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 Post subject: A tactica for beginners.
PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:49 pm
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I would like to start this by saying that I am by no means qualified to post a tactica, however I can say that I have had a rather high success rate with my elves (at least 75%) and as such there are a few elements and reasons for why (I think) I have done well. (and my friend suggested I do so)
(I will use 1500 points as the baisis for this)

Since I remember really needing a load of baisic elements to focus on and hence read pages of tacticas in an effort to try and learn the basics I have decided to try and put them on paper (or pixels) but here are some of the best tacticas that I remember: (although most of the listed play styles are often completely different to mine)

heros guide to high elf glory
brew masters coven of light army blog, and the bits and pieces that he wrote (many are in there)
sword masters MSU tactica
krysiths archer horde anvil tactica
down and dirt guide to unit and lore choices
great eagle tips an tricks, seriously useful!
Curu ollanons dragon blog (again Just worth reading)
(sorry if I have left any out)

Starting from the bottom:
Given the format of limits on sections (e.g. 25% lords) we need to make sure that we aren't forced to omit certain units to include say a dragon (bad Idea for newbies anyway, since it is hugh expensive and dies much more easily than say 16 sword masters and 16 lions) as such we need to try and get cheap units, or multi purpose units that don't impede upon one role while performing another or are cheap enough for this not to matter (e.g. Eagles, they generally only need to perform one or two of these roles) 
For the reason of these caps, it is also worth avoiding hordes as a new player, not only are they hard to use (they have a huge foot print) but they teach you too little about the game.

So first of all how do I want to win? (via what phase)
So generally I find this to be a very nice question to myself, you don't need to pick via what phase, but it I'd better than via what unit in most cases (since you don't want all your eggs in one basket!) 
Now that I have asked myself this question I start writing my list. 
Winning via the following phase:
Movement: here there are a few main methods, but now I ask, 'do I want speed? Or a mass of options?' if the first is picked cavalry or dragon based lists come to mind.
In the second style of list the very essence of the list is being able to pick your battles and to be able to destroy the enemy bit by bit. (this is the infamous MSU)
Both of these are hard to master, worth waiting for.

Here is where massed archers come in handy as core, then bolt throwers start to be very very useful, this is probably a harder tactic to master since it takes 3 times more points trying to destroy a unit than it would via combat (according to krysiths HEASA tactica) this means you require a large amount of foresight to be able to focus the force on the unit.

Well probably time to go back to the drawing board, you get max 12 dice, you can't win through that. Magic should be the patch over your main weaknesses. (although you can focus on it, coven of light is probably the only place where magic is absolutely instrumental, but banishment doesn't win games. This style of list is more focused on an impossible to shut down phase)

Well in the end you can't quite, since that's WoC territory, but if in essence you want to beat things up, sadly the game is more complex...
Mostly combat:
So this is the way you need to think if you want to give shooting and magic a back seat, the idea here is to try and pick the best fights you can and concentrate a lot of force on one unit at a time.
(see Hero's tactica, however his 2 eagles shut down enemy units like skirmishers)

This is where I have most experience, generally a few combat units in specials, all archer core since spears are to expensive to rank up enough, and LSG are just plain over priced for this points level (but this doesn't mean the aren't an option! I have just found archers more useful.
Finally a good magic phase and always have generally utility units (eagles)
The idea here is to have solid combat units that you can generally pick, then use magic primarily to augment your troops and shooting to destroy units like witch elves who are pure evil. 
(I recommend this start since it teaches you about all aspects of the game)

So now that you have your general strategy it's time to throw in the units that will make it work:
First off pick the key unit(s) this should be the big element that will win you games.

So to do this here are some pretty nice components that we have available:
Elite infantry, really nice tools to smash the enemy with, they really do nasty damage (including PG!) out of these I like the sword masters most since they really bring the pain! White lions are great since they don't need much magic support and Phoenix guard are my second pick since they still pack punch, and they are amazing at surviving games almost in one piece.

