Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Dark Elves
- 1 Why Play Dark Elves
- 2 Army Rules
- 3 Unit Analysis
- 4 Building Your Army
- 5 Tactics
Why Play Dark Elves
Do you want your Elves to take the next logical step in their belief of 'we're better than everyone' over to 'so we should be allowed to kill them?' Do you want to troll your enemy mercilessly and drink their tears? Then Dark Elves are for you.
In the long long ago, in the before time, in 6th edition, Dark Elves were a finicky and difficult army. Limited unit choices, overpriced and underpowered units and difficult to use tactics made them a favorite of smart and tactical players. Then came the 7th edition update and they rocketed up to being the 2nd best army in the game (behind Daemons) and while the 8th edition book has balanced things a bit, they remain a powerhouse army.
Dark Elves are not for people who expect all their units to have the toughness of Lizardmen or Dwarves, or the hitting power of Chaos Warriors or Ogres. Yes, the Dark Elves have units that hit like a ton of bricks (Hydra most notably) but they are the minority. Dark Elves excel at having cheap infantry with good stats and lightning quick attacks. You will have to combine units, weaken enemy elites, whittle away at them and receive a lot of charges as Dark Elves. But don't mistake them for weak: your enemy will do that and then they will LOSE.
Eternal Hatred : Grants Hatred, and gives its benefits every round, not just the first. Awesome rule. Black Guard and several characters have it.
Hekarti's Blessing : +1 when casting Dark Magic Spells.
Murderous Prowess : Re-rolls all To Wound rolls of 1 when making close combat attacks(does not affect a model's mount). Every model in the army (save Warbeasts) has this.
Always Strikes First : A model with this special rule Always Strikes First in close combat regardless of Initiative. In addition, if the model's Initiative is equal to or higher than his enemy's, he can re-roll misses when striking in close combat. If the enemy's model has this rule too, the attacks are made simultaneously, and neither model benefits from the re-rolls normally granted by this rule.
Lords & Heroes
- Malekith, the Witch King:No longer lives with his mom. It's good to be the King. Malekith costs 510 points vanilla (which is obviously meant to JUST keeping him out of games under 2000. What a tease! Thankfully The End Times changed that) but you get your money's worth for him. He's a Highborn with higher WS, S(5!)and T. He's also a level 4 Wizard (who has to use Dark Elves' special lore), magic armor that gives a 2+ Ward against mundane attacks and makes him immune to Multiple Wounds and being killed outright, a magic weapon that lets him break enemy magic items (allowing him to get rid of those pesky magic weapons that can harm him), a shield that gives him Magic Resistance (2) and causes spells aimed at him that are dispelled to rebound on the caster unit for D6 S6 hits, a crown that gives him an extra Power and Dispel die per Phase and his Inspiring Presence is 18" instead of 12" (24" on his Black Dragon). And he still has Hatred and comes with Immune to Psychology. Inhale. He costs a bucket-load but can easily turn entire games around. His mount options include Cold One (mediocre), a Cold One Chariot with a 3+ save (quite good for smaller points games) and a Black Dragon. The combination of killer stats, great special rules and magic items and being a powerful caster in his own right make him more than worth his rather expensive entry cost in a casual game. Do note that against magical weapons he has no Ward save. At all. You might avoid those in close combat thanks to Destroyer and ASF (although it is far from guaranteed, as you have a 50% chance of destroying one randomly determined magic item, and opponents who also have ASF have at least one round of attacks with their magic weapon), but against undispelled magic he only has a 5+ ward against (MR 2). To make matter worse, against Dwarfs with too many magical cannons he can find himself getting pretty fucked up since he won't have any save of any kind. In short, he's much tougher than your average mage, but he still is no tank. He is very good in Storm of Magic though, thanks to how much people spam magic and how well he shuts all that down.
- Morathi, the Hag Sorceress: Morathi is a little schizo about her role. Her abilities and stat increases seem to indicate that she's intended for combat, which is the exact opposite place from where you want her. She's more expensive than an upgraded Supreme Sorceress, but a much better than a generic Supreme Sorceress on Dark Pegasus (regardless of the fact that she's over 100 points more). Her Enchanting Beauty rule is decent. In all fairness, Dark Magic is a good damage lore. Morathi has the mobility and ability to abuse it (usually getting +7 to cast any spell with it), and she's reasonably cheap for all her goodies at 375 points. If you're taking a Supreme Sorceress on Pegasus, forget her and take Morathi.
- Crone Hellebron: Hellebron is a fundamentally ideal combat Lord (or rather Lady). Okay, she costs ~155ish Skaven Slaves and comes with little protection (ie she has no saves unless mounted). But she has Initiative 9, 4 Attacks base, combined with Paired Weapons (+1 Attack) Witches Brew (gives her and her unit +2 Attacks) and Cry of War (+D3 Attacks) for anywhere from 8 to 10 Strength 10 Attacks combined with ASF which means she's almost guaranteed to re-roll Hits (and Wounds thanks to Murderous Prowess) which equates to her being essentially guaranteed to wipe out an entire rank. Any hit against her rolling a 1 causes an Strength 4 hit on her attacker. Oh and she and any unit she's with gets +4 to Dispel rolls for any spells cast at them. Yeah. She can also take a Cauldron of Blood. Put her in a unit of Witch Elves, Sisters of Slaughter or with a unit of Black Guard with a Cauldron of Blood within 6" (which gives the aforementioned ability to re-roll all failed To Wound rolls) and send them charging into the enemy. That equates to your Black Guard unit having 4 Attacks each, at Strenth 4, ASF, Eternal Hatred and re-rolling failed To Wound rolls (But a lot of those 4 attacks are wasted, as supporting attackers only make 1 attack). Malekith just pooped a little. If you take her keep her in a unit: she is the prime example of a glass cannon.
- Malus Darkblade: You've read his books, now put him on the tabletop. He costs nearly 300 points and is a Lord choice now, so gained the appropriate stat boosts. Has a couple nifty abilities. Using Tz'arkan makes him more powerful, but makes him attack his own unit on hit rolls of one( remember, with Eternal Hatred he can re-roll failed hit rolls so this mitigates the damage somewhat). Spite is still the best Cold One mount in Warhammer Fantasy with no stupidity for him or his unit and gets Eternal Hatred. Should be seriously considered for any Cold One heavy army.
- Shadowblade: Almost double what a properly kitted out Assassin would cost. Took a hit since he can no longer hide among the enemy. Even if you get him to reveal himself when he needs to, where he needs to, if he gets killed he could just as easily damage your own unit, which keeps him from being set up like a regular Assassin. Does come with all 3 poisons so has killing blow, +1 to wound and gives -1 to enemy leadership per wound caused but unless you're after a fluffy army, you're much better off with a generic Assassin (or two).
- Tullaris Dreadbringer: Now a Hero. Costs a little over double of a regular Master but he can easily make that back since he gives every model in any unit he joins Frenzy for FUN times (reminder, supporting attacks only get 1 attack even with your extra frenzy attack, so you can't abuse this with 50 Dreadspears or Black Guard or something) and also causes Fear. His sword also triggers killing blows on a 5 or 6. This guy in an Executioner unit makes Sword Masters wish they were this awesome, so take him if you're going heavy on Executioners.
- Kouran Blackhand: Like Tullaris he is now a Hero. Just shy of 200 points for a Master statline, but with WS9! His Crimson Death no longer always strikes at S6 but gives +2 strength (so you're free to buff his strength beyond S6, not that you need to). His armour now only activates when he's hit, but does slap his attacker at S5 (though given how he only has 2 Wounds it isn't likely to cause that much damage, since if they hit they're likely to Wound his T3). Stick him in Black Guard they become UNBREAKABLE. However, he's overcosted so stick with regular Masters. Black Guard are likely to stay with Ld9 and Stubborn, more so if they're within the General's Ld10 or given the Standard of Discipline to make them Ld10. If there's also a BSB in range then the chances of them breaking are so low that it's not even worth worrying about.
