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Monday, December 5, 2011

Guest Article: Warhammer Fantasy Magic Item Review - Part 6: Enchanted Items

Magic Items Review Part 6: Enchanted Items

Sorry about that gap folks, real life intervened. Anyway!

The Enchanted Items are basically the Misc. of Magic Items. They don’t quite fit into any other category and give an extra effect to your character, most often a special rule that they couldn’t get elsewhere. Some can be quite handy, others...not so much.

Wizarding Hat

I cannot see the point of this item. For an entire not-Wizard Lord’s magic item allowance you can make him a Level 2 Wizard with Stupidity, and you don’t even get to choose which Lore he’s going to use. Even worse, you can’t get any sort of magic armour or talisman to protect your pricey half-wizard. For the price of a Lord with this item, you can get two normal Level 2 Wizards, so don’t bother.

Fozzrik’s Folding Fortress

How useful this item will be entirely depends on your army. If you have an aggressive combat focused army with next to no shooting, don’t even think about it, because as well as spawning a building you’ll never use, you’ve got a Lord with no other magic items.

However, armies with cheap Lords and lots of shooting and defensive troops, it’s a gem; you get to give one of your units a fortress to shoot from, an extremely tough rock for the rest of your army to anchor on, which can be powerful enough to change a battle from the start. Empire, Skaven and Goblins benefit greatly from this item, as they can all take a throwaway cheap-as-chips Lord choice to carry it, still have plenty of points left over for a proper General, and have a large unit of shooting guys to put inside it (a big unit of Goblin Archers with a Goblin Big Boss holding the Spider Banner is particularly nasty). It is of course an item that can’t be taken just because it’s there; you need a specific strategy and army list to get the best out of the Folding Fortress.

Also, if you somehow make a fortress model that actually folds up you win every game you use it in anyway.

Arabyan Carpet

The question with this item is “Who is going to use it?”

The bearer can’t join units of any kind, so he’s going to be on his own. Of course, this means he’s a good target for enemy shooting and spells, so he’s going to want a ward save (and/or Shield of Ptolos if he can take it). It’s good for Wizards and what little shooting-focused characters there are as it lets them easily get into position, but sometimes it might be better to take a flying mount if possible for the extra protection that gives. However, if your character is hard enough to begin with and can also spit out a lot of powerful spells, the Arabyan Carpet can be a good investment, but will need proper thinking to go with it; you can’t just throw an expensive character out on their own without a plan.

Crown of Command

Given that most armies can easily get steadfast with large units of cheap infantry, the Crown of Command isn’t as great as it first seems, especially for its rather steep cost. However, it does have some uses.

Stubborn means that the unit is always steadfast regardless of their size, which means that they take Break tests on their unmodified Leadership (and only Break tests, unlike in 40k, where Stubborn means you have unmodified Leadership full stop. Lots of players seem to get this mixed up).

Normally, the only way to get steadfast is for a unit to have more models in it than its opponents in close combat. This means that it’s very difficult for expensive units such as Monstrous Infantry and Cavalry to get steadfast. Having this item on a character that can join any unit means you can give this ability to units that would normally struggle to gain steadfast.

Accordingly, to get the most out of this item you need a unit that will benefit from it.

Healing Potion

Once a game, the Healing Potion restores D6 wounds to its bearer, up to their maximum total. On normal characters it’ll net you one or two wounds back, but its best on larger characters, like Ogres and Slann. You can also rely on the Lore of Life’s attribute better than this item because you can choose who it affects and it’s active for the entire game. For its cost, it’s better to spend the points on a ward save and prevent the character from ever losing wounds in the first place.

Featherfoe Torc

This item forces any enemy model with the Fly rule, and any riders of said model, to re-roll successful rolls to hit the bearer in close combat. This requires some breaking down.

Models with the Fly rule are rare. The number of Flying units that aren’t expensive, 200+ point monsters can be counted on one hand. And given that the rest of them are said giant gribblies, you’re unlikely to face them outside of 3000+ point games.

Such models are usually not gifted in the Weapon Skill department, meaning that they’ll struggle to touch a character with this item. That it affects any riders they have is great, as the rider of a flying monster is usually quite powerful themselves. I’m thinking Vampires and Warriors of Chaos here, though Pegasus Knights pack a punch as well.

Unfortunately, the use of this item is weighed down by its price, and the rarity of the models it affects. It’s better and cheaper to get a ward save.

