Welcome to the first installment of a new regular feature here on my blog, ‘Tactica Tuesdays’! This will be a regular post every Tuesday where I take a unit, loadout etc. I know and like, and talk about my own thoughts, experiences and personal tactics – a bit of an insight into how I personally see and use it. It could be anything – a unit, a single model, even a Team Fortress 2 loadout, with the only requirement being that I’ve used it extensively. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a comprehensive set-in-stone guide to how you MUST play – it’s only my own personal experiences and opinions! :)
So, this week I’m going to be discussing one of the staple units of my Wood Elf army in Warhammer Fantasy, the Glade Guard. I’ve always found Glade Guard to be a solid core unit throughout the three or four editions I’ve used them in, being a pretty efficient unit even against the hordes of steadfast troops you seem to see nowadays. They can put out a decent amount of ranged shots, and excel at close range of 15″ or less where their bows get upgraded to strength 4. What they provide in ranged power they lose in armour and survivability, with the perilous combination of elven toughness and no armour. Despite this, their high movement and cheap musician help them to remain manoeuvrable through most terrain, making them a great choice in a Wood Elf force.
I personally like my unit size to be somewhere between small-medium, or around 10 – 16 models. 10-man units are great as they tend to get ignored in favour of the larger forest spirits, while 16-man units are large enough to put out more firepower without compromising their manoeuverability. I also have to admit that I like taking the command group – the musician is a steal at only 6pts for that free reform, while the champion’s equally affordable and their increased ballistic skill has helped me land that extra shot now and then. The standard bearer is the only one I’m a bit more lax on, as of course you don’t want your Glade Guard to end up in combat. Taking him in a large unit, however, means that you can put a magic banner in the unit – thereby freeing up your Battle Standard Bearer to still give you that lovely re-roll while also being allowed to take a magic bow. I personally favour the Banner of Eternal Flame for my largest Glade Guard unit – it’s cheap enough that I don’t feel that I’m ‘wasting’ points if it’s not used, and if a Hydra or something else regenerative appears on the other side of the board it’s a great help.
When it comes down to shooting, I feel that movement is a large part of this. Glade Guard excel at firing at short range, which comes with the dangers of usually being in charge range. This is where movement comes in, and where I find that angling Glade Guard to be out of an enemy’s line of sight, or into intervening terrain, really helps. Of course, this is easier said that done, but (to jump back a moment) this is where the musician really helps – all Wood Elf longbows ignore movement penalties for shooting, so you can happily perform a swift reform and still fire at full effectiveness. Being able to get out of a unit’s line of sight prevents them from charging you – which is always a good thing – and makes it that little bit safer to get within short range for some strength 4 volleys. On the subject of shooting, I have to say in general I’m personally a fan of focus fire. Often it’s necessary given the size of the units you’ll be facing compared to the Glade Guard, but even against armies that have more than three units I like to try to take one down at a time. Glade Guard are very fragile, and even a weakened unit may well overpower them in combat, breaking your line into disarray. Of course this will vary from situation to situation, but I’m just saying I see no harm in overpowering an enemy unit with arrows sometimes :)
So, after all that about their strengths, you’re probably thinking ‘There must be some downside here!’ Like any other unit, Glade Guard do suffer from some weaknesses – the most prominent being their lack of survivability. Your stand and shoot reaction (if you choose it over fleeing) will help here, as will the elven weapon skill of 4, but when it boils down to it Glade Guard are wearing nothing but cloaks and hope for armour, and that doesn’t help much in the Warhammer world. As I’ve previously mentioned, they are a very maneuverable unit and this should be capitalised on to try to keep them out of combat. My other favourite tactic actually goes against this, using a ‘bait’ style to lure an enemy into charging a large unit of Glade Guard before going for a flank charge with Dryads, Treekin or even my Treeman. The picture below shows my usual rough battleline setup, where you can see each unit of Glade Guard is accompanied by a combat unit to each side. The general idea is that, once the enemy unit has slogged through at least two turns of firepower and a stand and shoot, they won’t have the hitting power to cut through the Glade Guard in one turn. In the second round of the combat, the Dryads charge into the flank, adding that bonus to my combat score on top of their impressive combat abilities, swinging the combat in favour of the Wood Elves. It doesn’t always work, of course, but it has saved my army before. Dryads in particular work well for this, with their movement of 5″ plus the charge distance allowing them to often hit an enemy unit from surprising distances.
So how would I personally sum up Glade Guard? I certainly consider them to be a must-have in my Wood Elf army lists, even against the steadfast hordes you see nowadays. They won’t win a battle by themselves, but with the right support and tactics (and isn’t that what Wood Elves are all about?) they can prove a more potent threat than you might imagine, and a worthy core unit of the army.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the first Tactica Tuesday. Drop me a like or share if you did, and I hope to see you same time next week for the next Tactica Tuesday.