The 9th Age/Tactics/Highborn Elves
- 1 Why play Highborn Elves
- 2 Tactics
- 3 Unit Analysis
- 4 Magic Items
Why play Highborn Elves
-You like the idea of Citizens rallying ancient Greek style to wage war, instead of relying on conscript and professional soldiers.
-Elegant and highly organised infantry and cavalary formations, instead of over the top looking beasts/demons/machinery.
-You propably like relying on outpositioning your opponent, instead of rushing ahead/gunlining.
-Units usually support and complement each other, sometimes being multi-purpose.
-Heroes that buff your units while still being capable of contributing to the fight (Think the middle between EoS and WotDG heroes).
-Having good melee, good magic and good shooting, your army is dangerous in every single phase of the turn.
These are the second edition tactics
This army had been considered OverPowered, then got nerfed several times to the point of being the worst/the second worst army in the game. The recent points adjustment mitigated this somewhat, but this army still resides in the lower tier. This army, like other elves, is elite and as such can't afford redundancy, but at the same time have low staying power (if you get shot at, your army will crumble ridiculously quickly) and is usually numerically inferior even to WotDG, but the biggest problem of this army is that it has effectivly 2-3 viable builds (With slight variations) because of reasons such as overlapping battlefield roles (Sea Guards/Queen's Guards), Codex lacking Certain thing (Best example - Your only unit with strength 6 is Lion Guards, so you are forced to bring them, or your army will lack an important component), or the alternative being severely overpriced (Knights of Ryma are the best example, they are present in most of the lists because, despite being overpriced, they are effectively your only unit capable of zoning the opponent, because noone will ever consider bringing Highborn Lancers, because they in turn are hillariously overpriced for what they offer. This in turn forces players to fill their Core with Sea Guards/Spearmen and sometimes Archers, which in turn prevents them from picking Queen's Guard because that would mean you have no zoning capability and 2 big units of shooters with overlapping prefered targets and HBE can't really afford redundancy).
Martial Discipline Discipline tests (not break or panic tests though) are subject to a minimized roll (roll one extra dice and remove the highest). Even though you can't use it for break tests, it does apply for rally tests, so it is very likely your elves will return to the fight after they flee for any reason. This rule makes it easy to set up favorable charges by being able to consistently rally after a flee reaction.
Master of Spellcrafting Spells cast by models with this rule have their Casting Value reduced by 1. This is great for you, functionally a +1 to cast that doesn't bump into the +2 modifier cap on spellcasting. This does have a slight downside though, spells being easier to cast for you means easier to dispell for your opponent as well.
Valiant Model is immune to fear (woo hoo), if more than half the unit has Valiant the unit is immune to panic tests caused by terror. Again, high leadership elves, but can save your ass against a monster in a pinch.
Fae Miasma When a unit is hit (not wounded) by attacks with fae miasma, they take a resilience test for each hit. If any of those tests fail, the unit suffers -1 to hit with close combat and shooting for 1 turn. Available on your Grey Watchers, they have great range and accurate so pick an enemy shooting unit and pew at them to make them less effective.
Lightning Reflexes Not a rule specific to this army but worth a mention as every single one of your elf buddies has this. First off, all of your elves get +1 to hit in combat. With your above average offensive skill and high agility your elves will usually be hitting first and usually hitting on 2s or 3s. Statistically this equates to all of your elves having +1 attack, not as swingy as massed goblins, but less prone to bad lack. Don't underestimate any of your elves ability to force saves in CC, even your derpy archers or reavers. An elf with a great weapon loses that +1 to hit but strikes at their normal agility making your heavy hitters scary. So your main elf strategy is hitting first and hitting hard, you don't have the armor to reliably take hits. Watch out for enemy models or spells that reduce your agility or boost opponent's agility and if you have the spells buff your offense not defense. You want to double down on slamming, the enemy can't hurt you if they're dead.
Dragonforged Armour If you hear any complaints about how OP HbE characters are, it's going to be about this item, and with good reason. Dragonforged armour is heavy armor with a built in Aegis 6+ (everything) and an Aegis 2+ (vs flaming), but autofails any fortitude saves. It doesn't sound like much, until you compare its price to its analogues. Your characters get this armor for 10 points over normal heavy armor and get the effects of ~40 points of magic items.
