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12.1. Analyses of 7th Edition Enemy Armies
Analysis of 7th Edition Dark Elves
The new Dark Elves book has proven itself very powerful. In sixth edition, a player could generally rely on different armies excelling in certain phases of the game while lacking in others. For example, Bretonnians still excel in both movement and combat but enjoy neither shooting nor magic. Dwarfs excel in shooting and combat.
In seventh edition, armies across the board are more powerful, but certains armies have emerged superior. Unlike their sixth edition cousins, these superior armies excel in all phases of the game: movement, magic, shooting, and combat.
Consider Dark Elves. Standard infantry models move 5", the hydra moves as a skirmisher, Dark Riders slink 18" around the board as fast cavalry, harpies provide a flying unit, and Cold Ones provide a 14" heavy cavalry charge. Movement phase: check.
And what about magic? Offensively, their sorceresses can throw any number of dice, no matter how high or low their magic level, and their free spell allows them to generate more power dice. They cast from Fire, Shadow, Metal, Death, or Dark Magic. To slip into first person, I played against a DE army last night that had 13 power dice and a bound spell, not taking into consideration the Power of Darkness spell. Magic phase: check.
Shooting performs admirably well for Dark Elves. Contrast 30 Dark Elf Repeater Crossbowmen with 30 Glade Guard. The crossbowmen will pump out 60 armor-piercing shots at long range to the Asrai's 30 shots. Five Dark Riders produce as much shooting as do 10 Glade Guard, but with the benefit of armor-piercing. Oh yeah, don't forget the Reaper Bolt Throwers parked 40" across the board. And don't forget, the hydra has a strength 5 breath attack. Scouts with great weapons, we'd be amiss to overlook them. Shooting phase: check.
Dare we forget, combat. When I first learned that the new Dark Elf book granted hatred as an army rule, I didn't realize the magnitude of that in the combat phase. Assassins, an always strike first banner, a unit that is immune to psychology and stubborn, high weapon skill, high initiative, with halberds and great weapons? BSB's are easy to access, and the combination of the Armor of Darkness and Pendant of Khaeleth make a Dreadlord nigh unkillable. And don't forget, hydras are brutal combat units. Oh yeah, chariots. Combat phase: check.
Psst, one more thing...Ring of Hotek.
So what's a poor Wood Elf player to do?
Consider our own strengths: movement, shooting, and combat. Here's a breakdown of the units and phases as I see it.
Let the Dark Elf player go first. Careful deployment will minimize harm to your army as he launches his first salvo. Plus, going last leaves you an opportunity to claim table quarters at the game's end.
Don't feel compelled to engage his ranked units if you're outclassed. Don't underestimate any of his units as assassins can hide almost anywhere. Some unit champions can take magic items, so beware that, too. Wait until you have a superior advantage due to movement and shooting before engaging in combat.
Eliminate his Dark Riders and crossbowmen before they cause you too much trouble.
Glade Guard shooting outdistances Dark Elf shooting. Since Glade Guard shoot 6" farther than repeater crossbowmen, deploy your archers back, no more than 6" in. Remember, the enemy always starts the game a fraction over 24" away from you according to the main rulebook, so you can be on the 6" line. Even if your opponent moves 5" forward, he'll still be an inch out of range, essentially losing that turn of shooting.
Since you let him move first, his shooters do no harm, and a fair amount of his magic will be out of range, too. In essence, you've given yourself first turn in the shooting phase. Consequently, he'll have to decide how far forward to push his flyers, infantry, and fast cav, bringing more units within range of your shooting.
Glade Riders will prove themselves valuable, too. Use Glade Riders to counter his Dark Riders and Harpies. Scouts will serve their purpose but expect them to die.
Dryads shine against Dark Elves. Dryads always attract the enemy's attention. They're a great screen for other units, can't be ignored in the combat phase, and can pounce on hydras and do some damage with a lucky dice roll or two.
Warhawks work well against Dark Elves. They're better than harpies thanks to their shooting, and they can swoop in on unsuspecting sorceresses.
I don't take Wild Riders or Treekin against Dark Elves, but Wardancers are a must, as they are in any Wood Elf army.
Eternal Guard will die in droves to Dark Elves. Calling Eternal Guard elite infantry is a joke compared to Black Guard or Executioners with the ASF banner.
