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War Hydra, Black Guard, Cauldron of Blood, Dark Elf Repeater Rules and Tactics (Dark Elf Rare Units)

Dark Elves have 5 rare and very different types of units to choose from
(the models themslves are also top quality)
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Introducing the...

1) War Hydra

A versatile quick moving multiple attack beast that causes terror and breathes fire.

This monster is resilient with 6 wounds and a toughness of 5 and provides a useful option with strong combat capabilities and a ranged attack.

It is however slightly on the expensive side at 220 points given that it only has 2 rather vulnerable apprentice handlers.

2) Black Guard

Stubborn troops with a leadership of 9, these troops are unlikey to rout (about a 10% chance) and have eternal hatred (re-roll missed hits)

They suffer from the usual low toughness of 3 with only heavy armour as a back up. These troops cost 16 pts which looks high when compared to the new High Elf white lions who are stuuborn with a leadership of 8 but have a strength 6 attack in comparison with the Lack Guard's strength 4.

If I was updating the Dark Elves Army list I would probably make this a special unit choice with a maximum of 2 units. Rather than rare with a maximum of 1.

3) Cauldron of Blood

This is a defensive support type of unit. It has several benefits and you really need to consider playing the Cauldron of Blood in any game where you are expecting to be on the defensive against a higher than average toughness opponent (a Beasts of Chaos Army perhaps).

The cauldron has a range of 24" that bestows a second to wound roll on any failed wound rolls made by friendly units in the 1st round of combat. Also, Witch Elves within 24" are always frenzied even if they previously lost their frenzy when they were more than 24" away.

Very handy indeed (esp the additional roll to wound given the usual low strength 3 attacks.

The other thing I should mention about the cauldron, which has nothing to do with tactics or it's stats, is that the model itself is excellent. It brings a lot of character to your army and I would consider it's inclusion on this basis alone for friendly games. Also, it would be great fun to paint :)

4) Dark Elf Reaper (repeater bolt thrower).

What can I say about this unit ? It shares the same profile as the High Elf bolt thrower and (6 bolts, strength 4, -2 save if used for multiple bolts) with 2 crew.

If you use this as a standard non-repeater bolt thrower against tougher enemies or ranked units then it has the normal Warhammer bolt thrower profile.

The Dark Elves' ballistic skill and inherent accuracy of these machines make them an excellent addition to your army.

There is one additional unique benefit, unlike the new November 2007 High Elves, you can take 2 bolt throwers as a single rare choice. Nothing stipulates that these have to constitute a single unit so, I assume, you can deploy them independently from one another.

5) Dogs of War Units

(please see my Dogs of War thread and the Warhammer Armies thread for the available unit choices)

Many armies choose to ignore Dogs of War units because they already have a reasonable mix of troop types and tactical coverage. This might not be the case in all situations for Dark Elves who might benefit from some of the higher toughness troops or artillery mercenaries available for hire.

Rare Unit Selection Tactics

So, what do you choose ? This is a really tough question. Ordinarily I would expect at least one of these units, probably the Black Guard to be available (albeit, in limited numbers) as a special unit choice thus making the decision a little easier. All of the above options are viable choices, none can easily be discounted because they are 'weaker' than the others.

Below, I am going to try and argue for the best choices given a specific tactical stance, that is, defensive or attacking.

Please bear in mind that this is a very, very subjective analysis. People's opinions will differ greatly depending on their experiences. The below is just based on mine.

1) Fighting defensively.
I believe a Dark Elf Army should usually adopt a defensive stance against any armies with massed rank and files, especially Orcs & Goblins or Skaven. Allow those armies to come to you and cut them down as they march. Even when they arrve they will inevitably still out number you so you need to keep nice tight formations grouped closely together to allow them to support one another and flank attack. Focus your missile fire on the rank bonus of their key fighting troops (ignore any specialist units and concentrate on their core fighters).

To help you in this tactic you can either:-

Take the Cauldron and group your witch elves and key fighting units around it within 24" (which shouldn't be too difficult). Use your repeater crossbows to keep the enemy away from your flanks and encourage them into the center of your battle lines. Support those repeaters with cavalry and/or chariots which can quickly move into the main battle or stay in support of the crossbows.

Alternatively, take 2 reaper (repeater) bolt throwers. These are a better option particularly if the enemy has ranked cavalry (such as Bretonnians, Empire or maybe High Elves or Vampire Counts for example). Your repeater crossbows are not going to do much, if any, damage to heavily armoured cavalry. A reaper bolt thrower however, can do do some damage.

Note: The Cauldron will not help a great deal against cavalry because they will do most damage to your forces on the charge and your front ranks will not be alive long enough to strike back and benefit from the failed wound re-rolls in the first turn of combat.

2) Fighting Offensively.
There are certain armies that you really need to adopt an offensive stance against. You will need to engage those armies which can pick you off from afar as quickly as possible. I'm thinking here mainly about the likes of Tomb Kings with Skull Chucker Catapaults or Empire with Artillery or Dwarfs with gun lines and/or artillery or Wood Elves who want to avoid combat and win with ranged attacks.

Against these armies you need some punch and mobility, and this is where either the War Hydra or Black Guard will come into play.

The Black Guard are ideal for taking on high quality enemy fighters, you can expect them to absorb losses and shrug them off without a care - they do not run away ! (well, not very often). It's worthy considering Black Guard if you have enough unallocated points to create a large unit (a minimum of 20). They are vulnerable to missile fire though so it means you need some leading cavalry units to either attack enemy missile troops or some leading warriors to use as a missile shield.

If the enemy army has a lot of high toughness troops or heavily armoured troops you should consider taking the War Hydra. This beast can also soak up punishment with a toughness of 5 and 6 wounds. It is excellent for breaking cavalry charges to disrupt your enemy's attempt at coordinating attacks. This beast has vulnerable handlers and so might need some protection from missile fire - send your cavalry in to tie up missile troops while your Hydra follows up.


I know this will probably result in a lot of disagreement and I'm inviting criticism but here's my list of which rare unit to choose (in a 2000 pt battle) against the given Warhammer Armies.

In general I believe the Hydra and Black Guard are offensive units and the Cauldron and Reaper defensive. Here are my choices...

War Hydra - Bretonnia, Dwarfs, Tomb Kings
Black Guard - Empire, Wood Elves
Cauldron of Blood - Lizardmen, Beasts of Chaos, Hordes of Chaos, High Elves
Reaper Bolt Throwers -
Orcs , Skaven, Vampire Counts, Ogre Kingdoms

I'm happy to hear anyone's opinion on this. Uh-oh... runs for cover !

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