Dark Elves are one of the finest teams in Blood Bowl, both in game lore and in the modern tabletop game. In fact our recent meta analysis showed they have the best win rate of any team so far in 2022. So it’s high time we took a closer look at what makes the denizens of Naggaroth so good at Blood Bowl!
- Fantastic starting roster with all the best core skills
- Universal AG2+ with plenty of AV9+
- Loads of different build and development options
- No longer easy to pass with any player in BB20
- Not the fastest Elf team
Dark Elf Linemen
The backbone of your team, linemen have good armour by elf standards, AG2+, and otherwise solid stats. With so many good positionals in the team, your linemen will tend to have to do the job of standing on the LOS, marking opponent players, acting as the front of your screens, and other similar unforgiving duties.
They can be developed in many ways, with Block and Dodge being easily accessible and obvious choices that immediately make them superb assets. Wrestle is also strong. Dirty Player and Sneaky Git are equally strong options for fouling, though Dark Elves must be careful as their fouling pieces become TV-expensive. Kick is another option that can create strong tactical opportunities and problems, but remember it comes with set-up restrictions.
One of the finest players in all of Blood Bowl, the Dark Elf Blitzer is a perfect starting player that also has phenomenal development potential. And Dark Elves get four of them!
With MA7 AG2+ AV9+ and Block, this is a do-it-all player that you will want to take the maximum of as soon as possible.
For development, Dodge is again an obvious choice. At some point you will want at least one with Tackle. Guard is very strong, but as a Secondary skill will require some SPP-saving. Mighty Blow, particularly on a Tackle piece, falls into the same category. Sidestep is a great second skill for those who took Dodge first.
Another contender for one of the best players in the game, Witches provide another slew of great stats and development options, as well as some unique skills that give the whole team another dimension.
With MA7, AG2+ and Dodge, Witches are one of your most mobile positionals out of the box. This means they can be effective ball carriers if you don’t want to use a Runner. But Frenzy tends to mean Witches are developed as ball-hunters or deep cover blitzers, hunting players near the sideline and looking for surfs. Jump Up means if opponents don’t knock them out when they knock them down you can spring some nasty surprises on your turn.
Wrestle and Block are both equally good development options and the choice is a matter of taste. Beyond that, Tackle and Strip Ball again enhance their role, while Sidestep and Diving Tackle also have strong synergies, with Sidestep being particularly helpful to avoid getting counter-surfed.
Runners are an interesting piece that are a little divisive as to their merits. On the one hand, MA7, access to Passing skills on Normals (Leader), a Dump-Off skill that now triggers on Blitz nomination, and the only player on the team with half decent Passing Ability, and they have some clear upsides. On the other hand, AV8+ is a liability when you are forced to deploy them defensively, and Dark Elves lack neither strong MA7 ball carriers nor any real need for a passing game.
Ultimately Runners become a matter of preference and can be selected either when their cost works out well for your team build, or when you start going beyond eleven players.
Dodge is a great first skill choice if you don’t need Leader. Block and Sure Hands are good options afterward.
In many other rosters this would be an auto-take, but Dark Elves have so many good positionals that Assassins find themselves in their shadow somewhat. ‘Sins did get a boost in BB20 with an extra point of MA, but the Shadowing skill got a totally unneeded nerf. What they are indisputably good at is removing anything with low armour and annoying skills like Dodge, but Dark Elves are generally strong against those kind of players anyway. They are rather costly for their very specific skillset and low AV, and though a very fun and thematic positional, they are mostly optional.
Dodge is a perfect first skill for them. The most infamous skill for Assassins is Multi-Block, which allows them to make two stabs with one action. This is a secondary unfortunately, but an extreme fun option. Leap is also an interesting option that allows surprise flying stabs and can be very effective against low-AV ball carriers.
Dark Elves have the Elven Kingdom stars, which includes some interesting players that are mostly not likely to be available for what is an expensive and normally strong TV-developing team. Eldril is fantastic, his Hypno Gaze being an asset to all flavours of Elf play, and backed by a strong stat line. Zolcath is another Hypno option on a ig guy body and definitely provides a hefty dose of something different. Roxanna remains fantastic, but is pricey by BB20 standards. The only two cheap options, Gloriel and Willow, don’t really do anything much for Dark Elves, and inducement money at this level is probably best spent elsewhere.
Tactics and Playstyle
Dark Elves are unique amongst elf and agility teams in that they have high armour and no players with outstanding movement, which tends to make them a more superlative defensive rather than offensive force. Dark Elf teams will not typically drop as many touchdowns on opponents as their cousins or other agility teams do, but they will stifle opponents and get game-winning defensive scores.
Offensively, Dark Elves tend to play a rolling cage or layered screens. They are well equipped to make long drives, with both good durability and easy repositioning, and their ability to cause damage should not be underestimated. With four blockers and a strong ability to pick out loose opponents, they can outbash many teams in the game by chipping away at them.
Defensively, the classic Elven double column is perfectly suited to them. If the opposition is fairly passive it is very likely you can win any contest of position and attrition. Equally, one of Dark Elves’ strengths is the ability to play a more aggressive defense and mark lower strength opponents, causing them positional and risk problems by forcing dice rolls. Basing opponents has obvious risks and should not be performed flippantly, but Dark Elves have great ability to upset cages in this way.
On kick offs, Dark Elves are mostly as able to capitalise on deep kicks and Blitz! results as their cousins, driving a wedge between the ball and the opponent’s front line players and preventing or disrupting their ability to cage.
When you have Witch Elves, the power of Frenzy should not be underestimated on both sides of the ball. You can use it aggressively to hunt unwary players near the sidelines or create chain pushes that open up other options; and you can also use it as a threat, with your Witches remaining behind your lines and letting your opponent know that any misposition will be punished.
Starting Team Builds
Dark Elves have many options for how they build their starting rosters. The below is a good starting core:
- 3 x Blitzers
- 6 x Linemen
- 2 x Rerolls
From here you have a few choices to round out the team:
- Add another Blitzer and another lineman
- Add another Blitzer and a Runner
- Add a Witch Elf and another lineman
I consider all of the above equally strong. Starting builds with Assassins tend to become difficult because of their 85k cost, so I would advise adding one later.
Ideally, a Dark Elf team will roster all four Blitzers and both Witches as an initial target, and purchase the third reroll. You can add Runners and Assassins to taste, and the Apothecary is also a good purchase.
At 1.1m Gold, Dark Elves can have all their toys:
- 4 x Blitzers
- 2 x Witch Elves
- 1 x Runner
- 1 x Assassin
- 3 x Linemen
- 2 x Rerolls
This build will generally necessitate taking Leader on the Runner to make up for low rerolls.
At 1.15m Gold, either the third reroll can be bought, or an Apo can be added instead.
This is an extremely strong roster in tourney play, and though Dark Elves will normally find themselves in the highest skill tier, it gives you a fantastic tool box of skills even in your basic lineup.
Much as with League play, adding some amount of Dodge to Blitzers and some amount of Block or Wrestle to Witches are good starting points. Tackle on a Blitzer is also a strong option. If you are lucky enough to get Secondary skill allocation, Guard on a Blitzer is excellent. As mentioned above, you may need or want to add Leader to the Runner. Dodge is also a strong option for your Runner and Assassin.
Dark Elves are an undisputed Tier 1 Tournament team. They have been perennial members of this Tier and arguably got stronger in this edition with the general changes to the meta and by avoiding any nerfs themselves.
Thanks for reading, and as always, if you have any questions or suggestions for us you can drop us a line at Contact@Goonhammer.com