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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Armies in 8th: Magic Part 8: Lore of Heavens

Back with Fantasy articles and continuing with the Magic 'review.' We looked at Lore of Life last time which is perhaps one of the best lores out there IMO and this article is looking at Lore of Heavens. This Lore is a bit harder to cast than other Lores with 4 spells over 10 but nothing in the 20s without increasing spell levels. Roiling skies is the Lore Attribute and like Lore of Light, makes Heavens spells better against a specific type of unit. For Heavens this is any unit with the Fly special ability so is great against a lot of monsterous mounts but otherwise isn't that impressive. Otherwise Heavens focuses modifying To-Hit rolls and dealing damage but can be quite random in the damage dealing respect.

Signature Spell - Iceshard Blizzard: Not cumalative and medium range but can really lower the effectiveness of horde units. MSU armies don't really care about this spell though unless it's spammed and there are much better investments of points. It does lower Ld by 1 as well so targeting a low Ld unit and lowering it's Ld further to force multiple panic tests is always a utility option if using Heavens as a damage Lore. Level 2 greatly increases range for only a moderate increase in casting cost.

1 - Harmonic Convergence: Now this is a handy spell if you get it off at level 2 and it's pretty cheap, too. Basically, the unit re-rolls any 1 (except Ld/Panic tests) and the level 2 spell affects all units within 12". Range is obviously an issue there but with some proper placement this can make an army's combat and shooting prowess a lot more potent. Any 1+/2+ save units will also love the ability to re-roll their failed saves (assuming their armor isn't modified).

2 - Wind Blast: This spell would be very handy in the Signature spot where a bunch of spell-casters could push multiple units back and provide breathing space for your army. As it is, it's a good spell against a huge block unit or very deadly cc unit/monster you want avoiding your lines and can potentially delay the charge of this unit by a couple turns (depending on rolls). Cheap to cast and decent range and whilst the level 2 increases the push back range, the casting range stays the same which is problematic. Wind Blast also has the benefit of damaging units which are pushed into impassable terrain or other units (which also get damaged). Whilst the damage isn't significant it's a nice little bonus.

3 - Cure of the Midnight Wind: The opposite of Harmonic Convergence, this spell forces an opponent's unit to re-roll any rolls of 6's on Hit/Wound/Save rolls which has less utility but can effectively take some shooting units out of the game who have poor BS. Convergence really shines when it can be cast upon multiple units at once but for Midnight wind this is obviously a lot harder so has much less utility, especially considering the double in casting cost.

4 - Urannon's Thunderbolt: Decent casting cost for some strong but random number of attacks. Limited by range but can be doubled to 48" with a minimal increase in casting cost but the strength or number of hits doesn't go up. There are better damaging spells out there but the high strength is a nice addition to a shooting army or any army which has trouble with high T creatures.

5 - Comet of Cassandra: Moderately high casting cost, this spell is very random. Once cast, you don't know when it will strike and the later it strikes, the more damage it is likely to do. This can effectively create a no go area for an opponent's army but unless fixed on a spot where the opponent either has to go to or can't leave, it's unlikely to do much if any damage (unless you roll boxcars for damage radius). This can be an excellent spell if you can reliably pin armies in place but it is still random and you could finish the unit off before the comet hits and potentially damage your own units (high magic resistance units would obviously be a bonus). Double the casting cost and you'll upgrade the damage of the comet faster but it still suffers from it's randomness.

6 - Chain Lightning: Who doesn't love a chain lightning spell in magic games? No exception for this spell in Fantasy, the damage potential of this spell is quite large but like comet, suffers from quite a bit of randomness. Roll well and you could hit a very large number of units with a good strength D6 weapon. Roll poorly and you could kill a single model. This spell is very effective against MSU armies but less so against hordes (less units). Against MSU if you can roll a lot of 3+'s you could hit a lot of units which makes up for the random D6 hits factor. Range is limited to 24" and cannot be upgraded but a very effective spell to counteract MSU armies whilst most other final spells stop hordes.

Heavens therefore is very random and whilst it importantly can damage both MSU and horde style armies, to get the most out of the Lore you need a bit of luck on your side. On the flip side, the majority of the utility spells make the rest of your army more reliable with re-rolls and whilst you can also disrupt your opponent with some of the spells, the utility buffing spells are just a little bit better and easier to use.

Verdict: okay. Chain Lightning and Comet can do a massive amount of damage against all types of armies but if you need a decisive blow at a specific time, this spells can be your undoing. Since Magic is already very random based on multiple rolls, adding a further random factor in isn't always the best. Again, the utility spells have minimal application and whilst they can disrupt your opponent by forcing re-rolls and lowering stats, there are other Lores (i.e. Shadow) which do this better. Heavens does have a couple of buffing spells which are nice though but you'll still find Light/Life/etc do it better as well.

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