I’ve finally pulled myself together to write my second guide for newcomers! This time covering the basics of the Night Elf race! I won’t be going in depth with the specific strategies of the race. I will, however, break up the race and take a look at its units, heroes, pros and cons as well as the basic ideas you won’t to have in each match-up.
The resource-gatherer of the Night Elf race. Though Wisps don’t have many ways to defend themselves, they have many advantages compared to other races ‘worker bees’. A Wisp is a fast-moving unit that can be hidden in various trees around the map, where the opponent will have a tough time dealing with them, to provide beneficial scouting, while simultaneously harvesting lumber. Wisps can also self-destruct with their ability “Detonate”. When detonating they drain 50 mana from units in an area and deal 225 damage to all summoned units in the same area. Other than that, Wisps are both cheap and fast to produce, which makes them quite expendable. The con of Wisps is how fragile and defenceless they are. A single footman can be a real pest if he infiltrates your base to harass Wisps in the early game.
Archers have a very high damage output compared to other tier 1 units. They do, however, have a tough time when battling other early game units because their Medium armour type receives 150% damage from the Normal attacks of Grunts, Footmen and Ghouls. Hence Archers are mostly used defensively to help creeping together with the Hero and Ancient of War.
Huntresses are an interesting unit. Their superior speed makes it possible to take control of the map from the very early stages. If your opponent goes for a greedy tech or an early expansion, a tier 1 push with Huntresses can be absolutely devastating for them. This being said Huntresses will become obsolete quite quickly as the game progresses, since they will die with great speed in bigger fights.
Glaive Throwers are widely considered the worst siege units in the game. They are slow compared to Human’s Mortar Teams and have a low damage output compared to Undead’s Meat Wagons and Orc’s Demolishers. The positive thing to be said about Glaive Throwers is, that you only need a Hunter’s Hall to research them (together with your Ancient of War, of course). So, if your game plan has been a tier 1 Huntress push, and that has failed with your opponent getting up a couple of towers, you can use Glaive Throwers as a last resort to scramble their defences.
Dryads are great units and are used in the vast majority of Night Elf army’s. They are a super versatile unit. Abolish Magic is a great tool against summoned units, negative buffs on your army and positive buffs on your opponent’s army. Their Spell Immunity makes it tough for many opposing units to deal with Dryads (Frost Wyrms, Destroyers, Hero Spells, etc.). Their fast speed and their Passive slow through auto-attacks makes it hard to the opponents units to flee and very difficult to catch up with the Dryads.
The weak-spot of Dryads is how quickly they die to units that actually get to hit them, such as Mortar Teams, Gargoyles, Ghouls with frenzy, or Riflemen.
Druid of the Claw
Druids of the Claw are great units, if you can get their Master Training researched. They are - more or less - a combination of Knights and Priests in one deadly combination. If the opponent doesn’t have any Dispell Abilities, they’ll have a most difficult time dealing with this unit. Though they, obviously, can get countered by certain units (like Frost Wyrms, Spell Breakers and Druid of the Talon), they certainly are a well-rounded unit and sees play in the majority of Night Elf games.
Although near indestructible, Mountain Giants rarely see play. This is because of their enormous resource requirements, and the fact that they can be ignored relatively easily by the opponent due to their low damage output. One might argue that Taunt forces the opponent to attack the Mountain Giants (which is true), but an experienced enemy will quickly micro to change the target of their units.
Druid of the Talon
As the very core of 95% of Night Elf armies in the Night Elf vs. Orc games, Druid of the Talon are very powerful units under the right circumstances. Although they are quite vulnerable, they are also both fast and cheap to produce.
Cyclone is an extremely powerful tool against enemies that rely heavily on a few powerful units (like Orcs with their Blademaster).
I like to think of Faerie Dragons as the sprinkle on top of the Night Elf army. They can dish out a lot of damage in big fights against the enemy’s casters. Especially against Human Sorceresses and Priests they are absolutely devastating if they’ve forgotten to turn off the auto-cast.
The loop-side of Faerie Dragons is the fact that they are built in the Ancient of Wind. This is a con because you usually don’t get this building, since you want Dryads and Druid of the Claw in most match-ups except against orc.
Hippogryphs are great against enemy airborne units. We especially often see them when the enemy Undead gets Frost Wyrms, as Dryads have a hard time killing them, when they are navigating over patches of trees and other doodads.
Though they can be very bothersome to deal with when they get mounted by Archers, this is not really a strategy that sees any real use, as it is countered quite easy if scouted properly.
Chimeras are incredibly powerful. They deal massive amounts of damage against ground units and can be used to siege down an enemy base very effectively.
An obvious con to Chimeras is the fact, that they are unable to target air units. Since this base is readily covered by accompanying them with Hippogryphs, it’s not the biggest issue.
The big problem is the fact that they cost a lot of resources and take a very long time to get produce as you need both tier 3, Chimeras Roost and the units themselves.
Demon Hunter is the most common hero used, and for good reasons. With his Evasion and high armour, he’s tough to kill and dishes out a lot of damage through his high base damage. Mana Burn is an ability that has the potential to make many enemy heroes obsolete. The enemy won’t accomplish a lot with a mana-less Mountain King, Far Seer, Lich, etc. And of course, there’s also his Ultimate ability; Metamorphosis. This ability not only makes him much harder to kill, it also allows him to eradicate armies as well as building with his Chaos splash damage. Unless the enemy has some serious lock-down, their best bet is to flee in terror once Demon Hunter transforms. Demon Hunter is also quite simple to play, which makes him an even better choice for newcomers.
