Warhammer Army Builder Tactics for the High Elf Player
High Elf Army: Probably my favorite Warhammer army to build is the mighty High Elves. The primary reason being that you have so much flexibility in the type of army you want to make. Meaning you can go with an army that is defensive in nature and sit back on hills shredding your opponent with missile fire. Or you could go to the other extreme and have a fast attacking, hard hitting army filled with chariots, cavalry, and swordmasters. If you actually have enough miniatures to take advantage of this flexibility your opponent will have a difficult time preparing his army against you. If they have to worry about an offensive army outflanking them, and hitting them fast they may take units or magic items to help deal with this. If they do this and you actually build a different army then you may have a tactical advantage.
For example if in past battles you’ve demonstrated an offensive force that has outflanked, or quickly defeated an opponent, your enemy will remember this. Say he is playing Orcs and Goblins against you and has this on his mind. He may take a unit of night goblins, and put 3 fanatics in it to help deal with a flank attack from you, charging chariot or whatever. If you actually build an all defense army filled with archers and bolt throwers and lots of magic, you can use his choice of unit against him. Simply include in your army a cheap unit of 5 shadow warriors and use them to pull out his fanatics at the beginning of the battle. If they hit and wipe out your shadow warriors it’s a small lose compared to the advantage it has given you. The fanatics could easily slow down a good portion of the orc advance and give you more time to shoot up your enemy. Not to mention they will be much closer to his troops and possible run into orc and goblin units while you sit back on your side of the table. I love seeing a night goblin unit when playing a defensive army because very often it can be used against your opponent. This is an example of the advantages of the simple flexibility in being able to make different styles of an army.
That being said you obviously have to have many High Elf models to do this, so if you don’t you’ll have to work on building up your army. Buy what you need to make a balanced army of a certain size (say 2000 points), then if you play a battle of a lesser amount (say 1500) you may have some flexibility. Work on getting more stuff to be able to go all offense or all defense. What you don’t want to do is have enough models to play a 3000 point battle, but the only thing you can build is a defensive type army. Try to strike a balance so you can go both ways and you may achieve a slight advantage over your opponent before the battle even begins.
Swordmasters of Hoath: The High Elf army has some of the best infantry of any Warhammer army. The swordmasters of Hoath are probably my favorite unit and are almost an automatic any time I build an army. Their high weapon skill and strength 5 with their great swords means you’ll almost always be rolling to hit on a 3 or up, and wounding on a 2 or up, and 3 or up against toughness 4 opponents. On top of this they don’t strike last with their great weapons, and their initiative is super high.
Also consider that with 5 movement you have an excellent chance of getting in a charge on most units. Of course after you charge and ravage your opponent's unit the following round your high initiative will allow you to go first in hand to hand combat and ravage his unit yet again.
I usually go five models wide for the extra attack and I always take a champion to get his extra attack, as well as a standard and musician. So, when you charge you’ll get 6 strength 5 attacks most likely at 3 or up to hit. This is usually enough to take out most or all of your opponents first rank, leaving him few if any return attacks. If he actually makes his break roll and does not flee, you’ll have him in initiative and strike first on his round of combat in hand to hand. Again you should be able to take out most of his first rank.
Many times I’ve charged an enemy unit and by the 2nd round of hand to hand had half his unit wiped out and fleeing and had maybe lost one or two swordmasters, because of the simple fact that he could barely get in an attack. Obviously the key is making sure you charge. With a 3 toughness, and 5 plus armor save swordmasters are extremely vulnerable if charged, or attacked. Their best defense is a good offense by making sure they charge first.
This doesn’t mean they have to move forward toward the enemy on the attack, it just means you need to protect them from things like enemy cavalry and chariots. Of course both of these units has a much longer charge range, and can threaten your precious swordmasters.
To counter this I often protect them by putting a chariot next to them, or small light cavalry unit. This way if your opponent brings his cavalry close enough to charge your swordmasters you’ll be able to attack him first with an 18 inch chariot or light cavalry lance charge.
Spearmen and Seaguard: Two other great units that also happen to be a core unit choice. High Elf spearmen have the ability to attack 3 ranks deep when not charging in a round. Rank them up 5 or 6 models wide and 3 ranks deep and you’ll have a massive 15 or 18 attacks when charged. Unlike the swordmasters were I always try to charge I often will bypass charging an enemy unit and let him fall on the deadly spears. Of course I’ll usually hit the unit with a volley of missile fire to soften them up instead of charging as well.
