Monday, 21 July 2014

Micro 3 - Wood Elves at the ETC

So, that time of year rapidly draws near – the time of year when far too many gamers for anyone’s good descend upon the beautiful people of Serbia and unleash their drinking, gamesmanship, slow playing, prearranged draws and dice-fu upon each other in the struggle to be crowned ETC Champions.

The best of the best* will slog it out in the rather gentle arena of 2 games per day for 3 days. Ahead of this arduous challenge the various countries and principalities involved have been focused on one thing – the lists.
*other views are available.

To paraphrase one podcaster out there, list building within a comp system is akin to solving a mathematical problem. The much bemoaned (by me at least) fact that the comp this year is very similar to last year’s means that there is a simply extraordinary degree of similarity in most lists across teams. Now, this could mean that it will all be a fairer way of establishing the victors – but by that logic the ETC organisers could publish 3 potential builds for each army for countries to choose from. And, most importantly for that curious breed of Warhammerer, the “ETC Observer”, it makes for dull list writing.

But let us not spend too long beating that drum. We all knew it was coming (and there are some true gems in amongst the, well, beigeness of it all – we’ll look at those some other times (just like dessert, there is something to be said for keeping the best till last). There was one army I was keen to see what the greatest minds of the game* would come up with. One of the newest of the books to be released, and arguably the first in a very long time that involved updating an old book that used to be awesome, but that accepted wisdom told us had been all but destroyed by the two game editions since its release. Why is the once-upon-a-time power important? Because, gamers being gamers, it meant that a lot of people who have played this game for more than ten years would own armies, so they could end up being popular. The interest is that there has been far less time for people to ‘break’ their comp.
*once again, other views are available.

So… How did the Wood Elves end up looking like?

As expected, their popularity was confirmed (not to ‘good old days’ Ogre/Dark Elf levels, but still), with over a third of all teams (including some expecting to do well at the event) rocking up with the ex-hippies (their current background is a tad weird, but it does seem clear that they no longer want to be hippies, much like a child of the sixties who, having travelled the world seeking enlightenment, has now gone back home to run the family business – a neckless of beads the only indicator of their old lives).

Having played a lot with the new Wood Elf book myself, there were some things I was expecting from the off:
Death/Shadow Magic
BSB to rock the Hail of Fail arrow
Core to be predominantly filled with True Flight-totting Glade Guard
At least 2 units of Wild Riders
Two units of Way Watchers
Two Eagles

Now, the one thing that has stood out above all else using the Wood Elf book is just how expensive everything is, so if armies took the above there would be a limited amount they could bring to make the lists ‘different’ from each other.
So let’s hope I was wrong.

I shall also assign them utterly arbitrary scores on power and originality. Based on absolutely nothing much, and for no other reason than I am human, and humans have this thing about wanting to rank things in some sort of order. Maybe it is a quest to make sense out of chaos that is life and the universe. Maybe it is because we get bored easily.

In team-alphabetical order, the representatives of the in-no-way-cuddly-tree-loving-elves are:

Nick "Father of Lies" Hoen, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Elven Steed: General, Lvl 4, Death, Obsidian Lodestone, Dispel Scroll, 310
Glade Captain on Elven Steed: BSB, Asrai Spear, Starfire Shafts, Hail of Doom Arrow, Enchanted Shield, Dragonbane Gem, 156
3x 10 Glade Guard: Musician, Trueflight Arrows, 3x 160
5 Glade Riders: Starfire Shafts, Musician, 125
8 Wild Riders: Shields, 224
7 Wild Riders: Shields, 196
6 Wild Riders: 156
7 Sisters of the Thorn: Standard of Discipline, Standard Bearer, 207
3 Warhawk Riders: Windrider, 145
8 Waywatchers: 160
7 Waywatchers: 140
2x 1 Great Eagle: 2x 50
Total: 2399

