Warhammer/Tactics/6th Edition/High Elves
Why play High Elves?
Because you like elves and you like a challenge. High Elven units in 6th edition have high stats in most categories but are very pricey and easy to kill. So, you opponents will almost always outnumber you and you do not have dwarf-like heavy infantry who can easily soak up the damage. However, HE are still one of the most mobile armies in the game and boost an array of interesting units to choose from.
Army Special Rules
- Immune against panic when fighting Dark Elves: Keeps your units from flying in panic and given the high LD of your army it makes them really reliable against Dark Elves.
- Intrigue at the court: Your general gets (somewhat) randomly chosen. Not such a big issue as always stated due to high moral around the board and in smaller battles a good 50% chance at least that the right candidate is chosen but still a very fluffy rule but with only drawbacks
Lords & Heroes
- Prince: The embodiment of the whole issue with the army. Pricey, easy to kill (for a general) but still somewhat deadly when he gets the chance to shine. His LD10 is not that important due to the court intrigues not guaranteeing him to the be general so you have to think twice if you actually bring one. If you do so there are several good options and one bad one. Never bring him (or any general other than dwarfs for that matter) on foot. He is an interesting choice on a steed with a 2+ safe and greatweapon but if you want to go big get him a griffon, a golden shield or armor of protection and a sword of might / great weapon. Alternatively, pick the quick gold blade (+3 A) to make him a light infantry killer or the bow of the seafarer to get a flying spear thrower that hits on 2+ most of the time - truly nasty. A dragon is of course the most powerful option but usually not worth sinking in even 120points more.
- Archmage: For most lists around 2000 points probably the better choice, the archmage packs a serious magic punch for 255 points (lv4) which is pricey but certainly better than the alternative of 260 points for 2 lvl 2 mages. High magic is not half bad but most of the time you will want to bring lore of the heavens for rerolls and some truly powerful indirect damage spells. both his mounts are great. Lots of good gear to kit him out, just make sure you have a high chance to get the spells you want and some additional dice or bound spells to get at least one spell each round through.
- Noble: Nobles are a crucial addition to your army. Since most of your units lack the killing power of their own, your nobles will have to do some of the heavy lifting. Greatweapons or at least a lance when mounted are crucial here for additional strength 6 attacks for your units. Best used on a steed supporting your cavalry and with a 2+ save but it also pays off to have one on a great eagle for easy flanking or war machine hunting.
- Mages: pricey and on their own will not win a match for you. I recommend bringing one with scrolls or just go with an archmage and never look back. If you want to try magic spam, then bring two and an archmage or otherwise you might not have the dice or spells to dominate. Lore of heavens is great as always, but high magic or fire magic might also be viable. Depending on the lore get a steed or hide one in a forest out of sight or least preferred option an infantry block but usually you will not have a spare unit for protection and at 250+ points needing another unit for protection really gets too costly.
- Bowmen: Here is the first black sheep of the army. For 12(13) points you get strength 3 shots at BS 4... not great in an army already grasping for any spare points for more useful units. They are not completely useless though and on a hill they can be somewhat effective. They do have two times when they can truly shine though - against goblin fanatics (or the slayer equivalents) and if you fight an enemy with a lot of light cavalry they can guarantee that your mobility domination is somewhat secure. Still, overall not an essential unit that will not win you battles and very overpriced for what they can do.
- Spearmen: Unless your enemy brings high toughness or high save armies the spearmen are your best infantry unit. potentially 16 attacks if 5 wide in 6th edition is huge and they can take potentially a magic banner (probably better for your silver helms though). M5 also means they are likely to get the charge against enemy infantry. As most units they are very easy to kill and at 11 points are not cheap. However, you should still bring at least 20 to get rank bonus and outnumbering and survive a bit of shooting. Since not a lot of enemies will be able to reliably take them on 1:1 they are a great tool to force your enemy to do something about them or avoid them.
