The sylvan elf beta book: an in-depth review.

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  • The sylvan elf beta book: an in-depth review.

    The sylvan elf beta book: an in-depth review.


    Greetings, denizens of the forest!
    This post will take a look at the new SE book, the potential synergies that arise from the new rules as well as the shortcomings, in the writer's humble opinion. I hope it will also feed the discussion about how to best use our new army, as well as what to change in future versions.
    Bear in mind that this represents my views and educated guesses; real life obligations (and painting an entire Empire of Sonnstahl army) have unfortunately prevented me from playing v2.0 games so far.

    The article's structure is as follows: I'll go through the Core, Special, FoF, UA and Forest Giant sections, then I'll focus on characters, magic items and spell synergy.

    CORE:
    This is where the majority of scoring comes from, as well as a good amount of the rank and file troops. The basic issue we've had in the past was that SE are not the typical RnF army, instead relying on superior maneuvers and mobility to swarm the enemy with small hard hitters. That's not to say that we don't need the core units, or that they're useless. They just represent "dead weight" if you're going for a fast force.

    - Forest Guard: these have retained their elite stats and low price, and have traded the Lethal Strike against cavalry with something more effective, globally. With agility 7 and ap(2) when getting charged, these are guaranteed first strike against most opponents. Ap(2) makes all the difference in the world against 1+ save cavalry, and synergizes quite well with the strength magic buffs. I consider FG to be a steal at their current price, the only issue being that I don't have enough models to field two 25-strong units.

    - Sylvan Archers: not much has changed for them, they are still a very good choice if you're in the market for long ranged support. Quick to fire and the modification to the volley fire rules makes them even more likely to win shoot-outs one-on-one.

    - Dryads: Cheap as chips scorers are always nice, although what bothers me is the lack of incentive for medium-sized units. I can see uses for the 8-strong skirmish and RnF, as well as uses for the 24- strong Line Formation big block. But I cannot see why someone would bring a 15-strong RnF unit, or anything in between. The ease with which we can get a +1S/+1AP buff on our units nowadays may put a big block back in my list, but time will tell.

    - Heath Riders: that's the part that makes me anxious. The blanket Sylvan Longbow buff makes these very useful, perhaps a tad too useful even. Having tried the 5-strong 4+ armour scorers in the past, I can honestly say that they won't be making my lists anytime soon; they are too fragile to be relied upon for scoring. Slow and steady does it for scoring in SE, counter-intuitive as that may sound. I'll be trying out two medium-sized units with vanguard, they seem like Dark Riders on steroids, and we all know how effective these can be.

    Some of the core setups I'll be trying are the following:

    a) 2x8 Scoring Dryads, 25 Forest Guard FC, 2x6 Longbow Heath Riders
    b) 8 Skirmish Dryads, 27 Forest Guard FC, 20 Sylvan Archers M
    c) 3x 15 Sylvan Blade Forest Guard M, 24 Dryads C

    The first one is about testing the changed units, second is my tried and tested core formation and the third one is there to free up UA and FoF points for some extreme lists. (More on that later)

    SPECIAL:
    Also known as the section that I never have points for. On paper, Forest Rangers seem very nifty and Thicket beasts are a steal for T5 4+/5++ scorers. However, these points are subtracted from the pool of FoF and UA points, and I find that I rarely have enough left to even consider investing in them. If I absolutely had to, here's my thoughts:

    - Forest Rangers: vanguard looks good on them, although my personal favorite is the synergy with Witchcraft and the Banner of speed. With a base advance move of 6 (7 with the Speed Banner), they are one spell away from becoming the equivalent of cavalry. This plays right up our strengths, and I can see decent combinations with the Drums of Cenyrn that will make opponents think twice before exposing their units. The way that the new Line formation works, a unit of 24 is a good and not too expensive addition. Their offensive power is as good as ever, a full unit will be able to munch through a good amount of enemy elites.

    - Thicket Beasts: These have never failed me, so I practically don't have the right to criticize them. Their pricing is more than decent, and I've seen posters pointing out how units of 3 may be our most reliable scorers. Now that Treesinging is guaranteed, I see them as immovable objects claiming objectives inside forests. Think about Hold the Ground, for example. You can move the forest right on top of the objective on turn 1, then have them move in on the following turn and start claiming points. It is a way to force the enemy's hand, too. You cannot reliably deal with them from afar, especially if we're talking about a full unit of 6. So you'll be forced to engage them, and we all know what happens to units that get stuck in forests, fighting Sylvan stubborn anvils.

    Given the low amount of scoring units in our armies, I cannot justify the investment for an Entwined Roots unit anymore. If you really want S5 Ap3 Thicket Beasts (who wouldn't, right?) I suggest investing in a Cosmology/Shamanism duo and casting the spell at the right moment.

    FLEET OF FOOT:
    This is where it all begins and ends for me; our most iconic units are crammed into this section, and I'm always hard pressed to pick from them.

    - Kestrel Knights: They have been a staple of my armies for the past two years, and won me more battles than I can count. They now come with a smaller frontage, which will definitely help with fitting them into tight spaces and getting the most out of them in combat. I think I will continue fielding them in a 2-wide formation, the loss of 2 attacks is a small price compared to the added maneuverability. The addition of Sylvan Longbows has me thinking about not paying for the shields. Having something to do while maneuvering is nice, and 2 units of 3 give you half a SA unit's worth of shots.

