Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Wood Elves
"Lacoi Endri Loren! (Might of the Great Forest!)"
- – Game battle chant for Wood Elves
This is the tactica for the Total War: Warhammer version of the Wood Elves.
- 1 Why Play Wood Elves
- 2 Universal Trait
- 3 Lords
- 4 Heroes
- 5 Units
- 6 Tactics
Why Play Wood Elves
- Cause you're tired of tree hugger jokes.
- You have a need, a need for speed.
- Rather than blot out the sun you want to light the sky with hundreds of magical arrows.
- You love the parts from Lord of the Rings where Ents get shit done.
- Because you want the world to learn of your peaceful ways, by force.
- Sheer Speed - The majority of your army is quite fast. Even the most basic infantry available to you, Eternal Guards, will outpace a significant portion of the footsoldiers available to most other armies. You'll be able to dance around the plodding pace of slower armies like the
dwarvesDwarfs (that's a grudgin') or lizardmen. Even fast races such as Beastmen will have trouble keeping up with your mounted units and flying monsters.
- Excellent Missile Infantry - The Wood Elves have an abundance of fantastic missile units. Ranged infantry, cavalry, fliers, lords, heroes with access to dedicated poison, anti-armor, magic or rapid fire missiles gives you immense flexibility against any threats you may face. With the new DLC, the Wood Elves have perhaps the single best ranged Legendary Lord(s) in the game in the form of the Sisters of Twilight, who are capable of not only dealing heavy single target damage but also horde clearing shots from their unique bows.
- Savage Melee Combatants - Wood Elves have access to some pretty heavy-hitting, if squishy infantry options that can scythe through hordes like lawnmowers. Additionally, Wild Riders are capable of dealing some of the most damaging charges in the game thanks to their immense charge bonus. The new Great Stag Knight unit hits even harder on the charge, and moves even faster.
- Micro Intensive - For experienced players looking for more a more dynamic faction, Wood Elves will prove quite interesting indeed. Due to the design philosophy of their army, players will need to keep on their toes and constantly be shifting a majority of their army about the battlefield to get the most out of them, more so than pretty much any other faction.
- Fragile - The Wood Elves are debatably the frailest overall faction in the game. A few niche units like the Tree Kin or Treemen can hold their own in prolonged fights, but the rest of your army will wither away in a sustained assault. A successful Wood Elf army must strike with surgical precision and do so swiftly and from afar. Because of this constant skirmishing, Wood Elves are arguably the most difficult race to play, as they require the most micromanagement on the battlefield.
- Micro Madness - A bit of an elaboration on the prior point, to the newer player, you may struggle to keep up with all the maintenance most Wood Elf units require to operate effectively. Unlike some of the easier or more flexible factions, it cannot be overstated that Wood Elves cannot afford to just be smashed against enemy forces recklessly or be committed to a grindfest against sturdier or more rounded factions.
- Weakness to Fire: Duh. Anything that can burn or brings flaming attacks will give you a lot of trouble. A lot of your roster is especially vulnerable to this, since it directly counters your otherwise tanky Treekin frontline units, and several of the games factions have no trouble bringing it to the table, either through units (Dwarfs and Skaven in particular have no trouble to get some Irondrakes or Warpfire Throwers) or through the Lore of Fire, which is also a very common lore to find, with 6 factions (Empire, High Elves, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Norsca and Warriors of Chaos) having access to it.
- Absent Artillery - Though you have plenty of long-ranged missile units to choose from and one or two missile units who can act similarly to artillery, you have no dedicated artillery platforms. This isn't a major issue primarily because you have so many archers that can fill every role the otherwise absent artillery would perform, but you will lack a notable source of hard-hitting burst damage. This is only getting worse in campaign with the Twisted and the Twilight's changes to Wood Elf hero skills, now only the Lords can buff your missile units range meaning no more 300 range Waywalker cheese, it was fun while it lasted. Use the Arrow of Kuronous ability instead of Artillery, with a range of 600 it's quite capable of sniping out enemy artillery and lords before you get close.
- Limited Roster - Wood Elves have fewer unit choices than a number of other playable factions. This limits your army composition into fairly predictable builds that does nothing for players looking for adaptable playstyles. It also means your faction has a number of fairly obvious weaknesses, such as the aforementioned fragility and lack of artillery but also a vulnerability to heavy cavalry and fire damage. These weaknesses can be exploited by your opponent relatively easily since most of them will have the flexibility to gear specifically against those weaknesses.
- DLC Faction - In order to play the Wood Elves at all, you need to buy at least one of the two optional DLC packs featuring them. "Realm of the Wood Elves", their initial release, is DLC for the first Total War: Warhammer game. "The Twisted and the Twilight", a lord pack for Total War: Warhammer II, will allow players of the second game a way to play them if they don't own both the original game and the original DLC, but some of the roster will be somewhat limited (more so than it already is). Regardless, if you want to have the whole faction available to play, you'll need to purchase two full price games and two separate DLC packs in order to access everything. If that's not premium content, I don't know what is.
Wood Elves don't really have much in the way of extra abilities or perks, there is one particular thing they have going for them though:
- Hide (Forest) - What did you expect? They're Wood Elves. Hell, some of their units are literally just tree people. The only units in the entire elven roster who can't hide in forests are the Great Eagle, Hawk Riders and Forest Dragon.
- Forest Spirit - Though this affects only a portion of the Wood Elf roster, it still is frequent enough that it warrants a mention. All of your tree units possess this trait, which simultaneously provides extra defense against standard melee attacks and bequeaths magical attacks unto the tree units in question. While this helps make them particularly durable against most infantry armies, it dramatically weakens how effective your tree units are when faced against magically potent/resistant enemies, who will deal heightened damage to them while taking less in turn. Thankfully such enemy units are in relatively limited supply, but you definitely need to consider the type of opponent you're facing before you build a list around Tree Kin and Treemen. As of game three magical attack damage is no longer reduced my magic resistance (MR will only reduce actual spell damage), so this will be at least partially relieved.
Compared to the swollen ranks of the Warhammer II races, your available lord list is a little lacking. With all the Wood Elf DLC, you do have a grand total of 7 choices, though in Multiplayer you'll have little reason to take any of the generic choices. Even in the campaign, where confederating your fellow Wood Elves is relatively easy (usually only requiring the completion of a specific mission per WE faction to confederate), it can be difficult to justify recruiting the generic dudes outside of filling Office Slots on your council. Drycha is a notable exception, as the only lord she can confederate with is Durthu; she's not exactly a fan of the meatbags infesting Athel Loren.