- Lothern Sea Guard: No. 4-5 points more expensive than spearmen for a measly bow. I love the fluff and the concept but they are not worth it. Other than that, refer to the Spearmen and Bowmen entry.
- Silver Helms: The star of the army list. 19(21,23) points for very good M8 heavy cavalry in core. This is a big deal and ensures you can deliver heavy blows against most enemies where you want to. One unit of 5 probably will not kill a lot due to strength 3 so I prefer using several of them supporting each other or supported by other fast units. Give one unit a battle banner and embed some nobles for killing power and silver helmets will ensure your enemy will regret any opening in his battle line you can exploit.
- Ellyrian Reavers: Excellent companions for your silver helms. Never take a bow unless you coincidentally have some point left in your list though but armed with spears and as fast cavalry with M9 reavers are your best cavalry for quick warmachine or shooting unit hunting. Take a banner and musician only or just go without for "just" 90 points which is really a steal in this army. Essential special choice and the (2nd) best redirector you have.
- Dragon Princes: Weapon skill 5, M9 and good against fire attacks for 3 points more than a silver helm. Not bad but also not a big update over silver helms in most cases. Also 50pts for a magic banner and 25pts for a magic item for the champion. Against Bretonnians they become essential with a noble in them so that you have heavy cavalry that gets the charge in first but otherwise not essential. The magic banner can give some nice possibilities but due to their looks and elite status they will already attract a lot of enemy shenanigans so you have to do a risk assessment if you want to make the unit even more expensive.
- Swordmasters: Possibly your best elite infantry but very squishy. Still for 2 points more than spearmen you get strength 5 attacks that often attack first. In a direct comparison the spearmen would defeat the Swordmasters probably but if your enemy brings heavy infantry or stuff like ogres the Swordmasters will perform well.
- Shadow Warriors: Even more expensive than Bowmen the shadow warriors are highly situational. Their shooting is nothing great, they are too expensive for skirmisher baiting and in melee they are abysmal (no banner or musician and a useless champion). For me a hard pass but in some situations they can be effective in distracting your enemy in difficult terrain like woods.
- Tiranoc Chariot: 2 for one elite slot and can be used by your heroes. Not bad since you get guaranteed strength 5 impact hits on a M9 chariot and 2 elves with spears but the lack of scythes and a save throw of 5+1 hurt its effectiveness a bit. Not bad to support your cavalry charges though. Only use characters in them if you know you are not going to face strength 7 attacks but even then better not rely on them as a character carrier even if the model looks amazing.
- Phoenix Guard: At 15 points way too expensive for what they do which is a shame since the unit looks amazing. Only situation they will be useful is against undead armies but otherwise they are a luxury if you take them over Swordmasters and waste a rare slot on them.
- Repeater Bolt Thrower: Must-have essential unit. Bring at least one or better two of them. They are your best source of shooting. Dont forget the regular bolt option if you fire at monsters and focus their fire. At 2000 points it is not a bad idea of thinking about 4 of them. They are amazing because they are good against basically any target and deal well against enemies that the high elves are otherwise not great against - high toughness and save throw units / characters / monsters.
- White Lions: Good against some enemies and very reasonably priced. Strength 6 attacks and good defense against shooting is great for an elven unit. Overall, they suffer from being in the rare slot though and if attacked they will become a point grave pretty quickly.
- Giant Eagles: 1-2 as one rare slot. The other great rare unit that every elven army should consider. For 50 points they are the best at redirecting and great at warmachine hunting. With 3 wounds they can also take some hits. If you dont bring 4 repeater bolt throwers at 2000 points get yourself 1-2 eagles.