    - Wild Huntsmen: Oh boy... the last thing these guys needed were to become more expensive, more front-loaded, more unreliable and less survivable. Yet that's exactly what happened, to my dismay. Yes, they do not have to overrun after winning combat, but they are easier to bait and much easier to kill because of their drop in Defensive skill. The combination of a ton of attacks and Battle Focus is quite nice, but it makes them a one-trick pony.
    My personal preference would have been a unit of Kestrel Knights on horseback: fast, vanguard, good shooting protection, effective on the charge, difficult to hit in close combat. I'd sacrifice one attack and Frenzy/Battle Focus for that, effectively going back to a variant of 6th edition Wild Riders.

    Long story short: if I wanted to play Feral Orc Boar Riders, I'd be stocking up on goblin green paint. As it happens, I prefer skilled and nimble elves.

    - Bladedancers: For one, I'm very happy with this change. I was expecting more of a price drop, or at least the ability to field units of 5 dancers. But at 260 points, a unit of 8 is our multitasker. I had grown weary of having to hide scoring BD in the capture the flags scenario, and look forward to using them aggressively once more. 2 units of 8 now cost as much as my old unit of 12 cost! The OS5 drop is more of an aesthetic issue than anything else, and the addition of "ignore parry" to their Sylvan Blades makes them even more capable of dealing with enemy infantry.

    - Briar Maidens: I may be the only one to notice this, but the loss of the "may always stand and shoot" clause of the Quick to Fire rule really bugs me. The main attraction of a big unit of BM was, to me, the way that it represented a hard counter to almost every monster in the game. Move in short range, pepper the monster with 10 javelins, then SnS in short range once more and finally kill the beast with the poisoned close combat attacks.
    This is now more difficult, not to mention that if you're more than 6" away (average advance range of a monster on foot) then the monster in question can probably wheel past/charge past the BMs.
    The upgrade in magic is a welcome change, and as far as I know makes them the only conclave to have access to two 6th level spells. I'd be hard pressed to choose between them, but I'd probably settle for Curse of the Wildwood and Truth of time just for their "must dispel" nature.

    Overall, a mixed bag of changes for our FoF section. I'd be willing to sacrifice some hitting power to get actual highly maneuverable cavalry, but I'm sure that a good part of the community won't agree.

    UNSEEN ARROWS:
    Given my reputation of playing SE as elven Beast Herds, I am not the best person to comment on these changes. However, one thing seems apparent to me: you either go big, or you go home when it comes to fragile skirmishing archers. Barring point availability, there is no reason for a general to invest in 5 pathfinders or 5 sentinels.

    - Sentinels: ranged and CC AP(1) and poison are good changes, that will no doubt make them more frequent additions to army lists. A unit of 10 sentinels parked inside a forest can reliably halt the advance of a monster and potentially even kill it in the process. Point cost is reasonably low for them, making the inevitable fireball that comes their way less painful.

    - Pathfinders: Yay for more simplicity! Picking between AP(3) or Aim (0+) is all that if used to boil down to anyway, and the S4 in close range will promote aggressive play with them. What I really miss is the random threat factor that 6th edition Waywatchers used to have. At close range, you just couldn't ignore them, lest you risk a character getting killed with a lucky 6. The psychological impact was non negligible, and is missing nowadays. The fact that they cost almost as much as 2 units of Bladedancers is what worries me. The new magic phase means that if someone wants to cast magic missiles on them, they will probably succeed. And every 43-point elf counts.

    FOREST GIANTS:
    - Treefathers: they got cheaper, got a nifty unstoppable ability in the form of Treesinging, what's not to like. The flaming banner is not one use only, although we'll have to wait and see if it is still omnipresent once the dust settles. Overall, still one of the better ways of spending your points if you ask me.


    HEROES:
    Disclaimer: I have never been a fan of spending lots of points on characters, unless they bring something to the table that a unit cannot. The main reason I prefer fantasy battles to other skirmish games is the feel of having lots of maneuver elements and impressive units on the field, and every character I buy means I can bring less troops. They say that one man's garbage is another man's treasure, and that applies here.


    - Princes/Chieftains: If I had to sum up the changes overall, I'd say that we can now get characters that are even hittier in close combat, but they will definitely be less survivable. With leadership being average, the only motivation for bringing a Prince is making the most out of magic item allowance and getting character/monster killing combos. Since I prefer to leave this duty to my units or plain avoid uber-characters, I've been wracking my brain to find ways to bring a utility prince to the mix.

    In the end, I came up with the following:

    Bladedancer Prince, Crown of the Wizard King, Hero's Heart



    At 385 points, he is a nice addition that can ensure a decent magic phase (along with a second wizard or Briar Maiden Conclave), leadership, good offensive potential and has enough magic item allowance to fit in the Crown of Autocracy or the Drums of Cenyrn depending on what you're looking for.

    All in all, I expect the Crown of the Wizard king to make it into a lot of lists due to the way spells are selected nowadays. At 80 points, and given the fact that most of our characters cannot make the most out of their magic item allowance, the option for an apprentice wizard is a steal.

