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So I just played my 3rd game with my Dark Elves and finding a few units lack luster compared to what I've heard. Here's a rough list below
Hag + Cauldron of Blood
Lvl 4 Sorc (Lifetaker + Sac Dagger + Talisman of preservation) [Lore of shadow]
Lvl 1 Sorc (Dispel scroll) [Lore of shadow]
20 Repeater Crossbowmen (Musician)
30 Dark elf warriors (Full command + Banner of discipline)
20 Blackguard (Full command + Banner of murder)
5 Dark Riders (repeater crossbows)
5 Dark Riders (repeater crossbows)
Cold one knights (Full command + Banner of Eternal Flame)
2400 point game
I played against Empire and wasn't destroyed as brutally like warriors of chaos and goblins, but by turn 4 it was definitely a loss and in the next 2 turns would lose by attrition. His 2 cannons and 2 rock throwers proved to be devastating (especially the rock throwers hitting that 5" pie plate on my block of 30 multiple times...large groups died).
First the Lvl 4 Sorceress shadow line did seem to help, withering stuff was super helpful to help wounding and the like. Seemed expensive, lifetaker 30 points and all...makes sense as she should be hiding in the back though. The leadership as str spell was nice to wound on 2+ but doesn't deny his seemingly HIGH calvary 2+ save and such. I suppose I should have shot the PIT spell more too, much like his rock throwers.
Second, the lvl 1 Sorceress seems like 125 points of waste? She's there for the dispel scroll which did help save a Hydra from death, but also there to use the smoke and mirrors (a melee character might be better suited for that role?)
Third, 20 Repeater crossbowmen...man I have not been impressed by these guys at all! I'm still newer to fantasy but I seem to be hitting on 5's at the very least, 6's if I move! -1 for multi shot, -1 for over 12", -1 for movement...They can't seem to wound very much. LARGE blocks of guys losing say 4 models really don't care...Even with 40 shots that just seems so unreliable (and if you're withing 12" to ignore that -1, they're about to get assaulted, which means too late!).
Fourth, Dark Elf warriors...I'll likely increase these to 40 so the near 5-10 guys I sacrificial daggered wouldn't get hit as bad...but other than that they really didn't do much at all! They did tie up some horses for 2 turns, but just disappeared in droves rather than hurting stuff...my Sorceress smoke and mirrored with the expendable sorceress to get out of it.
Fifth, Black guard were great, no issues here. I took them against like 30 of his own halbred guys with 3 characters in it...a pretty stupid unit for me to go against, so my fault really, but they were amazing at killing!
Sixth, Both units of dark riders performed GREAT. I killed a cannon, his own 5 light horses with pistols, and 10 pistol guys standing there. Their movement and the spear charge was great...however I never really had the chance to use the Xbow...should I remove the 25 points from the Xbow and just keep the Dark riders cheap??? Again, not impressed with the Xbow!
Seventh, Harpies didn't do anything, in fact ended up failing their leadership test of 6...should I group in one group of 10 instead of 2 groups of 5 to limit testing again? They just didn't get into the fray and died to shooting. No big loss, cheap enough.
Eight, Cold one knights...I fielded these wrong as I was forced to blast into his great swords who had a detachment and snapped onto my flank. The 2+ save was great and I did kill stuff, just he didn't have any monsters and that's how I kitted these guys as flaming attacks.
Ninth, War hydras...great! Loved the S5 flaming attack after a march i did to his death star unit. 11 Casualties, however he then assaulted me with all those S4 attacks, and 3 characters (warrior priest, and 2 other guys) and hydra died real quick. Also his cannon did 3 wounds on the first turn. That just seems silly, D6 wounds...damn! Having seen that was considering a bolt thrower, but it doesn't work the same way, does it? Starting to think I NEED 2 hydras and 2 bolt throwers, maybe even instead of the Xbowmen who didn't seem that awesome.
Tenth, I keep running into EVERYONE seems better in Close combat than me...do I need more characters with weapons and such? Maybe the unkillable lord on foot, or any CHEAP character options like a well kitted cheap master, or something? Maybe field my assassin, if so how kitted and what roles.
Lastly, the cauldron of blood was nice but was it 225 points of nice...I'm not so sure. Maybe I didn't use it well enough as I was 5+ warding the spearmen most of the game, but not sure. Maybe I should have done +1 attack on the blackguard. Also I have NO Khainite units, and only own 10 Executioners myself is this hampering me a ton?
Purchase considerations, I was thinking about 2 bolt throwers...I also considered 10 more executioners as they are Khainite, or maybe buy some witch elves for Khainite too...stubborn was nice on the Black guard.