Know your Weaknesses and know your Strengths
High elves are very easy to kill, High elves have small armies and high elves do not fare well 1 on 1. This bitter reality means that your army does not like getting shot at and does not like long combats of attrition or static combat resolution. It is important that you have some hard strikers with support but you can also not put too many points in individual units or otherwise you will easily be flanked or your units cherry picked by focus fire. Mobility is your big advantage so use it and shooting / magic will help taking care of hard enemy targets. In most cases you will also have to make a decision where to attack and where to sacrifice units to slow down / diver the enemy - you cannot afford to strike everywhere at once. Reavers and eagles are the perfect bait or sacrifice for strong enemy units. Also every enemy war machine taken out on turn 1 (Repeater Bolt Throwers, magic) or turn 2 (cavalry charges or eagles / griffon lord) is a win. Strong enemy shooting can take out your best units easily by turn 2 - 4 if you dont look out.
As stated prior, the other big weakness of high elves are their costs. It means your armies must be thoroughly thought through and you cannot afford slack. Every unit needs to fulfill a purpose and fit the play style strategically and tactically (aka the need to use them right in battle)
- Fire and Flames: One way of winning with the high elves is pure ranged damage. The high elves cannot create a large gun line but they can mutually support repeater bolt throwers and strong magic. Key is to maximize fire and focus. Curse of arrow attraction and repeater bolt throwers and the bow of the seafarer or hunting bow are an extremely powerful combination. However, going 1 archmage, 2 mages with a combination of lore of heaven, high magic and lore of fire and 4 bolt throwers will set you back at least 1000 points so the more interesting aspect is the rest of the army. Also make sure your magic phase goes well by getting rerolls first and your lvl 4 archmage should protect himself against miscasts. How can you survive with so few points for units left? You will have to invest in redirectors and slowing enemies down by sacrificing some cheap units and high elves do not have a lot of them. Ellyrian reavers are a key unit here. Bring at least 2 units of 5 and think about investing in a noble on a giant eagle for further disturbing the enemy. Otherwise, create a big block of stubborn spearmen with your noble in them to hold the line in one spot. Offensive striking units like silver helms or chariots are probably wasted points here and be prepared to win by throwing all your melee units under the bus if the enemy is aggressively pushing you. This is the best HE army against any possible enemy. Just be aware that the first 2 turns the enemy will have scrolls to block your most important spells so if you rely on one (arrow curse for example) you might want consider to have two mages who bring it.
- Cavalry Dominance: Another good army composition is a heavy focus on cavalry. The classic approach is a bunch of silver helms and possibly dragon princes supported by reavers and mounted heroes for an all out rush. Add a lvl2 mounted scroll bearer, 1-2 eagles and 2 repeater bolt throwers against heavier stuff and you can dish out a lot of damage. A prince on a griffon might also fit the list nicely in case your knights encounter difficult to kill opposition. Such a list is effective in most cases by brute force but against some enemies you might still not be able to dominate the whole frontline and here is where cavalry and movement really shine. you can very easy use your cavalry units (especially reavers) to reposition your army and shift your attack focus while at the same time retreat in other places. Attacking your enemy weak spots while avoiding / redirecting / locking his strong units is what you have to do to win against strong enemy armies. Dont be afraid to sacrifice one or even two of your units if it takes out high priority targets that can destroy your strategy (like hellfire volleyguns...). Once your enemies shooting and quick units are neutralized, you can almost control the battlefield at will. Eagles play an important role here simply because you get 2 fast units for one rare slot and 100 points and you need a lot of small fast units. For your silver helms I would personally get three groups, 2x8 and 1x5 with the battle banner so that enemy focus fire taking out a unit will not hurt so much. Nobles on steeds or eagles are great for the list but a case for more magic power can also be done to control movement even more and dish out ranged damage once you circle around your enemy but I prefer a straight brute approach. This army is great against most enemies but be careful with the undead and unbreakable (aka braindead) units who wont run away from your charges and with Bretonnians a stand off while you shoot and fly around them is preferable to a quick joust.
Just some overview on stuff that works well together. In the end you have to built your own lists and adapt them to the challenges ahead so knowing synergies is helpful.
