This “weirdly narrative” list allows you to pretend that you’re a fun and fluffy player, whilst taking one of the most undercosted and overstrength units in the game. What’s not to love?
On the table it has shed loads of negatives, complete board coverage, a unit that at its best can reach a negative armour save. And a God(ess).
The tactics of the army revolves around the use of the Wyldwoods. Taking the objectives early, positioning your units and Alarielle in the right places, allows you to take advantage of all the benefits that Wyldwoods give. Ultimately, this is what the list does better than anything else. It is truly excellent at scenario play, with complete flexibility. It is also capable of a lovely type of alpha strike – where you can chuck 50 models into your opponent to chew through before they can even get going.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Wyldwoods within this army. By getting them down early and in the correct place you can essentially ensure that for the majority of the game all your dryads (and you will have a lot) will be at -1 to hit. This is both in combat and to shooting, and only requires 1 model to be within 3” of a Wyldwood. Worth its weight in gold.
The second key benefit of the Wyldwoods are the movement they offer you. Sylvaneth units can teleport from 1 wood to another, if they start and finish within 3” of the wood (and outside of 9” of the enemy). With the exception of Alarielle and the Phoenix, the army is not a particular fast army. Thanks to the Wyldwoods this doesn’t matter. You can teleport from one part of the board to another with ease. Essential early game for getting in the right position straight, but equally valuable in the late game, when you need to move across the board swiftly to take those last positions. Again, only 1 model is required to be within 3” at the end of the move – so enjoy stringing out 30 dryads to get to where ever you need to be.
The final key benefit from the Wyldwoods is the way they combine with the magic in the list. When a spell is cast within 6” of a Wyldwood, on a 5+ it does D3 mortal wounds to everything within 1”. When you are kicking out up to 6 spells a go, this can do on average 4 mortal wounds to each unit near the wood. If you place Alarielle and your Wraiths correctly, they can do this to two or more woods at once. This can guarantee you a steady stream of mortal wounds to your opponent.
A side point, which is hugely situational, is the fact that Wyldwoods do now block line of sight. This is only if both units are non-flying and a unit has at least 1” of Wyldwood between them and the unit trying to target them. Against armies with a lot of shooting, this can be massive.
Deploying the Wyldwoods
As a result of all of this, deployment of the Wyldwoods is key. The main focus has to be on placing them as near to the objectives as you can. Combined with this, you also want to be able to spreading them out where possible, to make it hard for the enemy to block them off. You get one free one before sides are picked. You need to take advantage of the free board space at this point to get one in as most central position as possible. I tend to try to get it so that it is “accessible” i.e. I can get a model within 3”, of either deployment zone. This allows me to teleport from one Wyldwood to another, if I need to.
Later Wyldwoods tend to have their deployment restricted a lot more, particular once the enemy gets going. This is part of the benefit of being one drop, to enable you to get three separate woods on the board before your opponent gets a go.
One final, slightly obvious point, with regards to the deployment of the Woods. Try to get them on top of whatever objectives are in play. Force your opponent to engage with them – otherwise a clever one will just avoid them.
Artefacts, Command Traits & Abilities
Command trait – Warsinger
+1 to charge for Sylvaneth units within 10” This is not a hugely powerful command trait. Its impact can be slightly underestimated though. Turning that 9”, post teleport, to a 8” makes quite a difference, especially with a re roll. Likewise, 6” with a re roll, with cogs, is a pretty certain call. This is on the Branchwraith with the Acorn of the Ages, as once she drops the Wyldwood, she is free to jump around the board supporting troops with their charges.
Artefact 1 – Acorn of the Ages
deploy a new Wyldwood within 5” The chance to get a Wyldwood for free is key. Every Sylvaneth list I write has this artefact in. Combined with being a one drop it lets you get woods down where you need them to be. Not many tricks or hidden features to it. Only point that it can be used for is as a “springboard” in your own territory to teleport stuff forward. If doing this, it’s important to not block yourself off. If your opponent doesn’t mind you doing it, I often leave a Wyldwood upside down on the table, to show where I will be deploying it.
Artefact 2 – Ranu’s Lamentiri
+1 to cast, +2 to cast Sylvaneth spell This is here to reinforce the general theme of the army – the importance of getting Wyldwoods down. With this artefact your spell to summon up a new wood goes from a 6, to a 4. Making it much more reliable. It also helps you get off realm spells, or summon dryads, later in the game.
Command ability – Alarielle’s Ghyran’s Wrath
All Sylvaneth units re roll to wound until next hero phase – only usable once per battle.
An incredibly good command ability, making your entire army re roll to wound until your next hero phase. Works very well with the masses of dryads in the army, to make their attacks more reliable. It can be useful to use this when you have taken first turn in a battleround, to maximise its impact. You have the potential to have 3 combats of re rolling to wound.
Command ability 2 – Captain of the Phoenix Guard
Frostheart Phoenix rerolls to wound until next hero phase.
Not a massively powerful ability, but can help the phoenix when you are chucking it forward to try to take off supporting characters. As the army in general doesn’t use that many CPs, beyond the generic ones, often it has ones to spare for this.
