Hobby Post : Wood Elves for Warhammer Fantasy Battle and beyond
Neil of Orange here, with a bit of a musing around collecting Wood Elves – mostly with a focus on Warhammer Fantasy Battle, hope you enjoy the trips down memory lane and my thoughts and hopes for the future. With rumours of a new book on the horizon (only their 3rd solo book ever – I think I have about 6 undead books now) I got nostalgic over this long weekend.
I started playing Warhammer in its 3rd edition. During this time thanks to the rulebook coming with paper cut out units in the back I played with just about every army there was – and pretty large armies at that. The fact they were practically 2 dimensional didn’t matter, I played on the floor and had a huge amount of fun. Every army was in a single book to start with (Warhammer Armies, see below) so access to rules and lists for everything was made very easy. My first foray into actual miniatures was for Warhammer 40K, thanks to the likes of Space Hulk, but as I become more engrossed in the hobby I started considering collecting a fantasy army.
I started collecting for Warhammer Fantasy with the skeleton army boxset but never really amassed a proper army due to cost and distraction of 40K (which was having an explosive impact on the hobby with Rogue Trader and beyond). A few years later however, when I went to University I ended up working part time at Games Workshop – Birmingham. This was during the infamous “Red Period” so colour schemes were bold and plastic miniatures were just starting to become available, in limited range, to each army.
Undead inspired me thanks to Jason and the Argonauts. Wood Elves, well it was Lord of the Rings – the cartoon version as much as the book – that I drew me in as a young teenager. I loved the Mirkwood elves, the Tree Herders and the Eagles and here was an army with them all in. The book for wood elves was a long time coming, towards the very end of the 4th edition cycle of Warhammer. As a member of staff, I knew it was coming so started collecting the old metals before they disappeared from the shelves. I also picked up the original plastics from the Warhammer Regiments boxset. Above you can see these in white, with the next gen plastic archers, released with the first book. On the right is the current iteration of archers, pretty nice and multipart now (if somewhat old, I don’t feel these need updating personally!).
As a newly joined member of GW staff, I was introduced to the concept of painting over a black undercoat! This, combined with sticky paper banners, garish colours that surely wouldn’t hide well in a forest and terrible, terrible basing, became the theme for my first army all those years ago. Here’s my first archer unit. The command are metal, from the Skarloc’s Wood Elf Archer’s regiment of renown. They’ve seen a LOT of battles over the years and need some TLC.
My second unit (I had 2×20 strong, linking back to the 3rd edition army list) was all metal, slightly less garish but still classic colours for the period.
This is part of my 25 strong spearman block. most recently pretending to be Eternal Guard in the current book. Its fair to say they are the most maligned and oft killed unit in my army. The only rank and file unit in my army under current rules and back in 4th/5th edition pretty rubbish, they’ve never really fitted into the army tactics well.
Here’s my metal dryads, there’s 16 in total (plus an old life elemental I use as Drycha) – when I first got these they were a formed unit with amazing shape shifting powers. Still useful in an army, their role has changed dramatically. I’ve picked up the plastic box but haven’t had reason to put them together yet (more on this later).
This is part of one of my 3 units of wardancers. These are actually circa 3rd edition elf warriors. My idea was to have these as trainee wardancers, the 3rd edition wardancers as another unit and the brand new (at the time hah!) models as the last. I never got past using the one unit of 8 – the rules reduced their usefulness with each edition. I also picked up the Warhammer Quest wardancer to use as Wychwethel – based on the art in the book it was the same character.
These are my Waywatchers, probably my favourite wood elf miniatures. I spent a lot of time painting these originally and for once it looks like they might actually understand how to hide in a forest.
This is a bit of an exclusive! A pre-release from Krakon games, this is a Treant or some such spirit of the forest. I’ve pimped him out with extra branches, a sprite and an owl as is my want but hopefully you can see what a characterful and interesting sculpt this is.
Here’s the brute with my other Treants. Originally Treemen, including the ancient Durthu (with 3 sprites made from Epic Eldar miniatures) these guys now simply aren’t big enough to be true Treemen in Warhammer. I’ve been using them as Tree-Kin to reasonable success on the battlefield. I am not a fan of the current GW Treeman, I am hoping for a suitably awesome plastic release if they do a new book!