Archers, they are awesome for clearing off skirmishers and cheap flyers, and also in larger numbers deleting units of witch elves and depleting large blocks.

Spears, they are excellent at removing enemy steadfast and giving CR in a battle in support of elite infantry.

Sea guard, I like them, but they aren't easy to use (hence I haven't really) and they are probably a bad choice for a beginner.

Dragon princes, they work well in a large unit (9) with a bsb since he really adds some nasty punch and they already hit like a train! I however prefer to use them in a unit of 5 to take out pesky grudge throwers and support my phoenix guard and sword masters.
(the first option is probably not a good idea since you need to be careful of taking away too many points)

Silver helms, probably another bad beginner choice since they need a prince (and bsb) to provide punch. Definitely bad short of 2500 points since a unit of dragon princes is going to be better and not much more expensive. (you can afford to sacrifice 2 elite foot soldier to make the upgrade on a unit of 5)

Reavers and shadow warriors:
Well they are useful to some, but more often they arent the most effective way of spending points. (I will proxy my shadow warriors as archers and I have been using my reavers as DP)

RBTs, these guys probably aren't going to be your friend in a balanced list since they are very expensive and at this points level you can't exactly affor them. (though taking one for monster annihilating is pretty hit or miss, if you feel you need it, go for it!)

Eagles, well they just help you pick your fights, which is golden! Then they can also hunt war machines! (always have one! Preferably two)

Probably not a great choice since he generally requires a specific function to be worth while. I find more troops is a much better in terms of points well spent.

Arch Mage:
Pretty amazing since you have good offence and an item like either a scroll, the annulian crystal or the sigil of asuryan will shut down the enemy when combined with +4-5 to dispel. However it means that taking a bsb is going to drain you of a lot of troops

Noble bsb:
very useful for providing punch but far more importantly his re-rolls are golden, with the amount of LD tests out there ld 8 won't cut it (72% chance of passing)
Almost always a no brainier.

Well with +3 to dispel he can help shut down enemy magic, so items like a scroll and the anulian crystal are well worth having.
Probably the best general since It means that you haven't spent too many points on characters (even with a bsb) allowing for more troops and hence more damage.

So now that you have your baisic lay out, add the supporting element (e.g. 5 DP, 2 eagles) and make you list redundant so that you aren't relying on any one unit, a good example of this was when curu olanons dragon died T1 vs. dwarves yet he used his white lions and the rest of his army to pull through with a win!

So now might be a good time to give a sample list:
Competitive 1500
Level 4 high Mage
Sigil of ausryan
Talisman of preservation

21 archers FC
Banner of eternal flames

10 archers musician

13 phoenix guard FC
Standard of discipline
Skein silver

13 sword masters FC
Amulet of light
Banner of swiftness

5 dragon princes

2 eagles


The battle plan behind this list:
Delete annoying units at range with my archers and fury of khaine if I get it e.g. Shades, flyers, hand gunners. Effectively any lightly armoured unit that shoots or is fast.

Hit units on combonation with phoenix guard and sword masters one at a time.

Destroy artillery with dragon princes and some times eagles.

Delay enemy units, so that I can pick him apart piece by piece, with eagles.

Augment my self with magic, use flames to reduce huge units so that they are more manageable by my elites. Also spells like flames and drain shut down their magic and hence defend my rather fragile army.

Motivation behind the choices:
special choices, my sword masters put out 20 attacks, so even after they have lost 5 they are still highly effective. Then I chose dragon princes and Phoenix guard for their excellent saves(s)

Core, I really don't like being shot, so I want to remove enemy shooting as soon as possible and also take out units that are Baisicly a spanner in the works (e.g. Eagles)

Rare: to throw a spanner in the works!

