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Using shades and harpies effectively 
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Corsair

Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2003 6:13 am
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Hello all,

I am just returning to the dark elves (and warhammer in general) after being gone for like 5 years. I have played some 8th edition games with my empire army, but am leaning more toward my first army; the dark elves. Haven't played them much since early 6th edition. Reading over forums, most people suggest having a large number of shades or harpies is borderline mandatory. I'm just curious how people get good milage out of them.

I fully admit to being a pretty poor warhammer player, but they just seem so fragile. A single round of shooting from even a modest unit (like pistoliers, or a unit of 10 archers) seems to rip them apart as they have T3 and no armor. I'm assuming with shades you want to scout them as close to the enemy war machines as possible. Yet, you need to deploy them 12 inches or more away, and as 8th edition armies tend to be large... i often find there is nowhere really close to put them) shades usually take 2 to 3 turns to get to grips with something juicy that they can actually handle, and harpies maaaaaaybe a turn earlier. Usually by this time, the enemy can effectively neutralize them with shooting.

To top it all often, many targets seem too tough to effectively handle with a small unit of either. Sure, they could rip apart an empire warmachine crew with their high WS, high I, and 2 attacks each. But a dwarf crewman with T4? need 5s to wound, and a hellcannon? (which i sadly often face) forget about it.

March blocking no longer seems like a viable tactic, as a LD test and often a BSB reroll means they usually pass their test.

Obviously they are great units because everyone speaks so highly of them, and I'm sure my utter failure to use them effectively so far is my fault and not theirs, but I would greatly appreciate some advice on getting the most out of these "harass" units.

Thanks!


Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:45 am
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Corsair
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The fashion in 8th edition, for all races, is to go for large units and warmachines.
Small skirmishers tend to be bygone.
As a result, small shooting unit tend to loose their favourite target (small units) and become ineffective against larger units. They are less often seen as before. The small unit you mention (10 archers, 5 pistoliers) are mostly a 7th edition leftover.

Playing DE, you could select to go by the fashion, and take large units rather than the good old MSE.
However, we have no template warmachine, and our large units tend to become great targets for mass killing spells/template shooting/mass BS shooting.
So the initial move to large units is now considered not to be very effective for DE players (except spearmen).
This is why D.net's fashion is to take advantage of most opponent being large, and to surprise everyone by getting slim.

For the opponent's point of view, shooting 30 arrows at a small unit of harpies seems a waste.
Even more if he has to move before shooting, and the target is skirmisher and in a wood.
Actually, magic missiles are the greatest threat for them.


Their main use is indeed to chase warmachines, which pose one of the greatest threat to us.
If these warmachine are well guarded, then it means that other threats are not that terrible. In that case, don't waste your skirmishers trying to do the impossible.

Another use is to scavenge:
when an opposing unit flees, it brings no VP until it flees off the board.
If ever you make an opposing unit flee, you want to have troops readily available to charge it again and again, forcing it to flee further and further till the edge of the table.
This is the secondary role for small agile troops.


Finally, they can easily become a pain for the opponent, by disrupting his plans: he must keep at all time (even doing maneuvers) 1" distance to any unit, friend or foe, and any impassable terrain. Placing an agile unit close to a large opposing unit can prevent it to wheel.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:35 am
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Good post by Calisson.

The role for Harpies and Shades is quite different in many regards, as as Calisson said, the use of small units is mostly a throwback to 7th edition. If you've been reading past lists, battle reports and strategy threads, keep in mind that if they were written in 7th edition, they apply to a completely different ruleset that is no longer in use. Only recent threads, written after 8th edition was released, will be able to provide you with a completely accurate view of how your units currently perform.

Shades can indeed be vulnerable, but they're also versatile. If you feel that they are at risk from shooting and magic, then you can deploy them in your own deployment zone or keep them hidden until you're ready to use them. Especially with Shades, their repeater crossbows and high Ballistic Skill still make them a very effective unit as part of your battle line; you don't HAVE to Scout with them, and in many situations it's better to play conservatively with them. If you do Scout, you'll want them to be big enough to survive some turns of shooting. Ideally, an enemy will have to move to face the Shades, then will be firing at skirmishers, which already gives them a -2 penalty to be hit. Any other factors (long range, soft cover, etc.) will continue to help you. Shades are also a great unit for the Manbane/Rending Star Assassin, serving as a good bodyguard and escort while the Assassin dashes around the battlefield shooting at high Toughness, durable threats like monsters and chariots.

Harpies are different in many regards to Shades. Harpies are less skilled at combat, cheaper, faster. As Calisson said, I find their greatest use to continue to chase or harass units that are already fleeing. By having a few quick, disposable units to run down fleeing opponents, you can focus your heavy combat troops on dealing with larger threats rather than running after an opponent who is already beaten. Since a fleeing enemy unit is automatically destroyed if they're caught by an enemy charge, even lowly Harpies can run down the most powerful fleeing enemy.

