This has always been a tricky proposition for me. I have a Dragon Mage model which I really like, and which I put a lot of time into painting. I also believe the unit can work really well when used properly, the difficulty though is balancing out his points cost when using him in a standard 2,250pt list as for tournaments.
[some images of my Dragon Mage]
As part of my repainting efforts I am also working toward the use of more Spear Elves in my High Elf army as well as the Dragon Mage, and after months of trying getting a reasonable list together is proving difficult. Do you take what you like in terms of models? Or do you take what works and is effective? You can't take everything and with High Elves this is especially difficult giving the huge range of solid special choices available.
However, I have decided that for my first tournament of 2010 I will be using High Elves, and the Dragon Mage will be getting a run about. So after many drafts here is the beginnings of my WIP High Tournament list:
High Elves @ 2,250pts
Archmage Level 4
w. Folraiths Robe, Dispel Scroll, Dispel Scroll or Staff of Solidity
Folraiths means he is immune to all non-magical attacks which means he can run around on his own and survive reasonably well. I tend to include him with my Phoenix Guard though as they offer the best protection for him. The key issue here is, given I like a magic focused HE army do I take the Staff of Solidity protecting my Archmage from the miscast or the Dispel Scroll which my Dragon Mage can't carry.
Dragon Mage Level 2
w. Silver Wand, Lore masters Cloak
Silver Wand is mandatory, although some players argue for the Seerstaff which allows you to choose spells rather than get one extra. Loremasters Cloak gives him and Dragon a 2+ WS vs. all forms of magic. Only issue is the units frailty against shooting but that can be minimized by careful deployment.
w. Barded Steed, Dragon Armour, Shield, Guardian Phoenix, Sword of Might, Gem of Courage
My mounted BSB looks better than my BSB on foot, that and taking him on a Barded Steed gives him a 2+ AS without having to resort to the Armor of Caledor leaving 50pts free for additional items. Guardian Phoenix, often used on Dragon Mages, gives him a 5+ WS and Gem of Courage allows him and accompanying unit to take a single break test of 3D6 discarding lowest.
First Spear Elves x20
w. FC, Lion Standard
Spear Elves are seriously underrated by too many High Elf players. Yes against infantry like Chaos Warriors they will get chewed up. But S3 attacks are sufficient against most standard infantry types and with the ability to hit in 3 ranks and ASF the odds go in your favor most of the time. Lion Standard makes the unit IFT.
Spear Elves x20 (BSB unit)
Not a usual option taking two units of Spears, but as I said they are underrated and being a Dwarf player I value having more infantry on the table. White Lions would be another option with S6 and Stubborn, but they are roughly double the pts cost.
Phoenix Guard x18
w. FC, War Banner
War Banner is mandatory for these guys as they win on CR not by killing people. I really rate these guys and it is strange but I haven't seen a single other High Elf player at any of the tournaments I have been to using them. I mean they Cause Fear and have a 4+ WS which more than makes up for the puny S4 attacks.
Swordmasters are great if you can protect them. I tend to run them behind my larger infantry units.
Dragon Princes x5
Only one unit this time and no standard or magical standards. One unit is enough in my opinion to give you some flexibility and makes up for my lack of Eagle models.
Repeater Bolt-Throwers x2
Two is pretty much the minimum number you see in most HE armies, or at least it seems to be internationally. Again the NZ players I have seen tend to diverge quite a bit from the norm, although they definitely love their dragons as they all had one at Call to Arms 09.
TOTAL COST - 2,241 pts
There were other options I considered and worked on including, but the inclusion of the Dragon Mage and the basic 250pt sink (a basic Lvl 2 Mage scroll caddie costs 150 - 180pts vs. DM 374 - 450) that it represents means that I had to leave them out
Really like these guys. Yes they cost more than 10 standard archers but their BS is higher, they are scouts and skirmishers so are harder to hit and they get hatred in the 1st round of combat. Have enough to field 2 units of 5 or one unit of 10, which I tend contemplate for a while.
Haven't assembled and painted them yet but have enough for a unit of 15. Personally I would only take them if I was going with a non-magic army, i.e., Prince, BSB, Level 2, Level 2 and would use them in place of the Phoenix Guard.
Have one of each type which I could use but what do you leave out? And of the two options only the Lion Chariot is OK as a 1 model choice. The Tiranoic Chariot you really need to field 2-3 of to make them effective.
Standard choice is to field 10 without armour or any command to fill up the mandatory core choice. But I wanted something different here, and as I intend to get into combat asap having an extra 10 S3 shots in shooting phase didn't seem worth it.