The special characters of the High Elves tread an elite path, for they are one of the few selections where almost every character is a worthwhile choice in a competitive army list; though a few of them are likely over-costed compared to their generic equivalents, they still have their uses in specific army lists and thus their value is hardly insignificant. They are also amongst the greatest heroes the world of Warhammer knows, and this is supported by their rules; most of them are very strong for their points, and you can really feel just how powerful they are. Though they aren't perfect, they emphatically embellish the stories of such wonderful characters from the stories we know and love - from the might of Tyrion, hailed as Aenarion Reborn, to the spectral wrath of Alith Anar, the Shadow King; using these characters in an army is both entertaining and thematic.
|Still my favourite High Elf artwork!|
Like any elf though, his low Toughness can and likely will be his undoing, as he is quite vulnerable to characteristics tests that impose do-or-die conditions on a unit, such as the Dwellers Below. For the most part, this shouldn't concern you too much though. But of course, the one they call Aenarion Reborn doesn't just hack and tear enemies apart; with a Strength four breath weapon, he can devastate blocks of infantry and enemy characters alike when you feel it necessary. As well, if he is your general - and I would recommend it for fluff purposes - then his Inspiring Presence is a remarkable eighteen inches as opposed to twelve inches, making him a valuable leader as well. His set of abilities and equipment are simply top notch, but the main issue here is his rather exorbitant cost; though it is fair to assume that Tyrion can rip apart enemy characters of a similar points level, one must consider that for a slightly higher investment of points, a lord on a monster - dragon, phoenix or griffon - could be had. In that sense, Tyrion's worth pales in comparison to a regular Prince equipped to deal with a wider variety of threats, though it must be said that the Defender of Ulthuan is still a very strong character for his points. Keep him with an escort of Dragon Princes or Silver Helms, and watch the carnage flow; just be aware that his inclusion likely forbids the use of another Lord choice, save for much larger games.
|*Hint, it's the little guy*|
Eltharion's loyal Griffon, Stormwing, is a Griffon with a host of upgrades and stat boosts that combine to make it a very handy monster in conjunction with its master. With five Toughness five wounds and a +5 ward save owing to Eltharion, Stormwing is pretty hard to put down; as a flying monster with a Strength of five and four attacks, it also dishes the damage out pretty well and is mobile enough to pick its engagements, a very handy tool indeed. Laughably, Stormwing strike simultaneously with its elven counterpart, as it has both the Always Strikes First special rule and an Initiative of seven, meaning that it will re-roll to hit against most enemies - even Chaos Lords! Eltharion is a worthwhile purchase, but I would argue even more so in games where Stormwing can be legally purchased, and doubles as a more effective Prince on a Dragon mount.
|Corpses everywhere. Barely a fleck of sweat.|
Alarielle the Radiant - As the fairest lady in all of the Warhammer world, Alarielle is essentially the High Priestess of the goddess Isha; with this in mind, her abilities are focused far more on blessings and buffs rather than damage or debuffs. As a support oriented special character, she is rather unusual in the sense that she is incredibly unlikely to "make her points" back in terms of kills - though of course this is not why you would have her leading your army. Sharing a similar profile to an Archmage, Alarielle is not designed to be in combat of any form; however, it must be noted that she does have a Weapon Skill and Initiative of six, as well as a Ballistic Skill of five, which is quite an improvement over the generic characters and makes her somewhat less easy to hit in combat. Where her background as a servant of purity really begins to emerge is that against the Forces of Destruction, her single attack is treated as having the Heroic Killing Blow special rule - as unlikely as it is to ever occur, that she can strike down a tainted dragon or lord of chaos with a but a touch is very cool. In fact, her presence alone is enough to harm the servants of chaos, as any Daemonic unit within twelve inches of her at the start of any of her magic phases suffers D6 Strength four automatic hits - given that Daemons typically have low Toughness values and saves, this can actually do quite a bit of damage. Of course, the drawback here is that she suffers a -D3 penalty to any of her casting attempts if any Daemonic units remain within that range, though she is such a powerful wizard that this should matter little. On that note, Alarielle effectively fills the void left by an Archmage, as she is a level four wizard that can choose from any of the (useful) lores of High, Light or Life magic; geared mostly to support - though Light is incredibly damaging to daemons and undead, of which she already has several bonuses against - she is there to help your units and keep them in the fight. Life magic can make her units tougher and replenish their forces, whereas High magic can boost the ward saves of her unit and provide friendly forces with buffs to their stats - handy, particularly against other elite forces. Like any High Elven mage that can take High magic, she has the blessings of Lileath, meaning that she has a bonus +5 to cast any spell from that lore; very handy, if you ask me, particularly in perhaps the nastiest unit combination that can be found in the army book (more on that later).
|It's Alarielle in the flesh!|
The Everqueen's staggeringly long list of special rules doesn't end there though; if she is included in your army, two unique magic items can be taken by two separate characters, each with some pretty strong uses. The first is the Horn of Isha, another one-use-only item that applies for a whole turn, granting the bearer and their unit a +1 to hit bonus for both shooting and melee; this is handy for a number of reasons, particularly for maximising your damage output at a critical point, though it must be noted that this is only available on a Handmaiden of the Everqueen. The standard of her native lands is also accessible by the battle standard bearer in your army; it is quite decent for its cost, as it provides any wizard targeting the bearers' unit a +4 bonus to casting any Light or Life spells. Take this on the unit Alarielle joins - perhaps the unit carrying the Banner of the World Dragon, if you feel like ruining someones day - and use it to effectively make her a level eight wizard when casting support spells for them. Nasty. Incredibly nasty. When one considers her cost and abilities, there is little doubt that the Everqueen has a big role to play in the coming years; whilst this army book is relevant, she is easily the strongest and most useful special character available, and one that has perhaps over-shadowed the infamous Teclis as the best wizard that can be found. Her low cost is simply astonishing for what she does, and she doesn't pay for situational abilities or those of lesser use; she can literally be thrown into almost any army list, and be a star as bright as the flame from which her equal was born.
|Korhil as a ten (read, two hundred) year old.|
|Imagine a Phoenix somewhere.|
Caradryan need not always serve as a bodyguard though, despite being seemingly tailor made for such duties. The Captain of the Phoenix Guard has a special bond with one of the eldest of Frostheart Phoenixes - Ashtari - and the two make a nasty combination that rivals an Anointed of Asuryan mounted similarly for sheer brutality. Like any Frostheart Phoenix, Ashtari's greatest weapon is its frost aura; enemy units in base contact with it treat their Strength as one lower and gain the Always Strikes Last special rule. This means that not only are the pair that much harder to kill - and neither are lightweights in that regard - but the two will almost always be able to strike before their opponent and demolish them with impunity. The combo-charge potential based on Ashtari's inclusion alone is nothing short of astounding, as using them in conjunction with a unit of Sword Masters or White Lions effectively renders those two units almost doubly effective against most targets, what with a significant boost to their durability and being able to guarantee striking first and slaying more bodies that are then unable to strike back. Using the two in conjunction is expensive and will prohibit the inclusion of any other Hero level characters in games of around 2000 points - but not 2500 - and this is truly your only real consideration here, as the pair make for a fantastic unit, though the need for a battle standard bearer and - to a lesser extent - a supporting mage is high indeed. Still, that you can field a hero choice that can power through most enemy Lords like they don't even exist is sublime; that Ashtari itself essentially pays a small amount of points for a bonus attack is the gravy here.
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