Introduction: So my third tactica of the site, I don’t own a Wood Elf army but I have the Army book and have played regularly against a very good player at my club. I’m therefore confident I can give a good assessment of their strengths and weaknesses and hopefully share my experiences around. Strengths: Wood Elves had a very old army book until recently which unfortunately only had a couple of different builds in it; in addition they had very limited access to the magic lores whilst now they have access to all them! The new army book is much more flexible and whilst I wouldn’t say everything is viable, it does lend itself to a few more strategies: First up Wood Elves are fantastic at fighting in woods as you’d expect. Never, ever charge a Wood Elf unit in a wood unless you’re absolutely confident of beating them. You don’t get rank bonuses and they fight with an extra rank, re-rolling ones. Any Wood Elf mage also gets a +1 from casting inside a wood so expect to be baited a lot by mages inside units sitting temptingly inside some trees for you to charge. Finally they also get an extra full rank for shooting which isn’t as annoying but still helps with some of their core units. Wood Elf units with the Forest Spirit rule get a 6+ ward save which unlike the old one, isn’t negated by magic weapons, it isn’t much but it’s something . Additionally they still get their free wood which means even if you’ve done your best to sabotage the terrain some of the above will still apply. Speaking of woods the new codex also has a couple of ways for Wood Elves to switch units between forests and add some news ones so be wary about units that look exposed. Whilst core Wood Elf units have become much better at fighting, the strength of the book still lies with its shooting. The book now includes a veritable Swiss army knife of arrows, the important ones are: Arcane Bodkins: -3 AP, whilst nasty in negating our saves they don’t help Wood Elves wound our models which is their main problem and they’re also expensive to buy. Hagbane: Poison shots, definitely a preferred choice against LM where wounding us is a problem anyway and our rank and file doesn’t have great saves. Moonfire Arrows: Another one we’re likely to see, flaming and +1 to wound against order. Starfire Arrows: We’re not destruction, so not relevant to us. Trueflight Arrows: No penalties for shooting, more hits = more wounds, expect to see this, particularly on Glade Guard. Swiftshiver shards: Multiple fire shots, I personally think poison is more dangerous for us and this needs to have the unit buffed to get some reliable hits. Not every unit has access to the above, the ones who do are anything with ‘Glade’ in front of them and scouts. The main spine of Wood Elves is in their flexibility. Units like Waywatchers can eliminate heavily armoured targets and although they don’t ignore the penalties for moving and shooting anymore they can still move around the board rapidly, picking their fights and slowly whittling down less mobile opponents (like LM for instance). They’re a finesse army, not easy to use but in the hands of the right opponent, still lethal. Some of their old units have taken a hit but Treemen and Treekin are still heavy hitting and the crème de la crème are the Wild Riders who will make absolute mincemeat of a unit of Saurus on the charge. Weaknesses: Wood Elves couldn’t take a punch in the old book and whilst they certainly swing much harder in the new one the old weaknesses are still true, bark doesn’t make for great armour unfortunately. Things like skink skirmish clouds, Salamanders and Razordons are all painful to Wood Elves, especially when buffed by Hand of Glory or Move between Worlds. Although they are very fast and hit very hard Wood Elves struggle to deal with high T troops who can take the initial punch. Ultimately they’re T3, S3 models and with the majority of our core at T4 it’s difficult for them to put enough of our troops down before we manage to pin them into some combat. The key thing to remember is that many of their units won’t care about range, modifications or will have such high BS that it’s fairly meaningless. Even camo skinks will be dropped quickly from close range so you want to keep a Wood Elf’s mind focused on the massed block of infantry rather than your harassing units. Chamo skinks are actually excellent in a defensive role, WE players have lots of units that can appear in your back lines so something that can reliably snipe them is very helpful and they don’t have any armour either! The key to beating WE is to ignore their harassing units and go for the big expensive stuff in the centre. Anything high toughness that can survive a few rounds of shooting (Steggies, Scar Vet’s, Old Blood’s, Temple Guard) are usually a good choice but be wary of Waywatchers with their ability to ignore armour saves. Don’t be too quick to dismiss combat as a wash either, Eternal Guard are very effective in combat and stubborn and their high leadership means they’re all be unbreakable near a BSB. You won’t enjoy