Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/High Elves
- 1 Why Play High Elves
- 2 Army Rules
- 3 Unit Analysis
- 4 Building Your Army
- 5 Magic Items
- 6 Magic
- 7 Tactics
- 8 See Also
Why Play High Elves
Because you like Elves. And winning. High Elves win a lot. They have a BRUTAL magic phase, solid infantry choices, a variety of savage monstrous mounts and a solid shooting phase. Oh and did we mention that they have Always Strikes First, to a man, which combined with their high Initiative means you are essentially always getting rerolls
and according to their FAQ, this is unaffected by Great Weapons. It is now only normal ASF, which means Great weapons strike at normal Initative, for once thank you Matt Ward.
Don't think they're a cinch to play though, they're not THAT overpowered. Low Toughness, light armor and high cost units means that they have to be played well. But if you play them properly you will utterly destroy the competition. An army for people who like gorgeous models and want to play a tactically fulfilling army without being hideously underpowered. An army, in short, for the exact kind of people who like Warhammer Fantasy.
- Martial Prowess: One of the cornerstones of why High Elves hit like a ton of bricks. Fighting and shooting in extra ranks is huge. Other armies at one point or another have to decide between more attacks or a decent rank bonus. High Elves can have all models attacking and still have 2-4 ranks!
- Valour of Ages: When fighting their dark cousins, High Elves counter their hatred with re-rolling failed panic, fear and terror tests. It's a nice rule, who hasn't lost that one critical morale test in a game before? I would however say that hatred is superior. Valour of ages unfortunately does not allow re-rolls of failed break tests, so you're anyway going to field a BSB, and he already has panic, fear and terror covered. Still, your vanguard and scouts or anything else not in the BSB-bubble can benefit.
- Lileath's Blessing: A bonus of +1 to casting results for using High Magic across the board. High Magic is a very versatile and powerful lore, really drawing from the eight rulebook lores. And the spells already have relatively low casting values, so Lileath's Blessing means that you can easily cast 2-3 spells each turn to get that nice Ward Save bonus for your mage and his unit.
Lords & Heroes
Note: Under the current edition, named characters tend to be overpriced; you can pretty easily emulate most named characters from scratch and save yourself some points. That said, a few named characters do have abilities and wargear or wargear combos unique to them, so if you need to have them, go ahead. Just make sure you're really getting your points worth.
- Lords -
- Tyrion, the Defender of Ulthuan: Tyrion is an expensive close combat beast, and that's what you want him to be. Between ASF, WS9, I10, 4 attacks, S7 (4 base +3 from Sunfang, and a magical Flaming Attack at that) and a breath weapon, he can pretty much wreck an entire unit on his own and with his 1+ armor, 4+ ward, and Magic Resistance (2) he will just not die (and even if he does, the engagement necklace from the Everqueen means one wound that would kill him is negated on a 2+, essentially giving him +1 wound, or a one time immunity to killing blow. He loses his magic resistance after use, meaning that last wound is slightly more vulnerable). However, he's kinda stuck in the role of the hammer, and at that level of points you can take someone on a Dragon and he can't do TOO much that a tricked out Prince couldn't do just as well for less (that dragon can't join a unit though, which makes Tyrion worth considering far more than he was in 7th edition). He's fun, but competitive lists tend to prefer generic options or the Everqueen. Something of note is that he can join a unit of Silver Helms or Dragon Princes which really ruins someones day in larger games (remember that now with Silver Helms being core, your anvil can suddenly drop onto the heads of the enemy rather than just hold them in place in an all cavalry list). His super-horse also has +1 M,WS,S,I and A. Be aware, he has taken a VERY SLIGHT nerfing (ie; his immunity to fire is now on a 2+ ward save meaning if he rolls a one he gets roasted. As cavalry he's no longer immune to killing blow so KB units such as Grave Guard can suddenly wreck his day again. He's also 10 points dearer). Weiging in at 410 points, he'll eat up a big chunk of your Lords points, but with the changes due to the End Times, you can now field him and the Everqueen in a 2000 pt game (and hopefully they don't start banging mid-game). One final change to him in this edition: he no longer HAS to be General of the army he's in, but if he is his inspiring presence has a range of 18". If your strategy is wedge Tyrion in your enemy's ass while a mage hides in a bunker and faps to the scene, you might wanna keep him as a minion but if your whole strategy is to run your enemy down with a wall of equine death he should be the one in charge.
- Teclis, the Loremaster of Hoeth: All those lifeline steroid pills must be getting to him, he got nerfed again. Not nearly as badly as last time, but he's weaker. He is still a powerful mage because he can either know all spells in High Magic, or have one spell (of your choice) from each normal Lore. The Moon Staff is now a one use item that either lets you add an extra die to each cast attempt from him for a turn OR negate a miscast from him (after use Teclis reduces his Strength and Toughness to 1 for the rest of the game, which is pretty funny but bad news). The scroll he carries is still nice, letting him auto-dispel an enemy (non-IF) spell as well as having a D6 roll-off against the mage who cast the spell, with a win resulting in them losing that spell for the rest of the game. Despite his awesome sword, he is still a cripple of an elf with no save to speak of so at least cram him into something that won't see cc and can protect him at the same time (not easy). The War Crown of Saphery, which used to let him dispel a miscast each turn and thus overpower him more than almost anyone else in the game, now grants him an additional wizard level making him one of the four Level 5 wizard options in the game. All together Teclis has gone from being mandatory in a "best possible" High Elf list to being an expensive character who's return on his points is questionable. Still, he's not terrible and is great for picking spells now that the magic item that used to let you do that is gone from the game. If you are using Storm of Magic rules, Teclis is still the powerhouse he once was and is just as facerollingly unfair as before.
- Alarielle the Radiant: The Everqueen is back people, and she is a Lord level wizard who can choose how many of her four spells are rolled from High Magic, Life Magic, and Light Magic. Mostly a defensive character, she uses her female status to make her unit protective of her to the point that they are immune to Fear and Terror (which is fair play if you ask me) and all her units' attacks count as magical. Also she heals one friendly character within 12" for 1 wound each round during the movement phase, but needs to target anyone else if available before herself since she's nice and all. Her and her unit get a 5+ ward save against non magical attacks too, which is jolly decent of her. She has only one attack but against the Forces of Destruction it's Heroic Killing Blow on top of her elven ASF. It would be really laughable if... lets say she slays a Greater Demon with this, but highly unlikely. She has Lileath's Blessing like other High Elf casters so she'll add +1 to High Magic spells if you're looking to bump up that Ward Save with Shield of Saphery via High Magic spam. She also has a nifty little passive called Chaos Bane since her very existence makes Daemons take SAN checks (so the Everqueen is more or less the God Emperor of Fantasy in all the ways Sigmar isn't) which means that during the beginning of her Magic Phase, before you roll for winds, every unit with the Daemonic rule within 12" of her takes D6 hits at strength 4 calculated as per shooting. Seems nice, but it comes with the drawback that she casts at a -D3 to any spells since Daemons give her a sad. She's got a one use item called the Stave of Avelorn which lets her cast a spell a second time regardless of whether she bummed it up or not. Finally, taking her gives Nobles, Lothern Sea Helms, and Handmaidens of the Everqueen special options. The Noble or Lothern Sea Helm you would use as your Battle Standard Bearer (which you are always going to have) can take the Banner of Avelorn for 40 points, which gives you +4 on every cast of Life and Light magic that targets the unit the Banner is in (that last part if very important, remember it when deciding where the BSB will march) which is very nice if you're looking to get off two of the best defensive/counter lores without losing many power dice each casting. The Handmaiden can take the Horn of Isha, which is a one use item used at the start of the Movement Phase that gives all the models in the unit that used it a +1 To Hit bonus on shooting or melee (so one turn of those arrows from the amazons get a little bit pointier) for 50 points. With all the rules the Queen is toting, she is High Elves' new Teclis but on defense rather than offense. She's also right alongside Teclis in Storm of Magic overpowering. Keep in mind she's not a /win overpowered goddess. Lists that use the Everqueen should have one giant horde to stick her in with multiple wound characters in it. Even a unit of Spearmen with the Everqueen can be buffed to Phoenix Guard levels on the cheap. Everqueen lists are vulnerable to flank charges however, so keep that in mind if you decide your Special choice should be the Alarielle horde. A Sea Helm in the unit with her will solve that issue pretty quickly however.
- Alith Anar, the Shadow King: Alith used to be overshadowed by the other Lord level choices available, but this edition has him in his own role and if it's what you need he's perfect. He's got a glorious bow granted to him by a goddess (functions as a Bolt Thrower (so subtract the price of one from his cost to figure out what ELSE you're getting from him) that he can shoot even if he moves, and ignores Armor saves) and has a nice statline. Hatred isn't as useful in 8th, but against Dark Elves it's always nice to put just a little more pain on them; speaking of, if you know you will be fighting Dark Elves he's Khaine's gift (one without drawbacks!) to elfkind due to his ranged attack causing -1LD to Dark Elf units he hits until the end of the phase. Since Bow of the Seafarer was removed in 8th edition you can no longer kit out a Prince to be a better shooty lord, so Alith has taken on that role entirely by himself and as a result a more viable option in competitive lists. Alith causes a -1 To Hit for whatever tries to shoot a unit he's joined, and the unit also has Swiftstride so think about where you're putting him (advancing wave of White Lions that you just CANNOT shoot is nice, as is Shadow Warriors you can't catch). Keep in mind that if you deploy him outside of your deployment zone you may want someone else to be your general, otherwise his inspiring presence is wasted for half the game.
- Elatharion the Grim, Warden of Tor Yvresse: He's nice, but perhaps too expensive for his own good. Hatred VS Orcs and Goblins isn't very useful unless you will actually be playing against them, and his extra boost in personal combat against Grom the Paunch of the Misty Mountain even less so. He's also a Level 2 caster who can grab any lore from the Rulebook (Beasts and Death work well), but that's a job you generally want to split between combat Lords and Wizards (never mind that, for his cost, you can grab a Prince AND a level 2 Mage, with 35 points left for equipment before Eltharion becomes the cheaper pick). He can also ride his enhanced personal Griffin Stormwing and get a free lance. Stormwing has stats exceeding a Sun Dragon and has ASF plus the 5+ Ward Save Eltharion's helmet grants him (How the fuck does that work? Magic. Elf magic.) but has no Scaly Skin which is a big deal when a Sun Dragon is only 40 points more. He's really a good enough Lord who's mostly overshadowed by how much you're paying for him and how other choices crunch better. On the plus side, his badass sword (+2 strength, no armor saves allowed), badass helmet (+1 armor save and 5+ ward save), and finally the badass medallion (gives Magic Resistance (1)) make him an easier pill to swallow if you're going for a themed list. Consider him on foot instead of simply throwing him on the gryphon if you do want him.
Compared to other sources, based on the princes profile he should be worth around 391 points (compared to his 295). Still, your mileage may vary if he's point effective or whether a vanilla prince with a few upgrades would be better.
Even More Alternate-er View
To achieve an equivalent level of power on vanilla Lords and Heroes would actually come to almost 450 points (Excluding his griffon), so he's a cheap way to have a wizard and a combat beat stick, especially in a low point game. Plus everyone loves a good sword-swinging wizard (Let's call him pointy-eared Gandalf).
