First, the design vision of what 7th Ed. High Elves are supposed to be:
- Defense over offense; but quick enough to switch if needed
- Use of ASF as a damage buffer; kill the enemy before they kill you
- Strong in magic; both offensive and defensive; in lore and in items
I've been reading some wishlisting stuff from Ulthuan.net and I've never face-palmed more in my life. With this in mind, from a game developer's point of view, this is how I think GW will design a new High Elves book for 8th Ed:
- If ASF is to remain, expect to see very minor price changes. Maybe 1-2 points across the board.
- If ASF is taken out, expect to see very drastic changes to the design process of the Elves themselves. I highly doubt that price will change too much because unless they change the fluff of the High Elves, they're to remain a small and compact army. With that in mind, expect to see HE striking in I order regardless of what weapon they wield. This is not ASF, but it will remain as Speed of Asuryan.
- With the current shift of limited magic items, expect to see a good amount of special characters. From a design standpoint, they are the ones that carry the "truly" unique magic items that our race use. For example, Star Lance and Armor of Caledor will disappear and Imrik will be added back to the army book. If you look at the new TK book, you can see Flail of Skulls (removed from the current book) on one of their new Heralds.
- The aspect of bringing Honors back is very unlikely. If you look at the trend of how GW books develop, they are trying to eliminate any aspect of army design that might be too complicated. This makes the book easier to jump into. Clear examples are the 4th Ed. CSM codex where they removed all the Legion specifics and wargear, the 5th Ed. Tyranid codex where they removed practically all the customization options, the 6th-7th Ed. High Elves book where they dropped our Honors, the 6th-7th VC book where they dropped the Bloodlines, the list goes on and on. Honors will not come back, stop wishing for it.
- Every unit will have a special rule. If not every unit, then 95% of the units in the book. That's how 8th Ed. O&G did it, that's how TK did it. Expect Shadow Warriors to have strong passive abilities, Ellyrion Reavers to do something special, and Lothren Sea Guard to be the finest Marines in the world, and Sword Masters to do cool things as well. That's just how all the units are designed these days. The really generic boring units that don't add anything special like Archers (at least our archers) won't get anything special except for a points decrease and comes with light armor. Everything else that has a real name in the lore or (and pay attention to this) have COOL and fancy models for, will get all kinds of special rules. This is to promote not only model sales, but encourage players to take a good amount of them. You think its coincidence that TK have the ability to take a Special version of their new T8 monster AND a Rare version? They can field like 8 of those things on the field if they wanted to. That's 400 dollars worth, you think GW's stupid? They are a business, a business that charges 20 dollars for a Zoanthrope.
- You might see a lot less customization on our lords and heroes, but we'll get a price drop across the board with more effective units. I studied the TK book these last couple of days and that's how the book is made. O&G is the same way. 8th Ed is all about big units, the ability to take a Spearmen Horde or fielding Dragons everywhere (and this will happen). More chaos, more models dead, more models sold.
- Dragons and Griffons will get a overhaul for the better. There's a reason why there's a 50 dollar model out there that's not really selling because of 8th Ed. TLoS and warmachines. GW might be blind, but they're not stupid. Expect to see much improved Dragons for their costs out there.
- Also, I want to touch upon the fact that you'll NEVER see a lord that's limited to 3k+ games. A 700 point Teclis? Not in my vocabulary. Settra is 475 with his Chariot, which is playable in a 2k game. GW knows the standard is 2k-2.5k for a normal sized game. 3k is where shit goes all over the place. They designed the rules, they designed the models. In order to sell more models they need to sell it at the level that everyone plays.
Of course, I can be completely wrong and they'll give the book design over to someone like Ward or Cruddace and they'll turn the book inside out.