WS5 AP hits either although like all WE units they don’t like it if you hit them back. I feel it’s a general litany from me but it’s never truer in this situation, large blocks of infantry backed up with some harassing units are key, smaller units are begging to be shot off the table by WE and once they’ve established a VP lead you’ll never catch them. Don’t let them take the opportunity. The exception to that is Wild Riders who you must, must try and prevent from getting the charge, they are a prime target for magic and shooting. Ultimately as an MSU army WE will want to pick their charges and pick their targets, the more you can do to disrupt and pin them into a corner, the harder they’ll find the matchup. LM are a bad choice anyway for them as they rely on causing panic through shooting tests which we’re unlikely to fail and our natural T makes it difficult for them. I’ll cover some of the typical army build types later; So onto the review proper: Lords: Glade Lord: All the usual strengths of an Elf Lord with the same weaknesses as well. Expect to see him being more shooty than fighty and taken for the 10” LD bubble. If he is fighty he’ll probably have a sword of might or something similar to try and compensate for the low base strength. If he goes into a matchup against your Old Blood you should be beating him 9 times out of 10. With his natural high BS and ability to take magic arrows Swiftshiver is quite popular as it lets him pump out 8 shots and not care about the modifier. He and the Glade Captain also have this weird auto hit S3 rule (Arrow of Kurnous) against your general if he’s within 36”, not a big worry for the Slann but just something to remember if you get him reduced in wounds. Treeman Ancient: As a large target he does hand out an 18” 10 ld bubble but I really don’t view WE as having many ld problems, you tend to wipe them out rather than them break. After that it goes down fast, a tough lvl 2 wizard is quite nice (and you can upgrade) but at 290 pts base he’s a big investment for something that can’t fight too well, still, he’s much tougher than an average wizard and doubles up as a low level monster hunter in smaller point games. Spellweaver: At 70 pts less than the Treeman and starting at lvl 4 expect to see this as a Lord choice frequently. WE’s now get ALL the lores making their magic phase, whilst not spectacular, much better than it used to be. He’s also got 100 pts of magic items so might take the Acorn of Ages. Heroes: Glade Captain: Also has the Arrow of Kurnous rule and the standard BSB choice. Likely to have a bow and be with the Glade Guard or Eternal Guard or buzzing around on an Eagle. He’s still pretty squishy so worth a crack at a challenge if you can get Scar Vet into contact with him. Shadow Dancer: Actually pretty dangerous although I8 is wasted on us, WS8 isn’t. Gets the Wardancer dances so 3++ ward save helps a lot with being squishy. Expect to see with Glittering scales in with a unit of Eternal Guard removing rank bonuses of whatever they’re facing. For 100 pts a bargain in my view. She can also be upgraded to a Lore of Shadow Wizard which can be unpleasant with the Lore attribute if you think you’re about to nail Spellweaver and he gets swapped out. Waystalker: Hero version of the Waywatcher with 25 pts of magic items, fortunately not enough for the Hail of Doom arrow which would be a little broken. Most likely to be seen with the Bow of Loren for an extra ignore armour shot but I’d take the view it’s just points that should have been spent on more Waywatchers. Still no armour save to speak of so has all the same weaknesses. Oh one tip from personal experience however, don’t let your opponent cast Savage Beast of Horrors on him, BS 7 with 5 shots suddenly isn’t funny. Spellsinger: Very cheap basic mage, can’t take the WE high/ dark magic lore but otherwise a sound choice. Cheap to upgrade to lvl 2 as well at 35 pts. Branchwraith: Better in small games where lvl1 isn’t such a drawback as a wizard but quite cheap (75pts). Expect to see in units of Treekin or Dryads where they synergise well and also is a great target for beast spells or shadow if Spellweaver gets in a pinch as it’s not bad in a fight (WS6, I7, 3A). Special Characters: A disclaimer here, most of these have been fought at 5k-10k point games so if I sound blasé I’m not saying you shouldn’t not panic if they turn up as your opponents entire Lord allowance! Orion, King of the Woods: A quintessential glass cannon. Fantastic stats with most things 8 or higher apart from unfortunately, the 3 important ones. He’s T5 with 5 wounds and a 5++. He gives every WE unit with 6” Devastating charge so expect to see him close to Wild Riders and Eternal Guard. He’s got a bow that doubles as either a multi shot weapon or a bolt thrower. There’s also an option to take a couple of hounds for extra wounds and they’re fluffy if nothing else. He’s also a chance of getting wounds back on a 6. Against LM however, he starts to struggle. Temple Guard at S5 are a major problem and although he thunderstomps