Lion's Fur The effects only matter on foot. The bearer gains +1 armor (+2 vs shooting attacks). This is what we get instead of plate armor, but hot damn is it good. The bonus save against shooting speaks for itself and because this is a separate armor piece HbE is one of the few armies that can get 3 armor enchantments onto a character.
Moonlight Arrows Longbow only, the attack is str 4, AP 1, flaming and magical. Your medium shooting on an amazing vehicle with Queen's Companions.
Favor of Meladys Lasts one turn. When successfully cast, add a veil token to your pool. When a friendly unit within 18" loses a wound, discard a veil token to ignore the wound (this is done before special saves). Multiple wounds instead reduce the amount by 1. Rank and File models ignore 2 wounds per veil token. Maximum of 2 veil tokens may be discarded per phase in this manner. Characters and Gigantic models may only ignore 1 wound per phase in this manner. This spell is what makes your elves survivable. Always have this spell in your arsenal somewhere.
More upgrades for your characters.
High Prince and Commander Honours
Master of Canreig Tower (150pts) Can't take a mount. Makes your boi a spell boi. They get a large spell selection from 5 different paths (alchemy, cosmology, druidism, shamanism, and witchcraft) but can only take spell 1 from each. Commander knows 3 spells, Prince knows 5. They also get Sword Sworn so they can throw down with a great weapon. A flexible choice and is a must-have for many tournament lists.
High Warden of the Flame (90pts) Can't take a mount. You're taking this honour for the 4++. Fearless, flaming attacks and magic resistance (1) are nice but not why you take this. Got a price drop to 90, still expensive, but if your planning on footslogging your general this honour is pretty good.
Fleet Officer (50pts) nope. Only has two benefits, Cover Volley (can stand and shoot when a nearby ally is charged) and +1 to the roll for choosing deployment zones. He also gives your guys minimized panic tests if he's the general or BSB and they are within range (what an EoS marshal can do with an order for half the points). The only way you might field this honour is if you put him on a sky sloop. He gets +2 to hit with the sky reaper, but it's a large investment just to have an annoying dakka chariot.
Queen's Cavalier (50pts) The bearer gains devastating charge (+1 attack and fear) but that's not why you take this honour. You take this honour to shove 2 big dragons into your army instead of 1.
Queen's Companion (40pts) Can't take a mount. Gives your boi 3 shots and the choice for moonlight arrows (str4 ap1 flaming) or scout+fae Miasma. Best choice for a dakka prince/commander.
Royal Huntsman (40pts) The model gains lions fur (+1 armor, +2 vs shooting weapons) and gives the unit he's in Valiant. Gets multiple wounds (2) against big models. A great choice for a footslogging general and easily one of the better honours mainly because of its low price. It can be put on a lion chariot for some shock value.
Asfad Scholar (95pts) Wizard Master only. Increases the range of all spells by 6" (3" for aura spells) and gains Drain Magic as a bound spell. Let's your mage do his job without having to get up close and personal.
Order of the Fiery Heart (20pts) Changes your path selection to Pyromancy or Alchemy. Also, give your mage options for heavy armor and dragon mounts. When you want your mage up close and personal.
High Prince 240pts. Incredibly killy big boi. You'll want one to kick ass and take names. Because of his high offensive skill and lightning reflexes you'll be hitting other lord level characters on 2+. You will need to dip into his special equipment and honors to keep him alive (he only gets a 4+/6++ with mundane equipment, 2+/6++ with a horse). If you have 5 points to spare, give him a bow. He has the maximum possible to-hit in the game and being able to ping off wounds at 30" when he otherwise isn't doing anything else is totally worth it.
Commander 135pts. The kid brother of the prince. One less attack and slightly worse offensive/defensive skill (will still hit same priced characters on 2+). You'll probably be taking one as BSB. They have the same survival problems as the prince.
