This Warhammer blog is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited.
(Illustrations and images from the Warhammer world are either ®, TM and/or © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2012)

eBay auctions ending soonest great eBay sales WFB (US) WFB (UK) 40K eBay stores WFB register on eBay is an approved affiliate of eBay, all auctions are current and hosted securely by eBay

Warhammer Battle Reports 7th / 8thNauticans / Design Fantasy Gallery

Dark Elves Shades, Witch Elves, Harpies< Executioners and Cold One Units Rules and Tactics (Warhammer Dark Elf Tactica / Tactics)

There are 6 Dark Elves Warhammer Army special units to choose from and the present a wide array of tactical options:-

Witch Elves of Khaine
Cold One Chariot
Cold One knights

Which units to choose is another tough decision for the Dark Elf army but this time it's more dictated by your enemy's weakness rather than trying to counter your enemy's strengths as with your rare unit selection.

I say this because the 3 special units will make up a significant portion of your whole army. You need to make a selection that can win you the battle and form the basis for your core tactics.

An overview of the unit's capabilities and tactical advantages are as follows:-

Dark Elf Shades

This is your scout / skirmisher option. This unit has a 360 degree fire arc and can be deployed in close proximity to the enemy with repeater crossbows.

This unit lets you harry enemy lines (especially flanks) making sure your enemy cannot concentrate all their focus on your core fighting units.

They are good for threatening enemy war machine crew, tieing up the enemy and slowing their advance.

Witch Elves

Essential in a defensive army that uses the Cauldron of blood (that cannot move). The Witch Elves will benefit from permanent frenzy when within 24 inches of the Cauldron and should be used behind your forward most units to protect your army's core. They are immune to psychology while frenzied so are an effective counter against fear and terror causing enemies such as Tomb Kings and Vampire Counts.

Two Poisoned attacks (three if frenzied !) with a weapon skill of 5 means they are even quite good value for points (11 pts) against higher toughness offensive enemies with low armour saves such as Beasts of Chaos or Lizardmen or more specifically Dwarf Slayers.

Note however that they are breakable (a common mistake made by new players who assume that immunity to psychology mean that the unit will never run).

Witch Elves are relatively cheap and very vulnerable to missile fire because they have no save so deploy them in large units over 20 models in strength and shield them from the opening volleys of the game.

Also remember that these 'ladies' cannot be joined by a character except an assassin. So, if you don't have an assassin in the unit they should be placed within your general's field of influence (ie 12 inches).

Note: if you include Morathi, the Hag Sorceress in your army and you have a general (ie a game greater than 2000 pts) then you cannot use your general's leadership for any Witch Elf leadership tests.


This is your flying unit and the Dark Elves Army is lucky in this respect. Games Workshop obviously noticed the potential of these creatures and limited them to a maximum of 1 unit.

Harpies are not particularly strong fighters despite their 2 attacks, but they don't have to be. They have the most important attribute a flyer can have... a low points cost of 13 pts (very low for a flyer)

This unit just needs to be good enough to tie up the more deadly war machine crews. If they can beat them then great, they can move onto the next crew.

Harpies are vulnerable with a toughness of 3 and no armour save - I guess it might be a problem during take off if they were wearing full platemail :)

Even if your enemy does not have artillery, Harpies can be very useful for march blocking enemy cavalry. That is, land the harpies within 8 inches of the enemy unit to stop them march moving and then make a flee reaction with the harpies if the enemy charges them. This is a dramatic (and occassionally disastrous tactic if not used carefully) to slow down multiple cavalry units and prevent them from charging your lines in unison. It will provide your defending units receiving the charge an opportunity to 'counter charge' with spare unengaged units.

Harpies are also useful for engaging enemy scouts especially effective elites like Wood Elf Waywatchers (just be careful you don't get shot to bits first !)

Because of their low toughness, lack of armour and and their low leadership of 8 they need to be deployed in some numbers (5 is not enough for most enemies, unless you simply want to use them for march blocking and nothing else against, say a Bretonnian army)


Your army should probably include a unit of executioners if you are not taking the Cauldron of Blood and will not be taking Witch Elves. The reason I say this is because it is one of the few units that can deliver high strength hits (str 5 due to great weapons).