- Orion - Orion is a hybrid ranged/melee beatstick who specializes against infantry. At a distance, he's one of the best ranged lords in the game and deals hefty anti-armor damage, perfect for sniping large monsters and individual lords/heroes. He's also blisteringly fast for a foot lord and can even keep pace with some of the slower cavalry found in other armies. This pairs well with his impressive melee attack and charge bonuses; it's a common tactic to skirmish at range with a few well timed missiles to then follow up with a charge. Though he's not a caster, Orion also has access to a powerful bound vortex spell, Hounds of Orion, which will easily burn through most (elite) infantry when the burst damage is needed. All in all, a solid, well rounded lord that you can't go wrong with.
- Durthu - Everyone's favorite genocidal tree (no, not that one) is your best dedicated duelist. In a similar vein to Orion, Durthu is a hybrid lord who has access to the lore of beasts; a reasonably useful set of supporting or offensive spells that can turn either himself or supporting treekin into terrifying combat monsters that will deal death to many a foe. As a massive monster, Durthu can wade through infantry and cavalry with relative ease and can go root-to-toe with a majority of the single-entity monsters in the game. Unfortunately, not everything to be said of Durthu is good. First, as a giant monster, Durthu is particularly vulnerable to both anti-armor weaponry and anti-large weaponry. This size also makes him an easy target to missile fire. Secondly, he's also vulnerable to fire damage, something many factions have access to and something modestly abundant on missile units. If caught in a crossfire of several such tools, Durthu will melt away frighteningly quickly, so you'll need to take extra care and support him with life magic should he get stuck in.
- Sisters of Twilight Naestra and Arahan (DLC) - These two ladies are collectively the only true-blooded elf Legendary Lord available to the Wood Elves. They are exclusively mounted on either a Great Eagle or a Forest Dragon and function best as a dedicated ranged unit. They do have decent combat stats, particularly when on the dragon, but they'll almost always lose against any other dedicated duelist unit or character worth their weight in gold. They excel in sniping targets from afar and have all tools to do so; both flying options safely keep them away from any melee combatant, and also have a very nice AoE attack not unlike the split shot ammo from the DE and HE artillery pieces. The SoT also grant Hawk Riders the "Arrows of Kurnous" ability, which is basically a "fuck you in particular" button that outright deletes any big unit you point it at.
- Drycha (FLC) Everyone's favorite genocidal tree (no, not that one) returns as a "free" bonus Legendary Lord for Mortal Empires exclusively. Like her Branchwraith kin, Drycha is a hybrid melee combatant and spellcaster who can actually hold her own in combat if properly supported, but she will certainly not win any one-on-one duels with any characters with an actual melee statline. Unlike her generic sisters, Drycha is a pure-strain Lore of Shadows caster and as such is a shockingly vicious blob blender. As far as unique abilities go, Drycha brings two things to the table; she can summon a unit of (Malevolent) Dryads up to two times per battle and she provides a progressively more potent AoE buff that increases the melee attack of fellow Treekin units the lower her health is. Combined with the Frenzy ability found on a lot of her campaign unique units, this can be a particularly nasty combination that allows her and her angry trees to carve through quite a lot of the squishy, meaty competition. In campaign and custom battle she gets her own little roster of unique Malevolent Tree Spirit/Wild Beast units including Coeddil himself (unfortunately though none of her units have custom models, just reskins). Sadly, as mentioned, she is exclusive to the Mortal Empires campaign and so likely won't be seeing much time in the spotlight.
- Glade Lord - Your generic elf dude/dudette, glade lords are flexible and very customizable lords who can lead from the front or afar. They are specialized duelists at heart and will excel at hunting enemy lords/heroes if you can separate them from their armies but, unlike Durthu, tend to be vulnerable to getting tied down by hordes of enemies. Normally your cheapest lord, you can invest in a steed/eagle to maximize their mobility (take the steed if you want to utilize forest terrain) or place them atop a Forest Dragon to allow them to fight a much wider selection of enemies.
- Ancient Treeman - Ancient treemen function somewhat like Durthu (understandably) in that they are hybrid lords with respectable melee damage output and access to a supplementary lore of magic. However, unlike Durthu, the regular ancient treeman has access to the significantly more useful lore of life. This makes them fantastic centerpieces for a treeman-style/focused army who can hold their own far more effectively than your spellsingers, but this comes with the same inconveniences plaguing Durthu. As a large, flammable monster, treemen are very weak to flamming attacks, anti-armor attacks and anti-large attacks. Even if he's healing himself, he can and absolutely will melt quite quickly if focused down (and believe me, he will be focused). You will absolutely need additional screening units to help protect him in combat.
- Spellweaver (DLC) - Caster ladies who can straight up lead your armies into battle, letting you save your hero slots for something else, if you so wish. In a manner similar to the High Elves, the Spell Weavers have access to a much wider variety of magic lores than their lesser variants (and by that, I mean they get two more schools). Otherwise, they're virtually identical to their sisters.
- Life Spellweaver - Virtually identical to your Life Spellsinger, only large and in charge.
- Beasts Spellweaver - Virtually identical to your Beasts Spellsinger, only large and in charge.
- Shadows Spellweaver - Virtually identical to your Shadows Spellsinger, only large and in charge.
- Dark Spellweaver - Now we're getting somewhere new. An offensive discipline, the Lore of Dark Magic provides some solid anti-lord/hero spells via Doombolt and Soul Stealer while also providing some decent anti-infantry spells in Chillwind and Blade Wind. Frankly, not a bad pick at all. Lore attribute passively increases missile damage map wide which is actually pretty nice stacked with all the other auras/skill bonuses you can get.
- High Spellweaver - This Spellweaver got a little too into the 'shrooms and learned a whole new lore of magic. With a little bit of everything, the High Spellweaver can provide a bit of healing support, single target damage, AoE damage and can even trap/damage flying units with a cast or two of Tempest. To be frank, a lot of what she can do is overshadowed by her sisters, so you'll probably want to pick one of them if you want offensive or supportive magic. Lore attribute is nice for stacking physical resist map wide but honestly it’s not a great lore. Dark has much better damage. And you can just bring a secondary caster for buffs.
