The Stormfall Archers.
It’s time (finally) to update my Elven Education series by talking about what is quite possibly my favorite unit of the faction: The Stormfall Archers.
Admittedly, SFA are slower than most other ranged units we have access to, they aren’t going to be getting across the field in a big hurry, but they don’t really need to. A seemingly lack-luster Rat, but aiming usually fixes that, which is something you’ll want to be doing with these guys a lot. Their MAT is right on par with their RAT, but without a way to ‘buff it, you won’t really want these guys in Melee, if their low STR has much say on it. DEF and ARM are on the upper end of low, so it gives them a bit of survivability, but not much.
Their sword is pretty pitiful, so they won’t be doing much damage if forced into Melee. It’s the Bow you’re after. These guys are mobile Artillery (after all, they are shooting grenade tipped Arrows, which is a win in my book). Medium-Long Range, Decent POW, and AoE 3. They this alone screams Infantry Killer, which is mostly true. It’s the three different types of attacks that truly make this a fun unit:
- Brutal Shot: Gain an additional die on damage rolls against a model directly hit.
- Snipe: Attack gains +4” RNG
- Star Strike: This attack causes no damage. Instead, on a direct hit models in the AoE suffer the Fire continuous effect.
Ok, so breaking it down:
- Brutal shot is great, if you need to really smack a single target. Only the model directly hit gets the additional die, so models under the AoE still only take 2 dice Blast Damage. The same thing goes if the AoE deviates. So make sure you hit if you want that additional damage. This is where aiming is good.
- Snipe is pretty self explanatory. Need to hit something really far away? Snipe is your best bet.
- Star Strike is a great toolbox ability. Yeah, it does no damage now, but that unit hidden behind a shield wall that you just lit on fire? Shield Wall expires before your fire does. Of course, this attack has to directly hit for all the models in the AoE to suffer that Fire, if it scatters, it does nothing. Aiming is your friend here.
Ok, so why do I like the SFA so much? Well, for one, they are a pretty good answer to stealthed infantry. Sure, they auto-miss, making Brutal Shot and Star Strike pretty useless, but the Blast damage doesn’t miss stealthed models. Great for use against Kayazy, and can deal damage to Banes, but you need to roll high. 4 Brutal Shots can deal some pretty hefty damage to a ‘jack (or ‘caster if you can hit), so don’t be afraid to bomb an enemy jack as they come thumping down the field. Take two units of them and place 3” AoE’s all over the place. They are great flanking units, or great for funnelling your opponents models down your chosen avenue of approach for their untimely demise(those filthy round ears deserve it anyway). Choose your targets carefully, and chuckle appreciatively as nearly the entire first wave of your opponents army is on fire.
Not every list will have SFA in them, and some Warcasters field them better than others. Listed are how each caster can make them better than they already are:
Lord Arcanist Ossyan:
Quicken upkept on them gets them into place faster, and gives them slightly more survivability. It’s probably not something the SFA will have all game (as other units will benefit more from the speed buff), but it’s not a bad Turn 1 and 2 Upkeep for them. But it’s his feat that really makes the SFA a meat and potatoes unit for any Ossyan build. An additional die on Damage rolls? That sounds like Brutal Shot…. and because both rules stipulate ‘additional’ die, they stack. Long range 3d6 (using Snipe), or medium range Brutal Shot for 4d6. That’s some serious pain right there.
The Adeptis likes his mittens, but he has a couple spells that Stormfalls get some benefit from. Polarity shield makes them immune to charges from their front arc (but not the back), denying your opponent that charge attack that will probably smear them off the board. Again, probably going to be used on a different model/unit, but good non-the-less. Force Hammer, while not a buff, makes whatever is hit knocked down (after being slammed), making it that much easier for Stormfalls to pound away at it, assuming they’re in range.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t do a whole lot for the unit. Inviolable Resolve is the only spell he’s got for them. The +2 ARM is okay for survivability, but he’s probably going to be using that on Sentinals or Halberders anyway. His Feat could make great use of them, as the Stormfalls can reliably kill light infantry.
Garryth, Blade of the Retribution:
Garryth has Mirage, allowing the Stormfalls to get a free 2” move, while still retaining their aiming bonus. That’s really all he does for them though.
Kaelyssa, Night’s Whisper:
Her only spell that benefits Stormfalls is Banishing Ward, and most of your opponents aren’t going to put debuff spells on your Stormfalls, if the spell can even reach them. Still, it’s there if you need it. Her feat gives them stealth for one round, giving them more survivability from ranged attacks.
Ravyn, The Eternal Light:
Snipe, in a word. Unfortunately, it does not stack with the snipe ‘shot’ that Stormfalls can choose initally, so you can’t get a +8 RNG on the weapon. What you can get is +4 RNG on Brutal shot, or Star Strike, every turn. Her feat gives them boosted Ranged attack rolls (Yay!) and Swift Hunter. Great for getting your Stormfalls into an advantageous position on a flank.
Vyros, Incissar of the Dawnguard:
Both of his RNG Self, CTRL area spells can benefit Stormfalls. Easy Rider to get them through that pesky forest that’s in the way, and Deflection to give them +2 Arm against ranged and Magic damage.
So, we’ve discussed what Stormfall Archers are good at, and who they’re good with. Obviously, not every list will have a unit or two, but this is a unit that’s not likely to sit on your shelf, collecting dust. I try to take a unit with every list, because I like them so much. They don’t always earn their points back, but when they do, it’s great. Spread them out to avoid AoE’s (and chain lighting, my least favorite spell), and they should do well for you. As always feel free to comment or discuss.