Cold One riders also have high strength hits on the charge as does the Cold One Chariot. There are reasons why these might not be viable units in your army (see below)

Executioners need to charge into combat against high strength foes because of their low toughness and armour save. Also, this unit needs to be large and supplemented with at least one magically endowed character.

The good news is that Executioners are relatively cheap at 11pts so a unit of 30 would be feasible and difficult for the enemy to whittle down once in combat.

If you chosoe this option it's imperative this unit is shielded from missile fire and kept out of line of sight from artillery where ever possible.

Another bonus of using these troops is that they have the killing blow special ability. This should frighten your enemy somewhat and, if he's smart, he will keep his characters away from your executioners. With a frontage of 10 you should inflict at least 1 killing blow per roundof combat against similar pts cost enemy troops..

Cold One Riders

I'm sorry to say that these are expensive in point value. I think you're paying extra for the toughness of the Cold Ones which, of course, you don't benefit from. They are also quite costly when compared to other Warhammer race's cavalry. Take Dragon Princes of Caledor for example. Cold One Riders are about the same points cost as Dragon Princes but have only 1 attack as opposed to the 2 attacks that the princes get.

The Cold One does have a strength of 4 compared to the Elven Steed's strength of 3 but that will not make a huge difference.

The real reason for the high price of the Cold One Riders is their fear inducing quality. Fear is indeed a great attribute on the battlefield but remember, for it to be truly effective you need to outnumber your opponent. Rank and file enemies will usually take units of 20 which means you need at least 10 Cold Ones to be sure of enforcing those all important fear failure reactions. If you do choose to field this size unit then don't bother with the Dread Knight, he's very expensive at +18 points for just 1 extra attack (47 pts against a very similar Dragon Prince for 30 pts). Instead of a Dread Knight give your Cold Ones Unit a hero leader and equip with magic items and a magic standard (more about these in a future post).

You cannot afford to take this unit as a 'nice to have tactical option.' If you take them, invest heavily and make sure you beef them up as much as possible.

I would not take this unit at all against a Bretonnian Army (which ignore barding and have a move of 8) or a High Elf or Wood Elf army with those extremely quick Elven steads which are faster than your Cold Ones. For this unit to be worth using it must charge first and outnumber it's enemy.

With the exception of the above armies I wouldn't blame you for taking these guys into battle against anyone else because they're great models and stand a good chance of frightening your opponent, especially if he has a lot of low leadership units !

Cold One Chariots

I forsee some more chariot debate coming on. Opinion is very divided on the use of chariots. Most people favour their use, on the negative side I have seen a chariot destroyed by 2 volleys of crossbow fire. Also, they need to be kept well away from high strength attacks which can lay them to waste in a single blow (irrespective of remaining wounds).

Remember, when your chariot is destroyed you remove the whole model, despite having paid for the crew and whatever equipment they have.

On the plus side, chariots can easily rout an enemy on their initial charge. With an average of 4 strength 5 attacks (if you have scythed wheels) you should kill 4 toughness 3 enemies or almost 3 toughness 4 enemies. Double this for 2 chariots working in tandem and add in the charging crew and beast attacks and the enemy will have one heck of a fight on their hands to make up the combat resolution. Your chariots could feasibly wipe out the whole enemy front rank in 1 turn and maybe some models in rear ranks thereby preventing them from fighting back on the turn you charge at all.

Even High Elves who always strike first cannot do anything about the chariot charge. Chariot impact hits come before any combat so ignore the always strikes first rule (the crew and beasts would strike after the High Elves though).

Now, focusing onthe Dark Elf Cold One Chariot...

This special selection choice has one key and very important benefit. It allows you to take 2 chariots (as separate units) but only uses up one special choice.

This is extremely important ! Being one of your most effective higher strength attack units you need to include Cold One Chariots in any army where you expect to be able to charge first.