- Lokhir Fellheart: An effective enough combat Hero, if a bit on the pricey side. He can no longer get an absurd number of attacks and the extra hundred points for no stat upgrades means he's limited. Also with his new rules he can attack any character in the same combat without moving to them. So can more easily hide from the nastier Lords while still attacking them. A Master is probably better though he can do incredibly with a big corsair unit and Shadow Magic buffs (but for his cost you could just get more Masters who will do the same job better, or get a Dreadlord who can do the same job but also better). Like a Fleetmaster he can make a unit he joins Unbreakable but only if he's in a challenge or kills a character, which is what he's suited for with ASF, Hatred of High Elves and re-rolling failed wound on the offense, with a 2+ armour save, regeneration and terror on the defense.
While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
NOTE: No Master or Highborn's Armor Save should EVER be worse than 3+. It costs less than 15 points to give them Heavy Armor and Sea Dragon Cloak which instantly gives them a leg up on 99 percent of most enemy Heroes and Lords.
- Dreadlord: Your workaday combat Lord. He's cheap and effective and can be highly nasty when given the right equipment. There are many equipment options that will be covered in the equipment section. Better than the High Elf equivalent in close combat, as they have better access to Armor Saves and re-roll Wounding rolls of 1 while sharing ASF. Overall, he's cheap with some good stats (WS7 and I8 is nothing to sneer at) and he can be quite effective in the right circumstances. Just don't put him in fights he can't win. Bear in mind he can take all the repeater weapons, so if you plan on sticking him in some block of Bleakswords or Executioners, pick up a crossbow, because he can move and fire both shots and still be hitting on 2s, so you can earn your points back quite easily (you need to kill 1 average infantryman with it to earn back your points, which you can do easily). If you're running a cavalry Dreadlord, I'd go with a repeater handbow, as you can use it with a shield and still get that sweet 1+ save on a cold one with heavy armour and a sea dragon cloak, while getting free shots in. As for the brace, I wouldn't recommend dropping a point of save for whats likely 1 more casualty per turn. As for melee equipment, for infantry I'd go sword and board vs Elves, Empire, Skaven and great weapon against pretty much anything else. Chillblade is fantastic against Ogres by the way. For cavalry, lance, and throw him in a unit of Cold One Knights. In any case, remember a ward save because of killing blow and try for 1+ armour as much as possible. Honourable mention to Giant Blade from the rulebook, but only against other elves, as you can wound more or less anything that isn't a dragon on 2s (and you wound dragons pretty decently too), while still keeping ASF so their heroes don't get ASF rerolls against you.
- Supreme Sorceress: Supreme Sorceresses (and Sorceresses for that matter) excel at one thing: blasting the almighty crap out of everything. You can fling absurd amounts of dice around if you're unafraid of Miscasts and have access to some impressively destructive Lores. The Dark Elves signature Lore consists of almost nothing but ways to blast the shit out of people. Aside from that, Sorceresses can now use all eight Battle Lores (Fuck Yeah!). To keep in the spirit of the fluff, Death is good for some targeted Hero killing and Shadow can home unit Synergy if you're willing to throw a lot of dice at it. Bringing a Level 4 Supreme Sorceress will almost always pay off. Life is good for several things, such as those Toughness 7 Witch Elves, although that doesn't feel like Dark Elves (well this
codexarmybook is Matt Ward's work..., also you could just say they're an exiled Wood Elf or something). In closing, a very versatile offensive caster and just as good a choice for General as the Dreadlord, though with different uses.
- High Beastmaster: Comes in at over double a Dreadlord in points. With one less A and I, light armor, cloak and spear, but lets one Beast per turn within 3" gain +D3 attacks and must take a Manticore or a Scourgerunner Chariot for free. May take the usual 100 points of magic items but has no standard options. His point costs are intimidating, but functionally he's only 10 points more than a Dreadlord on a Manticore, and the free Manticore with +2D3 attacks (get Blind Rage) can definitely help him earn his points back, even against the enemies elites as 8 (or 9 if he gets Frenzy) S5 attacks + Thunderstomp + Killing Blow is nothing to sneer at, and that's all before the Beastmaster attacks!
- Black Ark Fleetmaster: He's a Lord worth ~75ish Skaven Slaves and has a sword for a leg. Needless to say a kick to the crotch from this guy is to be avoided at all costs. Seriously though, Master stats with +1 wound. Whenever he is in a Challenge (and alive) or kills an enemy Character at all he makes his unit Unbreakable for the turn. It's a cool rule, and he's got a nice flavor, but he's just not worth the points. Take a Dreadlord for less points and get more use out of him. More for fluff and fun games and seems really out of place as a Lord choice (especially when you consider that his rough High Elf equivalent, the Sea Helm, is a cheap Hero).
- Sorceress: Sorceresses are cheap and effective. Level 1s can bring a small effective spell to the table (notably Dark Magic's Signature Spell is one that shooting heavy armies HATE!) and bringing a level 2 could provide valuable support when things go tits up for your Supreme Sorceress, especially if you're willing to for alternate Lores (Fire works well for basic Sorceresses). Not as powerful as a Supreme but well worth taking. Remember, they can now use all eight Battle Lores.
- Master: Masters are among the best cost for ability Heroes in the game. For 70 points, plus an extra 10 for the Sea Dragon Cloak and Heavy Armor, you'll get a guy with M5, WS/BS6, S4, T3, W2, I7, A3, LD9 and a 3+ armor save, plus ASF and Murderous Prowess. A Master is a great choice to add some oomph to a unit and probably the better choice for a BSB since you can very easily have him have a 2+ Armor save, without a mount or magic equipment.
- Death Hag: Death Hags cost 15 points more than a Master for 2 hand weapons, Frenzy, Poisoned Attacks aaaand...the loss of any kind of saves beyond a 5++, which only comes from a Cauldron of Blood. Not batting 1000 here. Gifts of Khaine are more expensive for them but they can take a single Magic Weapon up to 50 points.
- Cauldron of Blood: 190 point Chariot, gives the unit you put it in a 6++(5++ for Witch Elves), lets all friendly units with Murderous Prowess within 6 inch re-roll all failed To Wound rolls, and has a Bound Spell that makes a unit Frenzied(+2 attacks instead of 1 if they were already Frenzied). The kit can also make a Bloodwrack Shrine and gives you Hellebron. So you can make a Cauldron of Blood (a Chariot), a Bloodwrack Medusa (Monstrous Beast) as an independent unit and Hellebron (a Special Character)... all for just $80. I suppose it's rather pathetic we've gotten to a point where $80 AUD seems like a good deal for three models, but we are talking a good deal by GW's ridiculous standards.
- Assassin: When kitted out right, Assassins can end the life of any Hero and some Lords. It has frankly ABSURD WS and I mean that. It can put the whammy on anyone dumb enough to get into close combat with it. And here's the kicker: because of the Hidden rule, people don't know if they're getting into combat with it. Very good in either your ranked units (to help them hold up when a powerful unit tries to use them) or in your flank units (to up your kill count when you charge). An example of a good Assassin is additional hand weapon and Potion of Strength. Other combinations will be discussed later. Assassins often end up on suicide detail after a round of combat or two, so don't throw too many points into them. Oh and don't forget to write down what unit it's in, or people will accuse you of cheating. When you can spare the points, always take one.
- Dark Steed: The cheapest option. M9 and Fast Cavalry will put him out away from the rest of the army, except for Dark Riders and Doomfire Warlocks, but why would you want a character to join them? Because you're awesome and gave him a Ring of Hotek and a posse of 14 other Dark Riders or 5 Doomfire Warlocks.
- Cold One: The traditional mount of a Highborn/Master and with good reason. M7 is quite reasonable, Stupidity is unlikely to cause problems at LD9 and S4 and +2 to Armor Saves are always nice. If you want a mounted Hero without shelling out for a big expensive mount, this is where to go.
