Tactica Tuesday: The weapons of war – equipping Wood Elf Nobles

A while ago I wrote a Tactica Tuesday about my personal favourite choices for my Wood Elf Spellweaver, and today I’m continuing the theme by looking at the Wood Elf Nobles. While my Spellweaver always takes pride of place as my general, there’s no denying the effectives of the asrai nobles in direct combat and you’ll usually see one or two in my army.

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Wood Elf Nobles assemble under the banner.

I like my Nobles to work alongside my army, and so I like to include them with Glade Guard units to bolster their firepower and effectiveness. Of course, this leads straight into my particular favourite item – the Bow of Loren. This helps the Noble to support the unit in their chosen role (ranged fire), and adds a decent number of shots to the unit at his high ballistic skill.To be honest, I’ve found this to be the most effective bow by far – the Hunter’s Talon is nice, but the inability to use magic arrows with it means that any model you’ll actually want to snipe will just survive the hit. Even wizards don’t make a perfect target, since you’ll only be wounding them on a 4+ with a single shot; so you’ll need to hit them in at least two different shooting phases. It’s a nice concept, but I’ve never found it to be that successful in-game. Finally, Asyendi’s Bane is a nice cheap option but given the high ballistic skill of Wood Elf Nobles it’s a bit redundant – though I might still begrudge its uncanny ability to make my Noble roll double ones whenever she wields it!

I will occasionally use magic arrows instead – the Hail of Doom arrow being the most prominent, since it helps support the tidal wave of firepower I like my Glade Guard to offer. While its random number of shots can be a bit hit-and-miss depending on your rolling, it’s still a nice option and works well with a magic bow since it’s a one use only. The other arrows that I’d consider are the Dragontooth Arrows – particularly for tough units with a low to moderate leadership – and the Arcane Bodkins when faced with low-toughness high-armour models such as Empire knights. It’s a pricey combo, but the aptly-nicknamed ‘machine gun bow’ (Bow of Loren and Arcane Bodkins) can be a very successful option against armies that Wood Elves would otherwise struggle to do any serious damage to with shooting, such as Warriors of Chaos. Unfortunately the two of them together come to 60pts – too much for a mere Noble – and I’m very reluctant to give up my level 4 Spell Weaver in favour of a Highborn, so it’s not a combination that sees much play in my army lists.

I’m not really one for magic armour, so I wasn’t going to really mention it here. However, on the subject of miscellaneous items, I feel that I should bring up the Moonstone of the Hidden Ways. While it takes up a large chunk of a Noble’s magic items allowance, the tactical benefits are often worth it – particularly on heavily wooded boards, and that’s my problem with this item. Since it’s so terrain-dependent, you either need to carry round a bag of trees or rely on the table you play on having a number of forests. It’s a beautifully thematic item that really suits the Wood Elves and can ruin a charge or catch a unit in a crossfire, but I’m not sure it’s always suitable. Having said that, the possibilities for a sudden rear charge out of the woods with a unit of Treekin is a wonderful thought…

Lots of other Wood Elf generals recommend running a Noble on Great Eagle, which is sadly something I’ve never really tried out. I do have a conversion in progress, which has slightly stalled due to my inability to finish the Noble rider. However, it is something I will be trying out at some point, and I’m already looking forward to doing a whole Tactica Tuesday just for this unit :)

Finally, I do usually take a Battle Standard as well – it’s a fairly cheap upgrade, and again can benefit a whole unit rather than just the one model. Sadly the Wood Elves don’t really have any outstanding banners anymore, so I tend to take the Banner of Eternal Flame – it’s cheap, and effective against the surprisingly high number of units with regeneration nowadays. The Battle Standard is there as much for the leadership re-roll as it is for the flaming attacks, since it’s sadly easy to lower the leadership of a Wood Elf unit through combat resolution.

My main 2000pt army list has just the one Noble in, equipped with the Bow of Loren, Battle Standard and Banner of Eternal Flame. He’ll usually go in a large unit of Glade Guard (16+) so armour isn’t much of a concern, and how bow can lend a few extra shots to the unit at BS6. The Banner of Eternal Flame is nice if I end up facing a Hydra, Hell Pit Abomination or some other regenerating beastie, but since the Noble is deployed in the main large unit he tends to be pretty central where the 12″ re-roll bubble will affect a large number of units. As much as I’m tempted to run him with a large unit of Treekin, this does require more of a points-sink in armour and weapons – plus, part of the appeal of the Treekin is their toughness and survivability, and having a T3 Elf Noble (who is challenge-able) doesn’t really appeal to my style of play.

Again, I hope this has been an interesting little insight into my own Wood Elf playstyle. Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you again next time!

Take care,

Ben

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