- Heroes -
- Caradryan, Captain of the Phoenix Guard: Caradryan is a good fighting hero that got 5 points cheaper in 8th but lost 2 points of his magic resistance. Mark of Asuryan was changed from dealing D6 no armour save wounds to the single model that killed him to instead dealing D3 no armour save wounds to the unit or the same to a single enemy in a challenge (so his aftermath special ability has been halved in exchange for it being able to affect the unit when he cops it outside of a challenge). His magic weapon is FANTASTIC against trolls and other regenerating monsters due to having Flaming Attacks, it also hits on +1 strength and causes Multiple Wounds (D3) against anything. He himself is not too expensive, especially since he discourages tricked out Lords/Heroes from coming after him due to his dying ability. Not the greatest Hero in the world, but really fun and a god-tier bodyguard. Also, has the option to now ride a named Frostheart Pheonix, Ashtari. Costs 10 points more than a generic but with an additional attack and is thus a GREAT option. Combine that with his dying ability and you've essentially got a flying tank that weakens things around it carrying a nuke (one that doesn't hurt your own men), and it's on a dead man's trigger.
- Korhil, Captain of the White Lions: Korhil's main advantages are as follows: He's cheap (but 10 points costlier in 8th) and he's Stubborn and thus grants this to any unit he joins. Those two reasons are reason enough to take him, especially if you want to dump him in a large Spearmen unit. He lost Woodsman, gained Forest Strider which is the same thing by another name. It lets his unit waltz through deadly Forests like they're a peaceful park. He's reasonably killy on his own merits with S4, with +2 strength from his magic weapon, with Killing Blow, with ASF, with an extra hand weapon. Pelt got a slight nerf, grants +1 close combat and +2 shooting to his armor, and instead of being immune to poison in all forms they have to roll To Wound to hit him. Not someone who will turn the game around, but he certainly helps if your strategy is an elfhorde and you didn't bring along Alarielle. See his bio in the fluff section for themed lists, basically he can show up anywhere High Elves are as long as the Phoenix King approves of whatever your army is doing. NEVER FORGET his axe DOESN'T have ASL unlike white lions, so you still get your re-rolls. Korhil may also be mounted on a Lion Chariot, upping his Armour Save by +1 and making the chariot stubborn and a very deadly force on the charge. Plus, the chariot does not have to take a dangerous terrain test when moving through a forest, which is quite huge for a chariot.
Note: While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
- Lords -
- Prince: Princes personify everything about the High Elves: Fast as hell, kickass in close combat, can take a variety of special stuff, about as hard as wet tissue. Be sure to give this guy an armor or ward save, or else he will get his ass killed. Aside from that, he's a brutal close combat Lord (WS7, I8, ASF) and properly kitted out there's very little this guy can't kill. Dragon Armor lol's at flaming attacks and breath weapons but is now 20 points (minus the 6 you'd be spending on Heavy Armor, since you ARE taking one or the other); you do get a 6+ ward with it though. As an alternative to Dragon Armor you can take a Lion Cloak alongside the Heavy Armor for just 6 points, giving your Prince a +2 armor save against shooting. If you have the points and you aren't already taking a magic item with a ward save then Dragon Armour is the better option, though a Prince should have a better ward than 6+. Look for the variety of killy options down in the magic weapons.
- Archmage: A fantastic caster. Access to all 8 Lores, plus High Magic, means he can literally be designed to do whatever you want, though the preferred option in an unclear situation is Lore of Life. Also remember that as long as he's on the board (along with his little brother the Mage) you get +1 to their casts for High Magic through Lileath's Blessing for a total of +5 when channeling it through a Level 4 Archmage. Like with the Prince, he has access to some of the best magic equipment in the game. High Elves are good at magic, and this guy proves it.
- Loremaster of Hoeth: A new Lord choice and mostly the same as a Swordmaster. But is also a level 2 Mage with ALL 8 normal magic Signature Spells. This gives him great diversity, and he is also not bad in combat (but frail, as he only has a 5+ armour save). Think about it: the Signature Spells are nowhere near bad (ok, most of them are not) and you're getting all of them! Three magic missiles, a direct damage spell, two augments and two hexes. Having all of the lore attributes at your fingertips is useful, like casting Spirit Leech to get more power dice from killing someone. He gets to take as much magic gear as the Archmage and Prince does, meaning you pick how you want to use him and kit him out like one or the other. Also, Deflect Shots for a 6+ ward against non-magical non-template ranged attacks. He's a pretty solid choice, but he costs a metric ton to bring to the table and he's not as good on defense as a level 4 Archmage, so he'll probably only see field in big games. Also, put this guy near a wizards tower whenever you can. It's painfully hilarious. In Storm of Magic, this guy is double hilarity - he gets ALL the spells!
It is also worth noting that under the new rules from End Times, the Loremaster of Hoeth knows all the spells from all 8 lores. (Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I am 99% sure that as he is mentioned as THE example, this is the case).
- Anointed of Asuryan: Yes, you read that right. The head of the Phoenix Guard is somehow a hero while a generic version of him is a Lord, go figure. Anyway, the Anointed is a Lord choice Phoenix Guard member with magic resistance and option to ride a Phoenix (no one else can, other than Caradryan who is his named counterpart). Since he already has a 4+ Ward save a heavy armor and a halberd he needs nearly no equipment at all. When he rides a Flamespyre Phoenix it will return from the dead more often and will even ease the burden on the Phoenix in case of shooting (since he will absorb a few hits). Much, much, MUCH more importantly, he gives everyone in any unit he joins a 6+ Ward Save and Immune to Psychology, which makes him really good in big units of Spearmen, White Lions and the like. On foot, he's a better option than the Prince. In terms of mounts, you take the Anointed if you want one of the Phoenixes (I would say go with the Flamespyre) and the Prince if you want the Dragons.
- Heroes -
- Noble: A great fighter for his points, but if you have the points you really should be taking a Prince (who's only 70 points more). The main reason you take a Noble is because he can be a BSB or if you're low on points (either overall or in the Lord choices) in which case, he'll serve. He's best as a BSB and you DEFINITELY want a BSB. In 8th with Lothern Sea Helms also being an option as a Battle Standard Bearer there are now conceivable lists where you might not take a Noble. As a nice little bonus for those who are low on points, the armor types (Heavy, Dragon, and Lion Cloak) are cheaper on a Noble than a Prince.
- Mage: Unlike the Noble vs. Prince the difference in points between the Mage and Archmage is big that you might want a Mage instead, he can do everything the Archmage can but at level two. If you're in the mood it's always nice to have a backup Mage with a different lore to deal with situations your Archmage can't. Never a bad idea.
- Dragon Mage: That's right, we even have HEROES riding Dragons. The Dragon is fairly squishy (for a Dragon) and the model as a whole runs on the pricy side, but the Hero Level Dragon and the sheer power of the Mage on top make up for a lot of that. Flaming Sword of Rhuin is actually worthwhile in this edition and the Mage himself can put out an incredible amount of firepower. Note that you should never ever use the actual amount of dice you need; Figure out how much you need and then take one less, it'll give you more mileage. Can be a game breaker at lower points, but tends to get irrelevant once it becomes possible to grab a Prince on Star Dragon. Also, beware as they can only take the Lore of Fire. As Dragon Mages now have access to Dragon Armour, they have access to Magic Armour. Dragon Mage Dragon Armour + Enchanted shield makes for a 2+ Wizard, and if you've got a squishy wave of elven melee doom and a Dragon Mage advancing on a position, your opponent is just picking size or numbers for what dick will end up in his ass.
- Handmaiden of the Everqueen: The main Valkyrie in a horde of Amazons. You will only play this character with a group of maidens as she gives them (and only them) Quick to Fire. Put the Reaver Bow on her for 3 BS7 S5 quick-to-fire shots. She's kind of expensive for her stats, so she should only be brought if you've got a big unit of Sisters with her name on it. Can take a Horn of Isha if you take the Everqueen, which you should take anytime you aren't taking the Reaver Bow.
- Sea Helm: A new hero for the High elves who allows his unit to, after passing a leadership test, reform directly after they were charged, as long as they didn't Stand and Shoot or Flee that turn. This means no more easily flanking your units, and taking into account that every High Elf Unit can strike out of 3 rows to the front, this - for measly 100 Points - becomes really important. He can also be a Battle Standard Bearer if you're taking him anyway and don't want to bother with the Noble. Be careful using the Sea Helm as your BSB as he does not have the defensive options that the Noble has. A BSB Noble can get heavy armor and a shield, not to mention dragon armor and the lion cloak, a noble can get 4+/6++ easily without using any magic items. The Sea Helm however has light armor and a shield, that is all. If you're taking a BSB Sea Helm, give him a mundane standard and pump his defenses with his magic item allowance. But seeing as any special ranked unit (aka any unit you want to put him in barr a 50-block of spearmen) has a magic standard allowance of at least 50 points (banner of the world dragon costs 50 points), this isn't much of a problem.
- Elven Steed: It's a horse, it goes fast and makes them the tiniest bit less killable. Available for Princes, Archmages, Nobles, and Mages. Since Ithilmar Barding stopped subtracting from movement, you should probably always upgrade to Ithilmar Barding. It adds armor save and DOES NOT make the M9 steed any slower. There's no reason not to pay a few measly points for that.
- Great Eagle: Useable by Princes, Archmages, and Nobles. Eagles are the halfway point between Horses and Monsters and they're quite cheap at 50 points. You can put a Noble with the Reaver Bow on one of these for a fast, shooty unit that is tougher (a Great Eagle is your only chance of getting a T4 character) and has an extra wound, or an Archmage to get on your opponent's flank and vortex him back to the stone age. For a better Eagle you have to spend 15 points more, which if you're taking one you probably should.
- Griffon: Useable by Princes and Nobles. Good news they're cheaper than Sun Dragons (150 points vs 235), but with upgrades to make the Griffon viable it comes to a grand total of 195 points. The only difference being the Sun Dragon has one more wound... and a flame attack... and a 3+ AS which makes Dragons durable where Griffons are saveless. Still, Dragons don't have ASF or Devastating Charge, plus Griffons have a +1 Strength on the turn they charge. It's iffy, but offensive lists requiring a nice hard flank to something that isn't a horde have a need for a well geared Prince on a Griffon. Not to mention that neat Island of Blood mini has just been gathering dust on your shelf...
- Tiranoc Chariot: Option for Princes, Archmages, Nobles, or Mages. Not a good option really, there's potential in that it crunches better than an Eagle for a Reaver Bow war machine hunter, but still iffy. With a unit of 3 though you can replace any Reavers, Shadow Warriors, and Eagle-riding Lords or Heroes. Still, there's complex strategies that can make great use of them, like 2v2 and scenario games.
- Sun Dragon: Option for Princes and Archmages. The mini-Dragon. Still a Dragon, still kick-ass. Good for if you're short on points, since the 70 point upgrade from Sun to a Moon Dragon matters.
- Moon Dragon: The medium Dragon, same power level as most Dragons in the game. A good all around choice.