- Dark Pegasus: Pegasi used to be in kind of a weird position, but since the FAQ hit they've gotten significantly better since they become one model and inherit the Pegasus' toughness. You NEED to make sure your rider has a good Armor Save and probably a Ward too, or it'll get to shot to death (so don't give it to Sorceresses).
- Manticore: Don't have the points for a Black Dragon but want something big and scary? Then come on down to
Clar Karond'sKAROND KAR'S Manticore Emporium. The in-between option and a damned good one at that. If you want people to cry cheese, try mounting your Master on one of these. Can now be given a 4+ scaly skin save and can be upgraded with a Blind fury rule: it gains +D3 attacks each combat phase but enemies get +1 To Hit (worth it).
- Black Dragon: The Dark Elves best mount, a middle tier Dragon (better than Sun Dragons and Manticores but not as good as Star Dragons and Greater Daemons) whose effectiveness is often linked to how good the rider is. A powerful mount, perhaps a tiny bit overpriced, but worthwhile. We will cover what items to take and not to take later, but a remember that your Dragon is huge and scary so it will be getting shot at by everyone who doesn't want to see it crashing into their lines. Keep it out of sight of cannons.
- Dreadspears: Basic Spearmen...well Spearelves. Good M, WS, I and LD, average everything else. Spears, shields, light Armor. 9 points a pop. With ASF and Murderous Prowess, they can be a pretty nasty unit especially on the defense. Probably going to be one of your mainstay units if you focus on offense and best in units of 50-60.
- Bleakswords: Same stats as Spearmen, but swords and shields instead of spears and shields. Better in smaller units, and not as generally useful as Dreadspears, but still a pretty solid unit. A 5+ Armor Save followed by a 6+ Ward Save can give them okay durability, but they're not going to stand against everything. Elites and generally everything S4 and up will crush them provided they're able to strike back. Very good tarpit with Flesh to Stone or Glittering Robe, as it mitigates their shitty toughness and armour respectively.
- Darkshards: The other mainstay core unit, and again they kick ass. Between good range, Armor Piercing and Multiple Shots, these guys shred light to medium armored units like they're not even there. Have them concentrate fire with Bolt Throwers and Shades (if you have them) to damage your enemy's important units. You should always give them shields, as they will be absorbing a lot of S3 and S4 return fire. Flaming Sword of Rhuin is great on these guys, as it gives them 1+ to wound. This means you can wound T3 infantry on 3s and Ogres, Saurus etc on 4s. Also, flaming attacks. This doubles the amount of wounds they inflict on flammable units (e.g. Treekin) and negates regeneration saves (e.g. Trolls), so if you see Chaos or Greenskins or Wood Elves, this is worth considering, as with the armour piercing and the wounding on 4s with FSoR you can shred through whole units of them.
- Black Ark Corsairs: Don't let the 9 point cost fool you: they need to take either an extra hand weapon or a handbow for an extra 2 points. But that's not so bad as they're back to being a reliable Core choice again. With 2 hand weapons and a 4+ Armor Save, they're rock solid and can be quite difficult to damage under a lot of circumstances (in fact they're slightly tougher than Bleakswords but with an extra Attack if you get them another hand weapon). They work in either smaller aggressive units of 15-20 or in hordes of 40+ depending on which weapon choices you want to get.
- Witch Elves: Witch Elves are the first in the series of nasty flanking units, AND NOW THEY'RE CORE UNITS, KICKASS! The benefit is you can stock up on these lethal ladies and still have points free to allocate to Special choices. They have an absurdly high volume of attacks (30 Poisoned Attacks for 2 ranks of 10, remember supporting attackers only get 1 attack, think about this when using Corsairs, Black Guard, Sisters, etc), high Initiative, ASF and are cheap. As for upgrades, you can't go wrong with Witchbrew. Be careful with them though, they're about as hard to shoot to death as Goblins (more resistant to Panic though, thanks to Frenzy) but thanks to 8th ed they're no longer easily led out of position. Use them by all means, but be careful. Also, there's the fact that they are half-nude women sooo... yeah, I guess at $60 for a ten pack ($70 in Aus), sex must really sell. These are also counterparts to the Corsairs, the Corsairs not hitting quite as hard but being the most durable of all the Dark Elf Core infantry.
- Dark Riders: Actually they are incredible now. 20 points each once you get shields and crossbows. And you don't lose Fast Cavalry when you buy shields. So move 9, 4+ armor, with spears and crossbows... and of course the Vanguard move. You can easily get away with taking nothing but these guys for your Core choice as they can outmaneuver damn near everything. Don't take a full army of them against Dwarves or Wood Elves though, you will get shot to pieces. Fantastic against Skaven due to low movement speed but watch out for Warp Lightening Cannons or Plagueclaw Catapults.
- Shades: Lots of players have mixed opinions about Shades. While they might seem expensive they are really mobile with decent stats and Scout rules (they can even march and shoot). In low point games they will pretty much win your battles for you. Shades should be used as warmachine and lone wizard hunters. They can also be used to harass enemy flanks, but sending them into combat is a dicey proposition since the enemy can split their attacks, but it can help turn important combats around. 5 man units will generally fail, but 10 man units can do wonders against the right opponent.
- Harpies: Harpies got a serious kick in the cooch in this version. They can Panic friendly units when they flee now and their job as warmachine hunters/charge blockers is done better by Shades and Dark Riders. Their only real use is if you need maneuverable chaff, otherwise skip them.
- Executioners: Chaos Warriors getting you down? Bretonnians resisting all your attempts to move them? Need someone with high Strength to knock out a Monster? Then take Executioners. High Strength and Killing Blow make these guys a powerful unit. Be careful where you put them though, at T3, with a 5+ Save, they can be very easy to shoot to death. With the update, ASF cancels out Great Weapons, allowing them to strike at S6 at I5. Oh and re-rolls of 1 To Wound is pretty brutal for a unit that'll be Wounding anything T4 or below on a 2+. So yeah, these guys are now some of your best shock troops.
- Cold One Knights: A good enough flanking unit when the chips are down and can even charge smaller units head-on in a pinch. Cheap heavy cavalry is always welcome. They're 30 points a model, but the riders gained ASF and Murderous Prowess while the mounts gained an extra Attack so it sort of balances out. It helps that their models are GORGEOUS (they ride fucking DINOSAURS) and they have an exceptionally brutal statline, with LD9 more than making up for Stupidity. Be careful though, heavy cavalry took the hard end of the Nerfstick in 8th edition, so don't send them straight into a ranked enemy unit. Also, Stupidity makes a unit Immune to Psychology, so don't forget it. Take in small units for flanking and they'll reward you with your enemies' blood and your opponent's tears. Good with Enchanted Blades of Aiban as it means they hit even elite units on 3s and have -4 rend. This means use against Dwarves and Chaos and drink tears.
- Cold One Chariots: Quite good as far as Chariots go. It's highly resistant to damage and while once in a while Stupidity will prevent you from making that charge you need to, its low cost and high Ld keep that from happening too often or hurting too much when it does. Keep it someplace it can't be charged and use it to flank in a tight moment. Not precisely the Black Coach as far as Chariots go, but can be extremely useful. Also, it's a chariot pulled by DINOSAURS[silly warmbloods, still not as cool as the Lustrians].
- Black Guard:
The only ranked choice that isn't a Core choice.(what about Executioners?) They're easy to damage unfortunately, but they hit hard (15 always rerollable S4 attacks for 2 ranks of 5) and they. Do. Not. Break! They cost 15 points a model now, but gain ASF and can re-roll failed Wound rolls of 1 with Murderous Prowess, so they hit even harder than before. They also have no upper limit to unit size to sweeten the pot. For a 15 point magic banner from the main rulebook they can be Ld10 Stubborn or take a Flaming banner on them and they WILL take off an Abomination or a Hydra on the charge. A great anvil unit, apart from T3 and 5+ Armor. Buff them if you can. If you can fit them in and already have Executioners, do it. Earth Blood and Flesh to Stone from Life, Wyssan's Wildform from Beasts, or Glittering Robe from Metal can help them survive.
