Welcome to Librarium Online!
This is an issue that has been frustrating me lately, and I am hoping someone can help me see through it. I see a lot of lists that take a Branchwraith, a Wardancer Noble/Highborn, or a Wild Rider Character, or really any character who augments one of our units. The trouble I have with this, is that by necessity, pretty much every Wood Elf list is an MSU style. We just don't have big, hard-hitting units, so we have to spread our points around since a bad dice roll or slight misplacement can kill a unit really fast.
The problem is that adding a character to any unit in our army more than doubles the cost of that unit. For example, taking a Branchwraith with Lvl 1, Cluster, and Annoyance (the most common build) and adding it to a unit of dryads increases the cost of the unit to 261, which is almost three times as much as the unit costs by itself. This means that the small, cheap dryad unit is now almost as expensive as a Treeman, while not being nearly as powerful OR survivable. What does it add to the Dryad unit? They get 3 extra attacks at a higher weapon skill, and 2 extra wounds. Consider though, that if you added a model and then upgraded it to unit champion, you would add 1 extra wound and 3 extra attacks (albeit at the standard weapon skill). The difference though, is that the branchwraith costs 165 points and the extra model + UC costs 24. So for 1/7 the cost, you get almost the same benefit.
Now, granted, you lose the level 1 caster and 2 dispel dice, those could be made up by adding a scroll caddy for 140, coming out to actually 1 less point overall (140 + 24) with almost the exact same benefits. PLUS, instead of having a 261 point dryad unit, it only costs 120, and so you aren't nearly as upset if they happen to get overrun or defeated in some way.
The same thing happens with adding a Wardancer Noble with Blades of Loec (or Annoyance of Netlings) to a unit of wardancers. A 7 man unit of wardancers with noble costs twice as much as a 7 man unit by itself. Again with Wild Riders, adding a Wild Rider character with the Dawnspear doubles the cost of the unit.
Now, granted, adding these characters to these units does increase their power and killing ability by a good amount, but does it double it? The trouble with wood elf characters is that they all have T3 and little to no armour. In addition, they don't really hit that hard in combat, sure they hit harder than most other things in our army, but compared to real combat characters from other armies, they are pretty impotent.
The net effect of all this is that we are spending points on characters for units, that then double (or worse) the cost of said units, to slightly increase their offensive capabilities. Unfortunately, that forces us to protect those units from getting into any bad situations, since they hurt our overall plan more when they die. This runs contrary to the MSU style, where everything is expendable, since you have 3 more units where that one came from.
Sorry for the long rant, and I hope I'm wrong. I'd just like to see what other people have to say about it and see if I'm completely off base with this analysis.
If you haven't noticed yet, our army is unique in many aspects. With that in mind, comparison anaylsis to other armies is non-conclusive, as the whole is more than the sum of the parts.
With your logic, we shouldn't even bother with characters. Is that really a good option? Personally, i don't think any of my units is expendable, and loosing one without a character can be just as devistating as loosing one with. Characters can leave units and join new ones, i've often wandered my branchwraith between units of dryads, just to keep things interesting.
Our army's strenth comes from being unconventional and tricky. Characters bring the tricks to the units. Point for point it doesn't add up, but neither does anything else we have. If numbers and math is your style, you should probably try another army because 12 point core is bad math no matter how you cut it. If psychology and trickery is more your style, well that is where we shine, and the math be damned =P
"What does it add to the Dryad unit?"
-Branch Wraiths are all about killing two birds with one stone. Even more so with the Drycha. You have to take spell defense anyways. You use dryads to make sure it doesn't get nuked. It doesn't help the unit, it helps the army. If you use netlings you get a characer killer. You have to take magic defense anyways, the cost/benefit analysis is: 140 for caddy. 165 for radient caddy and character killer = good bargain)
"The same thing happens with adding a Wardancer Noble with Blades of Loec (or Annoyance of Netlings) to a unit of wardancers."
-You use blades of loec on a lord to synergize with killing blow, not on a noble; you're right, that does waste points. Netlings also on a Lord or a Wrath, unless you have neither of those and free points. For a noble you use the Amber Pendant and great weapon (so you can take cavalry charges in the face, or really anything), or you take the moonstone to get an uber flanker. Dawnspear is also always a good trick, especially with Wild Riders.
"The net effect of all this is that we are spending points on characters for units, that then double (or worse) the cost of said units, to slightly increase their offensive capabilities."
