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This is the start of a new series, that will hopefully bring new ideas and tactics to the forums. Each week, a new topic will be posted up about a different unit in the army book. This gives you your chance to discuss the unit to its fullest. So, please leave your comment!
This week's topic is Archers.
Is the command worth it? How useful are then compared with the other units available? What about armour - waste of points?
I'm speaking as someone that's relatively new to High Elves, so others' opinions will trump mine, but I'll happily toss out my own thoughts.
First off, I can't ever really see a situation where the command is useful.
A musician could be handy if your archers are taking a panic test and need to rally. The problem is that they're generally so far back on the table already that they're probably off it, and even then if they're running they've either gotten hammered so hard that they're near useless in number or they've faced combat and would just get pulverized again anyway.
A standard bearer could be somewhat handy if you're using your archers for RBT defense, but with all the maneuvering you're really killing their actual primary use, which is making with the shooting of the faces. Other units are much better suited for that anyway. There are very few situations where getting your archers into combat seems like a good idea and would make the +1 res useful, and even then it'd usually be a free 100 VPs for your opponent anyway.
Finally, the Hawkeye. For the price of nearly another archer you get a +1 BS model. For 1/6 extra of a chance of hitting and the same chance to wound, you could instead get an extra die for each for the same cost. I can't really ever see this justified unless you're basically exactly (insert point cost here) points short and want another archer, and even then I'd look at other units first.
As for archers themselves, I think they're fantastic for what they are. They fill core, a basic unit is cheap (cheaper than spearmen if you take into account that running a 10 block of spears is kinda silly), they put out a decent volley of shots, and they're almost sure to inflict a few casualties over the course of a game. With their 30" range they usually have a choice of nearly any enemy target. Even picking off one infantry model with a whole volley could negate a rank bonus in future combats. They may not always entirely pay for themselves in terms of what they take out, but they're rarely taken out themselves except by the most determined of hunters (and even then your RBT guard unit should double as archer protection).
IMHO, I've seen the regular elf archers do quite well in units of about 10 or so. In previous edition they could fire in two ranks, but they have changed that.
Vs the Skaven, they were lethal....they could pull out a little and actually could put pressure on my warp lighting cannon crews if I was not too careful.
Vs T3, low Armor armies, take em!
I pretty much agree with everything that Evertras said with a few additions and minor alterations:
The musicion is not so useful for a failed leadership test because as he stated they are already in deep trouble if they have failed a panic or break test it's more useful when you elect to flee with them. In an archer-line I place my archer units in front of my thin line of 7 swordmasters this shelters the swordmasters from shooting and the archers can flee behind the swordmasters to rally next turn.
I guess what I am saying is that I take a musician when I know that the unit is intending to flee from a charge otherwise I don't bother.
The other 2 are a waste of points, a hawkeye maybe against Warriors of Chaos to accept their compulsory challenge and maybe save a mage but even then I wouldn't bother.
The units are good value, I never take more than 12 in a unit because they deploy in a single line and wider than 12 models is ridiculous and an extra rank is wasted except on a hill (not gauranteed)
Frequently used as a mage bunker but often this is not a good idea as they have better range than alot of spells and moving them is not ideal. I try and put aggressive (fire, ring of fury etc) mages in combat units (particularly spearmen) as they are more likely to get into 24" range and be able to do damage with their magic.
My archers get their points back in the end game generally not through killing enemies but by capturing and contesting table quarters, look around turn 5, which quraters will you contest and which will you win, move your archers rapidly to contest or take table quarters and they will be more valuable than picking of an extra 1 or 2 troops from enemy combat blocks.
Finally always mass your shooting, an archer unit alone will do very little, but 2 or 3 units firing on mass can make a difference.
Upgrades to an archer unit are hardly worth it, unless you are going with Allonaire's "flee-regroup" tactic.
I play a cavalry army, so of course I take my minimal regiments of core-infantry as archers. Their 30" range allows them to remain effective even when my battle-line is advancing. They also serve as the "base camp" for my RBTs. I place my RBTs on either side of an archer regiment, about an inch back. If the enemy comes too close, I can quickly reform the archers into a single-file line that will shield my RBTs.
Archers will hardly ever hold out in a fight, but they can redirect enemies away from the RBTs, or maybe keep them pinned long enough for me to get another, more powerful regiment into the fray.
Massed fire is the name of the game with all of our shooting, RBTs and otherwise. Archer regiments make good "determination" or "mop-up" units, and should be fired all together. If you're up against tough enemies, use them for mopping up. Fire your RBTs and see if you can get a regiment close to the breaking point, then pile in the arrows. Against lowerT armies, I fire my archers first, trying to bring down numbers, and use the RBTs to break them away.
Archers are a must in any list, unless you are going with a TON of RBTs and magic. They can be used to keep the enemy on the move, or force him into cover. Without shooting, you might as well play Warriors of Chaos, and just focus on getting as many models across the field as you can, as quickly as you can.
Agreed archers must be a staple in any high elf force, if nothing else to pressure the enemy closer so you can charge them with your DP's and other units, RBT alone will not do this.
If your stacking your mages in the unit then it is worth taking FC (to rally, take challenges, etc) also you could give the standard the banner that gives MR2 (though this will stop you casting spells on your own unit), this will help is win magic duels with other armies Mage units.
The only problem with HE archers is the cost compared to other missle weapon troops of other races, DE 1 point cheaper losing 6" range but can fire twice and get LA thrown in, Empire crossbows have same kill ratio (with -1 arm but can't move) as the archers and cost only 8 points. Of course the main thing to swing things in HE way is their magic "curse of arrow attraction" to improve your kill ratio. I think if they had an option to have just bows and no armour for 9 points or longbows and LA for 11 points maybe people would see the value in them.
either way no HE army should leave the settlement without them 11 points or not.
Agreed. On the note about other armies, we must never forget that we are one of the few races that have 30" longbows for a core option. Does that justify the 11pt. cost? Perhaps not, but it is still enough of a range increase than the standard 24" bow. This allows us to get enough an extra volley before an infantry engagement. Never, never forget about that extra six inches. They are game-changing inches.
agree with what has been said.
vs Low T/Low Armor enemies, take em, unit of about 8-10, no command.
If you have a good hill on your deployment zone, then maybe use bigger unit of them.
Do people tend to take them as their sole core choices? I like magic/shooting heavy lists, so to me 2x10 Archers + 2 Mages were my default choices when I last played, but I'm not sure it still works in the latest edition.
I agree the extra 6" range puts pressure on certain armies that have only 24" archery (orcs,DE and the like) but you have other races that get the same kill ratio in bow fire exchanges with HE archers like
Skirmishing Peasant bowmen (7pts)
Empire crossbowmen (8pts) though can't move and shoot
so they have the numbers game from the start.
the only forgiving factor is the ASF, those skirmishing raiders (like gutter runners) think twice before charging in