Reaper Bolt Throwers worry a Treeman more than Hydras do. A Hydra's breath attack wounds on a 5 and the Treeman gets an armor and a ward save against it. If he fails both, he takes 2 wounds maximum. A Hydra in close combat can be deadly, but if your Treeman can hold to the second round when hatred no longer takes effect, you'll start grinding away at the beast. Dreadlords have some nasty tricks to take down a Treeman, so beware of them.
Great Eagles are always worth the cost. They go after RBTs and can interdict other units.
Waywatchers are situational and tilt towards shootier Wood Elf armies. They are vulnerable to enemy shooting and magic.
Heroes and Lords.
As for heroes, Alters can be powerful but have to stay out of sight of Dark Elf shooting and magic. Arcane Bodkins and the Bow of Loren will wreck Cold Ones and can even threaten a Dreadlord with the dread combo.
A scroll caddy is worth it. Some Dark Elf armies go light on offensive magic and rely on the Ring of Hotek to keep them safe, which may render a scroll caddy less useful, but if you face a magic-strong Dark Elf army, you'll be grateful for those scrolls.
The Hail of Doom arrow is a no-brainer. If your Dark Elf opponent deploys a hero in a small, vulnerable unit, you've got a good target for the Hail of Doom Arrow. Save it for last, after you've unleashed some Glade Guard shooting on the unit housing the hero. Wait until there are less than 5 rank and file models housing the hero so that the Hail of Doom Arrow will allocate onto the hero. Save the Arcane Bodkins for last, too, if you've taken them.
Assassins are a huge problem for Wood Elves. I've thrown all sorts of heroes against Assassins and seen most of them crash like waves against the break wall. A character with the Amber Pendant, though, can drop an assassin. An Alter Highborn with a great weapon can knock a two-wound assassin off his pretty perch.
Hydras are challenges for Wood Elf armies. You can send a Treeman after one, but most Dark Elf players will skirmish the Hydra away from you so think ahead about how your Treeman will end his move. The Treeman's ending line of sight needs to safeguard areas where the Hydra might move and cause you problems.
Reaper Bolt Throwers hurt Wood Elves, especially if the Dark Elf player is an ass-cracker who deploys his RBTs on his own table edge. Warhawks, Glade Riders, Great Eagles, and Alters are your counters, though you should expect casualties.
Beware the Cauldron of Blood. The two attendants can rack up 5 attacks apiece (2 base, extra hand weapon, frenzy, and Cauldron of Blood blessing) and have a 4+ ward save thanks to the cauldron itself. If there's a Death Hag BSB in there, and there will be, you're facing a hero with Manbane and an extra D3 attacks. My solution? Stay away.
More than anything, never forget that Dark Elves are a powerful army, one of the best. We Wood Elf players match well against them, but it's always a hard-fought battle. Don't let bad dice discourage you. Keep thinking, and keep your strengths and his weaknesses in mind when you move through the phases of the game.
12.1. Analyses of 7th Edition Enemy Armies
12.1.2. Vampire Counts
Analysis of 7th Edition Vampire Counts
Vampire Counts don't excel in all phases of the game as Dark Elves do, but Vampire Counts armies do exceptionally well in three of them.
In movement, they have an undead fast cavalry unit that moves 18", an ethereal swarm unit that moves 12", two knight units (one of which ignores terrain) that move 14", a Varghulf that moves, Fell Bats that fly 20", and a skirmishing, ethereal unit that moves 12" as they heft their great weapons over your waiting necks.
In combat, the Helm of Commandment makes even standard infantry a threat, and it makes elite units like Grave Guard that much deadlier. Black Knights and Blood Knights can wreck your day, and don't forget the Vampires.
Vampire Counts magic is relentless, especially as the vampires can repeatedly cast Necromantic spells, which in turn enhances both magic and combat. Vampire Counts can mitigate miscasts with their low casting value spells, which necessitate only 1 or 2 dice to reliably cast. Bloodline powers and arcane items buff Vampire magic a great deal.
As for shooting, Vampire Counts have very little to speak of. A pity, really, don't you think?
