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How are you winning/surviving games- advice sought. 
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Slave on the Altar

Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:25 am
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Hey Guys,

I could use some advice with the Dark Elves. I’ve played Warhammer for over a decade and had success with multiple armies at the tournament level including dwarves, Empire, and high elves. My Dark Elves don’t tend to see much action, primarily since they were never painted till recently. However, in the last couple months of my erratic play with the dark elves, my success rate has been fairly low. I’ve lost more than half of my matches, and tied at least another quarter. Granted, most games were against veteran tournament goers, but with my other armies I’ve felt more competitive.

Before I begun discussing specifics, my list typically has the following elements:
1 lev. 4 with pendant, sac dagger, and dark magic
Hag BSB with Cauldron
0-1 lev. 2 Mage with Death or Shadow magic and dispel scroll
1-2 Spearmen block around unit size 30
2-4 RBX units of size 10 or 20.
1-2 witch elf units around size 14-120
1-2 black guard units around 20
2-3 harpy units
0-1 shades
1 hydra

In essence, pretty standard elements.

I am experiencing two critical problems while playing the dark elves. First, my magic is often getting shut down against good players, especially those that have a good sense of timing (saving the dispel scroll for a critical combat). Whether dwarf scrolls, Empire priests, Ogre hell heart, magic puppets, etc in at least half of the games are successfully shutting down critical magic. I’ve been using a level four with dark magic, pendant, and sacrificial dagger rather than using shadow magic. I recognize that shadow is consistently more effective due to mind razor, but having lost so many games to that single spell I am really trying to avoid having my primary mage using shadow.

Second, my elite units are taking high casualties prior to combat. Whether shooting or magic, I typically lose the hydra before engagement and 50-70% of the elite troops prior to combat. The end result is that I don’t have enough troops left to sustain the mid game grind or even hold up to the multitude of troops that do stomp/monster stomp.

My questions for the group include.
1) How do I increase survivability for my troops in turns 1-3 and win combat if I can’t rely on magic support? My newest thought is never run elite units in deep squares or more than 14 troops in a 7X2 line to prevent template weapons and spells like dwellers from below from wiping out larger blocks. Also, perhaps pushing elites to the farther flanks will keep them out of some magic range. I am going to just assume that in 50% of games the hydra is dead regardless of what I do between spells, artillery, and true line of sight so I am not going to worry about it too much, but I can’t lose it plus all my black guard/witch elves.

2) Is Dark magic a bad tournament (all comers) lore? I tend to like it since the spells are so cheap, that I can generally roll two dice for everything which frequently prevents miscast. Supposing I don’t want to use death or shadow magic on the level four, is metal a better alternative for tournament play?

3) Are elites not really the way to go for winning combat without magic support? Instead of 300 points of black guard, would the points be better spent putting a combat lord into a unit of spearmen?

4) When you deploy, do you tend to make a relative compact battle line, using only about three feet of the standard six feet or do you have more success using more than four feet for your deployment and trying to go for flanks, even if it is out of BSB/cauldron range? Admittedly hypothetical as terrain and opponent often dictate deployment, but I am curious if you have a standard preferred deployment.

5) Final question, when you win most your games do you find the critical moment the early game, mid-game, or late game? In particular, do you find much of your success depends on the RBX and damage magic in the first two round coupled with successful war machine hunting. Or, do you find that the mid-game mind razor or buff/debuff/cauldron is the more critical moment. Or finally, do you find that out maneuvering your opponent and waiting for late game flanking is the most critical?

Thanks, your thoughts and experiences would be appreciated.


Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:20 am
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Welcome lanceocletian to D.net.
Apreciate your sound comments despite being your first post.
Obviously you're a veteran in other races' forums.

What is striking in your army is the lack of hard hitters.
Spearmen = S3
WE = S3 (and 120 in a single unit is larger than anything I've heard of).
RXB & Shades = S3
Harpies = S3, no hatred
BG = S4 but quickly dead
hydra = quickly dead

The second thing is the rather poor maneuvrability.
Only nfantry except 3 harpy units and hydra.


With this first glance, with my very limited experience, I'd suggest to consider:
- keep 2 mages & 1 COB
- keep all RXBmen
- only 1 spearmen babysitting unit, 30 strong
- only 2 units of WE and BG together
- as many agile troops as possible (5 harpies, 5 shades with AHW)
- hydra, of course

In addition:
- more warmachine hunters (1 peggymaster, 1 unit of DR with muso, no DR)
- some hard hitting elite: either 35-40 Execs or 14 COK


About magic, see this part of the D.R.A.I.C.H.
There are ways to go throught tough magic defence: renounce to cast PoD, too easily dispelled, except with your sac dagger; use druchii sorcery to cast one unique spell with all but one die: either the opponent will use all his DD and your last die can cast PoD, or he doen't and your spell is more likely to pass.
If you have many PD available, you can try 2 spells instead.
Finally, COB is a kind of magic that cannot be dispelled.



