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The way I see it is that the general consensus is everyone uses the dragon cav, and have no love for the silver helms. In what ways can silver helms be useful? Are they completely overshadowed? Was it a waste to buy them?
In a way, unfortunately, yes - their cost, and the move from core to special sets them so little apart from Dragon princes now that you may as well go with the far superior DPs.
I can think of very, very few situations where SHs would be worthwhile - and I feel your pain. I have two full squads of 10 of the bloody models that were used extensively in the last edition, where the situation was reversed (and my DPs very rarely saw the tabletop).
That being said, I also have 10 Elyrrian reavers that aren't even painted yet, and I've had them for years.
Since the rise of the dragons, and the considerable bolstering of infantry with ASF and re-costing of the specials, cavalry is a bit of a secondary consideration for the HE now, IMO.
Well I prefer them for the following reasons.
*I really hate the Dragon Prince models compared to the Silver Helms.
*Since Im only 12 price is a big factor and the Silver Helms are $45 cheaper!
*Plus they dont really sound THAT uncompetative plus they'lle probably go back to core in their next codex.
I don't think that there is anything wrong with silverhelms they just aren't as good as Dragon Princes, and both have the same role to fill.
I think I would use Silver Helms in a big game where I had a fully ranked 15+ unit of cavalry. The saving of 7 pts per model is significant then (even though the unit is probably not that effective for its points).
It is a real shame that silver helms can't take a magic standard worth 25 pts, that was a real oversight IMO.
I think there are pro's and con's to both. With the DPs you obviously get the extra attacks and immunity to fire attacks thanks to the Dragon Armour. But Silver Helms are probably best used if you're facing a unit where there are lots of heavily armoured opponents who you're not going to charge and break in combat in one go (especially if you don't want a highly tooled up Prince or Noble in with them).
For the points of 10 DPs with full command, you could field 14 SHs with FC and shields, or 16 with FC without shields, giving a boost to unit strength of 8 and 12 respectively. Run your unit 6 or 7 models wide and, depending on what it is you're charging, you should get another 2 or 4 attacks in (giving you 13 or 15 attacks compared to the 16 of a 5 model wide unit of DPs).
The only other advantage DPs have (aside from magic banner and magic items for the champion) is the 1 higher weapon skill, so that if you're going into a more elite unit you've more chance of hitting - but if it's a more elite unit the chances are they're going to have a better than normal armour save and so after the first round of combat you could well be relying on your unit strength to boost your combat res which is where the SHs would have an advantage.
Having said all that, at present I tend to favour having no cavalry in my army at all and going heavy on the SMs and WLs
Dragon Princes and Silver Helms are neither quite strong enough to be used as line breakers, but Dragon Princes can provide much higher concentration of power than Silver Helms. In instances where I prefer wounds over killing power, I'll use silver helms (cavalary are useful as they are great area-denial weapons, with their 16" charge, S5 attacks).
If I have both, I will use the Dragon Princes as a flanking force, and try and get double charges off at the same time.
Yes that is the base movement of High Elf Steeds, but barding reduced movement by 1". Which makes our cavalry charge 16" if barded, and most other heavy cavalry (except Bretonnians) charge 14".
Bretonnians have a special rule that specifically provides and exceptio from the barding rule.
B thankful for that - in older rules, movement was reduced for having heavy armour, shield etc on top of barding! Imagine a High Elf with heavy armour and shield - he would only move 4"!!
I view the Dragon Princes and Silver Helms as comparable, but completely different.
Allow me to explain: DPs and SHs fill a similar role on the battle field, heavy cavalry. At the same time DPs are a small, elite line breaker unit. SHs on the other hand are generally used in more of an infantry support role.
I’ve seen them used to the greatest effect when used together for joint or counter charges.
The main difference would be the initial charge value of the two units. With a five model front and full command, the DPs would get 11 attacks at Str 5 and 5 at Str 3 and enjoy a 2+ armor save. The SHs with full command would get 6 attacks at Str 5 and 5 at Str 3, and enjoy a 3+ armor save, but at a considerably cheaper price point wise. At the same time, due to the SHs being cheaper, more can generally be afforded in a unit, giving them more staying power if there’s a bad turn of rolling.
And on a separate note, yes the High Elves used to have ithilmar armor, but as memory serves, the steeds only had movement 8, thus no real change tactically speaking.
My enemy's enemy is a problem for later. In the meantime, they might be useful.