Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dark Elves in 8th Pt. 1

I was going to title this series “Dark Elfolution” but then I nearly punched myself in the face and decided to leave puns or malapropisms to others.  As you may guess, this series is going to chronicle the evolution of my Dark Elves in 8th edition.  In 6th and 7th edition I played Daemons and Warriors of Chaos, but I’ve always wanted to start a DE army and I figured 8th edition would be the perfect time to start.

How can you not want to play this army.  Evil elves riding dinosaurs.  I mean c'mon!

I started by reading a ton about what made the DE good in 7th, and by looking at painted minis.  Call me a fluff-bunny (please don’t actually) but I don’t like playing units that don’t look good or don’t inspire me to paint them, unless they are so strong on the table top that I can’t exclude them from my lists.  So I had a fairly good idea about what made DE tick in 7th, and when my LGS got in its preview copy of the rulebook I made the following list and purchased the stuff I needed.

I know this is battleforce as hell, but at this point I had no real idea what was going to rock in 8th and what was going to suck, so I bought basic stuff and planned on buying extra stuff later to make my army competitive once things started to shake out.

Dark Elves 1.0 3000pt.

Dreadlord                242
    -Crimson Death
    -Enchanted Shield
    -Heavy Armor
    -Sea Dragon Cloak
    -Other Trickster Shard

Supreme Sorceress            345
    -Lvl 4
    -Life Taker
    -Seal of Ghrond
    -Darkstark Cloak

Sorceress                175
    -Lvl 2
    -Tome of Furion
    -Dispell Scroll

Death Hag                200
    -Cauldron of Blood

Assassin                146
    -Rune of Khaine

[So the characters are a mish-mash of garbage.  Basically stuff I thought would be fun to play.]

16x Repeater Crossbowmen        181

16x Repeater Crossbowmen        181

16x Repeater Crossbowmen        181

23x Warriors                138

[So I knew RBX were going to be good and I knew I wanted lots.  I also knew a unit of ranked infantry with steadfast, and good SCR were going to be strong too, but I underestimated the size the Warrior unit would need to be effective.]

20x Black Guard            345
    -Banner of Murder
    -Ring of Hotek

8x Shades                128

8x Shades                128

[The Black Guard have the Ring because this was before the FAQ neutered it.  Still in the 7th edition BG deathstar mindset.  The Shades I planned on scouting and taking lots of high BS shots into people’s flanks.]

War Hydra                175

War Hydra                175

2x Reaper Bolt Thrower            200

Total:                    2997

OK, so it’s total crap battleforce garbage.  I am well aware.  It was just a starting point to give me a playtesting baseline for how units perform in 8th.  So what did playtesting this list reveal about Dark Elves in 8th edition?

1.  The Dreadlord is pretty strong and tough to kill.  In multiple games he never came close to getting killed.  I also realized that the optimal armor/defense setup was not the one I was using.  I seriously considered switching him for a BSB in order to get the leadership rerolls, but I found that the BSB is only strong vs shooty armies where you don’t want to break from shooting due one bad roll.  If you are getting rolled in combat, re-rolled double 1’s isn’t really that great. 

2.  I really liked the lvl 4 and lvl 2, but their equipment was all wrong.  It took me a long time to realize this, because of how effective they were in all my playtesting games with this list.  A maxim I have learned is, winning playtesting games obscures your weaknesses.  It is much harder to find an optimal loadout when the current loadout is winning.

3.  The Assassin was pretty useless.  He did kill an HE archmage in one game but it was nothing that a Master couldn’t have done, and been more survivable to the hits back from the rest of the unit at the same time.

4.  The warrior unit needs to be a horde of 40.  I didn’t know if spearmen with shields were going to be too expensive to make an effective horde, but playtesting revealed it was more that I couldn’t afford for them NOT to be 40 strong since I counted on them to do a lot of heavy lifting.

5.  The Black Guard were great.  They had no trouble killing everything they touched.  The Ring was useless with the FAQ, but I didn’t want to give up on it yet, since I was obsessed with the idea of having some kind of magic defense. 

6.  Against armies with little or no shooting, the Shades were amazing.  They would just eat up war machines, light cav, and big blocks.  Against armies with decent shooting units, they would get blown off the board turn one.  I realized that units that situational just are not going to cut it.

7.  War Hydra’s were really strong, but they need to combo charge.  In 7th you could charge one of them into anything, wipe the front row, and break them.  In 8th, the unit will be steadfast and will get to hit back.  When the Hydra’s charged with the BG, or the spear Warriors, they mulched their target.  When they charged solo, it became a grind, unless they charged small/elite units they could decimate in one round.

8.  The Reapers are hit or miss.  They are the single most frustrating unit in the army.  It is clear to me that you cannot win without them.  You need the 48” range to be able to hit enemy wizards sitting in the back lines, or to kill small elite units like Swordmasters that you can’t kill in combat easily.  But at the same time, there are droughts you go through where you kill 2 Dwarves per turn.


OK, that’s part 1.  Part 2 will have the 1.1 revision I playtested and brought to the ‘Ard Boyz prelims and my thoughts on that.

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