The Hooves of Ellryion

The "Hooves of Ellryion" encompass a variety of traditional Ellryion mounted warfare tactics.

COMPOSITION: Ellryian war parties are usually entirely mounted on splendid elven steeds. This allows for lightning fast assaults and Hit and Run tactics to be executed very effectively. Ellyrian forces are composed of Reavers, Silver Helms and Chariots.
Reavers known elsewhere in Ulthuan as "Ellryian Reavers" provide extreme speed and flexibility for Ellryian forces. They range out ahead of the main assault force striking deep into enemy terriotory, riding down vulnerable targets, taking possession of key positions, raining down accurate archery on the foe and hindering the enemies plans in a reign of confusion. These expert riders are masters of Hit and Run tactics, they avoid dangerous opponents, whilst shooting at the enemy and can loose of a volley before withdrawing, even in the face of an enemy charge!
Silver Helm Knights are swift and deadly fighters, almost unparalleled amongst even elves. They are armed with white lances, which on the charge can help them smash through almost any foes ranks. Using their speed they take their enemy by surprise with quick flanking moves and pursuits. Their thunderous charges have broken the back of many an invading army.
Some noble Ellryians keep the age-old tradition of chariot riding alive, even though their cousins in Tironic are more renowned for it. Still Ellryion is a land of vast grassy plains and of magnificent herds of elven steeds whilst the land of Tironic has long lost its days of glory. Chariots although slow on the march, but can strike quickly and with little warning, leaving opponents crushed in their wake.
Chariots are the support element of the Ellryian army. They help the Silver Helms and reavers attack targets that are too heavily armed and armoured for them on there own and also help to reduce enemies in massed ranks.


General Theory of the "Hooves of Ellryion"

Using an entirely mounted army means that you will be out numbered at least 3 -1 against a "balanced" force containing mainly infantry. More often then not it could be 4 -1 or 5- 1. Ellryian cavalry also has average toughness and mediocre armour saves. All this means that an Ellryian force is very fragile indeed. This is usually more then compensated with the extreme speed and manoeuvrability of such a force.
Firstly and most importantly speed means that you can pick your targets and avoid dangerous opponents. The advantage of this cannot be overstated. Imagine the frustration of a Khornite General and his Khornite chaos knights, or a regiment of Rat Ogres, as our regiments whiz behind or out of reach for a few turns or perhaps the whole game! This also means denying these regiments their march moves! Such a huge investment in points wasted is already a sign that you are gaining the upper hand (if not in the battle than psychologically).

Whilst our regiments are avoiding and or harassing powerful enemy regiments, the rest of the force picks out vulnerable targets and progresses to destroy them. Missile regiments and opposing fast cavalry can be threats to your force if not dealt with quickly, as can war machines. Fortunately these threats can easily be extinguished by a reaver charge early during the progress of a battle.
This brings me to my second point, the concentration of forces. Whilst the rest of the force (mainly reavers) harasses their opponents and destroys their ability to shoot, the rest of the force (mainly Silver Helms and some chariots) engage enemy regiments in combat. Silver Helm charges can be quite powerful but can easily be absorbed by massed ranks. This is where the concentration of forces comes into play. A second unit and possibly a third unit either, other Silver Helm units or spare Reaver units charge into the enemies flank and/or rear. Not only have they lost their main advantage, they must take a panic test and we receive +1 or +2 to our combat resolution.
This should result in the enemy becoming broken as a Silver Helm charge can be quite potent when the enemies' rank bonus is negated. This now means that the force can continuously run along the enemy's line bringing in most of the melee force to bare on one unit at a time. Even though the force is badly out numbered, this is countered by the fact that in each individual combat the numbers are evened up, with the charge, rank and combat bonuses on our side! Each unit is destroyed, one at a time, whilst care is taken to avoid the most powerful elements of the opposing force.
Once all the elements of the enemy's force are destroyed besides the most powerful ones than things will get desperate for the opposition. They will (probably) be way behind in the victory point count and outraged (or enraged!) by the fact that their all powerful (and all expensive) characters and units have yielded them no or little victory points. In a last ditch attempt to grab victory or revenge they will move headlong towards the bulk of your force. This would probably be their last move as the main silver helm unit with a couple of chariots will charge the front, whilst the rest of the force charge the flanks and the rear. Such overwhelming force would be enough to destroy all opponents including my special list.
Blood Crushers
Dragon Ogres
Rat Ogres (even with a Vermin Lord!)
Chaos Knights (Yes, even with the Banner of Rage lead by a Khornite General)
Brettonian Grail Knights (with all sorts of characters and virtues and magic items.)

