I’d like to remind readers that I am not commenting on areas of the rules that underwent changes after my departure. For this reason, I’ve edited out questions on a few subjects, apologies to those that asked them but I’m not in a position to give a responsible or informed answer in these cases.
A more rules-related one here. The Druchii are emphasised as being a race of warriors, unlike their more rounded and softer High Elf ‘brethren’. Yet it is the High Elves that get rules such as Speed of Asuryan and Martial Prowess, which are rationalised as elite warrior skills despite many Asur soldiers being a half-trained (by Elven standards!) militia. Whilst Dark Elves are certainly more *ferocious* and slightly less disciplined with Hate, I only ever get the impression of an elite warrior people from the Black Guard. Even though all other Dark Elf warriors are more full-time and well-trained than all but a tiny minority (in background terms if not game ) of Asur, it is the Dark Elven soldiers that appear the inferior, part-time soldiers. Why is/was this step taken?
Hope to hear from you
The greater militarisation of the Dark Elves is reflected in the cost of the basic spear units, including their cheap command upgrades. Dark Elves don’t have the trust and cohesion, nor the discipline, that the High Elves have when fighting in formation. One a one-to-one confrontation the Dark Elves start with more warriors, and those that survive the High Elves’ attacks do more damage. I found that such fights were generally even and bloody (just how we like it!). On a larger scale the Hatred and numbers of the Dark Elves balance out against the benefits of their Ulthuan-based cousins.
In the real world, subtle but important changes to the Warhammer game system have undermined the elite nature of Elves in general and various developers have sought ways to address this. The decreased value of Initiative and Leadership with the changes from 3rd to 4th edition was one major factor, and the removal of movement restrictions for heavier armour, the increase in many armour saves (including the hand weapon and shield bonus), improved Strength and Toughness in other armies further exposed the downsides of the elven army dynamics.
Wary of reducing points cost to reflect these changes, because elven armies should be small and skilled, Tuomas Pirinen tried to address this in the 5th edition High Elves book by introducing many special rules for lots of troops types. When 6th edition rolled around it was our aim to cut back on the proliferation of special rules. The latest High Elves book took a middle ground. With the Dark Elves I viewed the army as a whole rather than any given troop type versus any other particular unit and decided that a points break was the best bet. Across an army, the Dark Elves are still few, fast, skilled and deadly compared to Orcs or humans, bolstered by the inclusion of things such as Assassins outside the Heroes choices and (relatively speaking) discounts to some of the specialist troop types. I think this is the most sustainable solution to the problem, rather than a special rules arms race that inevitably leads to more complication and potential imbalances.
Firstly thanks for the amazing job done with our book. It was a long wait but the result was certainly worth waiting for. Ninjas, Pirates and Dinosaurs. What more could I ask for? Anyway…
Black Guard. They are stubborn and are described as being especially disciplined due to rigorous training. They fear neither death nor pain and will carry out any order to the fullest. Yet because of Hatred they will abandon the line (and perhaps go against their orders) chasing after inferior broken units. Why was they designed this way? I’m not unhappy, it just strikes me as odd.
For Dark Elves the Black Guard are disciplined, but at heart they are also ruthless, bloodthirsty killers who are eager to prove themselves to their masters. The sort of reckless behaviour contained within the Hatred rules isn’t necessarily looked down on by Dark Elves!
Cauldron of Blood. What is the reason it was changed from its old 24″ aura to its current form? I’m one of the people who loved the old version and my favourite strategy revolved highly around it.
As a focal point of the army and a very characterful part of the Dark Elves’ forces, I wanted the Cauldron of Blood to have entertaining rules to match – much like Fanatics for Night Goblins. The new version, with the ability to enhance units in different ways, gives variety to Dark Elf tactics, adding to the layers of strategy available to the army.
Hi Gav, like most people gotta say great work on the new book, great fluff, great rules Thanks for making time for this questionnaire, greatly appreciated.
Was an assassin always meant as a chariot killing star throwing maniac… I mean Strength 7 on a throwing star, (with the stars and manbane) ain’t this a bit much?
It is not possible to get Strength 7 with Manbane. The throwing stars add +1 to the S of the model and then the Manbane is a bonus on top of this (just as ordinary poison would be) – it clearly states Strength is increased to a maximum of 6.
First of all, I would like to thank you very much for a very good 7th edition dark elf army book! There are some questions though to which I would like to get answers:
Why can’t Death Hags can’t ride a Dark Steed or Cold One?
Because Witch Elves traditionally fight on foot and I wanted there to be a advantages for players who field regular Dark Elf heroes.
Hey Gav, cheers for the new book and all the work put into the Dark Elves over the years.
