Well, 8th edition is out, and is available all over to those who want it. Part of the fun of a new edition is that if there are significant changes, it's almost like getting a new army book for every army! That means it's helpful to go through your armies and try to figure out what's worth taking, and what might (or might not) work in the new edition.
Doing this for Empire would be easier, I'm sure, but unfortunately it just seems so tempting to run Empire as a gun-line given the changes to templates and the elimination of guess weaponry. Although that's not really want I want to run (I prefer to stay fairly balanced), it's going to actually take some more experience with the army before I can really tell what works (hordes vs. ranks, different infantry types, etc).
Dark Elves are a little simpler. That means I need to put some thought into them. So I'm going to write a few articles going over my thoughts on all the Dark Elf choices, and really try to determine for myself what I will be trying to build towards and running. Maybe my thoughts will be helpful to someone, or even better, maybe someone will have some thoughts that they can give me to enhance my playing!
I'm going off the basis that 2500 points is going to be the standard. I don't know if that's true, but it seems likely, and it's a perfectly fine place to start.
Today, we start with Lord choices. There are two things to consider with the analysis. First, I haven't played with these yet, so it's all theory. Second, I'm going to go through the magic items and spells as separate posts. That means I won't have much to say about magic item load-out on my characters quite yet.
Malekith, the Witch King: Let's start with the big guy. First, since we only have 625 pts for lords, he's going to be the only one we can take if we run with him. On top of that, he's not going to be able to afford a mount. That means Malekith on foot. He is a fairly powerful magic user (level 4 w/ both an extra power and dispel die), but he's twice as expensive as your other wizard choices. Due to a lack of mount, he's limited to a 4+ armor save and a 2+ ward against non-magical attacks, both of which are terrible, given how easy it is to get magic weapons or attacks now. Unbreakable and the ability to quell panic around him are very handy, but hardly worth the cost. Leave him at home.
Morathi, the Hag Sorceress: A better (but still pricey) choice. Level 4 with knowledge of all the Dark Lore spells, plus an additional +1 on all her casting is going to get all those Dark Lore spells off every turn (if you have the dice, of course). Of course, so would a Supreme Sorceress, minus knowledge of all the spells. 2+ ward save against magic (4+ against everything else) is nice, and there's no point to taking the more expensive of her weapon choices. Being able to buy an additional Enchanted and Arcane Item is nice as well... but she's already expensive. Another choice that will be better off left at home.
Crone Hellebron, The Hag Queen: First off, using her on her Manticore is out. No save of any kind? No thanks. She's not terribly overpriced, and does get 6+d3 Strength 10 attacks at Initiative 9. That's very killy. Sadly, with all the new infantry rules it's not going to be enough. Stepping up + attacking in ranks means that she's going to kill a lot, but get murdered with her T3 and no save. Making Witch Elves core is pretty cool (if you plan on using Witch Elves), and putting her in the unit would probably be alright, since the unit would kill a LOT with all those attacks. Heck, you could throw a Cauldron of Blood behind her and give the unit and her a ward save. That's a lot of points spent to just make her useful though. She's great for killing monsters or cavalry, assuming they are lower initiative than her, but it's probably not useful enough to warrant her inclusion. She's too vulnerable, and costs too many points.
Dreadlord: This is our basic combat/leadership lord. Decent overall stats, and not too terribly costly. His usefulness will really depend on his magic items. There are now a TON of options.
One build I always used last edition was the 'unkillable' lord. Of course, I didn't go the full way (didn't take the regenerating armor) but now he can be made even better: Dreadlord w/ Heavy Armour, Shield, Sea Dragon Cloak, Cold One, Sword of Might, Dragonhelm, Pendant of Khaeleth, and Crown of Command. For 280 points, that's a 2+ armor save, a reverse ward save, and a 2+ ward save against flaming attacks (to counter the Lore of Metal). He's stubborn on Leadership 10, also. This is apparently a common build on druchii.net, and its sole goal is to go after an opponent's block, and hold it up the entire game. If he's near a BSB, he's not likely to flee from losing combat, holding the block there even longer. I'll probably continue running this, since I loved it so much in 7th.
There are SO many different items and great combinations that it's hard to really know where to start. I'll try to cover things when I do magic items, but my likely Dreadlord build is there. Obviously his role changes, since he can't count on killing everything in contact with him, but he can make a fantastic assassin or do a fantastic job of delaying a part of the opponent's army.
Supreme Sorceress: Given how powerful the magic lores in the book are, and how important having a high level wizard is to competing in the magic phase, I think it would be a mistake to not take a Supreme Sorceress.
For 260 pts, you're getting a level 4 who has the potential to generate more power die through the Power of Darkness spell. Being limited to Fire, Metal, Shadow, or Death is hardly restrictive, as each of the lores has some significant benefits (and after I write about heroes, I'll try to decide what would be best to take her with). At her cost, you could easily run two, give them some upgrades, and have a very very effective magic phase.
Again, the choice of magic items is very flexible. The Pendant of Khaeleth (if I don't take my Dreadlord) is really helpful here, to protect her from miscasts. Combined with the Sacrificial Dagger, a single Supreme Sorceress can very effectively cause some serious damage. That would cost only 320 points, as well. For my purposes though, the Pendant is already taken, but the Sacrificial Dagger and the Pearl of Infinite Bleakness (common before) would only cost 310, and combined with a unit of Spearmen, would give me a fantastic magic phase. The Focus Familiar along with another item would be nice too, to get her out of the way and into some safety.
Again though, when I look at the magic items, I'll try to find some build ideas with her.
Not much help here, I realize, but I'd love to hear what lord builds people have been considering! Next I'll write about heroes, and after that our spell choices.