So for the lore section of the book we get a brief intro to who the High Elves are and some of their ancient history. Not much new here so lets get right into the section with new information. Up next is a description of the ten realms of Ulthuan as well as a few text boxes highlighting some notable locations on the island. Most of the provinces get some additions to their history and character, most notably Ellyrion, Cothique, and Caledor. Following up on the heels of the ten realms is a much expanded section detailing the events of the reigns of all the Phoenix Kings. Interspersed in this section are text boxes detailing Elven mortuary practices and some interesting information about the realm of the Elven gods and what happens to the souls of the Elves after death. Being someone who enjoys the lore of the game I found this section very enjoyable. Of course the current Phoenix King, Finubar the Seafarer, gets the most attention and is the subject of a much more detailed history and new additions to the more "current" lore (i.e. stuff that happens leading up to the Great Chaos War and after). I won't go into much detail here but suffice to say that the High Elves get some love as far as being shown to kick some major ass outside of Ulthuan. I would have to say that The Sack of Marienburg and The Shadow of Nagashizzar are my favorite entries.
Alright so lets hit the next section and finish out on the army list. After the lore sections comes The Glittering Host part of the book (i.e. the unit backgrounds). First off we come to the army special rules. Martial Prowess is now army wide so expect an extra rank of attacks from almost all models in the army now. Valor of Ages is also still included. Lileath's Blessing, formerly something confined to the lore of mages, is now a tangible benefit in the form of +1 to casting attempts for High Magic. Fireborn is an interesting new addition as it provides models with this rule a 2+ ward against flaming attacks. Ithilmar barding remains the same and the Lion Cloak stays the same except for a clarification that it only works against non magical shooting. Dragon Armour gets a little bump in the form of a 6+ ward and the Fireborn rule. Lastly we come to my favorite addition, Arrows of Isha and the Bow of Avelorn. Both of these apply to the new Sisters of Avelorn unit making them a S4, magical, flaming, volley firing, -1 to armor saves against units from the Forces of Destruction unit of awesome. The range of 24" on the bow isn't ideal but makes for an awesome support unit.
|Such an odd pose|
Really not much has changed on the previously established units. Gone is Speed of Asuryan and in it's place we have army wide Always Strikes First. Loremasters of Hoeth make an interesting addition to the army in the capacity of a magic wielding hero version of a Swordmaster (aka a bad ass) He gets to wear heavy armor and knows all of the signature spells of the eight lores of magic. I will be picking one up for sure. Oh I almost forgot, Swordmasters now have a 6+ ward against shooting attacks. The new hero unit for the Sea Guard, the Sea Helm, is an okay addition. His Naval Discipline rule allows for a free reform on a passed leadership test as a charge reaction (assuming you didn't elect to Stand and Shoot, or Flee). While this could be very useful under certain circumstances it sort of defeats the purpose of the Sea Guard having bows to Stand and Shoot. The new Skycutter chariot isn't really anything special in my humble opinion. The army already has things to fill this role better.
|My favorite new unit|
Lets round this post out with a discussion of the army list, magic items, and High Magic. Army list wise we generally see a reduction in unit points across the board as a general theme. Bolt throwers get the largest single reduction at a whopping 30 points. Force Organization wise we see Silver Helms and Reavers moving to Core. Special remains largely the same and Rare gets the two phoenixes and the Sisters. Character mount options now include Tiranoc Chariots, Great Eagles, and Griffons with the two birds having upgrade options of various flavors. High Magic gets a whole bunch of renamed spells and changes.
First of all the lore attribute grants a stackable ward save for the caster and the unit he/she is in. We also get two signature spells in the form of Drain Magic and Soul Quench. Drain Magic is pretty handy to have. It basically ends any Remains in Play spells on a unit or, when boosted, all units within 18". Soul Quench is basically Fury of Khaine but with a boost option. All of the spells are useful. Apotheosis is a healing spell, Hand of Glory is a stat boost, Walk Between Worlds is now pretty awesome as it makes the unit Ethereal until the end of phase and allows it to make a move up to 10". Tempest is a AoE S3 template hit that causes a -1 To Hit modifier on a unit it wounds. Arcane Unforging basically blows up a magic item and Fiery Convocation is basically Flames of the Phoenix without a strength increase per turn. Lastly in the magic items section we have most of the popular items making a return (i.e. Blade of Leaping Gold, Star Lance, Book of Hoeth, and the Banner of the World Dragon) with various tweaks to them. The two new additions are the Shield of the Merwyrm and Moranion's Wayshard. The Shield bumps a models parry save to 4+ if he/she isn't using a two handed weapon and the Wayshard grants the Ambushers special rule and to a unit of Archers or Spearmen up to 30 strong.
So what do I think of the book over all? It is very solid with some nice changes. The new units are really hit or miss for me overall. The magic is pretty sweet and army wide Martial Prowess is awesome. I would have liked to see a slightly larger point drop in Spearmen and Sea Guard but that isn't that big of a deal weighed against the whole. Before I sign off I want to talk very briefly about the Uniforms and Heraldry book that also came out.
As a lore nerd and someone with a background in historical wargamming I love that GW is publishing these books. I wish every army that it could be applied to, Fantasy and 40K, should get one of these. The one for the High Elves gives a greatly expanded selection of runes and their meaning as well as a look at the hierarchy of the Elven gods. Each realm of Ulthuan as well as the defensive gates gets a section showing uniforms and heraldry as does the Phoenix Guard and Swordmasters. Several notable regiments are highlighted for possible recreation as well. My one big complaint about the book is that the faces of the Elves look god awful, especially the Sisters of Avelorn. If that was the quality they were shooting for I would have much preferred only the uniforms to be presented.
Alright folks, cheers and happy gaming!!