- Reaper Bolt Thrower: Often ignored, but a solid choice in its own right. As with all Bolt Throwers, it's good at taking out heavy cavalry and low Wound Monsters. Unlike all other Bolt Throwers (except for High Elves, who have the same exact unit) it can also be pretty good at taking out infantry. Stick it next to your Repeater Crossbowmen and help them shred units one at a time. Almost mandatory to only-refuse-them-if-you-want-to-lose in any Dark Elf army.
- War Hydra: Any bitch-fest about Dark Elves will bring up these guys. 160 points. Its Attacks are equal to 3 plus its remaining Wound total. So at full Wounds it's pumping out 8 Attacks and a Thunderstomp after that. 5 Wounds. S and T 5. Thunderstomp. Can buy a Breath Weapon with S4 and a Ranged Attack with 8" range, with number of shots and S being its remaining Wounds. Lost its Regeneration but now rolls a die at the end of your turn for each lost Wound and regains it on a 4+. This thing EATS. UNITS! Your ultimate flanking unit that can also double as a frontline unit and you can take 2 in a 1500 point game if you want to drink your opponent's tears. Any unit charged by this should roll for anal circumference. The Dark Elf solution to hordes. Use them against infantry to bring the pain, and take one whenever you can. 3 of these also running straight down the centre could be very useful in an all horse list... or most lists for that matter! I recommend a Life or Beasts caster with them, Flesh to Stone makes them T7, which is fantastic making sure great weapons don't kill them, and the Lore of Beast's signature spell gives them the S and T of a midtier dragon. Birona's Timewarp is also an excellent spell to use on a Hydra, giving it a 12" movement range and ASF, as well as an extra attack. If you need speed and have trouble with I4+ things (Bear in mind, the Hydra is I4, so while ASF will mean Elves don't get rerolls against it, they still hit first), this is a great spell.
- Scourgerunner Chariot: Lighter Chariot ridden by 2 Beastmasters and pulled by horses. Comes with a Ravager Harpoon: a S7 Bolt Thrower that can be fired on the move, but no Multi-Shot and it doesn't ignore Armor (though at S7 it's not likely anyone'll get a Save from it unless you try to Penetrate Ranks with the thing). If it causes an unsaved Wound on a Monster it gets dragged D6" towards the Chariot. If it goes over 3" it takes a second Wound with no Saves. Note, many of the monsters you want to kill with it are more maneuverable as they can fly. It cannot Stand And Shoot with the harpoon, but adding a Beastmaster Character can make it BS7. As is, it's overpriced for what it does and competes with other much better choices (for one of these you can get two Reapers which can do the same job but better). Leave it out unless it's a fluffy army, and even then its use is only recommended to veteran Dark Elf players who'll use it to get some flank shots.
- Doomfire Warlocks: Warlocks cursed by Malekith. Fast Cav with 2 poisoned attacks each and a 4+ Ward, unless the attacker is a Slaaneshi unit (Daemons and marked warriors) in which case they only get their 6+ mounted save because Slaanesh wants them. The unit knows the Doombolt and Soulblight spells at a LVL of 2 and gains +1 to cast for each rank of 5 up to a max of +3. At only 25 points a model, any army can do with a unit of these (unless versing Chaos armies of Slaanesh) especially if you want a Dark Steed mounted Sorceress. Units of 5 are ideal.
- Sisters of Slaughter: They're pretty much Dark Eldar Wyches transplanted into Warhammer Fantasy, without the fancy weapons or combat drugs. More easily shot to death than Witch Elves (as they lack Frenzy unless buffed by a Cauldron of Blood or joined by a Death Hag with Witchbrew, and Witch Elves get a better Ward Save from the Cauldron), though they get a 6+ Armor Save and 4+ Ward Save against close combat attacks. Alright for tarpitting elite units in combat, but not as good on the offensive as Witch Elves. Their Trial of Blades rule has potential but lacks the punch against heavily armored units. They also have the ability to negate the rank bonus for combat results and parry saves, but they're still outshone by Witch Elves.
- Kharibdyss: The Dark Elves get a deep-sea monster in their army. It's got a high strength of 7 and if all its attacks hit against a single model it does an additional D6 S7 hits. At WS5 this may happen a lot. Alongside I4 and Poisoned Attacks, this makes it a better monster killer than the Hydra. Also has Abyssal Roar meaning that enemies in base contact re-roll successful Leadership tests, making it a great unit for flank charges as well. Making enemies re-roll successful break tests (drools)... unless they have Fear, Terror or Immune to Psychology. A bargain at 160 points. Note it only has a 4+ Scaly Skin and T5 with 5 wounds protecting it, so not as good on the defensive. Worth taking, especially if your opponent has lots of monsters or is playing Ogre Kingdoms. It would be great if it had the Aquatic or Strider (water) rule but logically that means it would out-swim its handlers and escape/turn and eat them the moment it entered water. Use Timewarp on it. It will give your rerolls against any monsters (or anything, but you should be fighting monsters with this guy), meaning you get an easier Feast of Bones, and you'll anything not an elf first.
- Bloodwrack Medusa: A monstrous creature were if you meet its gaze makes you bleed to death from every pore and orifice on your body. This is represented by a shooting attack with Killing Blow. Every enemy model in base contact takes a Killing Blow hit at the same time as Impact Hits. As awesome as that is, it somehow works on undead despite the facts that they either don't need or have any blood, while some also don't even have eyes or physical bodies (How does a skeleton or a ghost bleed to death?). Its low, LOW leadership (2!) means if it loses Frenzy it's even more cowardly than a Goblin and with frenzy it's easy for the enemy to lead around unless it's near the general. At 90 points with no save, it's not worth the hassle when competing with the amazing Doomfire Warlocks and the impressive Kharibdyss unless you're up against a very low I army (like Undead or Dwarfs).
- Bloodwrack Shrine: A really weird Chariot that does a lot of different things, some of which are of limited value. It can join units like a Cauldron of Blood but its point cost is very similar to a Kharibdyss or Hydra, so it is best to consider those monsters as its competition for a slot in your army. It is slightly slower than a Hydra or Kharibdyss but it has Swiftstride. In close combat it gets Impact Hits, but lacks Thunderstomp. It has a solid Toughness of 6 with 5 Wounds making it pretty hard to kill. It puts out 3 WS5 s4 attacks and 2 WS4 S4 attacks on the charge (owing to the spears of the 2 shrinekeepers), all with ASF and Murderous Prowess. It gives all friendly MODELS within 6" +1 Ld and all enemy MODELS within 6" -1 Ld. This is important to note since if an enemy unit extends out of that 6 inch bubble they will not care about the leadership penalty since some models in the unit will be unaffected. The shrine also has the same shooting attack as a lone BloodWrack Medusa which is less useful on the shrine given its higher point cost and greater combat ability/utility. It also has the "Avert Your Gaze" special rule like the solo Medusa models. This rule is way better on the Shrine than the lone Medusae because of the Shrine's much better Toughness/Wounds and large base size. This ability pairs very well with Miasma from the Lore of Shadow which is a good lore to consider for Dark Elves under any circumstances. A super secret troll technique involving the Shrine is to run one with a unit of 10-15 Sisters of Slaughter with a standard bearer with a War Banner and a champion. Run the unit with only 2 Sisters (champ and banner) and the shrine in the front rank. Your opponent is unlikely to be able to get much combat resolution. You will have 3 ranks, a banner, and a War Banner for 5 static combat resolution in addition to any wounds you do. You cancel your opponent's Rank Bonus and they also will take their break test, should they lose combat, on a -1 LD from the Shrine. Alternative troll build is to run 1+ armor Dreadlords or Masters in the 2 front spots and have a Lore of Life caster or 2 to heal the shrine up.