Things to Watch

The biggest threats to you will soon become apparent. Missile troops, opposing cavalry, flying creatures, infiltrators, war machines, magic and unbreakable units are enough to spoil the day of any Ellryian Lord. I will now explain how to counter each of these threats.

Missile troops can cause crippling damage to Ellryian units because they lack the armour and numbers of massed infantry. Opposing missile troops can be a menace to an Ellryian force and therefore are a threat that must be contained.
As many players know, missile troops tend to be rather poorly equipped. Many players neglect to give them a champion, a standard or a musician yet alone an extra rank! With the lack of armour, equipment and general lack of hand to hand combat ability this compounds a missile regiments problems even with a champion, standard and musician. This being said, Reavers are the solution. If the first turn is yours than charge them with the special deployment and charge combo. If not then deploy in cover and try to stay out of potential line of sight. Screen valuable units with skirmishing Reavers. A Ruby Chalice may also be in order. If all else fails give him tempting targets like Chariots or fully armoured Dragon Princes.

Opposing cavalry can be a great pain that can lose you the game (mind the rhyme). These guys can stop all important march moves and charge your units instead of the other way around! These are threats that must be neutralised immediately. Heavy cavalry with a movement of 7 or more must be avoided for as long as possible! Concentrate your attacks elsewhere (preferably very far away!) and tie them up with Reavers stopping them from march moving. When the rest of the enemy force is dealt with than the heavy cavalry unit can be charged using concentration of force as well as a couple of chariots!
If that plan seems to be a little bold or ineffective than magic items and spells can provide a solution. The Banner of Wrath, the Doomfire Ring and the Pipes of Doom are my favourite items for dealing with heavy cavalry and I preferably try to use all of them against Brettonians. Allowing hits with no armour save possible is great as well as no charge possible next turn. Spells such as Destruction and Fiery Convocation (in its later stages) together with the above items have spelt doom for many a knight. Other useful spells include The Curse of Anthreir, the Glamour of Teclis, Hold Fast and Net.
However I have found that when used effectively, enemy light cavalry can cause even larger headaches to your plans then heavy cavalry. These units stand just as good a chance of charging and harassing you, as you could them. If enemy light cavalry grab key positions and the flanks before you then the game is almost over. An Ellryian force should never be contained. Another thing that enemy light cavalry can do is to restrict your charge arcs and set up "protection" or "screening zones" for areas the enemy wants you to keep out of. These troops should be first on your hit list along with infiltrators and deadly war machines.
Fortunately for any Lord of Ellryion, they have the best light cavalry in the Warhammer World, Reaver's and Silver Helms (arguably the best hand to hand combat Light cavalry unit). This means that dealing with enemy light cavalry should be relatively easy especially in combat. Even Reavers with Spears and the charge can easily beat non-Elven light cavalry. High Speed, Skill and Initiative should win the day, and don't forget that Elven Steeds have a useful and often overlooked I4.
However our elven cousins aren't so weak and also have light cavalry as there main strengths. Dark Riders are slightly more effective the Reaver's because they have Repeating Crossbows and Hate High Elves. Glade Riders are also very dangerous opponents because they have Wood elf Longbows which have a much longer range than our bows (36" as opposed to 24") and also inflicts a -1 save modifier. They also have access to Lances and have I7, which means that they are more effective fighters then Reavers and are almost on par with Silver Helms. Very critically both Dark and Wood Elves have Elven Steeds which means that they can often charge you, this is a disaster as light cavalry NEED the charge in every situation or they are finished. Also our cousins have roughly the same statistics so Initiative between them and Ellryions and the Steeds! is down to a roll off which can be disastrous if not your way in a melee.
The strategies for other elven light cavalry depend on whether they are dark elves or wood elves. Reavers are the main key against Dark Riders. If the first turn is yours then move as close to them as possible with the special deployment rule. This serves two purposes. First they may not be able to "Stand and Shoot" or "Fire and Flee" because the Reavers are within half charge range. Secondly a pursuit so close to them has a high chance of catching the Dark Riders. But beware! For the enemy may plan this and lay traps for such manoeuvres! But fortunately in a cavalry war High Elves have something that Dark Elves do not, Chariots!! If Dark Riders try the same moves as mentioned above they risk running into Silver Helms and Chariot charge ranges!
Wood Elves are different. Glade Riders would tend to try to interrupt your plans and shoot you to pieces from afar. If they do this then you should close in with Reavers. If they try to use them as a shock unit then punish the Glade Riders with a Silver Helm charge with perhaps some Reavers in support.