Final note:
there could be a new army book coming around rather soon.
Your opponents won't know all DE tricks anymore.
On the other hand, buying many models may not be the smartest thing to do.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:47 am
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what calisson said :)

However, about your magic phase being shut down. you must be doing something wrong, and i have an inkling what it might be.

lets assume you go dark magic (i always do that, and it is insanely good together with the dagger, which i have stopped using for more of a challenge)

First of all, your goal is to cast as many (5) spells as possible each phase. if you cast 5 spells, you will (can) get 5 more power dice than your opponent. on average you will have 3 more powerdice than dispel dice, and with the dagger that will be 8. with PoD that can be 9-10 more dice than your opponent has. he simply can not stop all of your spells. Yes he can scroll one (or two if he is dwarf) important spell, but the key is to doll over his defenses early, and then get off the big nasty spells later on. if you cast black horror on pretty much any unit at the start of the game he HAS to scroll it (assuming you rolled high, and not with IF). thats a scroll gone, and next time he can just close his eyes and hope for double 6 dispelling.

To gain access to all these nice power dice you will need warm bodies, usually spearmen. you say you play 2 units of 30, and that is not a good idea. instead use one unit of 30-40 as a big steadfast block, and use a smaller unit of 15-20, without shields and with the standard of discipline as a bunker/food for your mage. that unit is dirt cheap and you can happily sacrifice one guy for each spell where you need it all game long. sure, you might have to roll a panic test every now and then, but tbh with Ld 10 and probably a reroll you are as safe as is reasonable. This way you have plenty of food for the mage, and you wont harm your steadfast block. if you have your mage in the unit of 30, it will be more like 20 that reaches combat, and then they cant win because they arent good fighters, and they cant hold for long because they dont have many ranks. having a "wasted" unit of 15-20 that isnt supposed to fight is a much cheaper alternative than having a unit of 30 that you disable so it cant fight.

So, just cast spells with 1 die. if its 1-3 you "chomp" a guy and add another die. you have spent 1 power die, and your opponent will have to spend 2 dispel dice to negate the spell. he will have to let it go through or very soon he will run out of dispel power. once you have cast the smaller spells like chillwind or word of pain you could chuck your remaining 7 or so power dice on black horror, get IF and he cant do anything about it OR you could keep casting with 1-2 dice for all the spells of the lvl 4 and then just move on to the lvl 2. not even dwarfs have enough magic defense to stand against a DE with the dagger for more than a few turns.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:04 am
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The obvious lack in your army is heavy cavalry.

CoKs can work wonders especially when tag-teamed with dark riders or harpies and/or buffed by a cauldron or the ASF/Hydra banners.

As Calisson said, CoKs combined with a mobile hero/lord and some heavy infantry (Execs) will round off your list nicely.

Let us know how you get on with any changes you make...

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 1:51 pm
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heavy cavalry can go boil their bottoms as far as i am concerned :mrgreen: (though i fully respect that some ppl like them, and use them with success, they are absolutely not essential to winning)

the flying master is not essential either, though id say he is so good that there is no reason not to use him.

if you want a more general piece of advice i would say "only fight the battles you KNOW you will win". do NOT give the enemy a fair fight. you will most likely lose though. instead be as annoying and bitchy as you can with fast units until you can set up a combined charge, preferably with a flanking unit and crush the opponent in one round. If you are facing a fight you cant win, you flee... unless ofc if you could buy a better position by sacrificing a unit, if so, let them die for the glory of khaine! Just do not hold from a charge with your warriors just because fleeing would be "unchivalrous".

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:37 pm
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@Lord Tsunami: That sounds very close to what I do, although I use a shadow sorc dagger with ETC rules. I can't sacrifice more than two, but it enables me to do more risky casting and get at least one spell through, and sometimes 2-3 of them.

However, the two big blocks of spearelves are potential disaster for our enemies, with mindrazor and/or CoB and other buffs/debuffs. Also, as they can stand their ground with steadfast, most won't dare to charge them as they might be mean killing machines the next round, or backed up by my AP witch elves and/or Executioners (ASF).

I've figured that the Dark Magic is great in many battles, but I need shadow and metal more with those armies I field. The debuff, buff and pit makes the shadow the most game changing lore of them imo. Metal is great for taking down those flying chars (Tzeentch disc sorcerer lvl 4 is SUCH a pain in the *** with 2+ save and 3+ ward), as well as heavy armored units. Also the potential buffs are great with our army as well.

Personally, I don't feel the need of the CoKs, but they work well too.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:39 pm
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Like Lord Tsunami says, if you are having your magic shut down, you must be doing something wrong. Except in those instances where you just have some bad luck (which happens), between the Sac Dagger and Power of Darkness you should be able to overwhelm the magic defense of pretty much any opponent. You should be able to cast a LOT of spells even when you have mediocre rolls for winds of magic. If you want to be different but still effective against a variety of opponents, you should consider taking Death on the Level 4 and Dark on the Level 2.