Why has Malus Darkblade never had a sea dragon cloak included in his rules? He clearly wears one in the art and on the model…weird. Also, how did the development of the new Black Guard rules come about, and what paths were taken to make them what they are now? They have been seriously boosted, they must have been up there on the priority list.
Cheers and Good luck with all.
Malus’ lack of cloak was an oversight in the last book, compounded by me repeating the error this time around! Hopefully, the FAQ will give it to him at long last… On Black Guard, I wanted them to be scary for opponents, just as elven elite infantry should be. With all of the things I mentioned earlier about Elven infantry, it was important that I didn’t make them cheap or better protected, but rather that they could do some serious damage to the enemy. Yes they are badass, one of my favourite units in the new book J
I’m also curious about the design/revamping process. Our magic items section underwent serious overhaul, and while we have tons of great new useful items, some at amazing prices, some of the old favourites have been removed. Is the reduction of things like Crimson Death and the Hydra Blade based on bringing us in line with others, a sign of things to come, or related to the fact that some armies can use things more/less effective than others. I always felt, for instance, that Chaos and other high strength models should pay more for extra attacks than low strength races such as men and elves.
I ask because some changes have definitely made the Druchii a more viable army, yet some of the changes related to the above items are taking away some of the old options developed (or simply given) when the army was less forgiving. So the army is more reliable now, but in many ways through new means exclusively rather than adapted. Was this the intent or am I viewing things wrong?
Overall, with both the Dark Elves and Vampire Counts, I wanted there to be lots of tactical uses for the items and some great combinations, rather than a few expensive but all-powerful items. The fun of kitting out your characters and units, particularly with regard to the magic items allowance for some Champions in the Dark Elves list, meant that a wide range of low cost items was needed. Some items have been replaced by similar options in other places such as the Cloak of Twilight in the Temple of Khaine for Assassins. Older items addressed deficiencies of the army that no longer exist or filled in weaknesses that should not have been filled. I view the lack of genuine choices in the old magic item list as one of the biggest opportunities I missed in the last book, so I wasn’t going to hold myself accountable to any given item or ability this time around.
Points values should always be context-dependant, which is why Alessio removed the blanket cost for the Common Magic Items from the rulebook. One of the biggest problems when costing magic items is that they can be wielded by characters of different standard abilities – Lord and Hero-level characters. A magic sword could be too expensive to be worth giving it to a Hero, yet undercosted for the benefits it brings a lord. This is where the dark arts must be involved a little, judging the boundary at which an item’s usefulness is balanced by its cost and availability to certain character types.
Just wanted to ask why the cold ones are stupid, yet not cold-blooded the same way the lizardmen cold ones are?
I realize this is going waaay back, but I wanted to ask anyway.
Cheers Gav, and good luck being a freebooter!
Lizardmen riders are also cold-blooded, whereas Dark Elves are not. Remember that usually it’s the guy on top that’s in charge, and he’s the one that decides when to run away!
Just wanted to say thanks for a great job on the new DE book and that you will be missed in the design team. I fully expect now that Alessio is in charge the Skaven will overrun everything!
Anyway, I know it’s late for the Q&A (I just found it), but I did have a couple questions. First, one of the major themes of the Druchii have been their ability to tame all kinds of vicious monsters, yet even in the current book they are reduced to effectively three: the dragon, the hydra and the manticore (I don’t really count the Dark Pegasus as a monster). To be honest I was kind of hoping for another large monster of sorts for the Dark Elves to give an alternative to the hydra. IMO something like the basilisk that you reference manticores fighting or a large, druichii-esque carnosaur of sorts would have been a wonderful addition. I guess my question boils down to, was there ever a time when additional creatures such as the above were considered and if so, what was their reason for being dropped? If they were not considered, was it because there was no space in the range, no space in the book, or was it just not feasible to do? As I said, I like the monsters and was hoping the Druchii would get at least one new unit like their Asur cousins got the lion chariot. Besides which, with the Warhammer Legendary Battles rules, the more monsters the better!
While there are all sorts of cool additions that could have been made to the army, there simply wasn’t the resource available to add in extra monsters and the like. Unfortunately, there was quite a hangover from the last time around in terms of gaps in the miniatures range (and in particular a woeful lack of plastics and characters) so our efforts were concentrated on making sure we got right what was already there rather than adding in anything at this juncture.
Second, just something I’ve always wondered about the Army book artwork. Basically, is it intentional that a large portion, usually contiguous, where all the artwork is in black and white, while the colour sections are reserved for the cover, the hobby section, and the section for displaying all the miniatures? I’m going to take a guess and say it’s probably cheaper to do it in B&W, but I’ve always just been curious about it.
