New Dark Elves, what I have been running and how it worked

It has been a while since I posted, work getting in the way as I spent my mornings with the wife, walking the puppies and then preparing lessons before working from 1 to 8 in the afternoons. However, as I have no classes this week, I will endeavour to put up some material.

Gaming-wise, I only got in a couple of games with my Eldar since September, all of which they casually won, so I am starting to get a bit bored with them, which is a shame as I spent 4 years waiting for a new book for them and they were my first army all the way back in 1996. Oh well, maybe it is just a phase.

So I dusted off my Dark Elves to run with their new book and the first couple of games were a blast. Like their futuristic cousins, the Dark Eldar, they emphasize the strike-first kind of play style, with their units having a tremendous offensive output with Always Strikes First and Murderous Prowess for re-rolls, but little to nothing in the way of armour or other defensive abilities. Expect a lot of models from both sides to hit the casualty box every round.

The two games I have run so far were rather largish affairs at 3.000 points each, but I think that the lessons are transferable to other sizes. First and foremost, Dark Elves work best if you can sculpt the flow of the battle with your light units to enable your heavy hitters to double-charge enemy units. This is due to the Step Up rule allowing troops to move up to replace casualties in the fighting ranks before making their own attacks. This means that the Step Up rule is a tremendous problem for the fragile elvish elite as they take casualties even after taking out most of the fighting ranks of their opponents. However, if two of your units gang up on one enemy unit, you might just be able to inflict enough casualties to stop the enemy from being able to bring enough models to the fore. Also, a double charge is usually enough to rout the opponent and thus prevent multiple rounds of combat in which he can grind your troops down.

Secondly, your most important value is your offensive output and anything that can augment that is great. The chief instrument you have at your disposal to that aim is the Death Hag with Witchbrew. It not only give Super Frenzy to the already-frenzied Witch Elves, but more importantly, it gives Frenzy to the heavy hitting Executioners and Black Guard of Naggarond. As these troops already boast high strength, the 6-7 bonus attacks you get from frenzy are more important there as with the weaker Witch Elves. Similarly, giving your Sorceresses the Lore of Metal not only helps you take out heavy-armoured troops, but the Enchanted Blades of Aiban spell also gives you +1 to hit and armour-piercing to improve your death dealers, while the Glittering Robes make your troops significantly tougher.

But let’s get to the discussion of the units I used in my games against Ogres and Chaos Warriors and what I make of them.

Supreme Sorceress: Lvl 4 upgrade, Talisman of Preservation, Sacrificial Dagger, Ironcurse Icon

The Icon is mostly there as it costs only 5 points, so as soon as one Dreadspear survives a hit, you are in the money, but if you don’t like it, leave it and see if I care 😉 Now to the main items, the Talisman is just there to help you avoid the occasional miscast hit or Feedback Scroll on your 6+ dice cast. Ok, sometimes you actually want her to accept a challenge to tank wounds for her unit, if you think you can break the enemy before the second round of combat. In the game against the Ogres, I ran her with Life to use Lifebloom on my monsters, but as the monsters have let me down, I might go back to the classics of Shadow against most armies and Metal against Chaos Warriors and Bretonnians. On the other hand, using the Sacrificial Dagger to power Life spells seems so delightfully evil and Dark Elfy to do … More trials might be in order. She goes into a unit of 28 Dreadspears (5 wide, 6 deep) with the Standard of Discipline and the BSB. Speaking of which …

Battle Standard Bearer: Sea Dragon Cloak, Heavy Armour, Enchanted Shield, Sword of Might, Dawnstone

He has Strength 5 with re-roll 1s, hits on most attacks with WS 6 and ASF re-rolls and has a re-rollable 1+ armour save. Quite a deal for a mere 155 points. As you can see re-rolls are a theme with the Dark Elves, as the more re-rolls you get the more damage you can cause. In game 1, he actually stabbed a Bruiser BSB with Crown of Command and Great Weapon to death as I could heal him in between blows, so I am reasonably certain that he can take on most heroes and come out on top. Might have to stay away from Greater Daemons or Vampire Lords though, but that is a given for Hero-level characters. Nothing fancy but he gets the job done and you need your Battle Standard re-rolls in an army containing that many Stupid and/or Frenzied units.

