12 May 2013

High Elves Tactica - Lords

Hey guys, Learn2Eel here with yet another look at the mighty Asur - this time, I am focusing on the Lord characters in the army book, and what they can do for your army. I hope you enjoy this review!

High Elven Lords are typically strong fighters or mages in terms of raw damage or support potential, but they are often found wanting in regards to durability; striking a balance between the two is difficult, particularly given the limits on magic item allowance and final points costs. Whilst combat Lords are worthwhile if used in a specific army list, it goes without saying that characters dealing more with buffs and debuffs - such as Archmages and Loremasters - offer significantly more utility to a force rather than just attempting to trample an enemy into dust through brute force. What it really comes down to is what kind of character you see leading your force - do you imagine an armoured knight in splendorous glory charging into the enemy with sword and trusty steed, or a gaunt scholar that weaves the tapestries of fate into magical convocations to devastate the foes of the crown? How you picture your general fighting should really determine what kind of character you go for - even the mighty special characters present in our previous article may be to your liking, as they represent some of the most renowned heroes and heroines in the Warhammer world. The choice is yours.


Prince - As one of Ulthuan's nobility, a Prince bears the mark of royalty through their elite training and access to unparalleled equipment. Between a Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill of seven, an Initiative of eight and four attacks, a Prince(ss) is all about dealing a lot of damage in record time, particularly owing to the special rule Always Strikes First. As one might expect though, they are relatively fragile for a Lord choice and as such will need a lot of defensive gear - and accompanying units or monstrous mounts - to keep them in the thick of it. Given that their base cost isn't low at all, and that giving them strong durability is expensive outside of taking a barded steed, their cost is already high before even considering how to boost their offensive prowess. The harsh reality here is that a Prince is not a Chaos Lord or Vampire Lord, though they will often be much cheaper and this is their main advantage. Some of the more interesting options available to a Prince can certainly put them in a similar bracket to those heavyweights though; between Griffons that can shred characters before they strike, or the mightiest dragons that can be found, Princes can be absolutely brutal in larger games where such units coke into play. If you use one as a combat character, be sure to give them some sort of mount so that their abilities - and your investment - aren't wasted trying to get into combat. Another option owing to their incredible Ballistic Skill is to give them a magical ranged weapon - namely the Reaver blow - and use them more as a support character that holds back and provides more a more likely benefit from their Inspiring Presence at Leadership ten. They need a lot of points invested in them to keep them alive and fighting, and though they can be absolutely devastating in melee, their best trait is their versatility; riding on a Star Dragon and ploughing through entire units, or crashing into the enemy in a coordinated charge with Dragon Princes atop an Elven Steed? The only limit is your imagination.

Archmage - Though they lack the durability of the Anointed or the sheer versatility of the Loremaster, Archmages are easily the most cost effective spell casters in the army, with an incredible potential to dominate the magic phase. As befits both their profile and role, an Archmage should be kept out of combat at all costs; with no armour and only an expensive (if purchased) ward save to defend them, even regular line infantry will be able to murder your expensive wizard with ease. Manage this successfully though, and an Archmage will serve you better than any other generic character for both controlling the magic phase and boosting the survival odds of your forces either through powerful magical attacks, helpful boosts to your units or harmful debuffs for the opponent. In an army that can include an Archmage legally, I must recommend boosting their wizard level to four, maximising their number of spells, casting and dispel attempts to compete with high level wizards from other armies. Additionally, the perfect magic item to give to an Archmage is undoubtedly the Book of Hoeth; by allowing the Archmage to re-roll a single casting or dispel dice from each attempt not only eliminates the risk of using one or two dice on low casting spells, but also to enhance their control of either players' magic phase - an invaluable asset for a Lord level wizard. In an elite army that is fragile across the board, such dominance of the winds of magic, as well as the capability of selecting from up to nine magic lores, their use is almost a necessity in a competitive environment. The popular lores of magic for an Archmage tend to be Shadow and Light, the former for boosting the combat effectiveness of High Elves to extreme levels by reducing that of their opponents, and the latter for its diversity and use against a range of strobg armies. However, owing to their additional +1 bonus to casting such spells, High Magic is also s viable choice, particularly for its relatively low casting values. Still, regardless of the lore you choose, the Archmage should be an excellent choice to lead your forces; remember only that a strictly supporting wizard will likely be out performed by the Everqueen, and you should be set.

Anointed of Asuryan - With the blaze of destiny engraved into their burning eyes, the Anointed of Asuryan are suitably tough warriors befitting their stature as the veterans of the Phoenix Guard; their armament, from the halberd to the heavy armour, and their special rules, are virtually identical to their ranked unit equivalent. The Anointed is quite dissimilar from the Prince(ss) that (s)he competes with; as both a combat character and a general, the Anointed is slightly less effective, what with a point less in both attacks and Leadership. However, unlike the Prince, the Anointed benefits more from having useful basic wargear, as well as incredibly handy special rules that a Prince would have to pay a premium for; notable amongst which is that the Anointed comes stock with a 4+ ward save, freeing up their magic item allotment for more offensive equipment. Particularly in smaller games, this in built ward save serves to make the Anointed a more attractive option as a melee character compared to the Prince, particularly in light of the formers' more powerful and cost effective monster mounts in such game sizes of 2000 points or lower. Though the inability to take a cheap elven steed and join cavalry units is a hindrance, it nonetheless bears repeating that the Flamespyre and Frostheart Phoenixes are arguably the best monster mounts in the army book for their points; the former because it can resurrect both itself and the Anointed quite reliably whilst doing lots of damage to common ranked infantry, and the latter because it effectively makes the Anointed a Toughness four elf and doesn't hold out on offensive power.
I'm not sure the Phoenixes need guarding...