1) How do I increase survivability for my troops in turns 1-3 and win combat if I can’t rely on magic support? My newest thought is never run elite units in deep squares or more than 14 troops in a 7X2 line to prevent template weapons and spells like dwellers from below from wiping out larger blocks. Also, perhaps pushing elites to the farther flanks will keep them out of some magic range. I am going to just assume that in 50% of games the hydra is dead regardless of what I do between spells, artillery, and true line of sight so I am not going to worry about it too much, but I can’t lose it plus all my black guard/witch elves.

Do NOT spread your army out. If you do, then your army will get picked apart piecemeal. Your aim should be to get into combat quickly and in combination when possible. Deploying Damage-dealing troops like witches and black guard in wide formation is generally a good idea since it both limits exposure to templates and increase your attacks in combat.


2) Is Dark magic a bad tournament (all comers) lore? I tend to like it since the spells are so cheap, that I can generally roll two dice for everything which frequently prevents miscast. Supposing I don’t want to use death or shadow magic on the level four, is metal a better alternative for tournament play?

Dark Magic is pretty good, but has some limits as well. Short range is a problem -- if you are only in range to cast 1 or 2 spells, your opponent can take that into consideration when planning magic defense in a particular phase. Also, aside from Word of Pain, the lore is very oriented towards infliction of damage, which can be good in some circumstances but doesn't help a lot in combat. I think Metal is a poor choice in a tournament environment since it can be near worthless against some opponents (Daemons and Ogres in particular).

3) Are elites not really the way to go for winning combat without magic support? Instead of 300 points of black guard, would the points be better spent putting a combat lord into a unit of spearmen?

It really depends on the match-up. Sometimes you just really need support to win combat. For example, Chaos Warriors will win against Witch Elves, Black Guard or Executioners in a straight-up fight. But if you throw a Cauldron blessing or magic into the mix, the outcome can change radically. If you change your mind and are willing to take Shadow Magic, Corsairs are a really nice choice over spearmen.


4) When you deploy, do you tend to make a relative compact battle line, using only about three feet of the standard six feet or do you have more success using more than four feet for your deployment and trying to go for flanks, even if it is out of BSB/cauldron range? Admittedly hypothetical as terrain and opponent often dictate deployment, but I am curious if you have a standard preferred deployment.

5) Final question, when you win most your games do you find the critical moment the early game, mid-game, or late game? In particular, do you find much of your success depends on the RBX and damage magic in the first two round coupled with successful war machine hunting. Or, do you find that the mid-game mind razor or buff/debuff/cauldron is the more critical moment. Or finally, do you find that out maneuvering your opponent and waiting for late game flanking is the most critical?

I focus the main, combat oriented body of my army in a small area of the battlefield. The goal is to obtain localized superiority and crush what is right in front of them. Meanwhile, I try to use low-value harassing troops to occupy and slow down the part of my opponent's army that I don't want to take on right away, with the idea that I will turn and face the remainder of of opponent's army in the late game. Early hunting of war machines can indeed be critical when facing them, and I use a combination of harpies, magic, and a pegasus-mounted Master to do the job.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:02 pm
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Lots of excellent advice given so far. A few thoughts of my own.

- Magic.
Get to know your lore really well. It doesn't matter which one you pick, but what does matter is that you know how to use it. For example, I go with lore of metal. I know which spells to use and how to use them. I know under what circumstances I want to cast each spell, how many dice I want to use to cast each spell, how to choose the best targets (both friends and enemies) with each spell and so on. Understand the synergies and maximise those. And so on.

Otherwise your magic can start to feel weak and pointless. Being able to yell: "Aha! Now your strength has been reduced by 3" is fairly pointless when the unit affected is a squadron of enemy bowmen who are out of charge range of any of your units.

- Winning melee combats.
Ensure you have hammer units and commit them to fights that you know you can win. I first realised this back in 7th ed when I discovered that if I put a BSB with a hydra banner into a unit of 7 Dark Riders I could smash my way through the majority of light or medium foes. In 8th ed, your hammers need to be much bigger and much stronger: 12 Cold One Knights led by a BSB with the Hydra banner or a horde unit of 30+ Execs led by a BSB with the Standard of HG are both excellent choices. Don't commit these forces to long slug fest fights against big blocks of enemy infantry, but instead use them to smash through medium sized enemy blocks.

Only commit your hammers to fights you know you can win (use big blocks of warriors or diverting troops to delay those that you can't win), but when you do commit them, commit them HARD! Try to get combi charges.

