Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Elven Enigma

Out in the cold

Elves in Warhammer Fantasy Battle 3rd edition were one of the popular races. Often featured amongst the pages of white dwarf, rule books and these days on Internet forums. Wood Elves were often seen, particularly in battle reports and were used as the general Elf representatives. Dark Elves were well favoured as well but maybe that was more to do with the associations between Witch Elves and nerds...

High Elves on the other hand were a relatively rare sight. I was pondering on this and think I have found a few reasons why.

The fluff

In the 3rd Edition Rulebook, the High Elves aren't really presented in a wonderful light. Being described as hedonistic and lazy, with no mention of their martial abilities. Ulthuan is shown as having an inner and outer lands, held apart by difficult to traverse mountain ranges. The outer realm is never mentioned. Not the most inspiring write up in the world but if anyone could point me to any background material that I have missed, then please let me know!

The Rules

Where the background is scant, the rules are almost absent! High Elves have one rule: their Mages can swap out any of their battle magic spells for other spell types. Handy, if you happen to be a Mage, pointless if you are not. While magic is intrinsically linked to Elves, there must be more to them than that. Wood Elves have their Archery and Field Craft, Dark Elves have their Witch Elves, Assassins, Hatred and even potential mutation.

Improving the view

So, enough of the bitching, its hardly going to help to whine about a game that is nearly thirty years old. Instead, we could look at the Elven background from later editions and try and reverse engineer something fitting but more interesting to be used with mutual agreement with your fellow gamers.

Using 4th and 5th Edition fluff, Ulthuan is described as a glittering kingdom that has somewhat passed its best. Despite being over the hill, it is still one of the world's major players. The High Elven army is described, both visually and in text, as being well equipped and well trained with many elite troops. They are proud of their race and their kingdom, often looking down upon the other races and even on their more feral cousins. 

Everyone also seems to wear armour, even archers and war machine crews, who otherwise would not have any protection. I guess when you have so much time to make stuff and a dwindling population, there is always going to be a surplus of equipment. It also makes sense to try and stop that population dwindling further...

Actually that makes me think about one of the typical Elven units, the Spearman. Why would an Elf want to use a spear? They gain no bonus from the initiative boosts as they almost always strike first anyway and the extra half rank of fighters only works if they stand still, rather negating the advantage of movement 5. Maybe it's the desire to be another foot or so away from an enemy when you kill him. I dunno, but I prefer them to have greatswords personally, they are elegant weapons to be used with great finesse to match the Elven psyche yet also let them kill with alarming regularity.

High Elves strike me as the sorts who firmly believe that they are better than everyone else by nature. They have long lives with which to hone their skills and create wondrous works so who can really blame them? If any being lived hundreds of years and watched generations of lesser species die of old age, I think a little hubris is quite likely.

Representing the Pompous Artisan

As an addendum to the Rule books rules, I would suggest the following:

Pride: High Elven units are not subject to panic by fleeing allies of any race other than High Elf. All High Elves have +1 leadership up to a maximum of 10.

Elven Armoury: All High Elves come equipped with light armour for free. They are still bound by the Elven movement reduction and must still pay 3 points to purchase heavy armour.

Any thoughts?

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