Sunday, 26 April 2015

Woffboot IX: The Generals: Stylus

Battle reports done, it's time for my own reflections on WoffBoot IX.

The Plan

I put this army together in the full knowledge that I was missing the obvious tricks (Trueflights for all, more Wild Riders) - which may have been a mistake considering WoffBoot IX was billed as an End Times filth-fest.

But to begin with: Durthu! That gobbled up a quarter of my army's points, and had me scrimping around for points. I don't usually go with big bad characters (although it turns out he was still fourth in league of big bad characters, so I was still underplaying it). I loved the look of his combat stats and general durability (rare for Wood Elves). Even his access to Beast magic (now we were playing the full lore) would be handy.

To help keep Durthu in the game (as I'm sure he would be a target for everything), I added a Lv 2 Lifeweaver, who could give him back a wound per spell, and also act as my dispel scroll caddy.

To round off the magic was the Shadowdancer - more expensive than a Lv2 Shadowweaver, but at least I'd get some combat out of him (and shooting, with his 3 Attacks going into the Bow of Loren)

The final character was the BSB, a necessity for Arrow of Kurnos and Hail of Doom. I also gave him the Obsidian Trinket to stack with the Ward Saves of the Wardancer unit I planned to load up with all three characters (more of the wisdom of doing that later).

All my Core was made up of Glade Guard, given a mix of arrows for fun: Trueflights (naturally), Hagbane (I was expecting some high-toughness opponents) and Starfire (although it turns out only two of my enemies are Forces of Destruction.) So an Undead Legion and Host of the Eternity King, led by Nagash and Malekith respectively, are not considered 'bad guys'?

I had to take one small unit of Wild Riders (they're invaluable, and I like the models I converted), with shields their only luxury. I think they work quite well without any command models - they don't need a musician to reform, and have a good chance of rallying on Ld9 (or more likely, are all dead from combat before they'll break), the standard is just giving away victory points and having no champion prevents characters from hiding in a challenge.

With what points remained to me, I added my Wardancer bunker: I could only afford 7, which was less than I hoped (my initial draft had a dozen). So less a DiscoStar, more Thursday Night at the Church Hall.

I wasn't quite sure how to play the army (practice, you say?) - other than to pick off the chaff with the Glade Guard, use Durthu as the anvil and the Wild Riders (and Wardancers, if I got desperate) to envelop.

So how did that all work out? My battle reports are below, with performance ratings to follow:

The Army

Durthu, Eldest of the Ancients

So how did my first outing with a big, thunderstompy monster work out? Pretty well, on the occasions when he got stuck in and did some damage.

Generally, I think I was too timid using Durthu - often holding him back a couple of turns to give my archers a chance to take effect, or my Wild Riders to get into position. Also, I should have treated his Cluster of Radients as a nice shooting bonus, not something to dictate my movement.

In truth, with his Toughness, Stubborn and the chance to regain wounds from Life magic, I think he could have gone toe-to-toe with anything (he was unlucky not to have a chance to hit back at Archaon - but I reckon I could have had 'im). And he certainly would have given a Stormvermin or Darkshards block something to think about as he was barrelling down on them.

He does have some liabilities: flaming attacks being one of them, any kind of Initiative-based autokill being another. This reinforces my belief that the safest place for him is in combat.

There's a learning curve here. After so long playing whispy avoidance Wood Elves, it's unusual to have a killing machine that other people want to avoid. Maybe I'll start on the nursery slopes with a regular Treeman, than graduate back to Durthu.

Verdict: Do Not Be ... Hasty ... To Dismiss Him

Glade Captain (BSB)

He had a bad run of luck for shooting (I'm sure, on average, the Talon of Kurnos should have got one out of four hits - but nada) - I did my part rolling enough arrows for the Hail of Doom, but he had a miserable time hitting anything.

In the first two battles, he was in the Wardancer bunker, and didn't work out so well (the rationale for putting him in there - to boost their ward saves - never came about as I never wanted to put them to the test against hostile magic). When I bailed him out in the second two games he was more useful - avoiding trouble against the Warriors and boosting a Glade Guard's combat potential sufficiently to kill a Sorceress.

The Ld re-rolls he provided were certainly appreciated, and he makes a good shooting threat (in theory), but I'd rather have a BSB mounted on a Great Eagle or Bear, and get some manoeuvrability.

Verdict: Below Standard


My first experience with the Lore of Life and wow is that a toolkit! Even if you spend a whole battle failing to Dwellers off Archaon, you can still hit him with a boosted Awakening of the Woods.

The extra wound after every spell was a life-saver (literally) for Durthu, which is the reason I took it, but being able to regrow my expensive units was a nice bonus. I avoided the Life lore since the whole deck was opened up to the Wood Elves, but there is some nice synergy there.

Again, an elven steed might suit her better - on foot, she feels too vulnerable. But I'd definitely be tempted to try a Lv4 version (or a Lv5 - damn you Allarielle!)

