The Dragon Mage is a new and exciting feature for the High Elves. Even though it deals with two of the most iconic elements of the High Elves (Dragons and mages) it is also a unit that includes a bit of randomness, risk and wild fury. The Asur have always been the most disciplined, stoic and reliable of warriors. You can always rely on your units to do what you want them to and their high leadership and stats in genreal means they will do it well. This, of course, can get a bit boring in the long run and that is why I welcome the Dragon Mage with open arms (I have not yet actually tried out the unit in a battle mind you). A psychotic mage riding a furious giant lizard is just what the elves need to spice things up a bit.
Even though I consider my chariots and cavalry to be the backbone of my army I am also very fond of flying units. The High Elves have always had the ability to include Eagles in their force but I have never been able to use them to do more than harass enemy war machines, archers and other vulnerable prey (they do that pretty damn well though). With the Dragon Mage I have the option of leaving an entire flank to the flyers. They can usually engage on turn two if they want to. Alternatively the eagles can do their usual harassment and the Dragon Mage can act as a highly mobile schock unit on it’s own. I do like options.
That is not to say that the unit is entirely without it’s faults:
-For all his eagerness to get into combat the Dragon Mage is still a mage. I would have liked him to posess a more warlike stat block. He is as soft as any elf and I really think he deserves to be more than just a pretty guy who guides your Dragon into the fray.
-The ability to choose and cast the Flaming Weapon spell is such a poor compensation it almost feels like an insult. I’m not going to risk blowing up my mage in order to go from a 5+/6+ to a 5+/5+ situation in melee. No matter how thematically correct it is for him to enchant his “Sunstaff” (also known as the Staff-Of-Doing-Nothing-Despite-Having-An-Impressive-Name). I’ll stick with my random spell, thank you.
All that said: I’m looking forward to taking this one to the field.