- The difficult Terrain Squad: Cavalry + White Lions + Shadow Warrior. Your cavalry units can take the banner of ellyrion making difficult terrain passable. Be aware of the 2-inch view restriction in forests though. White lions can also go at least through forest without movement penalty and your shadow warriors can also pass through difficult terrain and even use forests to get setup out of sight of the enemy. White lions and shadow warriors are not recommended units but if you anticipate a lot of woods you can think about the synergy. Otherwise just use the banner and support the surprise attack through the woods (dont forget the 2-inch visibility - dont lose 2 turns by being in the woods) with a flyer
- Arrow Curse, Sign of Amul and Repeater Bolt Throwers: Marginalizing chance of failure is one of the best strategy to win. There are many ways too it and several reroll possibilities for strong shooting is very powerful. The Arrow cures means rerolls to hit, the Sign of Amul rerolls can be used for wounds or in case the Arrow Curse does not come through. If both hit then using regular bolts from your bolt thrower become much more feasible and will be devasting against armored targets and monsters. Watch your enemies cry over their generals on mounts and best units when 4 repeater bolt throwers focus on one target with rerolls.
- Magic Battery with a twist: A common tactic for all magic offensive armies - focus your efforts on your lvl 4 mage and make him as reliable and strong as possible. Your other mages act more as batteries but HE need to be a bit more creative here. The HE do not have a reroll magic dice item which makes them more prone to miscasts so your priority is to have the staff of strength (ignore first miscast) and casting Sign of Amul for rerolls to avoid an unfortunate end of the magic phase (or for your archmage). You can give the magic banner to one of your units to get another W3 dice each magic phase and get the staff for the +1 to cast (both staffs are arcane items so can be combined). One of your Lvl1 or Lvl2 mages should also cast the Sign of Amul and use the ring of Corin to get the enemy to commit more dispel dice. Make sure with the wise title and silver staff that you get all the spells you need for two of your mages since the elves do not have an item to enable your LVL4 to cast a spell twice so important spells need to be on two of your mages or otherwise your enemy will easily defend against them for two turns with scrolls.
- The flying Circus HE can for 520 field 4 flying nobles with 4+ save and greatweapons on giant eagles. In reality you probably want some magic items in there and maybe a mage in there is better but HE still can field a lot of flying heroes for a lot of strong striking where you need it. Add in another 2 great eagles and you will totally dominate movement with 6 flyers and enemy war machines will be gone by turn 3. To take on larger enemy units you will need support from regular troops or focus of several flyers at once but with 1400 points left at 2000 you should be able to field some blocks / cavalry. Biggest issue with this list (and why I have never even seen one) is the lack of models to portray heroes on great eagles. Lotr Great eagles might be a way out and the Griffon Lord from the 8th starter sits on such a small Griffon that I think its feasible to field it as a great eagle instead. Otherwise Wood Elf warhawks combined with High Elf mounted heroes can work.
- No Fear Playing against the undead fear and auto-break are your biggest enemies. HE have a lot of options dealing with it though and interestingly your cavalry only army might perform worse than a more traditional infantry army. The Lion Banner and Banner of Balance are your first choices but also your Lord on a Griffon will not be affected and against undead you might even consider bringing Phoenix guards due to their fear immunity and lack of enemy shooting. Additionally the banner of arcane protection will be melting undead troops on contact. In general fighting undead negates the HE weakness against shooting (Yes Tomb Kings can somewhat shoot but str.3 hits and some overpriced catapults shouldnt worry you too much if you can block their magic) and make your movement strength shine even more. Bring dispel dices (annulian crystal!) and the aforementioned banners for your infantry and you will have a good fighting chance. If your cavalry army is fighting the undead try to get as many combined and side charges in as possible.
|Warhammer Fantasy 6th Edition Tactics Articles|
|Forces of Order: [High Elves] •|
|Non-Aligned Forces: [Vampire Counts] • [Orcs&Goblins ] • [Tomb Kings]|
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