Nick, fresh from entertaining us all on one of the very best podcasts out there, has turned up to the party (much like the rest of his Australian team mates), with an eminently sensible list. It ticks all the boxes I thought we would see – though he has gone for the Sister bunker, a very powerful choice in the right matchups. Manoeuvrable Death magic is always brilliant. My only concern, having tried this list out a couple of times, if that there are too many Wild Riders (yes, I think you can have too much of a good thing), at the cost of more shots in the list – personally would have been tempted by 3x5 and then move some points around for another Glade Guard unit, but can see why he didn’t – the larger units keeps them combat effective for longer. Good list.
Power: 8/10 Originality: 5/10

Patrick Ebner, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Elven Steed: General, Lvl 4, Shadow, Obsidian Lodestone, Power Scroll, 320
Spellweaver on Elven Steed: Lvl 4, Death, Dragonbane Gem, Dispel Scroll, 270
Glade Captain on Elven Steed: BSB, Asrai Spear, Starfire Shafts, Charmed Shield, 121
14 Glade Guard: Champion, Musician, Trueflight Arrows, 230
2x 11 Glade Guard: Champion, Musician, Trueflight Arrows, 185
13 Wild Riders: Standard Bearer, Standard of Discipline, Shields, 389
7 Wild Riders: Standard Bearer, Banner of Eternal Flame, Shields, 216
5 Wild Riders: Shields, 140
2x 6 Waywatchers: 120
2x Great Eagle: 50
Total: 2396

Patrick, I thought upon reading the magic lores, has been drinking from the same coolaid as me. But no. This man has big balls (to put it delicately). Shadow and Death are in many ways the “obvious” lores for this army. Bunkering them in Wild Riders is just, quite simply, hard-core. It’s not just that they are a lightly armoured combat unit, or that the wizards themselves have no ward saves, it is also the simple fact that they can’t flee. That being said, if not facing cannons/stone throwers there is no reason the mages can’t hand out with the archers or something. Despite the, well, weirdness of that, it is in all other respects a normalish list.
Power: 8/10 Originality: 6/10

Vincent van Es, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Elvensteed: magic level 4, lore of High Magic, Obsidian Lodestone, Dispell Scroll, 310
Spellweaver on Elvensteed: magic level 4, lore of Death Magic, Dragonbane Gem, Power Scroll, 280, General
Glade Captain on Elven Steed: BSB, Bow of Loren, Hail of DOOM Arrow, Asrai Spear, Shield, 164
2x 12 Glade Guard: Musican, True Flight Arrows, 2x 190
14 Glade Guard: Musican, Starfire Arrows, 234
6 Wild Riders: Standard Bearer, Shields, Banner of eternal flame, 198
8 Wild Riders: Shields, 224
7 Sisters of the Thorn: FCG, Standard of Discipline, 227
8 Way Watchers: 160
6 Way Watchers: 120
2x 1 Great Eagle: 2x 50
Total: 2397

Another list featuring all the expected components. The interesting thing here is the High magic, which is great for the list in a few ways, including increasing shooting effectiveness, enhanced mobility and making the bunker that much harder to kill. Other than being yet another rocking the mounted wizard bunker (which has proved to be more popular than expected), everything else is, quite simply, as expected.
Power: 6/10 Originality: 5/10

Anastasia Deliyska, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Unicorn: General, Level 4 High, Talisman of Preservation, Dispell Scroll, 350
Glade Captain on Great Eagle: Spear, Shield, Helm of the Hunt, Hail of Doom, 179
2x 10 Glade Guard: Musician, Hagbane, 2x 160
13 Glade Guard: Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame, 186
2x 5 Glade Riders, 2x 95
2x 5 Sisters of Thorn: 2x 130
2x 5 Wild Riders: Shields, 2x 140
3 Warhawk Riders: 135
2x 10 Waywatchers: 2x 200
2x Great Eagle: 2x 50
Total: 2400

