Monday, May 12, 2014

Growing Pains and The Great Hunt, War Host of Athel Loren (v.2.0)

Growing Pains
Much like any general who has had a new book released, there are a certain amount of growing pains that have to be experienced in order to find that perfect “fit”.  As the Wood Elves have had a substantial departure from their previous rule set and play style, all my previous posts concerning “Tactica” and “Preferred Enemies” have been slightly invalidated. 
I personally am struggling with balancing form and function in order to make the army be a perfect balance between “meta” and “theme”.  I had spent years honing my previous 2,800 point list to take full advantage of my personal play style, the local meta and the theme I had developed in order to further the “story line” of my army.  Even with some of the changes to magic items and magic lores, my old list still would work in the current rule set, albeit not as well (maybe).
One additional caveat or challenge that I put myself through which most players don’t think about or even care about really is that in addition to making forum, function and theme work; I need to make sure the army fits in my Table War display case.  A challenge that I did not think would be an issue at first!
The old list I used in with the previous book relied on balanced shooting and close combat, synergy of 3 magical items to create a deadly assassination tool and a very durable bunker, and mobility.  I put a lot of emphasis on having the assassination type general that alongside his unit of Waywatchers would annihilate heavily armored cavalry and smaller heavily armored units. Meanwhile, the meaty Treekin alongside the Wild Riders and my 3+ ward save Eagle noble would crash into units that had been depleted by my Glade Guard and wipe them out.  I employed Eternal Guard to be a Stubborn bunker for my Spellweaver and BSB that was protected by the 2 Glade Guard units and my Dryads.  I would use my two Great Eagles and my Treeman to bounce around the board mopping up smaller units or warmachines.  I relied a lot on the Bow of Loren + Arcane Bodkins combo on my General and the loss of that combo is a hard pill to swallow. 
Now that’s all fine and good John, we’re all glad you got that whining off your chest.  How are you going to make it all work then?
Well, I want to ensure the theme stays the same of the Waywatcher Lord Sylvos Greystorm the Huntsman is still leading the armies of Athel Loren into battle as their Ranger-General.  That means the army is going to still need to be fast, hard hitting and mobile and have the ability to remove an enemy unit a turn if need be in order to ensure success. 
So after hours and hours of painstaking revisions and changes and modifications; I present pretty much the exact same list only I dropped 1 unit for another.

May I present the The Great Hunt, War Host of Athel Loren (v.2.0)

+ Lords + (436pts)
Waywatcher Lord Sylvos Greystorm the Huntsman, Ranger General of Athel Loren
    * Glade Lord (186pts)
        (BRB) Armour of Fortune (35pts), Asrai Longbow, Great Weapon (6pts)

Archdruidess Nysa Greystorm the Storm Maiden, Hierophant of Athel Loren
    * Spellweaver (250pts)
        (BRB) Talisman of Endurance (30pts), Level 4 (35pts), Lore of Shadow

+ Heroes + (260pts)

Lady Nepenthia Dreamsinger, Stormsinger of Athel Loren
    * Glade Captain (150pts)
        (AB) Hail of Doom Arrow (30pts), (BRB) Gambler's Armour (20pts), Asrai Longbow, Battle Standard (25pts), Hand Weapon

Storm Lord Cyre Winterwolf the Mistwalker
    * Waystalker (110pts)
        (AB) Bow of Loren (20pts)

+ Core + (843pts)

The Handmaidens of Dornatha, the Verdant Rage
    * Dryads (110pts)
        10x Dryads (110pts)

The Spears of Loren, Aegis of the Dreamsinger
    * Eternal Guard (258pts)
        Champion (10pts), Musician (10pts), Standard Bearer (10pts)
        * 19x Eternal Guard (228pts)
            19x Shields (19pts)

The Twilight Host
    * Glade Guard (245pts)
        Musician (10pts), Standard Bearer (10pts)
        * 15x Glade Guard (225pts)
            15x Hagbane Tips (45pts)

The Farstriders of Lady Greystorm
    * Glade Guard (230pts)
        Musician (10pts), Standard Bearer (10pts)
        * 14x Glade Guard (210pts)
            14x Hagbane Tips (42pts)

+ Special + (736pts)

The Wolfkin, Feral Knights of Dornatha
    * Tree Kin (270pts)
        6x Tree Kin (270pts)

The Outriders of Twilight, Huntsmen of Kurnous
    * Wild Riders (216pts)
        Champion (10pts), Standard Bearer (10pts)
        * 7x Wild Riders (196pts)
            7x Shields (14pts)

The Storm Wardens of Cythral, Rangers of the Huntsman
    * Wildwood Rangers (250pts)
        Champion (10pts), Musician (10pts), Standard Bearer (10pts), 20x Wildwood Rangers (220pts)

+ Rare + (525pts)

Scryah, the Last Shadow
    * Great Eagle (50pts)
        Great Eagle (50pts)

Gwynador, the Scion of the Sethayla
    * Great Eagle (50pts)
        Great Eagle (50pts)

Dornatha, the Verdant Rage
    * Treeman (225pts)

The Stalkers of the Silent Path
    * Waywatchers (200pts)
        10x Waywatchers (200pts)

Total: 2800 pts.