    - Dryad Ancients: The whole Veil Born debacle has been discussed ad nauseam and I agree with the community consensus. Limiting magic missiles is one thing, but forcing a single (situational) spell from the path on the wizard is a total disaster. However, a Druidism Dryad hero seems to be a better choice than before, now that Summer Regrowth can be guaranteed. If I'm going for a tree-heavy list, I'll be sure to get a Dryad general for that cheap Ld bubble and access to three healing spells without risking getting stuck with Spirits of the Forest and Entwining Roots (fun fact: half of my games in v1.3 I got stuck with spells 3 and 4 from the Druidism path).

    Toxic spores also deserve a second look now that the skirmish rules have changed. Perhaps a medium-sized unit of Dryads will be able to make use of it, especially in conjunction to the Hereditary spell for some advanced maneuvering.

    - Druids: The big winners of the lot. Sure, they don't get light armour or Ld9 as our other elven counterparts, but the buff of Cosmology and the change in spell selection make us the only army with access to both strength buffs in the game. Anyone who has seen what S5 Ap3 bladedancers can do will attest to the advantage this gives us. The fact that they're less likely to blow their unit up is also a nice change, especially when we're talking about T3 elves.

    - Treefather ancients: Avatar got cheaper, so good stuff. The loss of Divination magic missiles will be felt by some, although I always felt that Druidism was a better fit for them. A druidism master with access to Summer Regrowth and Stone Skin in every game is a force multiplier when it comes to SE. Until the Veil Born is fixed, that's my go-to path anyway.

    MAGIC ITEMS:

    Long story short: I couldn't care less about the bows, they are still less reliable than the damned bow of Elu. Spear is still the best equipment a BSB can ask for, and whirlwind blades are a welcome change that has been undermined by the pricing of Hero's Heart. The innate defense part of our armor enchantments means that I won't bother with them either, so that leaves us what I call the utility items. And these are great!

    - Banner of Deception: the uses are countless, depending on your battle plan. But the main attraction is that it mitigates one issue infantry units have in our army book; they tend to get left behind and become easy pickings for the enemy while the rest of the army dances around. With kestrels and heath riders able to rapidly redeploy, and a decent array of scouting units, I can see this becoming a SE mainstay, be it to put a unit out of danger or right in the thick of it.
    I can see a combination with the Mirror to really get a very mobile force, including scorers.

    - Drums of Cenyrn: cheaper, and the kindred limitation lifted. IF you feel the need to bring a character to support one of your units, then I suggest getting this item.
    - Horn of the Wild Hunt: same premise as the drums. If you've got the points, definitely worth bringing. As someone who has been burned one too many times by failing a swiftstride 7 roll, I can see uses for this.

    - Banner of Silent Mist: it is a well known fact that kestrels inside soft cover are practically immune to enemy shooting. Now you get this advantage, plus the possibility to negate the free reform of enemy shooters just by being in proximity. Never have the kestrels been as dangerous. One may try the same trick with Wild Huntsmen, although getting around the flank in one turn will require use of the hereditary spell.

    - Predator pennant: too situational, too expensive and easily replaced by the Spear. However, I can see its use on a unit that is aiming to fight inside forests. You either force the enemy to charge you or get to charge and gain Distracting. It also works on overruns once you've beaten an enemy inside said forest.

    SPELL SELECTION/MAGIC PHASE TACTICS:
    From what I've read and seen in early playtesting, the magic number when it comes to channel is either 3 or 5. This allows you to get a 3-dice differential in most magic phases (channel 5 gives you a 4 dice difference in half the magic phases). I find that channel (3) is what suits SE best, especially if you plan on moving forests early on. So -unless you want to go for the Shadowpath upgrade- I'd suggest 3x Adepts or 2x + talisman of the void.

    Magic Path combinations.
    The obvious one is the Shamanism/Cosmology combo, to get two strength buffs plus the Ice and Fire spell (one of the best magic missiles out there).
    If going for three paths, I'd opt for a utility Briar Maiden Conclave ( Truth of time and Curse of the Wildwood) plus two druids from Shamanism (Awaken the Beast, Insect Swarm, Lightning Vambraces) and Cosmology (Perception of Strength, Ice and Fire and the Hereditary spell through the Magic Heirloom). That's three magic missiles, three combat buffs and three utility spells, more than enough to cause a headache.

    Things obviously change if you opt for a lot of Monsters and/or expensive troops, making Druidism a real option. I feel that a Dryad Ancient is your best choice there, you'll rarely need more than the Master of Earth/Summer Regrowth/Oaken Throne combo. I'd compliment that with a Shamanism druid with Chilling Howl and Swarm of insects for some substantial anti-gunline protection.


