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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:43 pm 
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Location: Merritt Island, FL USA
I've been working on an archer horde tactica, focusing on using archer hordes as anvils. Here it is (below). Comments welcome.

Krysith's 8th edition Archer Horde Anvil tactica


I. Why would I want to play with Archer Horde Anvils?

It is commonly thought that high elf core is the weakest part of our army. Most players are advised to keep as close to the minimum 25% as possible when constructing an army. This is not because our core is bad in an absolute sense, but rather because it is nearly as costly as our elite troops without having nearly the combat power of those troops. Because of this, our core is a weak spot in our army which must be mitigated in some way to keep our army strong.

The idea behind the Archer Horde Anvil (AHA!) is to use our core to open up positional advantages for the rest of the army. The shooting threat posed by the large amount of archers gives our opponent two bad choices: 1) take their time getting into combat with the archers, letting the archers' shooting do significant damage, or 2) go straight for the archers, allowing the rest of the army to use that positional advantage to perform easy flank attacks.

Anvils are tough, hard-to-defeat units which are commonly used as part of a hammer-and-anvil tactic. Because an Archer Horde Anvil combines the anvil component of an army with the shooting component of the army, points are freed up for use by the rest of the army. In addition, because the anvils provide a shooting threat, they provide the opponent with an incentive for engaging them, something which traditional anvils can only do through positioning. A smart enemy often avoids engaging anvils in combat until the hammers have been dealt with. Archer Horde Anvils make that a costly decision.


II. What is an AHA?

Simply, an archer horde anvil is a large unit of archers. 30 models strong is a good basic AHA. There are two ways to deploy them normally - 10 wide and 5 wide. Deployed 10 wide in a horde formation, they get 25 shots per turn and three ranks of 7+ attacks in combat, which will usually win combat against T3 core units such as goblins, skaven, or empire troops. Deployed 5 wide, they only get 20 shots per turn and 10 attacks in combat, however, they are much more likely to remain steadfast with 6 ranks. 5-wide deployment is best used against tough or armored troops such as warriors of chaos, orcs, or bestigors. The primary reason for placing so many archers together is to give them nearly the same ability to survive combat as an equivilent number of spearmen, while retaining their strong shooting ability. The combat ability of 30 models with ASF re-rolls is not to be laughed at, even if only S3.

This coupling of strong shooting ability with decent combat capability means that only genuine combat blocks have a good chance of taking out the AHA - support units and traditional war machine hunters are unlikely to make a dent in an AHA. If the AHA is left alone, over the course of a 6 turn battle it will usually make its own points back in shooting. If all your core is AHAs, that's 25% of army points, a lot of points! So, it is not in your opponent's interest to leave it alone. Because of these facts, merely placing an AHA on the board gives you a tremendous advantage - you now know where at least some of your opponent's combat blocks are going to move. Essentially, deploying an AHA creates an ambush on the board, in plain sight.

III. How to use an AHA properly?

AHAs are best deployed in a position where they can get a clear shot at either an approaching enemy or enemy missile troops. Then, other units (elite combat units) should be deployed where they can manuever to get a flank or rear charge on the approaching unit. It is rather hard to get a rear charge, so don't worry too much about it if you can only flank. The idea is to present your opponent with a difficult choice: charge the archers and get a stand-and-shoot, followed by combat, followed by a flank charge by an elite unit, OR try to engage the farther elite unit and get shot more while manuevering. Either choice is not appetizing. If the archer unit does not break when charged, then the charging unit is in for a world of hurt.

It is very important to place the elite combat unit in a position where it can easily flank charge a unit engaging the archers, while also being hard for the enemy to charge itself. A common good position is a few inches to the flank and rear of the archer unit.

Now, it is unlikely that you would be facing only one unit advancing on your AHAs while you have extra elite combat units hanging around. Most opponents will have more combat blocks than you will. This is where you need to use a few extra tricks:

a) support troops - eagles, ER, SW: these troops can delay, redirect, and harrass approaching units. This is fairly standard HE play, so I won't go into too much detail here - other tacticas cover that ground quite well.

b) delaying magic, panic, and march blocking - spells like net of amyntok and flame cage are great for slowing an approach. Panic and march blocking won't happen all the time but it doesn't hurt to give the dice a chance. You can't expect to slow down every unit, but keeping one or two units a step behind makes a big difference. It doesn't matter how many units reach your line eventually - what matters is how many units hit your line in the first wave! Once you defeat the first wave, the advantage is yours and you should be able to play clean up.

c) army composition - because your elite combat troops can reliably expect to get a flank charge, you should optimize those units to take advantage of this fact. Units facing a flank get hit back only by the troops in base contact (no supporting attacks) but they can make their own supporting attacks. Often the front is limited by the number of ranks in the flanking target, which means the number of attacks per unit frontage matters. So small hard-hitting units have a definite advantage here. The point here is that instead of making an all-around performing unit like 21 swordmasters (designed to hit the front and kill) you should make specialized smaller units (like 10 swordmasters) and use the points saved to increase your number of units.

d) focused shooting - although S3 BS4 shooting is not incredibly dangerous, it is fairly reliable, especially in large numbers. Against certain types of targets (e.g. elves), it is certainly possible to remove or disable a combat block with shooting as they approach.

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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: Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:45 pm 
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IV. AHA shooting

The primary purpose of shooting from AHAs is to pull the enemy towards you. If you outshoot the enemy (and with 25%+ shooting, you often will), they are fools if they sit and take it. So don't think that the primary purpose of AHAs is to obliterate your enemy with shooting - AHA shooting is all about controlling the game.

That said, if your shooting doesn't kill anything, it doesn't present a viable threat, and it will control nothing.

