Total War: WARHAMMER – First Impressions of the Wood Elves

This month the latest and greatest piece of DLC has been added to Total War: Warhammer; The Realm of the Wood Elves. So far I haven’t had the time to play a full campaign with them or any multiplayer battles, and the amount of new things this faction brings to the table is fairly large, so for now I’ll give a brief overview and my first impressions.

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Glade Guard about to let loose a volley

So to begin with, the campaign. Like I said I haven’t played a full grand campaign so far, but having briefly started one I can see some interesting unique things already. The position on the map you start in is the forest right next to Bretonnia, and so along with the Beastmen and new Crooked Moon orc faction that came a few months ago, that bottom left corner of the map has become much more lively than ever before, which is great. In terms of how the Elves play in campaign, the first big difference is that you can win without necessarily having to defeat your enemies, but instead can fully upgrade ‘The Oak of Ages’, a gigantic tree at the center of your territory. This is something that TW Warhammer hasn’t had until now, so the variety is appreciated. However, the new resource that the Elves use, Amber, is required to achieve this, and it can mostly be acquired by taking settlements, or slightly less so through alliances. Amber is also used to do other things such as research certain tech, and recruit certain units. In terms of the units it is needed for, that depends on which faction you play as, as this DLC gives you two Wood Elf factions to play with. One is the standard Wood Elf faction, led by The King in the Woods; Orion. The other is one that is more focused on spirits of the forest, led by Durthu the ancient treeman. So when playing as either faction, you need to spend amber to recruit the units from the other, meaning if you play as the Wood Elves led by Orion, if you want some treemen in your army, fork over the amber that you would otherwise need to use on the Oak of Ages. The only other major thing about the grand campaign is that you are able to conquer every territory on the map, but can then only build one building there. This allows you to potentially get as much amber as possible, while also keeping to the theme of the Elves not really spreading or settling outside of the forest much, and just building small outposts.

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The Oak of Ages at the heart of Athel Loren

There is also the special mini-campaign that comes with the Wood Elves. Much like the Beastmen special campaign it focuses on a small area of the map scaled up, this time their home forest of Athel Loren and a small part of Bretonnia. This campain seems to mostly be about defending the forest from chaos corruption spread by the Beastmen and their new Legendary Lord; Morghur the Shadowgave. Other than that, I seem to mostly be having conflicts with the many other elf factions within the forest. So having played mostly this instead of the grand campaign so far, I haven’t had a huge amount of variety with the battles and the enemies I’m coming up against.

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Durthu wrecking some Beastmen!

Speaking of the battles, let’s get into what’s new here. Now there’s a fairly large roster for the Wood elves so where do I start? Probably with the basics. For the most part your armies will probably consist of your basic spearmen and archers, those being the Eternal Guard and Glade Guard respectively. The Glade Guard also have two extra variants you can unlock that do special damage, basically one of them does is armour piercing and the other is poison. With the more special units you get some really interesting archers, such as the Deepwood Scouts and the Waywatchers, who are based around ambushing the enemy, and can also be effective skirmishers with their ability to shoot in any direction, and while moving. Other infantry you can get is fairly lacking in terms of raw power of defensive capability, but the ones you do get, such as Wardancers, can be extremely effective damage dealers if you are careful with them. In terms of cavalry, you get the Glade Riders which are horse archers, and the Wild Riders, who are mounted on stags, which is pretty awesome. There are also flying archers in the form of Hawk Riders, and magical cavalry in the form of the Sisters of The Thorn, who can cast spells. Then there are the Treemen and Treekin, who are your damage dealers and big hitters for the most part, if you can use them. And finally there are the monsters, the Great Eagle, who seems slightly less great when compared to the Forest Dragon, the first proper dragon we have in the game.

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Great Eagle attack, shortly to be followed by a Dragon attack!

So that’s the units, but how do they work together? Well for the most part it seems that what you want to do with the basic units is try to do as much ranged damage as possible. Most of your infantry has little armour and won’t last long against enemies such as Dwarves, Chaos, or even Empire on their own. Once you’ve got enough archers, and are using the different types to do things such as slow advancing enemies down with poison, and target the heavy infantry with your armour piercing arrows, then you need to set some ambushes. Due to most of the roster being very good at hiding, especially in forest, you’ll want to avoid setting up in standard battle lines, and mix things up a bit more, hide some wild riders in the trees to use their superior speed to spring a trap on the enemy’s flank or rear when they lest expect it. Maybe keep half your archers hidden and create a killzone in between their arcs of fire, and then you can throw in some treemen or treekin to start wreaking havoc amidst that chaos. Whatever you do, this army will take a lot of micro-managing, and require your full attention. So they may seem difficult and underpowered at first, as I have seen a lot of people saying, don’t be too disappointed in that, and instead start being more sneaky 😉 

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