    EXPERIMENTAL LIST:

    Here is what I'll be testing soon, just to get the hang of the new elven book:
    ( @casamar @nantuko )

    SmithF wrote:

    HEROES:
    Bladedancer Prince, Sylvan Blades (Touch of Greatness), Crown of the Wizard King, Mist Walker's Mirror
    Forest Guardian Chieftain BSB, Spear (Hunter's Honour), LA, Shield (Willow's Ward)
    Shadowpath Druid Master


    CORE:
    2 x 7 Heath Riders, Longbows
    37 Forest Guard, Full Command, Banner of Deception


    SPECIAL:
    24 Forest Rangers, Banner, Musician, Vanguard, Banner of Speed

    FLEET OF FOOT:
    2 x 3 Kestrels, Standard, Banner of Silent Mist
    12 Bladedancers, Full Command, Predator Pennant


    UNSEEN ARROWS:
    9 Sentinels, Scout, Sylvan Blades

    So that's as tricky a list as I could fit within the 4500 point limitation. It has a scout unit, 5 vanguarding units and two teleporting units. The magic is there to complement the tricky business, with the added wildcard of the Wizard Crown. Shooting is somewhat limited, but we're still talking about 30 Sylvan Bow shots, most of which will be in short range fast.


    To those of you who made it to the end of this post, congratulations.
    I look forward to reading your thoughts, too.

    Take care,

    Smith
    Making up Battle Reports since 1995
    9th Age Battle Reports

    This week I've been painting...
  • You seem to have a quite unique and set way of playing Sylvans that works for you, and that is fantastic, but in defence of Wild Hunters I don't think they've received a nerf at all. What they are now has changed roles, in that they aren't a flanking unit any more. They are a missile, pure and simple, get them into combat and they perform better than ever before, with Int 7 on the charge they give us a huge heads up against other Elves in that these guys can totally dictate the opponents shooting phase or punish them heavily. They are weaker against chaff, but we are the singular best chaff clearing army in the game, so by playing defensive for the first turn or two (perhaps using the age old trick of showing your enemy your rear until you are ready) until the chaff is removed then positioning them for a charge they perform a role that Hawks simply can't.

    As you've said, our magic phase is considerably stronger able to choose our spells. Wild Riders have good synergy with regrowth, +1 Str (You don't wanna see what a unit of 7 Sylvan Blade Wild Riders did to a unit of 21 White Lions on the charge with +1 Str buff, not a single lion survived) and even with our hereditary to make them more resistant to small arms fire.

    Up till now Hawks and Hunters have competed, one just being a flying version of the other, now they have different roles other than just durability, and I'd argue that is job well done by the ACS.
  • Nice write-up and you always return with the voice of reason!(And a whacky list!)

    I share a lot of your thoughts and actually think we got some very fluffy changes this time around. Allthough some of them Arent effective; magic packages, non-synergistic items, and the wildriders. (Havent actually tried em, because i got a bad case of nerdrage when i saw the changes!).

    For me scoring and the character department, including items and magic "kindreds" are the biggest shortcomings(Oh and the hereditary, Go Curse of the mist!). Our fighting characters dont really give anything to the army except the spear bsb and dancer bsb. The druids(and dryad ancient), as you say, gained a lot by the BRB changes but need to be accompanied by a Ld 9 charactertax, which is weaksauce in my opinion.(Also the fact we cost the same as the other elves without any of the cool rules is a bother). Give the druid back Ld 9 and getting some 3+ scoring heath riders perhaps with ambush seems to be some solutions and a new fancy idea of FoF units gaining scoring after killing stuff in combat. The leading by example is all well and good but does not Work atm, and how is a druid meant to lead by example? #Makedruidsdiscipline9again!

    The magic items department you pretty much nail!

    When all that is said im ecstatic about dancers, kestrels and shooting units(also the new eagle when a character worth taking becomes avaible)! While good ol' solid troops are still good; treefathers, guard and briar maidens(although no replicable missile anymore, and apparently the new qtf rule)!

    Looking forward to the battlereports if you get up to doing some of those Again! Cheers!
  • Look forward to seeing how your list pans out and to discussing ideas that come out of play testing. I agree with a lot of your thoughts. I plan to try a big block of spears with a bsb again and feel the blade dancer chieftain is a solid general option, although I prefer the combo @Snarkhunter posted a few weeks ago, Heroes Heart with dragon Staff.

    Magic is the tricky one for me, I totally agree with your consensus of 1 x Shaman adept, 1 x Cosmo adept and maidens as a great choice for magic, but that is an expensive magic combo. That is why I tried a dryad ancient with a big block of dryads, not sure I liked that option either though.

    Your post is great - but I am still strugglin with how best to manage;
    - scoring
    - magic
    - combat threats
    - characters
    all in one list, I feel I need 6000 points to cover what I feel is needed to work
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  • I like very much your post and I more or less agree with everything you say!