Ruby Ring of Ruin

This moderately priced alliterative bit of jewellery can be quite good in the right force. It’s essentially another Fireball for your army, and in a force that is already packing a few of them, it allows you to burn stuff all the more faster. Because it’s a bound spell, you can only use the level 1 version, but its slightly easier to cast on a 3+. It’s important to note that it still triggers the Lore of Fire’s attribute. This allows you to spark off that chain of easy to cast Lore of Fire spells with the Ruby Ring, opening the door for a Wizard to cast a level 2 or 3 version of the spell, or just a different magic missile/direct damage spell from the Lore of Fire. Given to a non-Wizard, it’s another Fireball you can manoeuvre around the battlefield. Given to a Wizard, you have a guy who can cast Fireball twice in one magic phase, can attempt a Fireball without risking loss of concentration, or still have Fireball while using a different Lore.

Works best in an army where all the Wizards use Fire, but still good outside of such a list.

The Terrifying Mask of Eee!

This item gives the bearer the Terror rule, but also means that they cannot grant their Leadership to any friendly model, even if they're in the same unit. Accordingly, don’t put it on your General. Like the Shrieking Sword, it might help as a defence from Fear and Terror causing enemy models, but this time its point cost and downside is too great to be of any benefit.

Potion of Strength

This Potion grants the bearer +3 Strength for a turn, nice and simple.

Like all the Potions, this one is used at the start of the turn and lasts until the end. The best possible use for it is on the turn you want to declare a charge, as the bonus can stack with that of other items like lances. On a pure combat character it’s great, giving them a huge boost to their hitting power. Best used with a lance or great weapon (or Ogre), or one of the Strength boosting magic weapons, to get the greatest punch possible. It’s also a good item for assassination characters (be they actual assassins or challenged-focused characters), but timing and distance are crucial; you don’t want to use it and then fluff that charge roll. A fast mount, or the Rampager’s Standard, will help deliver your heavy hitter in this regard. The Potion of Strength also lets you choose a different Magic Weapon if you don’t want to take one of the strength boosting trio, essentially letting you combine the Giant Blade and one other weapon for a turn, such as the Sword of Swift Slaying or one of the attack boosting trio. Or you could go nuts and give it to a guy with the actual Giant Blade.
The Potion of Strength doesn’t break the bank

Potion of Toughness

While the Potion of Strength is good for combat characters, this one is better for Wizards and Battle Standard Bearers. This is about the only “just in case” item I can endorse. What’s a “just in case” item? It’s an item that you take in case something goes wrong. Personally I prefer to spend points making sure stuff goes right in the first place, but nobody is infallible and your opponent is going to be gunning for your main Wizard, so having this around just in case he gets into a fight with something nasty could be enough to save his skin.

The Other Trickster’s Shard

As it’s quite easy for a combat character to affect armour saves, many other characters will have a ward save to protect them in combat (and to a lesser extent from magic and shooting). This item essentially negates low armour saves, and lessens the effectiveness of better ones, by forcing the enemy to re-roll successful ward saves.

While cheap, this item works best with a magic weapon that ignores armour saves, most obviously the Obsidian Blade, but as I’ve said in the Magic Weapons review, one of Strength boosting trio would be better as not only do they inflict armour penalties (or outright ignore it in some cases) they give your character a higher chance at wounding.

If your character’s strength is pretty high anyway (Chaos Lord, Ogre Tyrant, Saurus Oldblood) then you might not need one of those specific Magic Weapons and can grab a different one.
The downside to this item is that it affects friendly models too, but this can be ignored with some careful positioning.

The Other Trickster’s Shard is initially an okay item, made good by the addition of certain magic weapons.

Ironcurse Icon

The Icon is a great little item that can provide a large unit with a smidge of protection against war machines, most of which ignore armour saves. A 6+ ward is better than nothing after all (and it gets better if you’re a Tzeentch fanboy). Maximise its potential by having it in a large unit that is likely to be a target for war machines, such as Cavalry, Lizardmen Temple Guard or Ogre Anything. It’s as cheap as a Magic Item can be and is one of the best point fillers you can get for a character.

Potion of Foolhardiness

Like the Potion of Strength, this item is best used on the turn its bearer charges. It grants immunity to Fear and Terror, and an extra attack, which is quite good for 5 points. This item is a good point filler for a cavalry character, and carries the same uses and disadvantages as the Potion of Strength, so it’s used in the same way.

Potion of Speed

Like the other Potions, the Potion of Speed is best used when the character is about to charge. Granting a +3 bonus to Initiative, this Potion allows the bearer to strike faster than almost any opponent, given his own Initiative value. Due to its cheap cost, you can give it to any combat character and it’ll always benefit him, and will go well with most weapons (excluding great weapons of course). A good magic weapon, for example, is the Sword of Swift Striking, as it allows you to get the re-rolls to rolls to hit quite easily. Another good point filler item.


Enchanted Items can give a helpful boost to a character that they couldn’t get anywhere else, an extra layer of ability that can help your army perform. While some are too expensive for their effect, and others need a strategy built around them to get the most out of them, a few of them are great for any character and can be effective in most situations.

In the last part of this series, I’ll showcase some example characters from different armies that use just Common Magic Items

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