You have one (two for ME) Legendary hero and three flavors of generic heroes, each with their own uses.
- Ariel (DLC) - Ariel is an obscenely powerful caster hero that starts with a full roster of spells taken from the Lores of Life, High and Dark, but also Greater Arcane Conduit and two bound healing spells that rival Alarielle the Everqueens Heart of Avelorn in terms of raw healing potential. In direct combat itself, she's rather frail when put up against her direct DLC-counterpart Ghoritch, not to mention Throt, so her use against enemy single-entity-units is rather limited; her Magic combined with her Ward Save of 25% relegates her to Chaff clearing duty, where she performs very good.
- Branchwraith - If ever there could only be a single unit that could be defined as a "hybrid", branchwraiths would be strong contenders for the title. Not only are they capable melee fighters in their own right, but they have access to a variety of handpicked spells from both the lore of life and lore of shadows. This gives them equal measure of frontline support and damage. Penumbral Pendulum gives you a strong sweeping wind spell that excels at softening harder units for your Wardancers and Rangers. Their additional access to earthblood gives them a cheap multi-target heal that, when paired with Shield of Thorns, will make your frontline units extremely resilient for a brief period of time. AOE aura buffing melted attack is quite nice for your frontline. Best on bladesingers or dryads especially.
- Waystalker - These guys are lord/hero hunters, pretty much strictly designed and specialized for that singular purpose. They can easily vanish from your foe's view thanks to their Master Ambusher ability which, combined with their speed, also allows them to easily kite footlords while blasting them with arrows. A few limited use abilities, like the Arrow of Kurnous, can allow them to deal decent damage and disrupt infantry in a pinch. It can also be reserved for sniping and destroying artillery pieces. Despite being built to hunt characters, Waystalkers are actually only decent melee combatants and will falter against melee-focused foot lords. Only send them in if they're completely out of ammo and/or properly supported by reinforcements. AOE aura buff missile damage, park by your archers.
- Spellsinger - Your cheap, dedicated mages. Spellsingers, like the purestrain generic mages of other factions, only exist to cast spells and nothing more. Keep these gals behind your front lines and out of harms way if you want their support to last you the battle. If you can spare the coin, consider placing them on elven steeds or unicorns so that they can quickly respond to changing conditions on the battlefield and quickly escape should enemies come for them. You have three flavors to choose from:
- Beasts Spellsinger - A dedicated vector for the mixed lore of beasts, spellsingers of this category are ideal for supporting fellow elves/trees with buffs while contributing occasional bursts of AoE damage. A spare flock of doom can do decent work to clusters of infantry, though you'll get better AoE damage going with a shadows spellsinger. The spellsinger variant of Transformation of Kadon received a fluffy nerf; instead of summoning a feral manticore, now it summons eagles. Eagles are dramatically inferior to the manticore, but they can still be summoned to provide a surprise flank or to tie down enemy artillery in a pinch.
- Life Spellsinger - Your cheapest source for lore of life spells. All in all, you really can't go wrong with her; healing magic is invaluable and can absolutely mean the difference between a winning/losing engagement on the field. You'll get a lot of mileage out of her if you pair her with treemen/forest dragons.
- Shadows Spellsinger - The lore of shadows is your most offensive choice for your spellsingers, and it's not a bad one. Your two primary offensive spells, the Penumbral Pendulum and the Pit of Shades both deal impressive AoE damage and thus specialize in clearing out armored frontlines. The Pit of Shades also holds the distinct honor of being the only stationary vortex spell in the game. This ensures that it'll never randomly roll over your own troops, but it also cannot potentially flow into neighboring enemy formations to cause greater damage, so it's a bit of a trade off there. If nothing else, you can use it to create a zone of denial in chokepoints.
- Glade Captain (DLC) - A baby Glade Lord, Glade Captains are effectively identical to their lord counterparts in form and function. Frankly speaking, being relegated to the hero slot suits them better than the Lord slot, as you aren't sacrificing the offensive prowess of the Sisters of Twilight or Durthu for a generic damage dealer. Having said that, it's still somewhat hard to justify taking a Glade Captain over a Spellsinger or Branchwraith in most lists just due to the lack of utility they provide, but if you're in need of a more flexibly inclined damage dealer, Glade Captains are decently suited to the task. However, while it's definitely hard to justify bringing a glade captain to a multiplayer custom match, she's a must include in campaign since she passively increases an army's movement range and grants army wide buffs depending on what mount she has. Giving her a great stag allows cavalry to ignore movement penalties. Giving her an eagle causes hawkriders to instill fear. Taking her on foot allows wardancers and bladesingers to vanguard deploy, which is very effective when comboed with the Sisters of Twilight office that gives them stalk stance. Probably best on foot if you want vanguard bladesingers or on stag to accompany great stag knights where she is amazing. Makes great cavalry even better.
- Eternal Guard - Eternal Guard are the closest thing to a defensive front line unit you have. Available shielded or unshielded (you should always take shielded Eternal Guard, precious other units in your army resist ranged attacks), these stalwart warriors are in that perfect twilight zone of being cheap and somewhat expendable while also remaining rather competent combatants capable of holding their own against other units above their weight class. Though they'll often lose in drawn out fights against stronger, higher tier melee infantry, they can pin them down long enough for your archers or dryads to flank and make up for their sub-optimal damage output. Eternal Guard, being exclusively armed with spears, are excellent anti-cavalry/monster screens and, when braced, can easily halt enemy charges in their tracks. No matter your focus, be it cavalry, missile units or treemen, you'll want your line held by a few of these guys. They don’t hold up to elite infantry well though, late game may want to replace with treekin, who are much more durable generally.
- Winterheart Guards (RoR) - Eternal Guard, only with charge defense against everything, an encouragement aura for nearby allied units and unbreakable. These guys will hold the line until the bitter end, something they'll ensure takes a long time due to their increased defensive stats. You'll want these guys somewhat centrally located in your front line to ensure their leadership buff affects as many Eternal Guard as possible.
