Age of Sigmar Spotlight – Sylvaneth: Part 6
Tyler, from the Scruby and Wells Podcast, is an expert Warhammer Age of Sigmar player with a particular fondness for the sylvaneth. Tyler was kind enough to provide us with an in-depth series on these stalwart servants of life: if you’ve already got a force of sylvaneth, fight against them regularly or want to get started with an army of Alarielle’s children, this series is for you.
Tyler: Shortly after writing the previous article in this series, work took a turn towards the crazy, foiling my plans for AdeptiCon. Recently, though, I was able to finally give the Sylvaneth a spin at two Warhammer Age of Sigmar tournaments in the U.S., Nashcon and Battleshock Bash, luckily finishing both with Best Order awards! (And congratulations to the winners, Matt Swinney and Brendan Melnick!)
It’s been a blast playing the faction over the last month. In that regard, I thought it’d be fun to share some impressions and tips on getting the most out of them. Fellow tree enthusiast Frank Krifka co-wrote this piece, but if you do find yourself annoyed by any sappy nonsense, it’s likely my fault.
Maximise the Wyldwood deadly rolls your opponent must take.
Each time a model – except Sylvaneth, Hero, or Monster keyword models – makes a run or charge move across, or finishing on, a Wyldwood, on a roll of 1 the model is slain. Since piling in isn’t a run or charge move, your opponent will often try to place only one of their charging models onto the Wyldwood, so that they only have to make one deadly roll. Careful placement of your models, though, can raise the odds of your trees exacting retribution on trespassers. At the same time, you may find it tough maintaining cover while trying to maximise those deadly rolls.
Loremaster conversion by Robert Ellis
Loremaster and Treelord sitting in a tree…
Sylvaneth allegiance armies can take a Loremaster as part of running the Gnarlroot Wargrove battalion. The Loremaster’s spell, Hand of Glory, allows one model to re-roll both failed hit and wound rolls. This is bonkers on Alarielle or a Spirit of Durthu, but what about a Treelord? If you can re-roll their hits and wounds, they suddenly become amazing. At a total cost of only 360 points (260 for the Treelord, 100 for the Loremaster), you’ll have a powerful, reliable threat.
You could also give a Treelord Ancient the Moonstone of the Hidden Ways artefact (once per game in your Movement phase, you can move the bearer anywhere within 4” of an enemy unit), giving you another excellent target for the Loremaster’s Hand of Glory. This combo could take your opponent by surprise at a key moment in the game, turning your Treelord Ancient into a more dangerous threat, thanks to his D6 Damage shooting attack and the ability to deal up to 3D6 Damage in melee (as well as his Massive Impaling Talon, giving you, for example, a shot at killing a five Wound model outright).
Almost no other faction in the game is as efficient as sylvaneth at board control. If you put a fair number of Wyldwoods on the board, it’s very easy to channel the enemy where you want them to go and punish them if they try to fight you in the woods. Monsters and Heroes don’t suffer quite as much as regular units do, but lone Heroes and Monsters will have a tough time shifting a group of Kurnoth Hunters and/or Dryads out of a forest.
Wyldwoods also give you an effective way to react to your opponent. If you can get 6-9 Citadel Wood bases down, opponents will often have a hard time figuring out where you can threaten them. As one example, you can “conga line” a unit onto an objective, since only one of the models must be within 3” of a Wyldwood when you use Navigate Realmroots.
Winning later rounds.
Sylvaneth can play aggressively and win games by the second battle round, but they’re well designed to play to win in rounds three, four, and five. Kurnoth Hunters with greatbows are a key reason; they have a 35” threat range (5” move and 30” shooting), or 40” with the Free Spirits battalion. It’s so easy to get impatient and try to dominate in rounds one and two though.
Getting your Wyldwoods out early, and using them and your greatbows to chip away at the enemy, could put you in a better spot to strike later in the game with your combat units. This is especially relevant when facing units like Chaos Marauders, Blue Horrors, or Clanrats, which are often screening powerful shooting, melee, or magic threats.
Let your whole army re-roll save rolls of 1.
The Treelord Ancient’s Heed the Spirit-song command ability enables Sylvaneth units to re-roll 1s when they make saves within 10” of him. Kurnoth Hunters, though, always benefit from the ability, and beam it out to other Sylvaneth units within 8”. So most of your force should be re-rolling 1’s to save – an enormous benefit. In particular, make sure to give key units like the Spirit of Durthu an escort of Kurnoth Hunters, constantly keeping them within 8”.
Lock up important enemy units with the Household battalion.
Household has an exceptional ability, Discipline of the Ages, which prevents enemy units from retreating when in combat with a Household unit. Let’s say your opponent has a critical unit they need to get up the board, but the unit only has -1 Rend. You could take a Household Treelord Ancient, give him Moonstone of the Hidden Ways and Gnarled Warrior (ignore -1 Rend), and throw him forward to lock up that unit. Household’s Discipline of the Ages can win you games. Look for chances to use it.
