HE Phoenix Guard – Not a Big Fan

GW's new Phoenix Guard don't cut it.So I’ve just purchased a unit of HE Phoenix Guard – $50CAD – before taxes – and I’ve assembled the front rank. I don’t like them, and here’s why:

First – Price. $50 for 10 plastic models is ludicrous. There’s no more plastic in here than any other box of GW troops, so that’s not the reason they’re so expensive. The sprue is complicated to be sure, but so what? Making your money back on moulds is not an argument GW, or anyone else, can make anymore. No folks, these guys are $50/ten because they’re High Elf elite troops, and GW is happy to gouge you because you want the functionality of the unit. But seriously, GW, do you think I’m going to buy 2 boxes at over $110 (after taxes) for a unit of 20? Fuck off. I’m going to get one, and fill the rear ranks with spearmen. The irony is, I probably would have bought 2 boxes, eventually, at the $40CAD price point.

Second – Assembly. These models are appallingly awkward to put together. Each guy is a minimum of 7 pieces to put together. 7!!
2 pieces – Torso and cape
1 piece – lower body
1 piece – right arm cape extension (a must for every model)
2 pieces – left and right arms
1 piece – head
The right arm cape extension is a must for every model – not an option. Why? The upper body is made of 2 parts – a cape, which contains the rear torso – and a front torso piece. In order for the right arm to hold anything properly outside the cape, the modellers had to add a right side cape extension to protrude the arm. This is a fussy little piece, and must be matched up exactly with its forearm counterpart – no choices here. Part D upper arm must be used with part D forearm or you’re fucked.

And good luck matching some of the 2 handed halberds together. I’m an experienced plastic modeller, but I can’t make good clean connections with left and right arm alignments on one halberd shaft. Hey GW, if you had control over only using part A1 with part A2, why couldn’t you make these easier? And what’s with the heads? They don’t fit well at all on the necks? Let me guess, you didn’t want people using the extra heads on other models did you?

In short – I’ve really disliked assembling these guys. Hated it actually, considering I paid so much for them.

Third – Helmets. These new Phoenix Guard helmet designs suck. If I was an elite HE trooper, I would never want to be in a Phoenix Guard regiment for this reason alone. Yuck.

So for you folks who’ve read this far, let me summarize the new High Elf Phoenix Guard models in a succinct takeaway excerpt: waaaaay too expensive, awkwardly assembling models that aesthetically suck. Simple. A trio of bad.

I’m already sitting on the fence with your games GW, many more kits like this and I’m going to cut you loose – at these prices I deserve perfection, and probably a reach-around.

Got the last 5 done. They don’t rank up well either. Awesome.

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Battle Report – High Elves vs Empire

Even though I’ve been playing WHFB for over 10yrs now, I can’t remember a game I’ve played at 2500pts. So when English Andrew and I got together to play a good serious battle of 8th ed., I didn’t quite know what to expect, or field. Here’s what transpired:

Andrew’s 2500pt Evil Empire List
Arch Lector -Armour of Met. Iron, Shroud of Magnus
Captain – BSB, Shrieking Blade, Dragonhelm, Dawnstone
Warrior Priest – Warhorse, Biting Blade
Wizard Lord – Rod of Power, Holy Relic, Lore of Life (Earth Blood, Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines)
Master Engineer – Pigeon bombs
Knights – x5, x5, x14
Spearmen – x29 – x5 detached crossbowmen
Halberdiers – x38 – x15 detached swordsmen
Great Cannons – x2
Mortars – x2
Helstorm Rocket

My 2500pt High Elf list was much more civilized:
Prince – Dragon armour, Charmed Shield, Vambraces of Defence, Ironcurse Icon
Noble – BSB, (Std. of Balance), Steed
Archmage (lvl 3) – Sigil of Asuryan, Guardian Phoenix, Lore of Shadow (Miasma, Pendulum, Pit of Shades)
Mage (lvl 2) – Dispel scroll, Lore of Death (Spirit Leech, Soulblight)
Archers – x10
Spearmen – x30
Spearmen – x30
DragonPrinces – x10
White Lions – x12
Shadow Warriors – x6
Repeater Bolt Throwers – x2
Eagles – x2

We rolled up “Meeting Engagement”, and Andrew deploys first. Two big units are in reserve – his Knights x15, and his Halberdiers x38, which means their detachment of Swordsmen is also kept off. Andrew seems to think this is a bad thing, but some units in reserve in this kind of battle is actually good!

I, on the other hand have to keep my Archmage, Dragon Princes, Archers and one unit of spearmen in reserve. Yikes! This is not how I wanted to play the game. This game I was experimenting with taking my fight to the enemy as quickly as possible, as I now believe that High Elves are much more dangerous actually punching heads than shooting at them; and with Andrew’s massive formations revealed, I’m glad I’ve gone this route.