Spell: Throne of Vines (+D3 to cast and unbind until Alarielle next moves)
The MVP of the army and my favourite unit in the game. An outstanding jack of all trades who offers so much to your army. Worth breaking down each part separately:
- Magic – she can cast and dispel 3 a turn. Whilst she doesn’t have any innate bonuses to these, she takes throne of vines, which gives her +D3 to both of these. If she sets up in the right position, next to a couple of Wyldwoods, she can be spamming spells at the opponents army whilst also ‘exploding’ the woods so they do additional mortal wounds. Her warscroll spell is also incredible. You roll as many dice as the spell is cast on, each 4+ is a mortal wound. With Throne of Vines up, this averages 4-5 wounds, and has done up to 8 or 9 mortal wounds at once in the past.
- Combat – 5 attacks, -2 rend, 5 damage at top level is amazing. The issue is the 4s to hit. This becomes 3s against any unit over 5 or more, but is still super unreliable. It is, however, great against elite units such as Stormcast and can be good in the last couple of turns when she is rushing around the battlefield cleaning up units. Alarielle’s soft touch attacks, where each wound has the ability to auto kill low wound models, is a nice additional trick, good against supporting characters.
- Shooting – 1 attack at 3s and 2s, -2 D6 damage is the very definition of unreliable. Whilst never to be planned for it to go off, it can be great when it does. It has sniped Bloodsecretors, Vexillors, and done 3 wounds T1 to Morathi for me in the past.
- Summoning – once per game she can summon 1 unit. Normally 20 dryads, this can be bow kurnoth hunters when facing big monsters, or scythe hunters if facing a high armour opponent. This is incredibly versatile, as a result.
- Other ability – Alarielle also heals all Sylvaneth units within 30” D3 wounds each hero phase (including enemy ones – so watch out in the mirror match). On top of this she heals herself D3 more, which means she heals 2D3 a turn.
Alarielle is now well worth her points, due to the range of different elements she offers the army. This is all combined with a great natural speed, something the army can otherwise lack.
Branchwraiths – 2
Spells: Verdant blessing (summon a Wyldwood within 18” of the caster) Regrowth (heal a unit D3 wounds, a Sylvaneth unit D6)
Whilst one of these is the general, beyond the benefits that a general conveys to command abilities, they’re essentially the same. For 80 points, these are one of the cheapest spell casters in the games. They get an auto -1 to hit when within 3” of a Wyldwood, which is really useful keeping them alive when, against small units trying to sneak round and snipe them off. They can also easily sit within 1” of a Wyldwood, blocking line of sight to them for a lot of units. Their spell is summoning 10 dryads into a Wyldwood within 12” of them. It’s a great spell, but due to it going off on a 7, it’s a little too unreliable to put any real faith into.
Spells wise, one has the ability to summon additional Wyldwoods, which is key for the army. The other can heal units in the army. Great on Alarielle, but equally really valuable on the Phoenix, who takes wounds very slowly anyway.
The unit that makes the list narrative. It also happens to be one of the must underpointed unit in the game. It also fits in with the other synergies the list possesses. By being able to cast spells within 12” of the phoenix you increase its armour save by 1, on a 2+, each time. This can give it a seriously tanky armour save – my record is -5, re rolling 1s. Alongside this, it debuffs all enemy units -1 to wound within 9” of it. This, coupled with the dryad auto -1 to hit, makes the army seriously tanky. Similarly to Alarielle, she also offers your army serious speed, too, with a move of 16” at full health.
The bulk of the army and probably one of the best battleline units in the game. The innate -1 to hit when one model from the unit is within 3” of a Wyldwood is incredible. In the past I’ve had 10 dryads survive against Nagash and a Magma Dragon in combat. This is coupled with a 4+ armour save when the unit is over 12 models, which makes them surprisingly tough to get through. The major weakness they have is to battleshock, which is why it’s important to horde CPs to a certain extent and place heroes nearby the units for inspiring purposes.
In Winterleaf they have the added bonus of actually being able to kill things. The battalion allows them to generate additional attacks on a 6+. In your combat phase you can have +1 to hit against one unit, which makes this a 5+. This, combined with Alarielle’s command ability, means they can do damage – 12 have killed 4 Evocators in the past for me. Finally, they also are great for scenario play, as they can string between different objectives easily.
The impact of this is not massive – merely a free redeploy once per game in the hero phase. Its use comes from the fact that you don’t have to roll for the teleport, unlike a normal Sylvaneth teleport. This gives a bit more reliability to it, when you want to achieve that first turn alpha.
Winterleaf (includes Forest Folk within it as a ‘mini-battalion’)
The main use of this battalion is allowing the Phoenix in here, as Sylvaneth cannot ally Phoenix Guard, but Winterleaf allows any order unit to be taken too. Alongside this, as mentioned, it also allows dryads to generate additional attacks. Whilst not earth shattering, this does make Dryads slightly more capable of kicking out damage. It has a cool little added bonus meaning you re roll 1s to hit and wound against chaos, which obviously makes games against them quite nice, normally.
Magic, Endless & Realm Spells
A really useful spell in the list. It is normally used to slow down time, to give Alarielle a re rollable save, and generate that additional spell that will in turn boost the phoenix’s armour save. It can also be used to increase make a first turn alpha work. This isn’t a normal alpha where you smash up your opponents army, but rather one where you chuck a lot of bodies in their face. Very useful on scenarios where going ahead early is key (e.g. better part of valour).