Friday, July 27, 2012

Preferred Enemies - Black Guard of Naggarond

This installment of the Preferred Enemies will deal with the Special choice for the Dark Elf army, the Black Guard of Naggarond.  The Black Guard of Naggarond serve as Malkith’s trusted enforcers and bodyguards and they enjoy his favor in Dark Elf society.  The Black Guard of Naggarond are an elite unit that rather define the arrogance and martial supremacy of the Dark Elf army book.  The unit possesses excellent stats, armor, weapons and abilities that mark them a step above most other elite infantry units in the game.

Unlike other armies where you have a standardized higher strength and toughness but lower initiative, Dark Elves share the same stat line as a Wood Elf providing an interesting situation for a Wood Elf general to have to deal with on the battlefield. 

First and foremost here is the stat line and special abilities of a Dark Elf Black Guard of Naggarond:
Movement:           5
Weapon Skill:       5
Ballistic Skill:         4             
Strength:               3(4)
Toughness:            3
Wounds:                1
Initiative:               6
Attacks:                  2
Leadership:           9
Equipment:  Hand Weapon, Halberd, Heavy Armor
Special Rules: Eternal Hatred, Immune to Psychology, Warrior Elite, Stubborn

The Black Guard of Naggarond possess a high Movement much like their Wood Elf brethren which provides them with a march option of 10” and a 17” charge range.  The unit employs a Weapon Skill of 5 which means they hit most units on 3’s and they wield halberds which increases their Strength of 3 to a 4 which means they are employing a roll of 4 to wound against many units and have a -1 to their opponents’ armor saves.  The unit’s Initiative of 6 means that they are striking before 90% of the units in the game and a goodly portion of the heroes and lords of other books.  In addition to the high movement, weapon skill and initiative; the Black Guard of Naggarond also have a Leadership of 9 and employ 2 attacks per model. 

The Black Guard of Naggarond possess an excellent combination of special abilities which make them truly fearsome to deal with in close combat.  The unit being Immune to Psychology means that they don’t suffer Panic attacks or Fear/Terror tests which negate some of the advantages and tactics for dealing with elite units that Wood Elf generals employ.   The fact that the unit is Stubborn means that regardless of if they lose combat or not, they are rolling against their base Leadership of 9 for Break tests.  The real scary ability of the Black Guard is the Warrior Elite special rule which the Black Guard may re-roll any failed to hit rolls in close combat.  Increasing the number of successful hits the Black Guard can get then take into account that against most Wood Elf units that the Black Guard will need 3’s to wound (Toughness 3 models) and against some of the tougher units like Dryads and Treekin they will need 4’s and 5’s.  The Black Guard of Naggarond are also able to take a magical banner of up to 50 points.  The special abilities really employ an effective mixture of abilities that capitalize on their elite stat line.

How is a Wood Elf general able to deal with a unit that is able to negate most of the Wood Elf advantages?
Let’s review the basics in relation to Wood Elf advantages and options:
  1. The Black Guard of Naggarond are Toughness 3 and have a 5+ armor save. 
  2. The Black Guard of Naggarond are limited to a unit size of 5-20 models.
  3. The Black Guard of Naggarond have to hold against ALL charges.
  4. The Black Guard of Naggarond have no ranged attacks.
  5. The Black Guard have no parry save so Str 5 negates any save.
The Black Guard are very susceptible to Strength 4 shooting.  This elite unit will suffer against the short ranged Glade Guard Longbows.  The Strength 4 longbows will reduce the armor save to a 6+ and will reduce the unit size dramatically so that it can be charged with a larger and tougher unit in close combat if it is not destroyed by shooting.

The Black Guard are also very susceptible to high strength units with high toughness.  If a Wood Elf general is able to reduce the unit size via shooting, then Dryads and Treekin do rather well against Black Guard.  The Dryads strike at the same initiative and while needing 4’s to hit will only need 3’s to wound and will reduce the Armor save to a 6+ and the unit will get their ward save so the Strength modification to armor from the halberds doesn’t really factor in.  The Treekin are a good counter if they are able to weather the storm of the Black Guard attacks, the Treekin armor save gets reduced to a 5+ and they still get their 5+ ward save but will need 4’s to hit in close combat and only 2’s to wound.  The nice advantage that Treekin have is that they can slay Black Guard outright and then follow up with a Stomp attack.  Wild Riders are ideal if you are able to get a flank charge since they will force the Black Guard to need 4’s to hit but only 3’s to wound and only grant the Wild Riders a 6+ armor and their ward save.  The Treeman will do well against the Black Guard since at best the Black Guard need 4’s to hit and 6’s to wound and the Treeman’s save get’s reduced to 4+ rather than it’s standard 3+. 

