If you go down to the woods today … you’re in for an arrow in the eye

Recently Rock Paper Shotgun made a pre-emptive plea to Mythic, developers of the recently released Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, to add cowardly rat-men the Skaven in the first expansion pack. We at Man vs Horse are prepared to endorse this campaign but only, repeat only if they are paired with Wood Elves.

Now don’t get us wrong, we love chittering rodent ninjas as much as the next blogger, but what we want, what we really, truly yearn for is nature-loving hippie elves.

Why? Read about it inside.

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning already boasts two varieties of the pointy eared folk, the effete and poncy High Elves and moody emo kids the Dark Elves, neither however, have anywhere near the character of their forest dwelling counterparts.

Imagine Robin Hood. That, essentially is the basic unit of the Wood Elves, they are the true masters of the bow, and of ranged combat in general in the Warhammer World, but they also offer a whole selection of other interesting and characterful units, which easily slip into the WAR archetypes.

Tank – Dryad

In the comments on the aforementioned RPS article Kieron Gillen joke about playable Treemen, while the idea of being a twenty foot tall earth spirit who fears only fire appeals to a certain extent, for balance reasons the Treeman’s smaller cousin, the Dryad, is a much better fit. While not technically Elves themselves, Dryads, bark covered, tough as nails forest elementals, are a regular feature of most Wood Elf armies, offering much needed durability to a largely fragile race. In some rule sets the dryads had a series of stances or ‘aspects’ named after various trees that would make for an interesting mechanic in game.

Melee – Wardancer

Oh yes. On of the main reasons we want the pointy eared new-agers to appear as soon as possible. A Wardancer, for the uninitiated, is a cross between a hippie and a beserk warrior. Going into battle with little more than some tight trousers and a series of surprisingly effective defensive tattoos, they whirl around in exotic dances, flashing their dual blades around them artfully. They’re classic ‘glass cannon’ dps types, fragile but capable of unleashing a storm of blades against an unfortunately adversary. They also look like Sting in David Lynch’s Dune adaptation, albeit with bigger hair. Who wouldn’t want to be one?

Ranged – Waywatcher

Ranged combat is where the Wood Elves eat lunch, and the Waywatcher is their most elite archer. While a basic Wood Elf archer is fearsome enough, a Waywatcher is a scouting unit, known in Warhammer for their ability to set up hidden in a forest well ahead of the rest of the army and royally piss people of. They hardly ever miss, they’re near impossible to see once they get in the woods, and if you leave them there long enough they start setting traps, traps which can eviscerate even the toughest of units. They’re classic ranger types, but even more badass. Just one of these guys could hold up an entire army for days in a forest, like a pointy-eared Rambo

Support – ????

This is the trickiest one to cover from the standard Wood Elf units, not least because I’m a bit foggy on what the support category is meant to entail. Right now I’m thinking in terms of some sort of Forest Mage character, with offensive plant magic and probably a bit of healing thrown in to boot, the classic D&D druid, if you will. The strength here is that the developers can adapt that any way they see fit, offensive nature based magic, healing or even some sort of animal based pet summoning, maybe even all three, the possibilities are endless.

So there you go, all four classes aptly covered, well three aptly covered and one sort of covered. Still not convinced? Take a moment to consider how cool the Wood Elves home city would be, it’s in the middle of a vast, almost primeval forest, and is part of the very treetops themselves, very atmospheric.

And you know what? Wood Elves are way cooler than regular Elves, they aren’t as uptight as the high folk or anywhere near as annoying emo as the dark ones, sure they’re a bit hippy like, but they’re also very much the embodiment of the taciturn, laconic ranger. They care little for most other civilisations, and while they’re nominally on the side of good they’re quite willing to attack anyone who disturbs their forest without mercy. Parties of questing Knights from nearby Brettonia regularly enter the forest, they only very rarely leave.

Oh, and they hate Dwarves, which admittedly makes WAR’s good/evil split a little tricky, but hell, I’m sure they hate them marginally less than the evil guys, and that’s what’s important, right?

Dante, at one with nature, bidding you farewell.


4 Responses to “If you go down to the woods today … you’re in for an arrow in the eye”

  1. September 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Sorry, the best foil to Skaven would be the Lizardmen. There are already two races of Elves. There are two versions of man. The Dwarves and Greenskins are both incredibly stubborn, passive and aggressive, respectively.

    Skaven are clever and quick, but skittish and cowardly. They also probably outnumber everyone, combined. Lizardmen, on the other hand, are patient and decicive, sometimes a little slow, and are a dying breed.