Character: I really want to shut the enemy magic down as much as possible as such I invested in the level 4, also combined with my high shooting I can mitigate damage rather effectively and as such I am able to get by with only LD 9 (due to less panic tests, and pocket rocket sword masters rarely lose combat [I have had them flee failing insane courage before])

So what I need to do to win effectively, other than just doing what my battle plan says:
Realise that my army dies soft as a breeze. With this piece of information in mind I focus my arch Mage and all my shooting on mitigating their shooting and ranged damage, if I were not to do this my sword masters would never reach combat. Another usefull tactic is to use Phoenix guard as hard cover for them in the deployment phase (I always assume I will be second)

I need to concentrate my force. In fact this is the single most important thing, if you don't do this then you are going to have to accept that you WILL LOSE if you don't, what you effectively aim to do is to destroy one unit in exactly 2 rounds of combat (or failing that one) since then you are shielded from shooting in his turn, but you can move in the turn after you charged (which tends to be better, but watch for traps! Like what would happen to the clan rats in the following)

A good example of force concentration is here: (not the best, but good enough)

Here I have set up a rather nasty set up, of he charges his clan rats in he gets hit by the sword masters and the dragon princes next turn. And that will destroy him completely meaning that the ogres aren't an issue. If he moves the ogres forward, they get hit by the DP if he moves the rats forward, he gets hit hit by the sword masters and Phoenix guard
So why did I not move forward this turn? Well I wanted the charge to be long for him and hence he would probably fail and land up in the perfect place to be hit with all three units. Secondly I didn't really want 13 phoenix guard fighting 30 clan rats, since they wouldnt survive that well.
So the decision here was to let flames of the Phoenix keep burning, then move the sword masters right in front of the ogres, then send the Phoenix guard right in front of the storm vermin when the were clan rats were effectivly useless (since flames would hit again!)
Then the dragon princes and shooting would sort out the witches until the sword masters and phoenix guard arrived. (after sword masters had chewed through the ogres, clan rats and storm vermin!)

Looking at the corsairs on the other side, the plan here is to delay with the eagle (they need to charge, and when they do they have to combat reform orgo the wrong way.) then I will move the smaller unit of archers in as a sacrifice, in the same maner, and probably retreat my large unit of archers in the same turn, at this point. Would try and hit them with vauls unmaking (to remove the nasties that the unit and sorceress may be hiding) and flames of the Phoenix.

Not a perfect plan but against 2000 points of two of the best armies in the game is never easy. And it illustrates the point. (even if the skaven list was pretty bad)

In summary of what a list like this tries to do:
Set up favourable situations (e.g. Abusing archers 6" advantage over RXBs all my dark elf opponents hate RXBs now.) and charge opputunies. This is where you want to form situations with say sword masters taking a charge, then next turn you hit the unit in the flanks with pg/wl and hence kill the unit quickly.

Remove anything that can shoot or mess with your battle plan. The most vital part of the shooting phase is focussing fire, a few depleted units gives no victory points. If you kill something with shooting, then you can focus all your CC on one unit and destroy that as well.

Here is where you try to patch the holes in your list e.g. Shield of saphery on sword masters, or simply throwing a curse of arrow attraction on a unit to ensure its death. Then the other key is shutting down enemy magic
Scroll use: it's simple enough, but easy to get wrong, essentially you dispel all the small spells he sends at you then you scroll the 6 dice mind razor. Now nothing has gone through!
Sigil: slightly different, the idea here is to scroll only the nasty spell. E.g. Life, rather use this on throne than dwellers, since throne means that he is almost always safe and buffs everything. So slightly different here, but generally the same.

Destroy units with huge amounts of force in small areas.(with units like sword masters we really can do this!)

How to beat enemies like dark elves and ogres who are very very good:
This is never easy for us, but simply put pick a unit and delete it, with ogres the best for this job is either dragon princes (so they don't get stomp) and white lions for their high S. but something like archers with flaming sword are highly effective, another good way of stopping the ogres is using CR via a large unit of sword masters, things like flames of the Phoenix runnin on them and finishing with a hammer unit.

