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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:12 pm 
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Location: Merritt Island, FL USA
Drakova asked for some advice on how to play an avoidance style, high elf shooty army. So...

I wrote the following tactica a while back, but never posted it until now. Just for the record, I have been playing hammer-and-anvil using archer horde units recently instead of a true high elf avoidance shooting army, since this has worked better for me against horde armies. Nevertheless, the information below should still be valid.

(Edited 12/8/11) Here is a link to a tactica I wrote about the use of archer horde units: viewtopic.php?f=66&t=36339

_________________
Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


Last edited by krysith on Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:16 pm 
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Krysith's High Elf avoidance shooting army tactica

Part I. Why?

Q. So, why would I want to play a high elf avoidance shooting army?

A. Obviously, because you don't want to get blood on your dress. :lol:

Seriously, high elf shooting armies can be fun to play and quite competitive. Sadly, they are somewhat less fun to play and less competitive in 8th edition than they were in 7th. However, the propanderance of big blocks of infantry in 8th ed. can work to their advantage. They are still quite capable of winning a battle and making your opponent sweat while thinking up a way to beat you.

High Elf Avoidance Shooting Armies (HEASA) have the advantages of relative reliability, scalability (works well at different point values), being equally good versus many different types of opponents, and they work well against typical army builds that people choose to play (good metagame). They also have a psychological advantage of perceived weakness (this only works once).

They have the disadvantages of being very unforgiving of mistakes and not using instrinsic high elf advantages to their fullest. They also have the disadvantage of "not playing the same game that everyone else is playing"; some opponents see this as unfair or unfun, although others may enjoy someone playing different tactics.

If you are looking for an easy, powerful army which any newbie can win with, this is probably not for you. However, if you are interested in an army which rewards good generalship with reliable wins, you should keep reading.

Part II. What is a high elf avoidance shooting army?

A typical HEASA combines shooting, mobility, and offensive or supporting magic to create an army which hits harder than it can be hit back. Like Muhammed Ali, it floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. But like butterflies and bees, if successfully swatted it squishes easily. In common with these insects, it must move fast to avoid the swat.

Here is an example army:

lvl 4 life archmage on eagle w/silver wand, 4+ ward save
noble w/DA, GW, reaver bow, BSB
4 units of 12 archers
3 units of 6 shadow warriors
1 unit of 15 phoenix guard, full command with banner of sorcery and skeinsliver
4 RBTs
3 eagles

This is just an example. Not all HEASA look quite like this, but the basic structure is there.

Most HEASAs take 25% archers, although LSG work also. There is no real point to take more than 25% core unless you are short on other models. 25% is plenty enough archers to fulfill their role in the army, which is shooting poorly armored units or adding a bit more firepower to concentrated fire. Archers also get the important role of being a possible sacrificial unit. LSG do the same thing, but can possibly survive longer in combat.

RBTs are important. They serve the two important functions of effective shooting against armor and monsters, and bait. Yes, bait. Most opponents (pretty much anything except a dwarf gunline) will attempt to move most of their combat troops directly towards your RBTs. After all, it's not like the RBTs can run away. Much of the game occurs during the time that their army is moving towards and then killing your RBTs. What you do in the meantime decides the game. Of course, they don't have to charge your RBT line; but since it is almost always their best move, you should count on it happening. Another important point about RBTs is their long range - more on this later.

Eagles are absolutely awesome, the only reason not to field the max is if you don't own that many. Since the max was FAQ'd to 4 (6 for grand army), you should be able to field the max number without limiting your RBTs. It is very important to know when to charge with eagles and when not to. Don't overestimate them.

Chances are that between core and rares you have now spent 50% of your army's points. That leaves 50% for lords, heros and specials. When 8th edition first came out, I tried going very character heavy (50%ish on characters). I found out that although this could occasionally be quite effective (yes, it is possible to have 3 purple suns on the board at the same time), this was far too unreliable and left me at the mercy of the dice. Now, I tend to play about 30% characters, 20% special.

Let's look at the specials first, because characters are complex.

The specials you tend to see in a HEASA are shadow warriors, dragon princes, phoenix guard, ellyrian reavers and chariots. It is certainly possible to replace phoenix guard with swordmasters or white lions, but phoenix guard are best at their role. Their role? Wait, didn't I say this was a shooting army? Yes, it is, and just as a combat army often has a few shooting units in a secondary role, so shooting armies have combat units in secondary roles.

First, shadow warriors. These guys are awesome in this army. They do everything this army is supposed to do. They shoot. They move. They don't engage in combat unless it makes sense to. And they scout too! So if they are so great, why do I play with less than 50% of my points in them? It is because they also share the same weakness as most of the army - a high points cost for weak S3 shooting. However, they are one of the best units in this army at doing what this army does, so don't leave home without them.

I'm not a big fan of ellyrian reavers, and I can't really explain why. Maybe it's the models. In theory, they should work well in this army. They are so fast as to be uncatchable, they can shoot on the run, and are really only vulnerable to missile and magic fire: things that this army should eliminate or reduce as fast as possible. However, they are more expensive than shadow warriors,and not any more survivable except in combat with small units like warmachines. I haven't tried them yet in 8th, so I don't want to write them off yet.

Chariots are good for making your enemy think that they are going to flank charge him. This is good for psychological manipulation. Sometimes opponents will charge your chariots just to make sure that they aren't going to get hit by the impact
hits. They can actually be good charging against units other than big blocks. However, they do not really threaten big blocks, even in the flanks. Note that the Tiranoc chariot does move and shoot, but on a per-points basis they only shoot about 1/4 as good as archers, so don't take them thinking that they are extra shooting. I feel they are more of a psychological weapon than an actually effective one when used in this army, so I don't use them in tournaments.