My tourny game is at 2800 so I have 400 more points to tweak with. I own a chariot, 10 more Xbowmen, 10 corsairs, assassin, 19 more warriors, etc. Willing to buy some more, but would like to know why and thoughts. Any help would be great...Bear in mind, having only finished the book and played 3 games, it is also possible the general is the problem!
Last edited by Dark Trainer; April 4th, 2012 at 19:03.
"There is only do, or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
From what I can tell your list has included all the basics that an army should include. The dark elf army in particular is a bit more challenging to play than other armies like warriors of chaos, empire and the like. It takes some time getting used to but once you learn the mechanics you are going to win a lot more. You've written down 11 points so I'll quickly answer them all in order:
1. Level 4 shadow is a great choice for an army (I personally only equip her with a sacrificial dagger because she gets extremely expensive if you pump too much gear into her) She might end up blowing herself up with a miscast or something and if she ever gets into close combat she's likely to die anyway. Note: if you boost your warriors strength they ignore armour saves as well! With mindrazor on them they should tear through cavalry!
2. Either ditch her entirely or upgrade her to a level 2 with metal magic and keep the dispel scroll (125 points is too much for the scroll by itself, if upgraded to a level 2 metal she will absolutely tear enemy cavalry to pieces and will become a much feared character on the board and she gets to keep her scroll)
3. Mixed opinions here. It's good to have a unit of these as a bunker for your casters and they're nice at picking off enemy fast cav or pesky flyers (don't expect them to take out strong units, rather use them for taking out weak targets that would otherwise be extremely annoying to deal with)
4. Warriors are in my opinion mandatory, but take them in large numbers and expect them only to tie up enemy units (they are not meant to kill stuff)
However if boosted with mindrazor these guys become lean mean killing machines (might end up surprising your opponent).
5. You said it yourself black guard are a decent choice
6. repeater crossbows are pretty handy on dark riders as it will make them even more annoying to your opponent. Shooting stuff in the back can be frustrating to deal with.
7. use these as chaff units. You can redirect your enemy's strong units and keep him out of combat for a long time (harpies are decoys and are meant to die!)
8. Never ever use cavalry against great weapons (they will be torn apart) Remember that you cannot stomp / thunderstomp CoK so use them against monstrous units or hit infantry in the flanks.
9. dual Hydras is a good starting point for a new DE player
10. Dark elves are not a shooty army nor a 100% close combat army like beastmen, daemons and warriors of chaos... DE strengths lies in awesome magic items, powerful casters, good special and rare choices. First thing you should work on is trying to setup flanks, counter charges and redirect enemy units. (you cannot walk head-on into a warriors of chaos army an expect to grind him down - trickery is key!)
11. Cauldron is nice but it works better if you use khanite units (powerful synergy with executioners) If you havn't got any khanite units I would probably swap it for a BSB master (with halberd dawnstone and armour of darkness and fit him in with your warriors).
You can tweak your army a bit (I like killy lord characters and a unit of 50 spearmen) but your army is fine as it is. Just try and work a bit on how the army works and exploit your opponents weaknesses and you should be fine.
One last question on Okkams Mindrazor...it says Strength bonuses are ignored? Related to his calvary, so if I change my warriors to S8 because of leadership 8, his calvary still get full armor save of 2+ and such right? Since it says ignores STR bonuses, that means I can't do -5 armor shift to him, right? Wounding on 2's vs wounding on 3's didn't really seem game breaking.
I'm probably going to drop the lvl 1 sorceress and take a master kitted with armor of midnight and dawnstone (likely in the warriors, not sure).
Also thinking about taking an unkillable lord build inside the COK unit.
And I agree, I'll likely get rid of her lifetaker weapon as she's going to be hiding in the warriors with the master. Not sure how I can use Smoke and mirrors to effect, maybe have the Master in with the Xbowmen so they can trade.
"There is only do, or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
Vezzax makes some very good points!
The Strength bonuses ignored (don't have my book handy, but I'm sure this is correct) refers to S bonuses from weapons, or further enhancements from other spells. For example, if your guy was equipped with a Halberd (Black Guard) he would strike at S 9, and ignore the boosted strength from his weapon (would be S 10 otherwise, even more ridiculous than S9). Spear warriors, and other troop that don't rely on S enhancement weapons are the better choice for Okkam's. Though, BG, are also good with the boost, but may be overkill in certain situations (good against cavalry and heavily armoured/high toughness opponents, not very useful against T3 infantry with a 4+/5+ save)
I play non-Khainite and have never used a Cauldron, nor have I ever missed it or felt like I needed to have it. I am also not a fan of the 'unkilliable dread' build, it's boring, overused, and not much fun for you or your opponent. He requires almost no tactical finesse whatsoever.