- Wardancers - These lovely ladies serve as dedicated infantry blenders, a job they do really, really well. They are exceptionally quick for infantry themselves, able to outrun a majority of the targets you'd throw them at (only a select few infantry units can even keep pace with them, namely Skinks). They do their best work against unarmored foes, so you should generally avoid sending them in against particularly hardy front line units. This is because, like a significant portion of your army, Wardancers are frail. Really frail. They take damage just as quick as they (try to) give it, so if they enemy they're fighting just won't die then they'll begin to. They do have an active skill that trades some of their melee attack for a defensive buff, which can help them come out on top in a DPS race, though they'll still be left far worse for wear without support. Pairing Wardancers with Eternal Guard is recommended to alleviate this; while the Eternal Guard pins down and tanks a particularly dangerous enemy, the Wardancers step in and carve them to pieces. Obsolete compared to spear version and blade singers.
- Spear Wardancers - Wardancers who specialize against large foes instead of infantry formations. Where regular Wardancers simply appreciate having Eternal Guard tank the hits, Spear Wardancers actually synergize with them extremely well due to their shared offensive niche. Just like the regular Wardancers, have the Eternal Guard intercept cavalry or monsters before sending these gals in. Spear Wardancers have an activated ability that grants them additional missile resistance, but it comes at the cost of their melee defense. They do much better vs armoured elite infantry than the normal version because of AP.
- Loec's Tricksters (RoR) - If you thought regular Wardancers were glass cannons, you haven't seen these ones at work. This regiment of renown exchanges the normal Spear Wardancer activated ability in exchange for one that pumps up their melee attack in exchange for their defense (literally the opposite effect of the regular Wardancers ability) which, when combined with the addition of Frenzy, makes them do obscene damage to large units. Unfortunately, this also means that a stiff breeze will slaughter them to the last. Hold these ladies in reserve for a critical fight, such as engaging the enemy lord or a key monster in their army and support them with magic to make sure they survive the ensuing melee.
- Wildwood Rangers - The Wildwood Rangers have an... interesting role. Previously, they were your only dedicated source of melee armor piercing damage, which they deal a lot of, but they also only specialize against large targets. While these two perks often work fantastically against monsters and cavalry, it tends to pay off less on the armored masses you may often find yourself against. They still hold a somewhat viable niche if you expect to face armored cavalry/monster armies like the Lizardmen or Bretonnia, but they are thoroughly outclassed by the new Bladesingers against all forms of infantry without good magic resistance you might face.
- Wardens of Cythral (RoR) - Take the Wildwood Rangers, give them silver shields, armor sundering and a beefy charge defense against large targets and send them on their way. These guys are better suited to prolonged fights against large foes than Spear Wardancers, particularly because they have actual stats in their defenses. With support, these guys can chunk most armored targets relatively well in good time.
- Dryads - The first of your treekin soldiers, Dryads are better suited to tanking and dealing physical damage than your Eternal Guard, but are notably weaker than them against magical and fire based attacks. Dryads also have virtually no charge defense and cannot deal with enemy cavalry remotely as well as the Eternal Guard either. Having said that, Dryads do have two notable selling points over Eternal Guard: They are immune to psychology (so Fear and Terror) and they have vanguard deployment. Cleverly hidden trees can easily fall upon a squishier back line to disrupt/shut down artillery and archers while formations of Eternal Guard distract the heavy hitters long enough for your angry trees to come into play.
- Wraiths of the Frozen Heart (DLC, RoR) - These dryads have been gifted with attacks that freeze and slow their targets, helping to ensnare and lock down enemies.
- Bladesingers (DLC) - At first glance, you'd assume these fiery redheads are just reskinned Wardancers. You wouldn't necessarily be wrong to assume that, but you will pay dearly if you underestimate them for that mistake. These ladies are your elite melee infantry and butcher anything not horse-sized or larger due in no small part to a combination of magical attacks and high armor-piercing damage. Bladesingers also have the ability to "turn off" their armor piercing damage modifier to give themselves a melee attack buff, letting them effectively cut down virtually any flavor of infantry you could throw them at. You can switch between the two modes at will, unlike the Wardancers, so they are exceptionally flexible for how killy they are. The main drawback is exactly what you'd expect from a bunch of half-naked ladies; their defensive stats are hot tish. Though they have access to Dodge and a decent melee defense, they will still die in droves if targeted by archers or thrown against an enemy a touch outside their weight class. None-the-less, having at least one squad of these fine warrior women is strongly recommended against literally any army that fields frontline infantry.
- Glade Guard - Your first, cheapest and ever reliable missile infantry, Glade Guard are the troops you'll have in your back-line in order to rain hell upon the enemies your melee infantry is currently harassing. Frankly speaking, there's little that can honestly be said about the bog-standard Glade Guard; they'll do decent work against unarmored enemies and they're pretty damn cost efficient, but you might find yourself looking at one of the two variants if you want to get some real work done.
- Glade Guard (Hagbane Tips) - Glade Guard with poisonous arrows. Though they deal slightly less direct damage with their missiles, they more than make up for it if they're supporting your melee infantry by applying poison debuffs all over their target's back. Using these particular Glade Guard for that purpose is a touch tricky however, as you need to be incredibly mindful of your positioning so as to not fire into your own unit's backsides while they're mashed against the enemy. available from the start of campaign, you should never use the basic. these should completely replace the basic version.
- Glade Guard (Starfire Shafts) - Glade Guard with armor-piercing arrows. These guys are a fantastic ranged answer to the likes of Dwarves, Chaos Warriors and Lizardmen and should almost always be taken over regular Glade Guard (or at the least, alongside them) to ensure that you can still deal damage to them.
- Deepwood Scouts - Sneaky elves who can utilize the combination of their stealth and vanguard deployment to sneak up and ambush the vulnerable backsides of enemy formations. Unlike Glade Guard, the Deepwood Scouts can fire while moving and can do so from any angle, letting them easily kite slower, unarmored units.
- Deepwood Scouts (Swiftshiver Shards) - Deepwood Scouts that fire two shots at a time. Even with the reduced range over regular Deepwood Scouts, the doubled DPS more than makes up for that minor inconvenience.
- Waywatchers - Your premium archer unit, and one of the highest damaging archer units in the game. Considering that this is factoring in units like the Sisters of Averlorn, that's saying something. All the strengths of the Deepwood Scouts are combined the Starfire Glade-Guard's utility with yet more impressive range and heightened movement speed that allows them to function both as a back-line unit or as vanguard ambusher.
- Hawk-eyes of Drakira (RoR) - Waywatchers that also come packing with a smokebomb to slow and discourage anyone from getting too close. They also have a slightly faster reload speed and slightly better accuracy than their generic kin, which alone is worth the slight upsell.