Phoenix guard and dragon princes are not required (you can play this army without them), but they add so much that it is foolish to leave them out. They share three possible roles: mage bunker, banner of sorcery carrier, and melee threat. As usual, phoenix guard make a great anvil and dragon prices make a great hammer. In this case, you don't need both - just having a single anvil or hammer is often sufficient. It should be noted that the champion for either of these units can carry up to a 25 point magic item. I usually put the skeinsliver on mine.

Eagles, shadow warriors, ellyrian reavers, cavalry and characters should comprise the majority (>50%) of your army by points.

_________________
Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


Last edited by krysith on Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:25 pm 
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III. HEASA tactics

Let's get something over with quickly: HEASA are not meant to be static gunlines. You can play them as a gunline if you like
- it's pretty easy, you just sit there and pick which targets to shoot until they get to you. You can even win games this way.
But its not very fun and no one is going to be impressed with your generalship. Just as importantly, playing a HEASA like
this is an easy way to lose. One of the best reasons for playing a HEASA as opposed to, say, an Empire gunline is that with a
HEASA you can make tactical movements during the battle which pay off with an advantage. In other words, a HEASA is an army
where you get a big difference between playing smart and playing dumb. It is also more fun for both you and your opponent if
you play a moving army rather than one that just stands and shoots.

A HEASA is very similar to a "Sethayla style", or attack avoidance, wood elf army. The basic idea is to avoid giving combat
(getting in to hand-to-hand) as much as possible. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that the opponent's
army is almost certainly more geared to winning a combat than your troops are; giving combat is letting them play to their
advantages. The second is that units in combat cannot be targeted by shooting or most damage spells, so combat is a relative
safe zone for your opponent's units. You don't want to let them get "safely" in combat. The third is that combat prevents
your units from moving, removing your advantage in the movement phase.

So, if a HEASA is just a Sethayla style army, why not just play wood elves and do it right? Well, there are certain advantages
to each:

High Elf Advantages
Always Strike First
Repeating Bolt Throwers
Skeinsliver (going first is very helpful for a shooting army)
Wider spell selection
Curse of arrow attraction
Banner of sorcery/jewel of dusk (more spell dice!)
Banner of the World Dragon
Teclis (if you want to use him)
+1 to dispel for free
archmage can take a dragon (better protected AM)
dragon mages (+1 dice per spell)
better magic bows
can take more eagles

Wood Elf advantages
Move and fire with no penalty
Skirmishing archers and light cavalry as core
S4 shots at short range for Glade Guard
better ward items
treesinging/tree surfing/tree teleporting
magic arrows as well as magic bows
effective skirmishing infantry (dryads)
waywatchers effective against armoured troops

so what does this add up to? Woodies have the advantage in movement, but high elves have the advantage in firepower. The
trick with a HEASA is to have just enough movement to defeat a standard army, while having enough firepower to defeat armies
like Seythala and static gunlines which don't really care if you avoid them. Against a typical 8th edition build with large
infantry blocks supported by some artillery and small fast units, a wood elf Sethayla army will destroy the support units and
never give combat. A HEASA will give combat with a few units (likely losing them all) and destroy half or more of the entire
opposing army.

So, how is this accomplished? First, realize which units are possible sacrifices. RBTs and archers make good nominations,
since neither can move much without losing their ability to shoot effectively. Position these units deployed as bait,
generally far away from the opponent's army. The rest of the army should be able to move well enough to avoid combat with
infantry blocks for the entire game. This doesn't mean that everything else should be flyers and fast cavalry; an infantry
block will find it difficult to catch another infantry block of the same movement value if that block is intent on running
away. However, what is important is that these troops are able to deliver damage while moving in such a way that an infantry
block is unable to catch them. Skirmishers, lone characters and even mages in blocks which have spells which can be cast
behind them all qualify. Call these type of units "threats". Your army should be composed of sacrifices and threats. However,
you want your sacrifices to appear threatening yet defeatable to your opponent, so that the opponent will take the
bait.

The first step toward domination is elimination of enemy threats and static shooters. So, unless they present the only target
that one of your units can hit, ignore the big blocks for now. Instead, use shooting and magic to eliminate all fast units and
vulnerable shooters. Use eagles, dragons, light cav or skirmishers to eliminate artillery. Although concentrated shooting can
destroy artillery, it is an inefficient application of firepower which you will need elsewhere. Because your army is mobile, you
should have no shortage of effective artillery hunters. If you have spare artillery hunters, use them to take out archers
or support units or charge panicked units off the board.

So, by the end of the second turn (hopefully sooner), your domination of firepower and movement should have eliminated all but
the big blocks (slower monsters can count as a big block for this purpose). Note that this will only apply against a typical
8th edition army; how to play against other types is covered below. Now, you should anticipate when the wave of infantry will
hit your shores. This is where you need to decide what to sacrifice, and where. Because most of your army is now essentially
unhittable by most of their army, your opponent will try to get in combat with whatever you offer. What you want to do now is
get the most bang for your buck from the units that do get into combat. Generally this doesn't mean winning the combat,
although it can. Instead, look at these factors:

1) What will I be shooting at? You need to kill a big block completely to get the points from them. Have you already whittled
one down? Can you finish it off? If so, then you emphatically don't want that block to have refuge in combat or off the edge
of the board during a pursuit. You may find it best to forego shooting with the sacrificial unit facing that block, and move
away from it. You can even do this with RBTs, if 5" will make a difference! This opens that block to be shot at by the rest
of your army while the sacrifice keeps it busy. On the other hand, it may be fine to let a block which is mostly finished off
charge a full unit of archers. With ASF and stand and shoot, the archers will win.

