by Milo Sharp (www.blood-bowl.net)
The Wood Elves are seldom seen outside their forests and glens, unless of course they’re playing an away game! Physically, they are very similar to their cousins, the High Elves, but have replaced arrogance and haughtiness with a deep and abiding love of nature and the forests.
Wood Elves have three major advantages: speed, agility, and access to arguably the best player in the game—the Wardancer.
To start with, Wood Elves are among the fastest players in the game. It’s a toss-up whether the Wood Elves are faster than the Skaven or not—a full Wood Elf team will have 4 players with 9 MA and 2 with 8 MA, as opposed to only four Skaven players with 9 MA (all other Skaven move 7.) On the other hand, Skaven have access to the Very Long Legs mutation, slightly increasing their chance of movement increases.
Regardless of which has the title of “Fastest Team”, Skaven and Wood Elves are typically the only teams which will feature players capable of scoring in one turn. Developing a one-turn scorer is relatively simply; it requires only a movement increase and the Sprint skill, which any Wood Elf can take on a normal skill roll. A one turn scoring machine is a huge advantage in clinch situations, when you have only one turn left to break a tie game (or recover from a one point deficit.) I highly recommend that every Wood Elf team at least attempt to develop one, but for regular play, I’d avoid using him—he will quickly suck up all of your touchdown star player points, leaving the rest of your team underdeveloped. You never know when lightning will strike, so it’s good to have a team which can withstand the loss of any player, even a very skilled one.
Furthermore, having a high average MA allows you more tactical flexibility. It will frequently allow your players to avoid passing through a tackle zone which a slower player would have to take his chances with. Fast players can sprint past a defensive line to menace the ballcarrier before he can form a cage, and your entire team will be able to better reposition themselves to adjust for your opponent’s plays.
All Elves, not just the Wood Elves, are fortunate enough to have a 4 Agility. This allows Elves to handle the ball much more carefully than the other races, and again, offers more tactical flexibility. Essentially, any Elf player has good odds at passing and catching the ball—that means any player on your team can be a scoring threat and will keep your opponent on his toes.
Finally, Wood Elves are graced with one of the premier Blood Bowl players: the Wardancer. Fast, agile, and with one of the most potent skill combos in the game (Block/Dodge), the Wardancer is an almost impossible-to-stop scoring monster. He can Leap over opposing lines and penetrate deep into the backfield to receive a pass, and is tremendously difficult to knock down (since only one result on the Block dice will succeed.) A Wood Elf team will soon find their Wardancers dominating the pitch in virtually any game they play.
Primarily, the Wood Elves’ disadvantage is their high cost. The average Wood Elf Lineman will set a team back 70,000 gold crowns, and the Wardancer costs an amazing 120,000 (more than any other Blood Bowl player.) Wood Elf coaches will find they have to make lots of compromises when initially purchasing their team. Do you take lots of skilled players and forgoe the team re-rolls, counting on innate talent to carry the team through their first few games? Or is it better to max out the team on linemen and purchase the skilled players later in the season?
Compounding this is the low armor value of the Wood Elves (only 7.) You can almost certainly count on high rates of player turnover on a Wood Elf team, which will force a coach to continue to spend large amounts of money throughout the season just to keep his team roster healthy and full. An apothecary is practically a necessity right from the start—you can’t afford to lose even your cheapest players on a regular basis. This is going to impact your initial purchase as well.
A wood elf team should first and foremost try to minimize contact with the opposing team. Your players are too fragile to withstand a smashmouth game of Blood Bowl. Instead, use your speed and agility wisely. Avoid tacklezones with your superior speed and dodge away from the players most likely to knock you over during the next turn. Keep in mind that your opponent can only throw one Blitz per turn, so if you can move all of your players out of their tacklezones, you can go a long ways towards reducing player losses.
You should always put pressure on the opposing team’s ballcarrier. Your speed and agility should allow you to squeeze one or two of your players through the defensive line to blitz the ballcarrier. Kick the ball deep to ensure the opposing quarterback must waste half a turn (or more) moving backwards to get the ball. Remember that every player will fumble a pass or fail an attempt to pick up the ball at least 16% of the time. Make sure you have players in his backfield to capitalize on that. Your agility offers good chances for intercepting the ball, as well—and if your opponent is aware of that, you can force him to take a risk or find a different receiver, one which is hopefully less of a scoring threat to you.
You should also be able to react to your opponent’s strategies better. If your opponent pushes up one of the wide zones, almost all of your players can be in position to prevent him with only one turn’s movement. Furthermore, you can give the impression—by stacking one side of the pitch with the majority of your players—that you’ll be traveling up one wide zone, then use your speed to swing the other way and catch slower teams off-guard and out of position.
Famous Wood Elf Teams
The Athelorn Avengers
The Brookglen Birchfellows