Oh, in terms of survivability, I'll add a couple of minor things:

- Make sure you have sufficient light troops to get up and into your enemy's shooting and magical lines. A couple of units of shades, dark riders, harpies and/or a pegasus master should enable you to get up close and disable those warmachines and lines of archers. If your opponent focuses on dealing with your light troops, he will be ignoring your elites. If he focuses on your elites, you can shut down his shooting with your fast troops.

- You can bolster your forces defences against shooting and magic. Lore of metal offers up the glittering scales spell (+2 to armour saves of one unit or all units within 12" is very handy), the Cauldron of Blood can give one unit a 5+ ward save per turn, and the Ring of Darkness can halve the BS of any enemy targeting a unit with that character in it.

In terms of deployment:

I tend to spread across the board, but will usually weight one flank to be much harder than the other. For example, I will put a unit of warriors in the middle, to side A will be a horde block of executioners, followed by a unit of 10 Cold One Knights, followed by a unit of dark riders. To side B will be a small unit of RxBs and some Dark Riders. I then push forward very hard with side A, while using side B to delay and hinder my opponent's advance on that side.

Finally, in terms of magic defence:

Pick which spells you NEED to dispel, which spells you would like to dispel, and which spells don't really matter. A spell doing D6 S4 hits against a unit of 20 RxBs, for example, can be happily allowed through. A spell doing 2D6 S4 hits versus your unit of 10 CoKs should ideally be dispelled. Dwellers Below against your unit of 40 Witch Elves must be dispelled at all costs!

Once you have this identified, you will have a lot better chance of surviving your enemy's magic phase. It's worth noting that some of the most powerful spells in the game are now hexes and buffs rather than direct damage - so, for example, flaming sword of rhuin cast onto a unit of 40 High Elf archers aligned in four lines of 10 is devastating and should definitely be dispelled!

For example, let's say my opponent has taken lore of life. I know in advance that I need to dispel throne of vines and dwellers below, I would like to dispel flesh to stone, and I can relatively happily allow earth regeneration and regrowth through. So, I conserve my dispel dice to ensure that I dispel the two must dispel spells, and let him get the others through. Similarly, if my opponent has taken fire, I know that I need to dispel fulminating flame cage, but I can let the weaker fireballs through.

I'd go on, but I think the others have it mostly covered.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:17 pm
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Slave on the Altar

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Hey Guys,

Thank you everyone for your thoughts. I really appreciate your time.

The quick summary of advice seems to be the following:
1. Spearmen: go bigger, around 40 or more for a combat anvil and battery. Perhaps a smaller unit for mage battery. No need for two units at 2,500 points.

2. Increase attack speed: Either Cold one knights or Hero on Pegasus.

3. More heavy hitters/high strength- Add either Executioners or Cold one knights.

4. Magic- Use Dark Magic better or consider switching lores, perhaps Death.

Some of my quick thoughts and follow-up questions:

Spearmen and Magic- I originally tried having the small unit of spearmen to act as a battery for the mage which ran behind the line, but the problem became the range of Dark Magic. 3 of the spells are 18 inches or less, which frequently meant I was out of range, which compounded why I was being shut down magically. Based on the group’s advice, I am thinking of a block between 40-50 with the mage inside it that will rapidly advance up towards combat so magic will be in range, but still have enough body to sacrifice and keep steadfast. Does this sound better than two units of 30?

Increase attack speed: This aspect I recognized to some extent, but which I initially thought the DE high initiative would compensate. However, in current WFB trend of fast monsters with stomp and impact hits, my initial plan didn’t work well. The hero on a Pegasus is universally praised on the forum at around 180 points due to its versatility, but my question is he really worth the equivalent of 3 harpy units, a unit of 5 CoK, or roughly two chariots? The Pegasus hero has the ability to hunt war machines (even tougher ones like Ironblasters or a Hellcannon) and attack a light unit on its own, but looking at my list above would you pick it over more harpies, shades, cold one knights, or chariots for the ‘more speed’ option?

Heavy Hitters- Swapping a black guard or witch elf unit for executioners seems fairly reasonable. I’ll try that. Size- unless I dropped two or more units, the unit would be around unit size 15 in 2-3 ranks. Is that sufficient to add some punch, or do you feel this unit really needs to be in a large horde formation to hit its peak efficiency?

Thanks again.


Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:29 pm
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- I forgot to add chariots as another possible speed/hammer option.

Regarding Executioners, with ASL (unless you want to try the risky Death Hag BSB build) you really need to have enough bodies to get to strike back.

Horde formation not only gives you bodies, but also gives you the potential of 30 attacks at S6! Compare with 10 attacks in a 5 deep formation. So 30-40 is best.

As Execs are expensive models, Id try playtesting a large unit of proxy excutioners instead. i.e. Big exec block (main focus of cauldron buffs) + 20 black guard as your grinders and multiple medium/small witches to flank/combine against enemy hordes.