2) What will I lose? For each block, look at what they are heading for, what they will kill, and how you will kill enough of
their army to make it worthwhile. If you have been playing long enough to know what points each unit is worth (or if you ask),
it makes it easier to see. Don't forget characters! It might be worth losing two 100 point RBTs if you know that you will
manage to kill 400 points worth of units while that is happening.

3) Can I win the combat, or at least not lose? This is what you keep that one unit of combat troops for. You often only need
one or two turns of relief from the pressing onslaught for your shooting to win the game. A small unit of phoenix guard with a
BSB nearby can hold out quite well for a turn or two against a much bigger block. Rear charging dragon princes will usually
win the first round of combat, and may hold longer. Just realize that any block engaged in combat will not be able to be shot
at, so this delaying action will really end up saving your opponent's block. But then, that's one less block that needs
shooting at, increasing the pressure on the other blocks.

4) How long do I have? The longer the game continues after domination of the movement phase is acheived, the more of a
massacre you are going to have. However, many games (especially in tournaments) never make it to six turns. Since this army
performs best in turns 1-2 (when you are shooting things that die) and in turns 5-6 (when the blocks are out of reachable
targets) and performs worst in turns 3-4 (when the blocks hit their targets), you should see how much time you have to kill.
It may be worth delaying the death of one of your units by having it flee. It may be worth taking a charge from a fresh block
so that you are able to get a shot at a different almost-dead block. You need to be able to handle time pressure when playing
a HEASA, both in terms of turns and in hours. It is worth it to learn how to choose targets quickly and roll a lot of dice at
once. It is almost always better for you to finish a game then to have the game end on turn 4.

Handling the sacrifice phase of the game is an incredibly important part of playing a HEASA. Done poorly, it will cost you the
game. Here are a few common mistakes:

a) sitting there and letting your opponent choose which units to charge. Never rely on your opponent to make dumb choices.
Force dumb choices upon them.

b) leaving your mobile units where they can be charged. Remember to watch out for movement spells like Vanhel's Danse Macabre!

c) losing an expensive unit to save a cheap one. It can be very tempting to charge with your melee troops to save a single
RBT. I've lost Tyrion trying to save an RBT. Don't do this, this army is not built for it.

d) losing a mobile unit to save an immobile one. Immobile troops will likely be lost anyways.

e) letting time pressure make you charge when you really shouldn't. This is especially bad if you do it with your mage bunker
while the mage is still in it.

f) letting the opponent kill everything that is a possible sacrifice. All your archers and RBTs is way too much of your army
to let them kill.

g) letting an enemy support unit survive. There's nothing more aggravating than having your mobile mage bunker charged by one
last knight, holding them in place just long enough for that 40 strong unit of greatswords to get a charge on them.


One very important point about avoidance armies is that you must think two dimensionally. If you think of the board as a place
where armies move from their side towards your side, you are thinking like a gunline. Don't forget the left-to-right
dimension, because it is what will win the game for you!

This applies to both shooting and movement.

It applies to shooting because with long ranged shooting, units on the left hand side of the board can shoot at units
threatening the right hand side of the board. This means that half your army can shoot at the units which are threatening the
other half. If they are mobile units which don't need to worry about getting charged, they can help units which are
vulnerable. If they are sacrificial units, it means that they can spend their shots where they are needed, instead of on the
unit which they are baiting. You need your shooting to be unevenly concentrated to kill select units. For this to happen,
some enemy units need to be completely ignored by your shooting.

It applies to movement because the second dimension is your escape route. And you need to escape! For this army to work,
your mobile units must not get in combat. Pay close attention to gaps in or around the enemy line. Your mobile units will need
to get through these gaps. This often even includes your flying units, because you don't want to land them within charge
distance of the front of any enemy unit. You can use shooting or baiting to open up the gaps. Once the enemy line meets your
line, the second dimension becomes even more important to movement. Moving possible sacrifices along your line instead of
straight back can keep enemy units busy, or bait them into concentrating away from your main force.

Concentration of force is one of the most basic tactical concepts, and it pays off in warhammer as it does in most good
wargames (and in most wars too). HEASA tactics should focus your force on single targets, one by one, until they die, then
move on to the next target. Shooting is both less effective than melee at concentration and also more effective. In melee,
concentrating twice as many points into a combat as the opponent does will usually result in winning that combat pretty fast,
usually in one turn (two combat rounds). To achieve the same result in the same time frame, shooting must usually focus 6
times the number of points of shooting (or magic) onto a unit. This is a factor of 3 difference in effectiveness. Of course,
these are just averages, and changing the specific units involved will result in some matchups which are superior whether
shooting or fighting. However, most of the time you will not be lucky or unlucky enough to be on one side in a dragon princes
vs. flamers fight.

Despite the 3 to 1 difference in damage dealing between fighting and shooting, shooting has two huge advantages versus melee
when it comes to concentrating force - no hits back and range. The fact that many targets don't have ranged weapons to shoot
back with is a big deal. Imagine how melee would be if half of the units out there never hit back! The effect of range is
that multiple units in different parts of the board can focus their attentions on a single unit within range of all of them.
It is entirely conceivable (although difficult) to have your entire army unload on a single unit. This more than makes up for
the 3 to 1 advantage of melee. In addition, this focus of concentration can be moved quickly from one place to another -
destroying units on one side of the board, then destroying units on the other side. This long range is one of the reasons why
RBTs are necessary - RBTs on the right side of the board can shoot at units in the middle or near left. Archers can't shoot
quite as far, and even with shooting in two ranks are still difficult to concentrate.