I love Bulgaria. I mean, I have never been there, but if I did go I am sure I would love them. They have brought something a bit different to the ETC party, and this Wood Elf list is by no means an exception! Yes, that’s right, the general is a lvl4 on a UNICORN (insert joke about girls loving unicorns if you must, I am far too high brow to do so myself). Interestingly enough of course, that wizard is actually an utter pain to kill. Given wards and High Magic protection, it could be a frankly annoying pain in the posterior. Another touch of brilliance (I assume that’s what it is, because I don’t get it), Anastasia has decided that Battle Standard Bearers are for chumps. What you really want is a Helm of the Hunt instead. Yup. So there. Oh, and Trueflight is passé. Other than that there is a sh*t storm of chaff – would hate to be the person tasked with getting 15+ points off this list!
Power: 6/10 (factoring in nuisance value) Originality: 8/10

Olli Mikkanen, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on elven steed: general, lvl 4 death, dispel scroll, talisman of endurance, 295
Glade captain on elven steed: BSB, starfire shaft, obsidian lodestone, 159
10 Glade riders: hagbane tips, standard, gleaming pennant, 235
10 Glade riders: hagbane tips, 220
7 Glade riders: starfire shafts, 161
7 Sisters of the thorn: standard, standard of discipline, 207
7 Wild riders: shields, 196
8 Wild riders: shield, standard, banner of eternal flame, 244
3 Warhawk riders: 135
8 Deepwood scouts: trueflight arrows, 128
2x 8 Waywatchers: 2x 160
2x 1 Great eagle: 2x 50
Total 2400

There is a widely held belief that the days of infantry are behind us. Olli clearly agrees, and who am I to disagree? Another thing that is clearly old fashioned is the concept of deploying somewhere. Of the 13 hypothetical deployments in this list, 6 do not deploy (3 scouts, 3 ambushers) and 5 of the remainder get to vanguard before the game starts. Only the ‘Great’ Eagles let the side down. If Olli’s captain is able to draw this list against a combat army, this list could be one hell of a spoiler.
Power: 5/10 (8/10 as spoiler), Originality: 8/10

Thomas Huglo, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on elven steed: general, Lvl 4, Heaven, Asrai longbow, Obsidian amulet, dispel scroll, moonstone of the hidden ways, 340
Glade captain on elven steed: BSB, light armor, Asrai longbow, Asrai spear, Starfire shafts, Hail of doom arrow, talisman of protection, charmed shield, 166
5 Glade riders: Starfire shafts 115
5x 5 Glade riders : Hagbane Tips 5x 110
9 Sisters of the thorn : standard, musician, standard of discipline 269
3x 5 Wild riders : Shield 3x 140
3x 5 Deepwood Scouts : Hagbane Tips 3x 80
2x 5 Waywatcher: 2x 100
2x 1 Eagle 2x 50
Total: 2400

If you have ever played Poker, I you know that sinking feeling when you’re supposedly winning hand is causally blown out of the park by the player across from you. Olli knows this feeling, with Thomas, quite simply, raining all over his parade. 18 deployments, of which only two (those ‘Great’ Eagles again) behave as they should in the deployment phase. Six ambushing units, Five scouting units, Four vanguarding units (and yes, quite possibly a partridge in the pear tree). I really like the Lore of Heavens in this list too – comet, thunderbolt, chain lightning and iceshard are all great spells to hurt and annoy your opponent, and comet is peerless for affecting your opponent’s magic phase. Of course, in the wrong matchup the list is largely useless, and will then rely on its speed to simply hide if at all possible.
Power: 8/10 Originality: 8/10

