So I was pretty excited by the release of the Wood Elves, busily running out and getting a Treeman, the Codex and the next week the Eternal Guard/ Wildwood Rangers kit.
Wood Elves have always been a bit of a favourite since the old Warhammer Fantasy Regiments, so this was pretty damn cool in my books.
Then I started to read the Wood Elves Codex that i'd so eagerly bought.
Then I tried again.
Then I tried again.
Then I gave it to a guest reviewer to tell you about because I'm really not sure what to say about it, frankly!
Wood elves, the occasionally interesting hippies of the fantasy realm.
If, like me, you're more interested in symbology with pointy bits and the PEW-PEW of laser fire, the Wood Elves Codex may not be your first pick. It certainly wasn't mine. The front cover doesn't have any blood on it and it looks like a weird acid trip my parents totally didn't have in the 70's because they didn't do drugs and neither should I.
But, Treemen are cool and the mentions of 'dark magic' were enough to catch this Druchii wannabe's interest.
Once I'd read about the 'Summerstrand Glade', I was hooked. Any race with an entire section that parties every day and has a cheery bloodlust, I can get down with that.
The Deepwood Host:
For the most part, this is like every other codex you've probably read from Games Workshop.
You've got your squishy dudes (infantry) you're slightly more important squishy dudes (still infantry, but with FLARE!), then an assortment of special squads who are good at hitting things. As a nub trying to crack into the giant egg that is the Warhammer Universe, this section gives a good selection to choose from.
The most interesting part, as someone who isn't really down with the whole Wood Elf thing, is finding out how dark they truly are. It's been mentioned on here before, that no one ever said elves are good and the Wood Elves are not exception. I like that they have a sense of predatory pride, when it comes to the other races of their world. Sure, stags and boards, those are sacred dude! But a Bretonnian? Pffft, lamb to the slaughter when the Wild Hunt begins. There's something deliciously dark elf about them, not that they'd ever admit it.
Above all, I adore The Sisters Of Twilight. The mystery around these two, the way they fight and their character design is enticing. This part was particulaly tittilatng "None save for the Mage Queen know the sisters' true origins," (pg 58). None, EXCEPT whoever wrote the description for the Sisters of Twilight set on Games Workshop's website who say they're just some bratty elf kid who split into two. This was NOT in the Codex!
I get it, Athel Loren is totes old (making the dryads the hipsters of Athel Loren, they were into Treemen BEFORE it was cool and they help the elves out in like a totally ironic way, or whatever). This means an expansive history that is rich with bloodshed and possibly some other stuff, but who cares about that because bloodshed is more interesting.
To speak plainly, it's a slog. While completely understandable that a place as ancient as Athel Loren will have a huge history, the history seemed to be repeating itself. It was like reading the plotline for every kids cartoon episode ever. Picture Morghur taking off a mask and saying "And I would have devoured Ariel's powers too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" Tune in next episode in The Season of Doom to find out how we did the exact same thing again, but with different costumes. (If anyone makes a Shaggy version of a Wood Elf, you know who inspired it). It may not have been so bad if they had printed a few of the pages with slightly bigger print. Wood Elves may have great eyesight, but I don't and it wasn't made any better by print that could fit on a piece of rice.
HOWEVER, you will be rewarded if you have the staying power to make your way through it.
It may contain a lot of red herrings, but the history of Athel Loren is much more interesting when you put your al-foil hat on and look for the conspiracies. I'm not saying that the great forest is a genetically engineered terraforming experiment from some race in the 40K Universe. Nor am I saying that Orion has Space Marine joo-joo running through his veins despite the fact dude is huge, keeps getting 'reborn' and the Wild Riders follow him in a creepily similar way to the way Space Marines follow their Emperor (but with less clothes). Or that Ariel, the twins that follow her and the Sisters of The Thorn give of a distinctly 'Eldar' vibe. I'm just saying, the world is full of possibilities. And sometimes giant squirrels.
The only big concern, for me, is the ascension in rank.
I like that the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K Universe allow you to create characters with their own backstories. And yet, I was at a loss as to how to create a veteran character with a history that would fit into the Wood Elf Codex. It seems a Wood Elf starts out as a Glade Guard, but then what? If there's a battle and they prove themselves, they can move up to Eternal Guard. But what if sister has some dark powers brewing? How does she get to be a Wizard? There's no Hogwarts on the map, despite all the giant owls, but the lack of information on these points left me frustrated. I'd like to use my imagination, but at the same time, the existing rules of the Warhammer Universe are fun to play within.
Maybe a little less chatty chatty about how Ariel got all angry-goth and a little more "And then the Glade Guard became an Eternal Guard and after many years of service, decided he looked better in furs and leather and joined the Wild Riders, the end".
In the parts where it's strong, it's like the will of the Tau empire, it's unwavering in it's march forward. In the parts where it's weak, it's like.... every human character in every fantasy story ever- Boring and you wish there was an elf who could solve all the problems with an arrow.
A solid read, even if it's only to build your knowledge of Wood Elf armies so you can crush them with Dark Elf ones!
Blood for the Blood God!
Guest Writer: The Unbearded Lady
Hailing from the dark alleyways of the Dark Eldar homeworld, The Unbeareded lady is fearless in her scorn and praise for all things.
A fan of Dark Eldar, Dark Elves and the Tau she has recently taken on her largest modelling project - a rather scary looking Treeman.
When not in the world of miniatures, she can be found attached to World of Warcraft and a packet of chips.
Beware her glare - for all wither and fall!