Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Email In: Dark Elf 2,000pt List Advice

Underworld writes,

“Hello Nike,

After stumbling across your blog as i debate getting back into WFB with a dark elf army, having not played properly since 6th, i have been impressed and amused with your articles and unit break downs and was wondering if you could possibly provide some input on my sketched out list for a 2000pt army.

While i dont really play at competitive events, falling more into the beer and pretzels category, my regular opponents and i all have a competitive edge amongst ourselves and the prospects of a campaign and tournament are being discussed so a an unfocused list is likely to get stomped without much more than a whimper.

Play style wise while i like the imagery of your chariot lists i have always been more an elite infantry man (also, chariots appear to be increasingly hard to get a hold of) although adding mounted sections to my armies when i was playing 6th was one of the things i kept debating on. I also have a tendency to be hesitant in sinking a lot of points into characters as i tend to prefer more elite boots on the ground.

I will be buying from scratch with a reasonably large budget so i have the advantage of being able to focus build from the start. That said the flexibility to field more generic lists would be welcome for when we are just having a fun game.

My current list looks like this on paper.

Supreme Sorceress @ lvl 3 w/ sacrifical dagger + lifetaker 280
Sorceress @ lvl 2 w/ tome of furion 150
Master w/ halberd, armour of eternal servitude shield and sea dragon cloak, dragonbane gem 155

28 spear men w/shields and full command 211

20 Repeater Crossbow w/shields and musician 225

6 Harpies 66

20 Blackguard w full command and banner of murder 320

6 shades w/ additional hand weapon 102

8 Cold one knights 216

War hydra 175

Repeater bolt thrower 100

Over your articles ive seen you really hammering the points home on the hydra and i was debating fitting another into the list, probably at the expense of the knights with the left over points snagging a ward save for the supreme sorceress or bumping her to level 4 or adding a few models to the shades/harpies. Like wise i have been debating the efficency and usefullness of the bolt thrower which i fear is 100 points 'could be spent elsewhere, namely towards a hydra'.

The general idea is to anchor my line with the black guard who, again i stress my time out from the game, on paper look capable of holding their own against most other infantry outside of the real heavy weights. They can move forward aggressively should i need to close distance against gun-line armies (where my shades and harpies will hopefully deal with the most devastating war-machines at the earliest opportunity should they be present, although im sadly awear that there will probably be a lot of dead elves either way) if im facing an army that will be coming towards me they can form the anvil to take the charge while my crossbow rounds and magic whittle numbers down.

In either case my knights and hydra have a tag team combo smash as the armies hammer units.
Magically i was thinking shadows and metal/fire as my lores depending on what i get stuck against across the board. The big spear man unit is a bunker for one or both of the sorceresses, certainly the supreme with the dagger, the other can go with the black guard/crossbows if i deem putting all my magical eggs in 1 basket a terrible idea (looking at the miscast table it certainly appears that way...)

Any input or criticism would be much appreciated if you could spare the time.


Reply: It’s not a horrible base, but it’s a bit battle-forcey.  Luckily, there are some very simple tweaks we can do to get it competitive.

First, Lords and Heroes.  You need to make your Level 3 into a Level 4.  Would you pay 35 points for a magic item that gave you an extra spell and added +1 to all casting and dispel rolls?  Ofcourse, so it’s a not brainer here.  Also, drop the Level 2.  It’s not going to be that great at 2k.  Also drop Lifetaker from the SS and add an Iron Curse Icon.

Also, there is no point to that Master as you have him built since he is a defensive tank with no offensive capability who doesn’t have any army or unit buffs.  For 25 points, make him a BSB and put him in with the Spearmen.  Remember, there will be times when you need Sac Dagger to kill a guy and killing that guy will lead to a Panic test.  You need a BSB around for that to keep your Level 4 from running off the table.  Having a BSB will also help in Blood and Glory scenarios to keep your breaking point high.

Second, Core.  Harpies do not count towards your Core requirement, so your list is illegal as written.  You need 500 points of legit Core, so dump the Harpies, add more RXB.  Next, split the 26 RXB into two units of 13 and buy them each standard bearers.  Spearmen are fine, except you need to dump the unit champ.  Waste of points, the extra attack he adds is more than worthless.

Third, Specials.  Blackguard are perfecto.   Drop the Knights.  Use the points from Knights and Level 2 to buy another unit of Black Guard with Razor Standard.  Drop the AHW from the Shades and drop them to 5 guys; you don’t want them in close combat except against warmachine crew.  The idea with them is to deploy them on the enemy back lines and shoot at warmachines or harass big units.

Lastly Rares.  Lose the Reaper.  Add a second Hydra.  If you’re lucky, the Reaper will kill 5-10 guys per game.  If you’re lucky, your Hydra will kill several whole units per game.  The only time I favor Reapers over Hydra is when your army has tons of CC ability elsewhere (Witch Elves, or triple Black Guard lists) and you need ranged ability more than you need more CC ability.

And done.  This army will be a lot more aggressive.  Two units of BG and two Hydra will pack a ton more close combat punch than you had before.  You’re lighter on magic, but you need CC ability and a BSB much more than you need a Level 2 who might cast a Metal buff a couple times per game.  You’ll want to move everything forward as quickly as possible across the board except the RXB who should defend the flanks of your magic bunker.

Remember a big thing about Dark Elves: they are Elves.  They hit hard, but aren’t usually tough.  You can’t win battles of attrition usually, therefore you’re looking for knockout blows.  Your magic phase should support that, by casting Shadow debuffs/buffs and Pits of Shades that will take out huge chunks of the enemy.  Trying to use your magic phase to help your army win battles of attrition is usually a bad move because it doesn’t compliment the goal of how you’re going to win the game.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Questions?


  1. The only issue I'd have with that is that you have both of your only characters in a single unit, which is going to be taking lots of self-inflicted casualties over the course of the game. Seems a bit vulnerable. (I guess also a few more spearmen wouldn't go wrong, maybe boost the unit up to 35 or 40?)

  2. Thanks a lot for the input! Your right in that it looked a little to battle force like. I obviously forgot to stick the BSB on the master in the list i emailed, he should be equipped with one and a great spot on the harpies as that had gone right over my head(that would have been a definite egg on face moment)!.

    I am incorporating the changes you have suggested, needs a few points trimming here and there (probably 3 black guard need to be dropped from the 40 overall).

    One final question, with this as a base how would you go about scaling it to 2500?



    1. For 2500 I would add the Level 2 Wizard first. Upgrade the Master BSB into a Cauldron BSB, and bring the BG up to 40. You could also go to 40 Spearmen. Lastly, you have the points for the "unkillable dreadlord" character, but if that is too cut throat for your friends, bring another unit of Shades.