Author Topic: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review  (Read 40038 times)

Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2009, 11:23:22 PM »
It appears ravenwood isn't as "hated" as some of the other factions  :P

I dug up a thread somewhere, where Niko mentioned that everyone hates Ravenwood. So you better eat that comment up, Niko (if you can find it, that is...)!

Back to topic, I'm thinking about buying the Elves of Ravenwood later this year, and so does anyone have any hints or tips to give me?  :)

 ???  I don't think I said that.  I certainly don't hate them -- I've played them in several campaigns over the years!  I might have mentioned that some people think they're bad, but nah, they're one of my favorite factions to play, personally.

Quelmotz

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2009, 11:26:06 PM »
It appears ravenwood isn't as "hated" as some of the other factions  :P

I dug up a thread somewhere, where Niko mentioned that everyone hates Ravenwood. So you better eat that comment up, Niko (if you can find it, that is...)!

Back to topic, I'm thinking about buying the Elves of Ravenwood later this year, and so does anyone have any hints or tips to give me?  :)

 ???  I don't think I said that.  I certainly don't hate them -- I've played them in several campaigns over the years!  I might have mentioned that some people think they're bad, but nah, they're one of my favorite factions to play, personally.

http://yourmovegames.com/forum/index.php/topic,416.0.html

10th post down the 2nd page.

Anyway, do you have any hints/tips on how to play the Elves of Ravenwood?

P.S. This is off topic, but do you know whether Chad is busy on something or not? He hasn't been posting for quite a while.
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Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #17 on: June 01, 2009, 02:09:20 AM »
http://yourmovegames.com/forum/index.php/topic,416.0.html

10th post down the 2nd page.

Anyway, do you have any hints/tips on how to play the Elves of Ravenwood?

P.S. This is off topic, but do you know whether Chad is busy on something or not? He hasn't been posting for quite a while.

Oh, that was ages ago!  I guess I was talking about people on the boards at the time or something, opinion's shifted a lot on them over the years.  I'd like to take credit for it, but they are (or at least were) Chad's favorite faction, so I think he deserves a bunch of it too ;)  Certainly I was exempting myself from that one in any case, though I'll admit it wasn't clear from the post.

Anyway, Ravenwood comments.

First, the overall bad news:
-Ravenwood has some unit cost issues, mostly because unlike say Hawks, a full line of Ravenwood foot with just a few support dudes is pretty awful.  The Elven foot are by and large also hilariously swingy in how well they tank; 3/1 means you hold up ok against 5/5 guys, but 6/5 is dire news.  Overall it isn't as bad as High Elves since your basic versatile foot are cheaper, but you also don't really have a Battle Squad equivalent; cheap, solid tanks don't occur in Ravenwood.
-Ravenwood courage is a problem.  You don't have any courage boosting command cards or abilities; closest it gets is Aspect of Wolf which lets you survive a rout, but has some great alternate modes so you'd really rather not.
-Animal units are hard to use.  Wolfkin suck (sorry Wolfkin) but Wolf Packs, otherwise an interesting unit, are hard to manage without them.  Bearkin have an issue where they pay for a 6 strength that is often not very useful, and they're only sort of ok as tanks, and Bear Packs are pretty decent but the command card thing is annoying.  This isn't to say these units are worthless (even Wolfkin can have their place) but they are not bread and butter units.
-Spirit Guidance isn't a very sexy army ability, compared to ones like Faith Armor and the like.  It has its place, and is phenomenal on Ravenwood Archers, especially against guys who are relatively easy to hit and hard to would, which is to say pretty much anyone other than other Elves.  234 is pretty steep for a core archer, but if you aggressively 'guidance them, they rate a damage a turn on 2/3 line units, which is pretty sweet in the right circumstances.
-Ravenwood Bowmasters look like a headlining artillery unit, but they really aren't.  They have their place (mostly in Elf on Elf battles of various sorts) but they aren't staples like Hawk Longbowmen, so if you try to use them like that, you'll be sad.

However!  There is a fair bit of good news!