There are very few melee armies which are capable of the same level of quick concentration of forces: Star Dragon and dragon
princes, or Bloodthirster and flesh hounds might come close. However, these same type of armies, which were quite scary in 7th
ed., are hampered by the Steadfast and step up rules in 8th. They are still very tactical armies where good decisions in the
movement phase pay off in combats won. The tactical precision of a fast melee army as compared to a tough grinding infantry
army is mirrored in the difference between a HEASA and a static gunline. In both of the fast tactical armies, the important
decisions are made in the movement phase, not in the damage dealing phases.

One last thing about tactics: don't forget about march blocking. This was much more effective in 7th edition. Now, most of
the time your opponent will make their leadership check and it will do nothing. However, maneuvering units to a position where
they can march block is usually pretty easy after the first turn, and costs you little (remember it can also result in you
losing the ability to march!). However, the payoff can be huge. Slowing down a block for a turn means that you don't need to
kill that particular block until later in the game. This helps you handle the time pressure and makes target selection more
obvious. The most likely units to be march blocked are the ones outside of the range of the BSB re-roll and general's
leadership. Eliminating the BSB early in the game can make successful march blocks a regular occurence. Getting a march block
is kind of like having someone miss their look-out-sir roll: sometimes you get lucky, so it helps to make a lot of chances for
it to happen.

_________________
Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


Last edited by krysith on Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:35 pm 
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IV. Character choices

Characters primarily provide two things to a HEASA - leadership support and a different spectrum of damage dealing from the
rank and file. Leadership support is the same as most other army types and need not be covered here. The spectrum of damage
dealing is an important consideration in character selection. One other important consideration is how they contribute to
having most of your army's points be mobile.

HEASA characters primarily fall into three categories: shooting, melee, and magic

Shooting characters include Alith Anar, Prince with Bow of the Seafarer, and Noble with Reaver Bow. Shooting characters
provide penetrating ranged damage at a high price. They are good for filling holes in your ability to damage highly armored,
high toughness targets. Although not as cost effective as most other shooting options, they are usually highly survivable.
They also provide good melee and leadership support. Mobility is essential to these characters. Remember that 8th edition
rules mean that fliers cannot march and shoot unless they are skirmishers (not an option for us). However, flying mounts are
still good - you usually only need to march once per game, shooting up the rear the rest of the time. Sadly (unless FAQ'd
later) Alith Anar cannot march and shoot, even if skirmishing.

Melee characters are a great option to provide the missing melee power in a HESA. Like melee units, they should serve as
hammer, anvil, or hunter. Good hammer characters include Prince on Dragon and Prince or Noble accompanying Dragon Princes.
Good hammers must do enough damage in an initial charge on the rear of an infantry block to reduce the unit to a manageable
level when it reforms to face them. Combined with an eagle flank charge (so the block can't reform) they are especially
deadly. Good anvils include Prince or Noble with Crown of Command and the special case of Mage with Folariath's Robe. Anvils
just need to keep alive while delaying a block. Good hunters include Tyrion, Noble on Eagle and Eltharion on Stormwing.

Hunters are very helpful for destroying hard-to-shoot or inefficient-to-shoot units such as skirmishers in woods, monsters, or
that one last survivor from a unit of 40. Like eagles, they are a general utility unit, but unlike eagles should not be
sacrificed.

Magic characters are usually a bread-and-butter unit in a HESA. This is because they easily contribute to the spectrum of
damage that an army can deal out. More on this is below. Unless they are Teclis, magic characters are usually mounted for
extra mobility. Teclis, while still great, is not an automatic best choice because he is just a little too easy to catch,
especially as he is such a big target for your opponent.

Unlike most armies, a BSB is not mandatory. If you are getting so shot up that you are failing panic checks, you are already
in serious trouble. However, if you have the points for it, a BSB can make a great melee or shooting character.

V. Magic

Magic fulfills a very important role in a HESA. Essentially magic is a replacement for what other shooting armies take
artillery for: damaging things which are relatively immune to lots of low strength shooting. These targets can include: highly
armored targets like Chaos Knights, low cost hordes like Night Goblins, and high toughness targets like dragons or demons.
Just like most artillery, magic is unreliable. Cannons can misfire and blow up, so can Archmages. However, one thing that
Archmages can do that cannons cannot is move and fire.

High elves have many advantages when it comes to magic. We have the widest choice of spells. We get +1 to dispel. We have
arcane items which allow us to pick spells (and therefore take more than one of a devastating spell), get extra dice (jewel of
dusk) and get more extra dice (banner of sorcery). Our dragon mages can get even more extra dice. And then there is...
Teclis. Magic is one of our strongest phases. Being so strong in magic, we must use it effectively with the rest of our army.

When deciding on what magic to take, it is best to first look at what your expected targets are, and what your deficiencies are
in shooting them. For example, if you play against Dark Elves, your archers shoot fine against most of their units except for Cold
Ones and Hydras. RBTs work decently against Cold Ones, but only so-so against Hydras. In this case, your magic needs to take
up the slack. Pick magic that works well against Hydras, and perhaps against Cold Ones too. This might mean Fire or Metal.
Against different opponents different lores might be best. But don't we need to pick our lores when we make the army, often
before we know who are opponents will be playing?

