Sunday, 3 October 2010

I Hate Dark Elves.

So, by popular suggestion and suchlike, I've come to find myself writing an article about how we all hate Dark Elves. It's not just that one comment on the I hate thread. My entire friend circle, except the Dark Elf players, hates the bloody Druchii. See, if you go in to a conversation or a meeting hating everyone, then people will reciprocate. And when it comes to Dark Elves, there's no such thing as a fair trial.

So, let's start out with the most common reason people hate the Dark Elves. Well, it's a definite toss up. There's Hydras, Crossbowmen, Magic, General Undercostedness, Hydras, Universal Hatred, the Cauldron of Blood, and Hydras.

So, Hydras. Now let's be fair. In fact fuck it. I'll be fair to them when a 175pt model with 13 attacks, T5, a 4+ save AND Regenerate, M6 and a S5 breath weapon is fair. I know the breath weapon is variable, but we're being unfair remember. So why do people hate Hydras? Because, lets consider this. 2 Hydras charged a 50 man unit of slaves I had. Now, while that made me happy, 102pts for 50 models and suchlike, by the end of round one, and after 3D6 S5 hits, 7S5 attacks at WS4 with hatred, and then 6 handler attacks, there was 4 ranks left. I started with fucking 10. Jesus christ.

Ok, so, they have astounding killtacular potential. So how do we deal with them? I'm going to be frank, unless, like my High Elf playing friend starring in the last article, you have a unit of 20 White Lions with flaming attacks, you're going to need to make a stupid point investment. Hydras you can approach in two ways I find. If you can bog them down in combat, they lose their punch. If you can keep them there you'll probably be alright. So for example, if while my unit of 50 slaves got massacred I'd charged more slaves in, I'd probably be ok. I know the hydras would almost certainly make their points up, but it prevents them from going and running rampant all over my lines. Which is a bit of a Dick Move, all said. So, if you want to actually deal with them, I can offer a few words of advice. Kill it with fire being the main one. Example, Bretonnia, shoot it with fire then a catapult. Which is nice with the new regen rules. Myself I go with crack's call and Warp Lightning Cannons. But yeah, Hydras, unless you're dwarfs you will probably have a hard time dealing with them. But to be honest, they're just really resilient. General anti-monster duty does take care of them, but they have 4+ saves. By the way, check the end of this article to see why I hate 4+ saves*. And they're WS4. What the hell? I hate WS4 and hatred.

So what's next? Crossbowmen? Sure, why not. Right, why is Dark Elf shooting so good? Well in my 8th edition shooting article, I mentioned that BS reliant shooting needs to come in a large volume to have a significant impact. And well, multiple shots across the whole army tends to guarantee large numbers of shots. Hurm. But wait! They're all BS4 and have armour piercing too. They can move and fire and also have a 24" range. Oh but Dark Elf shooting can be stupidly manoeuvrable. Dark Riders ith Crossbows that can vanguard 12" before the game starts and then march 18" before shooting 24". Sure, that's cool bro. Man. Oh and shades, lest we forget. Scouting 12" away, marching 10 and firing with a horde of BS5 shots in to your arse. Fuck that man, I hate shades. Mostly because I don't have a good way of dealing with them. And this comes to you at a premium of Space Marine points cost. Woop-di-doo. Then there's the fact most random things in the army have Repeaters. Example, characters, chariots, Sorceress with the Lifetaker. It can be like running the bloody gauntlet.

So, how do we effectively deal with this? Honestly, a grand solution I've found is Hard Cover. It bumps them up to hitting on 7s. Which is just grand. To achieve this make liberal use of (obviously) terrain or just unit screens. I usually assign my sling slaves to this duty. Hard Cover for all! And cause Stormvermin are huge (I keep mentioning this) I can see over the screen to fire with my mortars. Screening works. Alternatively getting close to deal with the threat. And 1+ saves or high toughness works. Realistically it is only S3. It just mows down infantry. But boy, it mows down infantry. So something like an army of chaos knights and stuff will probably weather the storm ok, if properly outfitted (the 4+ ward unit and the unit with the MoN and banner of rage) they will have a hard time dealing with that kind of thing, and Dark Elves in general have difficulty dealing with those kind of units.

Sorceresses. Hum, well first off there's Power of Darkness. This is a fun spell that gives the finger to the 12 dice limit on power dice (not as much as a Slann, but getting there). Because if you don't already know you can use dice, then get them back, then use those, then get them back with your second sorceress. Fun. They have access to death and shadow, which are probably the best lores available from the BRB. But don't dismiss the Dark Lore they have. Black Horror on an 11 is brutal. Bladewind is also a very good spell, as is Word of Pain for rigging things in your favour. But the reason this lore is good is just for being damn easy to cast when you have a +4 to cast. Also, they can burn 7 (or more) power dice on a spell. Which is extra super fun when there's a power scroll, a Slann and a dark tinged slightly lilac star involved.

Realistically though, there's not all that much use in complaining about the Druchii's magic. It's like complaining about WoC being good in close combat. It just happens. Deal with it in any way you can really, I'm not going to teach you about magic just yet, I'll probably do that on monday children. Seriously though, I assume you know how magic works. Power of Darkness is usually worth dispelling if they roll low on it. If you can get away with 1 or 2 dice. Otherwise it's usually worth stopping the big spells, because realistically they only have a few big spells to choose from, and they'll be casting them anyway most often.

General undercostnedness I can't really comment on as it's not something you can fight. You can however get their army book and replace the cost of everything with costs from Warhammer Armies: Beastmen.