Dimitrios “Jimbouz” Bouzoukis, WOOD ELVES
Spellweaver L4 on elven steed, General, Lore of Heaven, Asrai Longbow, Obsidian Lodestone, Dispel Scroll, 315
Spellsinger L2 on elven steed, Lore of Fire, Asrai Longbow, Scroll of Shielding, 145
Glade Captain on elven steed, Asrai Longbow, Light Armour, BSB, Starfire Shafts, Hail of Doom Arrow, Charmed Shield, 149
8 Glade Riders, Hagbane Tips, 176
4x5 Glade Riders, Hagbane Tips, 4x110
2x5 Wild Riders, shields , 2x140
2x3 Warhawk Riders, 2x135
10 Sisters of the Thorn, Standard, Standard of Discipline, Shield of Thorns, Curse of Anraheir 285
2x8 Waywatchers, Sentinel, 2x170
Total: 2400

The Greeks were clearly pioneers in deciding that ‘Great’ Eagles really hampered the coolness of silly deployment lists and have led the way (as with so much else over the years) in quite simply getting rid of them (feel free to insert a socio-economic joke about selling the eagles, but that’s tasteless, and makes you a bad person for even thinking it). Rocking a big sisters is a bit ‘meh’ in my eyes, but I like the addition of Fire Magic in the list.
Power: 8/10 Originality: 8/10

Alan "Woody" Woods-Conway - Woody's Woodies
Spellweaver General, Obsidian Lodestone, Elven Steed, High Magic, Level 4 @285
Spellweaver Moonstone of the Hidden Ways, Dispel Scroll, Level 4 ,Lore of Shadow @285
Glade Captain, BSB, Hail of Doom Arrow, Asrai Longbow, Hand Weapon, Light Armor, Starfire Shafts @134
10 x Glade Guard @120
2x 10 x Glade Guard, Trueflight Arrows, @2x 150
15 x Glade Guard, Musician, @190
7 x Sisters of the Thorn, Musician @192
8 x Wild Riders, Musician, @218
6 x Wild Riders, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame @176
2x Great Eagle @2x 50
2x 10 x Waywatchers @2x 200
Total 2400

This list ‘feels right’. Not only because I would not want to upset Woody by saying anything else. Nope. That’s not close to a factor. The opportunity cost of double lvl4 is clear here, with the large Glade Guard unit forgetting the arrows that set the internet a-buzzing at home, relying instead on High and Shadow magic to do its thing. Not the worse idea in the world.
Power: 6/10 Originality 6/10

Tomasz "Tutajec" Tutaj, Wood Elves
Spellweaver: General, Lvl 4, High Magic, Moonstone of Hidden Ways, Power Scroll, 295
Spellweaver: Lvl 4, Shadow, Dispel Scroll, Ironcurse Icon, Obsidian Lodestone, 295
Glade Captain: BSB, Asrai Longbow, Light Armour, 2nd weapon, Hail of Doom Arrow, 132
Waystalker: 2nd weapon, Asrai Longbow, 90
Waystalker: 2nd weapon, Asrai Longbow, 90
15 Glade Guards: Musician, Swiftshiver Shards, 250
21 Glafe Guards: Musician, Standard, Banner of Swiftness, Trueflight Arrows, 350
7 Sisters of Thorn: Standard, Banner of Eternal flame, 202
6 Wild Riders: Shield, 168
6 Wild Riders: Shield, 168
13 Waywatchers: 260
2x Great Eagle: 2x 50
Total: 2400

I like this list. Firstly, there are Waystalkers, which are great for screwing with your opponent’s head, even if they rarely do all that much – though when they do, they DO. Then you have larger units of both Glade Guard and Waywatchers, ideal for making the most of magical buffs. Does make it a very small list of course, and can’t help thinking the points on the sisters could be spent on something else (given the apparent lack of steeds for the characters), but still. I like it. A lot – this is one of the lists that feels like it could actually pump out firepower worthy of the name.
Power: 8/10 Originality 7/10

