Friday, 10 December 2010
A bit of an aside about spears.
When I was picking up Warhammer one of the things I really wanted was an army with loads of spears, pikes or other polearms. I do a bit of medieval re-enactment and use the spear, and I generally think they're pretty cool weapons.
Most obvious choice in that case was High Elves, they've got plenty of spears and are even able to fight in a further extra rank with them. But they're a bit too clean and shiny for my tastes. So eventually I ended up drifting to the Dark Elves instead.
Dark Elf spearmen are cheap and plentiful, which is a good start. A high initiative gives them a good shot at landing plenty of hits before the enemy fights back, and their weapon skill is respectable too. As you'd expect from an Elf the strength and toughness is lacking, but there's ways to get around this with magic if needs be. And while we're on the subject of magic a good leadership combined with Occam's Mindrazor on all those spears will cause some quality pain.
As a unit they're defensive - the spears won't get that extra rank if they charge. This makes for a good anchor unit, a big block of spears to stand in the way and block enemy movement so that a more powerful combat unit can charge the flanks or rear to cause casualties and boost combat resolution. As the spearmen are mostly there to hold the enemy in place you don't actually need to worry too much about causing casualties with them; instead you can reform for extra ranks to remove the enemy unit's steadfast as well as getting a bit of extra combat resolution for extra ranks.
In a Dark Elf army spearmen have another role, as ammunition for the sorceress' sacrificial dagger. If things get desperate then you've got a fantastic pool of potential power dice waiting to be used. Of course with more power dice there's more miscast opportunities, but with spearmen as cheap as they are it's not so big a loss.
All that said, I've not actually got a lot of spearmen in my army. I'm putting a bit of thought to reworking my list and either bulking up the spearmen already there or adding another unit. Coming from 40k I still look at units of 20 or so as a big unit, and really have trouble getting my head around units in the 40-50 model range. I guess it's really the type of thing I'll only get used to with time.