-Because of the general lack of tanking, Brownies are awesome.  They're dirt cheap and hold up quite long with their 2/1 defenses and 13 courage.  You can also play command cards on them if you want.  Two units of Brownies backing each other up is about Battle Squad in cost; it isn't as good, but there's some joy in having two units instead of one, and you can put Brownies up against the bad attackers in other factions and have them hold up ok for a few turns.
-Ravenwood's versatile foot have Nets, which are both cool and make opponents nervous because they mean your damage is pretty unpredictable.
-Ravenwood Spearmen are IMO some of the best deals in the game in terms of a Sword -> Spear conversion.  They're comparatively cheap to upgrade, gain a die (critical with Nets) and Nets + hit bonus are particularly scary to cavalry.  They're very flimsy to a charge since impact hits are bad news on 1 toughness, but a lot of cavalry, particularly light and medium cavalry, have trouble hitting them, so with a Parry or something they're unlikely to take much damage outside the impact hit, and they'll hit back something fierce.
-Ravenwood concentrates force like virtually no one else.  Their core archers are very dangerous with Spirit Guidance, Centaurs hit like a rocket powered truck, and Stag Cavalry are nothing to scoff at either.  Your lack of tanking is made up for by the high chance you'll be able to pick a unit that displeases you and be pretty sure you'll reduce it to slag within a turn of engagement.
-Aspect of Wolf is one of the best command cards ever, and a few of their other ones are quite nice too.  (Be sure to check the main site -- several of them have errata that makes them stronger.)  Aspect of Wolf is particularly sweet because it gives +1 MC to a guy, making the already speedy Ravenwood Elves have a nice unexpected burst of speed from time to time.  Opponents often forget it is in the deck, and if they don't, that can be just as bad for them, since they need to play around it, which is both difficult and can lead to wasted command actions and other issues.
-While a lot of Ravenwood's units outside the basics are generally not great, they do have a lot of diversity, and all of them have their place.  The line is usually 3/1, but they have 2/2 Bearkin and Centaurs, 1/3 Bear Packs, and even a 1/4 Giant Tree of Doom if they want.  This means it is harder for opponents to decide what attack stats they need compared with facing say the High Elves, where 6 attack skill is clearly going to be key.  Your line moves 3.5", but you have a 5" move core and good enough archers to get away without core infantry, so if the scenario or situation demands, you can take a very mobile force.  You also move through woods without any penalties, which is ludicrously good on some Kingdoms maps.
-6 skill archers are a big asset in general, and the Centaurs also have 6 skill, giving a nice ability to go against hard to hit guys.

Overall tactics:
Ravenwood wants to find 1-2 weak spots in the enemy line and hit them hard and fast, busting through and rolling the whole thing before the line units can (inevitably) get scared and flee.  The powerful archers and cavalry are the heart of the faction, dealing punishing blows right where needed.  You can go through the middle of a line by focusing archery supported with Spirit Guidance on even a relatively hardy unit like a Battle Squad or Orc Swordsmen, or you can be a brutal flank threat with Stag Cavalry or Centaurs.  Centaurs in particular are terrifying to opponents because they'll plow through even some line units if used appropriately, so unlike many cavalry they can be deployed on the front lines if the situation merits.  Learning to use them is hard, but if you do, they'll be a star virtually every time, though they do fear missile fire to a certain extent.  (Pro tip: direct control them to avoid final rushes but leave them on close; stopping just short of an enemy unit and tossing a volley of javelins is often the best play since unlike Umenzi Javelineers Centaurs will throw when final rushed by an enemy even if they were in range to throw on your turn!)
When building your army, make sure you have a plan to hold the front line (a few two's-companies on Ravenwood Spearmen are probably acceptable) and enough breakthrough units to threaten in a few places.  When deploying and giving orders, focus on deploying the breakthrough units last, so you can see as much of the enemy plan as possible before deciding where to hit them.  In play, your focus should be blasting through in one or more of those areas as quickly as possible, and while taking as little damage elsewhere as possible.  Throw blue cards on your tanks very aggressively, as they need the help, and save your punishing red cards to punch open those holes (or use those CAs to Spirit Guide your archers.)  Remember you can play a red card on a Centaur's javelin volley and then play another on the charge.  Don't be afraid to burn CAs to arrange for Centaurs to get extra volleys on people, but also don't be afraid to charge them when the time is right; time is very rarely on your side, as you are trying to create an opening to annihilate the enemy before they beat up your Spearmen, who inevitably lose long fights against other factions' line units due to their courage if nothing else.

Whew, hope that helps.  As for Chad, our schedules haven't allowed us to meet for a while, so I haven't seen him.

Quelmotz

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2009, 03:13:05 AM »
Great hints and tactics!

Makes me really want to get the Elves.