The primary targets for AHA shooting usually should be your opponent's shooting units. It is important to eliminate these first because a) you want to hold the shooting advantage so that you can be sure your opponent will advance in the way you desire, and b) enemy shooting is the biggest threat to your own support units, which will prove invaluable when it comes time to spring your trap. Although it might make seem like it makes sense to soften up approaching battalions before combat, it is usually more important to preserve freedom of movement for your units. AHA tactics are all about positional advantage, and you need to first eliminate anything that threatens that.

The secondary targets for AHA shooting should be support units. First, most support units are easily killed by large amounts of shooting, so they are an easy target. Also, you want to win the support unit battle, so that your support units can prevent the enemy combat blocks from all hitting your line all at once. However, you have a few turns before you need your support units to do this, so you can hide them until the enemy shooting that would normally kill them is dead.

The tertiary targets will usually be monsters and the more vulnerable combat blocks. Avoid shooting high toughness, high armor combat blocks if at all possible, but don't worry about monster toughness or armor, since monsters have many less wounds than infantry blocks do. Also avoid shooting giant horde units like 50 skavenslaves. Those shots won't do anything worthwhile. However, knocking a rank or two off of most units will make a big difference when it comes time for combat. It only takes a few turns of shooting from an AHA to kill most monsters - focused fire from all your archers onto one monster should kill it pretty fast. T5 or T7 - it's all the same to the archers.

You will likely only have two or three turns of shooting with the AHAs anyways so it is important to take out the shooty and mobile parts of your opponent's army while you have the ability to shoot. With shooting, these targets are easy points; once your archers are acting as anvils you may have to just ignore them for the rest of the game.

A good rule of thumb is that if you are able to kill one sixth of your points worth per shot then you are choosing your targets well. So in a 2500 pt army (625 pts of archers), you should be killing around 100 pts of models per turn. This doesn't always happen, because of cover, splitting fire ineffectively, armor saves, cheap hordes, etc. Sometimes you will do better, such as against light infantry, exposed chararters or some monsters. However, it is an average and can give you an idea if your choice of targets is not optimal.

Additional shooting: whether you choose to add extra shooting on top of your 25% archers is up to you. For example, you could also take some RBTs and a reaver bow along with your archer core. Generally, anything over 33% shooting is considered rather unbalanced. An unbalanced army is vulnerable to a) builds designed to take it down (all cavalry generally beats all shooting) and b) armies which do the same thing better (a dwarf gunline usually beats an elf bowline at shooting). You usually need a fair amount of non-shooting things in your army to handle the things that your shooting fares poorly against.

Additional shooting should be based upon the idea of killing things (since you already should have your enemy approaching) and should fill some of the deficiencies in your shooting. So, for example, RBTs are better at shooting highly armored targets than archers are, point for point. Adding RBTs helps if you face armored opponents. But remember! Combat troops may help far more for the same number of points, especially since you should win the war of position. Also, one weakness of shooting is that you can't shoot troops in combat - this means that combat becomes a place of relative safety for an army fighting against a shooty army with few combat troops.


One more thing - don't forget that an AHA unit champ has BS5! It is good to get in the habit of rolling that one differently colored die. You never know when that one extra hit may turn the tide of battle. You paid for him, best to use him.

V. AHA combat

AHA units aren't designed to run from combat - instead they are designed to help win it. Their purpose is to act as an anvil to the elite units' hammer. Ideally, they will receieve a charge and not run from combat. This ideal doesn't always happen, but it helps to do what you can to make sure that it does. However, you should always position your hammer troops to be able to charge whether or not the anvil holds - these aren't unbreakable troops that you can absolutely rely upon to never break.

Most AHAs should be fielded with full command. Since they expect to see combat, the banner is certainly helpful. A musician on any archer unit is a no-brainer. A champion is also a good idea, because one of the biggest threats to an archer horde is a powerful mobile character with lots of attacks! By challenging, the champion can protect the rest of the unit for a turn and take one for the team.

A comparison between archers and spearmen in combat is instructive. A typical spearman unit is something like a 5x6 combat block, fc (295 points). A typical AHA is 30 archers, fc (355 points). Assume for now that the AHA is deployed ten wide. Note that the archers are rather more expensive, however, they also provide shooting and game control which more than makes up for it. If either of these units are charged by a 5 wide combat block, they can deliver the same number of attacks: 21 attacks at S3 WS4 with ASF. So in terms of the damage they do, they are both equal. This remains true if spells like mind razor or wildform are cast on them! The spears will have a 5+ AS, which is somewhat helpful, however, this is balanced by the fact that most enemies with only S3 attacks are also generally vulnerable to shooting. So armor is also not a serious factor of difference.

Now, what does make a difference is the number of ranks remaining at the end of combat. Most non-elite troops (aside from high elves) are capable of averaging about 3 wounds per round of combat vs our core (5 wide, 5 supporting attacks, WS 4 or lower, S3, rounded up), while elite troops average about 9 (5 wide, 15 total attacks incl support, BS5+, S5+, rounded up) wounds per combat round. You will quickly discover that either spearmen or 10-wide horde archers will generally beat other races' core troops in combat (so what if the enemy core unit is steadfast, the archers didn't break and your flank charge is now set), so it is the elites you really need to worry about.

Let's say either of these units are charged by a unit of elites and the elites do 10 wounds (a bit above average) and our core troops do little in return (which is likely). The spears would go from 5x6 to 5x4. The archers would go from 10x3 to 10x2. If the enemy elite unit has 4 or more ranks, the spears are in trouble. Same for the archers, but they are in trouble even if the enemy elite unit unit has only 2 ranks.

So what does this mean? If you are facing a charge from a unit that will likely beat the tar out of your archers in combat (count the ranks!), then reform to a 5 wide formation. The archers will do just as good as the same number of spears, since in either case it is going to come down to a steadfast Ld check. Then, hit them in the flank with your own elites, and take revenge for those brave archers.

