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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Armies in 8th: Magic Part 12: High Magic

High Elves have some of the most varied access to Magic in Warhammer Fantasy. Not only do they have their own Lore (High Magic) but they can utilise any of the Lores from the main rulebook. That’s a whopping nine potential Lores on which to draw from. Add in any High Elf army with a Mage gets a +1 dispel bonus and some exceptional characters (Teclis) and magic items (Book of Hoeth, Banner of Sorcery) and High Elves are one of the most potent and capable armies in terms of magical defense. One major flaw with High Elf magic offense is the minimal number of extra power dice they can create. Whilst Banner of Sorcery and Teclics can generate 2D3 extra dice, unlike other armies like Dark Elves or Tzneetch Daemons, High Elf magic isn’t too great at continuously producing power dice. However, the Lore itself is generally pretty cheap and High Elves can create a wide variety of combos since they can access every major Lore from the rulebook.

So let’s take a look at High Magic. As said before, the spells are generally pretty cheap which is good and as would be expected of the Lore that spawned all other Lores (in the rulebook at least), High Magic does a little bit of everything rather than specialising in one specific area. Oddly this is great for many a High Elf army as the spells fit quite well into what a HE army needs. Another bonus is any High Elf spell-caster who picks High Magic gets a free bonus spell; Drain Magic.

Free Spell – Drain Magic: This is perhaps one of the best defensive spells in the game and can be used in conjunction with Teclis or Book of Hoeth (and power dice producing items) to make your own magic harder to stop whilst still being reliable. There are two key concepts to Drain Magic. Cast early in your phase to tempt your opponent into dispelling it so they don’t have trouble casting their own spells but at the cost of making your own spells harder to cast if it goes off (and consequently dispel). This is very useful with Teclis/Book of Hoeth as quite often you don’t care about casting cost as you will often cast with irresistible force. Otherwise you can cast this near the end of your magic phase, particularly in the event where your opponent doesn’t have any dispel dice left. This means you haven’t disadvantaged yourself and had to burn extra power dice to cast spells and your opponent will find it much more difficult to cast their spells next turn. This spell is cheap to cast and can be stacked which makes it very potent but shouldn’t be relied upon as your main magical defense.

1/Signature Spell – Shield of Saphery: A cheap to cast ward save? Sign me up. High Elves are expensive yet fragile but can hit very hard. The problem is getting them to the point where they can hit and any sort of defensive spell can help this. Shield can be taken multiple times thanks to being what is essentially a signature spell but is probably an under usage of High Elf magic. One or two spell-casters running this however can improve the survivability of specific units at key times (i.e. Swordmasters).

2 – Curse of Arrow Attraction: Cheap to cast and makes your bows and bolt throwers a lot more effective with a pretty decent range to boot. Cast this on a large enemy squad and launch some Bolts and arrow salvos at it and don’t be surprised if you take the unit out. This is almost a must want spell in any HE army planning on taking a large number of bolt throwers and archers.

3 – Courage of Aenarion: This is probably the weakest spell in the Lore due to High Elves’ already impressive Leadership value backed up by a General and BSB. However, being able to rely upon a unit stuck in combat not to break so you can bring in more firepower is never a bad thing and can be excellent for hammer and anvil tactics. Cheap to cast but a bit limited by range this spell has some utility but isn’t a main reason to pick this Lore.

4 – Fury of Khaine: Decent range at 24” and can cause a fair amount of S4 hits at a very reasonable casting cost. Very effective at supplementing any High Elf shooting and can make a combat oriented unit have a formidable ranged attack. Not much to say other than a good utility choice for damage. Who doesn’t like good magic missiles?

5 – Flames of the Phoenix: Getting to a medium casting cost but still pretty cheap considering what it does. A Remains in Play spell which can synergise very well with other Lores, Flames provides a spell which continuously damages a unit and gets stronger the longer it remains in play. Combined with Curse of Arrow Attraction and a HE spell-caster can effectively eliminate two units a turn unless Flames gets dispelled early. As an added bonus, Flames count as flaming attacks so is very effective against units with regen, etc. Combined with other RiP spells, Drain Magic and the HE bonus to dispelling, a HE general can severly stunt and opponent’s magic phase by simply sucking up power dice (literally with some items) into dispelling RiP spells and throwing extra dice at spells to ensure they get cast thanks to Drain Magic.

6 – Vaul’s Unmaking: This is a great combo buster and for the casting cost, is great to have as utility up your sleeve. Although it is mildly restricted by range early game, being able to render a combat monster of a hero vulnerable to attacks or remove a spell-caster’s arcane item which is devastating your army is amazing and can really help the High Elf defenses if used correctly. Combine with Ring of Corin (bound Vaul’s Unmaking) and you can pick an opponent’s expensive magical items out quickly and effectively.

High Magic has a vast array of spells and although they don’t do any one thing particularly well, they fit a High Elf army like a glove providing a little bit of everything and opening a lot of combos in relation to other Lores. Cheap to cast helps the lack of extra power dice generation for High Elf spell-casters but the lack of upgraded levels of spells is disappointing and can lead to your opponent dispelling a lot of spells.

Verdict: Great. What HE player wouldn’t want an excellent damaging RiP spell, increased effectiveness in shooting, solid defenses both magical and non and the ability to strip opponent’s powerful magical items away? When combined with other Lores like Shadow, Death, Metal or Life, High Magic can make a HE army very resilient or quite offensive during the Magic phase. Add in the ease of casting and ability to stunt an opponent’s magic and High Magic is an excellent complimentary Lore for a HE spell-caster.

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