Death Hag: Witchbrew, Ogre Blade

The epitome of the glass cannon principle with the whopping toughness of 3, two wounds and a loincloth plus chainmail bra to protect neither her modesty nor her life, but strength 6 and a bucketful of attacks with (you guess it) re-rolls to dish out the pain. Strength 6 is key here, as it means that you wound anything up to an Ogre or Chaos Warrior on a 2+ and can re-roll 1s, so you should wound 35 out of 36 models you have hit. It also means that you can pierce most armours automatically at -3. All of that on Initiative 10+ due to ASF. I put her into the Executioners to give them Frenzy and to take out enemy heroes that have higher Initiative as the Executioners. As a matter of fact, she is best in a challenge if possible, as she can easily cut down most champions and many heroes before they can even raise their sword and avoid being overwhelmed by regular troopers that Step Up. This might reduce the casualties she can inflict, but keeps the unit frenzied which more than compensates for the attacks she has wasted on a champion.

26 Executioners of Har Ganeth: Full command, Banner of Eternal Flame

They are deployed 7 by 4 with the Death Hag and a Sorceress (I have no other unit to put her in and she has usually done her job of using her Dispel Magic Scroll by the time they get into combat. Also people tend to avoid hitting her as she is the only model not carrying a S6 weapon in the unit). They churn out 17 attacks per round at Ini 5 which is enough to murder just about anything. In the game against Chaos, they hacked a unit of Knights of Khorne apart in one go, then got charged by Festus and Warriors of Nurgle, which they also ground down in two rounds, as well as running down the Warshrine of Tzeentch that had flanked them in support. OK, only 4 and the characters were left standing after that, but they had done their job by then.

15 Black Guard of Naggarond: Full command, Banner of Eternal Flame

I used this unit before I got the Executioners off EBay (no, the Banner wasn’t duplicated) with the Death Hag and they killed a Stonehorn before being breathed on by a Firebelly, so I guess they were worth their points. In essence, they are the ultimate in precision thanks to Eternal Hatred and I can see them murder High Elf Swordmasters and White Lions thanks to retaining ASF unlike their High Elf equivalents, but on the whole their S4 might not cut it in the real world these days. I might run them with a Sorceress with Lore of Beasts to make them S5 and T4, but then I lose my access to Power of Darkness to fuel my Supreme Sorceress’s spell casting (as Power of Darkness no longer forces the Sorceress who cast it to use the power dice herself). Shame that they are my favourite models in the whole range.

Hydra and Kharybdiss

Both have been kind of a let down in my games, especially the Hydra. Her stats look impressive, but Initiative 2 means that just about everyone strikes before you and every wound reduces your attacks. Speaking of which, even the full 8 attacks are not that impressive anymore as they hit most units on a 4+ without re-rolls and S5 is not that great either. And the more attacks you lose, the weaker she becomes. Granted the old Hydra was significantly undercosted, but the new one is equally overcosted. Maybe you can use her to Terrorbomb low-Ld armies, but who other than Goblins is low Ld these days and even Goblins now have Ld 9 lords with the Standard of Discipline. The Kharybdiss on the other hand definitely made back its points in each game, but it still goes down faster than an Essex girl I feel comfortable with if it is isolated. But then again, it is 160 points and somebody has to get in the way to redirect a charge or cripple an elite unit before somebody else can take care of it. So maybe I am being too harsh with it.

I’ll keep the rest a bit briefer:

Reaper Bolt Throwers

Now cheaper and still as capable as ever to knock off rank bonuses or impale 1+ and 2+ cavalry. Love the point reduction. I run two and consider getting another two. Did I mention that they got cheaper?

5 Shades: Great Weapons

I run two units of those and I am not convinced with the Great Weapons. On the one hand, they are only 10 points and come in handy if you need to take out a Dwarven artillery crew or wound a monster, but on the other hand, they are 10 points that are wasted if they are just speed bumps or redirectors for enemy hordes. If I run Shadows again, I will use them with two handweapons to assassinate Enfeebled troops or slaughter monsters with Okkam’s Mindrazor on them.

5 Dark Riders: Repeater Crossbows and Shields

I also run two of those units. As Fast Cavalry with 4+ armour, they are the bees’ knees. With Glittering Robes, they even go to 2+ armour. How about that for light skirmishing troops? Granted, they get thrown under the bus at some juncture in the game, but it’s a man’s life in the light cavalry. They are key for taking out enemy gunners or cannons, as those troops can really make your infantry’s life hell.