Building Your Army
Buying Your Army
The army is expensive as fuck. If you buy a Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine, always make the Cauldron of Blood. You get Hellebrone (a special character), the Death Hag (a Hero), the Bloodwrack Medusa (a monstrous beast) and the Cauldron. Spearmen and Crossbowmen got dearer, so be careful with core units. Also, Witch Elves, Executioners and Black Guard became WAY overpriced because of the excuse that it's a double kit, since they're plastic models that cost as much as they did when made of metal.
Cold One Knights are still fairly reasonably priced, and the Hydra got cheaper while also gaining the option of making the Kharibdyss. Bolt Throwers are as expensive as they ever were, but still a good unit.
To save money with a Dark Elves army, you'll have to get creative.
Buy some basic High Elf models from GW (or Mantic--but only if you like owning ugly ass minis), remove their more High Elven bits and replace them with Dark Elf bits or spikes. Then paint them in Dark Elf colors and in the fluff pass them off as defectors from Ulthuan (or Athel Loren) gone over to Naggaroth (For example; Spearmen become Dreadspears, Glade Riders become Dark Riders).
Corsairs are good for conversions and can be used to make other units.
- For example, take a box of Corsairs (using Aus prices that's $55). Take two away and use them to buff an existing Corsair unit. As for the remaining 8, take 5 Corsairs and with some modeling putty and tools convert 5 of them into Shades. Take the Standard Bearer and give him the same treatment, he becomes a BSB Master. Another Corsair can become either a Master on foot, a Dreadlord on foot or a Fleetmaster. The final Corsair, with the same method, can be converted into an Assassin. Buying GW's Shades, two Masters and an Assassin model would cost $125, but with this idea you save $70! (NOTE: IF you're already into conversions you won't have to worry about buying modeling putty or tools, and get them from crafting stores, not GW). Since Warhammer is more expensive with Aus prices, imagine how much cheaper this method would be for gamers in the US or UK (prices in other parts of the world vary but fall between these price ranges).
Alternate take, buy some dark eldar. They are currently one of the cheapest armies of 40k and they have great kits that you can convert with relative ease.
- Dark Elf Warriors and Crossbowmen are a mainstay of the army. Whenever possible, give your Crossbowmen shields, for that better armor and parry. With Dark Riders as a Core Unit, a fast army is once again an option for Dark Elves.
- Black Guard and Warriors make great supporting Ranked units, and Black Guard make good flank protectors being hard to shift. Witch Elves and Executioners are great flanking infantry, to be used against Hordes and armored elites respectively. Cold One Chariots and Cavalry are good too and are generally cheaper, but they don't generate as much static CR.
- War Hydras are brutal, under any circumstances but are best charging on the flanks. The Kharibdyss is a good flank charger as well, especially against hordes where it can use its Abyssal Roar to good effect. It also makes a decent monster hunter in a pinch.
- If you want to take advantage of the fact that Dark elves are a fast and maneuverable army, fill core with dark riders, crossbow men and small units of Witch Elves OR a large unit Witch Elves supported by dark riders (always take dark riders). Don't bother filling up on spearmen and sword men as they are expensive in points and real life money, and are pretty weak compared to the suggested units.
- For special take Executioners, they are effective both in small units (15-20) or in large hoards (30+) they combine high strength initiative 5 attack with killing blow and can mash through most units before they can even strike, it is useful to attach a Master/Dreadlord for some added punch, give him a magic weapon to avoid ethereal bullshit holding you up the entire game. Also almost every army will benefit from having between 2-4 repeater bolt throwers, use these to remove small units that will try and redirect your frenzied units. Cold one Knights and cold one chariots are a similar unit, good for a flank charge, not fully reliable due to stupidity but that is somewhat mitigated by their high leadership. Hydras are almost an auto-include (cheap powerful monster who can grow back its wounds). Lastly shades with great weapons are excellent war machine and wizard hunters, being able to deliver highly accurate shots on turn 1 before hitting hard with I5 S5 attacks.
- For your rare choices Doomfire Warlocks we debatably the best fast cav in the game. The combination of a 4+ ward save and 2 S4 poisoned attacks for the cheap cheap price of 25 points is incredible, not to mention the fact that each unit is a LVL 2 wizard with 2 very effective offensive spells (don't forget you can channel with these units for some extra magic phase rape).
- For your Lords and Heroes always take a LVL 4 Sorceress and a mounted Master with BSB. Stick the Sorcerers on a horse and put her in a unit of fast cav and do the same thing with your BSB (in a different unit that is).
- For your general you can possibly add a Dreadlord (always mount him with lance and sea dragon cloak) or you can just use the sorceress Lord as your general (though given that most of your army's Ld9 she won't add much).
- Lastly the Death Hag can be equipped with the cauldron of blood, if you need a Death Star that can chew through almost any unit in the game: mount a Death Hag on cauldron of blood, give her fencers blades (for added protection) and put her in a unit of 30 Witch Elves in a 30 x 10 formation. This unit can put out a stunning 50 ASF, initiative 6, poisoned attacks (60 if you use the cauldrons bound spell for ultra frenzy) combined with the death hags 5 attacks and the 6 attacks from the witchelves on the caouldren AND the D6 impact hits from the cauldron on the charge. FOR A POTENTIAL TOTAL OF 77 ATTACKS TOTAL. 71 of which re-roll to hit and re-roll to wound. That. Is. Brutal.
- Magic Weapons:
Hydra Blade Now adds +D6 attacks. In addition, causes a leadership test with a -2 modifier. If passed nothing happens. If failed, the wielder has -5 to their weapon skill (to a minimum of 1) but gains the Heroic Killing Blow rule until the end of the round. At 100 points, it takes your full magic item allowance and isn't worth it. Mathwise it's only marginally better than the Sword of Bloodshed and it doesn't fix the main problem most Elves have, they don't have too little attacks, they have too little strength (not to mention HKB isn't likely to happen even at the Ld8 you'll be testing at, and isn't worth it when it does). If you take it, make sure someone in the army has the Lore of Light (for the spell Speed of Light) or Lore of Shadow (for Mindrazor), which would make this a viable option for a offensive lord and the BANE of Ogre Kingdoms armies.
Chillblade Now wounds automatically. Any unsaved wounds cause a toughness check which, if failed, cause -3 to the attacks characteristic of the model. Costs the same. Better against high toughness opponents than the previous version, but worse against low toughness opponents. It is, in theory, a very versatile weapon and could be incredibly useful because one of your key weaknesses is strength, and if they are a low toughness highly offensive character, then there's a good chance that they will completely lose offensive power, and generally you will be going first so you can just DOMINATE.
The Black Amulet Same as the previous version, except it only rebounds wounds in a challenge and costs 60 points. Use only on a character intended for challenges.
Ring of Hotek Now costs 50 points. Grants Magic Resistance (3), makes any enemy wizard casting spells at the wearer or a unit within 6' miscast on a double 1 as well as a double 6 without making the double 1 Irresistible force. Surprisingly not as cheesy or prone to backfiring as the previous version. Worth taking if you can spare the points.
- Enchanted Items:
Black Dragon Egg Similar to the previous version, except it's 50 points, now grants S6 as well and the breath weapon is S2 with no armor saves. Still good, but pricey.
Cloak of Twilight 3+ ward save against shooting attacks and spells. Gives the wearer Killing Blow and Multiple wounds (D3) in the first round of any close combat. For 50 points, a good item, but make sure it's used to its fullest potential on a combat character, preferably a Dreadlord or an Assassin. Putting it on a model with the Chillblade is downright cruel, and capable of killing a Dragon in one turn as even though you won't be using Killing Blow, auto-wounding at D3 Wounds is pretty much guaranteed to kill the opponent anyway.
- Arcane Items:
The Gem of Spite Inflicts a S6 hit on every enemy wizard in 12 when the bearer miscasts. Any wounds can be mitigated but your opponent must sacrifice a dispel dice for each wound. A good item for a close-range Sorceress, especially a Supreme Sorceress.