The Eternal Guard are not recommended as a viable unit to engage with the Black Guard of Naggarond.  The Eternal Guard have almost identical stats with the exception that the Black Guard are initiative 6.  The Black Guard are able to strike first and only need 3’s to wound and will reduce the Eternal Guard to a 6+ save.  The amount of casualties that the Eternal Guard would suffer does not necessarily make the Eternal Guard the best option for fighting the Black Guard. 

The Black Guard of Naggarond are very susceptible to multi-charges since they are not able to choose Flee as a charge reaction.  So if a Wood Elf general is able to maneuver appropriately, the Black Guard generally suffer a frontal and a flank charge and will suffer some fairly heavy casualties. 

How to deal with Black Guard of Naggarond synergy and combat combinations:

  1. Black Guard of Naggarond with Flaming Banner – the best option is to shoot this unit to death with the Glade Guard at short range then engage with the Dryads (preferably augmented with Stone to Flesh and Shield of Thorns).
  2. Black Guard of Naggarond with Razor Standard – essentially the same tactic as the Flaming Banner only avoid sending in Treekin and Wild Riders since they will suffer more wounds due to armor save modification.
  3. Character such as a Master or Dreadlord in the unit – when the Black Guard are used as a character bunker then it becomes imperative to reduce the unit size using ranged attacks but also it is advised that if you charge the unit then do so with either a Treeman Ancient w/ Annoyance of Netlings or use an Eagle Rider/Alter to minimize the effectiveness of the unit.  Generally it is best to use spells like Dweller’s Below and follow up with massed Glade Guard shooting to destroy the unit.
  4. Black Guard of Naggarond with Mind Razor – the best advice for this unit depends on the situation:
    1. If already engaged in close combat – pray that you are using Dryads since you’re only going to get your ward save against Strength 10 attacks.  Otherwise your Treeman or Treekin are going to probably get vaporized beneath the cuisinart that are the Black Guard with Mind Razor in close combat.
    2. If you are not engaged in close combat – avoid this unit like the plague and shoot it and Dweller’s Below it until the cows come home.
  5. Black Guard of Naggarond joined by a Death Hag with Witchbrew – while this doesn’t really affect the way the unit functions with the exception that there are no bonuses for flank and rear charges and the unit still gets its rank bonuses if disruption would normally apply.  The best idea to handle this type of unit is to just shoot the unit to death then slam into a flank to reduce the number of attacks coming from the unit.
  6. Black Guard of Naggarond augmented by the Cauldron of Blood
    1. Fury of Khaine – Black Guard of Naggarond having 3 base attacks is not only dreadful to face as detailed above but will ensure that the unit will punish whatever unit dared to engage it into combat. – Whenever this unit has this augment the only thing you can do is hope that either you were out of range of charges or that you had augmented the unit being charged previously with Stone to Flesh and Shield of Thorns.  You will more than likely suffer many, many casualties as the unit turns into a blender (God help you if the unit is also Mind Razored)
    2. Strength of Khaine – Black Guard of Naggarond granted Killing Blow doesn’t really affect Wood Elf units that badly since the only models that would really suffer would be Wild Riders or Eternal Guard.  The Wild Riders would still get their Ward Save and generally Eternal Guard shouldn’t be in combat with Black Guard (unless their Highborn has the Rhymer’s Harp for the 5+ ward).
    3. Bloodshield of Khaine – Black Guard of Naggarond given a 5+ ward save makes the unit extremely difficult to deal with since they suddenly become fairly resilient to shooting and in close combat against higher strength units they are not autoremoved by strength 5.  The best option is to get a flank or rear charge against this unit and just continue to grind against it until the unit finally breaks.  Augmenting the engaged unit with Stone to Flesh or Wyssan’s WIldform is recommended, if you are able then applying the Shield of Thorns is also helpful since it’ll make the unit roll dice.  This blessing is probably the most difficult to deal with and the only advice that can be offered is to shoot it until it engages you then ensure your units are augmented appropriately.
  7. Black Guard of Naggarond with Assassins hidden in the unit – unless you are lucky and manage to slay the entire unit via ranged firepower or spells, then you will have to suck it up and face the hidden assassin in close combat and hopefully smash it with your high strength and high toughness monstrous infantry or dryads. 
  8. Black Guard of Naggarond augmented with Lore of Fire or Metal – essentially the same tactics when fighting Black Guards augmented with Lore of Shadow except that you will want to ensure that you augment your engaged units as much as possible.

The primary tactic when facing Black Guard of Naggarond is to avoid close combat and use ranged attacks and spells to slay the unit.  When facing Dark Elves there are several units that are better options to engage in close combat (Spearmen, Crossbowmen, Shades, Corsairs,etc..) while you use the other tools in your bag to deal with the elite unit that is known as the Black Guard of Naggarond.

I hope this Preferred Enemies edition provides helpful advice and an accurate and effective method of handling and dealing with the Dark Elf Special selection of the Black Guard of Naggarond.