This will be the second post in my series on Wood Elf Tactics for Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition. This topic will focus on ways that I use my Wild Riders and various methods of fielding, deploying, fighting and maneuvering them on the battlefield. I will divide the post into three parts: Configuration, Deployment and Engagements and finally Synergy.
The Wild Riders of Kurnous, Outriders of the Lord of the Hunt.
In game terms, the Wild Riders of Kurnous are a Special selection in the Wood Elf army. They are elite fast cavalry that focus on close combat. They are arguably the best Fast Cavalry in the game due to their high weapon skill, good strength, high movement and their special abilities.
The Wild Riders have the following abilities that set them apart from most units.
1. Forest Spirits - this special rule means that they are Immune to Psychology, their attacks are all magical and they are granted a 5+ ward save (except against magical weapons/spells).
2. Elven Steeds - they are mounted on Elven Steeds that have a movement of 9
3. Fury of Kurnous - in close combat, if the Wild Riders did not charge they are granted an additional attack.
4. The Wild Hunt - they get a free musician and cause Fear the turn they charge
5. Talismanic Tattoos - grants them a 6+ ward save against all attacks and Magic Resistance of 1.
These special abilities give the Wild Riders an exceptional edge over most opponents. They will generally hit opponents on 3's and in the round they charge wound on 3's. While they are Toughness 3, they are still fairly difficult to hit due to their high weapon skill, not to mention their initiative of 5 means they are generally going first in most combats.
The question is how do I actually field these models then?
Wild Rider units may be fielded in one of three ways; Harassers, Rank Breakers, or Anvils.
Harassers - When fielded as Harassers, the Wild Riders are fielded in 1 rank composed of 5 to 6 Wild Riders. They should have a Standard Bearer with either the +1 Movement Banner or the Terror Banner. This set up allows them to function as War Machine hunters, outflankers and character hunters. Since they are Fast Cavalry, they are able to move around the enemy's flank and get behind easily. If they have a Terror Banner then they can rear charge units and hopefully make them flee into your larger anvil units. They also are durable enough to take on your opponents ranged units and chew through them while the rest of your army focus fires on another group. The typical point cost of this unit is around 148 points without a magic banner.
Rank Breakers - When fielded as Rank Breakers, the Wild Riders will have 2 ranks of 5 to 6 models each with a full command. The unit will be roughly 10-12 models big and have the support of a banner (if points allow) such as the Armor Piercing banner or the Terror banner. Rank Breakers serve to remove rank bonus's from your opponent's block of troops. You will hopefully have a larger unit such as Eternal Guard of Treekin serving as your anvil so that your Wild Riders can slam into the flank and begin to crush the unit. The rank breakers sole purpose is to aid your bigger, tougher units like Treekin to ensure you are able to win. The typical point cost of this unit is around 296 to 348 points without a magic banner.
Anvils - When fielded as an Anvil, the Wild Riders will have 3-4 ranks of 5+ models each. The unit will contain a full command, magical banner and a character. Another popular option is to field the unit 3 ranks deep and 10 models wide. This type of configuration will include at least 1 character, generally two. The characters will usually be a Lore of Life Spellweaver on a Unicorn holding the Rhymer's Harp (5+ ward save that isn't negated by magic attacks for the entire unit) and a Wood Elf Noble Wild Rider Kindred with a Crown of Command making the unit LD9 Stubborn. The other configuration is to have a Wild Rider Highborn with the crown of command and the Dawnspear and field him with 28 Wild Riders. Wild Riders in this capacity need to be properly outfitted and supported otherwise they will fail.
Deployment and Engagements
Fielding your Wild Riders well is incredibly important. If their role is to be harassers then you will definitely want to take advantage of the Vanguard special rule. That 12" free move at the beginning of the game means if you march turn 1, you will effectively had moved 30 inches. If you are using them as an anvil, you will want to position them in front of your opponents smallest rank and file unit. You want to be able to bust through their line and slam into their "killy" unit from the side or behind. Remember, you're a wood elf and have the ability to pick your own battles due to high movement and forest walker. If you are using the Wild Riders as Rank Breakers make sure you field them near to your anvil unit and hopefully avoid getting them entangled by a smaller unit before their responsibility is fulfilled.
Ah, this is the part of the topic I have been looking forward to. I learned long ago that you really can not depend on a single unit to beat another unit one on one. I guess it comes from getting my teeth kicked in with my Eldar constantly by attempting to take on chaos space marines or tanks with Guardians by themselves. It wasn't until I learned to utilize synergy that my tactics came together and I started to win...a lot.
Wood elf Synergy - The Wild Riders operate best when you have a big anvil unit for them to flank with. Treekin come to mind as the best fit for their charging partners. You never want to have a unit of Rank breakers go into battle unprepared. The unit should be buffed or augmented.
1. Unit Synergy - flanking with Treekin or having other units like Eternal Guard of Giant Eagles flanking their model helps out Wild Riders a lot.
2. Magic Synergy - Lore of Life can significantly increase the longevity of your Wild Riders. Turning them into Toughness 7 models gives them serious staying power. Lore of Beasts can make Wild Riders even better at killing in close combat using Wyssan's Wildform. Also, spells like the Hidden Path from the Lore of Athel Loren allow Wild Riders to escape being shot at and give them serious maneuverability on the field.
3. Character Synergy - The type of character you field can completely change how your Wild Riders function for that battle. If you take a Spellweaver in the unit then you will more than likely be tougher and harder to kill, yet if you take a Highborn or a Noble then you become even more melee focused and as a result better in close combat.
In closing, the Wild Rider unit is one of my favorites in the Wood Elf army book. They provide a tough unit (by Wood elf standards) that can go out and wreck absolute havoc on your enemy. Wild Riders need to win the combat they are in, prolonged combat doesn't work so well for the Wood Elf army. You should decide what role you are looking to fill in your army before deciding to field Wild Riders however. Many folks will just throw them into their list because they "had the models" or they wanted to have cavalry. That's fine but if Wild Riders aren't given a purpose or support they fold because keep in mind, they are only toughness 3 models. Anyway, I hope you are able to get something out of this article. I enjoyed writing it.