DARK ELVES Q&A: ON THE PROJECT

Entreri
A little follow up question which I forgot.
Was there ever any idea of putting Mengil’s Manflayers into the army-book.
This considering the fact GW seems to be killing off or not updating their Dogs of War.
It would be a shame to lose them!
Or is that the reason why you updated the shades like you did?

Thanks again, cheers.

Btw, looking forward to reading your Malekith book

The idea of putting Regiments of Renown as ‘special characters’ into army books was first brought up a few years back and revisited when the Orcs & Goblins book was being rewritten (in regard to Ruglud’s Armoured Orcs). The decision was taken at that time not to put these units in as named, but where plausible to allow the models to be used by expanding the equipment options of a suitable troop type. In regard to Mengil and his friends, this tied in with what I wanted to do with the Shades anyway, and the Manflayers live on for the moment in some box text in the Bestiary. Overall, several approaches to the Dogs of War issue were being considered at the time of my departure.

Victor Garcia
Just wondering why was the city guard left out. They have been sitting on the shelf for several years hoping to hit the gaming table…

All the best

Victor in Lustria

And

simon
As a Dark Elf player I was looking forward to the new book but was disappointed to find that we did not get a new unit or return of City Guard . What were the reasons for this?

Good luck .

City Guard are just spearmen and repeater crossbowmen in the same unit, so I’m pretty sure the models could be used as the basis of separate units. Anyway, that aside, when drawing up the initial draft of the army list my brief was to focus on the raiding side of Dark Elf society – the armies that go out and attack other people rather than those boring Dark Elves who stay at home defending their towers against Chaos marauder assaults. I wanted the army to be offensively orientated in contrast to the more defensive nature of the High Elves, and the City Guard concept doesn’t fit too well with this image.

Lars L.
Hello there Gav,

First off, thank you for taking your time to do this FAQ, it is really appreciated.

Secondly, I only have one question and one apology to offer up for you, the first is this:
Do you know why the time was “rolled back” on the events regarding the invasion of Ulthuan and the counter invasion by a blind Eltharion? I am not particularly fond of the storylines personally, but I am curious as to why it was done.

My apology is this: I was one of the people who at the start of 6th edition, without thinking in my fanboy youth, spread the list the list that Tuomas had worked on. I was not the one that leaked it originally, but I did help make it worse and its pained me ever since. I’m deeply sorry and if I ever come to England you may punch my face.

Yours sincerely

Lars

Thank you for confessing to your sins, you are forgiven! I’m not in the habit of punching people in the face no matter what their indiscretion. Regarding your question, the decision was taken before the Nemesis Crown campaign that summer campaigns were to all intents and purposes self-contained events – for reasons I’ll be exploring in the future. This was implemented with the Eltharion character in the High Elves book first and since I wanted the Dark Elves to tie with that volume the history stopped at a similar point. However, I did manage to work in a few references throughout the book to Dark Elves forces being present on Ulthuan as part of Malekith’s next big push.

Lazarus

Hi Gav, thanks for all your efforts regarding the new book. One question for you, has GW become more conservative in their artwork/miniatures? The exposed Daemonettes and topless witch elves have disappeared as have a couple of other more controversial figures, can you shed some light on the motive?

The lack of exposed breasts has nothing to do with age-related sensitivities and is about keeping a defined, established image. As far as I am aware the Witch Elves have never had bare-chested miniatures – the original designs had chainmail bikinis in the best cliché fantasy tradition. I’d like to see the Witch Elves more like the first iteration, with mad punk (pink?) hair and more warrior-like. The Daemonettes similarly returned to their original image created alongside Realm of Chaos, as disturbing daemonic creatures rather than elfin figures with their boobs showing. I’m not sure what other ‘controversial’ figures have been withdrawn.

Wenxiox
Hello Gav,

I would like to know more about why Kouran and Tullaris have been reduced to champion status. Why could not Lokhir have been one of those champions and either Kouran or Tullaris a hero choice? This mainly as I always liked both Kouran and Tullaris more than most other Druchii special characters.

I suspect it has something to do with the Warhammer Online game?

Many thanks for taking your time. Looking forward to hear from you.

