above.

This is an analysis I'm quite happy with. 8)

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Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:11 pm
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After using a midsized unit of black guard I am thinking of dropping them for something cheaper and softer.

As you noted, against an opponent with missile troops you are alpha target and get shot to bits. Against an opponent with cheap skirmishers you will get delayed.
In neither case will the black guard get to fight anything worthwhile.

Against armoured cavalry you get charged and a bunch of strength 4 -1 saves won't kill many knights.

Against armoured infantry like chaos warriors or saurus temple guard you struggle to do any casualties and get ground down due to having almost no armour.

The trick with black guard is finding a target that they can hit that will give you reasonable return on your investment and not one that will thrash you.

I have taken to putting the banner of murder and giving the champion the crimson death to boost the anti armour capabilities.


Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:46 am
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