24 Witch Elves: Full Command, Razor Standard

Hacky unit is hacky. If you really want some extra output, add a Death Hag or Crone Helleborn, the Queen of Blenders to increase the number of attacks even more. They deploy 8 wide and 3 deep. Get them into combat and they are reasonably safe. Don’t think a lot of them are going to survive the game, but they can always get their points back.

Crone Hellebron

8-10 S10 attacks with all the re-rolls. Enough said. ALWAYS challenge with her or put her on the flank of her unit to avoid getting ganged up on. If you do, she will murder anything she comes across. In her one appearance, she killed 4 Chaos Warriors (bastards had a 5++ parry)  and single-handedly killed a Hellcannon in one round like it was no thing. High Elf Lords or Vampires with Quickblood might be able to kill her thanks to ASF, but they will usually die with her and 310 points are still a bargain if compared to such units. For extra comedy value, she can try to underhorse such enemies by stabbing their Dragon or Griffin to death before it can strike.

20 Darkshards: Standard, Musician and Shields

40 shots and reasonable stats in close combat. The numbers add up here and they can take wounds off monsters or chip away at enemy rank bonuses, so if you have the means, I highly recommend picking some up.

5 Doomfire Warlocks

Quite survivable thanks to their 4++ and with a solid 10 S4 poisoned ASF attacks, they can hurt most monsters quite badly and survive its counterstrikes as monsters usually rely on their high strength to win their combat, which the ward save negates. I haven’t cast a spell with them yet, but they give you a third channeling dice without having to buy a fragile third Sorceress, which also costs nearly as much without having any of their defensive or offensive abilities. One of those days, I will get them behind the enemy and then pull off Soulblight with Irresistible Force . Muahahahahahahaha!

I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of some of the Dark Elf units and had fun reading this.


One thought on “New Dark Elves, what I have been running and how it worked

  1. Gladisknight says:

    One unit I recommend is the Bloodwrack Shrine. I know that everyone goes ooh and aah about the cauldron, but the Shrine seems to be like a neglected underdog. Yet it has a lot to offer.
    First, it is a chariot with great versatility, finding a place in many different situations. You are up against low LD troops like goblins or even Ogres? -1 to the Leadership becomes really dangerous. Also, it has terror. With -1 on LD that could actually work from time to time and it synergizes very well with “Shroud of Despair” out of the Dark Magic lore.
    A unit of knights or heavily armoured monstrous cavalry charges you? Get back a huge amount of points by standing and shooting and chipping off precious wounds with a few lucky rolls. The medusa’s stare is sneaky and with BS 5 a lot of her 4 shots should hit. After that, Strength 4 gets at most models. A unit of 4 mournfang could very well lose a model to her stare and the “avert your gaze”, crippling the combat ability of such a dangerous unit by a lot.
    It is not as tough as the cauldron with the 4+ ward save, but having to divide your attacks among the T3 elves and the T6 chariot may work in your favour on combat resolution. Magic Resistance 6+ comes in handy, too. Dark Elves hate magical damage of any kind.
    Granted, cannonballs will have even less problems hurting you than if you were a cauldron, but for the shrine’s price a dead shrine will hurt a lot less than a dead cauldron (and the dead death hag who will eat the cannonball, too).
    After all, the Bloodwrack shrine is a chariot than can go within a unit or even solo. If it is within a unit, it is allowed to charge out of the unit, which could be a great way of dealing with redirectors and chaff. (Useful: Terror). Usually if your huge block of killy warriors is staring at a redirector, charging in is fraught with danger. Having that chariot as an extra charge option comes in handy then. It is cheap enough to sacrifice in this manner and more important, your combat block can reform to take on whatever was waiting for you in the redirector’s flank. If times are desperate, you can sacrifice it by taking it out of the unit and playing the redirectional game yourself.
    Lastly, one thing to mention in comparison to the cauldron: it is not a character. What’s the deal with that? Well, you will notice when the first demon prince charges your witchelf block and challenges the unit to a stand still. Also, the medusa can t be sniped off her chariot.
    Hope this summary inspires you to the same hot love I feel towards the shrine. Let me know about further ideas or comments regarding this nice addition to our model range.

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