This week I’m revisiting one of my favourite armies, my beloved Wood Elves in Warhammer Fantasy. A while ago I wrote a Tactica Tuesday on the staple Glade Guard, and so this week I’m going to talk about their forest kin, the Dryads.
Dryads have always been (thematically and literally!) the other core part of a Wood Elf army alongside the Glade Guard, and work very well in-game as a counterbalance to the elves. Where the Glade Guard excel at mid / short-range shooting, Dryads are the combat part of the army. Each Dryad boasts a strong base profile, including a strength of 4 and two attacks alongside Fear and a good weapon skill to allow them to deal a decent amount of damage. Despite their willow-like appearance Dryads are actually fairly sturdy (by Wood Elf standards, at least), with a toughness of 4 and the good old Forest Spirit save. Their high movement value combined with the skirmisher rule means that they’re just as (if not more) mobile than the other units you’ll have in a Wood Elf army, allowing them to get into position with relative ease. Plus they’re a Core choice, so taking them doesn’t limit you on the fancy Special and Rare units you can take.
Just like pretty much every other Wood Elf unit, Dryads don’t do well in a straight-up fight. They’re ideal flankers and a good harassment unit, using their high movement and skirmisher formation to get around an enemy’s blind side. I’ve covered the ‘bait’ tactic before in the Glade Guard Tactica Tuesday, but despite their skirmisher status Dryads actually can hold their own in other situations. While the Immune to Psychology rule means that they can’t flee from a charge, they will (rather appropriately) be Steadfast when in woods, helping them to hold against units which otherwise would roll through them. I’d stress that this isn’t something to rely on(!), but it can certainly be a help if you need to stop that enemy unit for a turn.
Dryads are a perfect flanking unit, where their strength and attacks can help to turn the tide while the more ‘tank-y’ units such as Tree Kin and Treemen attack the enemy from the front. The Dryad’s profile means that even against some elite units they’ll probably be hitting and wounding on 4’s (which is pretty good for a Core unit), getting those extra hits in that may very well swing the combat your way. I prefer a small unit size, usually around the minimum of eight models to keep costs down and avoid the unit getting too big to move around freely. This still gives you a decent number of attacks, and means that you can take a fair few units so that, if one does get taken down, it’s not necessarily a major loss.
Sadly, Dryads have lost some of their potency from previous editions – the 360° line of sight has gone, and Fear is less of a worry than it used to be since low leadership units typically have enough models for the horde rule to make up for the effects of Fear. Despite this, I still consider them a vital unit in my Wood Elf force, offering an affordable and versatile alternative to the ranged Glade Guard. I usually balance the Glade Guard and Dryads with a 1:1 ratio, ensuring that the army has a solid ranged core as well as counters for when the enemy inevitably reaches the line. This mix avoids the army being too weighted in one area, since in my experience playing Wood Elves the army works best when it can attack the enemy on all levels.
As always, comments are always appreciated – please feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts, and I’ll try to reply to all comments :)
Hope to see you for the next post, and take care everyone,