As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working on some of my Wood Elves recently, and it was while painting a standard bearer that I started thinking about banners.
The Wood Elves actually have a surprising number of units that can carry magic banners given their ‘skirmish army’ status. One unit of Glade Guard are allowed a small magic banner, while a single unit of Eternal Guard can take a slightly more expensive one and Wild Riders are allowed a magic banner per unit(!). This isn’t including the eponymous Battle Standard Bearer, who tends to be a fairly staple model in most of my lists.
I don’t usually run Eternal Guard, so I won’t really comment on them, but Glade Guard really can benefit from some of 8th edition’s magic banners. As far as the banners in the Wood Elf book go, Aech – the Banner of Springtide is still a good option (since it got errata’d to actually work in 8th edition!), especially against faster, cavalry-based armies to guarantee a stand and shoot reaction. Alternatively, the rulebook offers quite a few nice, cheap alternatives, with one of my favourites being the Banner of Eternal Flame. It’s one of the cheapest at only 10pts, and there seems to be enough Regenerate units around nowadays to justify its use. Even if it doesn’t come into effect, it’s still only 10pts and hardly a massive points sink.
On the other side of the table, Wild Riders are quite the opposite from Glade Guard in terms of their preferred banner. Faoghir – the Banner of Dwindling is an expensive but effective one if you have a large enough unit of Wild Riders to combo-charge an enemy unit that you think you can break, but not kill. At 50pts, though, it’s quite a hefty points drop into a lightly-armoured unit. One of the most popular and effective ones, though, isn’t from the Wood Elf book but from the rulebook (again) – the Banner of Swiftness, which is quite a bargain at only 15pts. That slight increase to the movement characteristic really helps the lightly armoured Wild Riders close the distance, getting them where they want to be quickly. Finally, and returning to the common magic items again, the War Banner is a stable classic. By charging a unit of Wild Riders into the flank of a unit while carrying this banner, you’ve already got +4 to your combat resolution before any blows are even struck! For an army that relies on hard-hitting fast combo-charge attacks, this is a great start to a combat.
Finally, we come to the Battle Standard itself. To be honest, I don’t actually tend to take a magic standard on my Battle Standard Bearer. I’ve found that he’s effective enough just with the basic Battle Standard rules, and by not taking a magic banner this frees him up to take a magic bow (since he loses his regular one), usually the Bow of Loren. Deployed in a large unit of centrally-placed Glade Guard, this lets him add a decent number of shots to the volley while bolstering the line with the re-roll afforded by the banner.
On the subject of Wood Elves, I’ve made pretty good headway yesterday so I’ll hopefully be able to put some new photos up soon!