The Sacrificial Dagger Now only grants 1 extra power dice on a 4+ which must be rolled if successful and then proceedes into the dispel attempts and spell resolution, but if failed can be attempted again with another sacrifice of the unit in which the sorceress is part of (and as many times as wished until she is the last one standing - she can't sacrifice herself now can she). Same points cost and quite a nice boost to help pimpslap the enemy with dark magic (not to mention more chance of the dark magic lore attribute kicking in), just be careful you don't go overboard on sacrifices and hamper the unit's effectiveness. For max use have a sorceress in a large squad - this will provide plenty of corpses and will also help keep her even more safe from harm. The previous version was slightly better as that extra dice kicked in automatically instead of on a 4+, though you could still do multiple sacrifices.
Tome of Furion The Seerstaff left the High Elves and migrated to the Dark Elves. For 25 points, a wizard can choose one of their spells instead of rolling for them if they're using the Lore of Dark Magic. If you're taking a wizard who's using Dark Magic, don't leave Naggaroth without it.
- Magic Standards:
Banner of Nagarythe Makes all models in the unit with it and any Shadow Warriors (including Alith) within 12' unbreakable. Now costs only 100 points, though the previous version was still better.
- Magic Weapons:
Giant Blade: 60 points is a lot, but +3 Strength is something great for a Dark Elf damage dealer, though honestly it's completely outdone by the Chillblade (still might be worth it if you've already bought the Chillblade for somebody else). Note that despite it sounding like a slow weapon that would negate your ASF, it doesn't.
Sword of Bloodshed: Too expensive for what it does. While it can put the hurt on hordes, a Dreadlord should not be fighting chaff and it lacks the punch to hurt the rare hordes of elites.
Obsidian Blade: 50 points to ignore armour, great for tailoring your list but for an all-comers 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 Chillblade, Giant Blade or if you needed the 20 points you'd spend on the Giant Blade 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 and an extra attack for 35 points. The Dreadlord already has WS7, and thus this isn't that great when you could bump up his Strength or even his Attacks. If you still want them then the swords work well for defensive Dark Elves as they can still have a 2+ armour save and the swords, and they’re especially useful against High Elves; hitting even Tyrion on 3’s. A Master can take them, though they’re better on a Dreadlord.
Sword of Anti-Heroes: +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. It can really shine on an Assassin if they can take it. Otherwise, not really worth it.
Sword of Swift Slaying: Grants Always Strikes First. Ever since the 8th edition Dark Elves army book this is useless.
Sword of Battle: +1 Attack for 20 points, keep scrolling.
Berserker Sword: Bearer has Frenzy and cannot lose it. Dark Elves do not need this as psychology can be mitigated with Death Hags or fear/terror causing mounts.
Sword of Might: +1 Strength close combat for 20 points and you can use a shield, it's nice.
Gold Sigil Sword: Makes your attacks 10 Initiative in close combat. Maybe for a cheap buff if you have the points to spare.
Sword of Striking: +1 to hit. Fairly nice, with ASF that means you're usually getting 2+ to hit with re-rolls, though since the 3+ to hit and re-rolls isn't that much worse getting more 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. Unnecessary as characters can just take a fear-causing mount, and most would need a weapon to help them kill things. Sorceresses and the lord version can get some mileage from this if they have to be on foot.
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.
- Magic Armour:
Armour of Destiny: Heavy Armor with 4+ Ward Save. Not a bad selection and a cheaper way to get heavy armour with a nice benefit.
Trickster's Helm: +1 Armor, and any wound made against the bearer has to be rerolled. Just no, you're Toughness 3, nobody has problems wounding you, focus on armour and wards, not whatever the hell you think you can pull off, and it costs 50 points. Just no. no.
Armour of Silvered Steel: 2+ Armor Save, cannot be improved by any means. 40 points. Redundant when any Dark Elf character who needs it can get the same from mundane means for much less points.
Armour of Fortune: Heavy Armor with a 5+ Ward Save. 15 points cheaper than the Armour of Destiny. A good all-comers choice.
Helm of Discord: +1 Armor, and any enemy character in base contact must pass a Leadership roll or be stunned and is automatically hit. Your character will dominate challenges. 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 Sea Dragon 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. Combines well with a Sea Dragon Cloak and good for Masters.
Dragonhelm: +1 Armor, +2 Ward against Flaming attacks. A welcome choice.
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 its 45 point cost. Need the protection and can’t afford the Black Amulet, take this.
Obsidian Lodestone: Magic Resistance (3). For when the Ring of Hotek isn’t enough. Pricry, though it has potential.
Talisman of Endurance: 5+ Ward Save. Still okay.
Obsidian Amulet: Magic Resistance (2). Viable.
Dawnstone: Re-roll failed Armor Saves. Worth it, as Dreadlords and Masters can have 1+ armour saves without magic items.
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, especially if you’re facing lore of metal.
Pidgeon Plucker Pendant: Misspelled name, odd item. 5+ Ward Save from Flying enemies. Tailored lists only really.
Luckstone: Reroll a single failed Armor Save. 5 points, not a bad place to spend them either.
- Magic Standards:
Rampager's Standard: Reroll your charge distance dice if you want. Stick it on cavalry, especially as the Battle Standard in Cold One Knights, since the BSB makes them re-roll failed Stupidity or you ignore it if Malus and Spite also in the unit.
Wailing Banner: Unit causes Terror. Pretty shitty thanks to the massive debuff to Terror in 8th edition. There's better standards for you.
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. Executioners in close combat under this will cut through any armour, though they’re good enough this is only recommended against the heaviest of foes such as WoC and Dwarfs.
War Banner: +1 Combat Resolution. Normally you want to avoid getting stuck in a fight all game, and this'll help improve your chances of winning in all rounds of combat.
Banner of Swiftness: +1 Movement. There's better choices, really if you want movement you should be rolling Lore of Shadow or Light. Can be nice to surprise the enemy with Witch Elves or Cold One Knights.
Lichborne Pennant: Magic Resistance (1). Decent for a unit joined by a sorceress.
Standard of Discipline: +1 Leadership, but disregard the General's Inspiring Presence. Leadership 10 will ensure the Black Guard never leave and it's fairly useful for preventing Frenzied units from charging, or if you're going to have a unit outside the General's Inspiring Presence bubble anyway.
Banner of Eternal Flame: Just like most armies, feel free to take this and stick it wherever you want.
Gleaming Pennant: One use, re-roll 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 and even then don't expect too much as most units that can take it weren't going to charge/be charged by fliers anyway.
- Arcane Items:
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. It's decent though overpriced.
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 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. The image of turning a mage into a frog then an Assassin just walking up and (literally) stomping on them is pretty lulzy.
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. It can be useful.
Staff of Sorcery: Hidden away in the FAQ. 35 points, gives +1 to dispel. Is alright.
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. At 25 points though, it's kind of a waste.
Earthing Rod: One use, reroll the result on the miscast table once. Not bad if you're gonna be blasting away with your Supreme Sorceress.
Dispel Scroll: 25 points, auto dispel the enemy spell unless it's an Irresistible Force spell. Always welcome.
Power Stone: One use. Used prior to casting a spell, adds two more bonus dice out of thin air to the attempt. Redundant if any wizards in the army are using Dark Magic.
Sceptre of Stability: One use 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, especially if the Dark Magic lore is being used. 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 a Supreme Sorceress or a Dreadlord on a Dragon. Hellebron will thank you if she’s in the army.
- Enchanted Items:
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. Don’t bother.
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. 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 a Dark Pegasus or Manticore.
Crown of Command : 35 points to grant Stubborn and thus grant it to a unit the wearer joins. Not bad and very good on a Dreadlord general.
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.
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 (if you’re planning to turn against him) or High Elves.
Ruby Ring of Ruin: Bound spell with Fireball. Decent and it’s a nice surprise from a non-mage character.
Terrifying Mask of EEE!: Wearer causes Terror, but nobody can use their leadership. Since most Dark Elves have almost max LD and some characters have the same, there's no downside. Not worth it at 25 points though unless you want the unit the character's in immune to Fear.