Winning against VC is difficult in the best of circumstances for a WE general. Wood Elves will never force a panic test from shooting against VC, your non-immune to psychology units will run from fear and terror at some point, the models killed by your Glade Guard will come back, new units can appear behind your lines, vampire magic can quickly overpower your dispel dice and scrolls, you can't break his units with a charge, and the characters are damned hard to kill in hand to hand.
Always keep an eye on the Vampire Counts general. If an opportunity to kill the undead bastard presents itself, you can win the game in one fell swoop. Wardancers can pounce a hero. Just don't take a champion so that you're not drawn into a losing challenge. Instead, dump as many killing blow attacks as you can on the general, ignoring any monstrous mount if it has one. If his general is in a knight unit and you have the Arcane Bodkins, you might be able to get to him, but he will probably spend his next magic phase bringing the knights back.
Eliminating his fast moving units, Dire Wolves and Fell Bats. Keep an eye on his ethereal units. Use Dryads and magic shooting to keep them at bay.
Varghulfs can be nasty, but Dryads can give them a run for their money.
A Black Coach is always a threat. It's easy to get drawn into a protracted combat where you can't wound it, but you've got it on a flank. Beware terror as that can send your units fleeing.
Look for opportunities to snipe characters other than the general. Removing a supporting vampire or two from the fray can go a long way towards slowing down his magic phase and letting you actually do some damage to his troops.
Don't deploy 12" out. You want to delay his army and squeeze all you can from shooting.
A basic precept of shooting is to focus fire. This is especially true against VC as shooting the undead can quickly become fruitless if he's able to resurrect and grow the unit. Large ranked units can be all but impossible to eliminate through shooting, in which case you should look for his small units, like Dire Wolves and Fell Bats.
Some VC players like to start units small and then use magic to increase those units. If you have a pile of shooting, dump it all onto a small unit and see if you can zap it in one turn. Save the Hail of Doom arrow for last or, in the case of a character being present, save it until there are less than 5 rank and file models and see if you can wound or strand the character.
Dryads are golden against Undead. High weapon skill, initiative, strength, toughness, and attacks go a long way against the shambling hoards. They also fend off ethereal units.
Glade Riders can prove key for misdirecting his rank units and for general harassment. A musician is a must because you'll want them to rally. Fear or feigned flight will see them running far and often.
Though optional, Glade Guard Scouts are helpful for early march blocking, especially since you've deployed back and want to slow his army down.
Eternal Guard will run and die before the game is done. Don't bother.
Treekin can do well but will lose to the static resolution of undead ranked units. Against small undead units, they can be strong, fending off certain threats. Fielding them is a matter preference, though they consume a lot of points.
Warhawks are good for the usual reasons. Like scouts, they're optional. Taking out a lesser vampire that has already been wounded works on occasion.
Wardancers are a must, as always. Killing blow alone is essential.
Wild Riders can do well against VC. Their Forest Spirit rule makes them a threat against ethereal units, and if you plan on taking a ranked unit of undead, a flank or rear charge that negates enemy ranks and provides combat resolution bonus is almost a necessity. The War Banner is a no brainer for this unit.
Waywatchers, as always, are situational and a matter of preference. Killing blow against a vampire on a monstrous mount works on occasion, and in large enough numbers, Waywatchers add a lot to an already strong shooting phase.
Great Eagles are excellent for the usual reasons. Misdirecting units, drawing frenzied troops away, march blocking the enemy, and so forth.
Treemen are strong against Blood Knights and Black Knights, but don't forget that wights have magical weapons. Expect a protracted combat, and hope that you make your stubborn rolls with your Treeman. Myself, I'd rather distribute my points to smaller, more mobile units.
Characters and Magic Items
Arcane Bodkins work their usual wonders against knights, but don't waste them on bunker units with 8 regenerating knights with a Wight Lord BSB and general in them.
Don't rush with the Hail of Doom Arrow. It's a great preventative for Cairn Wraiths and Spirit Hosts.
For magic defense, you have scroll caddies, a level 1 Branchwraith with a Cluster of Radiants, and the Wand of Wych Elm. Be smart about what spells you stop and which you let him cast. Sometimes you just have to silently concede that you will never kill that unit of Ghouls and let him cast Invocation of Nehek on it all he wants. After all, you've got designs on another unit that's your actual target.
The Amber Pendant and Annoyance of Netlings can work well against a VC general, but it's difficult to kill one of those beasts quickly. As is commonly the case against undead, prepare for protracted combats.
