Dread Elves vs. Sylvan Elves

Introduction

After beating the Beast Herds commanded by UK, in the same week on 8th of May (there was a public holiday in Germany) I also fought the forest devils aka the Sylvan Elves of my favourite opponent and archenemy extraordinare SH.

We decided on „real“ 2500 points armies and everything else to be played by the book.

The Bleak Legion01-bleaklegion

  • Dread Prince – General, Raptor, Strength Potion, Dragonscale Helm, Ogre Sword, Dusk Stone
  • Captain – Battle Standard Bearer, Cult of Yema, Crimson Mail, Kingslayer, Shield
  • Captain – Pegasus, Cult of Yema, Midnight Cloak, Heavy Armour, Lance, Shield
  • Assassin – Path of Bloody Murder, Distracting, Ward Save (4+), Ring of Shadows, Screaming Swords
  • Oracle – Path of Fire, Level 2, Dispel Scroll, Obsidian Pebble
  • 8x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 5x Dark Raiders – Repeater Crossbows, Shields
  • 13x Repeater Auxiliaries – Musician, Standard Bearer
  • 21x Dread Legionnaires – Full Command
  • 7x Dread Knights – Full Command, Holy Icon
  • 15x Dancers of Yema – Skirmish, Full Command, Banner of Speed
  • 5x Dark Acolytes – Champion
  • Dread Reaper – Repeating Shots
  • Dread Reaper – Repeating Shots
  • Dread Reaper – Repeating Shots

I decided to give the skirmishing Dancers of Yema a second chance and this time, I planned to enhance them with both a BSB and an Assassin, while also making them crazy fast. I reckoned, that SH would field an army more geared towards shooting than last time. The other „hammer“ should be my Dread Knights, while the Reapers should thin the enemy lines from behind.

Sylvan Elves

  • Forest Prince – General, Sacred Spear of Caledor, Divine Icon, Mithril Mail, Obsidian Pebble
  • High Druid – Path of Black Magic, Level 4, Unicorn, Book or Arcane Power, Talisman of Supreme Shielding
  • Druid – Path of Black Magic, Level 2, Dispel Scroll, Gemstone Amulet
  • Chieftain – Battle Standard Bearer, Fire Blight Penchant, Hero’s Sword, Hardened Shield, Elven Cloak
  • Dryad Matriarch – Toxic Spores, Wizard Adept, Level 2, Path of Wilderness
  • 38x Forest Guard – Shields, Full Command, Amryl’s Banner
  • 15x Dryads – Skirmisher, Champion
  • 5x Blade Dancers – Champion
  • 5x Blade Dancers – Champion
  • 6x Thicket Beasts – Champion
  • 3x Kestrel Knights – Skirmisher, Shields, Light Armour, Full Command
  • 3x Kestrel Knights – Skirmisher, Shields, Light Armour, Full Command
  • 5x Pathfinders – Champion

SH once again knew how to surprise his opponent. Instead of using more shooting, he used even less and switched to Black Magic. His list consisted of many scary things: Blade Dancers have WS 6 and more initiative than my troops. The Kestrel Knights are fast and have enough strength plus armour piercing to be dangerous to nearly everything I fielded. A very dangerous army for me to encounter, once again he favoured skirmishing units heavily.

Terrain, Magic, Deployment02-deployment

Unluckily for me, there were quite some forests on the table and the hill moving forward in the centre would have blocked my view considerably if I tried to bunker on the far flank. For spells I got Fireball and Burning Bolts. The High Druid got Moraec’s Fury, Bladewind, Crippling Agony and Bolt of Darkness. The Druid Freezing Gale and Mark of Fear. The Dryad Matriarch had The Beast Within and Swarm of Insects.

For deployment we rolled classic battle line and hold the ground as secondary objective.

SH deployed strongly on one flank, trying to deny the other one. I placed my Dancers of Yema there, trying to roll up the flank with my M7 infantry. During vanguard I tried to deny forward movement of his Kestrel Knights with my Dark Raiders. SH opted to send one unit back to guard the far flank and the others moved forward behind the field.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 103-se1

Movement: My first big blunder became obvious, when SH was able to move his Kestrel Knights so far forward, that my Pegasus Captain was not able to see them anymore. This certainly was the biggest single mistake in this game and hopefully in a long time. Otherwise the Forest Guard moved forward, flanked by the Thicket Beasts and one unit of Blade Dancers. The Dryads stayed farther back, keeping the battle line intact, while the Pathfinders moved their wizard into position.

