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I have just finished assembling my 1000pt army of Empire. It is:
A Captain with 7 Knights
24 Spearmen with a warrior priest and command
9 halberdiers (detachment)
10 crossbowmen (detachment)
1 Great Cannon
My friend plays Wood Elves and has beaten me pretty soundly. What are this forum's recommendations? He has a big intimidating unit of Eternal Guard, some waywatchers or wild riders (depending), 2 units of archers and some dryads. Its very annoying to play against him, and I can't seem to defeat him. Any tips or strategies that have worked effectively in the past for you?
You're in luck! I regularly game with Woodies and Empire and frequently pit them against each other (I get bored, so what can I say). A sound general does quite well against the Empire. Lots of block troops, Longbows dominate Handguns, there's the advantage of speed (which the Empire are sorely lacking anyways).
A good Woodie general will try to engage your Detachments. Quick and easy to eliminate, they will save a world of hurt when he inevitably engages your main unit. Those pesky Detachments (especially Militia) do well against the fragile Elven units.
A good Woodie general will use Fear to his advantage. This really hurts the mediocre-Ld Empire. A good way to counter this is to include the Icon of Magnus and suddenly those Dryads aren't all they're cracked up to be.
A good Woodie general will split you up. This is so he can effortlessly engage 3 of his units onto 1 of yours (never good news). Watch for Glade Riders sitting there by your units waiting to be charged. Beware of this trap! If you charge, they will flee. If he placed his unit well enough, your block of infantry will be spending at least 2 turns getting back in the game, at which point you will be several units poorer and he can do that trick on you again. It's the oldest trick in the book and it works every time. The thing about Fast Cavalry is that they don't have awe-inspiring Armour Saves or legendary toughness. A Helblaster or a unit of Crossbowmen will force your opponent to think twice (this is mainly a caution if he ever get Glade Riders)
A good Woodie general will dominate you at range. Those Glade guard are the best archers in the game. They will hit on a 4+ at worst 70% of the time. He will force you to hit on a 5+ at best 70% of the time. A mortar here is a sound investment (that fires a huge blast and doesn't require rolls to hit) and will also cripple the EG. Lots of Crossbowmen should level the field here. You won't equal him at range but you will narrow the gap. Another thing you should consider is a Wizard. The Lore of Fire is nasty against Wood Elves. If you have no Wizards, then I can't recommend the Ring of Volans enough. Those direct damage spells can and will cause the world of hurt to the fragile Elves and eliminate the Forest Spirits saves. A Wall of Fire will work wonders against the Glade Riders and Wild Riders who have to be moving constantly.
If I were you, I'd take some Skirmish units (Archers aren't that great), including Artillery pieces. Those Waywatchers will be forced to deploy further back if they can be seen. The Helblaster can be good at severely damaging units. Direct Damage spells do a lot more than you think. He should be trying to stop the wall of Fire and the Fiery Blast at almost all costs. Watch for his ploys to break you up. remember that his idea of a fair fight is at least 3 of his units onto one of yours. Wardancers will dissect a unit of State Troops without thinking twice about the subject, as will Dryads. Preserve your detachments. Flee them if necessary. They should rally and you may be able to turn the tables on him. Militia Detachments will assist lots in combat, get some.
Purchase lots of lovely Crossbowmen, they can match range with the GG and wound the units on a 3+. in addition to this, they have a Short Range of 3x the average elfs movement meaning you should get quite a few shots in. Watch for Alter Nobles. They can be a pain to deal with, make short work of machine crews and short units and can be equipped to be pretty much invulnerable to anything that rolls to hit. A good Magic Missile will shut them up though.
Finally, if you see any opportunities, TAKE THEM! If he dithered a charge of Wild Riders, zap them with a Fiery Blast, chances are you won't be able to for a while again. You'll learn how to identify such chances. Don't wait for the perfect opportunity, it probably won't come, but if you see a satisfactory chance at nabbing a unit, go for it.
There, hope that helps, kudos to you if you read all of that, you have the makings of a true general of the Empire.
Thank you for all the ideas! Yes, my army is comprised of a bunch of older Empire models (some spearman and handgunners) from the older box set (vs. orcs) and a battalion box. In my experience he's done most of those things (I am new to Fantasy and my friend has been playing for a while) especially killing my poor detachments! He has a giant unit of Eternal Guard, 20 strong, with a noble, that just slaughter my spearmen, and by that point I'm generally without detachments. My knights might end up getting a flank charge, but he's got dryads to hurt them in turn. He's very good at maneuvering to avoid my cannons - maybe if I convert one of my cannons (I have two) into a mortar... its very tempting. I am thinking of buying the reinforcement box set for a big unit of Flagellants, 20 more state troops and a pair of wizards and a helblaster. I think those might give me some options instead of just marching hordes of state troops off to their deaths.
I have a WiP MAP: Mobile Artillery Platform. It's a Counts As Mortar. I mixed the Mortar barrel (which came with the Cannon) with an older Bolt Thrower (Dwarfs) and a bit from a Mordorian Siege Bow from LOTR.
Keep your Cannon for the inevitability when he gets a Treeman.
If I were to recommend getting two things, it would be the Helblaster and a Wizard, though Crossbowmen would also be up there.
If you're that rich/desperate, I'd also throw up a Steam tank. It seems he doesn't have the resources handy to effectively bring one down and it will eventually turn red after squishing all those EG (6D3 Impact Hits anyone?).
but he's just playing 1000 points. A wizard will do nothing. The opponent will have 2 dispel dice and let a small spell go and dispel the good spell. It will all even out. The cannon is useless in small point games because the opponent has nothing that can be hurt by it (he doesn't have treekin or treeman yet) He needs something with a large blast template to at least cover some guys, but he'll have to practice with guessing ranges to get good at it. The way to beat Wood Elves is to take on their units one by one and eliminate their support groups without falling into a trap of getting your flank charged. Right now he outshoot's you with range and ballistic skill. He also moves faster than you in every way. I'd cut that down, get rid of his skirmishers, don't deploy next to trees (waywatchers hide there) Use your knights to take out the Dryads (your armor should keep you safe, and he has no banners. You also have better charge range. He can't flee several of his units so use your fast cav to your advantage. Pistoliers should reduce his wild riders numbers and then flee from the charge, leaving his flank open. You'd almost be better off with 2 units of knights. 1 smaller flanking unit of 5 with musician and then 1 with 5 and banner and warbanner and the one captain.