Maneuver to capture standards and table quarters when possible. Avoid casualties, but don't be afraid to sacrifice units if it's for the greater good.
12.1. Analyses of 7th Edition Enemy Armies
12.1.3. Daemons of Chaos
Analysis of 7th Edition Daemons of Chaos
There exists a fairly broad consensus that Daemons of Chaos stand paramount atop the other Warhammer armies. Of course, some people argue against this and support those arguments well, but nobody argues that Daemons of Chaos can't lay a severe whooping on just about anybody.
Consider the army's strengths. We'll save the discussion of how it excels in all four phases of the game until we've discussed it's army specific strengths.
Like Vampires of Chaos, Daemons never break, cause fear or terror, can "crumble," and are immune to psychology. Oh, and they all sport a 5+ ward save. However, while Vampire Counts just take wounds, Daemons of Chaos actually test before they do, which makes it rather helpful that their battle standard bearer can take a banner which makes them stubborn.
Daemons of Chaos have a magic armory with a unique rule set. Daemons' magical items are gifts, not one-of-a-kind artefacts that can exist only once in an army list. So a magic item can appear multiple times. Furthermore, those items aren't subject to something like Vaul's Unmaking, several runic items, or the Ring of Corin.
Daemons of Chaos compete well in all four phases of the game.
The three faster greater daemons all march 16 inches and some may fly 20. Seekers of Slaanesh are fast cav that can march 20 inches. Flamers of Tzeentch skirmish and march 12". Their different chariots charge between 14" and 20". And don't forget that Flesh Hounds, that hit as hard as Chaos Knights, march and charge 16".
Daemons can produce a powerful magic phase, but they lack a game-changing spell like Infernal Gateway. Still, Tzeentch casters of any variety are nasty, so beware a Greater Daemon tossing bolts of change at your flanks. Beware Nurgle's Miasma.
Sixth edition daemons practically had no shooting, but the new army book cured that woe. Flamers of Tzeentch do a ridiculous amount of damage and have unusually good ballistic skill for a daemon (by the way, almost all daemons have ballistic skill value of zero). D6 Strength 4 flaming shots can wreck your day.
For combat, bring to mind Bloodthirsters, Juggernauts, regenerating Plague Bearers, Beast of Nurgle, and Chariots.
If you win the roll to go first, think carefully about your options. Going first means keeping watch on how close your units approach as Daemons have many long chargers, but you might cause some shooting damage that thins his units and redirect his movement by pushing your skirmishers at angles outside his units' lines of sight. Going second means you might be able to claim quarters at the game's end, but beware fast armies that push themselves at you and force you off your game plan.
Focusing fire is critical against Daemons. Daemons army-wide ward save give them excellent protection against shooting. Many units are toughness 4, and regenerating Nurgle units aren't worth the trouble. Small units like Flesh Hounds and Flamers of Tzeentch are hard to kill but can be important targets as they can ruin your day on turn 2. It's rare that you'll have an opportunity to wipe out a Daemon infantry unit or a greater daemon with shooting. Be content reducing rank bonus, but small units of 12 or so can be handled with shooting, especially if it's toughness 3. Bloodletters and Daemonettes are usually the best infantry to target as Horrors with a herald will have a 4+ ward save and Plaguebearers with a herald will both regenerate and throw ward save dice.
Heralds are critical to infantry units. Heralds of Khorne are pure killers and usually come atop Juggernauts. Look out for a BSB Herald of Khorne with the Banner of Hellfire or Standard of Chaos Glory. These masters of combat will have an outrageous armor save, and always know if any daemon is wearing the Obsidian Armour. Killing blow can take these behemoths down, though they still have that damnable 5+ ward save.
Tzeentch Heralds cast magic (and so do units of Horrors) and give their units a 4+ ward save.
Nurgle Heralds are probably the best of all. They make their units regenerate and can take a gift that denies you rear or flank bonuses. (And look out for Miasma. It's the deadliest spell of all. Your biggest anvil can become toughness 1 and die in a single turn).