Mage 225pts. The elves are good at magic and this guy proves it. He is an Adept by default and with Master of Spellcrafting he functionally has a +1 to cast all non-bound spells. Can choose from Cosmology, Divination, or Pyromancy. Currently, because of Asfad Scholar upgrade giving +6" range, you will usually want to choose Divination, as it's buffs combo incredibly well with your units and 2 missiles Divination offers, usually hindered by their range, are incredibly versatile and pose a threat to anything without 1+ save. Also, the attribute spell, combined with Martial Discipline and high leadership let's you play without a BSB ( LD 2d6 + Minimised on break/panic is almost the same as 2d6+ Reroll). Pick whatever combination you think suits your matchup best.
Elven Horse You know it, you love it. A surprisingly fast mount with +2 armor and better agility than most core choices for other armies.
Giant Eagle Same speed as horse with less armor and more attacks. If you want it, take it in the special section.
Griffon 1" slower than the horse and no armor bonus, but with 3 more attacks, devastating charge, and lightning reflexes. Take it on a character to hunt wizards and warmachines, or just take out some punks on a flank charge.
Young Dragon Baby dragon, still a dragon. Is listed as large cavalry so gives your character +1 armor. If you want your character tankier, take the young dragon, if you want it killier, take the griffon.
Dragon Your big boy dragon. Is the same dragon listing as most other army's dragons.
Ancient Dragon Hot damn. This monster will trash other big models, but watch out for its large base size. You're going to be sinking a lot of points to get this puppy on the table and it can get bogged down by a lot of models and other monsters.
Reaver Chariot When you want a horse but two of them. Boosts your character to resilience 4, so can be a surprisingly tanky option.
Lion Chariot Still moves 8" and has lions pulling it. 2 of them!. That's 4 attacks before you even get to the crew of the thing. It can only be mounted by a character with the Royal Huntsman honour.
Sky Sloop Only mountable by a character with the Fleet Officer honour. You get the 1+ to hit with the sky reaper, but it's not worth all the points it takes to get one. Just take it in the Naval Ordinance Section.
Citizen Spears Your cheapest unit. Base 240 for 20 + 14ppm. With fight in extra rank and lightning reflexes, you'll be trashing other core units with even minimum sized units. Hordes of Citizen Spears are scary powerhouses (max size 50 models).
Highborn Lancers Dropped in price for Base 215 for 5 + 35ppm. If your running an aggressive list, or even just need some extra units to clog charge lanes, these beefy boys have you covered. (still not considered good enough). The issue with lancers in the current version is that they fill the same roll as Knights of Ryma and the Knights are better at that roll. For only 125 points more than lancers Knights of Ryma get +1 to dis/def/off/str/ap/agi, +1 attack on the charge, a 6++, and a 2++ against flaming attacks which protects them against alchemy, the most common counter to heavy cavalry. That said there are still a few niches that lancers fill better, namely being core. HbE only have 2 core entries that don't also eat at Queen's Bows so if you want a shooting heavy list that maxes out your Queen's Guard you will be limited in your core choices, lancers are a solid choice to fill out core and are not bad by any means. Besides filling out core, Lancers make (debatable) better character bunkers, they are cheaper to fill out bodies on a bigger unit and each model is still fully effective whereas knights of Ryma lose that second attack on the charge if they are pushed back in the ranks, not to mention the lower unit size cap. Lancers can also be used as beefy chaff or a fast moving anvil to position around, thanks to martial discipline lancers can play bait just as well as reavers (reavers do get vanguard though) and they can sit and take a charge, something that would melt your reavers. So are lancers a viable pick? Sometimes, most of the time Knights of Ryma will get more bang for your points, but Lancers are cheaper and more forgiving to use.
Core + Queen's Bows
The following units count towards both categories, keep that in mind if you want Queen's Guard or Grey Watchers.
Citizen Archers With Base 165 for 10 + 16ppm some great archers. 30" range and 3+ to hit. Take as many as you like and they will make their points back. They only have light armor, so don't expect them to do too much in melee, but they have a decent offensive/defensive skill and lightning reflexes mean they can hold their own against some common flankers.