- Star Dragon: The highest tier of Dragon and probably the most brutal Monstrous Mount in the game. With WS7, S7, T7 7 wounds, 6 attacks, a Strength 4 breath weapon and a 3+ armour save, this guy, with a properly tricked out rider, can probably rip the head off of anything stupid enough to get in its way without tipping the odds. It can tear apart almost anything. Giants, K'daii Destroyers, and other dragons will all be killed if faced by a Star Dragon. Beware the I2 though and be aware that everyone and their dog will be gunning for it. Don't let it get bogged down in a head on collision with a large unit; yes it probably can't do any real damage to the Star Dragon, but it'll be stuck there all game and probably get flanked. Have him charge down small units, flank big units in conjunction with a frontal assault, hunt down enemy monsters. Unless it gets hit by a cannonball, something is going to die when a Star Dragon gets involved. WORD OF WARNING: Some combat Lords from melee-heavy armies (Warriors of Chaos, Ogres, Daemons, Bretonnia etc) have weapons and gifts and things that are designed to bring down dragons, and a Bretonnian Lord with a Sword of Swiftstride and Heroic Killing Blow can cut the head off a Star Dragon before it can lift a claw.
- Skycutter of Lothern: Your mount option for the Sea Helm and the Sea Helm alone, but don't take it, because his main power is buffing your troops and he's good at it. Not a terrible choice though if you really want to buzz enemies without worrying too much about terrain checks or being shot at. Putting him on one gives it a 4+ Ward Save against shooting, and allows you to reroll dangerous terrain tests. Taking a second Sea Helm and putting him on one replaces two crew members, meaning you're only getting the shooting attack of one crewman, and the Sea Helm if you spend the 4 points to give him a bow, or outfit him with a Reaver Bow (the only way to really make this a remotely viable option). If you want a Skycutter, take it as a
Rare choice(hilariously they're a special choice now, go elves!), not a mount.
- Flamespyre Phoenix: So finally the High Elves get their coverbeast to play. It's flaming hot, doesn't fear fire and comes with average stats for a Monster. It only has a 5+ ward save, but this is more than a Giant or a Dragon has against cannons. It gets stronger with better winds of magic (albeit on a chance of 1/9 it get's weaker) and can make flying attacks like the chaosmantas, even more so with all of its attacks being magical. Since it's a Phoenix it can be reborn by rolling a dice at the end of the turn it was killed, on a 6 it come back with D3+2 wounds, on 3 to 5 it blows up and you can try again at the end of the next turn (can be your opponents turn), with a roll of 1 or 2 the Pheonix is dead. When it's ridden by an Anointed, (the only mount he can ride, and the only one that can ride it) the roll has a +1 modifier which is beautiful. It lacks the power to really take out a big unit on its own but can take out war machines and kill off survivors. With an Anointed it gets powerful enough to flank units and at least have a chance, so this is how you want to take it.
- Frostheart Phoenix: Frostheart Phoenixes are great to have, but putting an Anointed on one doesn't really do anything for it besides get him into combat and waste his unit buffing so if you're taking one, take one as a Rare option.
- Archers: A good unit overall. Longbows and high BS give them a good range and a solid ability to damage small lightly armored units (don't count on them to do too much to heavy armor). They work really well in 2 or so groups of 10, especially when combined with Repeater Bolt Throwers (you should generally concentrate fire). High WS, I, and LD along with Always Strikes First allows them to resist attempts by small units of light cavalry (it'll take more than a unit of Mounted Yeomen to deal with these) but you shouldn't be counting on them to do combat duties. Players are split on whether to take Light Armor: On a 10 man unit, taking Light Armor could deny you an 11th model, but if you want to keep your model count low, Light Armor does make them marginally more survivable. Don't bother with Command beyond Musician. Just a side note, Archers having Longbows is superior in range to Lothern Sea Guard having simple Bows, and this can make a world of difference when trying to outrange certain weapons such as Dark Elf Repeater Crossbows (hold that thought until the new Dark Elf codex comes out... bwahahahaha!)
- Spearmen: Spearmen got a definite boost in 8th, with the new rules for Always Strikes First and the rank rules (allowing them to strike in 4 Ranks, 3 on the charge). A common formation for them is 5 ranks of 6 for a total of 30 models, giving you a total of 24 attacks (25 with Champion) and 7 wounds required before they start losing attacks for a total of 295 points with Command. Although if you're feeling saucy, you could take a 565 points, 60 man Horde which gets a total of 50 attacks on the front. Ultimately, there's always room for these fantastic infantry units in your army. The anvil of most "hammer and anvil" strikes for High Elf armies. With 8th, First Among Equals was dropped so now only Spearmen can take a 25 point max magic standard.
- Lothern Sea Guard: Lothern Sea Guard used to get a bad reputation, which is no longer deserved. They cost the same as an Archer upgraded to have Light Armor, but get free Spears to go with it, and can take a shield for an extra point. The only reason that isn't the best thing ever is because they have regular Bows instead of Longbows, and thus have diminished range. As such they are often derided as overpriced, but they're a solid defensive unit that can pump out a shooting round on par with the archers and do as well as the Spearmen in melee. With 8th edition, they can no longer take a magic banner as that is now reserved for Spearmen alone. The addition of the Sea Helm to the game has taken away their main weakness however. Before, you had to play it smart to get as many shots as you could in, then reform to take a charge. With the Sea Helm, one easy Leadership check and you're ready to stab the heck out of the enemy (in 4 ranks!) the very moment they begin their charge so as a result a list where your entire Core is one GIANT horde of Lothern Sea Guard escorted by a Sea Helm is the basis for any defensive list. Just remember that the Sea Helm's reforming rule only works if you elect to hold, losing you a stand and shoot. In any case, the high price of each Lothern Sea Guardsman makes every single loss taken slightly more costly than if an equivalent Spearmen had bought the farm (3 point difference, so every third LSG you take is one less Spearman). Take and use with discretion.
- Silver Helms: LET THE JOYOUS NEWS BE SPREAD! THEY ARE BACK AS CORE! In the previous edition, they were not worth taking due to them soaking up Special options. Now however, you can have a highly mobile force. Here's what you need to know; their stats are the same as Spearmen, but the have a Movement score of 9 compared to the 5 of Spearmen. Silver Helms have Heavy Armor compared to the Spearmen's Light Armor. Finally, Spearmen are only 9 points and come with a Shield, whereas Silver Helms are a whopping 21 points and spend an extra two for that Shield, bringing them to 23 points total each. Is that worth it? When you want a chaff unit that can take a hit or two, sure. In a pure offensive, speed based list - HELL yes! A Noble (on horseback obviously) bearing the Banner of the World Dragon, with your Archmage (also on horseback, duh) spamming any spell he can think of into the enemy, both these fine elves in a very large unit of Silver Helms that is acting as a fast moving steamroller. Flank the enemy with some Reavers, or skip the foreplay and go right to the reaming with Dragon Princes on a charge. Throw Tyrion into the mix for an army worthy of the High Elf race. Do note however, that a list that isn't purely offensive probably shouldn't have Silver Helms in it. An Avelorn themed list where the Sisters of Avelorn mop up the enemy isn't half bad (could be much better) but for the most part keep them as your core in cavalry lists only. Oh, and Bretonnian players won't stop bitching about Silver Helms until they get an update, so we should be cool with the mon'keigh right around the time of the Horus Heresy (sorry, that was mean. Funny, but mean).
- Ellyrian Reavers: Also back as Core. The primary role for Ellyrian Reavers in a High Elf army is as chaff to end an opponent's march, then harass casters and warmachines. The fact they (in a unit of 5 with no upgrades) can do that more durably than a Great Eagle makes them really worth it when you aren't using a horde of Core, and you need your Rare slots for Sisters of Avelorn or Bolt Throwers. Not really worth it in most lists outside that role, their strength is the Wood Elf tactic of shooting and running. They can flank too, so if your list uses a massive horde of one Special option as a wall of doom with a Sea Helm shouting orders to them then some Reavers on the sides aren't half bad. Still, the vanilla Reaver only carries Light Armor and a Spear, with all stats but their Movement (9) equal to Spearmen. They're paying a full 7 points more for that horse, and they don't get a shield for it. If they drop the spears and take bows instead, you spend one extra point per mini (so they lose out on the charge). For a full 3 points, they can still shoot and take spears (so figure out what you want to use them for, then stick with it). Their champion, the Harbinger, has a higher BS so if you aren't taking bows there's literally no reason to spend the extra points on him. They do have a nice purpose, they're really fast moving, have those bows and/or spears, and a few units of 5 will make an artillery happy enemy have to pick between using those cannons to defend themselves, or hit your main force. Perhaps the best use of Reavers however is against enemies with NO ranged options. Nothing sadder than a game where your opponent realizes there's not a damn thing he can do to win because he can't reach your Reavers.
- While your Core units are used to create the core (ha) of your army, this is where you get the guys who do most of the damage. Don't be afraid to shamelessly spend absurd amounts of points (in fact, the full limit you can usually) in your special choices. If you need something dead, and you're not in a big enough game to bring a Star Dragon, this is where you look.
- Swordmasters of Hoeth: In any (literally any) other army, they'd be a Blue Chip unit, something to never leave home without. After all, 2 WS6 S5 attacks in 3 ranks at 13 points a pop, a magic standard up to 50 points, and with ASF canceling out ASL from great weapons for normal I5 attacks? What's not to like? Well you see, in the High Elves book, there are three primary Special options and Swordmasters are slightly the lowest when you crunch survivability and damage. At T3 and only 5+ armour and one Wound, they are as hard to wound as tissue paper and everyone knows it. But, if we're being entirely fair to the unit and taking them on their own terms, they're not all bad and with some strategy (or magic (AND magic is best of course)) you can make them into trap versions of Brock Fucking Samson. If you're careful with them, small units of them can make devastating flanking units, with most players taking them as bare 15 man units or 21 man 7-across units. They can cause some ridiculous damage under a lot of circumstances, but just be careful with them, one good Magic Missile or enemy shooting phase can mean you spent all those points on nothing (but now in 8th, they can deflect arrows like Jedi via get a 6+ save to non-magical non-template shooting attacks). There is also one way to make them really REALLY good. Run a 30+ man horde. Stick a Lore of Life level 4 Archmage or Alarielle in. Enjoy your opponent's tears while your T7, regenerating, regrowthing unit pumps out 40 S5 attacks to the front. Keeping up a 3+ ward save on the Swordmasters through High magic spam isn't half bad either (a Battle Report where this is maintained the entire game and going up against a horde army is a form of pornography to a High Elf player). All it will have cost you is a few power dice to make that happen.
- Phoenix Guard: Phoenix Guard are not only the best unit in the High Elf army, they are probably in the top 3 best units of the game, period. 15 points for WS5, S3 (S4 because of halberds), I6, LD9, Fear causing, Heavy Armored, ASF, and an extra rank of attacks. Wait that doesn't sound good? Oh they also have a 4+ Ward Save, standard. Yeah, there you go. These guys can get hit in the face by a cannon ball and just shrug it off, and they've got enough killing power to actually give back. Be sure to give them a solid bit of static CR, because LD9 does not make them immune to failing their break test (BSB works well and will be difficult to kill inside that unit). Either put them in horde formation, or make them very deep to take away steadfast. There is no High Elf army that doesn't have room for these lads (other than the full cavalry list).