Don’t be afraid to take a charge.
Generally speaking, you want to be the player who decides when and where to get into combat (especially since some units get bonuses on the charge). But that’s not always the case. A group of Dryads in a Wyldwood are incredibly resilient, and if backed up by a group of Kurnoth Hunters and a Treelord Ancient, they turn into a deathtrap. Three Kurnoth Hunters with 2” reach scythes can easily attack over a single line of Dryads. If your opponent only has a 1″ reach with their melee weapons, they’ll be forced to attack the Dryads and suffer the -1 to hit penalty, leaving your Kurnoth Hunters free to attack back. And If you have a Treelord Ancient within 3″ and roll well for Groundshaking Stomp (4+), that potentially puts them at -2 to hit!
Furthermore, if your opponent does have a 2″ reach on that charging unit, you can put your Kurnoth Hunters 1.5″ behind the Dryads. Since they’ll be able to activate the charging unit first (and they probably will), they’ll still be forced to attack the Dryads since the Kurnoth Hunters will be out of range (2.5″ away). In return, when it comes time to activate your unit, you’ll be able to pile in and attack without fear of reprisal. You also won’t have to use the Kurnoth Hunter’s Tanglethorn Thicket, since they won’t be in range (there will be no need to re-roll armour saves if nothing can reach them).
Consider multiple small units.
A lot of players run Kurnoth Hunters with scythes in a pack of six, and Dryads in 20. Both are certainly solid options. Not much in the game can stand up to six scythes hitting them at once, and Dryads get a +1 save as long as they have 12 or more models in a unit. At the same time, two units of three scythes and two units of 10 Dryads can be equally valuable, e.g.:
- Sometimes it’s tough to get all six scythes into combat, even with their 2” reach, especially if you’re also trying to screen them.
- It’s easier to keep both Dryads and Kurnoth Hunters fully in cover for a +1 save while still screening the latter with the former.
- Two units of three scythes provide greater board flexibility. Having strong units in two different places is often more useful than one extremely powerful unit.
- Two units of Kurnoth Hunters also makes it easier to position one unit in a Wyldwood in a way that makes it almost impossible for a large based model to reach them (e.g., a Frostlord on Stonehorn).
An MSU (multiple small unit) list can also work well vs small-model-count armies or horde armies since they have to stop their move in order to kill a small unit. Usually, if you’re liberal with your Wyldwood placement, a group of 5 Tree-Revenants can be anywhere on the board whenever you need them to be, and if you know (roughly) how fast a unit can move, you can place them in a way that forces the enemy to go around them, or through them. That’s an extra turn to shoot, bring something into play to counter, or an extra turn to score an objective. Sure they’ll likely die, but sacrificing them could be the difference between winning or losing.
Take ample advantage of Roused by Magic.
As covered in part four, Roused by Magic is a crucial rule for Sylvaneth Wyldwoods: each time a spell is successfully cast – including by your opponent – within 6” of a Sylvaneth Wyldwood, on a roll of 5 or more, all non-Sylvaneth units within 1” of the Wyldwood suffer D3 mortal wounds.
Roused by Magic is one of the most potent tools in a sylvaneth player’s arsenal. Here are a few ways you can take advantage of it:
- Let’s start with the obvious: the Gnarlroot Wargrove battalion, a perennial favourite, enables Treelord Ancients, Branchwyches and Branchwraiths to cast and unbind two spells each, making it perfect for leveraging Roused by Magic. As one example, a Gnarlroot Wargrove list with Alarielle, a Treelord Ancient, two Branchwyches, and a Loremaster can cast 10 spells in a round.
- Look for chances to drop two different Wyldwoods near each other, while keeping your wizards within 6” of both. This lets you make Roused by Magic rolls for both Wyldwoods each time you successfully cast a spell (even if it’s unbound). Let’s say you have two Gnarlroot wizards within 6” of two different Wyldwoods, and your wizards successfully cast all four of their spells. This gives you a total of eight Roused by Magic rolls. Light ’em up!
- Standing behind a Citadel Wood tree trunk or a Kurnoth Hunter are fine places to hide a Branchwych or Branchwraith. You’ll often want them in a Wyldwood for cover and Roused by Magic rolls, but with only five wounds, they’re rather delicate.
- If you’re facing a magic-heavy opponent, such as Nagash blasting you with up to eight spells per round, try to force your opponent to move his magic users to within 1” of a Wyldwood. Any spells they successfully cast also trigger Roused by Magic, so Nagash’s ethereal pyromancy could readily backfire on him. Keep in mind, though, any non-Sylvaneth keyword Wizard in your own army will also be susceptible to Roused by Magic.
Hope you found some of this helpful!
Another big topic is how to play offensively with Sylvaneth. We’ll explore that subject in the next article. In the meantime, you can hear more about our experience with Alarielle’s finest at the Scruby & Wells podcast.
With the new General’s Handbook out soon, Sylvaneth armies are about to get even better – find out what the General’s Handbook 2017 means for you in our preview.