I don't have time to say more, but I'll get back to you later.
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RushAss

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2009, 09:43:45 AM »
-Ravenwood courage is a problem.  You don't have any courage boosting command cards or abilities; closest it gets is Aspect of Wolf which lets you survive a rout, but has some great alternate modes so you'd really rather not.
I'm not half as experienced in this game as Nikko is, but I don't 100% agree with this.  If you're talking strictly Swords and Spears, then yes they have mediocre courage.  But on average, Ravenwood has one of the best base courage rates in the game.  Their heavy hitters (Centaurs, Bears, Treant) all have good courage and their fodder unit (Brownies) have 13 courage!  I don't think it's that big of an issue.

-Because of the general lack of tanking, Brownies are awesome.  They're dirt cheap and hold up quite long with their 2/1 defenses and 13 courage.  You can also play command cards on them if you want.  Two units of Brownies backing each other up is about Battle Squad in cost; it isn't as good, but there's some joy in having two units instead of one, and you can put Brownies up against the bad attackers in other factions and have them hold up ok for a few turns.
Spot on.  In my experience, Brownies have held up better than expected against some fearsome dudes.  The thing is, nobody expects much from a 79 point unit.  If you actually get something out of them, it's a good deal.

-Ravenwood Spearmen are IMO some of the best deals in the game in terms of a Sword -> Spear conversion.  They're comparatively cheap to upgrade, gain a die (critical with Nets) and Nets + hit bonus are particularly scary to cavalry.  They're very flimsy to a charge since impact hits are bad news on 1 toughness, but a lot of cavalry, particularly light and medium cavalry, have trouble hitting them, so with a Parry or something they're unlikely to take much damage outside the impact hit, and they'll hit back something fierce.
Yeah, I think they are the best spearmen in the game point for point.  And since you'll average a "1" for every six dice you roll, the nets make it almost like getting 7 attack dice per turn.  I wouldn't count on it, but it's still a really neat thing.

-Ravenwood concentrates force like virtually no one else.  Their core archers are very dangerous with Spirit Guidance, Centaurs hit like a rocket powered truck, and Stag Cavalry are nothing to scoff at either.  Your lack of tanking is made up for by the high chance you'll be able to pick a unit that displeases you and be pretty sure you'll reduce it to slag within a turn of engagement.
Again, spot on.  Many of these guys can run circles around their opponents.
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lazyj

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #20 on: June 01, 2009, 09:56:52 AM »
Cent-... no, I'll restrain myself.

Going all "-kin" is cool thematically, but tough to pull off. In general, pick one, then supplement with the excellent Swords/Spears.

Wolfkin have the incredible ability of auto-rally, and are nigh-invulnerable during free attacks. In many ways, you want them to fail their rout checks. Nothing better than watching them get pinched, routing and running with no damage, auto-rallying and charging back into the flank of one of their attackers. You might want to experiment with that.

CENTAURS!! I couldn't hold it in any longer...

Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #21 on: June 01, 2009, 10:21:56 AM »
-Ravenwood courage is a problem.  You don't have any courage boosting command cards or abilities; closest it gets is Aspect of Wolf which lets you survive a rout, but has some great alternate modes so you'd really rather not.
I'm not half as experienced in this game as Nikko is, but I don't 100% agree with this.  If you're talking strictly Swords and Spears, then yes they have mediocre courage.  But on average, Ravenwood has one of the best base courage rates in the game.  Their heavy hitters (Centaurs, Bears, Treant) all have good courage and their fodder unit (Brownies) have 13 courage!  I don't think it's that big of an issue.

I'm going to stand by this, not because you're not right about their special units, but because I maintain that a critical feature of the faction is that their basic line guys have a pretty questionable courage for their cost, and no way to boost it.  My experience is that these are the guys who are usually going to be taking the hits, and so their 12 courage tends to make you uncomfortable.

Not to say they suck or anything, but I find it something I always notice and have to deal with while playing them, which is why I noted it in the overview.

RushAss

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2009, 11:58:05 AM »
I agree with you there, but I feel that Ravenwood depends less on it's "normal" guys than most other factions do.  And that's why I don't see it as that much of a problem.  The auto-rally of the Wolevs and Wolfkin also helps this.
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Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2009, 12:05:12 PM »
I agree with you there, but I feel that Ravenwood depends less on it's "normal" guys than most other factions do.  And that's why I don't see it as that much of a problem.  The auto-rally of the Wolevs and Wolfkin also helps this.