Sea Guard Where to start with these. Base 275 for 15 + 22ppm. Essentially Citizen Spears + Bows, +1 defensive skill. They have Steady Aim (can shoot from the third rank and no penalties for stand and shoot) and Cover Volley (can stand and shoot at units charging nearby allied units). So they have the possibility to be very scary, but you have to play around it. They are point efficient models. Still not as stabby as a spear elf or as good range as an archer, but they can do both and that alone makes them worth the cost.
Elein Reavers Add bows if you want them. Base 180 for 5 + 19ppm, but should be 185, 20ppm. They may be nimble but without bow's, they're worse Lancers that take up your queen's bows allowance too. They are the light Vanguard cavalry that gets flanks.
Queen's Guard Base 135 for 5 + 28pts. The best shooting unit in the game bar none. Why they have a 20 model per army cap. They have 2+ to hit with str4 ap1 flaming arrows. You can give them spears if you want to make them scarier to charge. If you're taking them it's worth the 1 point/model.
Grey Watchers Base 135 for 5 + 21pts. Where Queen's Guard are your balls out damage, Grey Watchers are your support archers. When a unit is hit (not wounded) by Grey Watchers, they must take a resilience test for each hit. If they fail any of those resilience tests, that unit suffers -1 to hit (shooting and close combat) for 1 turn. Dakka a unit to discourage a charge or make it more difficult to deal with your reavers. If your playing them behind your front line, take shields for survivability. If your scouting them, take paired weapons and rush them at the enemy war machines or mage bunkers. Fae Miasma makes them surprisingly tanky in close combat.
Sword Masters Base 125 for 5 + 21pts. A minimum sized unit of these is throwing out 10 Off6 str5 ap2 attacks at Agi 6 (11 with a champion). Their Offensive skill and Sword Sworn means they'll be hitting most units on 2+. These are your bunker busters, they'll eat through enemy units before they can even attack. They only have heavy armor, so don't expect them to take much in return.
Lion Guard Base 215 for 10 + 28pts. They throw out str6 ap3 attacks with multiple wounds (2) against large/gigantic Creatures (but not large infantry). They have valiant to so they won't run if they get charged by a monster and become stubborn if a high prince general is rolling with them. Your jack-of-all-trades unit, will do reasonably well against whatever you throw them at. They will dunk on monsters.
Flame Wardens Base 320 for 15 + 27pts. The tank option. They have 4++ and fight in extra rank. A minimum sized unit of them can take whatever your opponent throws at them and be able to give some back in return.
Knights of Ryma Base 340 for 5 + 45pts. Like hitting them with a truck. Devastating charge (+1 attack) means on the charge a minimum sized unit throws out 10 str6 ap3 attacks (11 with a champion). They can keep going in melee, only str4 ap1, but you should plan on breaking enemies with the charge. Also 2+/6++ heavy cavalry. Hot damn.
Reaver Chariot Base 110 for 1 + 95pts. Come in units up to 4. If you wanted Elein reavers but didn't want them to eat up Queen's Bows, take these.
Lion Chariot 205pts. Use them as the shock cavalry against monsters. A nutty amount of str5 ap2 and str6 ap3 attacks for one model. Take one and clog charge lanes with it.
Giant Eagle base 100pts for 1 + 30ppm. They can come in units up to 5. Fly the same speed as your horses. Use them as chaff instead of Reavers if you want them. May the Egles sacrifice stop the peasants' advance.
Sea Guard Reaper 180pts. Can fire as a shots 1 str 3(6) ap 10 multiple wounds (d3) bolt thrower or a shots 6 str 4 ap 2 volley gun. Incredibly flexible warmachine at a very low price. Take a few if you have points to spare.
Sky Sloop 250pts. Has the Sky Reaper, a shots 4 str 5 ap 2 volley gun on a fast flying chariot. Where your Reaper is the static monster deterrent, your Sky Sloop is your roadblock and infantry mulcher. Str 5 AP 2 is high for this army and being able to position it in awkward places makes it hard to avoid. Also, the fact that this is a chariot with a giant eagle and a decent number of impact hits makes it a scary prospect to have one of these looking at you.