- Glade Riders (Spears) (FLC) - Cheap, fast cavalry. At 94 speed they're faster than your Wild Riders but that and the price tag are basically the only good things you can say about them. They lack the armor piercing damage and Frenzy of the Wild Riders and, despite what the (Spears) tag might have you believe, they are not actually anti large, at least not in multiplayer though they can get an anti-large technology in campaign. As a fast, cheap melee harasser they will likely be best used in a similar fashion to hounds or feral cold ones, chasing down ranged infantry and artillery units and chasing units off the field
- Wild Riders The premier Wood Elf light cavalry and Mel Gibson's personal guard, these units can blend infantry they get a rear charge into but their squishiness will mean you don't want to leave them in combat for long. With decent melee attack, a nice charge bonus and armor piercing damage, these units can effectively kill things, but with low melee defense and armor they can certainly be killed back. Some physical resist makes them a bit tougher than their otherwise low defensive stats would lead you to believe, but don't send them into combat with units that deal magical damage or they'll melt fairly fast. All varieties of Wild Riders have Frenzy, meaning they'll be extra choppy until their leadership gets below 50% so if you want them at their most effective don't let them take too much damage.
- Wild Riders (Shields) A straight upgrade to Wild Riders, other than the price. Silver shields make them much more resistant to ranged fire and slightly higher melee defense lets them stick in combat for longer. They're still not heavy cavalry though, and are much more comfortable attacking from the side or rear than the front.
- Wild Hunters of Kurnous (RoR) With naturally higher melee attack than your standard Wild Riders and magic damage on top of that, these dendrophiles are even choppier than your standard variety stag-riding knife-ear. Don't bring them against Dwarfs though, the magic resistant little bastards will actually be harder to kill than if you'd brought standard Wild Riders.
- Great Stag Knights What's better than riding a stag into battle? Riding a really big stag into battle, of course! These monstrous cavalry are even faster than normal Wild Riders, with slightly higher melee attack and melee defense than even the shield variant. More importantly the Great Stage Knights have some actual armor meaning they're capable of taking a hit, though they certainly don't want to stay in melee combat for too long. Send them into infantry formations then giggle as the infantry goes flying. A few cycle charges from these will even break Chaos Chosen. Pair with a great stag riding glade captain and a sisters of the thorn unit giving ranged support for best results. Captain provides strider, melee support, and a Melee defense buff. sisters proved poison, buffs, and a debuff all together. 2-3 stag knight, the captain, and the sisters will combine into a terrifying cavalry deathstar.
- Lost Sylvan Knights (RoR) What's better than riding a really big stag into battle? Riding a really big ghost stag into battle, of course! As an ethereal unit, all the standard ethereal rules apply. They've got a ton of physical resist and no armor. Throw them into melee with bog standard swordsmen and you can leave them there safely but as soon as some wizard wazzock starts tossing magic damage around your Sylvan Knights will start dying, really fast. Don't let them fight anything that deals magic damage unless you want them to become lost again, permanently this time. They're undead, which means they crumble instead of routing which is generally a good thing as they can still hold a line and attack while crumbling.
- Glade Riders - Your fairly standard missile cavalry, Glade Riders only really stand out above other faction's similar missile cav by having slightly better than average range. They have somewhat decent melee capabilities, but in this regard they're only useful in charging lightly armored units, like opposing missile infantry. If you need something cheap to kite and harass enemy lines, these guys will get the job done. If nothing else however.
- Glade Riders (Hagbane Tips) - Debatably far more useful than their regular variants, Hagbane Tipped Glade Riders use poisonous and magical arrows, making them an excellent force against magic-weak armies and solid support units. Between their high speed and ability to apply poison against enemy units, they are virtually uncatchable by opposing cavalry and are simultaneously a fantastic unit for crippling faster units for your slower infantry to engage. consider as an alternative to hagbane glade guard, you dont need both probably.
- Hawk Riders - A rarity, Hawk Riders are one of the few dedicated flying missile units in the game. Extremely fast, Hawk Riders can easily dodge incoming enemy fire if microed properly (something you'll have to do if you want them to live long enough to do their job) and makes them ideal for flanking enemy positions to rain hell upon them from on high. Unfortunately, like much of the WE roster, Hawk Riders have non-existent defensive statlines and they will drop like flies if you allow them to take missile fire or get pinned down in combat. Additionally, when they are in combat, their melee attack and defense scores are terrible. This is ever so slightly mitigated by their mediocre charge bonus and hefty (melee) armor-piercing damage bonuses, letting them act as halfway decent shock cavalry against armored infantry in a pinch. This should definitely only be done as a last resort or if you have sufficient forces to support them however, else they just impotently kamikaze themselves into your opponent's ranks like so many gnats on a windshield. In the Sisters of Twilight campaign, they received a major buff in the Volley of Kurnous ability, letting them fire a high damage burst of arrows into ground bound enemy targets. Be it a single character or horde of infantry, the Volley of Kurnous does ludicrous damage and a doomstack of Hawk Riders can delete massive ground-bound armies with the click of a single button. This makes them the premiere airforce army in the campaign.
- Sisters of the Thorn - Elite missile cavalry that, unlike anything else in your roster on four hooves, can do a little bit of everything. Though they don't have the charge bonus of your Wild Riders or Great Stag Knights, Sisters of the Thorn can actually remain in combat for extended periods of time due to their superior defensive abilities (both innate and through access to their on demand bound abilities). This can be further supplemented by their poisonous arrows, letting them soften up and slow down enemy forces for a follow up charge. Unfortunately, in any single attribute they typically fall short of the rest of your options; they lack the range of your Glade Riders while being slightly slower, they don't have as impactful a charge as your Wild Riders/GSK and they don't even have any armor-piercing damage like your Hawk Riders do. Despite that, alongside their rather steep price tag, they are still wonderfully flexible missile cav units (flexible by WE standards) that will likely find more opportunistic match-ups against a wider range of foes than some of your other options. great at supporting other cav, wild riders, stag knights etc
- Tree Kin - Your monstrous infantry and the only units in your roster that can actually hold their own in a grindfest, even if they themselves won't really be doing much damage in the process. With thick armor, high melee defense and charge defense against large, these bark monsters will take an eternity to die if the enemy units fighting them find themselves lacking anti-armor or magic/fire damage. Against most factions, these guys are fantastic "meat" shields for your considerably squishier elven units. Just keep the matchbox away from them. Ancient treeman lords can give them 10% ward and an extra 10% physical resist from the red skill tree in campaign. they can become tough enough to hold well even vs anti large and armor piercing especially with lore of life support.