Below is a summary of what transpired:

Above – All of Andrew’s warmachines are deployed in the far corner, and protected by the small units of knights. Because there are no serious HE threats anywhere near, everyone who can, slowly advances.

Above – High Elf deployment and almost the bottom of turn 1. I have yet to bring on my DP, archers, Spearmen and Archmage. All will be too far out of range to be in any way effective this turn.

Above – Top of turn 1 for Andrew’s Empire.

Above – Bottom of turn 2 – HE right flank.

Above – Bottom of turn 2 – HE left flank. One bolt thrower is already gone, and the other has taken 2 wounds. 1 DP is gone ( a loss of some significance, as you’ll see) and my right most spears are taking losses.

Above – Bottom of turn 3. I shift my Shadow Warriors to the left in the hopes of clogging up the massive Empire advance, and forcing some bad angles. This will happen. I’m buoyed by the fact that both these Empire units can’t take on my Dragon Princes, and that there’ll be a fairly even battle soon, with horde formations of Empire and HE converging on one another.

Above – A close-up shot of the centre of the battlefield, bottom of turn 3. A good looking table eh?

Above – Top of turn 4. Andrew’s Knights hit the Shadow Warriors who aren’t destroyed, but flee, unable to rally. As predicted the Knights are at a bad angle to my DP. Now I’m hoping to hit them in the flank, scatter them, and advance beyond the halberdiers with the attached Warrior Priest. Nice Knight unit eh?

Above – Bottom of turn 4 (almost). Perfect! Slam into the knights as planned. But even with all my attacks, and so few back, I can’t kill more than 2, so Andrew’s 2nd rank has 5 models and he remains steadfast! What a rookie – I don’t have enough models to disrupt his ranks! One more kill on his unit, or another rank on mine is all I needed! But no. This pic shows my expanded frontage after the victorious reform – now the two knight units will just girl fight S:3 attacks against 2+ or 1+ armour saves. The writing is on the wall for the High Elves.

Above – Bottom of turn 5. Artillery has much depleted my right Spearmen unit. When Andrew’s Spearmen hit them, I’m in dire straights, so I committed my BSB and Prince to the cause. The BSB is killed, and I lose the combat. My Prince (in the foreground), takes off – the beginning of the end. If the writing was on the wall last turn, it was written in Elvish this turn, with a large cock and balls diagram next to it.

Above – Bottom of turn 5. The DP are taking a beating, and are barely holding on – I roll a 4 for leadership! The left Spearmen unit (on the right side of the photo), are down to 10 men – from 30(!) due to pretty accurate mortar fire. The Archers and Bolter crew have begun discussing what PoW food they’re likely to get tonight.

Above – Bottom of turn 6. DP are done for, and get caught in the ensuing pursuit. Everywhere else, the High Elves are routed or dead. The game ends as a massive Empire victory.

Above – Bottom of turn 6. Unit of the match – Andrew’s artillery horde! Ya he rolled an average amount of misfires, but not one of them expired a unit. Unfortunately for me, he rolled an above average number of HITS on the artillery die, and my High Elves died in droves.

What was Learned
I learned alot from this battle, the most obvious of which is that Empire is an 8th edition powerhouse vs HE. Versus High Elves, Empire has it all – horde infantry, cheap boostable anti-magic, and artillery that shreds T:3 troops. I kept my 2×30 man blocks in horde formation because I thought it would lower the number of template casualties I was going to inevitably take. And it did! But I was still losing 6-8 elves per mortar/rocket shot, and there was nothing I could do about it with the army I had selected. You can’t sneak up hiding behind trees anymore, and 3 of those units fire indirectly anyway.

If I’m going to take massive casualties like that again, I’m going to have to go with the Lore of Life and toughen my troops. Unfortunately I don’t think the High Elf Lore cuts it anymore. It’s a 7th ed. lore, and its range is severely limited, with no options to boost distance or power levels. Heavens magic might have been a better choice, in hindsight, so I can take the Comet, and pound stationary artilllery pieces from anywhere on the table. As it was, I wanted to single out characters and defy Warrior Priest hatred with the magic selections I chose.

It was bad luck though, with almost 1/2 my army arriving late to the field. But I still don’t know what I could have done about that artillery – more than 1/2 of my poor High Elves disappeared in a red mist before making it into combat. Very frustrating game. But fun overall – Andrew as always, was a gracious opponent despite my dice pitching. Next post I’ll discuss the why of my army list and analyze it.

