Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wood Elf Tactica - The Eternal Guard

Wood Elf Tactica – The Eternal Guard
The Eternal Guard are the Guardians of the Forest in Athel Loren.  They defend the King’s Glade during the winter months and the court of the Queen during the summer.  They are the elite soldiers of the noble houses of Athel Loren, serving as the bodyguards for the Lords and Ladies of the Asrai court.  With their deadly spear-staves and unique fighting style, they have been stalwart defenders of Athel Loren for ages past and the frontline defense against the forces of Chaos.

The Eternal Guard are both a Special selection and a Core selection in the Wood Elf army.  If the army is led by a Highborn then the Eternal Guard becomes a Core choice otherwise they stay in the Special slot.  The Eternal Guard is the only rank and file close combat infantry unit in the Wood Elf army that is generally able to make use of a rank bonus. 

Eternal Guard 5 5 4 3 3 1 5 1 9
Guardian 5 5 4 3 3 1 5 2 9

The Eternal Guard stat line is fairly straight forward for an Elite infantry choice.  They have a Movement, Weapon Skill and Initiative of 5 so they are fast and quick and will be hitting most foes on 3’s.  They have a Strength and Toughness of 3 which is standard for most elves, it is not the most ideal toughness for a rank and file model but these are elves after all.  They sport one attack (before factoring in the spear-staves) and have one wound but have a Leadership of 9 so right off the bad they are rather easy to take LD tests with.  The unit is able to rank up and take a full command which also provides them with the opportunity to use a magical standard.

The unit has a few special rules and equipment of note; they have the Eternal Guard Fighting Style which provides each model with a 5+ armor save and their patented spear-staves function as both spears and having two hand weapons in close combat which makes their base attacks 2 rather than 1.  The last special rule about them is the Bodyguard special rule which means that when the unit is led by a Wood Elf Highborn or Noble, then the Eternal Guard become Stubborn. 

Let’s evaluate the Pros and Cons of this unit before going into the advanced tactica. 

The unit has a Weapon Skill of 5 – they are generally hitting on 3’s and being hit on 4’s.
The unit has two base attacks rather than 1.
The unit is Stubborn as long as there is a noble/highborn in unit.
The unit has a high initiative so they are striking first against most opponents.
The unit is able to gain ranks and negate steadfast as well as fight in 3 ranks when charged/2nd turn of combat.

The unit has elven strength and toughness which means they will need 5’s to wound toughness 4 opponents and will be wounded more often when attacked.
The unit does not have a parry save.
The unit costs 12 points a model.
The unit only has a 5+ armor save.
The unit is not immune to psychology like many of the elite Wood Elf units.
The unit requires a Highborn to lead the army in order to be a Core choice.
The unit requires a lot of synergy in order to get the optimal results.

The question now becomes, how do I use this unit? 

The Eternal Guard are considered by many to be a “sub-optimal” unit compared to the other selections in the Wood Elf army available to a general.  I personally don’t give a damn what many consider.  I think the unit is very versatile and effective. 

Eternal Guard may be configured in one of three main ways: Anvils, Bunkers, Hybrid, or Braveheart!

Anvils – when fielded as an Anvil, the Eternal Guard will have 4-6 ranks of 5-6 models each with a Noble or a Highborn in the unit.  You will want to field anywhere from 25-40 models in ranked formation to ensure not only a +3 rank bonus but also to prevent your opponent from getting Steadfast.  This runs 270 to 480ish points plus characters.
-Synergy: You will want to have a Highborn with a Rhymer’s Harp, Eternal Guard Kindred and the Annoyance of Netlings in this unit.  That will provide the unit with the ability to negate other enemy characters from wrecking the unit and will require that they Highborn is hit on 6’s in a duel.  This also will provide the unit with a 5+ ward save and Stubborn.  You will also want to augment the unit with either Wyssan’s Wildform or Flesh to Stone in order to increase the unit’s offensive and defensive capabilities.

Bunkers – when fielded as a Bunker, the Eternal Guard will have 10-15 models and will house a Spellcaster such as the Spellweaver.  The point of this configuration is to provide a few ablative wounds to protect your caster while also having maneuverability to get across the field by marching 10”.  The primary purpose of this configuration is to prevent your Spellcaster from being sniped by war machines and to provide her with some defense against a charge.  This runs 180ish points plus characters.
-Synergy: You will want to give the Spellweaver the Ironcurse Icon to give this unit a 6+ ward save against war machines.  While buffing this unit with augments is not a bad thing, Wyssan’s Wildform or Flesh to Stone would not be terrible choices but I feel those augments would be better served on another offensive unit in the army.