- Firebark Elders (RoR) - This is what you get when your Treekin are the matchbox. With a 70% fire resistance and the ability to bequeath that resistance to nearby units, you can patch a fairly notable (and semi-common) weakness of your other tree units. If you expect that you'll be facing an army with relatively easy access to flaming attacks, like Bretonnia or Lizardmen, having these guys form your frontline core is strongly advised.
- Zoats (DLC) - Boy, we're going deep for these guys. These guys are effectively Wood Elf Dragon Ogres and very much fill the same role; anti-large monstrous cavalry that can deal crippling damage to the big beasties. They sacrifice some of the innate damage and durability the Dragon Ogres possess for much greater utility with access to two bound Lore of Life spells: Earth Blood and Flesh to Stone. With these, Zoats can support themselves and other Wood Elf units without imposing on the Winds of Magic reserves ideally utilized by your Lord/Heroes. Take a care though, Zoats don't have the stats their Dragon Ogre counterparts do and aren't quite as flexible in their engagement choices. Have a unit of Tree Kin or at the very least Eternal Guard support your Zoats to help mitigate incoming damage.
- Enigmas of Ghyran (RoR) - Zoats who have better stats and two charges of Regrowth instead of Earth Blood. These guys are fantastic support for lists with a focus on monster units and can easily pair up with a lore of life spellsinger for immense burst healing.
- Great Eagle - Something of a squishy unit, Great Eagles are extremely fast flying units that are pretty much designed to do one thing; body slam artillery pieces and backline units with cycle charges while your infantry holds them in place. Unfortunately, that's... pretty much all they can do. They are not remotely as punchy or durable as a majority of other single entity monsters and will quickly die if left in melee combat with anything that can hold a sharp stick. Cycle charging this guy is imperative if you want them to stay alive. Fortunately, when airborne, almost nothing can catch them and they can evade missile fire from dusk until dawn.
- Treeman - An all-purpose wrecking ball, Treemen are melee beatsticks that can throw a mean left hook and stand in an ocean of angry infantry without a care in the world. Unless they have fire, in which case... enjoy the lightshow, I guess. Unlike the smaller Tree Kin, Treemen are actually threatening in melee combat and are quite capable against a wonderfully wide variety of targets, large and small, armored and not. As they are very tall, bipedal trees, Treemen make a fantastic DISTRACTION CARNIFEX that your opponent can't afford to outright ignore, especially since they cause fear and terror. Be cautious though; they're big, slow moving trees. They're very vulnerable to getting focused down at range and though they can wade through any infantry tarpit dancing around their roots, they can't do so quickly enough to evade incoming missile fire. And unlike their Ancient Treemen leaders, who at least can utilize magic for defense an a modicum of offense if necessary, regular Treemen don't have any way to deal with ranged assaults on their own.
- Forest Dragon - Your one and only Dragon, Forest Dragons are pretty much the crown jewel of the Wood Elf monster units. Unfortunately, when compared to the full selection of dragons available to High Elves, Forest Dragons fall fairly short in relative power, being roughly on par with Sun Dragons. They do make up for this slightly with their additional physical resist and poisonous attacks, letting them dive into the thick of it more confidently than the other flavors of dragon other factions have. When paired with a lore of life spellsinger/Ancient Treeman, these dragons can tough it out in a fight for a very long time. Defensively, a lot of the same cautionary measures other dragons use should be taken at range; their flying speed coupled with their size isn't conducive for dodging ranged attacks and their resistances don't apply against projectiles. Try to pin down enemy archers and artillery with cavalry or a Great Eagle before having the Forest Dragon swoop in for the kill.
Drycha Campaign Units
These units can only be used by Drycha's Wargrove in campaign or custom battles, but as campaign units are unavailable to multiplayer (or custom battle if you have unit caps turned on). The units are split into two distinct groups, Malevolent Tree Spirits who are essentially just ordinary Tree Spirits with Frenzy and a kickass purple glow, and Wild Beasts, beefed up versions of monstrous animal units from other factions most of which have vanguard deployment and Forest Stalker, making them effective flankers and slightly tougher in the trees. All of these units, like Drycha herself, are FLC units given to anyone who owns the original Realm of the Wood Elves DLC, and are exclusive to the Mortal Empires campaign. Drycha and her units cannot be played in Vortex, though she does appear in the background of Throt's campaign and in the final battle.
- Coeddil - A little treat that CA didn't really feel like advertising, Coeddil makes a surprise appearance as a Legendary Hero available in Drycha's Mortal Empire campaign. And only in that campaign. Befitting his psychopathic hatred for all things not made of bark, Coeddil is an absolute melee menace who constantly saps nearby enemy unit's health while giving all allied nearby a minor melee buff. He's a mixed Beasts/Dark caster with several choice spells from both winds including Transformation of Kadon and Power of Darkness. If that wasn't enough, Coeddil is unbreakable and will stay in the fight until the bitter end. It's worth noting that in custom battle he's considered a campaign exclusive unit rather than a hero so if you really feel like shenanigans you can make an army of Coeddils.
- Malevolent Ancient Treeman - The only lord on this list, basically just an ancient Treeman with Frenzy. This makes it even more of a melee powerhouse than ordinary Ancient Treemen, though a strong anti-large duelist lord can still take it down. Unlike ordinary Ancient Treemen, the Malevolent ones get access to three distinct Lores of Magic instead of being locked to Lore of Life. They can take Lore of Life, but can instead choose to take Lore of Beasts or Lore of Shadows. Like Coeddil, the Malevolent Ancient Treeman is considered a campaign exclusive unit rather than a lord and so you can take as many as you like, provided you have the funds for it. Lore of Beasts can summon the usual Matincores instead of Great Eagles and gives beast units frenzy. Shadows gets improved glamour removing the debuff from elf units. Life gets regen as a skill. Beasts is probably the most useful for buffing your army. A life branch wraith is probably better than putting life on your lord due to less competition for skill points.
