Saturday, 25 June 2011
Wood Elf Unit Tactics Part 5 - Dryads and Branchwraiths
Dryads were once considered to be one of the most over powered units in the game since they were so cheap yet so powerful...this was back when Dwarfs were considered the toughest infantry in the game...years on things have changed however Dryads are still one of the BEST core choices we have access to and considering they are so cheap they are another must have core unit for any wood elf army (unless themed of course).
Strengths and Weaknesses
When looking at a Dryad you have to think of an elf then imagine the exact opposite. Elves in our book tend to focus on ranged, lack armour, be fragile and pretty weak. This naturally means dryads are tough, strong and have a pretty damn good save to boot. Dryads go into battle with 2 S4 magical attacks each at initiative 6 meaning 9/10 times you are striking first and your striking hard. When the foe hits you back he has to punch through Toughness 4 and a 5++ ward save! Finally they cause Fear giving them some extra defense against the more wimpy units in the game.
When it comes to disadvantages Dryads have very few. They are Skirmishers meaning its harder for them to shot at which is great but it also has a negative impact on their combat ability because they cant break ranks, don't benefit from steadfast and don't have a rank bonus for combat resolution meaning they will have a hard time breaking most units since they will ALWAYS be steadfast against you in a 1 on 1 fight. Dryads are also Forest Spirits, this is a GREAT rule overall giving them loads of benefits however because of this they cant be accompanied by wizards or nobles and only Branchwraiths can reliably and safely join their ranks. They have no access to command units so if they flee they are more likely to not rally than our elf troops and they cant benefit from standard bearers. Finally their ward save does not work against magic based attacks, so whilst its great against most units they are very vulnerable to more elite units and wizards.
Dryads can be used in a few ways, however most will agree the best way is to run them as a Hammer unit...and they are one hell of a hammer. The ideal size for Dryads in my opinion is either 8, 10 or 12. Any more and you are wasting attacks and the cost rises and maneuverability of the unit drops significantly. Bear in mind that 8 dryads cost less than 100 points and pack 16 S4 magical attacks which can be a combat decider when you have a strong anvil up front (like a Treeman Ancient). 10 - 12 Dryads are more expensive and are just as effective as Hammer units and of course they can take more of beating, whats more they can act as mini anvils since they are tough enough to hold up weaker infantry (goblins, humans, skaven) quite well. The final tactic is to go with a full unit of 20 (max unit size). This 20 man unit should be run 10x2 and should be used as an Anvil. The REAL use however comes into play when you are playing the Watchtower mission as you have the hard hitting power of the dryad for assaulting the watchtower (bearing in mind only 20 Core troops can start in the watchtower and dryads are more than a match for most core units in the game) and if you manage to start in the tower you have a very hard to move unit able to hold up against nearly anything.
*REMEMBER: Dryads are skirmishers! They are stubborn when in woodland terrain and enemies cannot benefit from steadfast when in woodland terrain! Use this to your advantage and bait enemies into combats on your terms!*
Dryads are one of those units that go from great to amazing when given some magical attention. The lore of life is common as you can make them Toughness 6-8 but my personal favorite is to run them near a Lore of Beast weaver and simply cast Wyssans Wild Form giving them S5 T5 making them stronger and tougher letting you deal more hurt and take it back in droves. Finally if you have a Athel Loren singer with Call of the Hunt this can really boost a dryads attack power. For overkill combine Call of the Hunt and Wyssans for some real carnage!
These are our cheapest Heroes coming in at under 70 points. They have come in with 3 S4 WS6 attacks at I8 meaning she is pretty darn good for her points. She has access to 50 points worth of Spites and is the cheapest way to gain access to Cluster of Radiants (+1 dispel dice). Optionally she can be boosted to a level 1 wizard but this upgrade almost doubles her points and is not worth it AT ALL. She is an OK choice to take especially in themed lists or games at a lower points level when you cant take a Treeman Ancient but as a whole she can only really join dryads and doesn't add enough to be worth it (you could just upgrade a dryad to a Nymph/Champion to get the same results).
Branchwraiths are your cheapest way to get hold of CoR but other than that are not worth the investment. Dryads on the other hand are fantastic despite thier flaws. A few units of 8-12 and you have some very potent hammer units that can also take a beating.
As a side note, they are 3 points cheaper than Sword Masters (High Elves number 1 Special choice) and they destroy them...every time...high elves beware!