The two Phoenixes are incredible for their points and I would consider them almost mandatory if it weren't for the fact that the Anointed makes a very handy commander on foot, unlike the Prince; any unit the Anointed joins gains the Immune to Psychology special rule, which is very handy against enemy monsters and daemons alike, as well as a +6 ward save. Though the benefits of Immune to Psychology are partially overshadowed by being unable to make a flee reaction, the latter rule - especially in light of the ward save-boosting lore attribute for High Magic - is very handy indeed. Best of all, the Anointed makes for a highly useful bodyguard, particularly with a 3+ ward save! How you equip the Anointed should also depend on what role you foresee for them; if you want them to support a unit, keep them in a block carrying the Standard of Discipline to boost their important Leadership value and give them some boosts to their armour save to keep them alive a bit longer. If you want a remorseless character killer, the Anointed does this particularly well when mounted on a Frostheart Phoenix, given a strong magic weapon - such as the Giant Blade - and receiving a boosted armour save, with popular choices being the Enchanted or Charmed Shields. Regardless of how you employ an Anointed, I feel that their value will shine through - particularly in games where a Prince on a Star Dragon is not a possibility, as the Anointed in conjunction with a Frostheart or Flamespyre Phoenix simply outclasses any of the other monster-mounted generic characters in the Lord section. As well, it goes without saying that they are one of the few combat characters that can feasibly be employed on foot without a specific item combination.

Loremaster of Hoeth - As a learned student of both blade and magic, the Loremaster is a character built around the theme of versatility; wielding a great sword in one hand, and flinging a fireball from the other, no better is this represented than on the model itself. With hero-level combat abilities owing to a decent Weapon Skill of six, three attacks and an Initiative of seven, the Loremaster is much akin to a decently equipped Noble mixed with a level two Mage; with no capacity to become a level three or higher, and no way to boost their profile outside of magic, the Loremaster is very much a merchant of many trades, but adept at none. The Loremasters' combat prowess pales in comparison to both a Prince(ss) and the Anointed, whilst their magical talents are firmly at a level below that of an Archmage. This inefficiency in each role compared to the other Lord choices does serve to make the Loremaster somewhat unappealing, though that is before one mentions just how they generate spells; a Loremaster does not roll to determine which spells they have, but rather knows every signature spell from each of the eight common lores of magic. This amazing attribute is really what defines the Loremaster; it is not for their mediocre melee skills or spellcasting for which they are proving popular, but rather the incredible diversity of spells from which a Loremaster can call upon at any moment. I feel that the best illustration of this is to provide some rather accurate examples of the usefulness of this trait. A block of White Lions has assaulted a Chaos Warrior formation, intent on preventing them from causing havoc throughout the High Elven lines - a lost combat shouldn't prove fatal owing to Stubborn, but nonetheless, it is an important combat. The Loremaster sees this, and casts the boosted version of Mystifying Miasma on the Chaos Warriors; with the dispel attempt proving unsuccessful, the Chaos Warriors are reduced to Weapon Skill and Initiative four, giving the White Lions an incredible advantage that leads to them winning the combat. In addition, owing to the use of a spell from the Lore of Shadows, the Loremaster uses the lore attribute to switch places with a secondary mage so as to stay out of harms' reach. In another game, the Loremaster's unit is about to be charged by a particularly vicious monster; seeing that it lacks flaming attacks, and that it will be striking first against the great weapon wielding Swordmasters, the Loremaster casts Earth Blood on the unit to give them a strong save against the monster and, in return, strike it down in a flurry of blades.

The versatility of the Loremaster is what really defines his or her value; if you find you don't need such diversity, then I would definitely recommend an Archmage or Prince (or both), as each of them fulfills their given role - combat or magic dominance - far more effectively than the Loremaster could hope to accomplish. Otherwise, the Loremaster is a handy choice that works very well with the Book of Hoeth owing to the low casting values of most signature spells. Though the Loremaster rather disappointingly can't be given any kind of mount, they still have the same magic item allowance as any of the other Lords, and as such you can boost their durability by a hefty margin; a ward save of 5+ or 4+ is near mandatory on such an expensive and important character, whereas boosts to their armour also help out immeasurably. A Loremaster really doesn't need to be in combat as much as their profile would dictate, and they should do just fine even with the great weapon owing to their impressive Initiative.

Example Builds - Some of the following builds are ones I have tested out or seen used to great effect. Some of them are there simply because they are fluffy and cool! I hope you find them an interesting template for your own characters.

Prince w/ star lance, great weapon, heavy armour, enchanted shield, talisman of preservation - 622
Prince w/ elven steed, ilthimar barding, ogre blade, dragon armour, enchanted shield, dawnstone, the other tricksters' shard - 272
Prince w/ reaver bow, great weapon, heavy armour, lion cloak, potion of strength - 203

Archmage w/ level four, book of hoeth - 275
Archmage w/ elven steed, level four, book of hoeth, talisman of preservation - 340

Anointed of Asuryan w/ dragonhelm, dawnstone - 245
Anointed of Asuryan w/ flamespyre phoenix, sword of might, enchanted shield, dawnstone, golden crown of atrazar - 495
Anointed of Asuryan w/ frostheart phoenix, giant blade, enchanted shield, dawnstone - 540

Loremaster of Hoeth w/ book of hoeth, talisman of preservation - 330
Loremaster of Hoeth w/ ogre blade, shield of the merwyrm, dispel scroll, the other tricksters' shard - 325

Did you find this an insightful read or not really all that helpful? Let us know in the comments section below - we appreciate any and all feedback!

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