You should have two mages (make one an archmage lvl 4 and the other a lvl 2), 20 sea guard, and 20 swordmasters (SM) and 10 reavers. The prince on griffon is kind of a waste. Reavers are not often played but might proxy for dragon princes, which can be worth playing. Most people play archers and spearmen in core, sea guard, in theory, give the best of both for only a slightly higher points cost but it doesn't seem to work that way. Thus, calling the sea guard spearmen might be best and getting more spearman and archers might be called for.
The Island of Blood is totally worthwhile just for the smaller rule book (has all the parts of the rule book you actually need to play and easier to carry and use) and for the models you get; but your friend probably got the better end of the bargain because of the number and mix of skaven models he picked up (per box he gets a warlord, an engineer, 40 clanrats, warpfire thrower, poison wind mortar and the packmaster are all worth playing, not so much the ogres, can use the ogres to make his own hellpit abom on the right size base) but he will have to buy (hellpit abom, warplighting cannons, plague monks, doomwheel?, grey seer, more engineers, a boat load more rats for slaves and clan rat blocks and maybe giant rat packmaster diversion units should be his focus) and assemble a lot more than you to field the same points level and competitive level army. Skaven is not an easy army to play but capable of being a top tier army in 8th edition due to the benefits of ranks in making units steadfast, leadership boost from ranks for skaven infantry units, and benefits to horde and larger units in 8th edition, as well and the magic lores available to Skaven and the winds of magic rules.
Learn to play with eagles (up to 4 allowed for high elf armies) as redirectors and war machine and light unit hunters. Don't be afraid to proxy the SM's as phoenix guard in friendly/learning games. Ulitmately, white lions, phoenix guard and swordmasters should be the heart of the army, as they are your best killing and defensive units. Against lower T armies and less shooting armies, swordmasters are quite good. They can tear up lizardmen armies. A high elf army at 2500 points came in second and almost won a small local 3-round friendly tourney I ran in December by running larger blocks of 1 swordmasters, 1 white lions, and one spearmen plus two smaller archer units and two mages and a BSB. He used an archmage with lore of life to cast flesh to stone (increases toughness) and regrowth (restores previously lost models) on his special units to keep them alive and shadow on his lvl 2 with annulian crystal (great magic defense item) to get off miasma and try for mindrazor (makes the strength of the high elf unit equal to its leadership, which is high) very effectively.
His army at 2500 points was:
Archmage with Talisman of Saphery, Folariath's Robe and Silver Wand with life
lvl 2 with annulian crystal and shadow.
BSB was Armour of caledor and guardian phoenix with GW.
Core of two units of 10 archers and one unit of 39 spears with full command and war banner
30 white lions full command and banner of sorcery
40 swordmasters with full command and swiftness banner.
I'd probably figure out how to get in up to 4 eagles but, otherwise, work with his list. Some might run a smaller size 20 model pheonix guard (4+ ward save but fewer and lower S attacks) in place of the swordmasters and swap the banners with sorcery on the phoenix and swiftness on the white lions and then use the extra points for eagles and/or something else (dragon princes? or chariots).
He used the banner of swiftness to get his swordmasters (vulnerable to shooting and magic due to lower T and armour save) into combat faster where they kill a lot in a horde formation with two attacks each up front.
Saphery with shadow instead of the crystal might be a great choice to allow one to control the shadow spells one gets but the crystal is a huge swing in dice in the defensive magic phase. Also, don't underestimate the high elf magic lore; it is quite good if you put saphery on the level 2(flames of phoenix, vauls unmaking, and the 5+ ward save spell are all extremely useful). The silver wand gives the lvl 4 mage 5 spells to roll for, which is almost as good as loremaster (knowing all spells) because of the excellent chance of doubles and range of spells one will roll on the dice for a much lower points cost. With the banner of socery, you will get extra power dice in the offensive magic phase and the crystal gives +1 dispel dice plus reduce opponent's power dice by 1 in the defensive magic phase.
By the way, lore of life is usually thought to be the best lore in general. Dwellers is the best anti-horde unit spell in the game, regrowth is extremely valuable with elite infantry like high elves, earthblood (regen) helps save your white lions or spearmen blocks from dying as fast when the opponent does not have flaming against them, throne of vines substantially reduces the risks of miscasts and boosts your other life spells, and flesh to stone addresses the primary weakness of high elf units by increasing their toughness. Furthermore, every time a lore of life spell is cast, it restores a lost wound on a multi-wound model (handy for the BSB, mages, and if you run eagles within range or chariots in range of the mage with life).
Shadow has a lot of great utility spells. Miasma can lower weapon skill (increasing your rate of hitting and reducing opponents), Inititive (high elves get to re-roll to hit with ASF and equal or greater I), Ballistic skill (reduces rate of hitting in shooting phase by shooting units) and movement. I often cast Miasma at the boosted level to get the most out of if. Reducing a unit or model's initiative with miasma (long range) and then hitting it with pit of shades (auto death if a failed initiative test) is a great combo and pit of shades autokills war machines if you get almost within 24" of them (center of the template must be within 24" ofthe castor) and the template stays or scatters on to them and many high S and T monsters and units have low initiative values (like hydras and stegadons, lizardmen saurus, vampire and ogres and tomb kings core and special units). Mindrazor is the premier spell because it can dramatically increase the strength of attacks of your spearmen to 8. Spearmen have ASF and get two extra ranks of supporting attacks which magnifies the effectiveness of mindrazor. Enfeeble makes an opposing unit in combat weaker (which helps high elves that have T3 reduce the number of wounds they take in combat) and withering reduces the toughness of an opposing unit (which makes S3 arrows and spears and S4 phoenix guard better able to kill opposing models). Since the other two shadow spells are of less value, usually you will only get one of them and swap it for miasma, although the pendulum (like a cannon ball that forces an initiative test or hits at S10) can be effective against ogres and low I monsters.
Last edited by olderplayer; 03-01-12 at 09:14 PM.