Magic: Fire is a good lore for a bunker wizard due to its range, Metal is great against certain armies too.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:50 pm
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Spearmen and Magic- I originally tried having the small unit of spearmen to act as a battery for the mage which ran behind the line, but the problem became the range of Dark Magic. 3 of the spells are 18 inches or less, which frequently meant I was out of range, which compounded why I was being shut down magically. Based on the group’s advice, I am thinking of a block between 40-50 with the mage inside it that will rapidly advance up towards combat so magic will be in range, but still have enough body to sacrifice and keep steadfast. Does this sound better than two units of 30?

Don't rush forward with spears. It doesn't matter whether or not the spear unit is Steadfast -- if it gets in combat, your opponent will focus attacks on the Supreme Sorceress and kill her -- I once had my Supreme Sorceress die when her unit got charged by Bretonnina peasants of all things. And since you don't want her in combat, a unit of 40+ is unnecessary and a waste of points.

A better plan is to simply switch to a Lore with a longer range and take 20 to 30 spears to save points for some of the other stuff you want. Dark Magic is good, but range is a problem, and so I think it's best used on mounted (Pegasus) caster who can use mobility to get in range while staying out of trouble.


The hero on a Pegasus is universally praised on the forum at around 180 points due to its versatility, but my question is he really worth the equivalent of 3 harpy units, a unit of 5 CoK, or roughly two chariots? The Pegasus hero has the ability to hunt war machines (even tougher ones like Ironblasters or a Hellcannon) and attack a light unit on its own, but looking at my list above would you pick it over more harpies, shades, cold one knights, or chariots for the ‘more speed’ option?

A big YES to this. The Master on a Pegasus has far more hitting and staying power than 3 harpies, and the ability to fly gives it the edge over knights. I would still keep him away from a Hellcannon though ...


Heavy Hitters- Swapping a black guard or witch elf unit for executioners seems fairly reasonable. I’ll try that. Size- unless I dropped two or more units, the unit would be around unit size 15 in 2-3 ranks. Is that sufficient to add some punch, or do you feel this unit really needs to be in a large horde formation to hit its peak efficiency?

I love Executioners and use them frequently, but in order to be effective, they need to be in a big unit (30+) or have a Death Hag BSB with Banner of Hag Graef. If you can't get a really big unit, either stick with the Witches and Black Guard (they should really work fine for you if you get your magic issues straightened out) or go with knights since their armor allows them to soak up some punishment.

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:04 pm
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Quote:
Spearmen and Magic- I originally tried having the small unit of spearmen to act as a battery for the mage which ran behind the line, but the problem became the range of Dark Magic. 3 of the spells are 18 inches or less, which frequently meant I was out of range, which compounded why I was being shut down magically. Based on the group’s advice, I am thinking of a block between 40-50 with the mage inside it that will rapidly advance up towards combat so magic will be in range, but still have enough body to sacrifice and keep steadfast. Does this sound better than two units of 30?


Absolutely on size. I run my SS with sacrificial dagger and pendant of khaine in a unit that runs between 55 and 60 models!

I agree with Dyvim Tvar to a point about how to use the unit. It's an anchor, not an anvil, so shouldn't be charged headlong into the enemy, but equally it is a fairly robust anchor and you shouldn't be too afraid to move it forward. I tend to find that marching it forward 10" on the first turn of the game and then pretty much leaving it there works well - it's far enough forward for the mage to be in range with all of her spells and for the unit to be relevant to the game as flank protection for my hammer units, but not so close that it can get really hurt.

Putting the pendant of khaine on the sorceress helps to reduce the risk of her getting destroyed in combat btw - especially if you can get her into a challenge, as it limits the number of attacks coming at her and the attacks are more likely to be of a higher strength.

(Another sneaky alternative, is to fill the front rank of the unit with other characters and command models, so that she can sit safely in the second row - one way to do this is to run a pegasus master in the unit (as he's on a 40mm base he does get to sit inside the unit, not alongside it) as well as a full command, bumping the lady back to the second row.)

By the way, if you give the unit the banner of discipline, then it becomes leadership 10 with 10+ ranks of steadfast - kicking!

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Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:34 pm
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We have fast attacks like the pegasus masters to kill any warmachine, and should be charching one in turn 2. position him well.

The supreme sorceress tend to survive, first we have some nice ward save(s) and then i use the dragon egg. keeps her going as well,

my shadow magic makes even my spearslaves mean business. there you have it, mindrazor and withering, spells that the dark lore cant accomplish for you. these spells can even be cast in combat, whilst if you keep dark, then your rather handicapped if your spears/dagger unit is in combat.

use the cauldron to bless your expensive black guard, so its unattracive to be targetted.

position some harpies in front of a potential treat to your spears, position them in that way, that the enemey cant get around the harpies, or at least cant charge anything else then the harpies, make sure he cant overrun into something not good


and sometimes i even hire an assassin, just a cheap one with manbane. to protect the sorc.


Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:15 pm
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Quote:
whilst if you keep dark, then your rather handicapped if your spears/dagger unit is in combat.


Best Dark Magic spells can be cast from and to combat, namely Word of Pain, Soul Stealer and Black Horror.

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Games Drawn: 33 (15%)
Games Lost: 66 (31%)

8th Edition army book W/D/L:
Druchii: 36/4/16


Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:13 am
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Malekith's Best Friend
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Spearmen and Magic:
I go with this differently. I have one unit that is specificly for the sorceress to sacrifice from, which is about 20-25 elves. These are NOT to go into close combat, just hold back and support my army.

The other part of my army is 2x40 spear elves with musician and standard. There's little chance that these will fall in close combat before you can bring in some support (other units or buffs/debuffs).

So, I have two units that should get into combat, and one who shouldn't. If the small spear elves unit is getting beaten up, I'll just let the sorceress run into one of the two 40s.

Death can be a nice lore, although it's quite may rolls you have to do to get it to work.... my experience is that it doesn't do as much damage as I thought it would, and left me going back to shadow again. The reason I like metal as well, is that it also got some nice buffs, and can take down those heavily armored foes (Which lores like fire and dark magic don't deal as much damage to).

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Personal quote: "It's better to do little damage and lose nothing than to do lots of damage and lose everything."
Final tournament score for 7th DE book in 8th edition - W/D/L: 25/5/10


Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:43 am
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Noble
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Dalamar wrote:
Quote:
whilst if you keep dark, then your rather handicapped if your spears/dagger unit is in combat.


Best Dark Magic spells can be cast from and to combat, namely Word of Pain, Soul Stealer and Black Horror.


Master Dalamar,

Only word of pain and soul stealer can be cast into combat, black horror, im not sure anymore because it isnt written somewhere that it can.

Word of pain is good yes, soul stealer., hmm needs far more thought and planning. good for skinks, goblins


Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:34 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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the reason why many would say black horror can be cast in to combat is because it does not target a unit. it targets the ground. it has been almost FAQed:
Quote:
Q: Do ranged direct damage spells that use a template have to
target an enemy unit? (p31)
A: Yes, the template must be placed over the target enemy unit.

but BH is actually not a direct damage spell, so RAW you could still claim that it does not target the unit but rather the ground. RAI however, it should be clear that you can not cast it in to combat though...

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My armies: Tomb Kings - Lizardmen - Dark Elves - Vampire Counts


Mon Mar 12, 2012 6:19 am
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Noble
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@ Master Tsunami, true enough. and these are essentials we must know to be sure, of able and legitimate tactics. Personally I rather play as RAI, but there are people who claim it must be written, and who can blaim them


Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:51 am
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Another tip on casting magic successfully aside from overwhelming your opponent with lots of PD is the following;

Throw lots and lots of dice at the spell, aim for IF if it is a critical spell for that turn. You might blow up, you might forget the spell afterwards, but if it means you won because of that critical moment, then it's worth it. Whether it's worth the risk or not, is up to your judgement at the given time.

Dark Magic is also a fantastic lore, even versus the updated common magic lores now available. The most powerful form of magic spells in 8th ed are utility spells aimed at hexing or buffing units to tip a combat in your favour. DE greatest weakness is their lack of resilience, they die when wounded due to really poor AS.

The best way I've discovered to keep them alive, is the notion of "if they can't hit them, they can't wound them". And what better lore than Dark Magic to support that notion?

1. Word of Pain drops WS and BS to 1, meaning enemies hit you on 5's in CC, or else default 6's to hit you at range without factoring in other ranged modifiers.

2. Chillwind is another ranged unit disabler.

I also like Shadow's signature spell Miasma due to the same idea, -WS or -BS for the same purpose, on a low cast and insane range!

It'll have other useful hex's too, but I only ever use the three mentioned spells in most of my games.

That's it for magic from me, as for units dying before they reach combat, usually implies they die to ranged attacks like shooting or warmachines or magic.

What I talked about for magic conveniently deals with survivability prior to reaching CC, shutting down shooting platforms. You can also improve the survivability of your units in general, not just elites, by utilising the Harpies you're taking into your lists. They hunt or at least, tie down enemy warmachines, and can also shield a unit of yours for a turn against enemy missiles. Best part is, they don't trigger panic tests when they flee.

That's two of the three mentioned problems dealt with. As for enemy magic, dispel scroll and some good luck is about as much as you can hope for. Other than that, it's simply get into combat asap, or execute enemy mages. Reduce the number of turns you are exposing yourself to magic, enemy shooting, and enemy warmachines, it's the best way to survive.