The decision to introduce Lokhir had nothing to do with Warhammer Age of Reckoning. If there is some connection then it is coincidental or has been created retrospectively by the folks at Mythic to tie-in to the new book. As part of the aggressive army dynamic I mentioned in a previous answer, it seemed entirely natural to me that one of the special characters should be a Black Ark commander. Such a character is one of the staple archetypes of Dark Elves, just as Morathi is the supreme sorceress and Hellebron the top Witch Elf. On the other hand, Black Guard and Executioners are a less instantly identifiable image. I wanted to have some Champion-level special characters to give some variety to the list, and this fits well with the nature of Kouran and Tullaris as leaders of particular regiments. There’s nothing to stop players using the Lord or Hero profiles to create more powerful versions of these characters for their own games.

Swordofkhaine

Hey Gav,

Thanks for all your work and especially your communication with the players.

Was there an over- arching strategy to focus on / develop the Khainite elements and army theme from the start? Was there ever a point in development of the new book that included Cult of Slaanesh options? Why did you decide to have the Assassin not take up a Hero allotment slot? Was it solely for surprise factor of the reveal or was it more than that?
Do you think we will see use of the “Heroes that do not take up Hero slots” element in future army books like Skaven Sssasins or even other Hero types?

Cheers from a very happy long time DE player =)

Two parts of your question are actually linked, though not in the way they seem to imply! I decided early on that I would introduce the Death Hag as a Hero choice and wanted Hellebron returned as a special character. Although the Beastmaster options were folded into the generic Hero entry, competition for character ‘slots’ in any army is always fierce. It felt wrong that there was so much pressure between some very archetypical images in the Heroes selection – Beastmasters, Sorceresses, Death Hags and Assassins. I wanted players to be able to enjoy all of these cool aspects to the Dark Elves army and the natural way to do this was to move the Assassin into a unit upgrade to relieve some of that pressure. Over several army books the aim has been to give more freedom of choice – more Troops, less Rare, and any mechanisms that allow players to have this flexibility are likely to be seen in some form or another in future lists. The clan-specific Skaven characters, such as Assassins or Plague Priests, may well end up being incorporated into the list in some different fashion. This is speculation on my part though, so don’t get too carried away or be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

In regard to the Cult of Slaanesh, it was very briefly discussed whether there should be any Slaaneshi-style upgrades or units, which led to a re-examination of the cult of pleasure in general, which I’ll go into detail with the background questions.

Rob Blair

Dear Gav and Dennis,
The new book is bloody brilliant, my compliments to the chef. There is a genuine sense of this list works and works well. There is diversity in the list which I think is its defining element, there is no need to rely on one or two tactics or over use the MSU-style strategy [Dennis note – MSU means Multiple Small Units]..

Although it’s probably about time for Malekith to find a girlfriend, I mean it has been about 5,000 years and that thing with his mum is just odd – you never want to hear your mum say ‘that’s not how your father did it’!

With the Malus Darkblade books giving very detailed accounts of druchii society i was wondering how far in the future will the cult of pleasure play in the history and possibly army lists of the dark elves. Given that in the storm of chaos book there was the modified Dark Elf list. Will examples of that be made, and possibly a Khainite version?

Yours sincerely Rob Blair

As I’ll be discussing the cult of pleasure later, I won’t go into detail hear. Suffice to say, I have come to the conclusion that such ‘sub-lists’ are best dealt with in two ways. The first is merely as a colour scheme and army theme – if players want to have units decorated with Slaaneshi runes, with pastel colours, that’s fine. The second is for players to combine elements from different army books themselves. The Slaanesh example is a good one as it combines units from Chaos and Dark Elves. In order to make the list players need access to Slaaneshi rules, gifts, items and magic from Hordes or Chaos/ Daemons of Chaos, as well as all of the Dark Elves rules. These variants aren’t the archetypical Dark Elf force represented by the main army list and the considerable extra space required in a book can’t really be justified.

mostly harmless
Hey Gav,

I’m curious how much the design studio looks at what players use in terms of models. I am referring to the sorceress on cold one and the decision to even have a sorceress mounted on a cold one, particularly a model that cannot be mounted on anything else due to the design flaw of her legs being attached to the mount itself. Both you and I know that it is a foolish prospect to mount a sorceress on a cold one due to stupidity. I would simply like to know why this decision was made, why they saw fit to not pay attention to what players actually use, and why they chose not to give us the option of mounting this sorceress on a dark steed. Also, why was the decision made to limit the magic banners that executioners and witch elves can take to 25 pts?