- Malevolent Branchwraith - A Branchwraith with frenzy. Whereas the standard Branchwraith is not the best melee fighter, the Malevolent variant is actually a decent damage dealer so long as you keep her away from flaming attacks. Similar to the Malevolent Ancient Treeman, the Malevolent Branchwraith has an expanded list of Lores it can choose from. Ordinary Branchwraiths are a mix of Lore of Shadows and Lore of Life, while their Malevolent kin can specialize in either full Lore of Life, full Lore of Shadows or Lore of Beasts. Strangely, there is no mixed Lore of Life/Lore of Shadows Malevolent Branchwraith. Life gets regen, beasts gets extra melee attack, shadows gets stalk. Recommend life only and get beasts or shadows from your lord. Lords get nice army buffs.
- Malevolent Dryads - These are basically ever so slightly buffed Dryads with the added Frenzy ability, making them substantially more threatening right out of the gate. Drycha herself can summon two of them per battle using one of her unique abilities, making them the only unit on this list usable in multiplayer (if only as summons). red skill tree can give them extra melee attack, weapon strength, melee defense and an extra 15% physical resist. They can outfight chaos warriors with all the buffs applied, and even against things they might not beat they are like more tanky non AP hex wraiths that dont crumble.
- Cave Bats - Non-undead Vampire Count Fell Bats with an extra 20 leadership, vanguard deployment and the ability to hide in trees. Used in essentially the same way as Fell Bats, they're great at tying down fast units, distracting ranged units, nomming artillery, causing chaos on walls and being meat shields for more important flying creatures. As previously stated they're not undead so they won't hold the line while crumbling the way Fell Bats do but they're also dirt cheap and expendable so you won't care when they're inevitably slaughtered.
- Giant Wolves - Norscan Ice Wolves without the Frostbite, considered small units instead of large for some reason meaning the standard anti-large tactics don't work on them. They're quite speedy and have a decent weapon strength though it's not majority armor piercing, meaning they're effective against low armor opponents. Charge them into the flanks of infantry or ranged units and use them to kill routing enemies, but don't expect them to hold the line.
- Giant Spiders - These big angry arachnids don't really have a direct parallel to any other units. These are essentially buffed up Forest Goblin Spider Riders but without the Goblin. This unfortunately means they lose the shield held by said goblin, but considering it was a bronze shield anyway the 70 armor, armor piercing damage, increased melee attack and forest stalker attributes more than make up for it. Their poison in conjunction with their decent armor means they can serve surprisingly well as front line fighters, especially with magical support spells like Shield of Thorns or Wyssan's Wildform
- Great Hawks - The only unit on this list that probably should have been available to the entire Wood Elf faction, these are essentially slightly cheaper Hawk Riders with improved melee stats but no ranged attack. They have the standard vanguard deployment and Forest Stalker traits and are VERY fast. Give them some Cave Bats to act as meat shields and they can be quite effective melee combatants. They'll very quickly rip apart ranged infantry and artillery and can be absolute terrors in sieges, capable of massacring any infantry on the walls with flying cycle charges. They are fragile though, so good micro and support from other units is essential when using them.
- Feral Manticore - Of course Drycha would get at least one Chaos unit. This is literally the exact same unit as fielded by Warriors of Chaos and Dark Elves. Notably, the Feral Manticore lacks the Vanguard Deployment and Forest Stalker attributes of the rest of the Wild Beasts, making it a bog standard vanilla Manticore. It's essentially a slightly tougher but slower terror causing Great Eagle. It's an effective source of flying terror, but it's certainly not the biggest beastie out there and is somewhat vulnerable to anti large, ranged fire and other more powerful single entity monsters like dragons. Its rampage is especially bad, as it means that you can easily lose control of it at the worst possible time and, as a (reluctant) member of the Wood Elf faction, you're a bit lacking in tools to go get it. These still get 20 physical resistance from a tech and frenzy from drycha or a beasts Treeman. With both of those these are nearly the same as a Forrest dragon for half the cost. Actually very cost effective. Plus Unlike the other manticore using factions Dycha has lore of life to keep them alive. Can replace hawks even.
The first and most important component of playing Wood Elves; stay moving. Due to how frail the majority of the Wood Elf roster is, you cannot afford to allow your opponent to take the initiative in a fight. The good news is that many of your work-horse units are quite fast; many standard or slow moving armies will rarely be able to pin down your forces if you literally just stay one step ahead of them. Additionally, your Cavalry does almost all of their work in the charge; they will greatly diminish in strength and value if they remain in extended combat. Cycle charging is the name of the game for you, and it's a tenant you'll need to stick to if you actually want to give Bretonnia a run for their money. All of this combines to make Wood Elves one of the most micro-intensive factions in the game, if played right. While this can make them more interesting and fun to play, it also makes them considerably more challenging with mistakes punishing you much more severely than what other factions might've endured for similar errors.
- Empire -
- Greenskins -
- Dwarves - This is your worst matchup by far. A lot of your front line infantry will struggle immensely against the wall of bearded armor slowly plodding its way across the map towards you. Starfire Gladeguard will be your best discount ranged option while Wildwood Rangers can deal with them in melee, but you will need to support them with something tanky if you want them to last. Tree Kin and Treemen are a wonderful bastion to center your army around, but you will need to take out any Irondrakes the opponent may have fielded before you commit them to battle. The Firebark Elders RoR can help mitigate this fire weakness.
- Vampire Counts - One of your best matchups. VCs have a tough time handling your skirmishers since they don't have any ranged units or light cav. They also have a tough time handling your forest spirits. Treemen/treekin can easily smush skeleton spearmen and shut down blood knights with their charge def vs. large. If you really want to be an asshole, take sisters of twilight/hawkriders, park them on top of enemy, and pick away at their key units while they impotently shake their fists at you.
- Warriors of Chaos - A heavily armored melee faction with virtually no ranged options, you won't have much trouble keeping your distance from a majority of the WoC roster. The problem is, between their heavy armor and shields, Wood Elves had a bit of trouble actually dealing with their front lines until recently. Though Wildwood Rangers are reasonably decent at facing them in combat, the addition of Bladesingers has given Wood Elves a very strong melee-oriented answer for all that bulk. When properly supported, Bladesingers can and will carve a path of death through Chaos front lines, especially if you have anti-armor missile support from the flanks. Eternal Guard, as ever, are the best screening unit you can ask for against enemy cavalry while Tree Kin are a bit more suited to holding back the tide of enemy infantry while your Bladesingers get into position. One major issue you'll need to keep in mind; if the WoC brought a Hellcannon, you will want to prioritize that before anything else. WE have no direct artillery to answer them in kind and with virtually no defensive statlines on most of your units, Hellcannons can deal terrible damage to a majority of your roster if you let them fire at you uncontested.
