Unlike norse ulfwerenar the elf shapechangers are not fielded as seperate units but they are hidden inside normal units a bit like goblin fanatics. Ulfwerenar will get their own article later.
The rules for shapechangers are quite long and it´s worth taking a good look into them here. Rules are presented on the page 99 in the 3rd edition rulebook.
- Models representing shapechangers are indistinguishable from ordinary members of a unit. The controlling player secrectly allocates each shapechanger to an ordinary unit of its racial type. Up to 20% of any unit may be composed of shapechangers hidden in this way. Each is represented by a normal model of the unit´s type. It is important that the player makes a clear note of shapechanger/unit allocation and shows it to the GM.
So for every four models in a unit you can have one shapechanger hiding there. Wood elf archer (including Lord´s bowmen) units have a maximum unit size of 20 which means you could field 16 archers and 4 shapechangers. With Warrior kinbands you could field 6 shapechangers as the maximum unit size is 30 models. I don´t think it´s stright out forbidden to hide shapechangers in a unit of cavalry but the whole idea of doing that is so strange that I wouldn´t allow it as GM.
- If a sheltering unit begins its own turn within 12" of an enemy unit, the controlling player must roll a D6. If the score is 5 or 6, all shapechangers in the unit change shape. If the covering unit is charged in the enemy turn, shapechangers roll to change shape immediately. Shapechangers who enter combat still unchanged may roll at the beginning of each of the following combat rounds (regardless of which side´s turn it is) until they change shape.
It´s a big disadvantage not to have control over your shapechangers. They will change shape on random so you really can´t make plans that depend on them changing.
- Roll a D6 to determine which creature the shapechangers change into. All shapechangers from a unit change into the same creature:
1-2 Giant wolf
More unwanted randomness in my opinion. Bear is a great option with S4, T4, W2 and 3 attacks. And they cause fear. Giant wolves are quite good with high movement, WS4 and 2 attacks. But boars are not worth the 28 points the shapechangers cost. Even with those two attacks they get (see rule 5) and frenzy (see rule 7).
Another disadvantage with shapechangers is the fact that you will need four models for each shapechanger. One for normal for and one for each animal form too. That certaily raises the level for using them.
- Shapechangers may not wear armour or carry a shield. They may carry a single weapon - usually a hand weapon.
No suprises here. Armour would be in the way of shape changing and you have to be able to protect youself in unchanged form too.
- Shapechangers retain some of their human or elven qualities and are cpable of wileding weapons as well as making animal attacks. They have characteristics equivalent to the animal thay change into, with an additional attack from any held weapon. This additional attack is made with animal´s WS.
Here we learn that a shapechangers transformation is not complete to animal form but instead he becomes a sort of hybrid between his original form and the animal he turns into.
- Once changed into animal form, the shapechangers must move as fast as possible towards the nearest visible enemy. They are now concidered to be a seperate unit, and the models representing them are removed from their covering unit. The models representing their animal forms are placed on the table and make an initial move that turn. If their covering unit is already in close combat or is being charged, the shapechangers move into the front rank but cannot leave the unit until that engagement is complete.
Upon the shape change the controlling player loses what little control he had over the shapechangers. They will move on their own and as per rule 7 charge when able to do so.
- Shapechangers in changed form, must charge the nearest enemy as soon as they are able to do so. They automatically enter frenzy as soon as they engage in hand-to-hand combat.
Frenzy is a powerfull thing. Troops stay frenzied as long as they are in base-to-base contact with the enemy including pursuit. Frenzied troops add +1 to both ´to hit´ rolls and to ´to wound´ rolls. They also get +1 to any saving throw they make. As shapechangers are unarmoured the last don´t count for them. Unless you want to rule that they get 6+ saing throw while frenzied.
Frenzied troops will always follow-up and pursue. They are immune to psychology effects, don´t take rout tests and can´t be routed. They will either kill the enemy of die trying.
- If, at the beginning of their turn, there are no enemies within 12" of the shapechanger unit, they automatically return to their non-animal form. This small unit may then be moved independently, or may be assimilated within any friendly unit of foot models outnumbering it by four to one or more.
When this happens the player actually gets to move the shapechangers by his own will. For ake of cover from missiles it could be a good idea to assimilate them to a friedly unit. There are no rules for how the assimilation is done but I suppose moving to contact with the unit you want to assimilate the changers into would be enough.
- When a covering unit takes missile casualties, the chance of a shapechanger being hit is proportional to the number of shapechangers present. The GM may determine this as he sees fit. If a unit has it´s full 1 in 5 allocation, a shapechanger will be hit on th e D10 roll of a 9 or 10, for exmaple.
Compared to goblin fanatics and skaven plague cencer bearers this is a disadvantage. You may lose valuable models to lucky shots.
In general shapechangers are pretty costly and too random and uncontrollable to field if you just want to get best bang for buck. With some luck they can be a nasty suprise to your opponent but in my opinion it´s too dependant on how you roll.
The overall complexity of rules and random behaviour of shapechangers is propably what led to them being cut from 4th edition.
But they are certainly charasteristic and do fit a wood elf theme very well. And again, no one else gets them and that alone is a good reason to have a few in you wood elf army.
Wood elf shapechangers have weapon options for spears and double-handed weapons. As rules allow only one weapon/model is suppose that the hand weapon is discarded if taking the spear or the two-handed option. Having a weapon wielding elf-animal-hybrid can create some need for bending the rules a bit. For example as per rules a bear has two claw attacks. If a bear form shapechanger is wielding a two-handed weapon is think it can´t use it´s claws but perhaps does bite attacks instead.
There is not much info to found regarding the shapechangers around the internet but here are couple of blog´s you might want to take a look into:
If you concider building a shapechanger force for your wood elves and don´t know where to get those animal form models here are some suggestions:
- Midlam miniatures. Good looking boar men. I would remove the skull emblem from belt but othervise I like these.
- C38/27 series has some boar faced beastmen that one might use but they seem to be armoured and too evil looking for my taste.
- C18 Night Horrors has a couple of weremen, wolfmen and a bearman.
- IronWind metals. This series has all three animal form from a single manufacturer. Elvish weapons could be easily added to these.
- A couple of werebears by Reaper.
- Otherworld miniatures werebear.
Let me know if you have painted some shapechangers. I would love to see the pictures and if we so agree link them here.