-Characters I take are
1. Wraith (or Drycha) - 2 birds one stone
2. Treeman Ancient - Same reason
3. BSB + Royal Standard - Rerolls + Magic defense = 2 birds one stone
4. BSB + Hail of Doom Arrow = Rerolling + Massive firepower for one turn
5. Amber Pendant Noble/Highborn - can take charges from almost anything with wardancers.
6. Moonstone Noble/Highborn - teleporting treekin or wardancers
7. Dawn Spear WR Noble - Lets WR grind out.
One or more of these are always in my list in addition to my spell defense. The reason being that Wardancers + Amber Pendant, or teleporting treekin, or the Royal Standard add things to the list I other wise could not do AT ALL.
Dryads/War Dancers/Glade Guard are your meat and potatoes; but your list is MADE by your character choices.
I agree with you Gnome.
Adding characters to most of our units I feel is almost handing the opponent some extra points (with the exception of eternal guard) especially against armies with high armor saves.
On the other hand it comes down to play style, I like to play a little aggressive so I don't like putting characters in units, so I take two spellsingers for scroll caddies then just put them in the woods, an alter, and a treeman ancient.
With those the only one I care about getting killed is the treeman ancient which is difficult to do.
I almost never take branchwraiths because I think they are to many points for what they can do, the only reason I would take one is if I wanted a complete themed army of treespirits.
I also think the psychology of taking a treeman ancient with another treeman usually makes my opponents worry more about them instead of my small units of dryads that can still wreck shop on flanks or rear.
The other one I use that seems to work well is a big block of 28 eternal gaurd with a high born with rymers harp, annoyance and gw, and a bsb with the royal standard. I feel the charcters in this unit make it very resilient and they add so much needed strength in the front rank, and with two treemen covering flanks it makes for a pretty good hammer on most things
Oh and if you can't tell I really like the treemen because I feel it adds a bit of survivability to our otherwise "glass cannon" army
@talismanictattoo: I understand that our army is significantly different from every other army in the game. In fact, that's kind of my point. UNLIKE other armies, we can't just take a tooled out character and dump it into a pretty good unit to turn it into a very good unit. When we try that, we end up with a slightly better unit, but it's still a small wood elf unit, designed to be supported and helped by the rest of the army, only now it costs 3x as much as it used to.
I'm not advocating taking no (or minimum) characters, just that people rethink how we use the characters we take. Instead of going the standard WFB "well this is my most killy unit so I'll stick a character in it and make it kill more," we need more self-contained or useful character. Highborn on a Dragon, Treeman Ancient, Wizards on Steeds that hide in woods (since our spells don't take LoS, huzzah!), the Standard Alter Noble, etc. I'm just attempting to see if I'm wrong about dumping a character into a unit just because it's a character and makes the unit hit harder, since our army is so different and doesn't really work that way.
To clarify, when I say expendable, I don't mean in a willy-nilly throw them to their deaths way, just that our army typically is an MSU style and if we have to sacrifice a unit in order to get a better tactical position, or accomplish something, we can, and it's not a huge impact in terms of VPs. But when you throw a character into the mix, we suddenly aren't going to be as willing to make that sacrifice, which could leave us with a weaker strategic positioning for the rest of the game.
@Gnomish.id: I think we fundamentally agree. You are advocating characters (even if the end up in units) that allow us to do multiple things, and aren't just the standard "well let's stick a character in here so they kill a few more" mentality of normal warhammer.
You make some interesting points about the Branchwraith, and maybe I have been thinking about it incorrectly, so I'll have to see if I can't try it out in a few test games to get a feel for how the synergy works. I guess my biggest problem with running one would be that I would be more defensive with the unit that had her in it, to keep my magic defense up and not hand points over. Sure you can switch units when you need to, but doing so can hamper the movement of the unit you are joining, which hurts what wood elves do best: move.
As for the Wardancer characters, as you admit the Noble Wardancer kindred is a waste of points, but I think that the Highborn one is even worse. I'll grant you adding a character to that unit with the moonstone or Amber Pendant + GW or something like that, as a trick and to give the unit some interesting options. But taking a Highborn Wardancer Kindred is a HUGE waste of points, and you get so little out of it. You're paying almost 300 points for a character (who is also your general, so more like 400 VPs) to join a 140 point unit, and he's got T3 and a 6+ ward save. Sure, you get 5 Attacks, so with the KB dance you might get an extra killing blow from him in a round of combat, but is that really worth making a unit of wardancers cost 450 points? With an extra 100 points if the enemy kills them (and wardancers really aren't that hard to kill)?