It should be noted that a core selection of all AHA will put about the same number of models into combat as a typical core selection of say 10 archers + two units of spearmen, assuming that the 10 archers stand off and shoot while the spearmen fight.

_________________
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: Thu Aug 11, 2011 8:45 pm 
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VI. AHA weaknesses and what to do about them

Archer Horde Anvils aren't perfect. They are a mix between an anvil (a job they perform almost as well as spearmen) and fire support (a job they do pretty well, but less efficiently than the same investment in smaller archer units). Because of their nature, they are vulnerable in ways that normal anvils and normal archer units are not.

1. Flank charges

Due to their wide skinny formation when deployed 10 wide, archer hordes are extremely vulnerable to flank charges. They won't get a stand-and-shoot, and they also will not get any supporting attacks. A flank charge against an AHA by a combat block is usually fatal. However, a flank charge by a support unit, not so much. Because they are steadfast against anything with less than 3 ranks, the only threat that support units offer is to stop their shooting for a turn or two.

Best mitigations: Most combat blocks will move straight towards an AHA, not taking the time to set up a flank charge. Most flank charges against an AHA by a combat block will occur as a result of something happening elsewhere on the board, such as giving up a flank in deployment, or your opponent winning a combat and getting a good overrun. Look out for flanking moves which might occur later if not blocked. You should always try to win the war of support units. Your support units can keep their's occupied and off the flanks of the AHAs.

2. AHAs are w i d e.

The fact that 10-wide AHAs are quite wide units can make deployment difficult, especially if you have two or more. This can spread out your army and deny you the traditional high elf denied flank deployment. Spreading out too wide is a real problem for any army, much less high elves! However, the effect is not as bad as you might think. Two units 10 wide take up about the same space as three units five wide - about the same as the core units that the AHAs replace.

Best mitigation: Initially deploy 5 wide. 5 wide is a good idea if facing elite troops anyways. Once your combat troops have moved, you can reform 10 wide where appropriate and take up the room vacated by the moved combat troops. Although your back ranks cannot shoot when you reform, once reformed you will have less troops in the back ranks, still allowing 20 shots.
Also, one of the best deployment spots on the board is behind wide AHAs. If you deplot the AHA about 3 inches back from the deployment line, you should be able to shoot the enemy on the first turn. This still gives you room to place a unit behind the AHA, facing sideways. Then this unit can move around the side of the AHA to prepare for the flank charge. This position also makes short work of scouts, miners, etc. trying to flank or rear charge the AHA!

3. AHAs are relatively weak troops

S3 T3 infantry don't impress people much, even with ASF. They just can't deliver penetrating wounds. This can be a problem if the AHA is charged by a killy and hard-to-kill character, such as a Vamp Lord or Greater Demon. This is an even bigger problem if the monster/character is maneuverable enough to charge the AHA before a supporting unit is in place to help. Now, a lot of units would have a problem if charged by a big gribbly, but unlike our elite infantry, the archers are unlikely to do much damage in return. The big bundle of points that is an AHA combined with the relative invinceablity of a character like this is a problem that needs to be recognized.

Best mitigation: All AHAs should have champions just for this reason. Those extra 7 guys saved by the champs sacrifice is one more turn of steadfast for help to arrive.
Buffs and debuffs can quickly fix this problem, but the unit has to survive until you actually cast them.
Sometimes I run a hero in the AHA unit. He sits on the most threatened flank and waits for something bad to charge. I usually give him something like the reaver bow to give him something useful to do while waiting for combat.

4. Archer shooting is poor against some targets (high toughness, high armor or super cheap)

What do you do if your shooting is poor against everything in the enemy army? What if you are playing against WoC and everything has a 3+ save, or against O&G and 400+ night goblins are staring at you with their beady red eyes? If you do not present any ranged threat at all, the battle plan falls apart.

Best Mitigation: You can use magic and additional shooting to help present more of a threat. Shadow, Metal, and High magic make great complements to lots of archers shooting. Also, a small amount of stronger shooting (RBT, reaver bow, seafarer bow) can provide enough penetration to remove any feeling of safety your opponent has. Remember, the primary purpose of shooting with this army design is to draw them towards you - any damage done is bonus. Even if they don't kill much at all, that doesn't mean your archers are useless as long as they provide that wonderful threatening feeling.

5. Archer shooting is not as good as other gunlines such as dwarves, empire, or dark elves

The issue of what to do when you do NOT have more shooting than your opponent is an interesting one. On the bright side, you likely have just as much BS shooting as your opponent (setting aside warmachines for the moment). While dark elf, empire, and dwarf BS shooting all have some shooting advantages over our archers, we also have advantages over them too. We outrange RXBs and handgunners, can move and shoot unlike crossbows and handguns, and have higher BS than cheap empire crossbows. Played correctly, our archers can acquit themselves well against most shooters. In addition, the large unit size of AHAs mean that they will usually inflict many more panic checks than they need to take (don't forget to re-roll for panic against dark elves!). And one seriously overlooked advantage is the volley rule - we can deploy 5x6 and still dish out 20 shots. Lets see handgunners do that!
So basically, the BS shooting should be a fairly even battle, with a small advantage to one side or the other. It is the rest of the army which usually decides the battle. However, we can always bring a good fight with the rest of our army.

Although swordmasters have obvious advantages as a flank charging unit, I usually play with cavalry as my elite hammers, precisely in case I run up against a gunline. No gunline wants to face another gunline with anti-gunline tools as well.