You generally want to aim to reach combat by turn 3. Any later and you're exposing your units to ranged attacks for too long, it'll start wearing you down fast after that. Too soon though, and you might've overextended some of your units. Also as Tsunami has said, keep your units deployed close to each other. Aim to deploy everyone on one flank and no wider than the half way mark across your board's width. Spreading your army wide all the way across your edge generally sees you losing the game because you'll struggle to get your units to combine charge that way. See the one flank deployment as "I'm going to use 2500pts (or whatever the size) to crush 1250pts of your army, then do it again to your other half". DE don't fight fair, because they struggle to win when playing fair! Use Harpies and Shades and Dark Riders to delay your opponent's other half of his army when doing this, especially easy if they're deployment is spread out.

Shades and Dark Riders will help you achieve the goals that your Harpies are trying to too. Their better leadership also means they won't flee when you need them to stay for the charge in your coming turn. So it's always wise to invest your points evenly into these three unit types.

As for the way to deal out damage for DE, there's many, and it's your personal taste.

Whilst many of DE's combat units are S3, it doesn't mean they can't win combat. DE is all about their combined charges to deal that decisive blow on the same turn, breaking the enemy unit and overrunning, building up that chain of momentum.

WE have frenzy and poisoned attacks.

Corsairs are fiesty armoured core versions of WE

BG are S4

Executioners have S6 GW KB attacks (but strikes last, you really need to concentrate on the mentioned magic tips to keep them alive, or rely on 5+ ward from CoB)

CoKs/ CoCs and Hydras are your most reliable and resilient heavy hitters.

CoB really does help turn S3 attacks deadly by giving them KB. I also prefer to use characters as my damage source in combats rather than the unit.

Dreadlords and Assassins and even Masters are excellent.

Focus on giving Assassins lots of attacks, Dreadlords and Masters high strength attacks. They generate your ACR, whilst the unit they're in generates the SCR. If you get that balance right, it's an amazing combination and has proven to work for my past battles time and time again.

(I've won a two day tournament using a full core unit only list with the exception of two units of Shades based on the above advice and tips)

Also here's something interesting, you don't need to give protective wards to your mages to keep them alive. I never ever take PoK or other forms of ward saves on my SS or Sorceress, and 9/10 games, they both live through to the end. It's the whole notion of "if I keep them safe, then I don't need to give them protection". Ergo, you've just saved some points to improve or bulk out your army.

Hope these ideas help you improve your games with DE.

_________________
What's mine is mine, What's yours is mine.
Now that we understand each other, lets get down to business.

Jacks -Shade
- WS 5 - - S 3 - - T 2 - - D 6 - - I 5 -

Equipment
Short Sword, MC Long Sword*, Dagger, RxB & RHB [20/10] MC Shade Cloak, 4 Throwing Daggers, 3x Healing Vials, 451C, [3]Dark Venom, [4]Unseen Chains, Food, Dark Steed- Spike

Skills
Basic Stealth, Awareness, TWF, Suithenlu Khythan, Ride

Magic Item
Eye of the Jabberwock

*Magical properties possibly imbued


Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:59 pm
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Noble
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Post 
Meteor wrote:
Another tip on casting magic successfully aside from overwhelming your opponent with lots of PD is the following;
.....

Hope these ideas help you improve your games with DE.



Truly good and well explained advise!


Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:49 pm
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Malekith's Best Friend
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All these tips are good pointers, but there's one more thing to remember, and that is: Get to know your list and army.

It's easy to say to someone "This works, that works, try it", but the victories still might not come. It's quite natural if you're new to the edition/army/list that you don't really know how to use it properly... You have to play the list several times, and get to know the synergies in the list and army.

Also, from just one battle or two with one list, you might end up with wrong conclusions about what works in the list and what doesn't, so if you have an idea, try it out several times with a few adjustments, and after some more matches, try to do some changes.

For instance, I had a list the last tournament that I lost with in the pre-matches, trying to test the list out. When the tournament came, I knew better how to play it and what to not do at least, and did very well. Also, it was after about 10 matches, including the tournament, that I knew what worked on the list and what didn't... based on that, I made new lists for the next tournament, and now I am in the cycle again, trying and loosing some, adjusting and improving.

_________________
Personal quote: "It's better to do little damage and lose nothing than to do lots of damage and lose everything."
Final tournament score for 7th DE book in 8th edition - W/D/L: 25/5/10


Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:36 am
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I just wanted to chime in and thank the replying folks for all their insights! I don't have anything to add, but this thread has helped more than just the original author. Thanks guys! Lots of great thoughts here.

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http://nuriochi.blogspot.com/


Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:32 am
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Slave on the Altar

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Hey Guys,

Once again, I appreciate the advice and support with the tactics/list advice.

I had the chance to play five more games over the course of 2 ½ weeks with slightly improved results. In five games I went 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw (2-2-1). Once again, all games were against very good tournament level opponents and a couple of prior GT winners.