One of our most common shooting deficiencies in 8th edition games is against the big block of cheap infantry. Don't worry
about shooting expensive infantry; you'll do fine, points-wise. But cheap infantry comes in such numbers that even concentrated
fire will not remove more than one or two blocks, leaving the other 4+ blocks to run rampant. This is where magic can offer
effective firepower. Nothing is more effective against big blocks of cheap infantry than spells such as Flames of the Phoenix,
Dweller's from Below or Final Transmutation.

One of the other common very hard-to-kill targets with HE shooting is characters hiding in units. It is quite common to
destroy a block around some high-value characters, only to see them jump into a fresh block. Since up to 50% of an army's
points can be in characters, this can make getting enough victory points difficult. Character's hiding in units are your
opponent's most effective form of points denial. Magic can help immensely in this regard. Not only are there sniping spells
like from the Lore of Death, many of the unit-killer spells have a chance to kill a character in the unit. In addition, the
magic phase goes before shooting, so if magic damages a unit enough, your shooting can mop up the rest (including the
characters) before the characters get a chance to jump to a new unit.

Movement control spells, such as Melf's Miasma, Flame Cage, and Gust of Wind are helpful for preventing units from making it
across the board to you. This reduces the number of targets which you absolutely need to kill, and thus helps focus fire.
With enough of these, you can keep an army at bay indefinitely, by simply slowing all the units but the closest one and then
focusing fire upon that one. However, magic is unreliable - you shouldn't base your battle plan on all your spells going off.

Protective spells should always be chosen secondary. In this army, the best defense is usually a good offense (and plenty of
distance).

Here's a brief review of the Lores:

High: rather good, with Curse of Arrow Attraction and Flames of the Phoenix, it fits most of our needs perfectly at low casting
cost. Fury of Khaine is a useful addition to firepower also. Most of the other spells are situational; helpful sometimes but
often not.

Fire: decent at adding additional firepower. The +d3 when casting another fire spell at an already flamed target is quite
helpful at increasing dice efficiency. Flame cage is great, because generally it is a unit stopper rather than another flames
of the phoenix, which improves movement control extensively. The only problem with the Fire lore is that the attacks it dishes
out resemble the attacks the rest of our army do, so it doesn't fill a hole in our firepower spectrum. Is a 135 point mage
doing 7 S4 hits per turn (if the spell goes off) that much better than 12 archers doing 6 S3 hits per turn more reliably and
without using spell dice?

Metal: fills our deficiencies well. Against highly armored opponents this lore is incredible. Since one of the opponents that
arrows hardly hurt are units with a great armor save, this synergizes well. In addition, Final Transmutation is one of the
best spells in the game for us: long range, great against blocks, can kill characters in blocks, and causes stupidity tests,
slowing down the army. Metal is possibly best for Teclis - since his lack of mobility is a problem in this army, he needs the
ability to lay waste to large units at long range.

Beast: great at buffing, but not really the best fit with this army unless playing with hammer units or melee characters. The
only two remote damage spells are decent, but there is no great reason to pick this lore over other ones.

Life: one of the best, this offers many of the things we need. It has one of the best anti-large block spells in the game
(Dwellers) and with throne of vines you can get it off relatively safely. The toughness buff is helpful for making sacrificial
troops survive (or win!) their inevitable combats. The healing ability of life makes it easier to keep your mages, or their
mounts, alive. Probably the best for a dragon mounted archmage.

Light: great vs many opponents, but weak vs hordes (e.g. orcs or skaven). The best spells in the lore for this army are
Banishment and Net of Amyntok. If you take 4 light mages, stick them in a unit, and use banishment, you can throw out 2d6
ward-re-rolling S7 attacks with a 48" range for a casting cost of 13+. You can use the seerstaff so that 2 of the mages can do
this each turn. You know that giant horrible Thing that your arrows just bounce off of? Just banish it. It's quite possible
to remove a greater demon per turn with this trick, even with half the banishments getting dispelled. Net of Amyntok can delay
a block or stop shooters, which is nice. However, it can also stop a mage from casting. Cast on a warmachine (which always
fail strength tests), it always stops it from shooting - this is much better than the 50% chance of stopping it that other
protective spells offer. The base spell is just as good as fireball. These advantages make it worthwhile to pick the lore of
light even if you aren't playing against demons or undead - have mercy on your opponent if you are. The disadvantage of lore
of light is that it has nothing to help with the points denial that is large infantry blocks.

Heavens: You might think this would be great, but it is only mediocre. Uranon's thunderbolt adds much needed high strength
range damage, but not in quantity. If Uranon's had been the default spell it would be different. The wind spell is useful and
interesting. The one which allows re-rolls on all ones for all units within 12" can be quite a good buff, but unfortunately
your army will likely be spread too far apart for this to be super-effective. The comet is quite powerful, but not very
useful. Your enemy will likely already be on the move, and area denial works against you more than your opponent.

Shadow: quite useful. Melf's used to slow movement is awesome for the casting cost. Since you can take it more than once,
you can slow multiple units. Gimping a unit's toughness is actually more effective than Curse of Arrow Attraction at improving
shooting results (except for RBT single shot). Steed of Shadows is helpful for maintaining your movement advantage, as is the
Shadow ability to swap characters. The other firepower spells are helpful but not super in this army.