Goblins also deserve a note. Wolf Riders are of special note. A fully or virtually fully equipped Goblin Wolf Rider costs around 12 points as compared to anywhere between 25-43 (Fully Armoured Silver Helm) for High Elves. This is extremely cheap!!!
What's more is that they move a full 9 and if they get the charge with spears even elf light cavalry will break. For such a low points cost a Wolf Rider has just as good a chance of surviving a hit as an elf (although an elf is harder to hit then a goblin and usually strikes first in combat). But most importantly are the numbers that can be mustered. Goblin Wolf Rider units can prance around with sizes akin to most races rank and file infantry !!!
Fortunately Goblins fear Elves which can hamper smaller or significantly reduced units of Wolf Riders effectiveness. Basically goblins will be reluctant to charge elves or stand to an elven charge even when lead by a goblin character, but I must warn you, don't count on it!
So the strategy is simple. Have fewer and larger units, as Goblins don't have massed firepower either in archery (range 16") or much in artillery. Remember to spread fast cavalry and skirmishing cavalry thin to avoid large casualties from template weapons, cannon balls and bolt throwers. Also get the charge in before they charge you!

Flying Creatures are a large threat, which cannot be countered easily at all. Flying creatures tend to fly high at the first opportunity so it is very hard to stop them from frustrating your plans. This is especially true if you have to start with the second turn. This means that they will choose where and when to strike and that they are faster then your troops. Fortunately Reavers can Fire and Flee from the threat, though this means that they will need to rally and that you lose precious time and positioning. Silver Helms should be able to handle harpies and the like in hand to hand combat especially if lead by a capable character. However the major target in the Ellryian force will be its chariots which are far less effective when charged. If faced with armies or opponents likely to field many fliers' then two items may help. The Orb of Thunder can stop them from flying high so that the fliers are vulnerable to missile fire. A large monster or flying character might feel threatened by the Sky Arrow of Nalor. If the First turn is yours then Reavers can quickly charge into fliers' before they even lift their feet of the ground!

Infiltrators are pests to everyone. They stop march moves, they pepper your forces with missile fire and they grab areas of the field that you want! Fortunately for an Ellryian force Reavers are the solution. Their special deployment rule means that they can turn to face the threat and even charge them in the first turn of the game! The Infiltrators may not even stand and shoot because the reavers may have marched into their faces before the charge! If the Infiltrators Flee as a charge reaction the stand a good chance of being run down by the swift reavers or being run of the board. If they stand firm then they are likely to take a whopping from the reaver charge because of the steeds attacks and the nice little strength bonus of the spears. However the real danger in Infiltrators is to distract you from your battle plan and delaying your moves. There are only so many Reavers to deal with the many threats so use carefully!

War Machines incite fear into all gamers. Nobody likes facing Helblasters, Great Cannon, Organ Guns or Repeater Bolt Throwers, not to mention Earth Shakers! For an Ellryian force war machines can be very devastating if not dealt with. To minimise casualties, your units can be spread into thinner lines and can be spread apart more no real problem for Ellryian units especially because most of them should be Fast Cavalry or Skirmishing. Again Reavers can quickly deal with them and soon your opponents will start to leave his War Machines at home when playing you.

Magic is a threat to all armies, but more so to the much more vulnerable Ellryian forces. Being very small Ellryian forces cannot afford to take many casualties. Spells such as Destruction are very bad for Cavalry health as are spells such as Net and Hold Fast. These spells may cause doom for an Ellryian force because they NEED their Movement if this is denied than all is lost. Fortunately Ellryian High Mages tend to travel with Ellryian forces (they like to be wild and free rather then being holed up in the White Tower). This is great news as High Mages seem to find it easy to dispel (and others find it hard to dispel them). To increase those chances and also to find out what nasty items to avoid an Ellryian Mage should carry with them their own personal Skull Staff, and a Dispel Scroll for those really nasty spells.

Unbreakable Units are a real pain in the arse. As an Ellryian force wants to quickly destroy units so that they can move along and so that they can avoid a protracted fight (always bad) then Unbreakable Units are bad news. The unbreakable units most players are familiar with are Dwarf Slayers, Flagellants, and units with the Crown of Command (almost Unbreakable) especially Lizardman units! Units that Hate yours are almost unbreakable, (we are thinking Dark elves here) Fortunately in the case of Slayers and Flagellants these are relatively easy to kill due to their lack of armour. However Dwarven Elite's with the Rune of Courage or Lizardmen are a different story. These are very good fighters and can beat of even Silver Helm Charges. So there are two basic options. The first is to ram as many chariots as possible into them in an effort to wipe them out as well as your general and most of your spells. The second option is to use Deadlock or the Ring of Corin to nullify those nasty Runes of Courage and Crown of Commands out there (and there are a lot out there believe me!). Afterwards you can try to break them the traditional way.

By Michael Brebrich