Bogdan Obradović, Wood Elves
Spellweaver: General, Lvl 4, Light, Elven Steed, Moonstone of the Hidden Ways,Talisman of Presevation, Scroll of Shielding, 340
Glade Captain: BSB, Elven Steed, Asrai Longbow, Light Armor, Great Weapon, Hail of Doom Arrow, Charmed Shield, 149
Spellsinger: Lvl 1, Light, Elven Steed, Obsidian Amulet, 120
Spellsinger: Lvl 1, Light, Elven Steed, Dispel Scroll, 115
Spellsinger: Lvl 1, Light, Elven Steed, 90
12 Glade Riders: Trueflight Arrows, Standard, Gleaming Pendant, 279
3x 5 Glade Riders: Trueflight Arrows, 3x 110
9 Sisters of the Thorn: Musician, Standard, Standard of Discipline, 269
7 Wild Riders: Shields, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame, 216
2x 7 Wild Riders: Shields, 2x 196
2x Great Eagle, 2x 50
Total: 2400

There had to be one. Allow an army to take Light Magic and someone will rock out a banishment list. It’s a mathematical certainty. Nothing wrong with that of course, S7 banishment is equivalent of a lot of skill after all! What is unusual if that this is an uber avoidance Light Council list, which is incredibly rare (not actually sure if I have ever seen it before). That makes it pretty cool really, so kudos to Bogdan!
Power 8/10 Originality 8/10

Siniša Stojadinović, Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Elf Steed: general, lvl4, Shadow, Moonstone of the hidden ways, Obsidian Amulet, Dispell Scroll, 335
Glade captain on Elf Steed: BSB, shield, Light armour, Asrai Longbow, Hail of doom arrows, 142
Spellsinger on Elf Steed: lvl2, Death, Power stone , 145
10 Glade guard: Musician, Hagbane Tips, 160
10 Glade guard: Musician, Hagbane Tips, 160
10 Glade guard: Musician, Starfire Shafts, 170
5 Glade riders: Hagbane Tips, 110
8 Sisters of the Thorn: Standard, Stadard of Discipline, 233
6 Wild riders: Standard, Shields, Banner of Eternal Flame, 188
6 Wild riders: Shields, 168
6 Wild riders: Shields, 168
1 Great eagle, 50
1 Great eagle, 50
8 Waywatchers, 160
8 Waywatchers, 160
Total: 2399

Sinisa (am afraid I have no idea how to make the little symbol over the s) has gone for a basic, middle of the road list. That sounds like a negative, but it isn’t. Three Wild Rider units, good. Sister bunker, good. Double Waywatcher, good. Shadow magic, good. Death magic, good. So, in short, it’s pretty good.
Power: 7/10 Originality 8/10

Antonio "Abirras" Lopez - Wood Elves
Spellweaver on Elven Steed: General, Lv4, High, Obsidian Amulet, Shielding Scroll, 285
Spellweaver on Elven Steed: Lv4, Death, Dispel Scroll, 265
Glade Captain on Elven Steed: BSB, SwiftShiver Shards, Charmed Shield, Hail of Doom Arrow, 149
2x 10 Glade Riders: Trueflight Arrows, 220
7 Glade Riders: Starfire Arrows, 161
7 Sisters of the Thorn: Banner, Standard of Discipline, 207
3 Warhawk Riders: 135
6 Wild Riders: Shield, 168
5 Wild Riders: Shield, 140
2x 10 Waywatchers: 200
Great Eagle: 50

It is unfortunate for Antonio (though I am sure he will get over it) that I have read the other lists ahead of this. That changes things from “cool, a fast cav list” to “yawn, another fast cav list”. Swiftshiver on the BSB is a bit weird, but ok, may as well make use of high BS.  It’s a good list. Nothing really stands out as awesome, but nicely solid.
Power: 6/10 Originality 7/10

Dennis Palmkvist, Wood elves
Spellweaver on Elven steed: General, level 4, lore of high magic, Obsidian loadstone, Dispel scroll, 310
Glade captain on elven steed: battle standard bearer, Asrai long bow, light armour, hail of doom arrow, dragonbane gem, starfire shafts, 149
4x Waystalker: 2nd hand weapon, asrai longbow, 4x 90
13 Gladeguard: musicant, starfire shafts, 218
13 gladeguard: musicant, standard, starfire shafts, gleaming pendant, 233
13 Gladeguard: musicant, 166
11 Wildriders: Standard, standard of disiplin, 333
2x 5 Deepwood scouts: 2x 65
2x 10 Waywatchers: 2x 200
2x 1 Great eagle: 2x 50
Total: 2399