- White Lions of Chrace: White Lions are the middle child, the jack of all trades, the bard if you will of the three Special choice High Elf infantry. Better than Swordmasters due to durability and costing the same amount of points, and deal more damage than Phoenix Guard and two points cheaper. They are inferior to the respective masters in terms of raw damage, or survivability. Still, they do pump out S6 I5 attacks with the usual extra rank, they are more resistant to shooting than Swordmasters (with a +2 to their Armor against non-magical shooting), they treat forests as if they're an open meadow, and best of all they're Stubborn to the last man, which means even a rank of 5 can hold out against LOTS of static CR. They end up truly being the jack of all trades of the three, operating just as well as a defensive ranked unit as an offensive charging unit. Also with S6 from Great Weapons (swinging at I5 due to ASF negating ASL), 3 ranks of them is enough to make most monsters cry (send them up against that Giant your opponent is so proud of and watch him cry as they hack out his kneecaps while singing a jolly tune about how they're hacking away his kneecaps). Take them in big units with the Banner of Eternal Flame and you're ready for anything. They're very good as far as heavy infantry goes, and well worth your time. If your strategy revolves around Swordmasters or Phoenix Guard, White Lions are worth considering as a secondary choice to flank.
- Dragon Princes of Caledor: Dragon Princes hit harder than any unit has a right to with two attacks and while heavy cavalry has generally fallen out of favor these guys remain popular due to the ubiquity of flaming attacks and breath weapons (although they are no longer immune, they merely get a 2+ ward save against it). Therefore, if your Daemons of Chaos opponent likes Tzeentch and its flaming attacks (Warpflame, Anon, not Flaming anymore), take these guys and see him cry. If you're playing a defensive list, they're probably not worth your time, but offensive lists can generally find a place for them. On the charge there's not much that can hit harder, and while they're no Blood Knights they can certainly keep going in melee. Still, stick with prodding the enemy flank as your goal with them. Uniquely, the Drakemaster (unit champion) can take a magic armour in addition to the usual magic weapon. It may be worth it to turn him into a mini Noble by giving him, for example, the Star Lance and the Enchanted Shield; he has three attacks after all, like a naked Noble. In fact, he's a prince himself...
- Shadow Warriors: Previously, Shadow Warriors were the Elven equivalent of Beastmen. As of new Army book however they are better shots than archers while only being 3 points more, and get Scouting and Skirmish so they have become useful at War Machine hunting and taking out annoyances like Spirit Hosts. Put a Noble with Shadow Armour and The Reaver Bow in the unit to give them that little extra fire power cheaply (or just give the Reaver Bow to a Shadow-walker [the unit champion] to do it even more cheaply). Throw Alith Anar in with them and you've got Elven Vietcong. Generally speaking, Shadow Warriors still don't have much of a place in your army. Reavers are better at putting the hurt on enemies and getting away, and Special is not the category you really want to put ranged options into. Still, a HUGE horde of Spearmen taking up your Core and Phoenix's eating up your Rare slots leave Shadow Warriors as your Special of choice to still get a ranged attack.
- Tiranoc Chariot: These aren't bad on their own terms but when compared to the other major option for Chariots, which is better in nearly every applicable way other than not having a ranged attack, Tiranoc Chariots get a thumbs down. Still, Tiranoc Chariots aren't bad and if you're in the mood for a cheap chariot (70 points), this is for you. They are very adaptable with longbows, spears, and very good movement. It should be noted that High Elf Chariots are among the most reasonably priced (money wise) units that GW has, and if you get a Chariot but use it as a White Lion one you get extra horses to put Lords or Heroes on. Apparently nobody has noticed that you can take these in units of three. Well, you can take these in units of three, so they're not that bad compared to the other chariots in the army. Note that a character on a chariot still can't join a unit of Tiranoc chariots. Tomb Kings can only do it because they have a special rule for that.
- White Lion Chariot: This is what Tiranoc Chariots suffer when compared to. With 2 S4 crew that hit at S6, 4 S5 Lion attacks and an extra armor save, White Lion Chariots are pretty brutal when they hit right. As with all Chariots, if you're playing defensively they won't help much, but they really work fantastically on the charge. Each one costs 120 points, down 20 points from 7th edition.
- Lothern Skycutter: It's a flying Tiranoc chariot with an extra crewman but each one has a bow compared to the longbow of the Tiranoc. The Roc (not an Eagle, a Roc) hits harder and has an extra attack, and all this comes at only 25 more points than the Chariot. But that's not why you take a Lothern Skycutter. Three words: Flying Bolt Throwers! It's a 25 point upgrade to have one of the crew man it, and it's what you're looking for in this choice. Unlike the regular Bolt Thrower however, this one is a bit different. For one, there's only one type of fire, a single bolt which has half the range of an ordinary Bolt Thrower with 1 Strength less, same D3 wounds and ignoring armor saves, BUT can be fired whether it moves or not. It's beautiful, isn't it? While your Eagles and/or Shadow Warriors have things stuck on the enemy's side of the map, just park out of range of a charge and make them bleed. Unfortunately with moving and only a range of 24 (and therefore at long range when over 12 inches) odds are you're gonna need a 5+ to hit, so you might not get as much mileage out of that Bolt Thrower as you want. Consider carefully. Note that if you're gonna take a single Tiranoc Chariot, you might consider an Bolt Thrower-less Skycutter, if you can find 25 points. For those points you get 1 more crewman (and thus 1 more spear attack/bow shot) 1 higher armor, plus 2WS and 1S on your mount. Probably worth those points.
- Repeater Bolt Thrower: None of the Rare Choices are precisely blue chip units, but Repeater Bolt Throwers are an alternative answer for high toughness and 2+ armour saves if you haven't brought along White Lions. It does have good range, and it is your only war machine, and now that each one is 30 points cheaper it's a lot less painful setting up a defensive position on your side of the map. It does however depend upon lots of protection to be effective as it is a primary target for magic and shooting, and only has two wounds. T7(!) can offset a lot of that though, and combined with Archers they can cause a lot of damage, or with Lothern Seaguard to pump out some hits and be ready for when the enemy reaches you. They're more resistant to shooting than Eagles and can probably cause more damage long-term. Not a great unit, but if you're in the mood, they don't generally hurt. Concentrate fire to bring down big things like monsters and characters, volley fire to eliminate enemy chaff and infantry blocks.
- Great Eagle: Used to be the only chaff the High Elf army had, but now you've got Reavers and Silver Helms as options in this respect as well. At a mere 50 points (65 after upgrades), it's easy to field a couple eagles in any game higher than 1500. These guys are still the champions of war machine hunting, redirecting, and mage hunting, but they die easier than Silver Helms and it's hard to argue with the Reavers having a ranged attack on top of that role so the primary use of the Great Eagle is now to do the same role but save points (a group of 5 Reavers without bows would cost 80 points and with bows would cost 95 points, a group of 5 Silver Helms with Shields would cost 115, and all 3 choices fulfill the same role to different capacities). With T4 and W3, they're kinda survivable, but don't expect them to survive through the end of the game. They are the ultimate sacrificial units in the chaff slot, and can usually slow down other units and kill at least their points worth, with their two S4 attacks coupled with ASF and Armor Piercing. A unit of Shadow Warriors can fulfill it's role to an extent as well, but Eagle are still preferred.
- Sisters of Avelorn: The amazons are closing in. This is the strongest shooting unit in game, the Phoenix Guard of PEWPEW. They have flaming arrows that hit at S4 and cause a -1 armor save when you fire on the Destruction-aligned armies, and all that with BS 5. Volley Fire is an option as well. For 14 Points this is a deal and they can shoot out of 3 rows and reduce everything in 24 inches to a burning pile of whatever. When coupled with a Handmaiden giving them fast shooting they are even better, because running without penalty to shoot is always a boon. If you've taken the Horn of Isha, you get one turn of every ranged attack having +1 To Hit to make those arrows even stronger. (Also, they're sexy.) Still they are only as tough as normal archers so don't except them to take much punishment. Protect them with Spearmen, Phoenix Guard, White Lions, or keep them out of harm's way and fire ahead of the Silver Helms.
- Flamespyre Phoenix: If you're taking the Flamespyre Phoenix, you should really scroll up and read the section for it as a mount for an Anointed of Asuryan. That's really how you want to play it, otherwise the Frostheart is what you are looking for.
- Alternate Opinion: Taking an Anointed on a Flamespyre Phoenix is actually a massive waste of the Anointed. You are paying an extra 210 points for a rider who is completely useless when the Phoenix is doing flyby burning, which is how you should usually be using it. An Anointed isn't gonna help the Phoenix fight anything except stuff the Phoenix is already qualified to fight, so you're basically paying those 210 points (plus any magic items you want to give him) to get +1 to his resurrection rolls. Never mind that A: when the Phoenix bites it so does the Anointed, B: you're wasting the Anointed ability to grand a 6++ and ItP to a unit and C: it means that the 225 points for the Phoenix come from Lord choices instead of Rare, which is bad because you need your Lord points. Just take the Flamespyre alone and concentrate on flyby and charging smaller units.
- Frostheart Phoenix: When you get old, you get cold more often it seems, this is especially true if you were a fricking blazing Phoenix, since you become a freezing Phoenix. It is tougher and stronger than its younger version but can't drop napalm and loses its "I'll be back" ability. So it costs a fraction more and if you want to have your monster stay alive instead of maybe coming back to life this is your choice. Has 5+ natural armor, which is decent. Causes Terror, which is great. Its chilling aura is insane. It bestows ASL, but more importantly it also gives -1S to all UNITS in base contact. For all intents and purposes (almost) it has T7 in combat and if it assists another elven unit that unit will experience the joy of Pseudo T4... an insanely good monster. Although it can pull chaff duty, that's really not where you want it unless you're just looking for more time to fill the enemy with arrows and bolts. Frosthearts should be with your main force, hitting whatever needs to be weakened the most after it's already in a fight with your anvil force.
Building Your Army
Buying Your Army
The key to getting a nice cheap army is the Island of Blood. For one hundred dollars, (OR 55€) you get a decent number of elves, and some Skaven as well that can either be painted and glued to the base underneath your elves's feet or simply re-auctioned to a Skaven player. Did I mention the rulebook, templates, and artillery dice? Buy two of these treasure troves, then sell the Skaven packaged with the rulebook. With that alone, you can probably recover the costs of the boxes. After that, you get 20 Lothern Sea Guard, 20 Swordmasters, 10 Reavers, 2 Mages, and 2 Princes on Griffons (but those can also be run as Princes or Nobles on Eagles or even as just a regular Great Eagle if that's how you're going to go about it). That's the perfect start to any high elf army. After that, start browsing ebay. Search Warhammer High Elves by ending soonest, crunch the numbers so you know Games Workshop's price per model, then factor in shipping. Figure out what you can proxy (High Elf Island of Blood Mage+Spearman/Lothern Seaguard Arm holding the spear with a computer printout of a flag glued to it=Noble bearing a Battle Standard for example). Remember if there's something decent you need with a shipping price you're not thrilled over ($3 for a Korhil mini, but with $4 shipping making it not too great a deal) to check in the seller's other auctions, so you can net a combined shipping discount (that $4 shipping feels much better when you're getting a dragon for $20 and some Eldar you can greenstuff to look medieval for $2 along with said Korhil). With patience, you can assemble a High Elf army at a fraction of the price buying new would have cost, and you can even get some of the nifty old metal minis to be proud of!