Well, you do and you don't.  You need some Core units, and generally going all archer is difficult, and I'm not as much a fan of Wolfkin as you are, just because I find they always die in too much of a hurry.  In a lot of cases, you really just need someone to hold a line, even if that line isn't the whole battlefield like it is for most factions.  Brownies do it ok but with a health issue and non-core.  Wolfkin have their uses but my overall opinion of them aside, they have a similar courage issue with actually holding a line, because if they rout at the end of your turn and auto-rally, that's cool and all, but it still opens a hole in the line.  Same with Aspect of Wolf; routing, surviving, and rallying is awesome, but it isn't (unless you are Centaurs) as good as just passing the check to begin with, because it sometimes doesn't stop your friends from being pinched.  All this adds up to 1) in most games you have some number of guys who are there to hold a line and 2) some number of those guys are likely to have 12 courage that doesn't get boosted.  This isn't the end of the world or even close, but I'm going to stand by it being something important for a general that's new to the faction to be aware of.  If you come to Ravenwood from Hawks, Dwarves, or Lizardmen, you're going to be surprised at just how easily spooked their guys are.

Again, I think Ravenwood is great, and I think the Ravenwood Spearmen in particular are an awesome value.  You should absolutely bring these 12 courage line units!  You just need to be aware that the plan is to relieve them pretty quickly with your brutal damage units, and their courage is part of the reason this is true.

Quelmotz

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #24 on: June 01, 2009, 09:55:07 PM »
I agree with you there, but I feel that Ravenwood depends less on it's "normal" guys than most other factions do.  And that's why I don't see it as that much of a problem.  The auto-rally of the Wolevs and Wolfkin also helps this.

Well, you do and you don't.  You need some Core units, and generally going all archer is difficult, and I'm not as much a fan of Wolfkin as you are, just because I find they always die in too much of a hurry.  In a lot of cases, you really just need someone to hold a line, even if that line isn't the whole battlefield like it is for most factions.  Brownies do it ok but with a health issue and non-core.  Wolfkin have their uses but my overall opinion of them aside, they have a similar courage issue with actually holding a line, because if they rout at the end of your turn and auto-rally, that's cool and all, but it still opens a hole in the line.  Same with Aspect of Wolf; routing, surviving, and rallying is awesome, but it isn't (unless you are Centaurs) as good as just passing the check to begin with, because it sometimes doesn't stop your friends from being pinched.  All this adds up to 1) in most games you have some number of guys who are there to hold a line and 2) some number of those guys are likely to have 12 courage that doesn't get boosted.  This isn't the end of the world or even close, but I'm going to stand by it being something important for a general that's new to the faction to be aware of.  If you come to Ravenwood from Hawks, Dwarves, or Lizardmen, you're going to be surprised at just how easily spooked their guys are.

Again, I think Ravenwood is great, and I think the Ravenwood Spearmen in particular are an awesome value.  You should absolutely bring these 12 courage line units!  You just need to be aware that the plan is to relieve them pretty quickly with your brutal damage units, and their courage is part of the reason this is true.

*ahem* umenzi *ahem*

12 courage ONLY if they stay in the leaders' leadership range? That's quite bad...in fact...really bad...ok...goblins are worse... The Umenzi only have 1 crappy command card (if I'm not mistaken) that boosts courage. That isn't much better. Ravenwood has a permanent 12 courage (unless you go into the yellow and red, that is), and that evens out with the Umenzi's temporary 12 courage and 1-2 command cards that boost courage (and that command card still sucks more than HE's oathbound anyway). Ok... they have healing, faith armor, etc to help them stay in the green, but they don't have much good defensive command cards, compared to the reasonably good Ravenwood defensive command cards (devotion of karma isn't even preventing damage in any way...)
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Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #25 on: June 01, 2009, 09:59:39 PM »
*ahem* umenzi *ahem*

12 courage ONLY if they stay in the leaders' leadership range? That's quite bad...in fact...really bad...ok...goblins are worse... The Umenzi only have 1 crappy command card (if I'm not mistaken) that boosts courage. That isn't much better. Ravenwood has a permanent 12 courage (unless you go into the yellow and red, that is), and that evens out with the Umenzi's temporary 12 courage and 1-2 command cards that boost courage (and that command card still sucks more than HE's oathbound anyway). Ok... they have healing, faith armor, etc to help them stay in the green, but they don't have much good defensive command cards, compared to the reasonably good Ravenwood defensive command cards (devotion of karma isn't even preventing damage in any way...)

