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Monday, November 12, 2007

Hail, Ulthuan part II

The redoubtable Scadgrad continues his review of the new High Elf army book. Read Part I of this article HERE.

Cometh Tyrion, bound with laurel boughs,
To re-salute his country with his tears,
Tears of true joy for his return to Ulthuan.

The new character section once again features a good number of special characters as both Lord and Hero choices. The designers are walking a tight rope with these guys since, at first blush, they
appear to be very, very good. The whole concept of Special Characters is a bit of a sticky wicket for the community it seems. Many of us hold that games are more fluffy when they involve Special Characters, while others contend that they are poorly play-tested and cheesy. To each his own, but in 7th edition, one doesn’t need the approval of an opponent to use these characters and so I would expect to see them included in many lists. High Elven characters continue to be saddled with absurdly low toughness (another of the unforgivable sins of Mr. Thornton though Gav has a hand in this as well) for no sound reason other than, “well, in D&D they’re not as tough” or similar short-sighted reasoning. Overall you pay a lot of points for these the most fragile of characters in the Warhammer World (all elves for that matter), though you do get some good offensive options and SoA to help keep your characters alive.

special characters
You’ll find most of the old favorites here, Tyrion and Teclis return, both are point-for-point powerhouses compared to their earlier 6th edition incarnations. Teclis at a mere 115 or so points more than the cost of a fully-kitted Level 4 Archmage is almost too obvious for those looking to field an Archmage. For those who would rather just run over the enemy, Tyrion appears to be a similar comparison to a fully-kitted Prince (a bit more than 100 points higher in cost that is), and he is clearly in the running for Baddest Elf on the Planet honors. Also included are Eltharion the Grim in his “I’m not blind anymore” phase and he’s very reasonably priced whether you include his griffon Stormwing or not. If nothing else, he’ll put the Fear of God in your Goblin

Both Khoril and Caradryan allow a player to add a character with direct ties to one of the elite infantry units. Very Cool.
opponents and there is the promise of many fluffy battles between ol’ Eltharion and Grom in the next couple of years (advantage Eltharion). Those players spoiling for a Hoeth army will be torn between Eltharion or Teclis as their General I’d wager. A 4th Special Character option is available as a Lord choice and that is Alith Anar. This character is a shooty, stealthy General who may appeal to those wanting to build an army that focuses on the enmity between the High Elves and their Dark Elf cousins, or one that features several Shadow Warrior choices.

There are also two hero-level characters included as choices. Both Khoril and Caradryan allow a player to add a character with direct ties to one of the elite infantry units. Very Cool. They are both exceptional and will likely find their way into any list that features their respective units in any number (White Lions and Phoenix Guard respectively). Khoril even has the option of jumping on a Lion Chariot if you wish. He’s able to purchase one as an upgrade for even a few points less than a special choice, a fine option when you consider he’s the only High Elf character who can do so.

generic characters
You’ve essentially the same choices here that you had in 6th with the exception that the honors are a thing of the past. In many ways, that’s unfortunate because you could use those to build some pretty nifty characters in the past. The current cast is slightly more expensive (criminally so in one particular instance) than the previous army book, one presumes this is in an effort to balance SoA. Great Weapons also come in at a heady price and the option for Ithilmar barding is no longer around. High Elf characters have a staggering array of potential mounts including three different types of dragons, a griffon, great eagle, elven steed, and a Tyranoc chariot. As a new Hero choice, you can field a Dragon Mage of Caledor. He’s expensive, and like all dragons he takes up one of your hero slots, but he gives you a comparable piece to the Dark Elf Manticore Rider. The biggest complaint I see in this section is the criminal rise in cost of the basic High Elf hero. An increase of more than 20% for a toughness 3 character seems wrong to me. The lowly level 1 mage also comes in at a heady 100 points and that’s without a single piece of kit. Overall, I’m left with the sense that the designers ramped up the Special Characters and unleashed their “nerfing wrath” upon the basic Joes. I’m sure there was a concentrated effort to put an end to the Seer Counsel and the Annuli Patrol Pony armies, but as so often the case with GW re-designs, the pendulum may have swing too far.

Tony Mullins
The Tao of Bear

Magic Items, and the new High Elf lore to follow…

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