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I recently posted a thread kind of bashing the DRs. Well I have come to say I am sorry to the DRs!! I used them after gaining a little more knowledge of how to use them and when. And did they ever deliver!!
My first bit of advice to new players using the DRs is to not get too hasty, they are fast, but patience is required because they can get messed up quickly if not careful. Also, know what you are using them for. If you continue changing their roles in the game then they will never fully fulfil them. Pick something that you want them to do, and do it!
In the same way, make sure to take on tasks that are possible for them complete. Do not expect the unattainable, like I did for a while. I used them as bait, and as their normal uses as fast cavalry. I had so much success using them on the flank, and although I did not use them as march blockers, I am going to try that soon.
The only thing that I have not enjoyed using them as is as a wall...a screen for other units...they can do that though I have found I like them more in other areas of my army. I have had so much more success using them for other purposes like bait. You can do anything, but be careful that you are not wasting them on something when they could do so much more somewhere else. (ex...I like them more on the flank as a distracting/baiting unit than a screen).
The main thing I have used them for is to get my opponent to focus on them more than he should. The advantage of having an assassin is huge in the mental area...the same has been true for me and my DRs. (Maybe my opponents have been too cautious of them, but it helps pull away a stronger unit of his, or his focus from my better units) a nice trade for me!
Because of this I would like to take back what I had previously said about the lack of success and tell you to just be patient and don't give up on a unit too quickly...they all have their uses, though some may be harder to find. This is why I am glad I didn't give up too quickly. (I also still love shades, but would now choose DRs before them because of mobility mainly, but also the success as of late with baiting and with diversions). (DRs are also better if their is a lack of trees on the map...they can still be used with similar success...again this is all my opinion.
HONOR AMONG BROTHERS
That was kind of my experience as well. When I first played with them, I used them way to aggressively and they never did what I wanted them to. Once I figured out what they could and couldn't do, it sort of just clicked for me. I went from draws and narrow victories, to large victories and massacres. DR are almost always key to breaking up the formations of the opponent for the type of chaotic melee DE thrive in. Disrupted and chaotic lines = exposed flanks.
As for shades, I like them as well, though I see people asking too much from them.
I feel once a player gets the hang of dark riders and shades, then he started to master the true play style of DE. Sure with the current list you can play magic blaster and Shooty army of Death, and even make some down right mean block hammer armies, but shades and dark riders are the true heart of the dark elf strategy. (well not the khanites, they are a bit different and just as hard to master. Witches have become my MVP's of late, but still can't get executioners to really work at a reasonable price)
My learning how to use them was the key in how long it took me to have success with them. I agree with them being great for disrupting enemy units, and mainly flanks. The same thing has happened to me when I use DRs in regards to victory margin.
I play higher toughness opponents, and that is the only problem for me in regards to WE units. The executioners also are hard to have success with because of the striking last with the great weapons...My most successful units, believe it or not, is my regular DE Warriors. Low point cost and the highest armour save, they have not failed me yet...also the nice rank bonus helps.
I may have a problem as I am going to be fighting a Warrior of Chaos opponent for the first time!! But hopefully my DRs will wreak havoc again, and my other units will hold their own...I feel it will all come down to how I use the speed of my DRs against his slower Warriors...