The Seaguard are perfect for the above tactic as they can fire their bows along with your other missile troops and then still get in all their spear attacks when the enemy charges on his following turn. If building a defensive army the Seaguard are simply a must. They are a bit expensive so I’ll usually get 15 of them, put them in 3 ranks and get them on a hill. This way they can still get in a decent amount of shots and will have 15 attacks when they get into hand to hand.
Chariots: High Elf chariots are absolutely great. With an 18 inch charge and 1d6 plus 2(scythed wheels) strength 7 hits they can be extremely effective and a major headache for your opponent. When building an offensive attacking army I almost always take two chariots, and even when playing total defense I still usually take one. Two chariots with 18 inch charges on the same unit for 2d6 plus 4 strength 7 hits is just down right scary.
A basic tactic with a chariot is to charge a unit that has another unit right behind it. If you can break the first unit your pursuit may run you into the second unit and give you a charge attack for another 1d6 plus 2 strenght 7 hits on your opponents turn. Obviously getting your charge in is critical, but with 18 inches this is fairly easy. Of course these chariots often attract lots of missile fire, so you need to be careful with them. I often will start them on one of my flanks and angle them out of the fireing arcs of enemy missile troops. You can move out 9 inches at an angle and then face back toward the enemy and have that 18 inch charge ready. However, if the enemy does not have a lot of missile troops I will often move the chariot out to invite the missile fire. Try to do the math and see what the odds are of your chariot being destroyed. If I have good odds to survive a volley then I will definitely do this. If the enemy fires at the chariot and just wounds it without destroying it, I saved the lives of valuable infantry, and perhaps did not get a rank reduced that would cause me one less combat bonus in hand to hand. Even if wounded I’ll still get in the all important charge. I’d much rather take this then lose a rank bonus from a swordmaster unit.
Remember, try to do the math and figure out the odds. Being such a threat most of the time your opponent won’t even think about it and will simply fire at the chariot. You’ll smile to your self as you only take 2 wounds, still get in your 1d6 plus 2 strength 7 hits, and saved a combat modifying rank bonus on your swordmaster unit.
As mentioned above in the swordmasters section, chariots can also be used to protect units from enemy cavalry charges. They are also great at protecting a flank. I usually take one chariot when building a defensive army for these two reasons. Many people try to flank using light cavalry, and a chariot with an 18 charge will easily route a light cavalry unit coming toward your side. Even if they have missile weapons and stand and shoot on your charge it won’t be enough to take down your chariot.
Yet another use of the wonderful High Elf chariot when playing with a defensive army is to slow your opponent down. Say you built a great defensive army complete with bolt throwers, sea guard, lots of archers, and plenty of magic. Your plan is to sit back on you hills and shoot up your enemy.
Obviously slowing your opponen’ts movement down will help your cause because you want to weaken him up as much as possible before hand to hand starts on your side of the table. A tactic to help do this is to charge a unit that is within 8 inches of as many other enemy units as possible as soon as they are within charge distance. So, if they move 8 inches from their starting position you should be able to charge them right away. You might be sacrificing your chariot but it could be well worth it. The key is to not be broken on your initial charge. If you can do enough casualties to avoid being broken then on your opponents following movement phase any of his units within 8 inches of your chariot will not be able to march. If your chariot is engaged with a unit, and he decides to charge you with another unit, most likely this second unit will have to turn side ways(ie – he is charging your chariot in the flank), and this will end up slowing this unit down. Of course once broken the enemy unit will get a pursuit roll, but if it’s on his turn he won’t get any further then normal, and several of his other units would have been slowed up.
This is a bit of a risky tactic, so be careful when doing it, and make sure there are units that will be within 8 inches so they can not march. Obviously not losing the combat round on your charge and fleeing is critical. If you do this you will have given the enemy unit a free pursuit move on your turn, so your plan to slow him down would have back fired.
That being said you should count up how many combat modifiers the enemy will have to see how many casualties you will need to cause to win combat. If it’s not looking good don’t do. At any rate this is just another possible tactic for chariots. All in all, the high Elf chariot is an excellent choice when building an army and can have many uses.
Well, that is it for now on Warhammer High Elf tactics. Hopefully this will help some of you. We plan to add some more stuff in the near future so check back. Also if you would like to contribute some of your own advice on High Elf tactics, or any other Warhammer army you can contact us here:
We would be very happy to add your advice to our tactics page.