Death: quite devastating. Sniping characters in units is always good, and one of the hardest targets for this army to kill
without spells. Purple Sun can be devastating, although it is a bit random. Using your maneuverability to set up a close shot
with the Sun is easy with this army. One spell not to be overlooked is the one that can reduce the S and T by 1 of all enemy
units within 24". This is almost as good as an army-wide Curse of Arrow Attraction. CoAA increases hits by 50% on average;
Soul Blight increases S3 wounds by 33% vs T3 and 50% vs. T4.

A word or two about buffs: spells like Mind Razor may seem like a no-brainer - why not shoot them half to death and then finish
them off with S8 archers? However, the timing of most buffs is that you have to cast them on your turn. This means you can't
just take their charge, but must instead charge on your turn or expect them to charge your S8 archers. Charging is generally
unwise, first because it means you lose a turn of shooting, second because you lose your stand and shoot, and third because
Mind Razor might actually not go off. So in selecting spells, it is best not to go for unit buffs which could conceivably make
your non-combat army fight like a combat one, but instead go for ones which enhance or complement your existing strengths.

Note that remains in play buffs like Flaming Cloak are still helpful, but as secondary spells, because most opponents will let
them through thinking that they will dispel them when needed. However, when that time rolls around, the best case scenario for
them is that they will have less spell dice to use at a critical time, and the worst case is that they will lose a unit in
combat with an RBT because of a cheap 5+ casting cost spell.

Magic defense is very important to a HESA. Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake... :oops: I learned this lesson against
Dance-spamming undead in 7th, then learned it painfully again in 8th against Wauging orcs. The absolute most dangerous kind of
army to face as a HEASA is big blocks of infantry that move as fast as cavalry. So, when facing an army like this, shutting
down their magic phase is life-or-death. Against other armies, magic is the most likely ranged weapon for them to still have
after the first turn or two. So, it is important to have some additional magic defense. It is my experience that just a lvl 4
doesn't cut it. How much depends upon what you can fit in to the army.

_________________
Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:42 pm 
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VI. Winning against different types of armies

So, the tactics section above covered how to play against a typical 8th edition army with multiple large infantry blocks supported by a few artillery, shooting, and maneuvering units. But what about other types of armies?

A. Static Gunlines

Outmaneuvering a static gunline doesn't give as many advantages as outmaneuvering infantry blocks does, but nevertheless, maneuvering is the key to winning this battle. You can just sit and shoot at each other, but although your shooting may even be superior to the gunline's, you should use your maneuverability to your advantage. The easiest way to do this is by charging unprotected warmachines and the flanks of shooter units with fast units like eagles. Remember to double up when charging dwarf warmachines, they are tough! Another way is to manuever threats to the side of "move or shoot" units, forcing them to change facing. This cuts down on their shooting quickly.

A typical gunline will actually have more combat units than a HESA (to protect the warmachines and engage what enemies make it through the fire), which means after you destroy their long range weaponry, they will be in the ironic position of having to charge you. Gunlines aren't particularly difficult unless they get extremely lucky (like killing your general with a cannon on the first shot). I've never actually been beaten by a gunline when playing a HEASA, although I have been tied once.

B. Fast Armies

These are by far the most difficult kind of armies to play against with a HESA. All cavalry armies, Slaanesh speed attack, even Vampires spamming VanHel's, anything which can move most of their army fast enough to catch our threat units is our hardest matchup. Against most armies a HEASA should take out the fast units first, leaving the slow units to kill our sacrifice units, then the mopup begins. But when there are too many fast units to take out, this tactic no longer works. You need to realize when you are facing this, because playing normal HEASA tactics against a fast army will usually result in a loss. However, it is still possible to win.

First, figure out how vulnerable the opponent's units are. Fast armies are usually composed of more expensive troops than infantry armies, which usually means more points per shot for you. This may not be true for all fast troop types - Fiends of Slannesh are particularly nasty. However, there is likely some portion of their army which will yield a lot of points for the shooting you can hit them with quickly. RBTs are especially helpful at killing knights. Panic checks are also easier to cause on small fast units than on large slow ones. The key is that you are not going to have much time before they are on you, so figure out what you can kill quickly.

Second, look at where the vulnerable units are positioned. Your shooting will open some space here. This is where you want to position your survivor units - the ones which can dish out damage and are worth a lot of points. If the left flank is filled with enemy light cavalry, position your dragon mage on the left so that once your shooting kills the light cav, the dragon mage is safe. The may necessitate sacrificing the right flank. However, if you don't concentrate your fire in the first few turns to kill something, you will be beset everywhere at once.

If you are lucky, your opponent will play into your hands by going for your slow sacrificial units first. Although the fast enemy units will reach them much quicker than normal, you were planning on losing these anyways and can afford it. However, don't ever plan on your opponent making dumb moves! You must play keep-away much better against a fast army, so don't deploy your scouts too close or take too many chances with positioning your mages. If you offer the choice between killing a slow unit and a fast unit early in the game, a smart opponent will engage your fast unit, knowing that they have the time and movement rate to engage the slow unit later. So don't offer them the opportunity, and focus the fire of your slow units so that they appear threatening enough to require quick elimination.

It is very important in the end stages of this game to use points denial against the enemy while preventing them from using it on you. You will lose much of your army. You need to make sure that they lose enough to make up for this.