A High Elf army must either be defensive or offensive, having a mix between the two means that your opponent is only ever facing half of your army at any one time. The good news is, however, that once the focus of your army has been chosen there is still a lot to choose from and a lot to tinker with. Whichever approach you take you need to think about what you are going to do if the enemy has the same plan, or at least refuses to do what you want. While your awesome defensive army with lethal flank charges and such might be awesome when your opponent foolishly charges his whole army towards your block of spearmen, if you're playing against a dwarf gunline who's plan is to just never move then you're going to have problems. All lists need to have a plan for handling war machines (which are to be expected from every opponent) and some number of units to help you control the enemy movement. A few great eagles and a unit of reavers can find a place in almost any army for exactly this reason. Yes, your army needs to be focused but it also needs to be realistic. You need to be able to get some units out on the flanks to clog up charge lanes or divert shooting while your combat dudes jog across the board. If you don't do this then even the best defensive list will get outmaneuvered and the best offensive list will get pulled out of position by enemy chaff. You don't want to spend a lot of points on these units, but they need to be there unless you have an extremely good reason not to have them.
- The Blade of Leaping Gold: Mostly useless, 70 points is not worth it for +3 attacks when what are need are stronger ones. The any-roll-of-a-six-to-wound-ignores-armour-saves thing fails to offset its points cost.
- Star Lance: 30 points, better than a lance. Excellent for a kick-ass charge, good on a dragon or a griffon as all you will be doing is charging. Getting the Giant Blade from the rulebook will give you that strength in following rounds of combat however.
- The Reaver Bow: Great with Shadow Warriors or Sisters of Avelorn champions, 25 points for 3 shots at the wielders strength +1 which means they will be strength 5 from a Noble or Prince.
- Armour of Caledor: 50 points for Dragon Armour that bestows a 2+ armour save. Good unless you are mounted or planning on getting a ward save better than 6+.
- Shadow Armour: Only works on foot, this gives a 5+ armour and gives you Scouts and Strider for 25 points. Strider is nice in itself, but unless you're going with Shadow Warriors he'll be on his own if you use Scouts.
- Shield of the Merwyrm: 15 points for a shield (+1 armour save as usual) which grants 4+ parry save, even with a magic weapon. A cheap 4+ very conditional Ward save in close combat, but with the usual restrictions: Not if your weapon requires two hands, not if you're mounted, not to the flank or rear, not against impact hits or (thunder)stomp and you will still be vulnerable to spells. Still a very good choice, especially for a hero (e.g. BSB) in a unit.
- Golden Crown of Atrazar: A 2+ Ward against the first wound suffered. Nice way to spend ten points as it essentially buys you another wound if you lack a save.
- Moranion's Wayshard: 50 points for Ambushers that is also applied to a unit of up to 30 Spearmen or Archers that the model is in. A unit that can hold its own behind enemy lines? Yes please.
- Khaine's Ring of Fury: Soul Quench as a bound spell with 3 to cast for 25 points. The best thing about this is the Ward save you get at the end, but a cheap magic missile is good too.
- Gem of Sunfire: Used at the start of a turn, this one-use item gives the bearer +1 to all wound rolls for magic, shooting and close combat IF they are also flaming attacks. It can be worth the 20 points if you are under the Banner of Eternal Flame, or are using the Lore of Fire or Lore of Metal.
- Cloak of Beards: 10 points to cause Fear is brilliant. Against Dwarfs it causes Terror instead and blows up their magic items, but gives them Hatred against you. Of course with the new Army Book and Ancestral Grudge, there's a 1/3 chance his army will Hate your entire army and another 1/3 chance that his army will hate your characters, so most of the time it'll have no downside.
- Book of Hoeth: 55 points to re-roll one dice for casting and dispel attempts that are not 6s. Gives you a surprisingly good magic edge, might seem pricey but why should your Prince get his toys and your Archmage be left with nothing?
- Banner of the World Dragon: Matt Ward's way of saying sorry for making Daemons of Chaos overpowered. 50 points for a 2+ Ward save against magic, magic weapons and magic attacks for the unit, which includes miscast effects. Ward then had the balls to make this banner give stubborn to dragons within 12 inches. DoC players, Skaven players and Wood Elf players won't play with you if you use this. Empire player passing by, if you bring this banner I won't play with you either. Dwarf player here, I wouldn't play with you either. I don't think anyone will. *distant sound of Ogre Kingdoms players laughing* Seriously though, as a Vampire Counts player, this banner needs to die.
- A lot of players will whine at you, but keep in mind you're just using the tools your army's got. If someone says they won't play with you because of a certain magic item, it's time to find a new gaming group.
- Giant Blade: 60 points is a lot, but +3 Strength is something great for a High Elf damage dealer. Note that despite it sounding like a slow weapon that would negate your ASF, it doesn't.
- Sword of Bloodshed: Just like Blade of Leaping Gold, it's just doubling up on a strength. 60 points is too much for that.
- Obsidian Blade: 50 points to ignore armor, great for tailoring your list but as a list you intend to stick to through thick and thin you don't want it.
- Ogre Blade: +2 Strength, 40 points. Take if it you already took the Giant Blade or if you need those 20 points for something else.
- Sword of Strife: +2 attacks, 40 points. Once again, you don't need more attacks you need stronger ones.
- Fencer's Blades: WS 10 for 35 points, but you can't use a shield with it. The Prince has a WS7, and thus this isn't that great when you could bump up his Strength or even his Attacks. Noble and Sea Helm have WS6, better but still not good. Handmaiden shouldn't be in close combat, but in theory if she gets there her WS5 can benefit from this (Reaver Bow should be on her instead of course). Some people have suggested sticking these on a Mage or Archmage since they can't use shields anyway and this can get them out of trouble, but that's debatable. It might be worth it on a Dragon Mage, since they usually end up in combat.
- Sword of Anti-Heroes: There should be a Mary Sue joke here, but let's go straight into the stats. +1 STR and +1 Attack for each character in base contact with the bearer and his unit. Could be good, could be great in a tailored list.
- Spellthieving Sword: For each wound a caster receives from this weapon, they lose a random spell. Generally speaking facing a wizard in close combat means a dead wizard. That being said, if you can manage to get into it with a named character (especially the likes of Morathi or Malekith) you could put some pain on them. Problem generally is that most casters who can't kill in one turn (such as Vampires, Chaos Warriors or Ogre Kingdom casters) you are going to want more strength or attacks or more survivability against. Even if this does work there's no guarantee you get a spell that matters.
- Sword of Swift Slaying: Grants Always Strikes First. Yeah. Because that's what High Elves are lacking alright.
- Sword of Battle: +1 Attack for 20 points, keep scrolling.
- Berserker Sword: Bearer has Frenzy and cannot lose it. Extra attack and Immune to Psychology. Neither of which are things High Elves need. Keep scrolling.
- Sword of Might: +1 Strength close combat for 20 points and you can use a shield, it's nice. Personally, I'd just pay a few points for a Halberd instead. Unless you REALLY need the magical attacks.
- Gold Sigil Sword: Makes your attacks 10 Initiative in close combat. Keep scrolling.
- Sword of Striking: +1 to hit. Fairly nice, but Strength is still better.
- Biting Blade: Armor piercing. 10 points. Inferior to Strength, not bad though.
- Relic Sword: Attacks with it always wound on a 5+ unless the result needed was lower. Not worth your time.
- Shrieking Blade: Bearer causes Fear. It's not bad, useless for anyone in a Phoenix Guard bunker, but it's nice as an anti-horde measure.
- Tormentor Sword: Grants Stupidity to a monster or character hit by it. Only really useful against armies loaded up on those options, so it's a tailoring list option that's questionable otherwise. 5 points to spend if you've got it though.
- Warrior Bane: Whatever gets hit by it loses an Attack to a minimum of one. 5 points, great for tailoring against other Elves.
- Armour of Destiny: Heavy Armor with 4+ Ward Save. It's like it came straight from our list. It's okay, not mandatory, but not a bad selection.
- Trickster's Helm: +1 Armor, and any wound made against the bearer has to be rerolled. Stick it on someone designed to just not fucking die, make him stand in front of Alarielle so she can heal a wound every turn, and you've proxied Tyrion on foot.
- Armour of Silvered Steel: 2+ Armor Save, cannot be improved by any means. 40 points. If you already took Armor of Caledor, worth looking at, but why are you taking 2 damage-taking characters?
- Armour of Fortune: Heavy Armor with a 5+ Ward Save. 15 points cheaper than the Armour of Destiny.
- Helm of Discord: +1 Armor, and any enemy character in base contact must pass a Leadership roll or be stunned and is automatically hit. Turns your character into a challenge god. Nice if that's your plan (or if challenges are your fear).
- Glittering Scales: Light Armor, causes -1 to hit the wearer in close combat. Surprisingly good.
- Shield of Ptolos: +1 Save against being shot. Pair it with the Lion Cloak and you have nothing to fear from ranged combat. Not bad if you think you'll face it.
- Spellshield: Magic Resistance (1). Nifty. Not 20 points nifty, but not terrible.
- Gambler's Armor: Heavy Armor with 6+ Ward Save. 20 points. Stick with Dragon Armour. Costs the same on a Prince and half the price on a Noble and has an improved save against breath weapons and fire. The only time this is a better option than Dragon Armour is if you want to combine with a lion cloak.
- Dragonhelm: +1 Armor, +2 Ward against Flaming attacks. If you took the Lion Cloak but still want the fire resist, here you go.
- Enchanted Shield: It's a shield, it grants 2 armor instead of the 1 armor a normal shield gives. 5 points. It's a great option.
- Charmed Shield: One use, first hit you take can be discounted on a 2+. Not bad, not great.
- Talisman of Preservation: 4+ Ward Save. Very nice option, but it limits your offensive choices due to it's 45 point cost.
- Obsidian Lodestone: Magic Resistance (3). For when the Banner of the World Dragon just isn't enough. (If you take Banner of Avelorn instead, this is far more worth considering.)
- Talisman of Endurance: 5+ Ward Save. Still okay.
- Obsidian Amulet: Magic Resistance (2). Eh, not bad. Not great either.
- Dawnstone: Reroll failed Armor Saves. That 1+ to hit on your Prince? Yep. Now they're going to have to get snakeeyes to hurt him. Oh fuck this is so worth the points it hurts.
- Opal Amulet: One time 4+ Ward Save. Not really worth it.
- Obsidian Trinket: Magic Resistance (1). Still not bad, still not good.
- Talisman of Protection: 6+ Ward Save. Not bad as a way of finishing off those last 15 points.
- Seed of Rebirth: Grants Regeneration 6+. Again, not a bad way of using up those last points on survivability. Otherwise, no go.
- Dragonbane Gem: 2+ Ward against Flaming Attacks. Useful as a 5 point choice if you took Lion Cloak.
- Pidgeon Plucker Pendant: Misspelled name, odd item. 5+ Ward Save from Flying enemies. Tailor lists only really.
- Luckstone: Reroll a single failed Armor Save. 5 points, not a bad place to spend them either.
- Rampager's Standard: Reroll your charge distance dice if you want. Stick it on cavalry.
- Wailing Banner: Unit causes Terror. Emulate Phoenix Guard on your non-Phoenix Guard. Pretty good.
- Ranger's Standard: Grants Strider. Ignore dangerous terrain. March your horde wall of death across the map with impunity. A nice choice.
- Razor Standard: Grants Armor Piercing. Put it on Special choices. Swordmasters in close combat under this are beyond description.
- War Banner: +1 Combat Resolution. Normally you want to avoid getting stuck in a fight all game, but if that's the plan here's a way to bump up your victory chances.
- Banner of Swiftness: +1 Movement. There's better choices, really if you want movement you should be rolling for Walk Between Worlds from the lore of High Magic, getting a 1+ Ward Save while you're at it and putting a better flag over your unit.