    Regarding your list I like the basic concept a lot (especially the wizard king hero :)). What I’m a bit skeptical about is:

    - mist walker mirror, any decent opponent will prevent this move and can take countermeasures

    - banner of deception on a non vanguarding unit is a bit of a waste imho. I would rather play it on rangers and swap the banner of movement which goes to the core Spears

    - banner of the silent mist on kestrels is something I can’t understand :) it is improving something they are already good at, resilience to light shooting and in addition you don’t have enough shooting power to take advantage of the potential failed march tests. I find that one additional kestrel would be more useful and versatile and i’ve Found big units of kestrels with bows very very strong now that the rider can make 2 supporting attacks with a smaller frontage

    - vanguard on rangers. Here we enter a tricky discussion imho. I’ve playtested it for 3 games and I’ve never found it useful because my opponent had units able to charge my rangers turn 1 (with Agility 5 or more on the charge) or able to zone them on a flank. I’ve found instead more useful the banner of speed to do myself zoning (M7” is great for that) while I shoot the opppnent to death and I protect my core archers. It is however a different play style to what you have proposed in your list. It might work but not my piece of cake :)

    - the sentinels are very very good. I always play at least 18. However I find the options for SB and scout too expensive since they are also good at shooting from afar (unlike pathfinders). The only suggestion I can give you is though that you need to play more of them. They are simply too good and now that giants and sphinxes are popular they will rock most of your games (I found them useful against KOE too with the new AP1)

    All in all I haven’t playtested SE in the last 10 days because I find HBE to be play better for single tournaments and I have a very important one soon. I will probably restart testing SE beginning of February after the tournament :(
  • @nantuko , I disagree with you re vanguarding Rangers.

    If I’m likely to take second turn then:
    - vanguard up to receive a long charge. Regardless of if they succeed or fail their line is disrupted. If they choose not to charge then they will be zoned out of charge range in which case I have slowed their advance.
    - vanguard into cover for shooting protection and charge zoning.
    - push into charge range but also set Kestrels etc for heavy countercharges so whicheverunit charged in is essentially sacrificed.

    If first turn:
    - variations on the above to be honest, though I’m likely to push up further to really pressure my opponents lines and potentially sacrifice my Rangers to punch a hole in T2.

    NB: I usually run my Rangers as 18 (6x3) with a Silent Mist Banner for some shooting protection. Big enough to be a threat but not a huge points sink.
    "The combination of lemon and habenero peppers was confusing to me. I will pay for this tomorrow i think." - Rosanjin Scholar, Iron Chef
  • Fleshbeast wrote:

    @nantuko , I disagree with you re vanguarding Rangers.

    If I’m likely to take second turn then:
    - vanguard up to receive a long charge. Regardless of if they succeed or fail their line is disrupted. If they choose not to charge then they will be zoned out of charge range in which case I have slowed their advance.
    - vanguard into cover for shooting protection and charge zoning.
    - push into charge range but also set Kestrels etc for heavy countercharges so whicheverunit charged in is essentially sacrificed.

    If first turn:
    - variations on the above to be honest, though I’m likely to push up further to really pressure my opponents lines and potentially sacrifice my Rangers to punch a hole in T2.

    NB: I usually run my Rangers as 18 (6x3) with a Silent Mist Banner for some shooting protection. Big enough to be a threat but not a huge points sink.
    as I said it was a tricky discussion and I can understand someone may disagree. :)

    However in my test games so far playing with SE, DE and HBE against several opponents (probably a total of 9 games with 2.0) i’ve Always found units that would have wrecked vanguarding rangers and which are somehow faster than them. Some examples i’ve Faced or that in general comes on top of my mind:

    - bus of tribesmen with characters
    - 4 and 5 wide tuskers
    - SM and lions with banner of ryma (they have a higher charge range)
    - vampire knights
    - a block of 3 giants un front of you
    - dread judges with banner of speed
    - ryma knights
    - KOE and banner of the last charge
    - spam of chariots
    - chaos knights and chosen
    - any cowboy with small frontage
    - any fast cav/scout/vanguard unit

    There might be more for sure but this are some examples of units that if you go first will block your vanguard because your opponent will see where you place your rangers and if you vanguard 12” (+10” March in case) then they have a easy charge (except for chaff of course) which will be well within average. Most of those have agility 5/6 on the charge or impact hits meaning your 18 rangers will be eaten for breakfast on average.

    If you deploy second the situation is a little bit better but many of the above mentioned armies can have up to 3 units that will ruin your days so they can spread out to block you again. And i’m Not counting in shooting like catapults which will ruin again your day at short range

    That said there are situations in which vanguard is nice (DH, EOS etc) but I cannot justify the price of it only for those armies. In addition in my experience with SE 2.0 (still limited to 4 or 5 games) you don’t want to push the opponent. You want to dance around and shoot him while he advances and then you want to strike from turn 3 on.

    I know it seems counterintuitive but in that perspective banner of movement on rangers is better than vanguard (unfortunately agility 5 is not enough in many cases now so you need to charge) and therefore I don’t take it anymore. :)
  • Right, very nice to see some familiar names here! Interesting thoughts overall.

    Alexwellace wrote:

    As you've said, our magic phase is considerably stronger able to choose our spells. Wild Riders have good synergy with regrowth, +1 Str (You don't wanna see what a unit of 7 Sylvan Blade Wild Riders did to a unit of 21 White Lions on the charge with +1 Str buff, not a single lion survived) and even with our hereditary to make them more resistant to small arms fire.
    I don't question the hitting power of the wild huntsmen, that's what they have going for them. It's just that I feel that they create a "kill or be killed" situation that forces the opponent to focus firepower on them, lest he be hit by a ton of bricks. In my environment, that usually means that the wild huntsmen are the first to die, especially since they are T3 5+ save elves after all.