So be certain that you're not looking at 7th edition tips/guides when viewing harpies and Shades. Both units are still very useful in 8th edition, but they're not the "must have" units that they were in 7th edition.

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Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:18 pm
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Interesting that you braught up the meta game. IMO the race for large units will come to an end at some time and will transform to a good mix again (like fashion). But it will take some time.
But even with large units I highly value both units and as a surprise they still perform quite well in 8th.
Harpies
Lost some of their uses, but in general they are still a good unit vs. warmachines. For the T4 dwarfen cannon the solution is quite easy - just place them infront of the muzzle and block LoS with the body and the wings (or the base depending on the rules for LoS you play). Apart from this they good two ups in 8th, they could re-roll their rally test when fleeing in the direction of the BSB :-) therefore they get even better at baiting (which gets worse for the one who failed the charge).
And they are I5. Therefore the toll to charge them with light cav. is quite high, especiall pointswise.
Shades,
i just like them and with march + fire they could annoy nearly any opponent. Apart from the fact that scout depends not on terrain and that skirmisher like Dryads are restricted to 180° :-)


Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:19 am
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On the contrary with the amount of warmachines and shooters people are carryig out I must say that these two units whether you take two units or one of each are must haves in a good DE army. Dark Riders however in my opinion are no longer as potent as they were in 7th edition (still thinks the game is too new to say such but this is coming from personal experience). Both units main role is to take out warmachines and disrupt units with Shades having the option of whittling the enemy down with crossbow fire and are thus more expensive. The trick to using both units all boils down to deployment timing. They are fragile and thus the moment your opponent sees them and realizes their threat, he will react to them and find a way to deal with them. Now sometimes you may have to wait a turn or so of moving them just to get to the right spot where you can take out that warmachine at the risk of it already earning its points back. You sometimes have to coordinate a rouse of sorts, a more grave threat somewhere else on the board as to throw your opponent of and make his decide if the Harpies or Shades are even worth taking out when the rest of your army is up at his face. Timing and location is crucial.

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Wed Oct 06, 2010 10:35 am
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I have had great results with 2-3 units of five shades (ahw) and 5 harpies.

Harpies uses in 8th are limited to "warmachine hunting" and "scavenge" as calisson wrote. That is why I only take one unit. These 5 harpies are completely mandatory in any of my lists!

Shades on the other half are very versatile units. The make good warmashine hunters and scavengers, but unlike harpies they produce shooting as well - and may I add: The most point-effective BS-based shooting in the dark elf army list! three units of 5 shades are actually a serious ranged threath, especially since they will be firing at short range right from the first round!
They are good at sniping stuff like characters and salamanders, and if nothing else they can pick on larger units aswell. 30 AP shots hitting on 3s tend to hurt even larger units a bit. The shades also have perfect mobility while shooting, so they can always find themselves a good position.


Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:17 am
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Quote:
Harpies uses in 8th are limited to "warmachine hunting" and "scavenge" as calisson wrote.


Through their mobility and low point cost they could be aslo used as 55 point sacrificial unit:

Perhaps add (on occasion)
- suicide charges on mages, especially Lv2. With their high I you normaly get your 6 (or 8) attacks on the mage. For the 8 I like to field them 3+2, as 8A will give you on averge 4 hits and 2 wounds.

- road blocks for fast cav., or everything elese with high cost, neraly no save and max. I5. An opponent of mine is doing quite a good job to render my DR useless with harpies (which I would have not expected)


Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:02 am
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Warrior

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Could they be used to slow down Marauder Cavalry as well ? If so I may include a unit in this anti WOC army I am building.


Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:26 pm
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ungorlucky wrote:
Could they be used to slow down Marauder Cavalry as well ? If so I may include a unit in this anti WOC army I am building.


Both Harpies and Shades have high Initiative, and Harpies have greater mobility while Shades have fearsome shooting, so both are useful against marauder cavalry. Shades are particularly dangerous, I think, since repeater crossbows + superior Weapon Skill + Hatred gives them a very strong chance of taking down marauder cavalry quickly and effectively.

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Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:08 pm
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Shades with extra hand weapons can almost wipe out small units of fast cav now that combats are based on I.

Also you can no deploy your scouts in LoS which makes scouting them considerably more effective for wiping out war machines early on.

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Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:17 pm
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Bounce wrote:
you can no deploy your scouts in LoS

Bouncey I think meant 'now'... ;)

I think most of the points for shades and harpies are covered now; Calisson points out a very annoying (for opponents) but perfectly viable tactic to use about preventing wheels (good thought mate!). However if you wanted to read more about the Assassin combo with shades (as this is pretty much the only 'major' viable way to field assassins now) then check THIS thread out; Tethlis makes some excellent points that were very valuable to me - my assassin now forms a constant stable part of my plans now and combined with the shades often proves unstoppable with some careful management... 8)

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Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:34 am
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I'd just like to point out that as well as well as getting right in the way of units, harpies can be put to great use against frenzied troops. They still have to always pursue so If you charge a unit of khorne chaos knights (for example) in the flank you'll probably have them running off in a completely different direction.

