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Topic of the Week - Sword Masters of Hoeth
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 - Sword Masters of Hoeth
Is this unit worth the special slot it uses? What unit size do you feel is best for them? Does the command improve them or just make them an easy target? What units are they useful against? How do you play with them?
Usually units of 7 with musician, and sometimes champion. If I want to use them as a flanking unit I deploy them with 5 in the first rank so it will be easier to wheel.
They draw a lot of fire, so usually not all of them will arrive to melee, but if you take 3 units then the opponent must either use all of his shooting on them or be hitted realy hard by them.
They are really good in melee, and against armies such as vampire counts that don't have much shooting (and you have enough magic defence) they are exelent.
I only have ten models, so I really have to make the unit worth it. I would love to just charge their lines with three units, but I just can't afford to. I usually have one unit with ten, done in a rank of seven, but when I get the chance I want to buy four more models so I can try two ranks of seven.
Command wise, I get the Bladelord because he gets an extra attack and because I can give him an Amulet of Light, just in case they come in range of my friend's Slaann. Then I get a standard bearer and give him the banner of Ellyrion. The +1 CR is okay, but then the ability to hide from arrows in trees or just charge over obstacles to get into combat means that the points are worth it. I remember the first time I popped them out of a forest and into some spearmen. Oh, man. My opponent was furious, and I didn't even tell him that I was doing much worse then I should have expected. This is probably because they were spearmen. As has already been discussed in another forum, Sword Masters shouldn't really ever charge spearmen head on. everything else does fine, but as soon as someone is fighting in two ranks the Sword Masters are risking decapitation.
Sword Masters are really good at taking on peoples elite units, but I am hesitant to use them for anything but a flank or an outright massacre. Usually, I pair them with Phoenix Guard in what I consider to be the Ultimate Hammer and Anvil
I've only used them in two battles because I just got them, but I totally think that they are worth the slot and the points. I love them, and the only unit I love more are the Phoenix Guard.
Definitely best in smaller units, 14 is as large as I would go but I just used 12 of them reasonably effectively in a tournament. They are extremely vulnerable to shooting so a biggish units need some protection, Sacred Incense or Shield of Saphery or both.
As for command, if you have no ranks, then leave the Champion at home. If he gets challenged by an independant character and overkilled badly the unit can be broken too easily. Banner, if you want not with the small flanking units but if you are bothering with a rank you may as well take a banner. Musician, if you have the points.
As well as looking out for spearmen look out for anything that strikes before them, (or makes them roll off) Slaanesh Daemonettes with a herald, Dark Elves with Banner of ASF, Assassins. Basically they rely on killing the front rank and not having to face any attacks back.
In terms of Deployment, 7 wide for frontal charges is normally good, 8 wide against units 6 wide, flanking doesn't really matter, even 4 wide would be fine.
From the one game I've used these in, they drew huge amounts of fire, butthe carnage they wreaked in close combat made me buy aome of them that day. They definitly need to be in cover, or maybe have some sort of magical item to keepthem alive (Sacred Insense).
Hm... maybe I'm wrong, and I'll certainly try it in a future game, but spending the points for a character just to give sacred incense to a unit of sword masters seems... pricey. Is it worth that character slot? I know 3 S6 attacks aren't anything to frown at, but wouldn't the hero serve more purpose elsewhere? Is it practical in a 2000 point game? a 2250? I'm intrigued. Please tell me more.
Buying a character just to give people shooting at a unit of Sword Masters a -1 to hit modifier is a bad idea. Is SI itself worth the points? Yeah, sure. Worth buying the character just to have it? No, not really. So, after putting some thought in it, just keeping them behind some terrain is a better idea. I stand corrected.
Last edited by tyland13; June 10th, 2010 at 20:33. Reason: mistake again
PRE-8th ed.: I always tried to use them as much as I could, vs. vampires, or hiding in forests on the flanks using Banner of Ellyrion. why? because they're they chop off infantry heads like mowing machines. IN THEORY. but in reality, they rarely reached melee because my enemy would do his best to annihilate them with shooting/magic before they reached.
And I hate giving my opponent a soft cushy target worth 15 pts per corpse. so I almost ALWAYS used a block of 20 Pheonix Guard in the center to show him who's boss.
Yet, Swordmasters are easily the sexiest thing in the Highelf army.
POST-8th ed.: Now they're less useful I think
not because they lost ASF. their relatively good Initiative will keep them as they were before in terms of striking hard with a GW and hitting 1st. But the new 8th rule of removing casualties from the back and the front row retaining it's full attacks even if you kill alot of them, this makes SM's lose their only melee defence. When you succeed in getting them into combat you used to COUNT on them killing as many as possible to keep the hits coming back to a minimum. NOT ANYMORE when facing a big horde block, no matter how many you kill from the back, the front is hitting back (unless you kill massively enough so the dead back ranks eat into the front ranks. which is a weak solace imho).
I guess if you horde enough SM's 10-wide and have 30 of them, you'd get 2 extra ranks of attacks (1 attack each tho.. another SM weakness), you'd get 40 str5 attacks out of 450 pts. assuming you're hitting T4, AS5+ orcs that should yield 17.7 kills. assuming the orcs will be 10x3 (that's what I faced last night), you'd reduce the attacks back by 17 attacks taking from the back.
A unit of 50 Spearmen however, is exactly 450 pts. and should yield 50 ASF rerollable attacks. yielding only 9.87 kills. but we should expect a special unit to be better than a core.
But compare them to 10-wide 30 Phoenix Guard instead. you'd get 30 str4 rerollable attacks. yielding 11.11 kills. but now your guys have a 4+ WS, and fear on their side. They're not going anywhere in a hurry.
i often play against beastmen so i run them 13 with a battle banner bsb in to make sure that the enemy flee after a round of combat, i put them were my enemys best units are so i can counter with a nice unit who strike first.
i always put command on them and somtimes even warbanner and skainsliver on
in 8:ed you have one support attack from second rank and if you have the asf rule and have higher initiative you can re-roll to hit .
this means you get 21 dices hit on 3+ with re-roll and wound on 2+and 3 bsb attacks 3+ re-roll wound on 2+on empire spearmen