The modified list looked like this:
2,500 points
1 lev. 4 mage (dark magic) with sac dag, crown of command, and pendant
1 lev. 2 mage (shadow magic) with dispel scroll and guiding eye
1 hag BSB with cauldron
1 unit of 40 warriors with command (banner of reroll ld once)
1 unit of 20 xbow with command
1 unit of 10 xbow
2 units of 13 black guard with semi command & one flame banner
2 units of 10 witch elves with command. Hag had manbane.
2 units of 5 harpies
2 units of 5 shades
1 hydra.

How I felt about various aspects-
Magic- Magic continued to be something of a letdown. Even with a more aggressive push with the spearmen block, the mage didn’t really kill enough points with magic to justify dark magic. Some of this was coincidence admittedly, as spells like soul stealer and black horror are more ideal against O&G, Skaven, humans, and elves while I faced Demons, Ogres, and WoC. I felt I got equal if not greater benefits from my level two shadow casting miasma plus pit of shades or hex spells.

The fun surprise of the mage was that with soul stealer and pendant the mage could become an “unkillable lord” that tied some high level combat characters.

Basic troops-
My feelings are mixed depending on unit. I liked the spearmen and felt they performed as they should, they provided both a sacrificial group and as an anvil to allow the elites to flank. However, the crossbowmen were a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping that with 80 shots available per round, that they could make a greater impact prior to combat. Guiding eye certainly helped on a couple of occasions, providing the difference to kill a giant in one instance and putting enough wounds on an ironblaster to force it to withdraw backwards. However, in 8th edition, when units are so large and generally ‘buffed’ I simply couldn’t kill enough to make a true difference prior to combat. For instance, killing ten marauders out of fifty is nice, but not truly combat altering. My gut impression is that using small units of crossbows and shades to primarily war machine hunt and go after chaffing units should be their priority then combat aiding.

Elites-
Overall, the elites did fairly well, but it is very circumstantial. I made four small units of elites to protect the units more than anything and to spread the field so I could get on flanks more easily. Most spell ranges are 24 inches so if I placed them on the flanks they can’t be targeted by devastating ‘every model in the unit’ is affected spells, If I get hit by artillery template I only lose around ten models as opposed to twenty.

The elites performed marvelously if I got onto the flanks, for instance 10 with elves routed 8 trolls when they hit them on the flanks. Similarly, the black guard crushed the nurgle plague riders when hitting them on a flank. However, if I hit a unit to the front, then I generally lose in a grind. For instance, 6 maneaters hit a black guard unit to the front, I did manage to kill five of them in two rounds, but all the black guard died. Same thing when 10 witch elves hit chaos marauders to the front, I killed a bucket load of them, but lost in the grind.

Auxillary-

Most of the auxiliaries did ok. The harpies are wonderfully sacrificially units. They delayed the impact of mournfang cavalry, great unclean one, and other units. The shades didn’t have the best targets for firing in my five matches plus I think I am not using them the best. Overall, they did ok, but I could play them better. Most of the burden for the lack of shade ineffectiveness was probably my fault.
Also, the Hyrda performed generally well. If it doesn’t die to magic or artillery, then it generally is very helpful when combined with another unit.

Summary-

In essence, I felt like I reinvented the wheel. I now fully see why shadow magic is the obvious winner for most dark elf lists and people like horde formation of spearmen and corsairs. In games where my elites didn’t get onto the flank successfully, I lost the proceeding grind despite having a high kill ratio. I thought the critical factor was ‘survivability,’ namely making sure I didn’t lose too many troops prior to contact and using dark magic (chillwind and word of pain), but even when I mitigated that problem to a degree with splitting elites up and spreading the field, the more critical issue is winning/surviving the grind.

In essence, any grind or war of attrition is horrible for the dark elves. The witch elves and black guard often kill at 2-1 ratio, but honestly that is not usually enough to win the combat or match. They need to kill at more than double their value to make the critical difference, which really occurs when using the shadow debuffs. Shadow magic is the best way to fight a grind, whether against a horde of troops or against high toughness monsters.

Moreover, I now see Red’s desire for the bsb led executioner hag horde. I think I missed one aspect of his analysis, which is not that the executioners or hag are particularly well suited for a grind, but he is trying to prevent the grind from ever occurring by creating a unit that can utterly destroy an opposing unit in a single round of combat without the aid of any other buff/debuff.

Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a Dark Elf list that has won a GT (40+ players) with a list that doesn’t have shadow magic or an unkillable lord? I would appreciate seeing what that list looks like or if I really missed something in my analysis.

Thanks again for the help and advice.


Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:26 pm
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Malekith's Personal Guard

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I switch the lores from what you ran.

Shadow is more expensive to cast, and so benefits more from the extra +2 to cast and the dagger. There is also a better synergy between Shadow and most DE units than there is with Dark.

If you can, run two level 4s with those two lores. Then the synergy between those two lores and the army in general really takes off.


Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:01 pm
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