As I flipped through the book, still not sure what actually makes up a good army, I decided a good place to start would be to just building a list, based predominantly on what I had painted, but leaving the option to include things I owned. The first thing that became apparent is that the point systems aren't even close to similar to 40k, and while I planned at starting at 2k, even then I couldn't fit much of what I hoped to include.
First of all, and this could be symptomatic of the Dark Elf book as a whole, is that 3 special choices felt extremely restrictive, particularly when I have COKs, Shades, Hydras, RBTs, Executioners, and Black Guard to choose from (and that's not all, just the ones I like). RBTs are odd in that their entry is for one, but includes a note that 4 can be included in an army, or 8 in a Grand Army. It seems to me this indicates you can take 4 special slots if it's only Bolt Throwers, which doesn't help me much, but at least gives me the option. I would prefer to be able to take 2 as 1 like in previous editions.
From what little I've gathered about fantasy, this edition seems to be the Monsters and Magic edition, and Dark Elves' War Hydra is a particularly good one, so I should take one. I know I also want to take COKs since they've always been a favorite, and I can't say no to 2+ Save, S4 (without their lance), 3A (including the Cold One) elves. Giving the unit the Razor Standard will put icing on the cake, allowing them to shred opposing knights with a -4 to armor on the charge and -2 from the Cold Ones and in subsequent rounds. They're not cheap, so I should move on to some of the essentials before I use up all my points.
For a long time I'd used the Malus Darkblade model as a Dreadlord on Cold One, but at least for a first run, I'd like to take him as Malus, not to mention Spite keeps the Cold Ones in line and prevents me from taking stupidity tests (I have PTSD about failed stupidity tests losing me games). An interesting change from previous editions is that I can (I think - correct me if I'm wrong) include more than one Lord choice at 2k, so long as it comes in under the 25% (500pt) cap. With that, I have just enough room for a supreme sorceress, though I can't boost her to level 4. I can give her a power stone though if I want.
For heroes, an assassin and scroll caddy level 2 sorceress should do the trick (and probably total up to more than I should be spending on characters).
Finally, back to Core, and I have barely over 600 points left to spend. My first stop is a block of 20 Corsairs. This unit might be a little to small and might need to have numbers boosted, but we'll start with 20 because that's what I'm used to. Following that up will be a small unit of crossbowmen (they're better than they used to be at least) and a 20 man unit of spearmen to guard the flanks of the Hydra. Finally, I'll boost the Corsairs to 30, though I'm tempted to look into either adding another unit or adding to the crossbowmen.
Lords (500 pts):
Supreme Sorceress: Power Stone
Heroes (250 pts):
Sorceress: Dispel Scroll, Level 2
Core (705 pts):
30 Corsairs: Full Command, additional hand weapon, banner of swiftness
20 Dreadspears: Full Command
Special (545 pts):
10 Cold One Knights: Full Command, Razor Standard
Hydra: Spit Fire
The army comes to 2k exactly. I'm definitely not completely happy with it and would expect to put it through bunches of changes. Down the road I could see giving the Supreme Sorceress a Manticore and making Malus simply a Master on Cold One. A Corsair Lord is a little tempting, though he doesn't seem to add much. I also want to beef out the Core more with more Corsairs and Crossbowmen, and add in a unit or two of Witch Elves and Dark Riders
As for Special, I miss having my Executioners and RBTs, and wouldn't mind adding some Shades either.
Going into this exercise, I wasn't really sure how many points I had at my disposal, but after getting to 2k so fast, I'm of the impression that I could field 4k without breaking a sweat (or buying anything new, including any Rare options).
As for this list, hopefully I will get to field it (or something similar) at our next Gaming Weekend (Date TBD) in my first game of fantasy in nearly 10 years!