This army is intended to function a bit differently than it did before.  The army will still rely on mobility and focused assassination but the delivery method will change slightly.

1.       The General is now a close combat general and will be situated with the Wildwood Rangers.
2.       The Spellweaver will be located with the Glade Guard since her spells may be cast at a relatively safe distance.
3.       The Battle Standard Bearer will be placed with the Eternal Guard in order to provide Stubborn support.
4.       The Waystalker shall accompany the Waywatchers.

The army shall be divided up into four strike teams:

1st Talon – Assassins in the Shadows
The first talon of this “bird of prey” shall be comprised of the Waystalker and the 10 Waywatchers in one unit with the twin Great Eagles accompanying them.  The Great Eagles will serve as warmachine hunters/blockers so that the Waywatchers and Waystalker may do what they do best: Assassination.
The Waystalker will fire two shots a turn at the enemy spellcasters or the battle standard bearer in hopes of removing the enemy leadership options.  The Waywatchers will focus on heavy cavalry, infantry or high armor targets in order to remove them from play.  When the Great Eagles are not serving as blockers, they will hunt loan characters, warmachines or serve as rear-charging combat resolution.

2nd Talon – Blades of Loren
The second talon is the primary combat wing.  This group will have the Eternal Guard, the Wildwood Rangers and the Wild Riders working as a single combat entity.  The idea is that the Eternal Guard charge the front and soak up damage while the Wildwood Rangers and Wild Riders strike the flanks/rear and deliver merciless Strength 5 attacks.  Ideally these units shall battle in a forest to take advantage of the Forest Stalker rule.

3rd Talon – Wrath of the Ancients
The third talon is the support close combat wing and defensive element to the army.  This element is comprised entirely of forest spirits; the Dryads, the Treekin and the Treeman.  With the reduction in Strength to the Forest Spirits as a whole, it is important that these units function as one combat element to overwhelm and destroy their targets.  Due to the higher toughness of these units and their immunity to psychology, their defensive strengths will work well to prevent flank charges and control the field by forming a fearsome line.  This talon will work in support of the 2nd Talon and also provide defense to the 4th Talon.

4th Talon – The Darkening of the Skies
This fourth and final talon is comprised of the two Glade Guard units and the Shadow casting Spellweaver.  This unit has all Poisoned arrows (Hagbane) and will be the most “static” element in the army.  As the Wood Elves have lost their ability to ignore movement penalties, it serves this group best to minimize the amount of penalties they would suffer from shooting when trying to weaken other units.  This group will focus in debuffing the charge targets of the 2nd and 3rd talons, crippling movement of the big units trying to support the charge targets of the 2nd and 3rd talons, weakening the higher value toughness models in the army for the 1st and 4th talons, and finally wreaking havoc on the enemy lines with pit of shades or penumbral pendulum (not to mention a well-placed mindrazor doesn’t hurt either).
The poisoned shots should be able to remove warmachines and monsters from the battlefield opening up more opportune targets for the two close combat wings and assassination targets for the 1st wing.

This list should (in theory) hold up against both heavy armor armies, fast moving armies (dark elves I’m looking at you) and heavy magic armies.  I will obviously still have some issues against horde style armies and some builds (that is just Warhammer – not everything is a perfect counter for everything else), but I feel that changing the unit strategies and realigning expectations on how I want a specific talon to work should do this new book justice.  The advent of having Lore of Shadow over Lore of Life is going to be big, especially since I will be using a close combat general now where before I had a ranged assassination general.

I am aware of the current “meta” that has been proposed that the Wood Elves need to focus on shooting and avoidance.  I am fully aware that many podcasts (except mine because I think Wood Elves are great!) think that this book is a lower tier book and need to avoid combat.  I will only say that I respectfully disagree and will enjoy making this list work in the new book.  I am of the mindset that proper balance and intelligent playing will trump the overpowered netlist or the “optimized” tournament list.  While I wanted to take certain combinations and synergies (2 units of 10 Waywatchers comes to mind, 3 units of Wild Riders, Sisters of Thorn character bunker for 2 Level 4’s of Shadow/Death or High/Dark, filling my entire Core selection with Glade Guard, 4 Waystalkers, etc…), I also have to take into consideration what is fun for me to play and more importantly is fun for my opponent.  I know I can take a specific combo and pretty much kill all characters in my opponent’s army by turn 3 without ever being in combat and break the back of their army.   Knowing how it can be accomplished and choosing not to field (or by extension fielding it and not taking full advantage of it) it is a strong balancing point for being a good opponent.

I will be testing this list out for the next month and a half before I have to submit my final list for the OFCC Warhammer Team event by July 1st.  I’m sure I may make some modifications and it may well end up being that I really love how a specific unit works and I want more if it, we’ll have to see how everything pans out.

Until then, I’ll try to get some games going and some Battle Chronicler reports generated.  I’ll also feel more comfortable writing up some new tactics articles after a half a dozen or more games with the new book under my belt.