For a while now, Games Workshop has been teasing us with images of the Elven Union team, and a new pitch to match. Andy Hoare even said several times that the team would be out by Christmas, so I was not surprised a few weeks ago when I heard that Blood Bowl pre-orders were about to be released. Once I saw the list, however, I was actually surprised by several things. I didn’t expect the Human and Orc team card packs, the hard backed Blood Bowl Almanac, nor the new Goblin pitch. Honestly, I had even forgotten about the reports that the Blood on the Snow pitch would be available again this Holiday Season. Once I saw the full list, I simply sighed and started rounding up things to put on Craigslist and eBay so that I could pay for them… Being a completionist is never easy, or cheap.
Once I had (almost) all the items in hand (the Elven Union team card deck is on the way), I realized that I was going to need to write a few posts to be able to cover everything that got released. This post alone has somewhere near 90 pictures, so….. Here we go!
To start this series, I decided to go with the Elven Union team itself, as well as the team dice. The team was what I was most looking forward to, and I figured they would also be what people want to see most. I already have a 5th edition “Pro” Elf team painted by none other than Wyrd Stones and Tackle Zones’ own Mr. White, but from the first time I saw this team, I knew I was going to add them the collection ASAP. I really liked the way they looked. Very dynamic poses that suggested speed and agility, but without any silly flips or handstands. They also managed to tie in aspects of 2nd and 5th edition Elf team minis as well as a slight nod to Cyanide Blood Bowl artwork, with the player balancing the football, on-end, on his finger tip. I found that to be a nice nod to all aspects of the game.
If you have seen any of the previous team boxes, then this box should come as no surprise to you. But let’s be honest, you’re not really here to see the box art, you came here to see what’s inside the box. We’ll start with the mundane items to get them out of the way.
First up is the assembly booklet. The instructions are on the second and third page, while as usual, the back contains roster information for preparing your Elven Union team for the pitch. The instructions were fairly clear, though I did find myself assembling the minis in a different order than directed. I’ll talk about that in a minute. First I want to address what you might have already noticed by looking at the assembly instructions. Simply put, for standard team minis, these guys (and ladies) have a LOT of pieces. We have seen a number of Star Players and Big Guys with large piece counts, but so far most of the standard team minis have been limited to four or five pieces per mini. Kiss that goodbye with this team. Unless I miscounted somewhere there is only one mini on the sprue that has fewer than ten pieces. Now, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. It does take quite a while to assemble these minis, but the in exchange for all that extra time spent cutting, trimming, filing, and gluing pieces together, you do end up with some really great looking minis. It’s just that some of the pieces end up being REALLY small for big, clumsy-handed guys like me. We’ll go into more detail as we look at individual minis.
As with all teams, we get a nice big water slide transfer sheet with lots of numbers and symbols, in both black and white ink. A second set numbers in a smaller size like the transfer sheet from the previous teams would be nice, but I can live with the single set.
Of course, with any new box of miniatures, you will always need more bases. You know, there’s a funny thing that’s happened over the last year. Much like James’ realization lately that the larger scale of the new minis have grown on him, I have to admit that my initial resistance to the newer, larger bases has dissolved over time. The larger bases, on the newer, larger minis just feel right. If I am going to play a game against someone on one of the older pitches with smaller squares, I have (too many?) 3rd-5th edition teams with smaller bases that I can use.
And here we have our first look at the actual sprues. Looking at these sprues will probably reinforce what I said earlier… these minis have a LOT of pieces.
One of the reasons for more pieces has to do with some added customization for the minis. We have all seen minis with different head options before, but this has to be the first time I have ever seen FACES as separate pieces. I had heard that we would be able to choose which minis had face masks and which didn’t, and I was curious how they were going to pull that off. I have to say that the solution that they came up with was not at all what I expected. I admit that when I first looked at the individual faces on the sprue, I was a bit dumbfounded by the concept. Having used them now, I can say that I think it turned out quite well. Much better than I initially expected.
Let’s start assembling some minis. I will assemble the first six minis according to the instructions to give you a good idea of the different possibilities. Once I’m ready to start working on completing the team for play, I will assemble the rest with some variations to make the most of the customization options.
The first mini I assembled was one of the Linemen. Now, you might notice that this Lineman mini is, in fact, a female mini. That is another one of the options for the team. On each sprue are two female torsos as well as a few female faces. When you’re looking at the faces on the sprue, it’s really hard to see anything that might be obviously “female” about the faces. It wasn’t until I took close up pictures of the minis and saw the faces greatly enlarged that I could see them feminine. I think it’s simply that the faces are so small that it’s hard to see the feminine traces without some enlargement.
As far as this mini itself goes, The pose is a little more dynamic than I usually like for a Line(wo)man, but since every Elf player on every Elf team is a scoring threat, I guess the pose isn’t too out of place. The torso front is a separate piece, and I took a close look at where it joins to the rest of the torso. As far as I can tell, all the torso fronts are interchangeable, so you should easily be able to make any of the other players female for customization. I did make a slight mistake on this first mini when assembling. The instructions say to attach the head to just the back side of the torso, but I had a hard time getting it to all go together easily. I decided to both sides of the torso together, and THEN attach the head. Well, as it turns out you can’t actually attach the head once you’ve assembled both sides of the torso. I had to make a slight modification to the head to get it to slide into the socket on the torso, but it worked and I managed to finish the mini without having to tear it apart.