    Skaven want to rule the world, though tend to be the pawns of Chaos. Worship the Horned Rat.
    Lizardmen will do everything they can to prevent Chaos from winning. Worship(?) the Old Ones.

    Skaven-cities would be underground. Lizardmen could very well have a magically-induced jungle colony. I couldn’t find a map of WAR to offer suggestions on locations.

    And both races have tails.

  2. 2 Marty
    September 22, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I’ll side with David on this one. While you portray the wood elves…effectively, I’m still not convinced. On one side, I’m forced to admit a bit of distaste about WAR itself because of the good/evil split, that’s not the point of this post.

    Instead, the fight between the Skaven and the lizardmen is an epic and long-going fued. The Skink followers of Sotek are absolutely fanatical in their hatred of the skaven, ever since clan Pestilens moved to the Lustrian continent and began spreading their plagues and concoctions among the lizardmen. In addition, the lizardmen fit into the template above better still than the Wood Elves. Observe:

    Tank – Saurus Temple Guard

    Big. Bad. Angry. And, surprisingly, smart. They’re strong, but they’re slow with their big halberds. Their armor is made of the bones of bigger, scarier creatures, and with good reason. Because these buggers can take them down. Temple guard can trade hits with most enemies fairly effectively, and their resilience goes beyond physical limitations, to being resistant to poisons as well. They’re the only armored shock troops that the Lizardmen have, beyond their monstrous cousins such as Kroxigor and Stegadons. They’re also mildly more intelligent, and should they be found lacking, could act in a leadership-role for the others.

    Melee – Saurus Warrior

    While not particularly intelligent, Saurus are ferocious, they do a lot of damage, and they’re slow, ponderous, and generally have to be given very specific instructions or you’ll risk confusing them. They’re little more than animals in the way they fight, and there is plenty of fluff (most of it amusing) on how these creatures view the skaven. They can wrestle an orc to the ground as easily as anything, and frankly, they have a powerful jaw to add to it. They’re even a little resilient. However, their slow movements make them particularly vulnerable to an agile or ranged foe, making them even capable of being balanced. Their low intelligence could even be a reason to make them less likely to notice a stealthy or sneaking opponent. Fancy that. Balance built in.

    Ranged – Skink Chameleon

    Now, it’s been a while since I played against the lizardmen. But they have a match for even the best waywatcher. This comes in little, pint-sized and unassuming lizardmen with blowguns who could simply stand in front of you and never be seen. They use poison liberally, which could provide dozens of abilities to their advantage, despite the short range they’d be forced to engage at.

    Support – Skink Shaman/Priest of Sotek

    Now. There are a couple ways this could go. They could be priests of Sotek who focus on the worship and powers of the twin-tailed god, or they could be shamans, and be known as shamans of the Old Ones, the more mainstream and less skink-specific gods of old. For Sotek, they could summon snake swarms, combat plagues, and, when powerful enough, even bring down mighty meteors upon their foes. As followers of the old ones they could do even more, as they affect time, the clouds, and the earth. Or even just parallel paths of advancement for a single class. More options for you.

    As a sidenote, you poorly portrayed the Wood elves. They’re not hippies. They’re ultra-violent isolationist hippies. They’ll shoot anyone but a bretonian who enters their realm. They’re hard as nails by simple survival, they’re not frolicky-happy-elves. This is the only reason I respect them. Just thought I’d add that. They’re not Robin Hood. They’re Robin Hood’s paranoid evil brother, staked out in the woods with a violent, rampaging god and unforgiving hate to anyone they don’t already know.

  3. 3 Ludo
    September 23, 2008 at 12:02 am

    It’s interesting to see some support for the Lizardmen, and I never know there was specific antagonism between the Lizardmen and the Skaven in the Warhammer lore. Saurus warriors are indeed awesome, and it is a good point David that there are already a load of elves in the game.

    The Wood Elves are indeed quite hardcore. The hippy stuff was Dante having some fun. If he were commenting he might make a crack about the Wood Elves’ paranoia being down to something they were smoking, but he isn’t so I’ll just say that they often don’t even let Brettonians go. They’re a pretty mean folk alright, but they do sing songs and commune with the trees, so the hippy reference perhaps isn’t entirely out of place.

  4. September 23, 2008 at 2:50 am

    Then again, if you live in a forest as long as the Wood Elves have, you’d be talkin’ to the trees too. And Marty did state that they were still hippies, just ultra-violent isolationists as well.

    “They’re not Robin Hood. They’re Robin Hood’s paranoid evil brother, staked out in the woods with a violent, rampaging god and unforgiving hate to anyone they don’t already know.” Sounds perfect, to me.

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