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 Dreadlord or Master.
Potion of Toughness: One use, start of any player's turn to grant +3 Toughness. This is more for an Supreme Sorceress or Sorceress stuck in close combat, or a Dreadlord who's going into a suicide charge.
The Other Trickster's Shard: All successful Ward Saves by models in base contact have to be re-rolled, that means both friend and foe. Since Ward Saves are common to us, it can be a detriment. Still good if you don't have one. Combines well with a character on a Manticore, as now enemies have to re-roll Ward Saves against its Killing Blow attacks.
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?
Dark Elf Sorceress have access to all 8 lores and their specific Lore, Dark Magic. While every lore has its use, some are particularly good. These are;
- Life: Cheesy as it is in a Dark Elf army, this Lore could only be more awesome if it shat rainbows and was on fire. Throne of Vines lets you ignore all miscasts from Life wizards on a 2+ (this includes a miscast from casting ToV itself, so go for broke) and beefs up the rest of your spells, Regrowth brings back dead models, Flesh to Stone will make your T3 Elves less fragile (especially good for Witch Elves), Shield of Thorns is a welcome buff, and The Dwellers Below makes all models in a targeted unit make a Strength test or die with no saves allowed (perfect to get the drop on the Dark Elves wussy cousins). And every time you successfully cast, you heal a wound, which can be on any model within 12". Seriously, take this Lore, and take it for the highest-level wizard you have.
- Metal: A good choice, it really comes into its own against enemies with high armor values (Warriors of Chaos, Bretonnians and so on). Glittering Scales gives one unit a +2 scaly skin armour save buff, making most Dark Infantry (except corsairs who already have scaly skin saves) have a 3+ or 4+ armour save (or 5+ for Witch Elves), while Chariots become 1+. The souped up version gives all friendly units within a 12" bubble the same effect, so if cast by a sorceress in the middle of your army it can be fantastic - High Elf archers cry when confronted by 3+ armour saving Dark Elf infantry hordes. Final Transmutation is great for thinning hordes and dealing with foes that have silly ward saves, and its stupidity rule can stop entire low leadership armies in their tracks. Enchanted Blades of Aiban - which gives +1 to hit rolls, AP and magic weapons - will now be very handy for Executioners, now that they have lost their first round to hit re-rolls. Plague of Rust is as useful against foes with a 5+ or 6+ save as it is against those with lower saves, and Transmutation of Lead is an all round debuffer. The two anti-armour spells - Searing Doom and Golden Hounds of Ghenna - can be used against the one or two high armour saving throw enemies that most armies have, including monsters with scaly skin saves (also meaning Lizardmen aren't safe from this lore).
- Light: Not a priority choice but it gives you some of very nice buffs (Speed of Light) and debuffs (particularly Net of Amyntok). Due to the nearly army-wide Always Strike First, Speed of Light is preferred to Bjona's Timewarp. Yet Bjona's Timewarp can be useful for those few units that don't have ASF (Such as the Kharibdyss; You get an extra attack, but when you get re-rolls to hit, it increases your chances of all attacks hitting, making a Feast of Bones more likely against enemy monsters. Combine with Speed of Light for extra cheese), and don't forget it doubles your base movement, so your charge range just got even better. A very good lore, especially considering the fact that it's statistically the easiest lore to cast and Dark Elves can gain extra power dice. Very good against Undead and Daemons, not only because of the Lore attribute but due to all of them having nasty combat units you want to Net and Light of Battle helping you deal with Fear.
- Death: A good choice, with buffs and debuffs, though you've got to be pretty close to an enemy for the latter. Doom and Darkness synergizes well with your Fear and Terror causing units, especially the Kharibdyss, while Aspect of the Dreadknight is good for Cold One Knights/Chariots. Purple Sun of Xereus is great due to the Dark Elves high initiatives meaning your elves have only a 1 in 6 chance of dying from this if it goes astray, except your monsters so be careful with them. In addition, the lore attribute synergizes well with the Dark Elves ability to gain extra power dice.
- Shadow: Has a lot of very good debuffs and can make one guy a flier, the latter being great for Sorceresses on foot and assassins. It also comes with a semi-cannon ball initiative test spell sand a blast initiative test spell which can destroy your enemy's tougher units. The best spell in this Lore is Okkam's Mindrazor, which replaces a unit's Strength score with its Leadership when rolling to wound, which means that the unit you cast it on will essentially have at least 8 Strength (except for Harpies and some monsters) in close combat. The best choice for this spell is Black Guard; Black Guard with Okkam's Mindrazor EAT UNITS! They become STRENGTH 9, with ALWAYS STRIKES FIRST, RE-ROLL ALL FAILED ROLLS TO HIT (ETERNAL HATRED/WARRIOR ELITE), WOUNDING MOST THINGS ON TWOS AND RE-ROLLING ONES WITH MURDEROUS PROWESS! Nearly anything in combat with that, from Ironbreakers to Bloodthirsters, will suffer critical existence failure.
- Heavens: Mixed, I wouldn't blind pick it. Lore attribute is mostly useless, but the signature spell is a great debuff against anything you don't want hitting you (read: Cannons). Also, it stops anything that doesn't roll to hit on a 4, meaning you can walk into flame cannons and have half a chance of waltzing right up to it (don't rely on this though, because half the time you will get cooked). Harmonic Convergence is bad, you usually reroll anyway due to ASF, you rerolls wound on more or less everything, rerolling saves is good but a lot of things can take them off. Good on a Hydra though, as it throws out lots of attacks, and will likely take a lot of saves due to how much people will try and kill it, and it also gets the rerolls it doesn't get as it lacking MP. Wind Blast is situational, but might save you from a charge, but don't rely on it. Curse of the Midnight Wind is fun, a good 'fuck you' button to an elite unit, but I recommend using it on something you're charging Witch Elves into, as it help your elves get through it's armour save, and Witch Elves getting hit and wounded less is fantastic. Urannon's Thunderbolt is great for killing war machines and chipping down monsters. Comet is unreliable, but holy hell if you get an overcast comet between multiple enemy units, they're in fucking trouble. Do not rely on this though, as enemies can move out of i. Also, it hits your own units. If a bunch of people charge a tarpit, feel free though. As for Chain Lightening, it's good against multiple units of elite units, but does too little hits to kill hordes.
- Beasts: It's good, but overshadowed by some other choices. Wildheart is situational and not great even then, but a decent boost. Wyssan's is always useful, Flock of Doom can chip artillery nicely and for nothing, Pann's is great if you're running a combat lord, same with Savage Beast. Curse of Anraheir will fuck up anything with low initiative and is also nice for the -1 to hit. Transformation of Kadon will get you a free hydra, or a manticore (use against cavalry, it has killing blow) or a Horned Dragon, which is a discount Black Dragon, but still a dragon. If you overcast it, you can get a Mountain Chimera or a Great Fire Dragon, both of which are amazing. Don't ever use the base version of the spell, overcast it, especially as wounds are carried over, the two overcast monsters have 8 and 10 wounds respectively, meaning even if you're on your last life, you'll probably have 6 and 8 wounds on a giant fucking monster. Both of which will shred more or less anything. However, don't ever cast this early, get some spells out and cast if your wizard is injured. It's a waste to take a wizard and cast 0 spells.