Oh sure, I'd also say Umenzi have dicey courage.  The difference is, those guys are a good 40-60 points cheaper than Ravenwood line units and tend to have lots of friends ;)

But yeah, Umenzi line units are about the same in the courage department, and I'd say that's something wise generals remember about them, too.

Quelmotz

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #26 on: June 01, 2009, 10:07:35 PM »
*ahem* umenzi *ahem*

12 courage ONLY if they stay in the leaders' leadership range? That's quite bad...in fact...really bad...ok...goblins are worse... The Umenzi only have 1 crappy command card (if I'm not mistaken) that boosts courage. That isn't much better. Ravenwood has a permanent 12 courage (unless you go into the yellow and red, that is), and that evens out with the Umenzi's temporary 12 courage and 1-2 command cards that boost courage (and that command card still sucks more than HE's oathbound anyway). Ok... they have healing, faith armor, etc to help them stay in the green, but they don't have much good defensive command cards, compared to the reasonably good Ravenwood defensive command cards (devotion of karma isn't even preventing damage in any way...)

Oh sure, I'd also say Umenzi have dicey courage.  The difference is, those guys are a good 40-60 points cheaper than Ravenwood line units and tend to have lots of friends ;)

But yeah, Umenzi line units are about the same in the courage department, and I'd say that's something wise generals remember about them, too.

True, but the Umenzi generally have far more green health, so they can drag it on before having to take their first check. If you are REALLY REALLY REALLY desperate, you can always FA a warrior unit (for example) in the green, and after it takes its damage, FA again and have all the shamans/high priests heal him back to full health. And at that point the warriors effectively have 7+ green health!!!!

Also, I'm a strong believer that a FAed and constantly healed back to full health Chosen will never drop out of the green (unless its really unlucky or something). But at that point, the enemy will be so fed up that he'll be sending a ton of fast units around the side to kill those pesky shamans/high priests...
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lazyj

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #27 on: June 01, 2009, 10:11:12 PM »
With the Umenzi the card focus isn't on preventing damage. Everyone's expendable in that army who isn't a leader. After all - as you say - you can heal them back up again, and they have hands down the best defensive army ability in the game (Faith Armor). So let them get smacked around - there's probably another guy behind them anyway. Save the blue cards for the important guys.

But with the elves you need to recognize that the thin line of Swords/Spears has got to hold until the heavies come through. There's no healing (unless you bring it as a merc) and no command card bonuses. You just have to roll well and plan ahead with your defensive command cards. It's a ticking clock which means you can't mess around with the heavy guys. Use blue cards on the line and red cards on the heavies and be ready to adapt.

The difference is the Umenzi usually have others to take their place. The Elves (usually) have to stand alone.

Quelmotz

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #28 on: June 01, 2009, 10:17:57 PM »
With the Umenzi the card focus isn't on preventing damage. Everyone's expendable in that army who isn't a leader. After all - as you say - you can heal them back up again, and they have hands down the best defensive army ability in the game (Faith Armor). So let them get smacked around - there's probably another guy behind them anyway. Save the blue cards for the important guys.

But with the elves you need to recognize that the thin line of Swords/Spears has got to hold until the heavies come through. There's no healing (unless you bring it as a merc) and no command card bonuses. You just have to roll well and plan ahead with your defensive command cards. It's a ticking clock which means you can't mess around with the heavy guys. Use blue cards on the line and red cards on the heavies and be ready to adapt.

The difference is the Umenzi usually have others to take their place. The Elves (usually) have to stand alone.

Agreed.

I wish I can get the Elves of Ravenwood and Dwarves of Runegard as soon as possible... Though that "ASAP" is August  :'(
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Niko White

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Re: The Chad Ellis Ravenwood Review
« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2009, 10:19:33 PM »
True, but the Umenzi generally have far more green health, so they can drag it on before having to take their first check. If you are REALLY REALLY REALLY desperate, you can always FA a warrior unit (for example) in the green, and after it takes its damage, FA again and have all the shamans/high priests heal him back to full health. And at that point the warriors effectively have 7+ green health!!!!

Also, I'm a strong believer that a FAed and constantly healed back to full health Chosen will never drop out of the green (unless its really unlucky or something). But at that point, the enemy will be so fed up that he'll be sending a ton of fast units around the side to kill those pesky shamans/high priests...

I don't disagree with any of this, but you should note two rules that you might not be aware of because people often miss them:

-You can only heal someone once per turn.
-You can't heal a guy with Faith Armor on him.