Sunday 28 December 2014

Dark Riders can do it better - Fast Cavalry Tactics

Fast Cavalry Tactics

Some time ago I read an excellent article on about Dark Riders written by KillerK. Fast cavalry is one of my favorite units so I really liked the subject. I decided to link it in my blog so that I will always have access to it! But in the meantime I contacted the author, KillerK, and asked him if he allowed me to re-edit his article as a separate entry on the blog. I was very happy to find out he agreed and I finally had time to do so. It is a great piece of advice for any fast cavalry users, so don't worry if you are not playing Dark Elves. Enjoy!

I've been hearing "there is nothing that Dr can do that, harpies and shades cant do for less point's".

For along time I agreed. until a few month's ago, I seen some fast cav flee, rally, then move and shoot. Hmmmmmm Well this is something nether harpies nor shades can do. In result I added an DR unit to my ETC list. After a few games I decided to add another.

I was left with 2 unit's of harpies, 2 unit's of DR, and a single unit of shades.

I have also noticed that shades and DR work up a few synergies.
1. I can use shades to secure a good Vanguard move for my DR.
2. A Vanguard move can help to protect my shades form being charged by enemy chaff.

Why are DR better?
They are not Skirmishers, so you don't change unit length when being charged.

This is important for a few reasons,
1. the amount of unit's you can tie down, Hold the line tactic,
2. a lot of times, if your opponent charges your skirmishers, you have to stack them up, it can mean that your opponent will have enough room to move past the skirmishers.

Looking at the diagram, the DR have a length of 10", harpies 6", for blocking movement purposes the DR have 10" length, while harpies and shades have 4" do to formation change.
Also if we incorporate the 1" rule in to this, it means that the DR, prolong flee moves by 12" and harpies only 8". This has an immense meaning for the trick's in this post.

The thing that DR can do and nothing else in the army can, block, Flee, rally, move to block, and over, and over :). In practice you can use the double flee, rally and set it up again, as long as you have enough table to flee.

A few Tactic's the DR are better then competition, as shown below;

to understand some of these trick's it nice to remember the probability of rolling 2d6
2 - 2.78%  
3 - 8,34 %
4 - 16,67%
5 - 27,78%
6 - 41,67%
7 - 58,34%
8 - 41,67%
9 - 27,78%
10 - 16,67%
11 -   8,34%
12 -   2.78%

1. Dubble flee

I've found it's most useful if opponent plays a refused flank, deathstar, or has deployed a big unit with little or no support.

the set up

You opponent can stand there, or charge. If he Charges (red), you flee. Since your enemy cannot reach the fleeing DR he automatically fails his charge. Now you opponent has a possibility to riderect his charge, if he passes his LD. If he passes he can only charge the second unit of DR (green), as soon as he does you flee again.

And the end game looks like this.

Since your opponent's unit no longer counts as charging the first unit of DR he cannot come in to contact with them. Further more your opponent's unti cannot reach the second DR, so your opponent unit fails it's charge. 

The nice part is, when you rally your dark rides (LD 9 if you have a music), you can do it over again!

2. Hold the Line

This is one of the most useful way's to delay your opponent, If he charges, you hold, he charges with rest, you continue to hold. It will mess up your opponent's battle line if he overruns, or stop his advance if he doesn't, ether way you win.

This is extremely annoying, because it means you opponent moves 1" with charge, to keep his battle line intact, or risk's overruns and destroy his formation.

Why it is annoying you can see in an more expanded version.

3. Hold the Line - counter charge

This is why it's so dangerous, you can move you heavy hitters close to the enemy position, with out risk of a lucky long charge, ruing your day.

This exact set up is used to it's maximal potential if the hydras and dragon charge blue unit, since the dragon is in the flank.

Another expansion of hold the line is:

4. Box cars

All 3 enemy unit's are on the flank of your DR. The last DR unit, while staying out of enemy line of sight, it uses the 1" rule to box in the enemy unit(white on the right). In result the enemy's entire line cannot move past your DR, without breaking formation.

