Monday, October 14, 2013

Dark Elves Army Book First Look

Dark Elves Army Book First Look

The new Dark Elves army book has been out now for almost two weeks and so it’s time to do a brief review (yeah right) of the army book and what has changed.  First and foremost, I think it is very important to point out that Mat Ward wrote the book.  As it is obvious to everyone, whenever Mat Ward writes a book you can expect the army to be strong. 
The book is written very well, the layout flows smoothly and you really get a concise feel for the Dark Elf race, and I have to hand it to Mat Ward, I was not expecting such a well written lore section as this.  The lore is told from the perspective of the Dark Elves, which puts an interesting slant on the perception of events.  The book also provides a full pantheon of all the elven deities worshipped by all three “elven races”.  Lastly, this could be the most thorough and complete encapsulation of a race’s lore and background of any of the newer books to date. 
Book Layout:
A.      The Dark Elves – this section describes the Dark Elf race, the effects of chaos and the goals of the Dark Elves as a whole.
1.       Describes all three elven races: High, Dark and Wood Elves.
2.       Describes how the Dark Elves few the other two races.
-          Hate the High Elves for their betrayal
-          Hate the Wood Elves because they seek not to rule but only endure
3.       Puts an interesting spin on the “touch” of Chaos on all three races.
-          High Elves it made them more stubborn and convinced that only they can save the world.
-          Wood Elves it made them more isolationist and convinced that they are in control of their kingdom as long as they managed their forest.
-          Dark Elves it brought enlightenment that all races exist to serve them and to be ruled.
4.       The book strongly emphasizes the Dark Elves dedication to Khaine and how his influence has affected them as a race.
B.      Naggaroth – this section describes the home of the Dark Elves and provides background and lore about their cities.  It goes into detail providing information about the major ciies like King Malekith’s city of Naggarond, the Tower of Cold or his mother Morathi’s home, Ghrond the Tower of Prophecy..
C.      Annals of the Black Tower – this section outlines the timeline and history of the Dark Elves told from their perspective.  It really is an interesting take on their history as you see the High Elves and Wood Elves being repeatedly punished by the Dark Elves for their “weakness”.  It’s an interesting read and I recommend not skipping the fluff!
D.      Army Special Rules – this section I will write out in a list format to provide a brief description of each unit.  I will be doing a Preferred Enemies selection on some of these units as I have now experience against them.  For the sake of brevity however for this post, I will merely be listing out some of the information on each unit.

The Murderous Host:
 Army Special Rules:
1. Murderous Prowess - re-roll all rolls of 1 to Wound in close combat
2. Hekarti's Blessing - +1 to cast spells from Lore of Dark magic
3. Eternal Hatred - Models have Hatred, and it's hatred applies every round of close combat.
4. Always Strikes First.

Armory Changes/Updates:
1. Sea Dragon Cloak - 5+ scaly skin – this is a huge upgrade to the Corsairs and to any character which will now provide Dreadlords with a pretty easy 2+ armor save.
2. Repeater Crossbows - Str 3 - multishot, armor piercing
3. Repeater Handbows - Str 3 - multishot, quick to fire

Army Lay Out:
* New Unit
Dreadlord - same price - still most solid pick of General and is very cost effective choice.

Supreme Sorceress - huge upgrade -dropped 40 pts in price and gained access to all 8 Lores of Magic when previously they had Dark, Fire, Shadow, Metal or Death.

High Beastmaster* - 300 pt mounted Lord who gets either free manticore or Scourgerunner chariot.  May grant one beast within 3" of him +d3 attacks per round.

Black Ark Fleetmaster* - Lord with access to 50 pts of magic items, when in challenge and survives - his unit gains Unbreakable for 1 round.  Works well for a Pirate themed army.