Now we are talking! FOUR waystalkers + High magic to make them more accurate. Be interesting to see what impact this has had on matchup scores vs it. Of course, my experience is that there is every chance they do nothing. But it makes you think doesn’t it? To top it off these assassins are backed up by a nicely solid gunline, more static than a lot of the other lists, but concentrating on that Wood Elves are meant to do, namely shoot things. Not sure I am a massive fan of the lvl4 in the Wild Rider unit, but it can get pretty handy once the High Magic attribute tokens start adding up. All in all, a list to fear (well, depending on what your list fears, anyway).
Power: 8/10 Originality: 8/10

So, there we have it. My favourite list? It may well be the Greeks – I really like the idea of Heavens magic Wood Elves, but on the other hand Bulgaria have a unicorn, and Dennis is rocking four Waystalkers, so how on earth can you expect anyone to choose between them?

One thing of note though…. Not a single Treeman, Branchwraith, Treekin or Dryad to be seen anywhere.

Missing In Action

Nope… did not think that would surprise anyone…


  1. The Age of the Tree has ended, now it is the Age of the Elf!

    1. I need to see that on a Tshirt! :)

  2. It's funny, when planning my Dark Highwood Elves I was concerned about what models I could use for the trees that would look like they belonged to the army; now I just won't have trees at all!

    1. Yeah - have yet to see a WE list based around/containing treespirits that felth 'right'.
      Maybe when the meta changes in some weird and wonderful way...?

    2. One of my local opponents tried a dryad-star with Beasts magic, not one care was given by the Evil Warriors of Chaos...

  3. There’s nothing like predicting yesterday’s weather! So after scorning Craig, Hristo and Mikey in my fact-checking on the Midlands predications, it’s now time to put the man himself to the test. Does Raf actually know anything about Wood Elves or is it just ones of those things where he has an opinion on regardless? With the ETC done and the results posted, we can now see if he’s any good at assessing list strength by double checking his predictions against good hard facts. Of course, we will completely ignore trifles such as matchups and player strength here as we all know that the basis of good Warhammer is picking the best list of the net and push it forward (or in the case of wood elves: around).

    Of course, slippery as he is, Raf didn’t predict any hard points, leaving himself room to wriggle out in case things went awry. So I had to devise some system to compare his assessment versus the actual results. The ETC is a 20-0 system, so anything averaging between 9 and 11 against the world’s best is quite decent. We’ll call that a 7. Anything over 11 (but less than 12) is an 8, between 12 and 13 becomes a 9 and so forth, so lists that average between 7 and 8 on the ETC score a 5 on Raf’s scale.
    Being the merciful bloke that I am, I even allowed Raf some leeway, so if his prediction is within 1 point of the actual result, I’ll count that a good call.

    So, how did he do?
    We have 4 overestimations: Anastasia, Thomas, Dimitrious and Woody (who admittedly hadn’t drunk enough on the first day) did not quite live up to the high expectations that Raf had of them.
    There’s also two underestimations: Olli and Bogdan exceeded Raf’s expectations and Bogdan’s mobile Light council even scored most points of all the treehuggers out there. Olli, also rocking Glade Riders as core and Death on his level 4 did notably better than the other ‘no drops’ lists who were stuck with heaven or high. It’s also interesting that Olli went for bigger units of Glade- and wild riders (yeah, we call 7-10 big units nowadays) and that seems to have paid off.
    Finally, the other 7 lists did more or less as well as Raf predicted. So 7 hits and 6 misses… well, predicting tomorrow’s weather is truly more difficult than yesterday’s…