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Dark Elf Strategy

Summary

Dark Elves are the nearest thing you will find to a bashy elf team. However, they lack dedicated Catchers, and their Throwers are more expensive than their High Elf rivals. Dark Elves are quick, but not too quick, and can either play for the two-turn TD, or run the ball in over three or more turns, using a very mobile and adaptable cage until making the break for the endzone, with runners waiting in scoring positions.

Strengths

No less than six players on the roster can achieve Block and Dodge on their first skill roll, a powerful combination, especially in a sub-TR200 team. Having four Blitzers allows specialisation of different skill combinations, especially with double skill choices, and the Witch Elves can become fearsome ball-winners - they can be devastating players with a double skill roll, or better yet, a stat increase. All this makes the Dark Elves a strong defensive team.

Like all elves, the Dark Elves can spread the SPPs out over all their linemen, so most of them will have Block a lot earlier than, say, a Human team. The period of development around TR 150 is where Dark Elves can actually beat up some teams. Later on, the Dark Elves will probably not manage this unless they are very lucky with stat bonuses and double skill rolls, but their Av 8 on everyone except the Witch Elves will keep them going against all but the nastiest teams.

Weaknesses

Dark Elves, especially the positional players, are rather expensive; it would be unusual for a team to start out with more than 2 positional players at most - many start with only linemen. This can make those first few games a rocky experience, especially if they suffer player losses early on.

They lack catchers, so their offensive game is not quite as strong as the other elven teams.

In-game Tactics

The Dark Elf playstyle is quite distinct from other Elven teams in both offense and defense. In offense, their lack of Catchers, or indeed any player of Ma 8 or more, means that the classic two-turn touchdown (TTTD), though still possible, is not quite as easy for them, making a longer drive more practical. They can employ two major ways of playing:

  • A thrower or other player hangs back with the ball while others push into the opposition half, and jostle for position until a gap opens up in the defense, at which point the ball holder rushes forward, either passes to the intended receiver, or passes/hands off to an intermediary player, who then advances and passes/hands off (whichever action is still available in the turn) to the receiver, who then runs it in. I sometimes find that if I use a reroll early in this sequence, I abort the rest of the play and protect the player with the ball, if possible placing other players in scoring positions to leave open a TD in the following turn.
  • The ball is quickly picked up and carried, passed or handed off into a tight or loose cage, and the Dark Elves run the ball up the field, handing off if necessary to switch the play and stretch the defence. As with all teams who can pass, try to leave at least one player in a scoring position at the end of your turns.

Defense is probably the stronger part of the Dark Elf game; with four Blitzers and the two Witch Elves available to an experienced team, they have a lot of surgical hitting power - they won't win a protracted fight against more armoured opponents, but it is hard to protect a player from a Dark Elf team's attention, if he is doing something so foolish as to carry the ball! Dark Elves don't have to back off like Wood Elves do - sometimes they can prevent cages from forming by man-marking opposition players one-to-one, meaning those players, if of low agility, can't get away easily and have to either stand there or risk a dodge or one-dice block (if they are Str 3). The following turn, the Dark Elves have little problem dodging away from those players and taking out the ball carrier, who is exposed by his out-of-position covering players. Witch Elves are particularly effective at this, with Frenzy giving them two opportunities to knock over (or push back if they have Strip Ball) the ball carrier. They can also reduce the number of opposition players on pitch by looking to push them out of bounds. Side Step is useful in preventing the other team from doing the same thing to them the next turn. Against passing teams, the Dark Elves can play a nasty bashing game, and their good choice of defensive skills can make life hard breaking through thier lines.

Development

Linemen: Block is a useful skill on every lineman. Kick is valuable on at least one, too, and after that, it is very much up to personal preference. Some go for the Dodge/Side Step/ Tackle route, others will select whatever skills are most required by the team at the time, like Strip Ball, Tackle/Diving Tackle or whatever. Any double on a regular lineman should be used for Guard or Dauntless, to help out against stronger teams. Defensive skills such as Side Step, Tackle, Diving Tackle and Pass Block are very useful against passing teams.

Blitzers: Dodge/Side Step/Tackle/Shadowing/Pass Block is an irritating combination, and Leap/Strip Ball for cage-busting; these are just two of the many ways to take a Dark Elf Blitzer. You will probably find that one of your original Blitzers on the roster ends up with Tackle, to cope with any Block/Dodge (Blodge) players you may meet in early matches.

Witch Elves: Block is nearly always the first skill choice, barring a stat bonus or double. After that, Side Step, Tackle, Shadowing, Strip Ball, Pass Block, Catch are all useful and Mighty Blow, Dauntless (not my preference on Frenzy players, as it is a liability), NoS are probably the most popular choices on doubles.

Throwers: The usual combination of Accurate and Safe Throw applies; also Sure Hands or Catch, depending on where he is positioned at the start of a drive. Alternatively, you can run with the Throwers, using Block/Dodge along with Accurate/Dump Off/Safe Throw/Nerves of Steel(dbl). Strong Arm is an alternative to NoS. Some coaches develop an offensive thrower (lines up only when receiving the kick-off) and a defensive one (used either when kicking only, or both receiving and kicking), with different skill combinations. An agility bonus is nice, and usually negates the need for Accurate too.

General: Players with Strength bonuses are prized - Block/Dodge/Tackle are good choices on normal rolls, Leap on a Strength 4 player is always scary and Mighty Blow or Guard on a double. Players with Agility bonuses are also good - Block/Dodge and Block/Strip Ball/Leap are good, Sure Hands has potential for gathering the ball in multiple tackle zones, probably best if you already have Strip Ball players in the team, Pass Block/Catch/Nerves of Steel(dbl) make frightening interception machines, and Leap/Guard(dbl) gives you an assist anywhere you need it.


Additional Resources

The Dark Elf Playbook at the Specialist Games website


See also Dark Elf team lineups

Last update: June 21, 2007