Harpies are amazing and I urge you to keep trying them, at 55 points for such a versatile unit, they are a steal. Some uses:- fanatic/frenzy baiting, giant squig popping, march-blocking, redirecting, screening, speed bumps, chasing already fleeing units off the board, warmachine hunting, mage hunting (depends on the mage, really), later game flank/rear charges (assuming they survive) - they can even do several of these jobs simultaneously. Some of the aforementioned does take a bit of practice, don't expect them to kill stuff or survive a battle, just expect to be a real pain in your opponents backside if he doesn't deal with them.
Much prefer Shades to Dark Riders, but often field both.
For me, a level 1 Sorceress simply as a scroll caddy just isn't an option any more. If you have a lvl 4 with Shadow, our very own Dark lore has excellent synergies with it. Imagine the Withering combined with Soulstealer against a horde of 30-40 Stormvermin, even 18 Chaos Warriors, similarly Enfeebling Foe combined with Black Horror is also devastating! A level 2 with the Tome of Furion and the Seal of Ghrond is much more versatile (extra spell and an extra dispel dice in every turn, whereas a dispel scroll is one use only - I often find the spells you really need to dispel are often cast with Irresistible Force anyway.
If you're looking for alternative fighty character (I never really use Assassins either, unless it's with my shades), running a BSB with the Knights might be an option, I use the following set up for mine
Cold One; Full Mundane Kit (heavy armour, shield, sea dragon cloak)
Dawnstone, Whip of Agony
In combat he gets a 1+ rerollable armour save, plus 4 S5 attacks with -3 to the enemies armour save.
Similarly, if I run Black Guard I will occasionally stick my BSB in them (you should give the Tower Master the Ironcurse Icon, too )
Armour of Darkness; Dawnstone; Halberd
Slightly less 'fighty' that the Cold One equivalent, still gets a 1+ rerollable armour save and 3 S5 attacks.
Master/Dreadlords on a pegasus can also be useful...
Yeah, gonna stop now otherwise I'll be here all night!
Hope this was helpful - not saying you should do any of these things, just that you could try them out if you wanted to
Yeah, I'm finding my need for another BLOCK of something is becoming brutal. I agree the Cauldron was nice, but was it 200+ nice for ONE buff and no other khanites to benefit from it...torn.
Buddy told me I should have another block of troops to fight, means buying models. Was tempted to get 10 blackguard...or more, have 2 blocks of 20 or so>
"There is only do, or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
If you find your army list somewhat lacking another combat unit you got several options for adding in a new unit. It all depends on what enemy unit you usually have the hardest time beating. Is it heavy cavalry? Mass light infantry? Heavy infantry? Monsters? etc...
If struggling with monsters / cavalry
- Add in a unit of executioners and give them the banner of eternal flame instead of the CoK (field them 7 wide, 3 deep) keep them close to your cauldron so they get stubborn. Look at it this way - your opponent will have to make difficult choices in this situation. You got stubborn executioners, stubborn black guard and most likely steadfast warriors (I recommend boosting the unit size to 40). But not only are your units working as tarpits but they got teeth as well. If your opponent doesn't lock them in combat they are free to charge your opponents flanks and cause havoc. Try and setup the following engagements: executioners vs monsters / cav, black guard vs light infantry, spearmen vs heavy infantry. Then use hydras and CoK to flank.
Drop the level 1 sorceress with the scroll, drop life taker and talisman of pres and maybe a unit of harpies to make points for these changes.
If struggling with infantry
- Then maybe add a unit of corsairs, witch elves or blackguard to add some damage dealing units to your army. Problem with witch elves is that you need very big numbers to make them effective (otherwise they die too fast before reaching combat) You can like mentioned above cut down of the items on your lvl 4 and drop the level 1 entirely.
You can also swap the cauldron for a master bsb if havn't got executioners or witch elves (as I wrote earlier the cauldron is only worth its points if you got khanite units IMO).
You can tweak around with your army list to see which setups you like the best, but in the long wrong it all comes down to experience about how mastering the dark elf army. More experienced players might prefer unorthodox and highly mobile army lists if they find out it fits their play style better. I personally like to have a variety units that can do multiple things given the occasion.
Two units of 30-35 Spearmen is a good bet in games of 2.5K+
I seldom play more than 2,000 points, and when I do it's usually 3,000 points we play. I'll take two units of 30 Warriors, and a unit of 30 Crossbowmen in this army. They do well for me.