Best of luck

These decisions are based first and foremost on what would make a great miniature to collect and paint. In an ideal world, all of the various options for different units and characters would be available one way or another. In the real world, resource isn’t infinite and decisions have to be made. In this case I believe that the image of a beautiful elven sorceress on a nasty lizard beast won out. It isn’t all about the game and the rules, and for some hobbyists not all decisions are about efficiency or effectiveness in game terms.

On the subject of magic banners, with both the Dark Elves and Vampire Counts I wanted there to be a selection of interesting and quirky lower-points magic items that could be used to add a little interest to units or provide some interesting cominbations with spells and characters. I also believe that unit-based magic banners should be quite limited so that the benefits of the Army Standard Bearer aren’t undercut.

Tore

Hi Gav!

Excellent work on the new book! I have had many evenings plotting and laughing my evil laugh when thinking of what combinations to use against my enemies!

I do and always have loved the Witch Elves the most, and they are a big part of the new army.. Hellebron, Death Hags, Cauldrons etc. I was wondering why these where not chosen for a recast in plastic? I like the idea of a Witch Elf themed army, which is hard with the very few poses available.

On a sidenote, is it a typo that The Guiding Eye does not have “until the end of that players turn” at the end of the description? It is a one use item and those normally only last a turn or so.

Best of luck in the future.

My original proposal for revisiting the range did include translating the Witch Elves into a plastic regiment. When the time came to decide how much could be done for the project, plastics resource was tight and the Witch Elves were left for the future. One of the things that will need to be addressed when the day comes is how their hair is going to work – Witch Elves, Slayers and other troops types with extreme hairstyles cause some particular issues with split lines and details when moulded in plastic!

On your sidenote, the Guiding Eye can be used once to re-roll missed to hit rolls. A player rolls to hit with a unit, doesn’t like the result and says, ‘I’m using the Guiding Eye to re-roll my misses.” The Guiding Eye is used once and there is no duration of effect.

Elfik
Hi Gav,
I really like what you did with the Cauldron of Blood. Did you come up with the idea right away, or did you have a few ideas before deciding on the Blessings of Khaine thing? I am disappointed with Kouran and Tullaris though, I wish they could have been more like Lokhir in their respective units. What were your ideas with them?
Thanks.

The idea of having a duel effect of normal and Khainite units was in my head from the start, so that it would prove useful in any army but had an additional attraction for generals who wanted Witch Elves and Executioners in their army. It was also always my plan to introduce the Death Hag to take the Cauldron as an upgrade, freeing up the Rare category and bringing the Cauldron into line with things like the Anvil of Doom and Casket of Souls. The exact effects varied with development and playtesting, but they were chosen to complement the Witch Elves’ and Executioners’ innate abilities as well as providing a boost for other unit types.

Thomas Waters
waterpyro@comcast.net | 67.161.196.249

Hey Gav,

I am a new Dark Elf player but I have loved the army for a long time and was just waiting for the re-do and I am glad I waited. I love the new army and simply can’t wait to start playing with them. I have to complement the design team on the Cold One Knights and the Corsairs and all of the Lords and Heroes, they are all awesome.

The only question I have is… Is there going to be a new Malekith model? He is my favourite character and his new rules are so awesome! I think that he needs a new model that does his amazing background and rules justice. Thanks for all your work on the dark elves!


Good luck with the free lance writing!

Thanks for the complements, I agree that Jes Goodwin, Brian Nelson and Mike Anderson did a fantastic job on this project, as did the other sculptors working on the Dark Elves. I think it’s safe to say that we finally have a Cold One that everybody thinks is great.

