(Check out the limited edition Army Book cover art!... Which by the way is exactly the same as the regular Army Book's cover art... For only 25 pounds more!... Hooray sensibility!)
So, I laid my grubby fingers on the latest fantasy offering from our favourite plastic crack dealer and it kind of felt like this.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQyx2PWyC2I
I'm only half kidding, in typical GW "tell a story that spans for millennia but sticks along a single central theme, over and over again fashion" they pretty much did rip off The Circle of Life for its whole Season of blabla, cycle of birth,death,re-birth fluff background :P
To be fair, the fluff wasn't bad, just a considerably underachieving effort on GW's part in this blogger's humble opinion. Note also how credit for the book goes not to any one games designer, but to the Games Workshop Design Studio as a whole... possibly because said individuals are hoping to walk into a hobby room without everyone spontaneously blaring out "HAAAAAAAA-se-neYAAA" at some point in the foreseeable future.
But I digress.
Talking about the rules aspect of the book itself, I was impressed. Not so much because it felt like an overly powerful (Tier 1 as some out there would put it...*ahem*) army, but because it opened up the possibilities of a far more unique army play style then any other Army Book has thus far been able to pull, while at the same time giving players the opportunity to build practical lists along more conventional terms (blocks of infantry in a battleline), if one were so inclined.
(The Asrai regularly warns maidens that deciding on fur is a pretty bad idea... but they just never listen....)Play style wise, Wood Elves remain to be largely their nimble shooty Selves (oh yes I did...) , but with a lot more style. As a ranged weapon the Asrai Longbow beats out pretty much any other ranged weapon out there courtesy of armour piercing and it's range. Sure, Dwarves will pack a heftier punch per shot, but taking into account that the Asrai can move and shoot with their bows AND in most cases pick from a range of Enchanted Arrows (granting everything from -3 to armour saves, poisoned attacks, flaming attacks, multiple shots or to hit penalty negaters), Wood Elf players are going to find their ranged shooters to be a heck of a lot more value for points, as clever placement and maneuver will likely ensure that at least some (the considerable sum at that) of his units will be able to pepper his opponents army throughout a game.
For combat, the Asrai also gain a few new toys which makes this Asur player rather envious. Asrai Spears, which come with Armour Piercing, are a real boon for your average S3 Elf. (They must be asleep in Vaul's Forge, what the hell la hoi!) That Eternal Guard come kitted out with it is cool for sure, but the real joy will come for those players who'll want to play with cavalry, as even core choice Glade Riders become deadly, while special choice Wild Riders (They're base S4 and have Devastating Charge as standard...) go absolutely mental.
Another thing most immediately fascinating about Wood Elves for me, is the kind and number of monsters you could actually fit into an army.
(Trees. Are the principle cause of forest fires. - Lord George 'DubyaMD' Bush)
So fancy this. Treeman Ancient. A lord option. Lvl 2 Lore of Life Wizard as standard, but upgradeable to Level 3 OR 4. Also benefits from Blessings of the Ancients (+1 to caste). Thank you very much GW.
Moving onto your Heroes, gander into the Special Rules section and say hello to the sisters deadly, Naestra & Arahan. Riding on a Great Eagle as standard, these lovely ladies (Have I mentioned that you can't kill them unless you kill them both in a single phase? No? Well yes.) can ditch the wise old hoot and upgrade themselves to a grouchy old Forest Dragon for those occasions when they really want to dress to kill.
Now, on top of that you've got your average joe Treemen in your Rare options. Nasty and relatively inexpensive (You could have two of the tree huggers in a 2500 list) close combat frackers with a cool shooty upgrade option.
So yes, an army of monsters with S6 T6 and a whole lotta wounds matched with regiments of nimble, shooty elves. Maybe a regiment of Glade or Wild Hunters for some spice. Sounds pretty terrifying and fun to me!