- Fire: Fireball is always useful, Fire Cloak is meh but cheap, Flaming Sword is pretty good, especially against anything with Flammable or Regen, Burning Head is good if you can flank an enemy line, but its best in high point games and against massive hordes. Piercing Bolts is usually a worse fireball, unless against large hordes. Flame Cage is also good against hordes, auto strength 4 hits or you don't move is great against anyone trying to tarpit your Kharibdyss. As with every vortex, Flame Storm has the potential to do massive damage, it's a good alternative against hordes, its better than Dwellers Below against low strength units but Fire doesn't have the flexibility of Life, and its better than Purple Sun against Elves or Humans or Goblin or Skinks or Skaven, but not against Dwarves, Chaos, Orcs, Undead or Saurus, or anything with multiple wounds
Dark Magic remains a popular choice, due to its technique of blasting the crap out of things. Fire is less popular, but its low casting values means that it works well on a Level 1-2 Sorceress (don't bother putting it on a Level 4 though). Death is a solid lore, with a lot of damaging spells and ways of slicing heroes of out units. Shadow is a powerhouse lore under a lot of circumstances, but it has very little synergy with the other Lores and unlike Death, Fire or Dark Magic requires you to devote a Level 4 to it to operate at peak efficiency (as most of it's powerful spells would require silly numbers of dice for a Level 2 to cast reliably). But if you've only got 1 Level 4 Wizard, it can work well on it's own. Metal is only useful against a handful of enemies and is not even exceptionally useful against them.
- A pair of Sorceresses with Dark Magic and Fire/Death can knock out small enemy units that would normally get in the way of things, allowing you to focus your shooting on more important targets, and a single Supreme Sorceress with Shadow can boost your center quite a lot, which are the two primary setups for a tournament level list. If for whatever reason you want to play a defensive list, Lore of Life will save the day, and Lore of Light will wipe the smiles off the faces of undead or daemon armies.
It's your Lore and by no means a bad one. It's the dark cousin of the High Elf pussy Lore, but meaner and more direct in blasting the crap out of anything. It's sometimes difficult to cast but some really good spells are affordable with a 12 or less, so even a lvl 2 sorceress can get a lot out of it. Still though the Lore is not easy to use, since many spells have a small range or rely on buffing the unit the sorceress is in, so it would e best if the sorceress would be near the frontlines, even if that is not generally advised. But give The Black Amulet to a lvl 4 and take a few challenges with a bit of luck it can be great, and remember if you did right you will only have one round of combat anyway.
Attribute Your attribute makes more damage every time you target an enemy unit and roll doubles or triples, you hit them with 2d6/3d6 S1 armor piercing hits. Read carefully the damage of the Lore Attribute is taken after the actual spell, this don't seem important but it is. Imagine Teclis running with a unit of 15 archers. Imagine further you cast the great version of your second signature Spell on this unit. Now imagine all high elves dead (anyone get a warm feeling by this words?) but of course Teclis is still standing because he can't be hit by your spell. But now the archers are dead the Lore Attribute kicks and kicks Teclis right out of game with a bit of Luck, so never forget the Lore attribute.
- Spell 0 - Power of Darkness
Your first Signature Spell and an old friend to any Dark Elf player. It was awesome before and now it remains awesome, but in another way. First the whole unit the Sorceress is in gets +1 strength. For Elves this is a very very good thing. And like last edition you get extra power dice (d3, but you take a wound on 3). As such, always equip your sorceress with a ward save. For a single lvl 2 it's probably not worth it, but if you have 2 Sorceresses with this spell you will be dominating the magic phase no matter the winds.
- Spell 0.2 - DOOMBOLT
DOOMFUCKINGBOLT is your second Signature Spell is the big brother of the High Elf Soul Quench (with 2 exceptions). With S5 and a higher casting value, this spell can wreck whole units by itself. It's a giant dark lightning bolt of FUCKING DOOM, always take it when you can.
- Spell 1 - Chillwind
Your old signature Spell nerfed pretty bad, making 2d6 S2 hits with -1BS when you kill something. Still against enemies with high toughness, in combo with the Lore Attribute, probably still worth it. Fortunately an easy spell to cast, good against low toughness units and will help you against shooting armies (especially Wood Elves, who don't like winter).
- Spell 2 - Word of Pain
Now this Spell's gone from good to great. At first it doesn't look so, but look at the greater version of it (never ever cast the lesser one) it lowers the WS,BS,I AND S of an unit per D3. So in this single spell you get the Miasma and the Enfeeble in one spell (and perhaps a bit of damage) for a laughable 12, and it can lower the WS/BS to 0 meaning the unit cannot shoot, cannot fight in combat and gets automatically hit as well. Always take this.
- Spell 3 - Bladewind
Going from anti Warmachine to anti Horde, a good spell especially when used in conjunction with Word of Pain. Watch your opponent cry as his WS4 T3 infantry gets dropped to WS1 and then slapped in the face.
- Spell 4 - Shroud of Despair
The new spell in this edition and boy it's a good one. A Hexspell targeting every enemy in 12 inches making them unable to use Inspiring Presence or Hold Your Ground!, and even lowering their leadership if one of the units miss a morale check. Great combos are possible with the warcry of Khaine, the Kharibdyss and even the Bloodwrack Shrine. Unless you're playing against Undead or Daemons this spell is always worth considering, as it can break a few units at once.
- Spell 5 - Soul Stealer
Getting weaker but therefore getting a higher range this spell is still good against anything with high armor, especially if you remember that your Sorceress will be on the frontline and can make a use of a few wounds she gets with this spell. On a lvl 4 this is always a good idea, it combines well with Power of Darkness, getting extra dice and restoring wounds.
- Spell 6 - Arnizipal's Black Horror
Your magic Black hole, identical to the purple Sun, but with strength tests instead of Initiative. So its best used against hordes of weak opponents but also good in combination with your second spell. Be wary of the 1 in 6 chance of rolling a misfire, because this drops the template on top of your sorceress's head, after which it scatters randomly. Given that Strength tests are the worst nightmare for most Dark Elf units, it can be worth making sure your sorceress is casting from a little way away from the rest of your army if you are going to give this spell a go. Good fun and a nightmare for hordes and low strength armies.
The most important rule, never, ever, EVER forget your ASF re-rolls of missed to-hit rolls, the ones from Eternal Hatred or High Elf Hatred and Murderous Prowess re-rolls of 1s on your to-wound rolls. NEVER. These re-rolls are your biggest lifesaver.
Say it with me: Rank. And. Flank. Draw your enemies onto your big ranked units (usually Warriors and Black Guard, though Corsairs and Executioners can work in a pinch), hold out for a turn and then charge them on the flanks with the big scary units. Dark Elves do this better than any other army in the game. Their Ranked units have high enough WS, I and LD to hold out for a little while and their flanking units hit brutally hard. They also have units that are exceptionally good at drawing enemy units out of position and just generally causing problems. (Harpies do this job exceptionally well, but Shades and Dark Riders do okay).
Now with army wide Always Strikes First. Playing aggressively is an option, but it can hard to back up under a lot of circumstances, and should only be attempted if you're battling a highly defensive list (Dwarves for example). But you will eventually, so you need to know how to play aggressively. Put frankly, it's why you take Hydras/Cold One Knights/Chariots/Witch Elves, aside from their uses as flanking units. You're going to need to charge early and often with your fast units, concentrating them on one flank to try and force it to collapse so you can sweep across the center. This strategy has a lot issues (mostly that you're going to have trouble combining charges, and unsupported head on attacks with your COKs and Chariots are risky) so if you're playing an army that's even slightly aggressive you should focus on rank and flank, or a variation. But there will be times when your opponent won't want to charge, so you'd better handle it.
Your shooting units, combined with your magic users can often cause significant damage to enemy units, but it's best to have them concentrate fire on a single unit to try and devastate it, instead of trying to spread it around.
You can have all-cavalry armies with mounted characters, Dark Riders, Cold One Knights, Chariots and Doomfire Warlocks, and
Harpies for chaff(they're infantry).
Magic spam is possible with Supreme Sorceresses, Sorceresses and Doomfire Warlocks. In larger games you can bring Malekith as well.
Dark Elves have many ways they can really mess with the heads of a non-undead or non-daemonic army, with numerous fear and terror causing units, a spell that cancels the enemy General's Ld and the Kharibdyss' abyssal howl.
They also have better offensive combat potential than High Elves.
I feel like this is important, a section for fighting High Elves. They are squishy but can hold out better than you can, But use their defence to multi-charge and just crumble individual units. Use highly offensive magic to do damage because they will win an augment fight but if you're aggressive then you can send them all running.
|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|