- Lichborne Pennant: Magic Resistance (1). Not bad for a mage bunker.
- Standard of Discipline: +1 Leadership, but disregard the general's inspiring presence. Do you really need Leadership 10 on anything? If Alith Anar is your general and he bites it this can help, but really it's not worth it.
- Banner of Eternal Flame: Just like most armies, feel free to take this and stick it wherever you want (except Sisters of Avelorn, since they already have it's effects).
- Gleaming Pennant: One use, reroll failed Leadership test. Why are you failing Leadership? Maybe tailored against an undead army, otherwise no.
- Scarecrow Banner: Causes Fear on Flying enemies. 5 points, not bad. Tailored list only, but that moment that a giant dragon
runs shrieking from a scarecrow on top of a flag being woven around by a spearman you know you've experienced the joys of Warhammer Fantasy.(Most Dragons cause Terror, all cause Fear at the very least, leaving your Fear-causing unit to instead take a Fear test.) Useful against anything smart enough to Fly but not insane enough to cause Fear (Mostly just eagles then?)
- Book of Ashur: 70 points for +1 to cast and dispel rolls. If you were playing a VERY large game and your entire strategy was magic and stalling for magic to work, you might use this. As it is it's a mon'keigh's bad transcribing of the Book of Hoeth.
- Feedback Scroll: Instead of a dispel attempt, you can use this one-use item to roll a dice for each power dice used to cast it. Each one that's a 5+ causes a wound that can't be saved. Great for a tailored list, and worth considering otherwise to take out an opponent's only caster and let you work the winds unopposed.
- Scroll of Leeching: Instead of a dispel use this one-use to add dispel dice equal to the number used to cast the spell. Great against armies with LOTS of casters (like other High Elf armies). Not a standard gear choice however. Feedback scroll is more useful in many scenarios.
- Sivejir's Hex Scroll : One use, replaces dispel. Enemy wizard rolls a d6, must get their level or lower (so a level 1 mage needs a 1 to resist, a 3 mage needs a 1-3 to resist, Teclis only suffers a 6 roll) or they turn into a frog. They can't cast spells as a frog, all magic items stop working, all stats except wounds become 1. Each turn roll a d6, roll of a 4-6 and the mage becomes a biped again. VERY fun item, and a surprising thing for such a thing is that it's actually pretty good if you save it for when you can kill that mage in close combat.
- Power Scroll: According to FAQ it now halves the casting value of one spell, no boosting allowed. Could be fun when you two-dice dwellers or purple sun if the winds are low or your opponent didn't think those last two dices were dangerous.
- Wand of Jet: One use, increases a casting result by d6 after you're done rolling. This can help cause a IF and miscast too. It's an extra magic dice in the bank for when you need it, and not bad but there's better options for getting more magic juice.
- Forbidden Rod: One use, add d6 more dice to your magic at the beginning of your magic phase, but the user takes d3 wounds with no armour saves. But... Banner of the World Dragon protects. (Anyone with the Arcane Items page in front of them probably won't let that slide. I know I wouldn't.)
- Trickster's Shard: One use, start of magic phase. If an enemy mage tries to dispel a spell, you roll a d6 and on a 5 or 6 they take one wound. Not great really. It can be useful sort of if you're rolling a lot of augments at once (turn 1 Walk Between Worlds on everything makes this viable). At 25 points though, it's kind of a waste.
- Earthing Rod: One use, reroll the result on the miscast table once. Obviously you don't want this if you're running Banner of the World Dragon. Otherwise it's not bad if you're gonna be blasting away with your Archmage.
- Dispel Scroll: 25 points, auto dispel the enemy spell unless it's an Irresistible Force spell. All armies consider this to be a staple, but it's a bit less important for us since there's other options.
- Power Stone: One use. Used prior to casting a spell, adds two more bonus dice out of thin air to the attempt. Great for if you got a shit winds roll a turn you really need to crank out a spell.
- Sceptre of Stability: Misspelled name, one us item to increase a dispel result by d6 after you've rolled. Pretty neat for 15 points against another big magic army.
- Channeling Staff: Bearer adds +1 to every channeling attempt. Can net you more power dice, but not a big use item. Still, 15 points isn't much to spend for that kind of thing.
- Scroll of Shielding: One use, replaces dispel to grant a single target a 4+ Ward Save against wounds caused by the spell. Great for protecting something high priority like an Archmage or a Prince on a Dragon.
- Staff of Sorcery (FAQ'ed): Bearer adds +1 to every dispel attempt for 35pts. Only worth taking on a level 2 or level 4 mage, costs the same as a wizard level but "only" adds +1 to your dispel attempts. Still, dispelling with +5 can really shut down a magic phase. Likewise, if you're mainly after countermagic, level 2 mage plus Staff of Sorcery saves you 30pts from a level 3 mage (and leaves your Lords allowance for a Prince on Dragon).
- Wizarding Hat: Wearer becomes a level 2 Wizard who can use a random spell lore. They also have stupidity. This is great for armies with crap magic options, but for us you want to split the magic/killing roles between two characters and at the cost for the hat you could just take a level 2 mage. But if you really want a wizard on a Star Dragon for some strange ass reason...
- Fozzrik's Fold Fortress: 100 points, so your entire magic item allotment for a Lord. After deployment zones are agreed but before armies are deployed you can put a Watchtower (or similar building agreed upon by both players as appropriate, but must be the same basic size as the Watchtower) in your deployment zone. This MAKES a defensive list with Sisters of Avelorn holding it. For any other troop type it's not great. But in games with objectives, you might be able to argue your opponent into letting you count this as an objective from turn one. Take it if you base your strategy around it.
- Arabyan Carpet: Infantry or monstrous infantry (no you can't let your horse ride). Has the Fly rule, cannot join units. At 50 points you may as well just mount up on an Eagle or Gryphon.
- Crown of Command : 35 points to grant Stubborn and thus grant it to a unit the wearer joins. You should probably nut up and bring Korhil instead, but if you already are and want a second unit to be Stubborn it's not bad.
- Healing Potion: One use to drink at the start of your turn, recover d6 wounds. Since you have very few characters with enough wounds to make it useful, you should rely on the Lore of Life attribute to heal instead. Or bring Alarielle.
- Featherfoe Torc: Flying creatures and riders must reroll to hit you and your unit in close combat. Take it in a tailored list against the likes of Malekith or other High Elves.
- Ruby Ring of Ruin: Bound spell with Fireball. Take the High Elf magic item version of it if you're going to bother since it does pretty much the same thing and will give the users unit a ward save.
- Terrifying Mask of EEE!: Wearer causes Terror, but nobody can use their leadership but themself. Since most High Elves have almost max LD and some characters have the same, there's no downside. Great at discouraging people from fucking with a unit that can't deal in melee or you don't want to keep in melee (Sticking this on a Lothern Sea Helm among Core is pretty great, or ANYONE running with Lothern Seaguard since this can win an extra turn of shooting for them).
- Potion of Strength: One use, used at the start of any players turn. +3 Strength for the turn, great for a BRUTAL combat phase. Take on a Prince, Noble, or anyone with the Reaver Bow.
- Potion of Toughness: One use, start of any player's turn to grant +3 Toughness. This is more for an Archmage or Mage stuck in close combat, or a Prince who's going into a suicide charge.
- The Other Trickster's Shard: All Ward Save rolls have to be rerolled in base contact, both friend and foe. Since Ward Saves are common to us, it can be a detriment. Still good if you don't have one however.
- Ironcurse Icon: 5 points for 6+ Ward against war machines for the bearer and their unit. Not great, but it's only 5 points so there's no real threat to taking it and it CAN come in handy.
- Potion of Foolhardiness: One use, start of turn. Gets Immune to Psychology and Devastating Charge for a turn. 5 points for a very fucking hard charge, this has potential in a cavalry list.
- Potion of Speed: One use, start of turn. +3 Initiative. Cheap, but WHEN THE FUCK WILL YOU NEED A HIGHER INITIATIVE?
The new High Magic is probably one of the most aggressive lores in the entire game now, Soul Quench makes Fireball lovers cry. Fiery Convocation is, in a game version promoting the use of hordes, extremely powerful; except against ogres and full knight Brets (giving Bretonnians at least one advantage in the modern game) and once it's been cast, your opponent will probably need to abort his next magic phase to dispel it if he cares about his burning minions. High Magic also has Apotheosis, which heals a wound and grants Fear to the target making your badasses into glorious bastards. Walk Between Worlds makes a unit Ethereal and get 10 more inches of movement to deliver a unit directly wherever it needs to be. Hand of Glory is a nice augment, Arcane Unforging is anti-character in the best way, and finally Drain Magic lets you undo whatever spells your opponent is using to manipulate the field of battle (goodbye undead augments).
For the rest of the lores, usual stuff applies. Lore of Life is a consistent favorite (nothing like watching those 5 Phoenix Guard he worked so hard to kill get back up) as is Lore of Shadow. High Elves aren't really set up for offensive Magic outside Dragon Mages so you should generally go with support spells to protect your expensive units, rather than offensive spells.
An important thing to remember is that you should not be building your list around using magic to support this or that unit, you should be putting magic into your list in order to augment the units that are already good. T7 Swordmasters might be awesome, but imagine how awesome that would be on a unit that doesn't need the support to be that good. Plus there are always factors that might get in the way of you casting a spell when you need to, so don't take a unit assuming you can make it better by augmenting it with magic; Take a unit that's already awesome without the magic.
In this section, I'll list the multiple ways to use specific Lores in conjunction with our units. Some Lores of Magic are flexible and unique, while some are more focused on specific strategies and units to make them work. Either way, you'll find use of them here. In the modern game buffs and hexes are generally the order of the day, offering a lot of value for the dice invested. Especially for high elves who have incredibly powerful units, buffs can send your dudes into the stratosphere. Direct damage spells are still worthwhile but the really powerful ones have either short range, are only effective against specific units or have high casting cost so you need to pick lores that your mages can realistically get good mileage out of depending where you put them and what you expect them to achieve and don't just think in terms of getting the mage a high body count. While getting fifteen kills with dwellers is really cool, something much more boring like +1T for a big block of spearmen can have a much more lasting impact in the game by blunting the enemy charge and allowing you to set up your flank charges and you opponent is much less likely to go all in dispelling a minor augment.
There are two styles of magic that exist for High Elves in my opinion: Balanced and Specific.
Balanced Lores provide buffs and hexes that cover a large area of High Elf weaknesses. These lores include High Magic, Lore of Metal, Shadow, and Light. Specific Lores depend on certain army builds to bring out their true potential. These Lores include Life, Death and Beasts. I'll explain more below.
High Magic - Balanced
This is a very balanced lore that's designed to assist the High Elves take on any foe. With TWO signature spells this is very versatile. The biggest spell: Fiery Convocation, burns down entire hordes if left unchecked and Arcane Unforging is a direct damage that wounds like a Metal Lore spell but also randomly destroys a magic item on 2+; use this on Banner of Barrows, Flag of Blood Keep, Ghal Maraz ect cetera. Walk Between World makes a unit move 10/20 inches as if Ethereal in the Remaining Move Phase, good for putting a Phoenix behind enemy lines. Oh, and did we mention the Lore Attribute of High Magic? +1 to your Ward save for the Mage and unit every time a spell is successfully cast. YOUR FREAKIN WARD SAVE! This means that a Level 4 Wizard running High Magic can grant most units at least a 5+ during each magic phase and you only need one spell to give Phoenix Guard the magical 3+. March them across the field and watch your opponent cry as everything and their dog tries to kill it with only 3-4 casualties a turn.
