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Monday, November 12, 2007

Hail Ulthuan part III

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

Part II can be found here

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

One of the complaints that seemed to be a point of contention for the High Elf detractors of 6th
l years of road testing at the GT level proved that this was little more than a tempest in a teapot. The previous list was altogether flawed with one of the few bright spots being the quality of the High Elf magic assortment. The current selection is still good, in fact, there are only minor changes from 6th ed, and the common magic items are still available to the High Elf player at a discount (High Elf hater feel free to continue your rant…). An item-by-item breakdown would very likely bore most readers to death, so I’ll try to hit the most important additions, omissions and changes.

High Elf fans of the shooty heroes and lords on Great Eagles will be elated to find that the two bows make it over from 6th ed. In fact, most of the 6th ed. weapons are present with very little changes. Two noteworthy additions are the brutal Star Lance and the White Sword, and odd item that’s basically a great weapon with Killing Blow. Now granted, there’s nothing wrong with having magical attacks, a situation brought on by the seemingly ubiquitous dryad, and great weapons are prohibitively expensive so this may prove to be a worthwhile item. There seems to be little doubt about the Star Lance and its potential. Finally High Elf players can get in on the chariot-popping bandwagon, though you’ll need a Lord mounted on your choice of mounts to bring the pain.

Many of your old favorites return in this section with a few items that have been tweaked in one direction or other. The Helm of Fortune is here copied directly over from the 6th ed. book. A couple of items that caught my eye (the new improved Golden Shield and a new item, Temakador’s Gauntlets) both look promising enough to find their way into many lists. The former item functions just like the Chaos Armor of Damnation while the former lends a 5+ Ward Save. Both items also give you a base armor save of 6+ which is a bonus and effectively lowers the cost of each items, and gives the possibility of a 1+ save for a character equipped with the gauntlets. Fans of bizarre items will be thrilled to find that the Armor of Stars is ported over without change. Hmmm…

No change to any of these items at all. All seven were ported over without change.

This section also saw very little in the way of change with virtually all seven banners surviving the upgrade with little in the way of changes. Essentially, the Banner of Arcane Protection got a slight nerf, apparently for reasons of clarity, with the benefit being that it is a good sight cheaper. As is the case in many other categories, High Elf players are a bit spoiled for choices here with at least 5 of these being extremely useful to go along with the discounted War Banner. Break out the flags lads.

arcane items
Ah, now here we have a category of items that saw broad, sweeping changes. Many of these seem to be a result of heavy-handed design work intended to kill, or at least hamper the Seer Counsel army type. Suffice to say, the Seer Counsel will have to bring on Teclis as the army general, but it’s not exactly like that’s a bad thing is it?

There are a total of twelve arcane items to choose from, a full page in fact, providing a dizzying number of choices for their High Elf wizards. By extension, this suggests to me that the designers intend for you to include a wizard or two (three if you’re feeling really squirrelly) and you can tweak them to better effect. One item in particular is a Seer-item which replaces the honor of the same name. The Ring of Corin takes a horrible hit, becoming an arcane item as well as a “what were they thinking” one-use item (other than dispel scrolls, tokens, ‘shrooms, and the lizardman banner, these are generally ignored by players). I would wager that it will probably only be used in Surprise Hammer games, and maybe not even then. The Book of Hoeth is still here, but the bad news is that most players bent on fielding the Book will simply spend a few more points and take Teclis who apparently wrote the original. It might be me, but this page almost seems a yawner to my old eyes. At the end of the day, I think the best items are the Seer item, the common Dispel Scroll, and the common Staff of Sorcery which stacks with the High Elf ability for a total of +2 to dispel. A new item which looks fun in a defensive magic approach is the Trickster’s Pendant which gives you a new defense of sorts vs. armies (other than Tomb Kings) looking to nuke you via magic.

enchanted items
Once again we have an entire page of items for you to choose from. In fact there are twelve enchanted items; four more than the previous book. The dread Ring of Fury is still here though at a substantial increase in points (10pts more than before). It won’t burn out on you now, and even though it’s a very pricey item, I suspect it will still find its way into most aggressive magic lists. Many of the items are ported over from the older book, but there are quite a few new items that should be popular. I suspect that many of the 25 point or less items will be popular choices for the elite champions. For instance, you might give one champion the “+1 to the go first roll” item, or the “all our attacks are magical” item, or perhaps the “Lizardman LD for one turn” item. This is a far more intriguing selection than the arcane items and many of these items will have a pronounced effect on tabletop performance of the High Elf elites.

Up next, the new High Elf lore and closing thoughts…

Tony Mullins
The Tao of Bear

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