Best mitigation: carry some anti-gunline tools in your army. This means fast troops and scouts, as well as magic which is useful against gunlines. Since many of these things are useful anyways (eagles, shadow warriors, dragon princes, magic) this doesn't cost you anything while giving you big advantages when you come up against a gunline.
Also, change your target priority. Against a gunline you are unlikely to kill enough enemy shooting to force the enemy to advance on you (although it can happen). Instead realize that you may have to advance on the enemy, so your priority targets will be different than against a foe who advances on you.

6. Lots of fast armored troops

It is rather rare in 8th edition to face armies comprised mostly of fast armored troops. Even Brettonians seem to field a lot of men-at-arms and trebuchets along with their knights. However, if you face an army which is fast enough and armored enough to ignore your shooting you may be in trouble (speed helps as well as armor because it means less turns of being shot at). A smart player will just ignore your archer blocks and line up to directly charge your combat troops. This ruins your whole battle plan.

Mitigation: The meta-game (i.e. what everyone else is playing) currently tends to punish mostly-cavalry armies, so you may not face this threat very often.
A poor player may see your archers as "easy prey" and play right into your hands. Better to flank charge those knights than have to take a charge from them with the only troops capable of beating them.
Against threats you cannot efffectively harm, alway deploy five wide for max ranks - pretend your archers are spears.

VII. Getting that charge

The whole point of playing with AHAs is to get your opponent's combat blocks right where you want them: in front of your AHAs. Then you can bring the pain. But what is the best way to bring the pain? It depends a bit upon what kind of combat troops you have.

A) Swordmasters and White Lions

These hard hitting elite troops can really dish it out, but tend to suffer from hits back. A flank charge from a unit of them is ideal, because they get to hit many, many times, while facing few attacks back. It's almost like a free turn of combat. A free turn of combat with SM or WL is some serious pain. These units should not be too big, since only a limited number of attacks can be had against a flank, and the AHA should be providing ranks. Note that a unit engaged to both the flank and front cannot reform, so these elite troops will be able to hit with no supporting attacks back at them for as long as the AHA holds out. As long as you keep winning combat (with these troops in the flank you should!) that means until the last archer dies.

B) Dragon Princes and Silver Helms

Heavy cavalry makes a great complement to an AHA. These troops have a long charge distance and are rather maneuverable, which means that getting that flank charge is really easy. They are also great in that they allow more flexibility in your battle plan - sometimes you want to get aggresive and charge a unit which has been shot up by the archers. This flexibility, along with the fact that they are less vulnerable to shooting, is why cavalry is my favorite combat unit for supporting an AHA. They also provide valuable force projection if facing a gunline.

They do have one disadvantage, and that is their lack of attack strength in the rounds following the charge. Although if everything goes well, the ranks from the AHA plus the flank attacks from the cavalry should break a unit in the turn that the cavalry charges. Odds are that this will happen. But sometimes things don't go well, and cavalry definitely doesn't add much in the following rounds of combat.

C) Large Ellyrian Reaver units

Light cavalry can be used with AHAs quite well. Since the AHAs do a pretty good job at shutting down light enemy shooting, the main threat to light cav gets eliminated. Small ER units and Eagles are redirect and distraction units and should not be relied upon for combat strength. However, a unit of 10+ ER can charge in with almost as much force as silver helms provide, and they do just as much damage in the following rounds. THey are cheaper than SH, and extremely maneuverable, allowing them to get killing charges on units weakened by shooting with complete ease. Their drawback is their lack of armor, which is not much of a problem as long as they only engage flanks, where they face no supporting attacks back. They should only be used to charge units which they can kill on the charge, or units which are already engaged to the front, preventing that unit from reforming to face the vulnerable and expensive ER.

D) Chariots

In theory chariots should work great at supporting AHAs. They have an appropriate charge range, are highly maneuverable, provide high strength attacks on the charge, etc. However, my experience has been otherwise. While writing this I think I have figured out why their performance has been so anemic in my hands. I only own two Tiranoc chariots, and I tend to assign one to each AHA. That is not many points of support, especially considering the size of the units involved. Anything which can beat a 355 point unit can probably beat that unit and a chariot too. So the problem I have had with chariots is a matter of too little force applied.

Don't make this mistake with any of the combat units mentioned here! Use supporting units of a size which can actually turn the tide of battle! 5 SH aren't going to save your AHA, even charging into the rear.

So, the biggest problem with chariots is not as I expected their variability of attacks, or their lack of power in the following rounds of combat. Instead, it is the fact that a chariot is a unit unto itself. It is much harder to support an AHA with two units than with one, so the low number of points per unit in Tiranocs is a real weakness. I haven't put my lion chariot together yet, but even its number of points is kind of on the low side. 200 pts seems to be around the right level of combat strength for supporting units, except for WL and SM who can run a little lower due to their sheer killyness. I may try putting a noble in each chariot and see how that goes, since that would be around the right level of support, although I still think cav or elite infantry are going to be more efficient (see below).

E) Characters

High Elven characters can dish out some pain, with 3+ ASF attacks, usually at S6. They can also be kitted to be very hard to kill. However, they are not a very efficient use of points as compared to most combat troops. If you have a character, it doesn't make a ton of sense to try to get him into a flank attacking position when its much easier to just kit him for survival and stick him in the front rank of the AHA. That way his combat prowess protects the AHA. You could just use characters to provide fighting power to the AHA, and use that plus the AHA ranks to just tear up whatever charges you.

However, that is a less efficient purchase of combat power, a less efficient use of the positional advantages offered by AHA use, and most importantly leads to a very boring gunline style of play. In general, I recommend using characters as combat support for AHAs only as the situation presents itself, and not as a part of your battle plan.