    You're right when you say that the combination of our access to druidism, protective spells from other paths, banner of the silent mist may be enough to keep them alive. Our counter-battery fire options have never been better, either. But that means building the entire list around the WH units.

    If I end up bringing one or two of these, I'll certainly invest in shields and a couple of extra bodies. But I cannot for my life see what they'd bring to the table that the kestrels cannot do better and more reliably.

    zqn365 wrote:

    Give the druid back Ld 9 and getting some 3+ scoring heath riders perhaps with ambush seems to be some solutions and a new fancy idea of FoF units gaining scoring after killing stuff in combat.
    I like the fact that SE have lower apparent Ld. It underlines the fact that they are more feral and less orderly than their dark and high counterparts. I use the word "apparent" because in reality SE have a level of Ld independence that's clearly above DE and HBE. With a good amount of our units being Fearless or Ld9 base, I don't actually miss the increased Ld of the Prince that much.

    But you are right that getting a druid as a general is a very risky move. That said, the same applies to a lot of the other armies (Empire, Orcs, Ogres to state a few). My issue with Ld9 is that it might make the other choices even less attractive. Right now you've got access to the following generals:

    - Dryad Ancient: cheap, solid caster, survivable. Comes with the downside of lack of customization and the obligation to bring a dryad retinue.
    - Forest Prince: Hard hitter, access to all magic items, quite cheap for his combat abilities.
    - Treefather Ancient: survivable, bigger inspiring presence range, combines caster and fighter/roadblock. Downside is the vulnerability to warmachines and the high cost.
    - Chieftain: nice fighter, as good a leader as the prince. Has smaller magic item allowance and as such his fighting and survival potential is diminished.

    Two out of these four are characters that you'll most likely keep out of most combats (dryad ancient and treefather ancient) while the chieftain has configurations that definitely don't want to get close to the enemy (namely the Pathfinder and Featherseed variants).

    So if you had the option of getting a Druid master with base Ld9 and access to 4 good spells, would you even consider going for the other general options?

    I'm not saying that Druids shouldn't get access to Ld9, but that it will mess up a delicate balance in the character section.

    Re: Scoring 3+ heath riders.
    I wholeheartedly agree. In a game that gives 2+ save movement 9 cavalry to HBE and 1+ save scoring cavalry to EoS, having the most maneuverable army without any decent fast scorers is an issue. On the other hand, I'm not certain that the price hike of 3+ save would justify the move. If for every 5 models with 3+ save I can get 6 models with a 4+ save, I'd argue that getting more bodies is better.
    But it's true that back when we had access to 3+ save heath riders they were never even remotely overpowered.

    casamar wrote:

    Magic is the tricky one for me, I totally agree with your consensus of 1 x Shaman adept, 1 x Cosmo adept and maidens as a great choice for magic, but that is an expensive magic combo. That is why I tried a dryad ancient with a big block of dryads, not sure I liked that option either though.
    Looking at the cost of our mages, you get the option of a Master Druid or, at the same cost, a Druid Adept (or Dryad Ancient adept) and an apprentice. So you essentially sacrifice the +1to cast and the extra spell in order to get access to two paths instead of 1.

    In my mind, having two Adepts is definitely better than having a single Master. Having a Master and an adept is probably better than having 3 adepts, though. But, ultimately, it boils down to the spells that you need to make your army work.


    casamar wrote:

    Your post is great - but I am still strugglin with how best to manage;
    - scoring
    - magic
    - combat threats
    - characters
    all in one list, I feel I need 6000 points to cover what I feel is needed to work
    How many scoring units are you going for? I wouldn't take more than 3, nowadays. At the 4500 point level you simply cannot afford having a unit not participate in the battle so as to score in the end. Which means that you're going for slightly bigger units that will retain their fighting ability for a while longer, and survive the battle to give you the secondary objective.

    Sylvan Archers are probably the exception in that minimum-sized units can participate from turn 1 and still score in the end as long as you play your cards right. It reminds me of Bloodbowl, where you need to screen your quarterbacks and catchers; they are more fragile, but in the end they're the ones that will help you score.

    Kristian wrote:

    For magic I would rate the rod of battle really high if you play a block of dryads.
    Also HbE have acces to the two strength spells as well.
    Agreed, the +1 to hit is great for forest spirits (and, sadly, redundant for our elite troops). I didn't catch that HBE combo at first glance, but you're right about that.

    I've voiced my concerns about the HBE book elsewhere, both as a HBE general and an adversary. (bottom line: too many "get out of jail free" cards)

    nantuko wrote:

    - mist walker mirror, any decent opponent will prevent this move and can take countermeasures

    - banner of deception on a non vanguarding unit is a bit of a waste imho. I would rather play it on rangers and swap the banner of movement which goes to the core Spears
    Well, I haven't used the mirror for quite a while now, so I figured it was worth a shot. After all, you only need to be alone in the original forest, not the target forest. Bladedancers have a sufficiently small footprint to be able to teleport into a forest even if there's a (small) enemy unit inside.
    It is an option, but not necessary to make the list work. If you see an opportunity to make good use of the item, then go for it. If not, then you've forced your opponent to use one or more of his units to occupy a forest "just in case".

