Mathhammer Monday – High Elf Shooting

For this Monday, I thought that I would look at the High Elf shooting. The latest army book has shuffled up the shooting a bit, with points costs changes and a new unit introduced. This is going to be considerably different than previous Mathhammer installments because of the multiple factors involved.

For ease of comparison with statistics, I went with an equal points value on each unit. The units compared all come in around 140 points, and look like this:

  • 14 Archers
  • 10 Shadow Warriors
  • 2 Bolt Throwers
  • 10 Sisters of Avelorn

Each unit has its own advantages, which cannot be fully represented by a mathematical formula and tables, but the differences will be discussed later in this post. For the calculations, I will mainly be focusing on the damage output from the units.

For the first comparison, we will look at a Toughness 3 target with no Armour Save.

Shooting - Witch Elf

In a scenario like this, all of the different options are about equal. One thing to keep in mind about these comparisons (and the next one), though is that not all minimum and maximum ranges are the same for the units. So, the Sisters of Avelorn will be using long range starting at 24″, but the Bolt Throwers will be firing at short range.

It seems like most of the enemies I face have a decent Armour Save, though, so here is an example that includes Toughness 4, 3+ Armour Save (and Forces of Destruction, for consideration with the Sisters):

Shooting - Chaos Warrior

The damage output of the Archers & Shadow Warriors has been drastically reduced in this scenario. Due to the higher Toughness and Armour Saves, they struggle to do much damage. The Bolt Throwers and Sisters both enjoy the Strength 4 and -2 to the Armour Saves of the target (-1 for Strength and -1 for Armour Piercing).

Yet one more thing to consider with all of this is that the Bolt Throwers have the option to perform a single shot that does D3 wounds and ignores Armour Saves. Since this calculation is drastically different from the previous ones, I thought that I would represent it separately:

Bolt ThrowerThe chart above shows the chances of killing varying amount of models. One thing to note is that the hitting the enemy is half of the battle against Toughness 3/4 troops. For example, if you hit the first model, there is an 83% chance to wound the 1st model (Strength 6)and an 83% chance to wound the 2nd one (Strength 5). So, more than likely, if if you do hit the model, you will most likely take out 2 or 3. The lower percentage is because it includes the chance to hit in it. Also worth mentioning is that this is for a single bolt thrower, not two bolt throwers. Obviously, you would have a much better chance with the two firing.

So, it would seem that out of the option, the Sisters and Bolt Throwers are superior in damage output, but as I mentioned before, we can’t just look at damage output alone, because there are other factors to consider.

Where do the points come from?

Out of the list, the Archers are the only Core entry present. While they are not as effective at killing armoured targets, they do provide the valuable service of filling up the requirement of Core points. This allows you more room to fill out your Special slots with the elite infantry used in a mixed arms approach. The Sisters & Bolt Throwers both take up points in the Rare slot, which you will probably only have an issue with if you are trying to run multiple phoenixes.

Not all ranged weapons are created the same

As I briefly mentioned before, the units have different ranges. Just looking at the statlines, the ranges are as follows:

  • Bolt Thrower: 48″
  • Archers/Shadow Warriors: 30″
  • Sisters of Avelorn: 24″

The 30″ and 48″ ranges are very nice when facing off against an opponent that has 24″ ranged weapons, particularly if they happen to be Move or Fire weapons. Also, the increased range also increases the distance that you are shooting in short range, reduced penalties.


Another thing that couples with the range discussion is that the Shadow Warriors and Sisters of Avelorn have a better BS than the Bolt Throwers and Archers. This helps the Sisters to make up for the shorter range of their weapons, since their long range shots will hit as easily as the short range shots of the less skilled units.

Mobile Shooting

Yet one more thing to consider with everything else is how mobile the unit is. The Bolt Throwers are pretty much stuck once you deploy them. The Shadow Warriors are skirmishing, so can go just about wherever they want, and it allows them to march and shoot in any direction, effectively giving them a 40″ range (10″ march + 30″ longbow). Sadly, the Sisters do not have the option for a musician, so they cannot perform a quick reform and then shoot. But, if you put a Handmaiden in the unit, the Sisters have the Quick to Fire rule which can be quite handy.

It Burns

It had to be brought up at some point that since the Archers have lost the ability to carry a magical banner, the Sisters provide the only non-magical means of ranged Flaming Attacks for the High Elves. Of course, this can be a two-edged sword, as there are a lot of 2+ Wards against flaming running around on the table. The bows also provide magical attacks which can be useful when facing off against certain enemies.

Sneaky, Sneaky

The Shadow Warriors are the only unit in the group that has the Scout ability. This provides them with an advantage, in that they can be placed in a much better location than might be available for the other units.


And for my last discussion point, I thought it was worth mentioning how long the units can stick around. The archers in the comparison have 14 Wounds, but no Armour Save. The Shadow Warriors and Sisters each have 10 Wounds with a 6+ Armour Save. Also to consider in a shooting duel is that the Shadow Warriors are harder to Hit and have the longer range bows. Bolt Throwers are Toughness 7 against ranged attacks, but only have 2 Wounds each. This gives the Bolt Thowers the illusion of being tougher, but it still only takes a 6 to Wound from low strength attacks.


So, what can we conclude from all of this? I really don’t know πŸ™‚ I think that all of the options are viable for one reason or another. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and the choice should be based on how it supports the rest of the list. Right now, since I like to take a big block of Spearmen in my Core, I am liking the idea of the Bolt Throwers as my primary ranged support due to their versatility. Maybe in the future I will change my mind.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to add your comments below.


2 responses to “Mathhammer Monday – High Elf Shooting

  1. I like this detailed analysis. I hope that you’ll revisit this topic in a few games and make comments on the practical applications on the tabletop.

    It’s a good point that the Archers benefit from being in core, as the game still seems to revolve around taking the minimum core requirement so that the rest of the army can be filled with nasties from the other categories.

    • Thanks. I had been planning this one for a long time. I was trying to figure out the best way to present the data, but finally settled on the detailed post.

      I hope that I can get a chance to try the units out in the near future and be able to report back with some results.

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