F) Other stuff

Most other units, despite their fighting abilities, are not best used as combat support for AHAs. This is because either the flank attack doesn't use their abilities to the fullest, or they have a handicap which makes them inferior. For example, Phoenix guard can take a lot of damage, so reducing supporting attacks back on them is not that important. Shadow warriors are easy to get in position, but don't break ranks and so provide less support than just having the same points in more archers in the AHA. Eagles are notorious for "adding support" against tough units and just feeding the enemy 3 points of combat res. If it's not on the list above, sure you can have it in your army, just don't rely on it for providing combat support to your AHA.

A Note about Make Way: Using AHAs to enable combat troops to get a flank charge yields two advantages. One is the addition of the ranks of archers to the combat, making it easier to break steadfast. The other is reducing supporting attacks back against the flanking unit. However, combat characters which are not yet engaged can make way to the flank, adding lots of attacks against the more expensive flanking combat troops. This can be alleviated by making sure that enemy characters are already in combat with the archers before charging the flank, and also by having champions in the flanking unit for challenging.

It should be noted that there are usually three different kinds of charge situations that you will find yourself in.

1) The first is the classic one where an enemy unit charges the AHA, the AHA holds, and the combat troops charge the flanks. This is the basic battle plan. If the AHA holds, great. If not, make sure your combat troops are in position to take advantage of the AHAs sacrifice.

2) Another common one is where you can get a flank charge with your combat unit and also a frontal charge with your AHA. This one is worth doing, even though it gives you one less round of shooting, because it removes the possibility of the AHA getting charged and not holding (which is bad). Note that your combat troops likely will need either lots of movement (read: cavalry) or cunning maneuvering to get into position to pull this off. It also happens when your opponent is afraid of stand-and-shoot or missing a long charge and decides not to charge until within very short distance.

3) The third situation should happen rarely if you play well. However, it will happen sometime so you need to be prepared for it. Sometimes your opponent will have multiple units within charge distance of your AHA and combat troops. In other words, your plan to break up their battle line did not work. This means that your combat troops will likely be charged at the same time as your AHA, or they will be vulnerable to a flank charge themselves if they charge in to assist the AHA.

This is a bad situation, but make the best of it.

One thing that is helpful if you see this coming is to move the combat unit back a bit, such that the charge on the AHA will succeed but the charge on the combat unit will not. This means that you may still have a chance to help the AHA. A smart opponent will simply charge the AHA with one unit while moving the other unit straight towards your combat unit, but its always best to give your opponent the chance to make a mistake.

If at all possible, charge to assist the AHA, even if it exposes the flank of the combat unit. If you are lucky, this gang-up will win the combat and pursue back through the enemy battleline.

Or depending upon the state of the battle, save points by reforming the AHA very wide, to accept both charges and give cover to the combat unit while it runs away! Sometimes saving that unit of swordmasters is the difference between a loss and a draw.

_________________
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: Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:26 am 
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I often use a block of 30 Archers. they are underestimated and work well, especially if boosted by magic.

-they are a big threat to support units
-they are, against alot of core units (T3, light armor), almost as strong as swordmasters
-they are good for protecting the archmage thus he can sit back quite safe. the archer block can fight against most hunter units by themself.
-they are very deadly if boosted by magic (whitering, flaming sword,...)

choose your elite units in a way that they dont need magic support (like White Lions) and you can use your core to full effect with the help of magic.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:28 pm 
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Excellent krysith, once again you are telling (most of!) us stuff we don't know and very useful it is too. I'm unlikely to run Archer Hordes but your tactica is full of points that apply to slightly different set-ups also.

Would Heavens be a reasonable shout for this? Convergence is an excellent buff for static shooting, Comet messes with the enemy's movement and even things like Wind Blast could be used adroitly I reckon.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:08 pm 
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Good question Spell Archer. One of the reasons I didn't go too much into spell support is that spell support should be tailored to the army as a whole, not just the core. I thought about adding a paragraph for each Lore, but honestly most of it would be saying stuff that's been said before elsewhere.

I have only tried AHAs with support from High, Life, Shadows and Metal. Generally I aim for a lore with something to support shooting, and something to support the eventual combat. I also like spells that can handle things that S3 shooting cannot, like Searing Doom vs steamtanks or Mind Razor vs anything.

I have considered Heavens for a really fun game, and Iceshard Blizzard is actually the main reason why. I was thinking that if I had multiple lvl 1s with iceshard blizzard, that if I dropped two blizzards on the same unit and hit it with a flank charge that would be pretty effective: target unit at -2 to hit with no supporting attacks (unlikely to kill anything), then hit in the flank with a bunch of attacks, resulting in the unit almost certainly losing combat at -2 Ld. Even a steadfast unit is in trouble in those circumstances. This looks like lots of fun, but it's pretty iffy: getting two spells off on the target, then making the charge, then hoping that the target misses the Ld rolls. Nevertheless, it would be worth it just to take out a big unit with a surprise flank charge from something weak, like ER.

I don't think that convergence is all that amazing, although it is pretty good for its casting cost, and it buffs both shooting and combat. It is also probably the best bolt thrower support spell. Comet and wind blast are really good for messing with your opponents movement, and now that I think about it, they are perfect for breaking up the enemy battleline. The lightning spells would also add to the shooting threat, and at high strength as well. So, yes, I think that Heavens would probably be well worth a try.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:41 pm 
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Nice post krysith.
Will look to give this a run out soon.
Whats your take on armour for an aha?
I would have thought that it would be useful, given the likelyhood of them engaging in cc and taking return fire

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:53 pm 
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This is very similar to how I run my LSG really - the 6" I sometimes miss, but generally they're right in the center of the table anyway.

Excellent write-up, mate!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:42 pm 
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Csjarrat wrote:
Nice post krysith.
Will look to give this a run out soon.
Whats your take on armour for an aha?
I would have thought that it would be useful, given the likelyhood of them engaging in cc and taking return fire


Well, if there's one save made per 10 archers over the course of the game then the armour has paid itself back.