Next up is the second Lineman mini. I have to mention that I have a slight concern with the longevity of this mini over time. Like almost the entire Elven Union team, the mini only has one foot touching the base, but more importantly, it’s contact point with the base tab is REALLY narrow. I’m concerned that it will eventually break at such a small contact point, but I suppose only time will tell.
I’ll also mention that the biggest change I made in the assembly order was that I started by assembling both legs of each mini. For some reason, the instructions show attaching a single leg and the head to the torso back as the first step. Personally, I prefer to have both legs attached and secured to the base before moving on to the head and limbs. I also assembled the torso front and the head as a single step as it made it easiest for me to get those two pieces on correctly.
Here we have the third Lineman mini, which is also the second female mini on the sprue. Her pose is less dynamic than the other Linemen, but is still interesting.
Similar to the 5th edition Elf team, the Blitzers have full face masks to help identify them. Also helping the Blitzers stand out a bit is the fact that on the whole team they are the only players with two spikes on their shoulder pads (the Linemen only have one spike and the Catchers and Throwers don’t have any). They are also the only minis with a slightly different chest plate than the others. Their chest plates have a small gem just below the throat. It would be nice if there was a single extra Blitzer style chest plate that was female for some added flexibility, but the sprue is already so packed that they probably never would have been able to manage it.
On a side note, I had more problems assembling this mini than any of the others. The left arm and should pads were particularly frustrating. Eventually though, after only slightly larger than normal volume of swear words, I managed to get everything to stay together properly.
Next up is the team’s Catcher. Coming in at nine pieces, this is the only mini on the team that has fewer than ten. This mini and the Thrower both have different, smaller shoulder pads than the rest of the team. The shoulder pads don’t look bad, but being so small, they are kind of a pain during assembly. I ended up using large tweezers to put them on since my fingers were too big to do it without assistance. Beyond that one gripe, the pose is nice and was otherwise easy to assemble.
The final mini on the sprue is the Thrower. Other than needing tweezers to attach the shoulder pads, this mini assembled pretty easily and like all the other minis on the team, looks great. I think when I assemble the other six minis in the box, I use the female torso fronts on both the second Thrower and the second Catcher. I thought about using a female torso for the second Blitzer, but the lack of a female torso with the gem below the throat makes me less likely.
I took some pictures of each miniature from multiple angles to help show all sides of them.
Last, but not least, we get the obligatory counters and footballs. This box gives us four footballs, compared to the six we got in previous boxes, but that’s just fine. In 3rd edition Blood Bowl extra footballs were always in short supply since they only came with the boxed set, but now with multiple footballs in each team box, getting four instead of six is no problem. Especially with every thing else that they managed to cram onto the sprue. The coin comes with a nice Elven Union emblem on the team side, and the counter once again echoes the football balanced on the Elf finger that seems to epitomize the team these days.
My thoughts on the team as a whole are quite simple. I really like it. Up until this point, I think my favorite new team so far has been the Skaven team, but now the Elven Union team is giving them a real run for their money. They are designed very nicely, and as stated earlier, are full of dynamic, very Elf-like poses without being silly or over-the-top. That seems to be a difficult thing to balance with a number of teams, and Games Workshop did a great job with these minis.
On a side note, I know a lot of players are interested in finding female minis that are not overly sexualized. If you fall into that category, this might be a really good team for you. The female players are obviously female, without being sexual in any way. They also are part of a mixed team, and not banished to their own, female only team, which seems to appeal to a lot of people. In the past I have not really thought much about the debate as I didn’t feel strongly about it one way or the other, but I guess the older I get and the more friends I have with daughters, the more I can understand the desire for female figures that look like more than just eye candy for men. Also, while I have no personal problem with female minis that are model in a revealing way, with there being so few women in the gaming hobby, the last thing I would want to do is slap down a team full of stripper like minis in front of a female opponent and make her feel uncomfortable, and thereby discouraging her from wanting to continue in the hobby. In short, making others feel uncomfortable around me isn’t really something I have any interest in.
Finally… for those who are interested in seeing size comparison shots, here are several pictures of the new Elven Union minis next to some minis from my 5th edition Elf team.
Like all the other new teams, the new Elven Union team is noticeably larger than their 5th edition counterparts. Maybe it’s me, but it does seem to be a more drastic size difference in this case, but I think the 5th edition Elf team, like the 5th edition Vampire team, might be a bit on the small side even for 28mm minis.
Now… as promised, it’s time to take a look at the Elven Union dice set!
The team themed dice sets are not a must buy, and many people might not see the point, but I like having them, and these dice are a nice set.
The contents of the Elven Union dice set are the same as every other team dice set, but these are only the second translucent dice set released so far, with the Skaven dice being the first set. They are a light sparkle blue with white pips, which makes them very easy to read. If you’re obsessed with Blood Bowl dice like me, or are simply looking for a set to play the game with if you don’t have the full boxed set, these are definitely a good choice. Much like the team itself, this dice set MIGHT be my current favorite so far.
Is it possible to have TOO many sets of Blood Bowl dice? Nah!
Well, that’s all for today, but I still have a pile of new Blood Bowl items sitting in the corner of my office. Be sure to check back in the next couple of days for more posts! Did you pick up any of the new releases, or do you expect them under your tree this Christmas?