Friday, October 8, 2010

Top Five Dark Elf Units + ETC Insanity

Rhellion made a great post yesterday where he listed what he thought was the top five Skaven units.  I thought I should do the same for the Dark Elves.  As he pointed out, the retards who run the ETC think they are better game developers than the actual game developers, and they have taken it upon themselves to balance the game.  

Thank you very much for all your hard work!

Oh wait, that's not what I meant to say.  I meant to say, "die in a fire and let us play the game the way it was written."  While their army nerfs are irritating, the way they nerf the entire concept behind 8th Edition is downright insulting.  Hey idiots: maybe the news hasn't hit Europe yet, but people like 8th Edition.  It's better in almost every way from 7th.  The game is fun and doesn't require the massive changes you made.  Thank God I don't have to play in your cry baby butt hurt tournament scene and put up with this garbage.  Fuck you.  Did you guys seriously learn nothing from the the INAT backlash?  People want FAQs to be rules clarification, not new rules or new game systems.  Go away go away go away.

OK, now that the ETC nonsense is out of my system, let's talk about the top Dark Elf units.  

#5.  Reaper Bolt Throwers.  I know this will offend who think Reaper bolt throwers are crap, but those people are idiots mostly.  Bolt throwers get better and better the more you have.  The firepower of one Reaper is annoying, but four is withering.  If you are within 24" and you have 4+ bolt throwers you can essentially pick an enemy unit and erase it every turn.  Please note: once most players realize MSU is the way to win the game and you see more MSU armies these will be even better.  This is why I rate them so highly: the better your opponent's list, they better these are.   Too bad they compete with Hydras in the Rare slot.

#4. Repeater Crossbowmen.  A very vanilla choice, but still amazing.  They are one of the best core choices in the game, and put out an absurd amount of firepower for their price.  But beyond their ample shooting ability, you find out that they aren't feeble in close combat like other shooty core units in other armies thanks to a high Initiative, and Hatred.  Plus they can fight with shield and hand weapon for a parry save.  A lot of opponents will underestimate them and bite off more than they can chew.  They will get a turn or two of shooting at you, stand and fire at you, and then strike first with Hatred against most opposition.  They are just excellent.

#3.  Blackguard with Banner of Murder/Razor Standard.  These are the heavy lifters of infantry based Dark Elf lists.  Anything short of elite High Elf infantry they shred like a food processor.  Which is ANOTHER reason I prefer Bolt Throwers to Hydra in infantry DE lists: you need a way to kill the things that Blackguard cannot kill.  Blackguard will not kill Swordmasters.  They will not kill Phoenix Guard.  They will not kill Chosen with a 3+ ward save.  DE have no way to kill those elite units in close combat, so it must be done with magic or shooting.  If you think a Hydra will kill a unit of Swordmasters you must be crazy.   

Anyway, back to Blackguard.  They kill (almost) everything in the game short of a few ASF elite units or heavily defensive units like Chosen deathstars.  And they are immune to psychology.  And stubborn.  And re-roll to hit in subsequent rounds of combat.  And only cost 13 points compared to a WoC Chaos Warrior with Halberd and Shield with Mark of Khorn which average out to costing close to 20 points.  Did i mention they eviscerate said chaos warriors?  But comparing them to units in other army books is apples to oranges.  In our army book, they compete with Executioners and Wyches.  Executioners are ASL and one attack unless they get a Hag BSB to carry the ASF banner.  And that one attack won't do shit.  So they need a Cauldron to buff them.  Now look at that point investment needed to make them slightly better than Blackguard.  There is No Comparison.  Wyches get lots of poisoned attacks at a high initiative.  But they are a suicide unit as they have no defense.  Anything with high armor laughs at them.  Remember the Khorne halberders?  Yeah they smush Wyches.  Anything Wyches are good at killing, BG are better at killing.  And BG don't automatically die when someone breaths on them.

2.  Supreme Sorceress with Sacrificial Dagger.  So let's list the better magic throwers in the game who aren't special characters.  Slann with Rumination and Cupped Hands.  And arguably an archmage with book of hoeth.  After that, the list tails off.  Power die for power die, only a Slann is hands down better.  Everything else is debatable, but really no other caster has the sheer offensive potential of a Supreme Sorceress with a Sacrificial Dagger.

1.  War Hydra.  What?!  How is it that I rank it as the most powerful unit in the book yet I don't put them in my lists under 3k and I consider them redundant?  The simple answer is: they are simply cost effective and powerful.  They are insanely strong on offense and are a nightmare to kill.  In a DE infantry list they don't work because you need Bolt Throwers to kill the things that DE infantry can't hurt in combat.  In a list with cavalry, chariots, Lords and Heroes riding monstrous creatures, you aren't nearly as afraid of MSU elite units like Swordmasters.  In a list like that, Hydras are absolutely awesome, because 2 Hydras working in tandem can clear out hordes with ease and will draw fire away from your more fragile units like chariots and knights.  

This is a lesson that I think a lot of DE players miss: you need to look at the theme/goals of your list and select your rare choice based on what the list does well and what it doesn't do well.  You need a rare choice that compliments your list by covering your weaknesses and furthers your plan of how to win.  In an infantry based list, you already slaughter rank and file infantry, as well as most msu elites.  You don't need a rare choice that does that.  You do need a rare choice that stomps the things your infantry cannot beat.  In a fast cavalry/chariot/monster list you smash elite units, but you're fragile, expensive and suck against blocks.  Hydra are perfect for that.  They are hard to kill, are strong against ranked infantry and are fast enough to keep up with the rest of the list.  

That's basic list building, creating a plan to win and building a list for that plan; not picking a hodge podge of cool/powerful units and making a battleforce list.


  1. Great blog and a nice run down of your top five choices. It is nice to see different views on the dark elves, rather than "Taking 32573573587586 hydras and laugh as you slaughter!" Or something like that... -__^

  2. I want to write an article one day about how ETC is similar to Creationism. I mean it's pretty obvious. They both started from a group of people that perceived things totally differently from the norm. Unfortunately instead of letting it be and being happy to coexist with people with different ideas, they had nothing but contempt from it. Anyway, it all started harmless, being restricted in their own little circle. However it started to spread and in some cases it has become the norm instead. How sad. You know, you can't get a game of Fantasy in Greece unless you play with ETC rules. I cry...

  3. You should seriously run your own non-comp tournaments. If they turn out as successful as they no doubt would be, you could start a revolution.

  4. I don't know, why do you think they would be sucessful? People here seem to like ETC a lot, I mean the Fantasy players. Not only that but ETC elements (Battle Points, pairings, no SC)even in 40K seem to creep in almost every aspect of competitive play. What can I say, I am dissapoint...

  5. I think initially it would be successful due to it being different people going to to experiment with something new.

    Then after a while people would see how awesome no-comp is, and grow to prefer it.

  6. I might throw the idea out there and see if some people want to do it. I could ask the guy at my FLGS if he wants to organise a tourney with me. I've been following people's ideas (like SandWyrms) about W/L (no battle points nonsense) only tournaments and I would like to see something like that in the local scene.
    The biggest tournament here is non-comped but that's like once a year. Everything else is very ETC influenced. Worst part is that even if you want to play a friendly game your opponent will usually insist playing under ETC rules since that is the norm around here nowadays. I guess Greek people have generally an issue with authority and this is sadly reflected in warhams as well.
    Anyway sorry if I am ranting or sounding grumpy but all this is really getting to me :(