The question is, how often are you faced with S3 attacks with no armour piercing?

EDIT: and thanks for the writeup Krysith :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:10 pm 
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I think I'm going to give this a try in my next game, at 2000 points.

30 Archers in a horde, and another unit of 12, with 1 RBT. Should be enough shooting for the points level.

The write up certainly helped, although you suggest small units(around 10) but I think I might try with 14-18 Lions and Sword Masters with some Dragon Princes.

Even though the bows aren't that strong, the extra 6" can really force an opponent to move if you set up about 30" away, which is better than his/her shooting units dictate you.

I think that's an important thing I've learned, for sure.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:23 pm 
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Regarding armor on archers, well, of course, play it as you like. But my preference is to avoid spending the points on armor.

This is partly because most things that light armor would help against, AHAs are already strong against. AHAs shouldn't really fear S3 T3 troops like skaven, empire state troops, or spearelfs. Things that are strong against AHAs, light armor does not protect against, and then you really need those extra bodies. Against elites, heavy cavalry, or monsters, I'd rather have three more bodies than useless light armor.

The other reason is that three more bodies is three more bows shooting. Light armor doesn't add firepower, and while theoretically it might help keep firepower alive in a shootout, many shooters have S4 or armor piercing (DE rxbs, crossbows, glade guard bows, flamers, etc.). Basically, light armor might help, but more archers will always help.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:45 pm 
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Nice write up, I agree with all of it and am considering swapping my standard 50% spears 2 units archers core set up to all archers with one horde and support units.

I ran an archer horde at 1500 points recently with a fire archmage and reaver bsb (playing for fun right...)

Except that archer horde with flaming sword literally melted units (demons in that game) and with flame cage to hold them up and several small fast units/fireballs to remove fiend threats/run over the flamers I tabled the demons for no real loss.

I could see that set up working on most armies barring the really heavily armoured ones and even then flaming sword lets you put over a lot of wounds and they will fail some saves along the line.

If i were going to run a firemage/archer horde set up I would most definately take a metal mage and white lions to handle armour.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:40 am 
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Eldria wrote:
Nice write up, I agree with all of it and am considering swapping my standard 50% spears 2 units archers core set up to all archers with one horde and support units.

I ran an archer horde at 1500 points recently with a fire archmage and reaver bsb (playing for fun right...)

Except that archer horde with flaming sword literally melted units (demons in that game) and with flame cage to hold them up and several small fast units/fireballs to remove fiend threats/run over the flamers I tabled the demons for no real loss.

I could see that set up working on most armies barring the really heavily armoured ones and even then flaming sword lets you put over a lot of wounds and they will fail some saves along the line.

If i were going to run a firemage/archer horde set up I would most definately take a metal mage and white lions to handle armour.


You used an archmage eh?

I'm guessing a good combo would be Fire and High, but might focus too much on shooting. I wonder if a set up such as Life on an Archmage and Fire on a Lvl 2 would work out? Flaming Sword of Rhuin is pretty nifty so you'd want to make sure you got it... thinking Seerstaff or Silver Wand at the least on the lvl 2.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:40 pm 
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From another (related) thread:

Andrew_uk wrote:
Krysith, are both your archer units 30 man hoardes? I am curious because this puts you well over minimum core

I wouldn't know where to start with 2 30 man hoardes on the board and the investment you're putting into them means you must be cutting in other areas, how do you make it work?


The only area I'm cutting is spears.

I usually stick to two same-sized units, just above minimum core. The size of them depends upon the pts level of the game. I've played with units of 32 at 3000 pts, 26 at 2500, and 21 at 2000. 30 is just an approximate size which works pretty well, and anything below 25 seems to suffer. The goal of the unit is to be able to shoot and take a charge, so if 21 can't take a charge from a typical combat unit at the point level you are playing at, then it is too small. I should probably clarify that in the tactica, so good question!

I've also played above min core on purpose for scenario/comp/fluff reasons, but that's not the usual. I also remember now that I have played with unequal units before. I remember playing 32, 20 last spring and the smaller unit usually died pretty quickly. I still lose the equal size AHAs occasionally, but at least I can expect them to hold a round most of the time.

Nevertheless, paying for a few extra core guys is always productive if it keeps the unit alive. Compare an eagle vs 4 more archers. Each may keep the unit alive for one more turn if used properly.

EDIT: I also now remember why I played with unequal units and why I stopped. The 20 archer unit was for the watchtower scenario. Watchtower has been pretty unpopular recently, so I haven't missed having the 20 elf unit.

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Haha! I'm guessing that the codename for this will be Operation Evil Bumrush.
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Close buts its a bit more Operation Chargeblerghvomitvomiteateat ooolook I grew an extra head


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:43 pm 
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Great write up, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'll be sure to give this is a try next game! :)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 7:37 pm 
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very nice post...
Im new to the game and it gave me a lot of good info. :)

I have a few quastions.
1. do you always go with 2 AHA units? i was thinking more in the line of a large unit AHA and a smaller unit of spearmen for flank attack as they will disrupt the opponent.

2. what is your take on putting a character with the crown of command in a AHA, giving them the stubborn rule?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:21 pm 
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Top notch write-up, Krysith: thanks for the time you've taken.

Further to Anathir and Furion's experiences with archer hordes, I think you've described very well how to manipulate one of our strongest core setups, there. Thumbs up.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:28 am 
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Really really REALLY good tactica Krysith :D. I've just gotten some more archers, and I'm keen to try this one out :). Let you know how it goes!

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:14 am 
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Thanks a lot for writing it up, it is a great post and the one I am definitely going to save for future reading.

A quick question, did you consider LSG in the same role as Archers?