You could infact take 6 chariots as 3 special choices. Under certain conditions this would be a good idea but you're unlikely to know precisely what your enemy will be deploying or the nature and position of Battlefield terrain.

Terrain is the real thorn in the side of the chariot user. Wooded areas are really bad news if the enemy has a lot of missile troops. Your chariots cannot enter the wood and the enemy will be firing at you with impunity from a nicely protectected soft cover position.

Other terrain features can also seriously disrupt the plans you have made for your chariot(s). They cannot move over difficult ground for starters. Buildings are a serious issue. Under usual conditions a unit of up to 30 can enter a suitably sized building. An enemy unit can attempt an assault on the building but does not receive any charge bonuses or combat resolution bonuses. I think it would be fair to say that there's no way a chariot could benefit from it's impact hits and the beasts would not be able to fight at all. A kindly Games Master or opponent may allow the crew to dismount and assault the building but this really contravenes the rule of rhe chariot and crew constituting a single unit. Therefore, chariots should steer well clear of enemy occupied woods, buildings and defended obstacles.

Wow, that's quite a lot of bits and pieces to consider about chariots.

In summary, I would recommend the use of chariots against armies with few or no cavalry. If the enemy has artillery then take harpies and engage this first before offering line of sight to your chariots (if it's possible to keep them hidden)

A Summary of your Special Unit Choices and which ones to use against which opposition...

As a very subjective high level summary here's what I thin of the Dark Elves special units and which ones you should choose:-

- generally don't use them in 2000pt + games. Only consider if you think the enemy might be bringing multiple artillery pieces and you need to be in range of them from the outset (I'm particularly thinking of Empire and Dwarf armies)

Witch Elves of Khaine
- only use these if you are taking the Cauldron of Blood and expect your enemy to be the aggressor (eg particularly Beasts of Chaos, Bretonnians, Hordes of Chaos, Orcs & Goblins, Skaven and Vampire Counts)

- multi-purpose and a must for game where you know nothing about your enemy's army (maybe even which race they will field). The can be used for removing skirmishers, war machine crew and for march blocking and holding up enemy flyers.

- consider taking a large unit of these if you're facing a high toughness enemy or well armoured troops (eg. Dwarfs, Orcs, Bretonnians, Hordes of Chaos and Lizardmen)

Cold One Chariot
- providing there is not going to be a lot of terrain on the battlefield. You should definitely always aim to take at least 2 Old One Chariots (as 2 separate units operating together if possible)

Cold One knights
- Reserve their use for games over 2000 pts unless you can afford to take a unit of 10 with hero and fortified with magical equipment. If you take them build your tactics around their use.

Phew, that was a mighty long post to make using a mobile phone !

I hope you enjoyed reading it although I suspect this one might result in a lot of people totally disagreeing with me ! Feel free to comment and say what you think.

Images are © Games Workshop Ltd. All rights reserved. Used without permission.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
This web site is completely unofficial and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited.

Chaos, the Chaos device, the Chaos logo, Citadel, Citadel Device, Darkblade, the Double-Headed/Imperial Eagle device, 'Eavy Metal, Forge World, Games Workshop, Games Workshop logo, Golden Demon, Great Unclean One, GW, the Hammer of Sigmar logo, Horned Rat logo, Keeper of Secrets, Khemri, Khorne, the Khorne logo, Lord of Change, Nurgle, the Nurgle logo, Skaven, the Skaven symbol devices, Slaanesh, the Slaanesh logo, Tomb Kings, Trio of Warriors, Twin Tailed Comet Logo, Tzeentch, the Tzeentch logo, Warhammer, Warhammer Online, Warhammer World logo, White Dwarf, the White Dwarf logo, and all associated marks, names, races, race insignia, characters, vehicles, locations, units, illustrations and images from the Warhammer world are either ®, TM and/or © Copyright Games Workshop Ltd 2000-2012, variably registered in the UK and other countries around the world. Used without permission. No challenge to their status intended. All Rights Reserved to their respective owners.

Warvault Webring

in the forum now