Dark elves and other elite and cheap armies:
Pick a unit and delete it, then don't stop shooting/ magic till its dead. Then pick another and destroy it, for me the first target is RXBs since they are evil. Then witches since they die to shooting in droves.

Against enemies like the prior mentioned, you need to make sure you get VP via unit deletion and focusing force is even more vital because for example witches have 3 attacks apiece so if even one remains, your hammer can't move on next turn and may take damage.

Armies like skaven:
Honestly this is a tall order, avoid tarpits and use spells like dwellers and flames on them then maybe sword masters in the flank to get your VP and remove their tarpit. However what you want to do is annihilate things like the hell pit, destroy artillery, hunt down characters. Simply put avoid the tarpit and hit where they don't want to be hit.
Therefore they are rarely a good match up for us.

Good starts (purchasing wise)
I have found 2 islands of blood to be brilliant, I dont use the sea guard much at this points level but they make great spear elves. If you do this, just convert the command duplicate into rank and file troops. Also great to sell of the rule book and skaven as a package.

Battalion, I left this option because I have the islands of blood, but this and a Mage or prince kit looks like a good entry since the lion chariot is a good hammer, the spear elves are a bit small but they are effective, then a unit of 20 archers is always great! And the bolt thrower can augment your shooting very effectively, brilliant for removing knights.

Second hand, you will often find people selling say: 30 spear elves, a box of archers, a noble kit and 10 white lions. If you think you can use most of the models, these offered tend to be a great buy since they tend to be about half the cost of the new models, so if it has all the models you need and is a similar cost to just those units new, more often than not its worth getting.

Things to remember:
We die very easily.
We have a low model count.
For the reasons stated above; our army does not forgive mistakes, so take the extra time to plan!
We have high quality attacks, and large amounts of them in units like sword masters and dragon princes, so we can easily concentrate force where we want to.
We have good movement and access to flyers, hence we can and must pick our fights.
We have an innate +1 to dispel so a level 2 with a scroll or the sigil of ausryan is more than enough to defend against enemy magic (and access to drain magic as well!!)

At the end of the day we are a bad army for beginners, but if you can understand the elves, they will work for you! So good luck out there and post battle reports! :)

Any thing you think I can add? Or something you disagree with (bearing in mind that this is for beginners and is not about being the best build out there)

Last edit: vs. ridiculous enemies.

The Arch Mage of light and true magic

600 trolls and climbing! :mrgreen:

if you are drowning out there as a beginner, I hope this helps.

my army lists

Last edited by Arch Mage on Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:06 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 9:33 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:29 pm
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Location: London
As a relative beginner I think this is very useful. Would White Lions work instead of Pheonix Guard? I have a friend who swears by them equipped with the banner of the world serpent.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:12 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:49 pm
Posts: 727
I have used them and I think they are probably a better choice, but I prefer Phoenix guard since they can clean up after the game and they would be able to hold the clan rats in this instance due to their ward.
The other reason I use them is I prefer their models to white lions :D

The reason for white lions being good is they have a good save to shooting and they can effectively kill things, however if they lose combat they are stubborn making them brilliant!

Sword masters are good because they really do hit like a freight train (20 attacks from this unit) and although they die easily I can afford to lose 5, so I gave them the banner of swiftness to spend less time being shot (since I play against empire and woodies..) they just need careful planning, in that sense, but they can take pretty much anything 20 models or less on (30 if they are skaven)

The Arch Mage of light and true magic

600 trolls and climbing! :mrgreen:

if you are drowning out there as a beginner, I hope this helps.

my army lists

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:30 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:18 pm
Posts: 132
To any beginners reading this, MSU is both fun and effective, but if you aren't extremely good, you will lose. Trust me, I know :wink:. For that reason, I probably wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