With regards to Malekith, it was because we felt that he needed a suitably cool and imposing miniature that we didn’t try to cram in the design and sculpting into the tight timeframe of the project. I have no doubt an utterly awesome Witch King model will come our way one day; his fused armour smouldering with magical fire, his circlet glinting with power, his glowing eyes staring a hole through all he looks upon!

Trevor
Dennis or Gav (either one can answer this),

I’ve been a DE fan since before their first army book and had to cobble lists together with old imported White Dwarfs.

What I noticed the most in the new DE book was the massive revision and addition of fluff. Malekith was much more completely fleshed out, the founding of the cities and a complete DE history was included, Morathi’s role, the role of the HE commanders, and place of new Elvish gods are all new, or expanded. So what drove this change?

Finally, as an old time Man-o-war fan thanks for the return of the Seadragons and Helldrakes. Deathfortresses for the WIN!

The expansion of the Dark Elves’ background was my primary driver for the whole book. Historically, the High Elves army book was written first and I’ve always felt the war between the two nations has been coloured by this – the Dark Elves have suffered from being the foil for the High Elves – in particular the damnable Tyrion and Teclis – for too long. The original army book had very little of their history and society relative to the amount written for other armies, and the 6th edition book was entertaining by taking the perspective that it did, but not all that informative. With this book, I wanted to ensure that the Dark Elves had as much history, culture, iconography, people and places as the High Elves, Empire, Bretonnia or any other nation. It was important to tell the story of the Dark Elves, mostly through Malekith of course. They needed extra depth behind the cool image of the dinosaur-riding, ninja-employing pirate elves… I also wanted to get across the nature of their society – it is wholly evil, but also has a warped kind of adventurous heroism about it. Their greed drives them to be aggressive and brave, their love of plotting and politics makes them shrewd and cunning. I wanted to exhibit these aspects of their personality in a way that set them apart from other ‘evil’ races such as the Skaven or Beastmen.

Neil

Would you say that Dark Elves (with Daemons of Chaos and Vampire Counts alongside them) represent a return to ‘spectacular’ Warhammer that we saw in 4th/5th edition, with big magic phases encouraged and devastating units aplenty?

And one supplementary question…what, if anything, did designing the Dark Elf army allow you to do that no other army could really offer? (e.g. Was the sacrificial dagger something you thought could only really ‘plausible’ with Dark Elves?)

With my last two books – Vampire Counts and Dark Elves – my thought process was one of going back to basics in the army’s character. By initially concentrating my thoughts on the background of the armies, I identified what it was that were the cool, central themes and images that attracted players to collect and use those forces. It was then my job to translate that ‘coolness’ factor into the rules so that when collecting, choosing and fielding the army the archetypes and images that attracted the player in the first place could come through. For many armies a big part of their character is derived from the magic, so with the Necromancy and Dark Magic I followed the same approach and decided how the effectively functioned in the Warhammer world and then designed spells and systems that best reflected that.

As a games developer it is sometimes easy to get bogged down with what has gone before and the detail of particular iterations in previous editions of the game. Contrary to what many folks seem to think, the rules do not define Warhammer. The background defines Warhammer and the rules exist simply to allow players to express that world on the tabletop. Over the course of the 6th edition of the game, lots of rules have been streamlined, options smoothed out and special rules standardised. That’s good for an uncluttered ruleset, but can be a little devoid of character. I’ve always pointed to the Orcs and Goblins as an example of an army whose fans really love, for the simple fact that it is extremely fun to play. One part of this has been Giants, Fanatics, Squig Hoppers, Animosity and other complex, involved rules. Not every troop type should have a page of special rules, but where something is a key image or an important part of the army’s theme then we shouldn’t be afraid to put in some complication. It’s why I did what I did with the Beasts of Chaos army, why Runes are so cool for Dwarfs and why the Empire detachment rule should always stay even if it can cause a few headaches. With the Dark Elves I Corsairs get their Slavers rule and Sorceresses can use huge amounts of magic at great risk to themselves, the Hydra can grow back its heads with Regeneration and the manticore’s sting tail and aggressive temperament are represented by special rules. All of these stem not from any desire to add a gaming element in a mechanical fashion, but as reflections of what we think Dark Elves should be able to do if they were real.