The obvious solution is to kill the herald. Use Wardancers to kamikaze into units and take down a herald. Other solutions are Dryads, Alters, a Treeman (Treemen should never go in unsupported, though, unless there's a BSB nearby). In the combat phase before you do anything else, decide how many attacks you are allocating onto the herald, and attack that model prior to attacking rank and file. This way, you remove any bonus the herald has conferred onto to the unit.
Beware Greater Demons. Wood Elves have a difficult time countering these bastards. You really have to beat them through static combat resolution. Bloodthirsters can chew through units like few other creatures, and you will need flank and rear charges and if you're lucky some wounds. An Annoyance of Netling will keep an ancient alive a short time, but remember that all daemons have magical attacks. With no armor or ward save, your Treeman can die in a single turn, especially if wounds are multiplied.
Great Unclean ones are amazingly difficult to wound, much less kill, and Tzeentch Chickens just squawk around on your flanks and avoid your line of sight while they blast you with magic.
Fear tests can defeat your army. Keep a high leadership general near terror and fear prone troops. Immune to psych units will do you well here.
Archers can die early to flesh hounds and flamers, so consider targeting them. Small infantry units can be good targets. Deploy back to give your shooters time to work. Putting them out at 12" means they can be charged on turn 2. Deploy them at 5 or 6. Remember you can move forward 5" or back 2 1/2" and still shoot without penalty. Use the woods to bunker your shooters.
Dryads are great attack units but are vulnerable to daemon's magical attacks.
Glade Riders add a pip of shooting and can draw off units like Flamers and Flesh Hounds.
Scouts that march block early can be worth the sacrifice. If they happen to survive the game, they can claim a table quarter.
Wild Riders suffer the same risk as other forest spirits but still hit hard. They'll need a war banner to have an impact on a combat, and you can always choose to not engage with them. Just skirt the flanks and force his units to keep turning to meet you.
Treekin have high toughness and a decent armor save against demons but won't get their ward save.
Wardancers are always worth taking.
Warhawk Riders can do a great job march blocking and being a pest. Try to keep them alive to claim a quarter at the end of a game.
Great Eagles are a great 50 points.
Treemen must avoid daemons with high strength and flaming attacks. A Bloodthirster can drop a Treeman in one round of combat, so be especially wary.
Waywatchers can be great for taking out infantry sized models with their killing blows. It's one of the few decent ways to deal with flamers as you get past their high toughness and double-wounds.
Heroes and Magic Items
The Wand of Wych Elms will stop a great deal of daemon magic. Ancients can go down to high strength flaming attacks and don't benefit from their ward save. Highborns that ignore armor saves (Wardancers, Arcane Bodkins) can make things rough for Juggernauts and lend their high leadership to their psychology-prone underlings.
Alters can do well, and the Hail of Doom Arrow usually pays off. A scroll caddy helps. Branchwraiths are vulnerable and should avoid combat, especially if they are costly magic users producing dispel dice.
Eternal Hatred is Hatred towards everything for the FIRST ROUND. The Eternal part is against High Elves and affects every round.
It looks very good, highly informative
Chaos Daemons is the one armybook I have left to read and all!
Also I believe you wrote Vampires of Chaos at one point, but I may be half asleep still.
Great stuff David. I don't play Wood Elves, but this analysis is generally helpful against the triumvirate of overpowered armies at the moment.
In regard to Hydras I would really like to get to the bottom of how to actually take one out. At the moment I am pretty confident I can take most of what a Dark Elf army can throw at me but Hydras always seem to muck up my plans. I have tried a few different solutions, at the moment I am thinking a Highborn on a Dragon with the Spirit Sword would have no problem taking them out with little risk in return, but that seems to be a massive overkill and very expensive, also not really suitable for anything under 2500pts.
Any more specific suggestions?
"God is dead" Nietzsche- 1886
"Nietzsche is dead" God- 1900
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If I'm facing off against a hydra, I'm going to take a treeman into combat with it as quickly as possible. The treeman will probably lose the first round of combat thanks to DE hatred, but his stubborn will pay off most of the time, especially if there's a BSB nearby.
On the next WE turn, charge the beast with additional units, like Dryads and Wild Riders. With outnumbering, a banner (War Banner anyone?), a flank bonus, and a couple of wounds, you'll start to win combat rounds. DE leadership is good, but force the tests anyway. And if at all possible, kill the handlers. The animal will have to take a monster reaction test, which could go in your favor.