What phase to win in: This game is won and lost in the movement phase, regardless of what your list looks like.
RBTs: I have to disagree with this one. They're a great shooting unit, and you shouldn't be pushing the rare cap with just eagles.
Eagles: To reiterate, take them. You won't use them very effectively at first, and they won't seem like they're worth it, but that's just because they're difficult to use. The difficulty in using them isn't something to get discouraged by, but rather reason to start learning how to use them early.
The list: Except for the characters, I like it. It may be worth it to drop the mage down to level 2 and squeeze out a BSB. Also, for defense, the Annulian Crystal would probably be better than the Sigil, especially for beginners.
PG vs WL: These are actually completely different units. Putting in Lions would still leave you an effective army, but they should not be used in the same way.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:25 am 
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:49 pm
Posts: 727
Yup I agree a bsb would be better, and so would the crystal, but I have experience with the list and hence I used it in the example. (oh the reason the sigil works in this list is with +5 to dispel you tend to be ok in terms of slow shut down, and drain also works nicely in the same way as the crystal)

For the RBTs the reason I think they aren't worth adding as a beginner at this point level is they are a bit to hit or miss and too much of your army at that. They are also only 2 wounds so I think that they are too easy to lose due to mistakes to warrant them being worth while as a beginner.

MSU though i agree will be fun, but its definitely not a good start, rather start on a list like this then just add more units rather than making them bigger then you move up points levels.
And yes it's true that you win or lose in the movement phase, but the less that is going on the harder it is to make bad descisions :P

The Arch Mage of light and true magic

600 trolls and climbing! :mrgreen:

if you are drowning out there as a beginner, I hope this helps.

my army lists

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:49 pm
Posts: 727
I haven't edited this in since it isn't exactly a tactics gem, but:

Try playing other armies:
It is often very useful to have a chat with someone else about their army, and possibly playing them then swapping army and playing again.
The reason behind this is you can see what they view as the key parts of their army and have some fun! It is also rather interesting seeing just how easy it is to beat your list, and as such it is a great way of improving your list.

The Arch Mage of light and true magic

600 trolls and climbing! :mrgreen:

if you are drowning out there as a beginner, I hope this helps.

my army lists

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:42 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:18 pm
Posts: 132
For beginners, learning how to improve is just as important as learning the basics, so the army swap is definitely something that should be included. In my experience, the best advantage of the army swap is seeing how someone else, ideally an experienced player, plays your army. That being said, it is very important to learn other armies' rules, especially those of your regular opponents. Then you avoid situations like my recent game against VC, when I learned that hexwraiths were ethereal when they charged my sword masters.

Other than that, the biggest advice I can give is one of mindset. Play games. You're new, and most of the people you go up against will not be. This means that you will lose a lot. Try to recall the game later, and figure out the biggest factor that contributed to your loss. Next time the situation comes up, try to correct it by changing your overall plan as little as possible. It will only be one improvement per game, but you will be improving every game, which will add up as you play more.

I would also like to touch on IoB vs Batallion briefly. If you have a Skaven player willing to buy half of the Island of Blood set, I would recommend one of each. This gives you a pretty solid starting point, especially if you are fine with proxying the Reavers for Dragon Princes and the Griffin as an Eagle. Other than the Reavers, who aren't very suitable as a permanent proxy, this gives you a lot of models, all of which find their way into the armies of experienced players.

With those out of the way, it's time to talk about the strategic aspect. What Arch Mage went for is a classic example of a refused flank, in which you deploy all of your strong units on one half of the board, essentially trying to fight half of your opponent's army with all of yours. It's one of the simplest strategies, but it's a classic because it's highly effective if you can pull it off. Eagles are great for holding up the half of the army that you are not engaging, like Arch Mage did against the unit labeled "C".

One nitpick I have, though it may be too advanced for this thread, is why did you have your PG and SM units where they were? Generally, you would put the more durable unit in the middle to hold off the reinforcing units. Was it just to get better matchups?

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