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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Armies in 8th: Magic Part 1: Introduction & Overview


To kick off the Armies in 8th articles I thought we’d look at Magic which is a big part of Fantasy (no…way…). Whether or not you are good at Magic you need to be able to reliably shut down your opponent’s magic or disrupt their magic phase. Armies which cannot do this can and will get royally screwed over by opponent’s who bring anything half-way decent to the table in terms of magic. Before we look at each of the Lores of Magic and army specific Lores (this is going to be a loooong series) we’ll look at the over-arching concepts of Magic, casting and spell types. We'll cover magic defenses in a different article. With these concepts in mind we can move forward and start to analyses each of the Lores.

The biggest downside of Magic is it’s random. The best magical armies are able to overcome this to a certain extent by generating more power dice through special items, abilities or spells but the Magic system is inherently random and you can have anywhere from 2 to 12 power dice. The same goes for dispelling (though a minimum of 1). Your opponent can have nearly as many dispel dice as you have power dice or barely any. This is both a problem for you as a caster and a defender and again, some armies are more capable of dispelling Magic thanks to spells, items or rules. This will be covered in their army specific Magical Lores but for now, a competitive Fantasy list needs to have some dispel ability at hand. You don’t need offensive/buffing/defensive Magic to be competitive but you need to be able to stop your opponent’s Magic somewhat reliably.

Before we get into the gaming stuff of Magic we first need to look at spell generation and picking your Lores. Picking your Lores is a very important apart of your army list which will be covered in specific army posts (I sure do promise a lot) but spell generation is an important general aspect of Magic and assigning Lores. Most 'modern' Lores have six-seven spells which are randomly generated on a D6. No spell-caster can have the same spell (exceptions apply) and when you roll doubles or a spell which has already been picked by another spell-caster, you can pick which spell you want with the 'extra' dice. When you're rolling 3 or 4 dice then and targeting a specific spell, you're sitting on a 80-90%+ chance of getting that spell which is pretty reliable but still random. Signature spells can also be swapped for any spell even when not normally allowed,  which makes signature spells of certain lores very important. It's important to note though you can only double up on signature spells. If you have more spell slots than there are spells, you lose them. Do not do this, it's a huge waste.

Remember, you pick your Lores BEFORE the game.

It is important to understand the different type of Magic spells as this determines a lot on how your Magic phase goes and how you might want to 'pick' your spells as discussed above. There are 5 different types with an important sub-rule (remains in play). These are:
  1. direct damage
  2. magic missiles
  3. augment
  4. hex
  5. magical vortex
Augments and hexes are about buffing or de-buffing units whilst direct damage, magic missiles and vortexes are all about killing things and some armies will focus on one type of magic (i.e. damage) or a mix of all. What's especially important about some spells though is remains in play. This is a case of the best offense being a good defense. If remains in play spells go off (note: all vortexes are remains in play spells) your opponent can dispel it during their magic phase using some of their power dice and some remains in play spells can be so damaging, this needs to be done. This obviously limits your opponent's ability to cast magic in their turn by removing power dice and will be discussed more in the dispel section.

So, your spells have been selected and we understand the basics, now it's time to look at the actual casting process. A higher spell-caster level is obviously important for this but your power dice are where spells are made or broken. First off, any roll of 1 or 2 on a natural dice roll (i.e. snake eyes) is an automatic failure and once a mage fails to cast a spell, their phase is over. This becomes a balancing act of getting off your important spells first and draining your opponent's dispel dice. You also have to know how many wizards and spells you have and your total power dice pool available to you. If you only have 4 spells and 12 power dice, you aren't limited to one power die per spell so you can use more. Here's where irresistible force and miscasts start to come in. The more power dice you use, the more likely both are to happen. Before we get into what these do, you need to know the rough math of rolling two, three and four dice and what the likely results are. Knowing the chances of rolling doubles and specifically double 6's, is also an important part of this math. This is your homework, go find out!

So, miscasts happen on any double 6. This obviously escalates as you use more dice but the upside is you will always cast irresistibly (can't be stopped). However, miscasts can really screw over the unit your spell-caster is in so it's very much a double edged sword. Getting off a massively awesome spell is worth it but rolling double 6's on a cheap spell is a lot more painful. Irresistible force isn't always tied to miscasting however. Some spells, abilities or items can allow spell-casters to cast irresistibly not only on double 6's (i.e. the Book of Hoeth and Teclics cast irresistibly on any roll of doubles). This can be very powerful as the offensive player can get more magic off without the chance of it being cancelled but the defender gets to keep dispel dice.

Well that's the beginning of Magic in Fantasy in casting and spell selection. Next article will look at defending against Magic and what emphasis should be placed on this in general.

4 pinkments:

clt40k said...

Good introduction...

Chumbalaya said...

Magic is fun. Relying on it too heavily can hurt you when the winds fail, but it's important to be competitive in every phase, even if you're just focusing on blocking enemy magic.

VT2 said...

I'm a fantasy n00b, but what I've learned so far is that magic defense is very, very important.

Kirby said...

@VT2; almostlike psychic defense in 40k :O...

@Chumb; the good magic armies are generally capable of overcoming poor Winds as well though. Look at DE, as long as they can get power of the darkness off :P.

I'm not going to open the Pandora's box of casting order, etc. but like battle-reports or deployment options, if individuals want to send me in examples I'm more than happy to help them through orders, etc.

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