Elven Tactics Compilation

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  • Greetings!

    In the past few weeks I've spent some of my hobby time writing tactics articles in the elven subforums, each discussing a different aspect of the game. (mainly from a Sylvan Elf perspective). Even though the tactics are focused on elves, a good deal of them can be "ported" to other races with a little bit of work. So I thought I'd share these with you, since I'm fairly certain that most of you do not venture into the sylvan elf subforum:

    Getting the Secondary Objectives: Sylvan Elves in the brave new world.

    If there is one thing that 9th brought into the game, it is objectives. In tourrnament play, these count for 3 points, while denying your opponent another 3. This is a 6 point differential that can make the difference between a loss and a win (or at least a draw).

    A frequently discussed issue on the forums is how the SE are not well equipped to play the objective game, due to their hit-and-run, guerilla warfare style. The more I play 9th Age games, the more I believe that this is not true: we have all the tools necessary to grab the objectives, but there are some things to take into consideration:

    1. Patience!

    The goal of the game is to hold the secondary objectives with more scoring units than your opponent by the end of turn 6. Getting there early (in the take-and-hold scenarios) will not accomplish anything. This is where most of the critics about the relationship of SE with secondary objectives stem from: there are only a couple of units in our book capable of grinding the opposition one-on-one, so it is in your best interest to take your time and plan ahead to get the objective during late game.

    2. Non-scoring units are VERY important:

    You can also consider these as the heavy lifters in your army: these are the units that you can risk to kill the enemy scorers and to do most of your fighting. Losing them will "only" lose you victory points, but it won't give away any banner points and it won't hamper your chances of winning the objective. This becomes a lot more important in the "breakthrough" and the "capture the flags" scenarios.

    Putting a banner on every unit with scoring potential may seem like a good idea, but it will probably come back to haunt you whenever you roll the "capture the flag" scenario. It is your opponent who decides which ones of your units are the targets, and it is easier to keep safe a unit that is kitted out for close combat (big unit of Rangers/Forest Guardians or Thicket Beasts comes to mind), or units that will probably be out of combat and as far away from action as possible (Sylvan Archers and/or small Heath Riders are in this category).

    So while MSU Forest Rangers are awesome, they are perhaps not the most efficient of scoring units for the reasons outlined above. Or they may be, depending on your battle plan.
    But the bottom line is: pick your scoring units wisely, and do bring a number of non-scoring units that can have an impact on the battle; there will be times when your scorers will have to just bide their time while the Treefathers and Bladedancers do their thing.

    3. Getting the first turn is a TRAP!

    Yes, you heard me. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is my firm belief that in most cases, playing second is a boon:
    First off, the moment you forget about going first, you start outdeploying your opponent. If anything, Sylvan Elves can bring more units than most armies out there, and also have the mobility to rapidly redeploy if need be. So getting your matchups right is more critical than getting that first volley off. (as a plus, you WILL get the first volley anyway; more on that later)

    Vanguarding units play a huge role in that pre-game sequence. You can drop the kestrels to confuse your opponent, then vanguard them 12" behind cover and closer to another part of the battlefield. On a side note: NEVER vanguard to a place where it will give your opponent a chance to jump your fast units. It is rarely worth it, unless you are 100% sure you'll get the first turn.

    A weakness of the elves is that they're not very resilient and die in droves to enemy fire. Going second means that the first turn volley of a dedicated shooting army will probably do nothing to your troops: you get a free forest to hide in, you've got brilliantly resilient skirmishers to screen your T3 elves, you've got Thicket Beasts to hide your shapeshifters behind. And more importantly, you've got Sylvan Archers, Sentinels and Pathfinders who can move between 5 and 10" and shoot without incurring any penalties.

    Use this to your advantage, grab some cover and weather the initial volley. Then you get to do your thing!

    What does that get you, objective-wise? It gives you the opportunity to move your fragile scoring units in position at the bottom of turn 6, without risking anything. 5 Heath rIders with banner will die to a stiff breeze, but with their 18" march move they can contest or claim the central objective from half across the battlefield. The same applies to the Secure target objective and to the Breakthrough.

    Now that the general considerations are done, lets move to the specifics of each scenario:

    i) Hold Ground:
    For this one you will need to decide whether your army is build to take and hold the objective early on, or contest it. This becomes apparent from list design; if your main combat unit is 8 Thicket Beasts with a Shepherd BSB, then this unit will probably march into the objective, and invite anyone and anything to come and get it. While not that subtle, it gives a certain advantage: if you get there first, the opponent will have to give you an opening if he wants to contest it: he'll have to give the Thicket Beasts a charge.

    On the other hand, if your biggest unit is a unit of 10 Forest Rangers, then it's clear that your goal is to single out the enemy support, kill it fast and then focus on the scoring units: you will want to either strike fast during endgame, or not strike at all: moving more scoring units within 6" of the center than your opponent will also do the trick.

    ii) Secure Target:
    This one is tricky, I've been trying to decide what the best approach to this scenario is. Getting to place one of the objectives is like saying: this is where the fight is going to be. Or it can also be interpreted as: one of your scoring units will be out of action for the entire game.

    The advantages of each approach depend on what the opposition is bringing. it goes without saying that if the opponent has long-ranged scoring units then perhaps placing an objective marker deep inside his deployment zone is perhaps not the best idea. But if you're facing Wrath Warriors of the Dark gods, then you might consider trying to force your opponent to "waste" his crushers or his warriros to safeguard the objective.

    If he bites, then all is well for you: you're fighting 300+ points less, and you may also be able to contest the objective during the late game. If he doesn't then it means that the objective marker is ripe for the taking, if you have fast moving units. If you don't, then you will have to approach the scenario like the Hold Ground above.

    iii) Capture the Flags:
    That's where things start getting interesting! If your opponent hasn't read this guide, he may have small and relatively squishy candidates for this scenario. Pick your targets well: if you only pick small units that your opponent can afford to hide, you've just shot yourself in the foot. The point of the scenario is to single out units that will make your opponents think twice befoore putting them somewhere where they can influence the battle.

    A good example is shooting units: these are usually small, and they need line of sight to have any impact on the battle. Having line of sight means that they are also accessible by your magic missiles and shooting troops. You see where this is going...

    iv) Breakthrough:

    There are two ways to approach this: one is to plan on hitting the enemy lines, breaking them and punching through. The other is to send your fast units into the enemy deployment zone, while your combat units try to keep the opponent's scorers out of yours. It's like a Rugby game, really. Again, this depends on what you've brought to the battlefield: small heath rider units will excel in the second type of game, while Thicket Beasts and Forest Rangers will probably need to fight their way to the touchdown.

    Fun fact: the diagonal deployment usually allows a flanking archer unit to get inside the enemy deployment zone by moving and shooting, do not underestimate the power of archers deployed on a denied flank.

    So there you have it, my take on secondary objectives and how to tackle them. Looking forward to reading your thoughts!


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