    Concerning the Banner of Deception, the idea is to have a means of rapid redeployment for all of your units. Otherwise, you're left stranded with a big spear block right where the opponent wants it. You may be right about the switch, I'll playtest it and come back to you.

    nantuko wrote:

    - banner of the silent mist on kestrels is something I can’t understand it is improving something they are already good at, resilience to light shooting and in addition you don’t have enough shooting power to take advantage of the potential failed march tests. I find that one additional kestrel would be more useful and versatile and i’ve Found big units of kestrels with bows very very strong now that the rider can make 2 supporting attacks with a smaller frontage
    You're probably right. The banner is expensive (I failed to notice that it was as expensive as adding a fourth kestrel!) but I feel that it has potential mainly due to the interaction with a unit's free reform. Essentially, this means that I can fly my kestrels up one flank, threaten an enemy, say, Forge Warden unit, and they won't be able to swift reform and shoot at the fliers.

    That said, with Hard Target, Soft Cover and probably move penalties the Kestrels are already immune to small arms fire.
    I'll have to test it and see how it goes. Perhaps 2x4 Kestrels is the new black.

    nantuko wrote:

    - vanguard on rangers. Here we enter a tricky discussion imho. I’ve playtested it for 3 games and I’ve never found it useful because my opponent had units able to charge my rangers turn 1 (with Agility 5 or more on the charge) or able to zone them on a flank. I’ve found instead more useful the banner of speed to do myself zoning (M7” is great for that) while I shoot the opppnent to death and I protect my core archers. It is however a different play style to what you have proposed in your list. It might work but not my piece of cake
    @Fleshbeast gives a good idea of the potential uses of vanguard. The thinking behind vanguard is being able to rapidly redeploy if needed. With 24" move on turn 1, you can cover half the field. Against shooting heavy lists, that means you'll be on top of the enemy on turn 2. If you don't need to play aggressively, then the vanguard can help you get in position (example, inside some ruins or behind a wall for that nice -2 to be hit).

    It doesn't cost that much, point-wise, so I'll give it a try and report back.

    Bogi wrote:

    One thing: We are not the only army with both strength buffs in the game and definitely not the one that can do it the most effective way.
    See above. I agree. But I do think that our units benefit more from a +1S/+1AP buff compared to the HBE elites.
    Making up Battle Reports since 1995
    9th Age Battle Reports

    This week I've been painting...
  • @SmithF really, HE have that banner that makes spears have the potential for S5, that's pretty good really.

    Still lots of really good points really, we do like and think alike on many things. Some things differently. I personally would never take predator pennant or the redeployment banner on anything, or go into battle with two scoring units.

    But I do like your bladedancer prince a lot, solves some of the ld issues and your analysis has really helped me with some of my list creation.
  • I appreciate your optimistic approach to the book. Overall the book is definitely playable and competitive, it just has some glaringly obvious technical errors that distract from the good stuff.

    One thing i noticed are your wizard opinions/preferences directly reflect my own. I worry everyone's list will eventually have identical wizard/spells.

    -Druid on Cosmology (PoS, IaF)
    -Dryad Ancient Druidism ( SG, MoE)
    -Briar Maidens (ToT, BtS)
    -Druid on Shamanism (BW, SoI)

    Pick Two! Done.

    Treeman Ancient is still just a point sink and the other Dryad builds are essentially unplayable. (Who would ever bring a Dryad Ancient with just Healing Waters?)
  • SmithF wrote:

    ...


    Re: Scoring 3+ heath riders.
    I wholeheartedly agree. In a game that gives 2+ save movement 9 cavalry to HBE and 1+ save scoring cavalry to EoS, having the most maneuverable army without any decent fast scorers is an issue. On the other hand, I'm not certain that the price hike of 3+ save would justify the move. If for every 5 models with 3+ save I can get 6 models with a 4+ save, I'd argue that getting more bodies is better.
    But it's true that back when we had access to 3+ save heath riders they were never even remotely overpowered.
    ...
    on the longterm I would rather go for shooting heath riders being mounted sylvan archers and close combat heath riders being mounted forest guard. Might lead to a split unit entry.

    Consequences:

    Close combat version
    - increase Off/Def to 5
    - add ambush option to close combat version
    - category: at least non-ambushing version and at least at 8+ models does not count towards fleet of foot (they are neither mobile enough nor cheap enough chaff)

    Shooting version
    - remove light armour (dont get why a bowmen on horse suddenly wears armour)
    - make sylvan lance optional or even remove

    (I experienced that the shooting version is not worse than the close combat version in combat. You mostly charge if you are sure to beat the enemy in one go so the shield doesnt do a lot. Furthermore, you would need a max size unit of close combat version to ever benefit from ranks = breaking steadfast.
    So somehow the close combat version needs to be better...IMO without going the 3+AS way)

    Dont want to go into detail how unimmersive it is that a guy suddenly has a better armour save when sitting on a naked mount.

