Howdy gentle readers. Today we shall take a long overdue look at the Dark Elves. This will be structured much like my look at the High Elves.
Not a whole lot has changed here since the last book. I would say that things have been mostly expanded upon and fleshed out. There are some interesting bits about some of the early years of the Dark Elves as they slowly descend into murder and debauchery. They have also expanded Morathi's role both at court and in Dark Elf society. One of the major changes is in the handling of male magic users. Previously all male Dark Elves who could use magic were killed out of hand due to the prophecy regarding the Witch King being overthrown by a male wizard. Now we have the addition of the Doomfire Warlocks whose souls have been cursed to be devoured by Slaanesh.
So what all changed in the meat of the book? Well lets take a look at the army wide rules to start. First of all we see almost across the board Always Strikes First, secondly we have Murderous Prowess which grants rerolls on 1s To Wound in close combat. Next we have a +1 to casting attempts when using Dark Magic. Last we have across the board Hatred for High Elves (to be expected).
Onto the units. My favorite new unit from the book? That is simple, Sister of Slaughter hands down. 15 points for a WS6, I6, A2, 4+ ward save in close combat unit that ignores rank bonuses and doesn't allow parry saves, and they get a +1 To Hit and To Wound on units that have either a higher Strength or Weapons Skill. Yes please. Doomfire Warlocks are pretty sweet as well. 4+ ward save and a unit of fast cav spell casters are a pretty nasty proposition. Now we slide comfortably into the "pretty cool" category. Here I lump the High Beastmaster, Scourgerunner Chariot, Bloodwrack Medusa/Shrine, Black Ark Fleetmasters, and the Kharibdyss. All of them have features that make them useful and they will make good additions to any Dark Elf army. Lastly I turn to the Bleakswords, an entirely unnecessary addition to an already robust Core selection. As to the already established units what was good in the last book is still pretty good over all in this. Hydras are nasty, Cold One Knights are heavy duty, and the Corsairs are still terrors. Bolt Throwers got a boost with a point drop and the ability to take up to four in a normal army.
Rarely do I have to say that I prefer the old metal models over the newer plastic incarnations, but the new Executioners/Black Guard kit takes the cake. While I do enjoy the design of the models, the poses are some of the most static and least dynamic I have seen from GW plastics. There is no sense of motion or menace at all in these figures. I understand that they may have been going for a more disciplined or stoic pose for these models based off of their background, but for crying out loud make some of them look like they are moving foreword or bracing for an attack. I also have to level this complaint against the new Spear/Sword/Crossbow kit. I get that they are going for ease of assembly for large blocks of units, and I like the idea, but again the poses are very static. None of the crossbows are in a firing position. Also another thing I have noticed, at least as far as I can tell, they have removed the female torsos from the above mentioned kit. Whats up with that?
Now contrast these static poses with the rest of the range. The new Witch Elves/Sisters of Slaughter are awesome examples of dynamic posing for plastics. I also would like to add that GW has finally done some female sculpts that actually look respectable. The new Dark Riders/Doomfire Warlocks look pretty nice too and they really did some funkiness with the new horses. The new Hydra/Kharibdyss kit looks pretty awesome. I have read some criticism of the Hydra design, but I think a lot of the unhappiness is due to the way GW has chosen to paint one of the models they have used for display (the green/red one). The new Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine is pretty awesome as well. The Cauldron has got some great detail on it. Lastly we come to the new chariot kit. The design has certainly stirred up some controversy. I certainly like the attempt to make them stand out from other factions, especially the High Elves, in terms of design, but in the end I don't like the mono wheel design. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the model. I really think they could have done a slightly more practical looking design.
Overall I am pleased with this release, with a few reservations as mentioned above. Another complaint I have to level is the price of a particular kit, I am of course speaking of the Witch Elves. $60 for a ten model kit that is a core choice as well as a rare? What the bloody hell GW?!?! I get that they want to get revenue off of what is a powerful core choice and rare choice in the form of the Sisters of Slaughter, but with the current emphasis on large core blocks this price is utterly absurd. I have a small but growing Dark Elf army. Thankfully I have been able to get a hold of some of the old metal Black Guard, Executioners, and Witch Elves. I have enough of each unit (15) so that adding the plastics should only take a box each to flesh out the units to playable levels. I definitely want to get them on the table again and give the new book a proper try. Hopefully that will be sometime soon. Until next time, be well and happy gaming!