Cheers! :)

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:55 pm 
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Swordmaster of Hoeth wrote:
A quick question, did you consider LSG in the same role as Archers?


I would gues the answer is:

More expensive, worse at shooting and no better in combat at the numbers being taken.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:27 pm 
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This Tactica is designed for use with the Archers in mind, LSG are a whole other kettle of fish. 30 LSG don't make a horde but they fight better in the other formations.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:21 pm 
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Thanks to all of you for the kind words!

minipixi wrote:
I have a few quastions.
1. do you always go with 2 AHA units? i was thinking more in the line of a large unit AHA and a smaller unit of spearmen for flank attack as they will disrupt the opponent.

2. what is your take on putting a character with the crown of command in a AHA, giving them the stubborn rule?


I do tend to go with 2 AHA units when playing competitively (at least, since I started using the tactic early this year). The reason for this is that both of them act as anvils. It is unusual to run into armies with more than 3 anvil units, but with this setup I can field 3 anvils (2 AHA, 1 PG) and have lots of shooting capability and plenty of points left for hammer units.

The reason I don't field just one big unit is because too many points in one unit makes it a big target. If someone wants to dwellers 1/8 of my army, I can live with that. Doing the same to 1/4 of my army is dangerous. I have had an AHA fail a panic test and run at a bad moment - some weapons only need to kill one model to force a panic test. Our core is just not deathstar material, and doesn't make a good one.

As far as running an AHA with a few supporting core units, sure that works fine. I don't think that it is using the AHA strategy to the fullest (since you have one less anvil than you could have had), but sometimes you want a few more small units. I think that archers work better with this than spears, but if you want to try it with spears, I say go for it. You might be onto something! Nevertheless, I'd rather have my core be shooting and let the elites provide the hurtin' in combat.

A character with crown of command can certainly help any unit expected to see combat, including an AHA. As usual, it is important that the character be able to survive (armor and ward saves, please). However, ideally an AHA will have the ranks to be steadfast, so the crown of command is more like an insurance policy in case something goes wrong and the AHA gets charged by a unit with both lots of ranks and the ability to defeat your horde. One thing that is nice about the crown of command is that you never need to leave the 10 wide formation, even against a tough enemy unit.

Swordmaster of Hoeth wrote:

A quick question, did you consider LSG in the same role as Archers?


Of course. In fact, it is because I used to play with lots of LSG that I saw the advantages of the archer horde over the LSG horde. Now, don't get me wrong, I still like LSG, but in 8th edition I think the archers win out over them. This is mainly because the extra range seems to count for more.

One big reason for this is because if I field LSG hordes, I also have to field RBTs in order to ensure that I outrange any shooty opponents. Since RBTs can be destroyed so easily by poison shots, cannons, etc. compared to 7th edition, they are not a reliable means of dealing with shooty opponents. With archers alone I can get away without RBTs and still provide a serious ranged threat. The other reason I think that extra bit of range matters more than it did in 7th edition is the fact that average charge distances are higher. What used to be an 8" charge is now a 11" +/- 5" charge. However, marching still moves at double M. So this means that a unit which starts 24" away and marches once is in charge range, while a unit which starts 30" away must march twice before it is in charge range. If your opponent rolls well for charging (and don't they always?), then archers have effectively 3/2 the shooting time that LSG do. That is a big difference. More realistically, if your opponent rolls decent, then archers have effectively 4/3 the shooting time. That is still fairly significant.

I should note that I am one of the few players who fields LSG without shields. This is for the same reason I field archers without light armor - I'd rather have more points in offense and extra bodies. LSG without shields are the same points as archers with light armor, and are basically just archers with spears and weaker bows. LSG are awesome against lightly armored foes, but they just don't work as well in the AHA strategy outlined above because of their relatively weaker ranged offense. If you are facing foes with very little shooting, you can probably get away with using LSG to perform the same function as an AHA, namely to pull the enemy towards you.

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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 Aug 30, 2011 7:59 pm 
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Eye-opening tactica! As it happens, I own 52 archer models (I usually play four smaller units of archers in all of our 2500 games) but I always just have to use them for nothing but archery. I should try the two groups of 26 instead.

Running them as two larger blocks would let them participate in the battle in a much more versatile way (as bunkers for my mages, as anvils for my 42 SMs, lion chariot, and Star Dragon, although I think a dragon is a poor combination with AHAs since you generally want to get your dragon into combat as soon as possible) and so forth, with very little shooting capability sacrificed.

It will also help me run a more compact deployment, meaning a more effective LD/BSB bubble. I'm definitely going to try this for my next list.

Maybe I'll run my dragon as a Dragon Mage(!) instead, for the guaranteed Rhuin and great possibility of effective flanking charges that the AHA opens up. Or, Korhil on a lion chariot could alleviate the worries about underpowered flank charges.

I'd probably choose High magic for the Shield of Saphery on my AHA. Courage of Aenarion (which I always considered completely out of place in High) would have a lot of use here as well. If I take any bolt throwers, then Curse would be really worthwhile too. How about a High archmage with a RGoH BSB (High magic too; roll his spells first of course but then just take SoS) and a Dragon Mage(!) to go with your AHAs?

Another interesting hammer unit option could be Eltharion on Stormwing, again for the flying flank charges. I'm not sure the lore you'd want, though. I would usually think Death, for the sig spell, is good on Eltharion, but not really with this army makeup.

Thanks a whole lot.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:45 pm 
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I don't have enought HE models to try this, but I am going to give it a go with my Peasant Bowmen.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:01 am 
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Krysith, you are a genius! I tried this out the other day, and whilst i got a serious amount of bad luck (second game in a row!), the AHA was the only unit that nearly bought their pts back. 340 pts for them, they costed 350ish (30 archers, banner that gives you magic resistance 2). They were also the last unit of the table. In shooting, they killed 2 lots of detachments, and a block of swordsman in combat, after being flanked charged. They really are something in combat! (Reason i won is the detachment got killed, enough combat res to draw, then face). Only reason i lost them in the end, is everything went for them. Unit of knights in the rear, and halbards in the flank.