- Bretonnia - Make no mistake, Bretonnian cavalry is beyond your league. Though Wild Riders and Great Stag Knights have impressive charges of their own, they cannot remain engaged in a fight. This isn't really a problem for Bretonnian cav, who have the stats and tools to remain in a fight and still come out on top. The two biggest units to watch out for are Questing Knights and Grail Knights. Though they specialize primarily against armored units, Questing Knights will easily catch up to and slaughter a majority of your infantry in quick order. Grail Knights are the swiss-army knife of the faction against you; with magical attacks as well as an anti-armor and bonus against large, these guys are tailor made to chop down your tree units. It's less than ideal, but try to box them in or screen them with Eternal Guard, who will at the very least hold them off and allow your vulnerable missile units to reposition or support them with anti-armor fire. If you can at least pin them in long enough, Wardancers with Spears can do impressive damage against them despite their armor. As far as the peasantry goes... you have nothing to worry about. Your archers will absolutely dominate theirs in a firefight and literally any of your infantry options will win against theirs.
- Wood Elves - Oh boy, fantasy guerilla warfare. If you're facing other fleshy wood elf infantry, don't expect a straight up fight. Try to outflank and shut down their archer units to force them into a more direct confrontation and shut down their healers to prevent them from shaking off the damage you deal to them.
- Beastmen - The only other faction that can consistently keep pace or even outrun your in a flat out foot race. Beastmen are very much a rush faction and will do their damndest to close the gap between your forces; something you should take every measure to prevent. Eternal Guard or Tree Kin are reasonable front line screens and have a natural affinity for fighting against the Beastmen's larger units, like Minotaurs, while Wardancers can quickly butcher a majority of the infantry they tango with. Just make sure none of your damage dealing units ever take a head on charge. Beastmen have a very notable weakness that you can exploit; a near complete lack of armor and relatively limited missile units means that they'll be taking the full force of your ranged assaults. Hagbane Glade Guard/Riders not only deal respectable damage to the beastmen units, but the application of poison helps your footbound infantry catch up to and slaughter their infantry with considerable ease. In a cavalry face off, these hagbane missile units can slow down opposing Centagors for your Wild Riders and Great Stag Knights to deliver crippling blows with a few cycle charges. Lastly, Waywatchers and Deepwood Scouts (swiftsilver) are fantastic character or monster hunters who can pop up behind enemy lines and burst down Bray shaman, Giants or Cygors.
- Norsca -
- High Elves - High Elves share many of the same strengths you do. Their Sisters of Avelorn can very nearly match Waywatchers in ranged dps while their weakest dragon, the Sun Dragon is comparable to your Forest Dragon in stats. Also, their units have a durability yours simply can't match, a large part of which is their Martial Prowess. Worse, many of their units come with a 55% block chance against missile fire, which can be incredibly potent against a faction such as yours that relies heavily on missile fire. Fortunately, you have an advantage that can help negate both of those difficulties: your speed. Wood Elves are the best skirmish faction in the game, use that to your advantage. Take some ranged cavalry to circle the enemy or vanguard deploy some archers behind enemy lines and shoot their infantry in the back to ignore those pesky shields. Remember that Waywatchers don't duel other archers very well due to their low model count, save them to shoot at large targets or lords. If your enemy is smart they won't try to contest the air, if they're not shoot their dragons and phoenixes out of the sky with a combination of prey of anathraema (so you'll probably want to take female glade lord as your lord) and waywatcher fire. Either way you should be able to field some flying units such as hawk riders which you can use for more skirmishing. Remember that if possible you don't want to engage the enemy in melee until their units are at half health and their Martial Prowess is gone. The new DLC units are quite effective against the High Elves, Zoats are strong anti-cavalry and Bladesingers can blender High Elf infantry, especially if Martial Prowess is lost. Don't bring tree spirits unless you're willing to invest in Firebark Elders because the High Elves have a ton of sources of fire damage. Branchwraiths might also be a poor choice as the High Elf Fireborn RoR can kill a Branchwraith in seconds.
- Dark Elves -
- Lizardmen - While you will have absolutely no issues outrunning and kiting Saurus and Kroxigors, you should take a caution against Skink units. They might be cute little lizards who deal relatively minor damage against most other factions, but you're not most other factions. Since a majority of your infantry is unarmored, you'll be taking the full brunt of their little assaults and they're one of the precious few infantry units that can reliably keep pace with yours and even outrun a fair chunk of your own frontline formations. Additionally, Skink Skirmishers and Chameleon Skinks will prove shockingly effective at whittling down your unarmored forces with poisonous missile fire while proving to be a frustrating target in turn due to their lose formations and (for Chameleons) ranged damage resist. Lastly, you will want to take an extreme care around Fire Slann and Salamanders, who will be the bane of your Tree units. If you can shut down their fiery assaults, Tree Kin will prove a reliable walling unit to hold down and defend against Saurus frontlines and can even resist the onslaught of their varied monsters. Your cavalry will also prove extremely effective against the Lizardmen with their superior speed and devastating charges; there's precious little the Lizardmen can do if they can't pin down your Wild Riders/Great Stag Knights.
- Skaven - Other than the High Elves, if any other faction can rival you at range, it's the Skaven. Between their Jezzails, Ratling Guns, Poisonwind Globadiers, Plagueclaw Catapults and Warplightning Cannons, Skaven have a gun for every conceivable job. You on the other hand, have virtually no armor and shielded units are few and far in between. Thankfully, many of your archers still outrange their missile units and so long as you don't allow yourself to get backed into a corner, you shouldn't have too much issue kiting their slightly slower ranged infantry. Dealing with Skaven artillery will always be your first priority; Great Eagles or Wild Riders/Great Stag Knights can swiftly slip behind enemy lines and shut down artillery long enough for your archers to set up and deal some damage. In general, your melee infantry shouldn't really be too bothered by theirs; skavenslaves and clanrats are a mere nuisance to your considerably more "elite" infantry, though don't get complacent; even skavenslaves can deal not inconsiderable damage to your unarmored elves and, like all chaff infantry, their main value lies in simply tying your guys down. Key Skaven infantry to watch out for are their Plaguemonks and Death Runners.
- Tomb Kings -
- Vampire Coast - Look out for artillery.
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