Master - went down 10 pts.
Sorceress - went down 20 pts and gained access to all 8 lores.
Death Hag - went down 5 pts and gained some upgrade options that affect her units also may ride the new updated Cauldron of Blood.
                1. Cry of War - unit now causes Fear but has -3 to LD when testing to restrain.
                2. Rune of Khaine - Death Hag has +d3 Attacks per round.
                3. Witchbrew - unit gains frenzy or if already has frenzy +2 attacks rather than 1.
Khainite Assassin* - moved from Core to Hero slot.
Cauldron of Blood – this unit received a huge upgrade in this book for now it:
                1. May join units now and is a special chariot that can march - i.e. charges = impact hits
                Has the Bloodshield of Khaine rule that does the following:
                a. Cauldron of Blood = 4+ ward save
                b. Witch elves/Hags and Death Hags in same unit or mounted on it have 5+ ward
                c. All other models in same unit have a 6+ ward.
                2. Fury of Khaine - augment spell (3 casting cost) - target gains frenzy if it already has frenzy then it gains +2 rather than +1 attack.
                3. Strength of Khaine - models with Murderous Prowess special rule in units within 6" of the Cauldron reroll all failed to Wound rolls.

Core: - the units went up in price to make them more in line with the High Elves choices but their options are still very, very solid in this army.
Dreadspears* - Dark Elf Warriors with Spears
Bleakswords* - Dark Elf Warriors with Swords
Darkshards - renamed Dark Elf Crossbowmen
Black Ark Corsairs - went down in price but have to take either additional hand weapon or repeater handbows which makes them 11 pts over their previous 10 pt cost.
Dark Riders - went down in cost and giving them crossbows got cheaper
Witch Elves* - moved from Special to Core and went up a point.  Perhaps the most effective unit now combined with a Cauldron of Blood or a properly equipped Death Hag.

Cold One Knights - still a solid choice but went up in cost by 3 points.
Black Guard of Naggarond: - went up to 15 pts but also are no longer limited to a maximum of 20 in unit. Still a very solid choice and with ASF and Halberds they can wreck some damage.
Shades: no real changes.
Cold One Chariot - went up 15 pts in cost, still a solid chariot
Har Ganeth Executioners - went from being a fluffy choice to one of the new power hitters of the new book. ASF + Great weapons means Init 6 Great weapon attacks at WS5.  Solid choice now.
Reaper Bolt Thrower* - moved from Rare to Special, got 30 pts cheaper and is not limited to 3 per army but rather 4.
Harpies* - moved from Core to Special went up 4 pts.
Scourgerunner Chariot* - t4 Chariot w/ S7 Bolt thrower for 150 pts.
War Hydra* - went down 15 pts, moved from Rare to Special, lost regen but new rule is roll a D6 equal to the difference of the current number of wounds and the starting wounds, i.e. the Hydra has 2 wounds left you roll 3 dice.  On a roll of a 4+ you regain a wound per die - provided Hydra is alive.  Also the hydra has a number of attacks equal to 3 + its current number of heads and may buy a breath weapon and ranged shooting attack as upgrades.  Cause this model wasn’t a pain in the ass in it’s previous incarnation.

Doomfire Warlocks* - new unit, 25 pts each. These guys are similar to Blue Scribes where they start out at L2 wizard as a unit and gain +1 to cast per additional rank to a max of +3. Unit suffers d3 wounds if they miscast. They know the spells... Soulblight or Doombolt.  Also against models with Mark of Slaanesh or Daemons of Slaanesh, they lose their 4+ ward save.  Mat Ward did a good job of incorporating their lore into the unit’s rules. – Bravo Mat, Bravo.
Kharibdyss* - 160 pt monster with poisoned attacks and makes models in base contact reroll successful leadership rolls.  Also in combat if all its close combat attacks are directed and hit the same model (not unit), then target model takes an additional D6 S7 hits.  - very powerful character killer or monster hunter.
Sisters of Slaughter* - New infantry models that are 15 pts each, have a 4+ ward save against attacks in close combat. Also units in contact with the Sisters of Slaughter gain no combat bonus for additional ranks and may not use parry saves.  Also if they are in base contact with 1 model that has a higher strength or weapon skill they gain +1 to hit and wound.
Bloodwrack Medusa* - 90 pt T4 Monster that has the special rule Avert your Gaze! - models in base contact must pass an initiative test  or suffer a S4 hit with Killing Blow special rule and no armour save is allowed.  It's a magical attack.  Also has Bloodwrack Stare that is a 12" range Str 4 hit that is a Multiple Shots (4) and Killing Blow attack.
Bloodwrack Shrine* -  same options as the Bloodwrack Medusa and also like the Cauldron of Blood it may join units as well (and subsequently cause impact hits and march) .  It also has the Aura of Agony rule - Dark Elves within 6" have +1 to Leadership, non -Dark Elves suffer -1 to LD.