It’s a matter of style and time rather than cost of printing – we try out extra colour now and then, for instance the opening ‘legendary history’ section of Bretonnia and the colour bestiary of Ogre Kingdoms. However, art resource is limited and colour takes a lot longer to paint than black and white – both of the aforementioned sections are not illustrated int hew traditional manner. I’d rather have a decent amount of black and white art than a scarce amount of colour artwork. This may well change in future books and it’s never been a golden rule – the new 40K rulebook is full colour, for instance.
Third question, about the new “free” spells that have been appearing since about the 6th edition Wood Elves book. There seems to be a trend that a lot of books nowadays, particularly the non-human ones, come with a bonus spell that is integral to the army and helps define the “style” of magic the army uses. Has this been a conscious decision over the past few years as new books were released and though you are no longer involved, would you expect a similar treatment for custom spell lists in future books? Or were these simply for the Elves and no one else to help define their magical nature?
The magic of an army is very important in Warhammer and it is from their spells that a lot of a dynamic can be derived. The Lores in the rulebook are your basic building blocks of magic, at a level attainable by humans. ‘Above’ this is a level of sorcery and spells that other races or dark wizards can access (often at great peril). The default spells such as Invocation of Nehek and Power of Darkness really define the magic of the race, beyond any other spell. At its heart, Dark Magic is a lore that can do lots of damage in interesting ways, but really isn’t too different in that regard to Metal or Fire. The Power of Darkness spell and Sorcewry special rule are what really define Dark Elf wizards as different from other spellcasters. Power of Darkness could have manifested as a special rule (an extension to Sorcery in some fashion perhaps) but putting these abilities into the standard magic rules is a neat and simple way of adding in extra coolness whilst avoiding potential complications. Added to that is the range of Arcane Items available to the wizards of a particular army. I would expect there to be plenty of army-specific lores in future books, though whether they would have default bonus spells as well, I don’t know.
Lastly, I’m sad to see you go before you got back around to the Dwarfs again! I’ll be honest and say I was hoping you would be the one to rewrite the Dwarf book now with the army books being much larger and all. On that note, is there any chance that you might be contracted to write background material for any future army books by GW (now that you are a “proppa” writer and all ;-))?
I don’t think I’ll be doing much work, if any, for the Design Studio, as all work is done In-House. I might squeeze in the odd WD article if they ask. To be fair, there’s so much involved in the planning and presentation of a background section that actually sitting down and writing it is one of the most enjoyable and least tricky tasks a Games Developer can face. I can’t imagine the guys doing all the planning work and then letting someone else have the fun!
Hey there! Nice initiative from your part man!
My first expectation about the new rules was, as I saw in the High Elves armybook, that Dark Elves also would have three different dragon types. This I would benefit from since I love everything about dragons, and to have more than one option, points and statistics wise would make me able to field a dragon in more types of armies.
So my question is: how come High Elves have all the three dragons; Sun, Moon and Star when Dark Elves only have one, the Black Dragon? Isn’t that somewhat to discriminate the Dark Elves?
Dragons are an integral feature of the High Elf image – in particular the links to Caledor. The Dark Elves have a more diverse image concerning their monsters, incorporating Hydras and Manticores and other creatures. Just as it would undermine the Dark Elves if High Elves were allowed to take Manticore and Cold Ones, so the High Elves are allowed a special boon with their access to different types of Dragons. Some horrible marketing person would call it a USP (unique selling point) 😉
How come the Ring of Hotek only costs 25 points and the Book of Hoeth (the High Elves – item) costs 100 points?
In my opinion they are, on a general basis, equally good.
The book gives one archmage the potential of getting Irresistible Force, however you must spend many power dice on few spells (you’ll probably have to go for two spells maximum) in order to have a good chance of accomplishing this. This item also spends the archmage’s entire points allowance.
The Ring, on the other hand, can be taken by a mere unit champion (Cold One Knight Champion or Black Guard Champion) since it is an Enchanted Item and only costs 25 points. Most likely it protects your whole central battleline. Of course this limits your own spellcasting, but then you can go for a purely magic defensive army, while with the Book you must go for a magic offensive army.
As these items have the opposite effects of each other, I rate them at least equally good (especially since the miscast table has become worse in 7th Edition).
This was just my reasoning, I just wonder what argument you used to justify the cost, that (in my opinion) is low?
Please excuse any bad language, English is not my native language, you see.
