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Hello all! I can now speak about using Dark Elves from experience rather than just theory. Today, I played two small 700 pt games with my new Dark Elves from the battalion box (with heroes proxied as they were friendly games). Now that the smoke has cleared, I'm looking for advice on how I can tackle some of the problems I noticed.
My first battle was with a veteran Skaven player. His list was a unit of Plague Monks, two units of Clanrats, a mage of some sort, and a Warp-lightning cannon. Meanwhile, my army consisted of a unit of 20 DE warriors with shields, 20 Corsairs with the Sea Serpent Banner, and a unit of Cold One Cav all led by a poorly equipped master (Blood Armor, great weapon, Ring of Hotek).
Two hills near the center of the board resulted in my splitting into three sections, Corsairs on one flank, Warriors with the Master in the center, and the Cold Ones on the opposite flank. Only one unit could fit between the two hills.
Meanwhile, the Skaven player deployed his plague monks on the flank guarded by my cavalry and the clanrats on the other. The cannon was deployed on a hill near the monks.
Without much of a plan in mind and the Skaven's magic shredding my warriors on the first turn, I decided to just move forward, but out of (the Skaven's) charge range. That proved unfruitful when, the following turn, a ratling gun caused my warriors to flee in panic (nine deaths, double 6s...). By the time the corsairs reached combat, only five remained (warp cannon + bound spell warp lightning). My Cold Ones failed a charge by a short distance and the plague monks decimated them. In the end, I did a lot of stupid things. More so, I had almost no defence against the massive amount of magic thrown at me (he never rolled doubles for the ring's effect) and no shooting or magic of my own. That, I would say, is the number one problem.
My second battle was much more rewarding. I faced a new lizardman player who really didn't have much of a clue what he was doing (literally set himself up for a flank charge from corsairs). In that battle, I swapped the master for a lvl 1 sorceress with tome of Furion and a Familiar. In this battle, it was my opponent who lacked magic, however they did have a Salamander who (fortunately) "misfired" and ate two of his handlers before much damage was inflicted upon my units. My Cold One Knights performed well - obliterating a unit of skinks then overrunning into three Kroxigors (who they proceeded to overrun next turn). My mage was not impressive - inflicting perhaps three casualties the entire game. I missed the master once close combat was engaged and my opponent's Scar Veteran tore apart my T3 elves.
In the end, I learned a few things:
1. Even if it only kills a few people, shooting . magic forces your opponent ot advance to quell the threat.
2. Skaven magic is brutal. 2D6 S5 hits as a basic spell? WHAT??
3. The Ring of Hotek is not enough to protect you from mages. Even 3D6 don't roll doubles too often.
4. Facing a unit with a good combat hero is nasty with T3 elves
5. Against strong units, no single DE unit can fight them alone. They need a flanker to win.
6. DE warriors aren't very good.
In response to these lessons, I got to thinking on how I can make my own DE lists more effective in the shooting and magic phases without looking close combat ability. This led to the particularly painful choice:
Which is better? A War Hydra or two bolt throwers?
I haven't used either of them which makes the decision a lot more difficult. Proxying isn't likely an option, and I've gotten mixed opinions from different people. I don't like the idea of a "shooty" DE army mostly because it will loose to anything that can get through or a better shooty army (Empire comes to mind). On the other hand, I also learned today that no or very little shooting / magic means doom. Finding a happy medium (especially below 2k pts where you vcan only have 1 rare) is not easy. It's also a decision I can't afford to get wrong - literally; hydras and bolt throwers ain't cheap!
So, you've made it this far. Now is where I ask for your help:
> How does a DE player deal with shhoty/magic armies like Skaven (ratling guns come to mind...)?
> What about fast and hard-hitting armies like Bretonia?
> What's the best way to get a solid magic phase cheap?
> What are some elements of a DE army that you should never be without?
---> What are some elements you really can afford to loose?
> Which is better: Hydra or bolt throwers?
Thanks for your time and patience!
I'll chuck my thoughts in. I'm not an experienced DE player but I have played fantasy for about 15 years.
When playin against Skaven the important thing to remember is that the ratling and warp fire thrower teams are targetable seperate from their parent unit. A 5 man dark rider unit with repeater crossbows should be able to multi shot it to death.
I agree entirely that Skaven magic is brutal, although he is more inclined to throw three dice at a spell due to wanting a natural 13 for irresistable force, this should mean the ring is more useful. I also agree that the ring alone is not enough magic defense, especially against vampires and other one dice casting races. You need some scrolls.
You have noticed early that armour is not a substitute for being T3. This is sadly true and it means you must design units so they kill everyone in contact with them, and so take no attacks back - Just like the high elves the dark elves work best as a hit and fade type of army. You should look at dark riders in detail, and think about using them as bait which flees you're opponants charges in order to get you a flank or more favourable charge in.
My personal preference is for the hydra over the 2 bolt throwers because it provides a useful backup for knights and chariots.
Just my thoughts, hope it helps.
Arms are an instrument of evil, No measure for thoughtful men until there fail all other choice but sad acceptance of it.
Sun-Tse : The art of war