Magic: 6+1, Dread Elves channel. Swarm of Insects on Dread Reaper (2+1+1) fails. Bolt of Darkness on Dark Raiders (4+4+4+3) is dispelled (6+6+5+5+3+1+1).

Shooting: Pathfinder on Dread Reaper: No wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Dread Elves Turn 104-de1

Movement: The Pegasus Captain moved beside the Kestrels to prevent them from getting into my back. The Dark Raiders blocked the advancement of the Forest Guard, while the Acolytes moved themselves into a position for a Bolt of Darkness. The Dancers made haste on the far flank, as did the Dark Raiders who circled around the impassable terrain. Legionnaires and Dread Knights remained more or less still.

Magic: 6+3, both channel. Bolt of Darkness on Pathfinders (3+2+2+2) fails as well. Magic didn’t seem to be lucky for either one of us today. Medium Fireball on the Pathfinders (5+3+2) is dispelled (3+3+2+1). Burning Bolts on the Pathfinders (6+5+3) is dispelled with the Dispel Scroll.

Shooting:

  • Dark Raiders on Forest Guard: Two wounds.
  • Dark Raiders on Blade Dancers: One wound.
  • Repeater Auxiliaries on Forest Guard: No wounds.
  • All Dread Reapers on Forest Guard: Five wounds.

Close Combat: None.

Sylvan Elves – Turn 205-se2

Movement: The Kestrel Knights and Blade Dancers charged the Dancers of Yema, unaware of the Assassin hiding there. Both connected. The other Blade Dancers charged the flank of the Dark Raiders.

The Dryads advanced carefully and the High Druid left the Thicket Beasts and positioned herself within 18“ of the Dread Knights. The Kestrel Knights moved all the way down into the corner of the battle field. The Pathfinders moved backwards a little.

Magic: 5+5, Dread Elves channel. Insect Swarm on Dread Reaper (6+2+2) is dispelled (6+6+1+1). Bolt of Darkness on the Dread Knights (6+6+5+2) results in a miscast. I let it through and it kills six Dread Knights. The miscast is Witch Fire, dealing one wound to the High Druid.

Shooting: Pathfinders use the Starlight Shafts targeting the Dark Acolytes: Three wounds.

Close Combat: The Blade Dancers wipeout the Dark Raiders and reform.

In the other combat the Assassin reveals himself. His screaming swords cause fear in the hearts of the Kestrels and their Knights. The Assassin fails to deliver a wound and the BSB also does only one wound, allowing all Kestrels to strike. The Kestrel Knights slay the Captain with the Battle Standard. The Kestrels and Blade Dancers continue to slay eight additional Dancers of Yema. The Blade Dancer Champion slays the Dancers of Yema champion in the challenge, while the Dancers of Yema only manage to inflict two wounds with their great weapons. The Dancers of Yema flee and are run down.

Deciding Moments, Mistakes, etc.

At this point I concede the game. My two elite fighting forces, the Dread Knights and the Dancers of Yema are basically wiped out. The Pegasus Captain was looking foward to play hide & seek with the Kestrel Knights and the rest of his army would not have been impressed by twenty legionnaires and some Dread Reapers.

Although the second turn of the Sylvan Elves was particularly unlucky for me, I cannot deny some basic mistakes I made, as well as some very good moves by my opponent. The Kestrel Knights should never have been allowed to fly by my Pegasus Captain. This denied me the opportunity to advance with my Dread Knights and basically made the whole flank a bad proposition for me. Additionally I probably should have cornered anyway, even when the hill was in a bad position for myself.

The BSB would also have been much more efficient on that flank, fighting against units with characters in them.

From a balancing perspective I sadly have to confirm that Dancers of Yema as Skirmishers just don’t cut it. There output with a WS5, S3, A1 base is just too low to ever win an important fight. They are fast, but have nowhere the damage ouptut you would need from an Elven special infantry. Compared to Blade Dancers with their Paired Weapons, Armour Piercing, S4, +1 Attack Dance and higher weapon skill they look like a bad joke. For the Assassin: How I wished I have had the Headsmen’s Axe with me. I wanted to play without it this time and it proved to be a mistake. The Ring of Shadow is nice, but nowhere as effective as those two hits would have been outright killing two Kestrel Knights and winning the fight easily.

Speaking of the Kestrel Knights: Wow. They are brutally fast and agile, can vanguard and are tough (T4, 4+). On the attack each model as four attacks two S5 and two S4 each with armour piercing. I don’t see any reason why a Sylvan Elves player should not play with at least two units of them. They can even take a full command. Opponents will have a hell of a day protecting their backfield against them. And with their combat prowess, they’ll be able to charge anything short of the very best characters.

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