Hybrids – this is actually the configuration I use the most in my own army lists.  When fielded in this fashion, you will have roughly 18-25 Eternal Guards with a full command and the Battle Standard Bearer and the Spellweaver in the unit.  The purpose of this configuration is to provide a unit that is both offensive and defensive and provides a reasonably safe bunker for the Spellweaver.  This configuration excels at being the hammer or the anvil.  You are able to move forward and engage the enemy while augmenting and assisting other units in the army. This runs 246 – 330ish points plus characters.
-Synergy: This configuration requires the most thought and synergy, not to mention finesse.  You will need to put the glittering scales and Annoyance of Netlings on your Battle Standard Bearer and then the Rhymer’s Harp on the Spellweaver (also the Luminescence Sprite if you have the spare 25 pts so the unit has Magical Attacks).  You will always declare challenges or accept challenges with the BSB so that your opponent needs 6’s to hit but then you have a 5+ ward save to fend off their attacks, otherwise most opponents will need a 5 to hit against your BSB due to the Glittering Scales.  The Rhymer’s Harp provides the unit with the 5+ ward save and then the Lore of Life spell  Flesh to Stone boosted with Throne of Vines will make this unit near impossible to destroy.  The Lore of Beasts is not the most optimal choice in this situation since you would need three spells: Wyssan’s Wildform, Savage Beast of Horros and Pann’s Pelt to really take advantage of your BSB and Spellweaver while minimally augmenting your rank and file.  This unit configuration works best when paired with a unit of Treekin to serve as the hammer.

Braveheart! – Of all the configurations, this is the most expensive and yet entertaining deployment.  This configuration is set up for pure offense and nothing else.  You will need to field around 40-50 Eternal Guard in a horde formation.  This configuration also requires a Battle Standard Bearer, a Highborn and a Spellweaver to be in the unit as well.  This unit marches forward and attacks everything in its path.  If the attacking general quotes Braveheart as he declares charges then the dice rolls will be obviously better.  This configuration runs 510-640ish points plus characters.
-Synergy: This is the most entertaining and expensive combination but the results are generally fun.  You need to have the Razor Standard on the unit’s Standard Bearer giving all attacks Armor Piercing.  The Highborn will need to be given the Annoyance of Netlings, the Other Trickster’s Shard and the Spirit Sword.  If he is to square off against anyone in a duel then they will need 6’s to hit him.  Should they not accept the duel, then the Spirit Sword will be able to wreak havoc on the unit.  The Spellweaver will need to be equipped with the Lore of Beasts and the Rhymer’s Harp.  She will need to cast on the unit Wyssan’s Wildform, Savage Beast of Horros and Pann’s Pelt in order to provide the unit +1 S/T while granting the characters +4 S/+4 T and +3 attacks.  Finally, the Battle Standard Bearer will need to have the Terrifying Mask of EEK! and the Glittering Scales to provide the unit with Terror and make him harder to be hit.  If you are able to properly get off all these spells and equip your characters in this fashion, you will be able to cut through just about anything since the Eternal Guard will get to attack with 4 ranks which will unload 44 attacks + 17 character attacks and the lowest initiative will be 5. 

As you are able to see, the Eternal Guard is a very versatile unit but require an investment in characters and equipment to reach the optimal results.  The Wood Elf player needs to not only augment this unit but use it in tandem with another.  Dependent upon configuration, you will need to decide how this unit is to be played.  I use the Hybrid for most of my lists and I play that rather defensively.  I will keep the Eternal Guard held back while augmenting units like Treekin or Wild Riders until I am able to augment my Eternal Guard in close combat.  This unit is able to weather abuse provide you have a Lore of Life caster that is able to bring back models you suffer from combat/shooting/magic.  The benefits to using Eternal Guard in this fashion is that not only do I have a unit with ranks in the army but it also it draws the attention of my opponent off the other units in my army. It also helps to provide a little variety to your army lists so that you are not fielding 5 units of Glade Guard that will ultimately get overrun when your opponent marches across the field.

You will also need to make your list work around the Eternal Guard.  Many Wood Elf players prefer fielding a Spellweaver and a Treeman Ancient at higher point levels.  This means that a lot of the synergy and effectiveness of the Eternal Guard is compromised and also they lose their Core choice option.  I do not recommend fielding Eternal Guard unless they are able to not only be augmented appropriately but given the appropriate unit support as well.  The unit is able to function on its own but it will not be as effective as it would be if it were being used in conjunction with another or had characters residing within it.  I mean the very nature of the unit’s special rules show that characters are supposed to be in this unit to provide it with Stubborn. 

In closing, the Eternal Guard unit is a great unit for the Wood Elf army.  It is an elite close combat unit that provides you with much needed banners, ranks and numbers to weather the ever increasing model counts that are seen on the table.  I hope this article has provided you with some ideas as to how to field and configure your Eternal Guard for play.