Luckily, there are a few things going for us regarding this matchup. First of all, it is becoming fairly rare to see all fast armies. This is because of both Steadfast and the new charging rules. Is anyone playing an all-cav army in 8th? Ogre Kingdoms or All Slannesh Demons are the only ones you are likely to see. Ogres aren't super fast, so they are sort of a more-difficult normal HEASA opponent. VC with lots of VanHel's Dances can be considered in this category if you do not have enough magic defense to prevent it. Monsters and Dragons are still around, if not as common as in 7th. Nevertheless, the majority of opponents who are not tailoring their army specifically to fight yours will not be this difficult matchup.


c. Horde Armies

Horde armies have become quite common in 8th edition, and have challenges all their own when facing a HEASA army. O&G and
Skaven both shine at horde armies, although other armies such as WoC or even Dark Elves can field one if desired. The biggest problem is the sheer number of models on the board crowds the board and reduces opportunities for movement. This
is especially a problem in 3000+ points games on a regular 4'x6' board. HEASA armies need to move around the flank or back in order to not be charged, or else they are forced to engage from long range. As a horde army advances, long range may no longer be available. Thus, if facing a horde that extends from one end of the board to another, you must find a way to create a gap to get around their lines. Flying helps, but without a flank to land on before flying over the horde, you leave open the possibility of being charged.

There are two ways to create a gap. The best one is to blow a hole in their lines. If you have enough firepower, this is the best use of it. It may be better to focus on utterly destroying a weak unit to open the line than to shoot up something more valuable elsewhere. The other way is to lure a unit out of formation. Eagles can be used for this.

The other serious difficulty with hordes is that they have so many large blocks! It is unlikely that you will have enough firepower to destroy their army. You will need to pick and choose what to destroy. The general or BSBs block is an excellent target. It is quite likely that a HESA has enough firepower to destroy one infantry block utterly per turn, if the entire army is focused upon it. It's a good feeling to reveal the naked general and still have four RBT shots left to take. Even if you don't take out all of your target, it is still probably a better use of your firepower than any other one. The only exception to this is if you need to create a gap. Survival of your threat units takes precedence over dealing damage.

D. Unusual points denial

There are some things that are just really hard to kill with a shooting army. You can shoot all game at them and never kill them. Usually these are unusual units like a Cauldron of Blood, Warshrine, the Altar of Skulls, a Steam Tank, or a Dwarf Runeforge. There are two ways to deal with this: ignore them or carry something to kill them. Ignoring them is letting them be points denial. Depending upon what you are facing, this may be okay. If the only thing left of a Warriors of Chaos army is a pair of warshrines, chances are you won.

However, sometimes it is unwise to leave these units untouched, either because you need the points or because what they are doing is messing with your battleplan. There are two ways to go about killing them: magic or melee. If you anticipate having to kill something super tough, plan for this in your spell lore selection. It is great if you have a lore like Metal or Death which has some spells which are good at killing tough stuff and other spells which are good at killing infantry blocks. Don't forget that some spells now call for a characteristics test (like Dwellers); a number of the units mentioned above are classified as warmachines, and instantly die to a spell like Dwellers. You can also kill some of these tough units in melee - this is a good use for your few melee troops, or you can also focus your fast moving units on it.

VII Handling Scenarios

One of the important purposes of scenarios is to prevent single-purpose builds from dominating the gaming scene. This promotes balanced armies, and is in general a good thing. A HEASA is not a balanced army (far from it) and thus you need to use good tactics to win at scenarios that put this army at a disadvantage.

A. Pitched Battle - the standard pitched battle. Pretty normal, so no comments needed.

B. Dawn Battle - basically a pitched battle with less deployment choice. As a mobile army, the lack of deployment choice usually hurts our opponent more than us. The only thing to watch out for is bunching up your ranged units too much - try to anticipate this and use what choice you have to prevent things such as your archers blocking your RBTs line of sight.

C. Battle for the Pass - One of our easiest, the long board in this scenario gives a big advantage to ranged armies. Deploy forward if facing a gunline, otherwise use the disance to your advantage. One thing to watch out for - the "sides" are impassible terrain, so driving units off the long edges with panic checks will just result in dangerous terrain checks.

D. Blood and Glory - a good reason to take banners on archers! Against an army relying on a BSB and general, just concentrate all fire on these guys for a quick win. Against an army with many, many units with banners, just try to survive.

E. Watchtower - this can be one of the hardest scenarios for us. The biggest disadvantage is that there is a must-have area of the board which is close to the enemy starting position. This removes our control of the battle through the movement phase.

A giant unit in the tower is hard for any army to deal with. However, we have some advantages which might be overlooked: using ranged weapons and magic, a HESA can pound the unit in the tower harder than most melee units can (because of the limit of 10 models in combat). Using flaming attacks gives re-rolls on to-wound, so a banner of eternal flame is helpful, not to mention what flames of the phoenix does to a unit in a building!

The primary difficulty lies not in destroying the unit in the building, but in preventing the opponent from simply replacing them. Use eagles to prevent units from reaching the building if possible. Destroy units prioritizing upon their ability to reach and hold the building. You can also weaken the unit in the building, then charge the next turn with your hand-to-hand troops to take the building.

Note that if you start with the tower, 20 archers can hold out pretty decently in a building for a few turns. Replace them when they get too weak. Note that eagles can hold buildings! Yes, they are weak, but it can come as a surprise for your opponent who thought you didn't have any unit that could get reach there in time.

F. Meeting Engagement - not much different in difficulty from a pitched battle. The most important thing to remember is to bring your reserves on as soon as possible so that they start to contribute to shooting. The little bit of extra board length can be helpful if you deploy back in the corner, but you have to be careful not to get trapped back there. The best opportunity to get around the enemy flank comes when they are crossing the middle of the board, because the diagonal width is widest there and then narrows as they approach the corner. Be sure to be in position to get your mobile units around them before they trap you in the corner.