     Rob Keate (by email)

First of all, congrats on the book. The style is great and the army list itself is great. The risk/reward element is better balanced now and makes it much more tempting to take the more risky elements than the previous edition.Onto my questions; are you able to tell us what changes were made to the list between your final draft and publishing?

 

 

Also, of all the elves, Druchii are the ones who dabble with Chaos the most. Were you tempted to add anything into the list (aside from Dark Magic) to reflect this? New units , bound daemons, etc? Or would this have detracted from the direction and shape of the book too much?

 

 

I’m sure there were a few alterations that I won’t notice, but will still take the credit for! Noticeable tweaks were made to a few magic items, the Hydra and Executioners, and the way Hatred worked (in conjunction with the Black Guard and Malekith’s special rules) was presented in a slightly different fashion. Nothing moved army list categories or anything major like that.

With regard to the Chaos elements of the Dark Elves, I wanted to keep the references subtle. There are, after all, Dark Elves and not Chaos Elves. In the end, players like Dark Elvs because they like the Dark Elves and other troop types like bound daemons, slaves and such detract from the Dark Elfyness of the army, just as having an army of dwarfs, ogres and Halflings isn’t really an Empire army. Given more space, I might have included a few more items like the familiars, but I didn’t want to tread on the toes of the Wood Elves and their Spites too much in that regard. 

 

Peteks
Hi Gav!

 

 

Thanks for the job well done! The new Dark Elf book is amazing, and I’m saddened you won’t be doing more army books.

I had few questions.

One, did you ever consider changing Reaper bolt throwers somehow?

Two, there is a mention of ‘lost civilisation in the background of Underworld sea, would this be a hidden hint towards upcoming Fishmen?

Three, what is your favourite unit in the new book?

And last but not least, where does Lokhir Fellheart come from? No offense meant, but in my opinion, both Tullaris and Kouran are lot more interesting characters, and should have been made heroes, dropping Lokhir.

Cheers for the job well done!

I never had any thought to changing the Reaper bolt thrower. It’s been a stable mainstay of the army and image for many years now and I saw no reason to risk this. Over the years I have thought about other war machines the Dark Elves might use, but there hasn’t been the scope yet to introduce them to the army.

The lost Undersea civilisation reference dates back to the 4th edition book, but I did deliberately keep it to tempt players with thoughts of Fishmen, just as Lokhir’s background does.

My favourite unit has to be the assassins. I’ve always found the phrase, ‘masters of subtle and murderous magic’ to be a really enticing one. I’d love to expand upon that idea more in a novel perhaps; building on the ninja idea of supernormal abilities of stealth and deathdealing.

I’ve mentioned the reasons for Lokhir’s introduction before. With regard to who is more interesting, if you look back at what had been written about Tullaris and Kouran before, there was very little there. I think players added a lot to the characters themselves. For me, a dashing, heroic pirate prince is more exciting than the characters as they had been portrayed previously – Tullaris does what Executioners do, and Kouran does what Black Guard do. They were exemplars of interesting parts of the army for sure, but not really characters in their own right.

Published on August 7, 2008 at 10:22 am  Comments (5)  

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  1. […] The first section of questions and answers, concerning the overall project, can be found here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Druchii Unleashed! Published […]

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  2. Wow, this has been an excellent read! I wish there were more things like this, as it gives me a much better appreciation of what you guys are doing. There had been a few elementa I was not entirely convinced about with the book, but this has changed my mind. In fact, I love the new Army Book even more for having read this! I look forward to the next section, as I anticipate it will be another enlightening read.

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  3. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Your blog’s illuminating and it’s great to have some more context while reading the book.

    Well done on the project too! In my opinion, the new Dark Elf army book is the best we’ve seen yet – balanced, flexible and exciting. It’s a credit to all involved.

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  4. Given the cool hair achieved for the plastic sorceress is it now time for plastic witch elves and cauldron? Cool dark eldar models out there but would be good to get poseable fantasy witch elves matching art work in books. Cheers.

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    • I think that looks possible now – I was always keen to make Witch Elves in plastic as soon as it was feasible. After that, Slayers! :)

      Gav

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