Verdict: Choose Life


A very expensive Lv 1, or a very under-equipped melee character? This one made it into my army list because I knew we'd get full access to the Lores, and Shadow can work awesomely with Wood Elves.

Despite that, I don't think I did much with Shadow magic in my battles. Other than Mindrazor the Wild Riders against Archaon (which worked out pretty well) and using Enfeebling Foe to make him more vulnerable to Dwellers Below (which could have been fantastic, but never was). Certainly my staple spell of Withering (followed by a withering hail of arrows) never came off. With three lores to choose from, and plenty of competition for magic dice from the Lifeweaver, I guess I never really focussed on it.

In combat, she was as expected: a better than average Wardancer. When that was useful (against Necropolis Knights), it was good; when it was not (against a Frostheart), it was irrelevant. The Bow of Loren was a nifty addition, as she has three Attacks and a high BS. It's a shame I mostly lumped all my characters into the DiscoStar, as using the lore attribute to bounce her into unexpected combats could have been fun (as it was, I just used it to reduce the models in contact from miscasts).

So I think there's a good character to be had there, but the points are probably better spent elsewhere.

Verdict: Too Flash(dance)

Glade Guard

Ah, the ever-reliable Glade Guard. These let me down during most of the battles, although it was probably my fault for giving them unrealistic targets.

The real flaw, I think, was in the mixed bag of arrows. I don't think I really achieved much with Poison and Flaming Arrows (and only two opponents were Forces of Destruction, so paying 40pts for Starfires was probably wasteful).

The real impact these had were on my deployment.  With Hagbane and Starfire I found myself setting up in a very linear fashion, just to be sure of range and line-of-sight. It was an usual position for Wood Elves - to be set up in a more conventional way that the opposite side, but that happened in most battles. And with my last two battles, it just meant I gave them up to Turn 2 charges.

It was notable that my Trueflights were always the longest-lasting archers, because I could set them up in a less conventional way, and wiggle them out of trouble when needed. In future, I think I'll stick with the Trueflights, and save the specialist arrows for Scouts or Glade Riders

Verdict: Stay True


Things they can't do: stand up to Impact Hits, bunker characters, take on VerminLords. Things they can do: prance around the edges and take out small to medium stuff.

I don't think these guys repaid my over-optimistic faith in them, but I'm going to put that down to user error. I think a nice unit of 5 Wardancers could cause trouble as counter-chargers, or just swarming single characters, like they did Archaon.

That said, they mostly kept my spellcasters in the game by providing some (expensive) ablative wounds. Although their special dancers are not passed on to accompanying characters (as I learned at the wrong time, when my Spellweaver was left without a Shadows Coil to save her), so their protective powers have limits.

With clever movement, however, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to keep characters out of trouble. Like I said: user error.

Verdict: Blame It On the Boogie

Wild Riders

What can I say? They're so good, even a dummy like me can use them effectively.

Their best performance was against the Tomb Kings, accounting for a Warsphinx, Casket of Souls and Screaming Skull Catapult (admittedly with the run of the dice). They got wiped out quickly against the Skaven, and that made me a little skittish with them - on the subsequent two battles, I sent them on long diversions that took them out of the fight longer than necessary.

But even then, they accounted for 3/4 of Archaon's wounds, and routed a War Hydra. Given they are ultimately expendable, I may have been better just running them straight at targets, rather than trying to be clever about it.

If I were optimising the list, I definitely take a second unit, and a size of 6-7 would make them more durable - but that's what in the netlist, yes?

Verdict: Go Wild

The General

Fourth place is customary for me, and to be honest, I was lucky to get that. I usually treat the WoffBoot as a learning curve, and I was fairly confident I knew how to handle Wood Elves. But the inclusion of a great big monster at the centre of my lines, coupled with a fairly static archer formation, and a reliance on Wardancers for fighting power, meant that I was out of my comfort zone.

Most of my battles broke down into small-scale clashes, where I was relying on the power of individual units to chalk up damage, rather than support each other as part of an overall plan. Even I know that's not the way to use Wood Elves.

One bright note: I don't think the Wood Elves were perceived as an 'annoying' army (which their shooty-avoidance style often can be) - this was probably easier for the opponents who were tabling me, but for the majority of the games, we were able to play good Warhammer.

That said - next time I bring the Asrai, I have designs on an all-mounted force, so prepare to Kick the Dandelion!


  1. Do you reckon two small units of Wardancers, each with a selection of characters, might have been a goer? Instead of one archer unit, perhaps. I know you weren't wildly impressed by their performance, but they're harder to pin down than archers are.

    I'm also glad that Kicking the Dandelion is now a thing.

    1. They couldn't replace Glade Guard - I was just at the minimum of my Core allowance - but I can see the utility in have two units (combining dances: such as negating ranks on the side, 3++ ward in the front). The problem is they're nowhere near as fast or maneuverable as, oh I don't know, Wild Riders, so it's harder to pick their fights.

    2. True dat. Glade Guard seem so elegant and capable I forget they're mere core troops. Like ranged Chaos Warriors. And why is that not a thing?

      Speaking of wardancers, (NB highly nsfw)