Im taking either this from now on, or a large amount of spear elves. Krysith, you've almost convinced me archers are better!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:51 am 
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Krysith, how do you find you deal with warmachines on a consistent basis? Just the usual tactics of sending eagles out? Hellcannons come to mind as one of the tougher matchups for us.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:09 pm 
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Jimmy wrote:
Krysith, how do you find you deal with warmachines on a consistent basis? Just the usual tactics of sending eagles out? Hellcannons come to mind as one of the tougher matchups for us.


Well, first, hellcannons are more than a regular warmachine. IMHO, they are one of the best units for the points in the game. That said, the best way to deal with warmachines, even ones which can defend themselves well, are fast units like eagles, scouts, and cavalry. See what I wrote in section VI.5. above.

I find that regular heavy cavalry units with a few eagles or scouts to support works great against warmachines. You just need to make sure that you have enough. Don't think that a unit of 5 DPs and an eagle are going to work against a 4 cannon, 4 grudge thrower gunline. However, if you have as many points in heavy cav, scouts, and eagles as your opponent has in warmachines, you will do fine most of the time. Of course, they can always get lucky and hit with every shot and panic your army off the board, but that won't happen often. They can also misfire and blow up, but that's the randomness of warmachines for you. Warmachines are for dwarves what magic is for high elves, and they have their own 'irresistible force' and 'miscasts' to go along with it.

Heavy cav are great for dealing with hellcannons. For one thing, they can get within the hellcannon's charge range pretty quickly, hopefully causing it to charge instead of shooting. They are not on foot, so the hellcannon doesn't get thunderstomp, and their good armor keeps the damage down even with its high strength. If you get the charge on a hellcannon, chances are that eventually you will defeat it. Even if you don't, a small unit of cav will keep it busy, and a large unit will eventually kill it. Unlike many other players, I like to run my cav units in 10+ sizes.

One thing you don't have to worry about with hellcannons is a hard castle, because WoC don't have an army of static shooters. This is where a player (usually dwarf, although sometimes empire) will deploy everything in their army so close to their warmachines that even a flying eagle can't charge over the protecting troops. The best way to deal with this setup is to identify a point in the castle to weaken. Usually this would be the smallest unit, although choosing a stubborn unit could be a mistake. Use your AHAs to weaken this unit, while getting your cavalry in position to charge. When the unit is weak enough, charge and break it, and break through to the warmachines. If you have any eagles or scouts left alive, they can divert the rest of the protecting units from charging your cav for a turn, while the cav get to the juicy warmachine filling of the castle.

Warmachines are one of the biggest reasons why I hardly ever play without heavy cavalry these days. Cav are one of the few units which are really effective as both a flank charging hammer against infantry blocks and as a warmachine hunter. I don't really care if it takes 300 pts of cav to kill a 100 pt warmachine, as long as they do it effectively and survive. The one warmachine you really have to watch out for with heavy cav is the dwarf organ gun - its a cav killer. I'm also spoiled in that I usually take at least one unit of scouts. They are worth their points as a distraction alone, and I love putting them down in an annoying spot after normal deployment.

Edit: I looked through some of my lists going back a few months, and I typically put at least 30% of my points in units which could conceivably be warmachine hunters. This includes typically a few eagles, a unit or two of scouts, one or two large cavalry units (DP or SH), and sometimes a mounted noble. All of these units are great against warmachines, but perform other duties when there are no warmachines. This makes the army flexible enough to be used against infantry armies and gunlines alike.

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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 Sep 07, 2011 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Hi Krysith!
I've finally finished reading through all of this massive (and great) write up, and you've actually sold me. Currently I'm running a dual prince/cavalry hammer army and from what you've said the archer horde sounds like it would suit my army to the T. I think it must be satisfying to actually outshoot people sometimes. Traditionally I've always gone for less shooting, but I guess that's about to change.

Out with the spears, in with the archers!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 3:31 am 
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Great answer Krysith, thanks for such a detailed reply! :)

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:51 am 
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Hi Krysith!

I had a chance to use 30 Archers in my recent battle against O&G and although one battle is definitely not enough to state anything for sure I must tell I liked the fact I had a peace of mind to focus on the development of my attack as I didn't have to worry too much about the AHA as they securely guarded the flank of my army at the same time controlling the center with their shooting. Indeed extra 6" over LSG helps a lot and I didn't feel like I am wasting my arrows even when shooting at mangler squigs and wounding them more times than it was necessary. I was sure I could destroy them one by one in a single shooting phase and that helped enormously my other units who didn't have to worry about these crazy monsters. Although I would achieve exactly the same with 2 smaller units of archers I really like the fact that I could actually perform flank guarding with archers themselves. This is a great flexibility of that unit and something we have to use since our warriors are so expensive. I still took my Spearelves in the army but it worked great for me and I am glad I do not copy-paste yet another idea of a member of this forum and I hopefully develop an army list of my own at long last (even if it clearly includes ideas of many others).

Another interesting observation was to use 10 Dragon Princes in a single unit (musician only) as a hammer unit. What this unit can perform and small unit cannot is to hold against a charge of 2 chariots. They can lose even half a unit and still be steadfast (1 rank against 0 of chariots). My opponent told me he charged 2 chariots in because it was either him being charged or at least trying to kill some elves before his unit dies. This is something 5 strong DP unit can risk doing. Sure, with 2 of them you can always flee and counter with another one but it simply gives a player another option and choose the one which he likes better.

Once again thanks for brilliant ideas!

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