Lore of Shadow - Balanced
Our most powerful lore in my opinion. It's almost as if this Lore was designed with High Elves in mind because it complements our army perfectly: 1. Elite troops with high WS and I can be dealt with Miasma. 2. High armor troops can be destroyed by Mindrazor. 3. High strength can be robbed of their power with Enfeeble. 4. High toughness units can be dispatched easier with Withering on them. 5. Expensive, multi-wound models with low initiative can be destroyed with Pit of Shades.
I highly recommend this Lore as your go to lore for balanced play.
Lore of Light - Balanced
This is another very balanced Lore and very powerful against the Undead and also Daemons now that their stinking Standard of Sundering is finally out of the game. So yeah, TK, VC and DoC hate this lore. Army-wide Pha's Illumination and Speed of Light makes your entire army WS10 I10 and -1 to hit. This gives you fantastic combat potential and great protection vs. melee and shooting alike. Timewarp also allows your entire to surge forward and get into combat insanely early. Once they're in combat, the army-wide buffs allow you to win combat and take less casualties. All your units will hit things on 3s with re-rolls and you'll most likely be hit on 6s.
If you decide to go Light, having a Lv.1 Wizard with Light is also suggested. This gives you the ability to inflict fantastic damage with Burning Gaze and Banishment for very low casting values. As for most balanced Lores, feel free to take whatever.
Lore of Metal - Balanced
This Lore gives you the power to break through armored units as they were butter. If you knew you were going against an army with multiple, heavily-armored targets such as
Brettonian Bretonnian Knights, this Lore is fantastic. Another great thing about Lore of Metal is the army-wide 5+ Scaly Skin. This makes your Light Armor, Shield Spearmen pack on a 3+ armor save. Heavy armor units such as White Lions, Sword Masters and Phoenix Guard also share that lovely 3+. With this in mind, I want to talk about a very specific spell and army-build:
A large unit of Sword Masters with Enchanted Blades of Aiban absolutely annihilate things in combat. WS6 with +1 to hit means you'll most of the game on 2s. With ASF, re-rolls and Armor Piercing S5, you'll walk through troops and elites alike. Even Spearmen with Enchanted Blades plow through units like they were butter. Give it a try, I promise good results.
Lore of Death - Specific
For this Lore, you mainly want to focus on the destructive capabilities of character sniping. These spells allow you to pick out BSBs, Generals and other important targets that could ruin the opposing army. VC Generals, TK Hierophants, Bretonnian BSBs, the list goes on. It goes without saying that the army-wide -1S and T allow your troops to inflict more damage and take less in return. Lastly, we have Purple Sun. That thing just embarrasses Lizardmen, certain undead armies and Dwarfs. And Ogre Kingdoms.
Lore of Life - Specific
I really like this Lore and I almost placed it in the balanced section, but I want to highlight some key builds that I like a lot. For one, Dwellers is a no brainer for most players: It picks off characters, completely wrecks enemies with Elf-stats and destroys entire units of Skaven. Throw dice at a large target with low S and watch it disappear from the game: Cheesy archer spam builds beware! This, is a very defensive Lore for the most part. You have Regen, protection from Miscast, and awesome +4 Toughness to any unit of choice. Which unit in particular?
A giant unit of Sword Masters with T7 and Regen can mow through most units in the game. They are already incredibly powerful in close combat because of WS6, S5 and 2A, but now give them the T7 and Regen and things just get ridiculous. Use a small Phoenix Guard bunker with a Life Mage and Book, and spam these spells on a giant horde of SM w/ Standard of Balance and Amulet of Light. People will most certainly hate you.
Lore of Beasts - Specific
If the base unit spell for +1S +1T, the +3T to all characters in 12" is also pretty awesome. Unlike the Lore of Life though, this Lore focuses a lot on damage from characters than defense. Don't get me wrong, Curse of Anraheir can still hex someone down to -1 to hit. Combine this with tough Elven warriors and things look a lot brighter. Take what you would normally take and spam Wyssan's Wildform on everything. Then walk up a bunch of Princes and Nobles with +S magic weapons and hit Savage Beast of Horrors. Can you imagine the amount of carnage you can inflict with multiple characters wielding +3S and +3 attacks? I'm not sure how effective it'll be, but it'll sure make my Prince a little scarier. Or take Korhil, put him on a Lion Chariot, cast the Beast on him, chuck him at whatever and RAPETRAIN IT! Believe me, I've done this before.
Knowing your Enemy
The first piece of advice I have for newer players is knowing your enemy. There is nothing more important than this piece right here. You look across the table and you see a bunch of units you don't know, you already know this game is going to head into disaster. Very few players have the ability to asset threat, damage and power on the fly so its best you go into battles prepared. Key units like the Skaven Doomwheel, the Bloodthirster or the horde unit of Khorne Marauders with Great Weapons, all of these are important pieces on the battlefield. The best thing to do in these situations is to point across the table and ask. If the player you're playing with is a gentleman, and it's a friendly game, I hope he can tell you what each unit does. In a tournament setting, forget about it. Fantasy already takes a day and a half to set up, so it's best you do your research ahead of time.
Think of it like this: Every game you play is a test of skill and generalship. Any good general takes the time to learn about his enemy and so should you. That's why I buy every army book GW prints. Not only is it superb shitter material, but it's also valuable information on what kind of ridiculous combos, units or special characters that might show up on the battlefield.
Understanding Your Army
I almost think that knowing your enemy and understanding your army works hand in hand. If you think about it, you spend all this time making up your army list and for what? Each army list is designed to accomplish a certain thing on the battlefield. Playing for fun is one thing, but you're also playing so your troops are victorious. This is why army design is crucial and how you can make the best out of your army composition.
Keep in mind that this is not advice on how to min-max your army, it's about making your army work for you. As a general of any given army, you must find a medium where you're comfortable with the units you've taken, and you understand fully how they work. The best way to do this is by assigning battlefield roles. Take Sword Masters for example, what do they do best? They generate CR by ripping up lowly troops in combat but they die as fast as a swift breeze. What's the job of Spearmen? Or Skavenslaves? To hold the line and await reinforcements, using their superior numbers and ranks to tie the enemy down.
To be a successful general, you must know your units like the back of your hand. Understand each unit's functionality and purpose, but most importantly, understand why you put them in your army in the first place.
The greatest threat to most units in a High-elf army is long combats, if you cannot break a unit you will need to minimize the amount of damage they can do back to you in the following turns. Remember your troops hit rather hard but tend to die very easily.
I've seen many games where games are lost on deployment alone. Picture for a second that your opponent puts down a unit of heavily armored Chaos Knights after you put your White Lions down far away from them. If those White Lions were your only defense against heavy armor, then I'd say you're in a world of shit once those Knights come crashing on your flank.
That's why you see players taking units whose sole purpose is to give them an edge in deployment. Some might be good enough to be used as re-directors or warmachine hunters too. These units are also known as chaff. Chaff is important because it allows you put these units down anywhere you want for the most part. They pretty much always go in the same place or have outrageous movement speed that they can relocate and not be troublesome for the movement of your army. Eagles can be used as chaff, Sabretusks and Fellbats for example, all can act as chaff for your army.
The key to deployment is matching your opponent's units pound for pound. You don't want to put down a unit that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell against another unit he put down right off the top. Your unit must have support, or is capable of holding the line against whatever he puts down or your side is just going to fold. The best example is the Knights scenario I presented above. You want to be able to match your opponent in deployment, or be superior to him in deployment. I call these "drops". If your army has greater or equal to the number of drops he has (total # of units he can put down during deployment), you're in a good place. This minimizes on the chance your army will be out-deployed. The person with more chaff will have more chaff that he can put down, forcing you to put down your last unit of White Lions so he can purposely drop a power unit on your flank. Unless your army is designed to fight uphill battles, you should never let this happen.
If you know you're going to be out-deployed, you should analyze which units on his side you don't want in your flanks and deploy your answers last. This is where knowing your enemy comes into place.
Analyzing The Threats
To be successful on the battlefield and during deployment, you must first analyze threat. You must understand which units on the other side of the table can cause you most harm. This is huge. Keep in mind that army scale does not equate to the harm they can cause in combat. The best example of this is a giant unit of Skaveslaves vs. a small unit of Sword Masters. The craziest thing to assume is that the unit of Skavenslaves is going to do a lot of damage on the battlefield. Sure, there's a whole bunch of them, but their fighting prowess equates to dried fish where your Sword Masters preform like a hot knife through butter.
One of the things that 8th Ed. has going for it is big creatures. If it's a big monster on the other side of the table, this is probably worrisome. If a unit is carrying Great Weapons, it's probably going to do a lot of damage. If a unit is carrying Great Weapons and is in horde formation, it's probably something you should deploy smartly against because that thing is going to fuck your shit up if you play dumb. The most pronounced threats on the battlefield are normally the ones your opponent has heroes and lords going into it. It's either going to be a caster bunker, or a frontline unit that'll do solid bits of damage.
Remember what I said about battlefield roles? Your opponent does the same thing with his army. He knows what his frontline units are, which ones do the most damage and which ones are designed to hold the line. You know his primary sources of damage and these are the ones that should be generating the highest amount of threat in your mind. You might run into scenarios where certain units don't want to be in combat at all. These are often caster bunkers or vulnerable Magelords who would hate to have an Eagle pick out his eyes. Knowing the weak points of his army can prove to be a great advantage to you during deployment and when you're playing the game. Again, understanding how the opposing army works helps greatly here.
Understanding Favorable Scenarios
Hesitation can lose you a game, but so can your ability to underestimate your troops.
Here are some examples: A scary dragon on the battlefield is not so scary when you shoot him with a billion arrows. Knights actually do quite poorly against White Lions. A small unit of Sword Masters into the side of Skavenslaves really fucks up their shit. A Spearmen unit, given enough ranks can hold a charge from most, if not all, point equivalent units in the game.
A lot of this might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many times players second guess themselves on the battlefield. Know your army, know what each unit is designed to do (which is surprisingly easy for High Elves because everyone's so specialized), and know which scenarios go in your favor on the battlefield when paired up against any given opponent.
At the end of the day, you should always apply a unit's actual battlefield role to do battle. You should always be thinking: The only reason I'm bringing X unit is to fight against Y units. In a game of rock-paper-scissors and random surprise Mindrazors; it still works in your favor when you know what counters what.
This is definitely more in the lines of advanced players, but after so many battles, players start seeing the same numbers. A unit of 7x2 Sword Masters hits a unit of Skavenslaves. Aside from a ton of rats dying horribly, how many Sword Masters did you lose and how much CR did you generate? What about Spears? Even if you didn't charge but was instead charged by a unit of Empire Halberdiers, how many Spearmen died and how much CR did you generate via kills, ranks and standard? What about that beefy lord-class character sitting in a relatively weaker unit? I bet he can do some serious work. I'm not saying go out there and mathhammer the life out of everything in the game, but you should have an idea how your units will perform on the battlefield.
The battlefield is a pretty unpredictable place, especially when shit like magic is involved. However, successful players have a good idea of what to expect when they throw their units into combat. For the most part, players only throw their units into combat they can win. This is why predicting combat outcomes are so important. A unit of Spearmen charging a horde unit of Marauders w/ Great Weapons in the front might not be the best choice alone, but what if you plan your magic phase to get Withering off on the unit? What if you decide to combo charge with your Spears and Sword Masters on the flank so you can use your magic elsewhere? The combat res generated from the combined charge "should" win you combat.