When you mention the characters that you typically take, they almost all fit into what I am saying. They are either self-contained, or they provide some other benefit than "look I'm a character in a unit." The only one I'm not convinced of is the Wild Rider character with the Dawnspear.
Actually, when you put it that way. I think you're right. We do agree! ^_^
Good points! Reputation for you!
(and actually, I've become extremely defensive with my branch wraiths too. I only intentionally get them into battle when I'm trying to assassinate a character)
Good case with the Highborn as well.
Last edited by Gnomish.Id; February 11th, 2009 at 21:35. Reason: Clarification
I dont get this, how can you play wood elves and complain about the fragileness of some of our characters, its a simple fact of playing a T3 elf army which doesnt use heavy armour and such.
Wood elf characters are there to augment the army, not to slaughter units, and this is reflected in the points cost, like a WD noble with blades of loec (Which is not a waste of points) is 140pts. Thats a cheap hero, which can hide in units of wardancers and can take killing blow = character killer. These character do not detract from MSU play style if your using them right.
If you want choppy uber characters of death then dark elves are a better choice.
Im sure ill regret posting this, but this just comes off as a whinge post to me, nothing personal.
Last edited by ethsar46; February 11th, 2009 at 21:47.
I don't think he was complaining that it works that way so much as wondering why some people try playing it like it doesn't.
Last edited by Gnomish.Id; February 11th, 2009 at 22:03. Reason: lucidity
@ethsar46: Nothing personal taken from it. I'm sorry if it came off as a whine, like Gnomish mentioned I'm not trying to complain that we don't have a big rock-em-sock-em character that we can just plop down and watch it cut swaths through enemy lines. I really like the wood elf army and the fact that it is so different from the "standard" style of play that almost every other army has. Again, Gnomish already covered it, but I'm just curious why so many people are still trying to use our characters in that way, and I figured I would post about it to see if my arguments made sense, or possibly if I was completely off-base.
As for the cost-effectiveness of the Wardancer Noble + Blades of Loec, I agree that he is a very cheap character when compared with most other armies, but again, the Wood Elves aren't most other armies. While he is cheap, he still doubles the cost of the unit. I recognize that Mathammer only has limited uses, but I think this might be one of them:
You mention that the biggest use of him is as a character killer, with the killing blow dance.
A normal unit of wardancers, with just a unit champion, striking against a character:
3 Models fight, 7 attacks total.
Assume hit on 3's (to be generous): 4.667 Hits
Assume T4, so wound on 4s: 0.7778 Killing Blows, 1.5556 Regular Wounds
Compare to the same unit but with a character AND Unit Champion:
3 Models fight, 5 Regular attacks, 4 Character attacks
Assume hit on 3's (again): 3.3333 Regular Hits, 2.6667 Character hits
Assume T4, so unit on 4s, char on 3s: 0.5556 Killing Blows from Unit, 1.1111 Regular Wounds from Unit.
Char gets to reroll the 1/3 of his hits that fail to wound: 0.5926 Killing Blows, 1.7778 Regular Wounds.
So in total you get: 1.1482 Killing Blows, 2.8889 Regular Wounds with the Character there
Compared with: 0.7778 Killing Blows, 1.5556 Regular Wounds without.
So I suppose, in retrospect, that is is close to worth it, as in my cooked up scenario you don't quite get 2x the killing, but you get pretty close. That's a judgement call, so I guess I was wrong about that instance.
Nevertheless, I have been thinking about the character situation more, and I would be willing to argue that apart from the big tar-pit EG unit, it is never worth it to add a Highborn Character (of any type) to any unit. The fact is you double the cost of the character, and all you get is 1A, 1W, 1WS, 1Ld, and 50 more possible points in magic items. Of course, if you take the items then you have to pay even more. PLUS, the Highborn will be required to be the Army General if he is in a unit, since he is the only LD 10 character we have, so that tacks on an extra 100 points if the enemy kills him (which if you are using him in a fighting unit, they have a good chance to do). Any trick or unit that you could conceive of adding a character to, can easily be done with a Noble for half the points cost, so a Highborn is never right.
I can definatly agree with you on the highborn, the only time ive used one is as the Machine Gun with BoL and AB which frankly i found wasnt worth the points.
Still useful if you want to take a dragon though.
The nobles (which can be an army general) become very important when you take a lvl 3/4 aswell. This was the case with my current army because I was using a lvl 4 + Alter + BSB, if you want the ld 9 bubble you have to take a noble then.