Here’s some of the characters from my army. The first is my Mage Lord, actually an old High Elf sorceress – the Everqueen I believe, press ganged into service. Next to her is my frequent general of old, a Warhammer Quest High Elf converted to carry a bow. Back in 4th/5th edition he’d carry the Bow of Loren whilst wearing the cloak of stars (or some such) – you can just make out some of the sparkles on the photo.
An exciting release at the time was flying cavalry! These are some of my warhawks, including a very old wizard model carrying the wand of Jet and the Orb of something cool I forget. GW did release a specific mage on warhawk shortly after I completed this chap – I have him unbuilt in the event I ever needed 2!
How times have changed! Originally I darkened the skies with eagles, as any Lord of the Rings fan knows, “The Eagles are coming!” heralded the tide turning. Alas no longer, I rarely take 1 let alone 5! 4 of these were painted by an old friend, I like the bases on these especially and it may form the basis for my re-basing efforts.
Another look at how styles have changed over the years – the wood elf steed went through a very donkey like phase. The newer plastics are much, much nicer although I haven’t quite completed my unit (mainly because 8th edition made them pretty poor with the current army book) – I’m hoping a new book will inspire me to complete them. Flanking the newer rider is my old alternative general and yet another mage (that’s 4 now if you include the lady in my first archer unit).
This is Ariel – painted largely by my wife! She’s only ever painted 3 things so its an impressive job. She’s replaced the end of the staff with an actual crystal and made the roses too. There’s some mushrooms knocking around as well that need to be reattached. I never used Ariel in a game – I wonder if I ever will?
Here’s a project I never started – Orion and a pack of hounds. The hounds are indeed GW – from the very old wood elf beast handler models, who could also variously have cats and bears. This model may well get another lease of life with other projects I have on the go (more on this later).
Way back in 4th/5th edition most monsters could be brought into service of any army. I had ideas to collect pretty much every beastie available. Especially in character were Unicorns for wood elves – this is one of about 4 I have knocking around.
This ancient model is I think a green dragon by design, not just paint job. Hearkening back to when I collected monsters when I first started my hobby (this was, I believe, around £4) I discovered I could use him in my first proper army with no small amount of joy. This is his 3rd paint job, its scary to think its much better than either of the previous attempts!
This is Eltharion’s griffon – another loan from the High Elves of the time. I regularly used this as a mount for my general (not shown) when such things were allowed – great model still I think.
So we’re coming to the end of my show and tell, with a slightly unexpected set of models. These are centaurs – something wood elves haven’t been able to ally with since before warhammer armies was released for 3rd edition – centaurs went all chaosy then! I discovered a while ago that I didn’t like every model GW produced. This really bothered me so basically some units got left out of my armies – in this case the wild riders. Then after a while it dawned on my that I never played in a store nor played in official events, so why was I so hung up on their models? The idea of using centaurs was a strong lure, especially after the new Narnia films were released. I found some old Rakham models that looked suitable and managed to get 10 or so of these, plus a few from other ranges (Heresy do a couple of nice ones).
So after embracing the wider world of miniatures other, stranger thoughts started entering my head. Perhaps I could play other games with my wood elves? So recently I have been enjoying Kings of War from Mantic and my wood elves have suddenly become fun to put on the table again. This is why I have bought some more dryads, this is why Orion may call the hunt once more and also why more Treants may need to awaken from their slumber. I really hope a new wood elf book is on the way from GW, I hope its fun, I hope there’s some nice new models. I also hope they sort the core Warhammer rules out, because currently its really not much fun for my wood elves or undead. However, Kings of War IS fun so no matter what, I think the elves will get that bit of TLC I promised…
P.S. There’s a lot of other models I haven’t shown here, the rest of the larger units, scouts painted by Rusty Dice/Whitehorn (bribes will be accepted if you want to see them in all their stripy trousered glory), Skaw the Falconer, old Glade Riders, an abandoned Chariot project etc. etc.