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Okay, so they were talking about Asrai on Podhammer this week, and some of the stuff they were talking about was a completely different way of thinking about Wood Elves than the way I normally play.
It suddenly occurred to me that there is a whole dimension to the Wood Elf army that I've never considered before. Literally - I've traditionally used ground-based units who are excellent but two-dimensional; flyers, whilst not fantastic on paper, provide a tactical flexibility that is unrivalled in any other army that I can think of.
Reasoning as follows:
Normally, I use characters that benefit from being able to move around between units and often don't fit well into units at all (with some exceptions - WD Hero being the main one). By "don't fit well" what I mean is that putting them in a unit can sometimes hinder them and offset their advantages. For example, I usually find that my mages are better served by hiding in or behind terrain and making use of the fact that they don't need LoS most of the time than by sitting in a unit. Another instance is the BSB, who is hugely useful but often ends up in a different place from where he's needed.
Now the Podhammer guys were talking about a BSB on an eagle, and I thought: "why did I never think of that before?" He's not a large target, so he can hide behind other units and be reasonably protected from shooting. Give him the Hail of Doom, he can drop it pretty well anywhere on the board, or hang onto it in case he needs to clear himself a landing zone in later turns. He can fly, so he can get just about anywhere he needs to be really quickly. Best of all, it's a really cool idea for a conversion.
Another notion that came up was that of a Highborn on a Dragon. I'm not convinced the dragon is a fantastic idea but a Highborn on an eagle combined with a BSB on an eagle effectively means you can drop a Ld 10 re-roll anywhere you need it. Now I expect it will take some practice to get used to using the Budgies properly, but I've already got tons of ideas flapping (bad pun) round inside my head.
Support the characters with another bird taken as a rare choice, or alternatively (dare I say it) a unit of Warhawks, rubbish as the they are. Present your opponent with many targets, and threaten him with hard units like Treekin at the same time, suddenly your flying things look ever so much more resilient. I'm getting really quite excited about trying this sort of thing out, so I thought I'd share my ponderings and see if it provokes an interesting discussion.
Ciao for now.
It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value. - Arthur C. Clarke (1917 - 2008)
Flying Characters are quite fun. They increase our already unbelievable mobility. The BSB on an eagle is something that is an interesting idea that i have not thought of either!
I enjoy throwing my characters on eagles and to be honest Warhawks are not as completely crap as they look.(No, seriously...im not kidding...no dont leave...come back!!). What it really comes down to is point efficiency: Am I going to use an Eagle as a Mobile HoDA platform and then just ram some other targets. Why not use an alter? He is much stronger in CC?
The thing is, I rarely use a BSB. When I do its usually with a few treeman. To make sure my heavy hitters can stay in a prolonged combat. I try not to stay in combat. I usually strive for destroying the enemy unit in a single turn. Now in that way of thinking I dont like to rock BSB(still im not saying that tehy are useless! just dosnt fit my play style).
I've been playing a campaign with some of my friends at low point costs (600) and i find my Eagle Riding, HoDA wielding, Noble to be a complete badass that decimates all things. The beauty i find of Eagle is that, you can Still have an extremely mobile HODA launcher but he can also be the army general. I wouldn't trade him for anything.
The Highborne Riding dragon is a powerful option i wouldnt count him out if you are performing any type of flying army. Personally i think he would serve much better than the eagle especially if your BSB is going to be holding the HODA (you really dont need a Alter running causing havoc so just use your final hero spot for your scroll caddy)
I think flying characters are powerful however i dont feel they are so powerful that they can overtake our typical land bound heroes
I like flying models. Dragons, great eagles, and warhawk riders, all can be useful. I like mounting my spellweaver on a great eagle for some mobility and protection also.
I have used most of the different combinations, although I have never run a BSB on an eagle, as I also don't normally run a BSB, and all have there uses in different army compositions. Even eternal guard can be useful at times.
I am right 94% of the time, why worry about the other 3%.
I'd never use a highborn on an eagle unless I was using the BoL/AB combo, there are better lord choices IMO.
I know for a fact that Trent's WE army uses a BSB on a eagle, which I admit can be very effective for getting reroll where you need them so long as your thinking ahead.
The dragon ive started using now, which im finding quite good, even with its higher points cost,
i use the dragon often. it provides me much needed monster killing power. the treeman is one way but he lacks speed.
also with the stoneof the crystal mere its quite possibly the best protected dragon in the game. its the best bet we have against a bloodthirster too!