Warden is the other strong option for a first pick. I just stated that Demon Hunter is one of the easier heroes to navigate. This is not the case for Warden. She’s fiendishly strong when she is in the lead, as she scales heavily on levels, but if she falls behind it’s hard to achieve much with her. It’s there for important that you at all times keep finding the correct openings to harass the enemy with her.
Keeper of the Grove (KotG) is a hero that, contrary to the former two heroes, falls off quickly as the game progresses. When the enemy begins to acquire units with dispel abilities, KotG’s most useful ability, Entangle, becomes close to obsolete. The most common use for him is therefore to pick him first and harass heavily with Entangle from the get-go and try to end the game quickly with a Huntress push. This is, however, rarely seen in competitive play.
Priests of the Moon (PotM) is also rarely seen in competitive play. This is, much like KotG, because she doesn’t bring much to the table once the game progresses. Searing Arrows is arguably the worst auto-cast ability in the game, only contested by Firelord’s Incinerate. The big problem with her is that she offers little to nothing but damage. We have seen her used in rare instances of competitive play, where the players aim is to end the game with an early tier 1 push.
There are two main routes to go for when playing against Human. Either you play for the long game or the short. Humans will almost always go for a fast expansion against Night Elf. This gives you the opportunity to strike them while they are weak. A push with Huntresses can often be fatal against a Human player before he gets to set up a good defence with Guard Towers. It’s a very straightforward strategy, that is quite reliable. Do, however, be careful against Mercenaries and Guard Towers as Huntresses have a hard time against them.
The more common strategy is to go for the long-term plan. You still want to punish the Human for setting up an expansion by killing some peasants and delaying him, but ultimately this should not worry you too much as you are not going for an all-in. He will need to spend a lot resources on defending his expansion, which makes his tech way later than yours. While you’ve teched and are producing good units, he won’t even have reached tier 2 yet. This gives you an opening where his army is no match for yours. Use this time to creep, get items and get an expansion for yourself. You need an expansion for yourself as you won’t be able to siege his main nor his expansion, so your game is to compete in resources while trying to get that sweet, sweet high-leveled heroes.
In this match-up you should contain yourself to one base. The Orc’s access to Raiders simply makes it way to difficult to keep an expansion.
Your game plan is to get Master Trained Druid of the Talons. This takes a lot of time, so until you reach that point you don’t want to take a straight on fight with him, as he will stay on tier 2 and produce units. To prevent him from taking control of the entire map and getting superior hero items/levels, you want to harass him as much as possible to delay him. This is usually done with Demon Hunter and a Beastmaster, which is a duo that can cause the Orc a lot of trouble. Your aim is to cancel tier 2 constructions (Bestiary/Spirit Lodge) and destroy burrows. If you manage to succeed in this, you’ll delay him substantially, which you’ll need while waiting for your Master Training to complete.
Undead is a dreaded match-up for many Night Elf players. Your aim in this match-up is to get an expansion and win with an advantage in resources. You can, however, not take an expansion right away, since you won’t have good means to defend it against a push from the Undead. What you want to do early on is therefore to get your Demon Hunter to level 3, and then separate him from your army to harass the enemy Heroes with Mana Burn. In order to win a fight Undead are quite dependent on having enough mana to use Death Coil, but be careful that your Demon Hunter doesn’t get caught out.
When you have acquired a strong army of Dryads and Druid of the Claw (with Master Training), you can start looking into getting an expansion. If you manage to keep up the expansion you will inevitably end up taking the lead over him.
In fights you want to focus Destroyers with Dryads and Demon Hunter (which should have an Orb of Venom at that point), while the Druid of the Claw in bear form will take care of the opposing Crypt Fiends. If your opponent gets Frost Wyrms to counter your bears, you may want to get Hippogryphs if you are able to stall the game enough to get the Ancients of Wind up and running.
Vs. Night Elf
The general game plan is to get Bears and Dryads in this match-up. The means of getting there does, however, depend on your opponent’s play style, which you should always adapt to. A push with Huntresses and Ancient Protectors are often seen in the mirror match-up, and if you are not wary, and start your tech without proper defence, this will tremble you down and loose you the game. If you see that he’s coming with a push against you, and you cannot react with Huntresses yourself, remember to pump out additional archers compared to what you would normally do, as they deal a lot of damage against Huntresses. I recommend getting an early Hunter’s Hall, so you are prepared to react with both Huntresses and Ancient Protectors. You are going to need it to build Ancients of Lore anyway, when you reach that point.
A rare, yet competitive, twist I always like to see in this mirror match-up is when one of the Night Elf players opts to go for a Druid of the Talon and Archer build. If you are facing this strategy, you don’t want to get Bears as they fall very quickly to the magic damage and armour reduction from the Druid to the Talon’s Faerie Fire. Mountain Giants do, however, work in this scenario as they take little to no damage from the enemy’s units.
As I stated at the beginning of the article, I haven’t gone in depth with the different strategies and small finesses, thankfully other people have got this covered, so I definitely advice you to watch the following guides, as they are very useful.
Credit to ReZZeL for creating a playlist containing some very useful openers for Night Elf.
Ancient of War Creeping
As mentioned earlier, Ancient of War creeping is an essential tool for Night Elf. The following playlist shows you the optimal ways of creeping on certain popular maps:
I’ve often heard it said that Night Elf is a great race for creative players, which I think there is some truth behind. They are incredibly versatile and you play a role in deciding the pace of the given game. If you are a player that like to shake your play style up, I definitely think Night Elf is the race for you, as they give a lot of elbow room to try out various strategies.