at S6 he’ll still get broken by combat res. Alternatively an Old Blood on a Cold One with a piranha blade and armour of destiny creams him. What you don’t want him doing is cleaving through your dino’s as he’ll make short work of them and start to rapidly make his (600!) points back. Naestra and Arahan: The twins are a little odd. They’re a bit of a nightmare to work out special rule wise, expect to see them on a great eagle rather than a dragon because of the following; Essentially thanks for the conjoined rule, if one twin is still alive at the end of the phase the other one comes back to life. Because of the way mounts work under GW rules the Eagle actually INCREASES their wound count! In addition they have a couple of tasty magic bows, one S5 D6 shots (the worrying one for us) and one that fires 2d6 poisoned shots at S1, the former also gives wounds back if she wounds with it. I’m still on the fence about how effective they really are for a large points investment (275) but they are very annoying to kill and thanks to the eagle, pin down in close combat. Durthu: Basically a pumped up Treeman but still flammable so the flaming banner is pretty painful for him. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot to take him out from range and thanks to a reasonable armour save he’s likely to make it into combat if you stick to shooting alone where he will make mincemeat of rank and file. He also has a 2D6 S2, killing blow attack. Unfortunately for him he still has terrible initiative so get an Old Blood with piranha blade into him and he’ll drop fast, he’s a choice target for beast spells though so don’t let your opponent get any off. Armour of Destiny is helpful as well as he’s going to wreck your AS if he survives to strike back. Still, he’s just shy of 400 points which is a heck of an investment for a lvl 1 wizard.Krox also will make short work of him if you’re using them. Araloth: Has a number of interesting special rules which make him quite a good mage hunter and is very mobile. Unfortunately for him unless you’re running an Etheral Slann (and then amusingly he can’t actually hurt you except through combat res) he’s not going to get the opportunity to use them which instead makes him a big waste of points. The S4 hit within 18” causing blindness is annoying but the Slann’s going nowhere near combat and we have more than enough wounds, plus a ward to shrug it off. Still, it’s potentially 3 auto hit’s we could be taking a turn if both the Glade characters are in play as well. If you want to kill him it won’t take a lot of effort, he’s only got a 6+ AS although he does a have 4++ ward. He’s also unbreakable on his own which can lead to some moments of foolish bravery from WE players who forget how easy he is to butcher. Core: Dyrads: The source of much despair for Wood Elf players with the changes in the rulebook but personally I don’t think 2A models with hatred, immune to psych at I5 and WS4 for 11 pts a model is much to get upset about. On the downside they’re only S3 and have 6++ward save and nothing else so only get really worried if they’re hitting you in the flank (which unfortunately is where any good WE player will position them). Eternal Guard: These guys are good, stubborn, WS5, ASF and armour piercing. Still only S3 but they actually have a save unlike most WE of 5+ and they are very, very unlikely to break, especially near the BSB. They’re 11 pts a model which is very reasonable for what you get. They tend to be used in small numbers as a character bunker but I once faced a horde of 40 and that didn’t go well… We’ll win in a grindfest eventually but don’t expect the unit you use to be doing much after. Glade Guard: Unfortunately with so many good shooting options in the WE book these guys are a little overpriced. Once you start adding in magic arrows they get very expensive fast and they have zero armour. 12 points a model basic but they’ll normally be around the 15 mark with upgrades, skink skirmishers will have a field day as they’re normally going to be targeting our infantry units and it’s one of the few units we won’t get modifiers for shooting at. I wouldn’t go so far as to say if you see these ‘rejoice’ but I would say it probably means less of the really nasty stuff. Glade Riders: Fast light cavalry who ambush. We don’t have warmachines for them to hunt so whilst they are irritating they’re not a major threat. However, watch for them harassing units with magic arrows from the back lines, still for 19- 23 pts a model that’s some expensive harassment. Special: Deep Wood Scouts: They’re 13 points a model with scout and skirmish. I’m not totally sold on them being worth that but they can buy magic arrows and poisoned shots will be a threat to our sallies and razordons, steggies generally will have the armour to shrug them off. Sisters of the Thorn: First up, they’re 26 points so they’re expensive. For that, a WE player gets a unit that can cast two spells and has a pretty good lore attribute. They also have 4++ ward and are BS and WS5. What makes them