You see how predicting combat drastically changes the way you play the game? By assessing the battlefield and seeing the game on a larger level, you are able to make plays ahead of time. The key to being a successful general is being able to see multiple instances of this at once and analyzing which ones generate the highest amount of success with the lowest number of risk. Your ability to capitalize on this is what will take you from good, to great.
Lesser of Two Evils
Sometimes, sacrifices have to be made in order for victory for be secured. Sometimes, you just have to choose. Imagine yourself in a scenario where no matter what you do, something bad is going to happen to your army. This might be a loss of a flank, a loss of a key unit or letting a horrible spell go through. If your opponent plays it right, there should be scenarios where all of these happen at the same time. Take note here for a second about what I just said. A well-played game of Warhammer is when you make your opponent sweat over the choices he has to make. No matter what choice he makes, something bad should happen to his army. That's when you know you've made a good play.
If you have to choose, always go with the play that'll guarantee you the greatest chance of victory in subsequent rounds. This is a lot harder than it looks because you have to first let that flank fall, or that unit be destroyed so you can strike back in a manner most decisive. This is why predicting combat and understanding favorable scenarios is important. In a situation like this, always put yourself in the opponent's shoes. Think from his perspective and predict what he would do after he successfully pulled off a big play. Predict what he does and counter it to the best of your advantage. Think to yourself: If he wins big on combat there and I flee, will he pursue or will he reform? If he pursues, do I have anything that can hit him in the flank or catch him in a bad spot? If he reforms, do I have anything that can strike decisively and win combat on that unit next turn?
Don't get yourself caught up in the moment. Understand that the 300 odd points of Spearmen you just fed your opponent can equate to you combo-charging his General's bunker and send it into the oblivion, then it's well worth it. If sacrifice has to be made, it has to make its points back and more. If not, then the sacrifice is not worth it.
The first thing to understand is that a small advantage is still an advantage. This is how you should analyze the winds of magic. A successful magic phase is all about analyzing which spells your opponent can afford to let go and which spells he can't. With an Lv.4 Wizard, you have access to a good amount of viable spells. The spells your opponent can let go are often the spells you want to take advantage of. That's when why you draw a big winds round, you cast moderately but still vital spells that plink at his dispel dice. These should be all moderately dangerous to the outcome of the fight in question (which will be his main focus).
Use smaller castings of hexes and augments, because a slight advantage (what he sees, and analyzes as less important), is still an advantage (huge for High Elves). A clever mage will be able to feint the significance of a fight and get off multiple spells a turn. If your opponent lets it all go because he's anticipating Mindrazor, that's his problem because now his unit is now -WS, -T and you ASF with a better combat result. Mindrazor isn't even needed at this point. If he throws dice trying to dispel your other hexes, that's less dice he has available when you actually do throw down the MR. This goes hand in hand with what I said about anticipating combat results. How badly your troops need your magic will save a lot of unneeded dice.
Redirecting focus: Say you have a unit engaged in combat and you anticipate a victory, or at least a draw result. You concentrate magic on another area of the battlefield that your opponent isn't focused on. This breaks his concentration and draws a big cloud of WTF? over his head. This happens when you see something crucial your opponent doesn't, as often times or not, players get tunnel-visioned in the combat they're in but don't grasp the wider vision of the battlefield. Hexing incoming Knights on your turn with -WS or -S will make much more of a difference than watching Sword Masters narrowly win combat vs. a flanking unit of Clanrats.
Baiting and Feinting
Fleeing from a battlefield is not always a sign of cowardice. It can also be used to bait an opponent out of position or force him into a position he doesn't want to be in. The best example of this could be a unit of Spears fleeing from a charge of Bretonnian Knights. God knows you don't to take that charge in the face so you opt to flee with your Spearmen. He now has two choices: Take a Ld. test to charge something else, or roll for the Spears. Say that you have a unit of White Lions or Sword Masters next to the Spears. Does he really want to re-direct into the Lions or SM? Or does he want to risk the charge and risk exposing his flank to the Lions?
You see what you just did here? A simple flee can put your opponent in a rock and a hard place (especially if the charge is long). Both scenarios equally suck for him so he might opt to charge at all. This is also good for you because it gives you the chance to charge his Knights next turn! And if he doesn't opt to charge, your Spears will still be there to assist in the main battle. Warhammer can be a game of cat and mouse, so it's best to know all the options available to you before you commit. If you plan on charging something, know all the possible reactions your opponent can take before investing. You don't want to be in the same shoes as the above player.
Eagles are an Elves' Best Friend
I've said it once and I'll say it again: Eagles are my MVP. First off, they are probably one of the most annoying pieces of chaff ever. They're great in the deployment phase when you can just put one down and stare into your opponent's soul. They're great ingame because they can fly boldly into your opponent's charge lanes and take one from the team; forcing them to charge them and re-position. Eagles buy you time, buy you movement and allow you to re-position your army while the Eagle re-positions your opponents. They allow you to chase down enemy chaff or flankers, help pressure warmachines and provide you with flank and rear charge CR should they survive mid-game. They act primarily as re-directors (a Frenzied unit's worst nightmare) and are the true workhorse of most High Elf armies.
Counter-charges and Flanking
Sometimes, the good ol' hammer and anvil is something even the experienced players forget. The concept of a counter-charge is simple: Unit #1 is a unit that can take hits - in the case of High Elves, a giant block of Spears with Steadfast CR up the ass. This is known as the anvil. Unit #2 is a unit that hits hard as fuck but dies to a soft breeze. Sword Masters are an popular choice for a hammer. Your opponent charges your Spearmen because it's the only viable target and you hold knowing that your Sword Masters (who are conveniently placed on your flank), will have a flank charge next round. Magic is invested in keeping the Spearmen alive and steadfast while the Sword Masters charge their flank next turn. Heads start rolling and combat heavily swings your way, winning you the day.
Flanking is also quite simple: Place something that has good threat range on the far sides of your army and use them as CR generators. I normally like using Dragon Princes for this type of role. Put 5 of these guys down on a wide-flank and they can be used to reliably add CR to any combat mid-field. Flanking can also be used to bypass some of your opponents' attention to hit warmachines and other units chilling in their backfield. Lastly, flanking is also good for having additional CR in combat. An Eagle charging from the far flank gives you 2 CR for just having the balls to be there. It's pretty much free CR.
Winning combat, now what?
So now that you've won combat, you have to think about what to do next. Unfortunately, most players think about this step immediately after the combat resolves. I want you to take a step back and think about what can happen even before you charge. If you charge now, and win a victory over your opponent, can you overrun into an important caster bunker in back? Does your opponent have anything that can crush your overrun if you choose to do so? Is your unit stretched too far and out of range of your BSB? Is he out of his BSB? If you push the advantage, will your advantage be negated if he engages the rest of your army while your best unit is out of position? Winning combat is important for sure, but what happens after is even more important. You must be in a favorable situation to benefit from it: The result of a successful charge should net you more success in the subsequent turns than harm.
Keep in mind that you don't have to keep going after you wiped out a unit. Check to see if the unit has been mauled enough that the only way he can rally is if he rolls double 1s. Sometimes the position you're in begs you to combat reform and stay still. If you commit anymore, you might go from crushing victory to outright defeat. Never lose sight of the bigger picture and don't over extend yourself. Unless you're Stubborn, or have a unit that's incapable of losing combined charges in the next round of combat, it's best to wait for the rest of your army. You want to be in magic support range, you want to be in BSB range and you want to be in support charge range of other units. Don't forget this.
Another thing to keep in mind is Line of Sight. If your unit can surge forward enough after winning combat that'll take him out of LoS (and thus enemy charges), this is a great advantage. It allows you to drive deep in the enemy lines and force him to turn around or suffer a rear charge from you in the subsequent turns. This also allows your main force to advance and catch him in a vice. Surely this is a good thing as even the most lackwit of generals know that enemy forces running in their backfield is bad.
Lost combat, now what?
So your beautiful charge turned into a crushing defeat, what now? Obviously, this means your unit will be running back to your lines like a whipped dog. Don't worry, you can now look into the future and analyze why you lost combat and how you can regain the momentum in the next phase of the game. Maybe something completely unpredictable happened in the magic phase that killed your opportunities in combat? This is the single biggest factor in how combats can sway. This is also something I want you to remember: Magic can greatly skew the outcome of any combat you're invested in. Think about this before you charge, and understand what magic lores he has that can shift momentum in his favor. In order for you to succeed in combat, you must dispel the magic he will use to turn combat in his favor. This is not negotiable.
After losing combat, you need to analyze several things:
Did he Overrun? If so, are you in a position where you can take advantage of his over-extension? Did he Combat Reform? If so, are you able to counter-attack next turn? What made you lose combat? Was it some beefy character or was it magic that turned the tides? How do you not lose combat again? Neutralize the beefy character (or avoid him completely) and dispel the magic that sways combat his way. Is your fleeing unit useless? Treat the game as if you're 1 down, but don't forget about the fleeing unit. Even if he's below 25%, you can still test for double 1s.
When ahead, stay ahead
The philosophy behind this concept is simple: Don't do anything stupid that'll throw away your lead. What happens most of the time when players start winning is they start playing careless. This is a sure way to lose your lead and put you behind in a game where you're almost guaranteed to win. A great example of this would be killing your opponent's Dragon Lord and 1-2 Hydras with your Warmachines first turn before they even get to do anything and still managing to lose the game. I don't know how this happens, but players get lost the ecstasy of great plays (or luck) and think now that the main threats are gone that the game is in their hands. This is the wrong way to approach a lead.
The more appropriate way to take advantage of a lead is to think: How do I get further ahead? You want to be in a position where your next step is to eliminate any and all possible ways the opponent can swing the game around. You put yourself in his position and you think to yourself: I just lost my Dragon Lord and my Hydras, so what can I do now to walk away from the table like a man? Once you think about the situation from your opponent's mindset, you counter it and deny him of it. With no victory options in sight, your opponent will have no choice but to fold.
Now that the game is won (or lost), you can look back and see what you can do to improve. Human beings are meant to improve; we're a race of learners and adapters. No matter how badly you just massacred your opponent or how crushing your defeat, there's always something to take away from the game. The most important part here is that you must learn from your game to improve. If you won the game, think about the scenarios you could have done better. If you lost the game, think about why you lost and which units caused the most problems. Think about all the topics that were covered above. There must be something you could have done better in the never-ending list of becoming a better general.
It's important that you discuss the game with your opponent. Talk about how the battle could have gone differently if you did this, or that. How his game could have changed if he did this, or that. Not only does this give you a better perspective on the game (and your opponent's army), but also the player you're playing against. Share your thoughts with your opponent and let him share his with yours. Criticism and advice should be taken with an open mind. It helps broaden your perspective on other general's opinions and makes you a better-rounded player overall.
|Warhammer Fantasy Tactics Articles|
|Forces of Order:||Bretonnia • Dwarfs • Empire • High Elves • Lizardmen • Wood Elves|
|Non-Aligned Forces:||Ogres • Tomb Kings|
|Forces of Destruction:||Beastmen • Daemons • Dark Elves • Orcs & Goblins • Skaven • Vampires • Warriors of Chaos • Chaos Dwarfs|