HE vs. Empire – 2000pts with 8th Edition

Andrew sets up his game 2

English Andrew was over on Sunday to try the new 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy rules. I’d been able to buy the rulebook at Jeff’s C&C at midnight on Saturday, so I had read all the rules there were to read before gaming. Not surprisingly, every rules section was different, and we found we were checking the rules often to make sure we had it right. So for now, we’re playing slowly…

I have to say that I’m impressed. The make or break point for me and Warhammer has always been magic. There’s nothing more frustrating than to put an army together, that’s well rounded, devise a strategy for it, and have everything go out the window because your opponent got some fucking, unforseen, magical item/spell – that screwed everything up! You can’t tactically counter random selection – it’s no fun, especially with Warhammer’s current imbalance in army books.

Start of game 2

But that seems to have been balanced fairly well. Your opponent can still pick stupid magic items, but the spells portion of the game has been enlarged with selection, strategies and fairness. No longer do you have to take 2 level 2s with dispel scrolls to avoid getting pummelled for 3 turns (that’s all!) of magical onslaught. I mean, it really was depressing to play High Elves, who are supposed to be good at this sort of thing, and get smashed every magic phase because I didn’t buy 400pts worth of mages, and your army just happens to be magically oriented. </gripe>

First Game Synopsis – Just trying to learn, we decide to play a pitched battle with a twist – Dawn Attack. Your side of the table is divided into 3, and units randomly show up in the centre or wings. With 2×20 units of Lorthern Seaguard, and 1×20 unit of Archers, I was shooting roughly 60 shots a turn at Andrew’s advancing army. (This, after I stole the initiative to go first.) I managed to whittle or eliminate the worrisome Fast Cav and Knights, and basically left Andrew’s 30 man spearmen and swordsmen unit to advance. But after his Spearmen successfully charged my Sword Masters, there wasn’t much point in continuing, as the SMs dished out 10 wounds, and probably would have every turn following too. I’d just whittled his army down too much. But Andrew wasn’t without his successes too.

The Empire artillery did not too badly, considering half of it was firing indirect. One rocket shot nailed 10 Seaguard (in 2 ranks!), and his Hellblaster survived the entire game – even smeared an Eagle on turn 1.

Second Game Synopsis – It only lasted 2 turns, and then we had to call it a night. There had been only 1 close combat, and Andrew had successfully shut down much of my shooting with his Iceshard Blizzard and Curse of the Midnight Wind spells – very limiting. But I didn’t feel cheated in the magic phase at all.

Overall, I’m happy so far. My other major army is TK, and they’re not going to fare as well with these new changes. They’re going to be striking last against practically everyone, and a wily opponent can really limit their magical incants. If you know you’re facing a TK army, you won’t get any of its relentless buff magic off. But we’ll see. And I’m eager to try. Warhammer is back on the game table.

High Elf White Lions – One Rank

high-elf-white-lions

high-elf-white-lions

One rank of White Lions is complete! I traded for these White Lions many years ago, before the latest HE book, and let the models sit. Before the 6th ed. HE book, White Lions just weren’t worth taking – they were too expensive and a rare choice too, I think.

They’re an excellent choice now. They’re the strongest HE in the army (outside of characters) with S:4, and great weapons. That alone – along with their stubborn leadership of 8, make them worth taking in any game you have small, heavily armoured units to fight across the table: cavalry, 40mm elites, etc.

I really like these models – though they’re chunky metals. I would like to have seen these guys redone rather than the Shadow Warriors GW thinks they had to improve. White Lions are all about the axe, but these chubby axe handles would scare a dwarf off. They do have lots of character though – I’ve painted they’re helmet plumes orange (washed with red) to make them match my Lion Charioteers. They took a little longer to paint, as my prototype was done in this rank.

White Lions
Points on the table: 81pts (with musician)     Time to paint: 4hrs

More High Elf Spearmen

High Elf Spearmen

High Elf Spearmen (2x20)

Finally – after 5 or 6 years of owning High Elves, I’ve finally got 2 x 20 man regiments. I’ve been stuck at 32 models for years, which allowed me to field a single full unit at whatever I wanted, but always a second, too-small one. So I often never took more than 1 regiment of Spearmen.

At 9pts a guy, with full command, (and I always take full command with spearmen – why not?) a unit of 20 is just 205pts. That’s a good deal for 3 ranks of fighting warriors moving at 5″, WS:4, I:5. On paper they should:

  • be hitting at 66% 
  • be wounding at 50%

But it never works out that way. I’ve seen 18 attacks get no wounds at all against the most average of troops, because they’re S:3. By the time you get through the math above, and factor in even poor armour saves, you often get no kills at all, which is why I’m going to start adding nobles into the front rank. These guys need to get more kills to win combats.

Because HE are so expensive per model, you need every Elf in the game to be fighting, or contributing in some way. You can’t buy your way to a +3 rank bonus at 9 (or more) points per guy.

The 8 guys I painted tonight took me about 3hrs to do – there were no special troopers. There’s always a longer paint time to light coloured troops.

High Elf Spearmen
Points on the table (2×20): 410     Time to Paint: 20hrs