I posted this entire block of text on a message board dedicated to Wood elves and I liked it so much I decided to make it a blog post.
The comment was that Wood Elves were hit by the nerfbat really hard in 8th and why I felt Wild Riders were the best fast cavalry.
- The Post-
The nerfbat wasn't that hard on us really (well at least to my playstyle). Yes, MSU is dead for wood elves but look at what we gained.
1. Skirmishers able to march and shoot. The Lethal Shot and Machine Gun Arcane Bodkins Highborn unit now has a 25" range. (march 10 + 15" for killing bow and not to mention the scout placement).
2. Treekin became literally one of the best if not the best heavy infantry in the game. They are initiative 3 which means that against most armies they go simultaneously or before other heavy infantry (ogres, etc..). Not to mention the stomp attacks are amazing.
3. Having the game shift to initiative based close combat means that most of our units are striking first against most of the armies (sans High Elves and against Dark elves we go simultaneously for the most part oh and chaos...but grr whatever).
4. Having a good movement and a nice amount of flying units (Eagles, Warhawk Riders, characters on eagles) and fast cavalry (glade riders, wild riders, characters on elven steeds) with vanguard has given the wood elves a really nice mobility. You had this mobility in 7th but you can really capitalize on it in 8th. i.e. Warmachine hunting, spellcaster hunting, flank attacks, rear attacks, etc...
5. As much as I hate to admit it, Eternal Guard got better - especially with I5, WS5 and fighting in 3 ranks (4 if horde) is a nice anvil unit.
6. Lore of Beasts and Life are fantastic for Wood Elves - granted they are awesome for everyone but I really like how they work for my army.
7. Shooting in 2 ranks allows for more maneuverable units of Glade Guard
And these are just some of the huge boosts we got from just core rule book changes in the new edition.
Granted there are some downsides =
Skirmishers lost some power in close combat
Lots of armies now have flaming attacks that count as magical.
Bigger units of cheaper models have the option of overrunning smaller, more expensive units of wood elves (i.e. pick your battles!)
But these are issues that a lot of armies will now face and wood elves are not unique in these problems.
As far as Wild Riders being the best fast cavalry - people fear my Wild Riders (ha no pun intended). The fact that in the first turn I can be behind their line due to Vanguard move and marching 18" makes anyone sweat. Added to the fact that if you put a Wild Rider character with a Hail of Doom Arrow with that unit on an elven steed. You have an alpha strike on any unit at close range hitting on 2's with str4 arrows. You can remove an important unit or warmachine immediately. They also have decent fast cav. saves - 5+ armor and 5+/6+ ward. Str 5, WS5, I5 on a charge is also pretty awesome. You can also do the alpha strike with Waywatchers as well. I've removed most of a unit of Chaos Warriors using the scout 12" deployment + 10" march + 15" short range lethal shot in the first turn. I've found Wild Riders also are no slouches in close combat. They need to have 2 ranks at minimum, I daresay 2.5 or 3 ranks for extra wounds with a character (highborn with crown of command preferably) makes one heck of a flanking unit or rear assault unit. Combine using Wild Riders + Waywatchers + Warhawk Riders + 2 Great Eagles all being in your opponents deployment zone or flanks on turn 1 along with 40ish Glade Guard shooting at a single unit will disrupt any army.
In 8th edition I've found that most armies (at least I should qualify this statement with the add-on "at my local gaming store") are using larger units and having less #'s of units overall. Coupled with some of the different types of deployment available in the missions in 8th edition, you really have the ability to alter the entire battlefield to YOUR specifications. Suddenly what was a line em up and knock em down fight now became a True Skirmishing and Ambushing Army by literally flanking and flying over the entire opponents army and forcing them to prioritize what to attack. While your opponent is now being forced to shift focus to multiple threats now in both short range for bows and within charge distance on their flank or rear, you have the luxury of casting offensive magic spells (read: Amber Spear, Magic Missile Spells, Dwellers Below) and augmenting and marching your anvil units like Treekin and Eternal Guard with Spells like +4 Toughness or Wyssan's Wildform and shooting the crap out of them with arrows.
There are not a lot of armies that can function in this capacity. Where they have warmachines and crossbows, we have flying units and elite archers. Treekin and Treemen with Dryads flanking are devastating against EVERYTHING. Augmented with spells they are insane. Dryads becoming S5/T5 or Treekin S6/T6 or even your Wild riders now being S6 (on a charge) T4 is awesome. So when I say we have become very competitive in 8th edition, I am speaking from personal experience and I will stand by that statement (at least until I get waffle-stomped in 'Ard Boyz at the end of the month =D ).
I am not saying that there are not some definite weaknesses with the Wood Elves but I feel that by looking at your playstyle and adapting to what's available in the new rules will really change your perspective on them. I will admit at first I was all "[i]aw hell my Wood elves suck now. Friggin GW didn't alter their ward save in the FAQ. omg our skirmishers suck now. etc...[/i]." I sat down and played half a dozen games with my new list and suddenly my perspective changed. Now that I've had a LOT of 8th edition games under my belt and I've adapted my playstyle, I'm having a blast with the wood elves.
Now that I've gone on this long explanation of the fruits and wonderfulness of the Wood Elves in 8th edition, I fully expect to get waffle-stomped for the next 3 months due to gamer karma. =)