interesting is they’re allowed characters and don’t have the downsides of Wild Riders with frenzy. The common use seems to be as a bunker for Spell Weaver, particularly as they’re quite resilient. The two spells are a bit mixed, shield of thorns is ok, curse of Anhranheir is pretty good but taking 20 for a +3 bonus for casting is insanity. Expect to see them in units of 5 bunkering WE magic users. Treekin: Strangely unpopular with WE players but I think they’re rather good. 45 pts for a S4, T5 model with 3 attacks plus a stomp seems like a bit of bargain to me. They even get a 6++ ward. Since there’s no longer a limit on unit size you might even see them in a horde. However, they are flammable and vulnerable to anything high strength so they’re more likely to be aimed at your flank. Wardancer Troupe: Almost the opposite of the above, hugely popular with WE players but I can’t see the appeal. 15 points gets you three different types of dances, rank bonus disruption, 3++ or armour piercing. WS6 and of course ASF but they’re S3, T3 and only have 6++ ward. If you see them in anything over five models, laugh because your opponent plans to actually have a straight up fight. If you see them in units of five be careful as they’re planning to get a multi charge off and then remove your rank bonus which can be painful for the unprepared, don’t forget you still get steadfast though. Wild Riders: Arguably one of the best units in the new book although they are very reliant on getting the charge. 3S5 with AP and 2 S4 attacks at I5 with ASF is, well it’s brutal. Frenzy of course means they’re immune to pych, really their only weakness is they’re relatively expensive at 26pts a model and they drop to only 2 S4 AP attacks if they get charged but that’s unfortunately pretty unlikely for us. They also only have 4+, 6++ save but that’s positively armour plated for WE. Warhawk Riders: These guys are quick and also pretty decent in a fight as well, better than our Ripperdactyls for instance. 3 S4 hits, one with AP and 2 with KB on the charge and a stomp. All for only 45 points and of course they fly, I think it’s pretty close between them and Pegasus knights for some of the best flying units in the game. A priority target although you’re unlikely to be allowed the luxury of picking the fight. Wildwood Rangers: Great Weapon wielding Wood Elves. Actually quite dangerous against us as they get an extra attack against anything which causes fear or terror so be careful with the shrieking blade trick on Temple Guard for instance. Decent value for their points in the right situation. Rare: Great Eagle: Not mandatory like they used to be as a redirector, thanks to Warhawks now competing but still have their place. No armour save makes them skink fodder however. Waywatchers: Best unit in the book in my opinion. They can either fire multiple shots or ignore armour and at BS5 they’re going to be hitting a lot. The only thing that prevents them from going to to downright lethal against us is that they’re only S3 so wounding our Scar Vet’s and Old Blood’s on 6’s. Expect to see them going after high value targets but they are very expensive. One nice trick is to stick an Old Blood on a cold one temptingly out to one side with tricksters helm. Your opponent will probably have two units of five and if they’re both shooting at him you should be able to ignore them for pretty much the whole game as he curses the re-roll to wound. However, don’t let him get Withering off! Treeman: A real shame they took a hit as I used to love the older models. Five wounds, T6 and 3+ AS sounds good on paper (plus a 6++) and five attacks are nice but it’s very expensive for quite a static model. Unfortunately that’s where the good news ends for us as they also gave it tree whack, D6 hits instead of its base attacks, ignore armour save which tests on… initiative. It actually makes it very problematic to kill as all our best units have low initiative and rely on good armour saves. My best suggestion I’m afraid is get in a multi charge and take it down through static combat res (flaming banner helps a lot) or lots of skink poison shots but with a 3+ save it’ll take a while. Alternatively getting a Bastiladon nearby also helps take the chance of failure from 50% to only 33% for an Old Blood or Scar Vet. Finally if you have a unit of Krox they will make mincemeat of him and don’t care about the Thunderstomp, Skrox also work but you’ll bleed combat res. Mounts: Elven Steed: Cheap, M9 and Forest Strider, a bugger for us to catch and a good choice for WE characters. Great Stag: No lookout sir but we only have the giant bow anyway. Quite good as its monstrous so gets a stomp and adds a wound. Great Eagle: Good choice for the BSB as it makes him very mobile and again, adds a wound. I think it’s slightly the better of the two ‘great’ mounts. Unicorn: The fighty horse, weirdly however it can’t be taken by any of the fighty characters. It does however make a mage a bit more of a threat against your unit champion. Forest Dragon: As dragons go, pretty