There are two major differences between the Book of Hoeth and the Ring of Hotek. Firstly, the Book of Hoeth doesn’t mechanically change the way your army works. You may decide on a magic-heavy strategy because of its presence, but that’s a tactical choice. The Ring of Hotek affects your own casters and so has a major impact on the strategies available to your army. To be used at its best you can have no magic users of your own and your army must remain compact around the wearer of the ring – it offers no protection to flanking forces, for example, or other units split from the main group. Add to this is the fact that the Dark Elves are an offensive army and their Dark Magic can be one of the major contributing factors. To throw out a whole phase in order to negate enemy magic is to leave out one of the greatest weapons in the Dark Elves arsenal. Your logic is inverted when you say that you have to go magic-heavy with the book and can go magic-light with the ring.
Secondly, the Ring of Hotek is a defensive item. Yes, it can be very effective at negating an investment made by your opponent, but it doesn’t directly contribute to the destruction of the enemy – and it can be avoided. The Book of Hoeth boosts the abilities of your own army, and greatly increases the potential damage that can be inflicted by the user. Yes, if you have the ring it can seriously annoy a High Elves player who has invested in the Book of Hoeth, but on the other hand against Dwarfs or an army without a lot of points spent on magic, its usefulness diminishes. Therefore its potency is not related to the decisions that you make, but is affected by the choices made by your opponent – choices that are out of your control.
A few questions:
What power level did you envisage the new army book having? Was it designed to rival the ‘top tier’ armies? Will it?
I don’t think of armies and army design in that fashion. The Dark Elves are designed to be entertaining for both players, characterful of the Dark Elf background, and have enough options that players looking for ‘power builds’ should find something to their liking.
Did you consider put the Sacrificial Dagger magic item in as a magic weapon instead of as an enchanted item? If so, what led to the final decision?
No, Magic Weapons are items that hurt the enemy. Although technically a weapon, the dagger’s use is only for wizards and so it’s an Arcane Item all the way.
How much, if at all, do you look at ideas posted by players on forums (like Druchii.net) when you come to revise an army book? I know it helped push along the Dark Elf revision that was published a while back.
One looks at issues rather than solutions. If there is a widespread, persistent problem then one looks to address this in a characterful way. On the other hand, the revision of the army at this time was about imbuing the force with character rather than simply fixing perceived problems here and there, so I started from the ground and worked up as much as was possible. That said, the Focus Familiar was one of the magic items that was discussed during the revision all of those years ago, and I liked it so much at the time I put it to one side for future inclusion!
Do you occasional purposefully under- or over-cost certain units? Naming no names, but some things seem too cheap in the new book. Did many units change points cost much from the first draft of the book?
Under- or over-costed implies that the points are wrong. Nobody ever gives a unit or item a deliberately ‘wrong’ cost. On the other hand, in Warhammer some things have to be measured en masse. So, for instance, the cheap command of the warriors. One of the issues with high-price troops is that their command is also increased in cost as a force multiplier. I wanted to keep the overall cost of the basic warriors to a minimum, hence the discounted command options. With magic items, combinations and availability are an issue – items over 50pts can only be taken by Lords, for example, while a 35pt Arcane item can’t be combined with a Dispel Scroll on a Hero-level wizard. These considerations might mean there’s a flex of a few points up or down, though over the ‘expense’ of a whole army such savings or additional costs are going to amount to only one or two per cent really. To fully maximise the advantages of these discounts, players have to build their army with that in mind – in the case of the Dark Elves it’s no bad thing if the player wants multiple units of Spearmen, that’s in keeping with the character of the army.
I really like the work you and the team did with the new Druchii, It is an excellent book by all means. I have a couple of questions to ask.
In regards to mengil’s manflayers can they still be used in the druchii army as a DOW special choice or are they no longer permitted for I just love using them in my games.
The Dogs of War rules are self-inclusive – that means that all of the rules for using Mengil Manhide and his pals are in the Dogs of War and Regiment of Renown rules. References to Dogs of War are being removed from the army books as a matter of course but if you are using Dogs of War, the rules haven’t changed.
Regarding the Magic item Pendant of Khaleath was there a reason why it was priced at 35pts for it seems to almost everyone that it’s basically a 4 to 3+ Ward save, which is much cheaper when compared to what other armies pay for just a 4+ ward.
It is cheap when compared on those direct terms, yes. On the other hand, it is costed bearing in mind two things – the Toughness 3 of the character wearing it, and the fact that it does not protect against all types of damage. The correlation between the ward save and the strength makes the Toughness of the character a pertinent value – he or she is more vulnerable to lower Strength attacks than most other characters, and the Pendant gives less protection against those sorts of hits. It is better to attack the character with multiple low-to-medium Strength attacks than a few high-Strength attacks. On the second part, some spells, items and other effects have no Strength value and will circumnavigate the wards save altogether. Together these mean that there are tactics that an opponent can use to attack the character and militate against the Pendant, something that is simply not possible against other types of ward save.