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Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:23 pm 
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This is more then I dreamed I would get in responce to my ask for help LOL... A lot of this i realized to some degree but when i hear it from another person I don't feel like I have to play test it. Like what u said about a static gunline I always thought it would be the case that it could still be won b/c they have move or fire now I don't have to play test it to find out lol. U probably saved me 3-5 lost games in a row thanks man.


Last edited by Drakova on Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:25 am 
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This is great stuff Krysith, thanks!

When do we get the anvil shooting list tactica?

:)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:26 am 
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Indeed it is a fine read and a very useful tactica. Compliments! :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:06 am 
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Yep Great Tactica- Fantastic work =D>

I wonder if this may dampen some of the over the top critisim our shooting has recieved from some corners. You recommend only minimum core 25% shooting.... as Ive mentioned in some other posts slightly more for this type of style may be worth considering, though as you say your battery of RBTs should get the job done - focus fire on immidiate threats with the Bolt throwers (A-Bombs, V-Ghulfs, Knights), eliminate their shooting, (and or support units) with your own archers/mages (if thay have any!) then "force" them onto your anvil and smack 'em with your hammer. As the Meercat says Simples!

Just out of interest which lore would be your preference, you've gone into some fantastic summary of all the Lores but not really indicated your preferences. High or Fire for the support caster on a Lvl 2 seems best to me. If an RGoH prince then Death seems best (given Miasma sniping potential). On the Lvl 4 Life (For buff on your Anvil unit) or Shadow (for Mindrazor on your Hammer).

Anyways those are only my thoughts on it.
Thanks again
Azreal


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Thank you for the compliments!

I'm not sure that I have enough experience with the anvil shooting type of army in 8th edition to write a tactica for it yet. I'll probably write one when I get some more games in. Our local scene here in Florida is more active in the summer, when everybody wants to be in the air conditioning, so I'm only getting in a couple of games every few weeks right now.

The brief, one-paragraph version of the anvil shooting tactica is 1) take horde units of archers or LSG (I prefer archers for range) 2) shoot mainly at the units which might actually break the archer blocks on the charge 3) countercharge with small quality hammers (i.e. 5 dp, 10 sm, etc) on the flanks; because the enemy can't reform to face them, the hammers will suffer little 4) the core provides the static res and the hammers provide the active res. It is a shooting and combat army; select the balance between the two to match what you face. Position matters more than movement for this army except against gunlines. Buffs to protect the core go a long way.

Back to the avoidance tactica... I don't think that it makes sense to take more than 25% core when playing avoidance because your core units and RBTs are the sacrifices. You don't want to have too many of these. You only want to have enough to act as bait so that you can make your opponent's movements predictable. Any more than this is wasteful. Better to put the points into something which may not shoot as well (for the points) but can survive to the end of the game.

The criticism of shooting versus combat in 8th edition is primarily based upon the fact that even under good circumstances, you can't shoot enough to kill your enemy faster than they can move towards you. This is generally true, even for armies which are considered strong at shooting like empire or DE. A few failed panic tests might make it look possible, but you can't rely upon those, especially against demons or undead. So the HEASA model is to count on your enemy making it across the board mostly intact. Sacrifice a few units (which have already shot half their points worth anyways) to control the game, and make up the deficit with mobile shooting all game long.

Which lore I prefer depends upon what kind of mage I am taking, and who I am facing. Sometimes I miss the days of 7th when you could pick your lore based upon your opponent. I used to keep a list for this - metal for WoC, Light for TK, High for VC... It made HE magic so much stronger relative to other races because of all our choices. The next time someone complains about ASF re-rolls, remind them of that!

I have suffered much from miscasts in 8th, so I tend to go for Life commonly. It just costs me my mages less often. With Teclis I would prefer metal or shadow. I often run a secondary mage with metal and annulian crystal. I have had difficulty with hordes, so I've tried High a lot on a lvl 2 (for better shooting and flames of the phoenix); unfortunately miscasts (even on two or three dice rolls!) have hurt me so badly I'm sticking to Life for now. The last game I played a lvl 4 (life, jewel of dusk), lvl 2 (life, seerstaff), lvl 1 (metal, annulian). Throwing two throne of vines a turn keeps their dispel dice pretty busy.

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Seredain wrote:

Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
Eldria wrote:

Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:39 pm 
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Wouldn't a shadow archmage with staff of solidity be a better choice? i used life a while and with the small units i use i dont think most of the spells are THAT usefull. only +2T and dwellers are always nice, while all of shadows spells are nice.

As your seem to use 2 more wizards a combination of shadow (lvl4), metal (lvl 2) and death (lvl 1) (i use only shadow lvl 4 and death lvl 1 because i dont have points for more charcters but i see metal can be very good) can deal with any kind of possible threats:

shadow to improve your shooting/slow down enemy/ make any combats favourable (and destroy anything in a low I army...)
metal to destroy knights and monsters (and to destroy horde units if you take seer)
death to snipe characters, which can then improve your battlefield controll by a lot (mainly BSB and mages)

anyway,

i actually wanted to say i really liked your post, you clearly put a lot of thought in your tactics and unit selection and have written it up really well. these are the kind of topics i like, there should be more posts like this.
I'm actually using quite similar tactics, but with a more balanced avoidance army (so compared to your army, a combat heavy avoidance army) and would like to add a similar article when i feel i have enough experience with it (so could be a while, have just played 5 battles so far, but it works extremely well in the current metagame)

maybe a "stickied topic" could be made with references to this and similar "tactic" articles?

cheers,

J


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