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    Playtester


  • SmithF wrote:

    ...
    I like the fact that SE have lower apparent Ld. It underlines the fact that they are more feral and less orderly than their dark and high counterparts. I use the word "apparent" because in reality SE have a level of Ld independence that's clearly above DE and HBE. With a good amount of our units being Fearless or Ld9 base, I don't actually miss the increased Ld of the Prince that much.
    But you are right that getting a druid as a general is a very risky move. That said, the same applies to a lot of the other armies (Empire, Orcs, Ogres to state a few). My issue with Ld9 is that it might make the other choices even less attractive. Right now you've got access to the following generals:

    - Dryad Ancient: cheap, solid caster, survivable. Comes with the downside of lack of customization and the obligation to bring a dryad retinue.
    - Forest Prince: Hard hitter, access to all magic items, quite cheap for his combat abilities.
    - Treefather Ancient: survivable, bigger inspiring presence range, combines caster and fighter/roadblock. Downside is the vulnerability to warmachines and the high cost.
    - Chieftain: nice fighter, as good a leader as the prince. Has smaller magic item allowance and as such his fighting and survival potential is diminished.

    Two out of these four are characters that you'll most likely keep out of most combats (dryad ancient and treefather ancient) while the chieftain has configurations that definitely don't want to get close to the enemy (namely the Pathfinder and Featherseed variants).

    So if you had the option of getting a Druid master with base Ld9 and access to 4 good spells, would you even consider going for the other general options?

    I'm not saying that Druids shouldn't get access to Ld9, but that it will mess up a delicate balance in the character section.

    ...
    100% agree to your reasoning and conclusion.
    We shouldnt turn this change back.

    BUT we need to face the issue that we basically need 3 characters to get the same some armies can have with just 2 characters.

    We will need some other advantages which fit to our AWSW and playstyles like
    SE use 3d6 ignoring the highest dice for
    - march tests
    - rally test after choosing flee charge reaction

    Quick Starter Team

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  • "BUT we need to face the issue that we basically need 3 characters to get the same some armies can have with just 2 characters."

    This sentence is so true, and is the issue I have with the druid Ld 8. FOr immersion and fluff and all that i dont really care about Ld 8-9 on the druid, more feral Ld8, fine, druids being the highest authority in a forest Ld 9, fine, dont really matter to me. The disconnect is that we need to take characters, which at the moment dont do much for the points, to get what others can get with 1 less character and those two they choose seem to actually do stuff. Perhaps if the Prince actually did stuff, or our items made some builds usable, it wouldnt feel like a tax.

    By the idea of getting some coldblooded for rally and march test is a very cool idea, that could mitigate the need for getting a Ld 9 character!
  • zqn365 wrote:

    "BUT we need to face the issue that we basically need 3 characters to get the same some armies can have with just 2 characters."

    This sentence is so true, and is the issue I have with the druid Ld 8. FOr immersion and fluff and all that i dont really care about Ld 8-9 on the druid, more feral Ld8, fine, druids being the highest authority in a forest Ld 9, fine, dont really matter to me. The disconnect is that we need to take character, which at the moment dont do much for the points, to get what others can get with 1 character less and those two they chose seem to actually do stuff. Perhaps if the Prince actually did stuff it wouldnt feel like a tax.

    By the idea of getting some coldblooded for rally and march test is a very cool idea, that could mitigate the need for getting a Ld 9 character!
    Yes this. You can be as optimistic as you like about fluff but in reality that simple ld9 makes the book much weaker.

    However I found that I particularly like the new -2ws/i spell in druidism, which the matriarch can take. Double apprentice and matriarch is a good magic phase but it is very expensive.
  • Ye it is good, but that Means you have to take dryads, and preferable in skirmish such that you general can avoid going into combat against anything it wont win against. Assuming that the matriarch now is your general. It is a very good configuration, but feels more like even more tax if you just wanted to run some Cosmo shamanism magic. Its not bad but it does limit list Building even more, and thats what im most opposed to!
  • The problem with all our banners is that they are too situational. For example I see the benefit of the mist banner against forge wardens and similar units but in 3/4 of the games it will be a dead or semi useless choice while the 4th kestrel is always good and also helps against magic missiles and WM which are more dangerous than light shooting.

    Same goes with the predator banner which might turn useful few games but a dead choice in many others since you cannot force your enemy in a forest or around it.

    The redeployment banner once again could be useful/could win you few games but what about the games you go second (50% of times)? You have most likely wasted 50 points.

    So all in all I either prefer the old and solid banner of speed which is 0-3 now or more bodies.

    Remember also that our agility 5 now is no longer as good as before because a lot of units will now strike simultaneously or even before you if they charge. That’s why in my mind I value a lot additional bodies and the banner of speed. Charging now is a real advantage in many situations.

    Regarding vanguarding rangers, I don’t say they are useless but imho they don’t fit the new and sadly forced avoidance play style. Unfortunately now the better strategy is to avoid combat for few times while you soften up the enemy lines and then strike. I’m that regard again I really give a lot of value to the banner of speed (and witchcraft now that you let me notice :) ) because it makes rangers a real treat whenever they are in the battlefield.

    On a side note, it is nice that you try all our new toys and let us know if we have missed something ;)
  • E.g. its so damn easy to control the center.

    Place free forest as close as possible.
    Have a big unit of thicket beasts (5+).
    Use treesinging and the Hereditary Spell (well OK 75% want this spell to be changed)
    +
    Move character with sacred seed forward.
    Use sacred seeds.
    Use Hereditary spell (well.....).

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