|Put on that designer's hat and eat some crow!|
Here's what I think we'll see in the book.
Keep in mind that the rumors are already out and about, and people say those are actual playtesting rules. Whether or not they're several iterations of the rules bundled together, or all the rules from who knows when remains to be seen.
Now that we know the general direction of the book, I would like to make some predictions:
Special Rules for the army is Martial Prowess, 6+ Parry regardless of the weapon you're holding, and ignore ASL/negative shooting modifiers.
Based on these rumors, I'm willing to bet we'll see Martial Prowess and 6+ Parry in 1 rule (Martial Prowess), and Ignore ASL/shooting mods with another Special Rule, Elven Weapons/Dexterity? That's two army-wide special rules. If the Elven Weapons rule applies, I'm willing to bet it'll be standard across all three Elven armies: Dark Elves and Wood Elves included.
Assuming we get all three of these special rules, I'm expecting the cost of the army to not change much at all. Sword Masters are supposedly getting "stances" similar to Wardancers, White Lions are supposed to get some kind of bonus vs. monsters (see Empire's Monster Hunter dude), and Phoenix Guard will be Unbreakable with MR and a ward save (not sure if 4+ anymore). There's a rumor out there that Spears and LSG will be able to take Heavy Armor, and that Archers will have Light Armor. With this in mind, I'm guessing the prices will stay the same, or 1 point cheaper at max. If there's some special rules missing, we'll probably see 2 points reduction max. If anything, heroes will see their points reduced more than anything. None of our army-wide special rules really benefit the heroes, not even the Parry save one because most will have better ward saves. I expect the prices to fall to make room for more expensive/better mounts.
Another rumor that's been circulating is that there'll be an Ithilmar Armor; something similar to Full Plate Armor, Chaos Armor or Gromil Armror, so 4+ AS. I don't think we'll see this because it conflicts with Dragon Armor, step on other army designs, and I don't think we'll need it. I expect Lion Pelts to be an option, and it'll act the same way as DE Sea Dragon Cloaks (+1 AS, +2 vs. shooting). That way, we can get Dragon Armor and take Lion Pelt and obtain the same bonus. What I do think will happen is Ithilmar Barding, which is simply a barding option that allows our steeds to move at full movement.
Our core choices will be expanded, so I'm willing to bet we'll see Ellyrion Reavers in core, possibly Silver Helms and Shadow Warriors. Out of all those choices, I'm betting on Ellyrion Reavers the most. In terms of our Dragons, I fully expect them to be normalized with the Storm of Magic book. Sun Dragon will have Lesser Dragon stats, Moon Dragon will have normal dragon stats, and the Star Dragon will be a Greater Dragon, complete with T7. All three will see 3+ Scaly, prices will be similar, and who knows, different breath options as well since it already exists in the Storm of Magic book. The HE Griffon will probably also see a statline to match that of the Empire's Griffon (-1I, +1S and W + points reduction to 170), but it might just keep the I5 for -1S because the Empire book did say specifically that their Imperial Griffons are bred to be bigger and better.
Magic item wise, everything that's in the 8th Ed. BRB will replace similar items in the HE book. Guardian Phoenix (5+ ward) is gone, Armor of Caledor (2+ AS) is gone, you know, everything similar will take a hike. Certain magic items will be rolled into returning Special Characters. Imrik will once again pick up his Star Lance, Armor of Caledor, Dragonhorn, and the White Sword might go on that rumored Swordmaster Mage. Book of Hoeth will probably disappear and/or get rolled into Teclis. What will remain are those magic items unique to High Elves. Vambraces of Defense, Banner of World Dragon, Battle Banner, Ring of Corin, you know, things that are truly unique.
Lastly, I want to talk about the Phoenix and the Flying Chariot with Bolt Thrower.
For the Phoenix, I'm thinking stats greater than an Eagle, but less than a Griffon, with overlapping stats of such.
T5 and 4-5W sounds about right. S4 more likely, maybe S5. The damage will primarily come with its abilities. I would say the Arcane Phoenix would be a good guideline in what we'll see.