4. Box cars 2

You can also mess up enemy unit's facing.By getting one Dr unit on the enemy flank, using the 1" rule to keep it locked in place. While the other DR unit keeps the left mentioned unit on it's flank, and the last Right unit in the front arc. Making a coherent overrun impossible. In result enemy advance is stopped.

5. Flee to safety using LOS  

You use the enemy blind spot to catapult you unit to safety. It is done by placing one unit of DR, out of the enemy's line of sight. The other unit should be directly between, your DR (out of LOS) and your enemy unit. Remember you flee center to center, so your unit's must be placed in a manner to allow a flee path to catapult your unit away to safety. While the enemy unit is left with no unit's to redirect to, it will fail it's charge.

Enemy charges your DR, and they flee (pivot center to center).

Move flee distance, once your over your unit you catapult behind them.

Notice your fleeing DR are over 17" from the charging unit, so not even elven infantry can catch you.

If for some reason you cant stay out of enemy LOS, say do to other unit's, you can always get a more risky tactic.

6. Risky flee to safety

It is best, to minimise risk, there for you measurement's have to be correct, you should set up a unit of DR over 13" from infantry of M4, and further for enemy with a higher move.

Then the other unit of DR (best it be in 2 rank's) to limit the space between unit's, and decreeing the chance of not rolling enough to reach safety.

Instead of DR you can catapult any unit/hero out of harms way using this tactic. It is extremely useful to get characters especially sorceress to safety.

To ensure success you need to:

1. To minimalies the distance the enemy can move (so he doesn't just move around)
2. To maximalise the flee distance you move. To avoid your enemy catching you.
3. To minimalise the risk of not fleeing enough, and being caught by you enemy.

in this set up, the initial DR flee, if I roll over 3 on 3d6 your safe. Your opponent opponent has to redirect (Ld 9 test, 16,67 to fail), if he passes, he then must roll 10+ on 2d6 (16,67%), to reach the second unit. So the odds are greatly in you favor.

Let's say are facing the enfeeble empire, you would best set up, your fleeing DR unit just above 3" from the enemy. and your catapulting long unit, over 13" from the empire unit. and that places you 3" from your "fleeing" DR.

Your opponent charges, you declare a flee, pivot your unit center to center, next you need to roll more then 3 on 3d6 to get to safety. 

If your opponent redirects he needs a roll of 10+ to reach your lines (16,67% to succeed)

Now my favorite, to force a unit to flee off the table  :twisted:. If pulled off gives extreme reward, and the aw in the face of you opponent when he looks at you, priceless :D.

7. Extreme flee off of the table

Work's best with lore of Death and the Doom and Darkness spell.

It can be engineered by making some preparations:

1. Tracing the flee path of an enemy unit,
2. Move your DR in any gap to ensure you catapult enemy unit off the edge. Usually it will be between the table edge and enemy battle line.
3. Move another unit of DR, in such a fashion to ensure a proper flee path of target enemy unit.
4. Use the rule for failed panic check's, there are 2, so each situation may vary a little,
a. for causing 25% casualties, a unit flees away from the source.
b. for any other purposes panicked unit's, flee directly away from the closest enemy unit.

So the execution of this plan can be done in a matter of way's.

1. By far the best way is to brake a unit in CC with in 6" of target or use magic and shooting to annihilate a unit with in 6" of target, both of these will cause a panic test, and a failed result will mean the unit flees from the nearest enemy being your DR :twisted:, directly through his entire army and off of the table edge. This is harder to do, but it secures the desired flee path.

2. The other option is to use magic and shooting, to cause panic in target unit. But be careful, for the flee path in this case will be form the unit that dealt the casualty. You must make sure it's at a correct angle. If your unit's are placed correctly you can cause a panic test in the Magic phase, and another in the shooting phase, if you have Rxb's on you DR then you can use them to cause a panic test.

The set up looks something like this: very few people realize the trap until it's to late.


  1. This is a great article and should be a must read of every WFB player.

    1. I totally agree, Hinge, and I hope I can help KIllerK to reach more players by posting his article on this blog!

  2. I'm still playing WHFB 8th edition, I found your article very interesting but the pictures are missing now... Is there a way to get the article with the pictures?

    1. It’s a shame as the same issue is with the original article on the dark elf forum too