good. Has a low S breath weapon that ignores armour and fairly standard dragon stats. Really though it’s main use is to give the Glade Lord some mobility and to get him behind our units which turns it from ‘annoying’ to ‘extremely dangerous’. We also have very little that can kill it outside of combat so it’ll lead your Old Blood in a merry chase if you’re not careful. As always with monsters, Piranha blade and Armour of Destiny or Dawnstone combo is very effective. Depending on how the Lord is geared you might even want to kill the dragon first. Magic Items: Spirit Sword: A more expensive Obsidian Blade, unfortunately it also involves taking a leadership test if we take a wound which we’re likely to be losing by 2. However, it doesn’t help with WE major issue which is hurting us in the first place. Daith’s Reaper: Pretty ok for 50 pts, re-rolls to hit is sort of pointless for WE but re-rolls to wound and forcing and AS re-roll helps them against armoured opponents. Unfortunately re-rolling a 2+ save isn’t likely to be all that difficult… Bow of Loren: Adds an extra +1 attack for shooting, usually seen on a Glade Lord for 5 BS 7 shots but they’re still only S3. You can also add it to a Waystalker for an extra armour ignore shot which is the better option in my view. Helm of the Hunt: Devastating charge and +1 WS, it’s cheap but WE characters don’t tend to operate as lone cowboys much. Moonstone of the Hidden Ways: I like this item, it’s fluffy and it allows WE to teleport between woods which feels quite cool. Unfortunately the unit has to fit in the woods in its entirety, it can’t charge and it relies on having more than 1 wood on the table which is why… Acorn of the Ages: … should be great as it allows you to drop in D3 woods. 100 pts though! I just struggle to believe it’s worth 100 pts, 50 would be more reasonable. Hail of Doom Arrow: S4, 3D6 hits, AP. Potentially quite a problem for us as we do operate with quite a few lone units that make tempting targets. Against a Scar Vet for instance it’s going to average 3 wounds at -2 to the AS but it’ll wipe Sallies and lone Razordons’/ Chief’s on rippers. At 30 pts therefore it’ll easily make its points back. Calaingor’s Stave: Bit of a mystery this, you get to swap a spell out for tree singing. I suppose if the WE player has a cunning plan around putting lots of forests on the board it could be annoying but unfortunately it only affects woods within 12” even at full whack. The 2D6 S4 hits are ok if you get touched by the wood but otherwise you’re only moving the forests 4” forward on average which is a lot of dice to throw at a pretty unimpressive effect. Still, might be worthwhile being aware of it if you’re near a wood. Banners: Banner of the Eternal Queen: M3 and a chance to be unbreakable for a turn. The trouble is it’s a lot of points for something that WE don’t suffer a lot of problems from, morale. I suppose it’s possible it might be in a deathstar unit but I’m not convinced it’s worth the points. The Banner of the Hunter King: Vanguard and re-roll first failed charge. I quite like it as it gives the WE player a chance to take a punt on a very long distance chancey charge but there aren’t a lot of candidates to give it who don’t have Vanguard already. Again, unfortunately it’s also very overpriced for what it provides but just be wary of thinking you’re out of average range. Woods: Something to consider is WE players get to pick the type of free wood, this can lead to some annoying tricks like the venom thicket which gives their unit poisoned attacks or abysmal wood for causing fear. Eternal Guard/ Wildwood Rangers particularly benefit. Army Builds: Wild Riders: If your opponent has the models this is fairly devastating, minimum core and then Wild Riders supported by characters, although they can be frenzy baited they are insanely dangerous if they hit units, your best hope is to bunker down and weather the charge through steadfast. Full shooting: Plays to the WE strengths, keep moving and firing, causing panic checks and gradually eroding the opposition, probably the least dangerous to us as it’ll take a long time to whittle down our core units with S3 shooting. Infantry army: Plenty of use of woods to play to WE strengths and takes advantage of the improved Treekin backed by Eternal guard, a Treeman for monster hunting and some Wildwood rangers. Again not terribly dangerous to us as this sort of build hates impact hits and prolonged fights. Hybrid Army: By far the most dangerous, small harassing units pick off our redirectors and cowboys whilst Eternal Guard provides the character bunkers. Main hitting power is provided by Wild Riders and Treekin and Dryads in the flanks with standard spear units to hold us up. Monster bash: Orion and/or Forest Dragon, Treeman, Treekin and Dryads backed up by shooting and small flanking Wild Riders. Sounds fluffy but actually quite dangerous as most of it moves fast and hits very hard, judicious use of magic and buffing is required but it leaves WE exposed in the magic phase and LD tests.