Fly and Terror I would imagine, with a Ld.9 as it's a Phoenix Guard riding it. Phoenix Guard will definitely have a Halberd.
Protection wise, here's where I think we'll see a 5+ or even a possible 4+ ward. I'm thinking it's going to be 5+ though, because 4+ seems a bit too generous on a flying MC.
I expect to see Magic Resistance as well.
Final estimated statline?
WS5 S4 T5 W5 I5 A4 Ld.9, 5+ Ward, Flying, MC, Terror, Magical attacks
Now, what do they actually do? Judging by the fact one is Fire (Moltres) and one is Ice (Articuno), and the rumors that they drop templates, I'm thinking this:
Place a template over whatever they fly over. It'll scatter D6 most likely. Picture a giant Phoenix flying over you flapping its wings, omg fire it burns or holy shit freezing cold man.
Fire will see a S4 small template, flaming of course, but Ice will see S3 Armor Piercing and it'll make the unit ASL. We might see D3 wounds like a Stonethrower, but I'm not even sure about that. I'm pretty sure it'll just be like a S4 flaming or S3 ASL blast and that's it.
I think Ice and ASL goes pretty hand in hand in fantasy. A good gauge will be the Storm of Chaos Dragon breaths, the Thundertusk from Ogres, and Yhettes from the same book.
Ice Dragons produce breath that's a S3 breath weapon and makes the unit ASL. (Storm of Chaos)
Dragonhide Banner (Ogres) is the same exact thing.
Thundertusks have Numbing Chill (Ogres), which makes all units within 6" of it ASL.
Yhettes (Ogres) make it so models in BtB have -1 to their WS.
So how does the Phoenix do damage in close combat?
I think it erupts at the beginning of the combat phase if you're in BtB. It flutters its wings, shit happens to the enemy.
Models in btb with the Phoenix take S4 flaming hits, or S3 AP hits and ASL. Something along those lines.
If the Phoenix charges, I'm hoping for impact hits with said modifiers. I doubt this one personally because it overlaps with the whole "erupts in the beginning of each combat phase kinda thing".
And like all good Phoenixs ever, if the Phoenix dies, on a 5+ it comes back to life and erupts again, possibly a stronger variation of its initial eruption. Pretty similar to that of the Arcane Phoenix from MA, but I'm having difficulty seeing how a giant bird can do its damage otherwise. It can't "breathe fire/ice", that's the realm of Dragons. What it can do is flutter its wings to create a Icestorm or Firestorm.
I can't see either birds above 250, so I'm pricing both at 200. Judging by the pic in that the dude riding the Fire Phoenix, we can probably expect Heroes/Rare choices. It's been done in the past in the form of Stonehorns (Hunter rides it) and Terrorgheists (Ghoul King0, but it's Rare. I think it's more likely a Rare choice simply because the lord/hero slots might get croweded, especially if the new book allows heroes to take the Sun Dragon and make Dragon Mages better. You gotta sell those Dragon models too you know.. Who cares, here's hoping for S5 firestorms lol.
Now.. What about the flying boat Bolt thrower?
I'm expecting, Flying of course, carried by a single Great Eagle (same stats), crewed by 2 bros with bows and Spears (looks like LSG), and has a Bolt Thrower attached.
Bolt Throwers, I expect the same S6 D3 wounds, or repeating option for 4 shots S4 -2, ignoring multi-shot. However, I do expect to see BTs being 50 points each with a 2:1 option.
But enough about the RBT, let's talk about the Chariot.
As much as I'd like to see T5 Lion Chariots with 3+ AS, I don't think it's going to happen. T4 4+ seems to be the standard, so let's go with that for now.
Impact hits of course, and I'm estimating ~150 points for it. That's 50 for RBT, 50 for Eagle and I'm thinking 50 more for the utility.
That's all I have for now. All these go under the assumption that I'm leading the design of the High Elves book. I can't wait till May to see if my predictions are correct.