The Cauldron of Blood isn't actually that overpowered. It's just really good. Kind of like an engine of the gods, if going near an engine of the gods meant your entire first, and usually second rank dropped dead. And you can't really bring characters near them to deal with Barbara Streisand and her bowl of haemoglobin because they can go "And suddenly Killing Blow". Well good for you. Seriously though, in close combat it's 4 wounds at toughness 3 with a 4+ ward. It's not that hard to kill, the problem is because it's a war machine you can only bring 6 models to the fight. Which Sucks. Especially when you have a unit of slaves or something in combat with them. Yay.

To deal with it I'd honestly run in with something like a unit of 30 Swordsmen. You'll take heavy casualties, but you will kill them. And it's usually the BSB, which means you'll get megapoints. And by megapoints, because it's dark elves, you'll barely make your points back. Huzzah. But what can you do? Against Dark Elves the trick is to grab points where you can, and just deny them the rest.

A weakness I feel obligated to point out is Hatred after combat. I know you're all thinking "what the hell you on about Archy", but things with hatred have to overrun if they can. Which makes cheap sacrifices to the dice gods a fantastic asset against dark elves, when their unit of xyz runs out and exposes it's flank to your army. Admittedly this could be offset by hatred for everything ever. Even parfait, and no one cool hates parfait.

So in conclusion. Dark Elves are fast, high leadership and kind of fragile (except the unkillable characters, the cauldron of blood, cold one knights, cold one chariots and hydras). They have damn good shooting and magic, and kick ass in combat. So wait, what's their weakness? They move too quick, cast too well, shoot too accurately and kick ass in combat. So their weakness? The fleshy bastard playing them. You'll find he bleeds, and has internal organs you can probably rupture with your army case. Or his hydra in a rugby sock. In all seriousness though Dark Elves don't actually have that big a weakness other than the inherent weaknesses of being elite. They're a damn good army and while I don't think they're as overpowered as people (myself included) make them out to be, they're definitely top end of the power scale, even in 8th edition. Honestly, my motto against them is grab points where you can. And don't play battle of the pass with them.

Sorry this turned in to a really long rant. But I absolutely loathe that army book. So some prejudice may have leaked in to my article. So I hope you enjoyed it.

I'm watching you Gary.

*4+ Saves suck because you can't rely on them, but you can't discount them either.  Which I hate. If you roll four 4+s then quite often you'll get 3 passes, but equally often you'll get 3 fails. I just hate them. Ugh,


  1. Good article.

    I figure I will point out a rule though. NEW hatred does not force overruns/pursuit. DE must have not needed that limitation. :)

  2. Point for point, every unit in the DE army book is just flat out better than their "equivalent" in the Empire army book. 10 points for a Black Guard, are you kidding me? Sure you're not supposed to compare units like this, but fuck!

  3. Good catch jollyboy42! I didn't know that. So yeah. Fuck eternal hatred.

    Rosvo, you're right, but black guard are 13pts. But you're still right.


  4. Considering our only Dark Elf player that I can think of is a certain Englishman the content of this article doesn't surprise me Archy =P

  5. Gary, Phil and Thomas as well. So many Dark Elves.


  6. I <3 Dark Elves. Hydras are good but I think you're overrating them a bit. They chew up infantry well, but so does everything else in the book. They just do what DE already do, they don't add a new dimension to the force.

  7. I must be confusing the Black Guard for some other stupidly undercosted unit.

    8th edition did do well in dropping Daemons and VC from the top spots, but now DE just rose there. And they were good even in 7th. GW just sucks balls when it comes to balancing Fantasy. And with their release schedule, it's going to take a long while before it's fixed. Also, releasing underpowered army books, like Beastmen, doesen't help it one bit.

  8. I just want to point out, while I think Dark Elves are powerful, I'd put them on the same level at the moment as Lizardmen, Empire, Skaven and maybe High Elves. High Elves it's pending on.

  9. @Nikephoros - Actually the Hydras do one thing that other units in your army do not do. They do not die. The Hydra is T5 with 5 wounds and a 4+/4+. That means the only save better than them is the Cold One Knights and unkillable characters, who are only T3.

    When you add in the fact that It can march 12 and use it's breath weapon, it is a very dangerous unit that takes your opponents shooting and keeps running.

    For a point for point example, the Hydra kills 6 Chaos Warriors on the charge (assuming it uses it's breath weapon in combat. The Chaos Warriors are unlikely to do more than 1. So the Hydra is only better than one of the best CC units in the game. (10 Chaos Warriors with Champ and Banner, is about the same cost.)

    I know, in 8th, it does not fare so well against large blocks of cheap troops, as they will be stubborn and hold for a couple of turns. That holding action is unlikely to do any actual wounds to the thing, merely hold it at bay for a couple of turns. Good thing the DE player cannot afford 2 of them.... oh wait.

  10. I definitely agree they are a good pin cushion, to absorb inordinate enemy firepower, but that can't be reason enough to bring them.

    In 40k we would say that if your opponent is good he will prioritize his shooting at the proper targets. Target priority is one of the key skills in the game, so it stands to reason that a good Fantasy opponent will also understand target priority and will not voluntary waste his firepower on a red herring unit.

  11. Yes, but to use 40K terminology, the Hydra is a force extender. Without focusing a large number of points on it, you will not be able to take those points off of your opponent. Most armies need to spend an equivalent amount of points just to hold the Hydra up for 2 combats.

  12. I'm with jollyboy42 on this one. Hydras aren't so much "Obliterate!" as a Bloodthirster was in 7E. But it takes a stupid amount of fire/manpower to down one. This is why flaming attacks have become so popular in the local circle. Watching flaming white lions hack one down is a glorious thing though.

    Hell, those and grave guard are the reason I have the 2 WFTs in my list.