Lore of the Dark
Lore Attribute:
Spiteful Conjuration: - if the Dark Elf wizard successfully casts a hex, magic missile or direct damage spell against a unit then the unit suffers 2d6 S1 hits with armor piercing rule.  If the roll contains a triple its then 3d6 S1 hits with armor piercing.

Power of Darkness: - Sig Spell
Cast on 8+

Augment that targets caster's unit.  The unit gains +1 Str and the wizard gains D3 dice to his pool.  If generated 3 dice he takes a wound with no armor save.

Doombolt - Sig Spell
Cast on 12+

Magic Missile - 18" range  - 2d6 Str 5 hits. Bigger version requires a 24 and its 4d6 Str 5 hits.

Chillwind - Cast on 5+, Magic Missile
24" range, 2d6  Str 2 hits. If target is wounded -1 to BS for a turn.

Word of Pain - Cast on 9+/12+, Hex
24" range, models in unit suffer -D3 to WS and BS, bigger version affects Str and Init as well.

Bladewind - Cast on 9+, Direct Damage
24" range, every model must pass a WS test or suffer  Str 4 hit with armor piercing rule.

Shroud of Despair - Cast on 10+, Hex
12" range, all enemy units do not benefit from Hold Your Ground! special rule or Inspiring Presence.  Also if target fails a LD test it suffers -1 to LD for a turn.

Soul Stealer - Cast on 11+/14+, Direct Damage
small round template, 18" range. Place it and scatter D6.  All models hit by template suffer S2 hit with no armor saves.  D6 for each wound caused, on a 4+ caster gains a wound up to 10 wounds.  May extend to bigger version which has 36" range.

Arnzipal's Black Horrow - Cast on 15+/25+, Magical Vortex
small round template, remains in play, models touched by template - Str test or die, no armor saves but may make ward save - no mention of regen.  Otherwise functions like Purple Sun.

Magic Items have undergone a rather big change.  Rather than list them all, I will touch on a few:
- Hydra blade is now 100 pts and has random attacks of A+D6.  Also wielder must make LD test at -2 every round. If he passes nothing happens, if he fails he suffers -5 penalty to WS and gains Heroic Killing Blow til end of round.
- Ring of Hotek gives MR3 now.  Enemy wizards now suffer miscasts on rolls of double 1's within 6"
- Sacraficial dagger - one per casting attempt may sacrifice 1 model in unit and roll a D6, on a 4+ they gain another die they must use immediately.  On a 3 or less the dagger failed and you may sacrifice another model.

Special characters:  I will touch on these another time perhaps as the topic of a discussion.  Mat Ward did a good job on reducing their power levels while still keeping their fluff in tact.

Overall, the Dark Elves army book provides the player with several options for multiple builds and all of them are solid.  The book is fully of synergistic combos that provide the player with so many new options and strategies to capitalize on during gameplay. 

Ex:  Placing a Cauldron of Blood in a horde of Witch Elves and charging with Executioners and Witch Elves into a unit.  Cast the big version of Word of Pain into the unit and have both units hitting on 3’s, and rerolling their to wound rolls since they are within 6” of Cauldron.  Not to mention the Ward save you can provide your Witches with the Cauldron being in unit (or the impact hits the Cauldron causes when you charge with it IN the unit it’s in).

As I mentioned before, I will be doing a series of Preferred Enemies to provide Wood Elf players with some guidelines and strategies on how to deal with their Dark Kin.