The category your dragons and griffons come out of, but also includes the
Phoenix The statline of your baby dragon, as fast as a giant eagle. Come in Fire or Frost flavors and they have options for a warden to ride it. The warden doesn't add much in attacks or defense, but the phoenix has a better chance of passing its rebirth roll with a warden on top.
- Fire: 320pts. Your woodchipper. It gains grind attacks and sweeping attacks, meaning whatever it does it is burning bad guys. With grind attacks and stomps it is slapping out 4+2d6 attacks every round in melee.
- Frost: 380pts. Your anvil. It gained Supernal in .205, so this bird will not run no matter how combat goes. Use its speed to run into a unit and hold it into place for a support charge. Be aware that with the unbreakability of supernal, it also gained unstable, so it's losing HP in place of running for the hills. You can use the hereditary spell to block the HP loss from unstable, so make sure you have a mage to support the frosty if you want it to live to the end of turn 6.
Sliver of the Blazing Dawn (105pts) Spear only, makes it kickass. +1 str, +2 ap, and each successful to hit causes inflict 2 hits instead of 1. A very scary weapon but will use the entirety of your commander's magic allowance.
Elu's Heartwood (75pts) Longbow only, 3 shots, +1 str +1 ap. Pretty expensive, but makes a great dakka prince. The Queen's Companion Honour is an arguably better value.
Nova Flare (75pts) Lance only, Devastating Charge (+1 attack), divine attacks, magical attacks, and lethal strike. Can be used once to pretend your charging even if you aren't, lets you apply all devastating charge effects in the middle of a fight. Can save your ass if your prince gets charged and is scary in its own right, but you could probably find a better use for the points.
Gleaming Robe (80pts) Mage light armor only. Makes your mage 6+/3++ and slightly better survivability for some miscasts. You have better, cheaper options.
Protection of Dorac (60pts) Only for models on foot and heavy armor. +2 armor and defensive skill is nothing to sneeze at, pretty good for your high warden of the flame.
Star Metal Alloy (35pts) shield only. The first time the bearer's model suffers wounds with multiple wounds, half the multiple wounds. Great for a dragon rider or other monster mounted model.
Daemon's Bane (10pts) What it says on the tin. +2 armor vs magical attacks can also be nice for a duelist (other characters will probably have magical attacks from their weapons). Don't count on it to do much, but it is only 20 points.
Banner of Becalming (75pts) Cannot be taken by core units. Take a Veil token from your enemy during their magic phase. Can deny your opponent another magic dice and can save you a wound with your hereditary spell.
Navigator's Standard (75pts) Rank and File models in the unit gain distracting during the first round of combat against models in its front-facing. Always take this standard. On your deathstar of spearelves, it will make them that much more survivable.
War Banner of Ryma (60pts) Can be taken twice. Rank and File models in the unit gain devastating charge (+1 str) and infantry gain (+1 advance) as well. depends on who you're fighting, but other banners are better investments.
Book of Meladys (100pts) Dominant, wizard only. Once per magic phase, you may reroll one dice during a casting roll. Great for your mages or canrieg tower boi to get spells off more consistently.
Diadem of Protection (80pts) +2 to aegis save, max 4++. Overpriced, but it's worth it on large models.
Ring of the Pearl Throne (80pts) When in close combat, choose a model in base contact with the bearer, choose one piece of the special equipment they have, it doesn't work as long as you're in base contact. It can be powerful depending on what your opponent is running, but the cost will cut into the defensive or offensive ability of whoever is carrying it and you will need to sink many points into this character to make it worthwhile. You will need to run a cowboy prince, duel the enemy general and turn off his defenses and hope you can kill him before he grinds you down. Is it worth it? on paper, maybe. Seeing the look on your opponent's face when you turn off his general's only defense, so worth it.
Amethyst Crystal +1 to all dispel rolls your army makes. Expensive at 70 points, but can give you that edge in the magic phases.
Glittering Lacquer (60pts) Cavalry models only. The bearer gains hard target. Great for that griffon or young dragon so they don't get shot to pieces while they play DISTRACTION CARNIFEX for the enemy.
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