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Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:46 pm
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That's assuming they don't butcher your entire 5 harpies first. So it's best to force them to charge then overrun in a slightly less extreme direction.

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:53 am
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Charging them in the flank should be pretty safe because 1 knight wont be able to kill all 5 of the harpies in the unit but they should take enough casualities to flee and force the knights to pursue.

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Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:23 am
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You could put a unit of harpies or dark riders just behind an enemy unit, locked in a combat you expect to win. Have them facing directly away from the combat.

When the enemy breaks...

1. They take a dangerous terrain test for all models that pass through your harpies/dark riders
2. If the unit that breaks the enemy rolls high enough it will eliminate them. If it doesn't your harpies/dark riders are facing in the right direction to charge a fleeing unit from behind. With your hopefully superior movement, you should catch the fleeing unit and destroy them.
3. This could also pin your breaking unit from pursuing out of position as it has to stop when it hits the Harpies/Dark riders. This would stop witches from pursuing out of position.

Not so good with the rules so let me know if this is legal/worth doing...


Fri Oct 29, 2010 2:06 am
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A small adition to the many great posts.
Shades : always with manbane/rending star assassin, never fails me, but must be used with cation and takes som getting used to.
Harpies : in some cases warmashine hunting is not so ezy cuz enemy is careful with protecting them. So I end up using harpies to bye time. Its very useful sometimes to put the harpies in the way angling out so that you can safely move you expencive unit past the dangerous field of a enemy hammer unit. You will then loose the harpies, but its only 65p. It can really be a life saver, escpecially now with march blokking gone and those big knight units commin on really fast.

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Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:44 am
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Just wanted to know the general consensus on this: is it better to have 2 units of shades or one with a star assassin?

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Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:35 am
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tomcowlin wrote:
Just wanted to know the general consensus on this: is it better to have 2 units of shades or one with a star assassin?


Depends on what you want to achieve with them and how it fits your army and then the very small margin of who you are facing.

Against Chaos, Khorne Demons, Bretonnia and armies with little on no shooting a Shade unit with a Manbane/Rend Assassin can really rip him a new one but against other armies it all depends on terrain and how you position them as losing them nets you opponent close to 300 VP. If you don't have any other harassment units like DR and Harpies I'd go with 2 units of 6 Shades. If you have even a unit of Dark Riders or a unit of Harpies then maybe a single unit of Shades and Assassin would work better.

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Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:47 am
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jjborga wrote:
You could put a unit of harpies or dark riders just behind an enemy unit, locked in a combat you expect to win. Have them facing directly away from the combat.

When the enemy breaks...

1. They take a dangerous terrain test for all models that pass through your harpies/dark riders
2. If the unit that breaks the enemy rolls high enough it will eliminate them. If it doesn't your harpies/dark riders are facing in the right direction to charge a fleeing unit from behind. With your hopefully superior movement, you should catch the fleeing unit and destroy them.
3. This could also pin your breaking unit from pursuing out of position as it has to stop when it hits the Harpies/Dark riders. This would stop witches from pursuing out of position.

Not so good with the rules so let me know if this is legal/worth doing...
Excellent use of the rules.
Keep on!

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Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:29 pm
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@ichiyo

I agree on most part. Thing is with the assassin is because of his short range, if he isn't able to scout properly, his use drops considerately.

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Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:36 pm
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I must say, there is nothing like reducing a tough units T with shadow magic and then fire a hail of bolts from short range shades. Should have seen the look on my last empire opponent, when his T2 War Alter suddenly started to crumble beneath his arch lector.

Personally I usually field 2 units of dark riders, harpies and shades in most battles. The ability to bait my opponent while also saturating him with 'worthless' targets gives my combat units time to cross the field.

Also being able to concentrate firepower through the mobility of the shades and dark riders (and shadow magic) is priceless.

I might include a KB assassin in a unit of shades to bait highly mobile 'hunter' heroes, but mainly for his 'ninja coolness' ;)


Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:10 pm
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tomcowlin wrote:
@ichiyo

I agree on most part. Thing is with the assassin is because of his short range, if he isn't able to scout properly, his use drops considerately.


How so? He also has the scout rule and deploy 12" away. He can move and shoot the same turn.

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Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:28 pm
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Sorry I was vague in saying scout properly. I mean that if he can't scout on a flank or somewhere so that he can move around to the side, the assassin will just be part of your battleline, where he'll probably be killed in CC

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Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:45 pm
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The Manbane/Rending Star assassin makes the shades rock hard, but voulnerable to shooting. They are excellent at taking out warmashines together with harpies. Warmashine guarded bye a small unit ( of knights ), shades wil kill the knights and harpies take out the mashine in turn 2. The assassin alone with shooting turn 1, stand and shoot turn 2 and 4 asf atacks in cc is sure to cause big problems for most supporting knight units.

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Tue Nov 02, 2010 8:29 am
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