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Topic of the Week - Battle Wizard and Wizard Lord
This is the start of a new series, that will hopefully bring new ideas and tactics to the forums. Each week, a new topic will be posted up about a different unit in the army book. This gives you your chance to discuss the unit to its fullest. So, please leave your comment!
This week's topic is - Battle Wizard and Wizard Lord
Are these worth the character slot they take? What lore works best with them? What magic items do you use for them? Is the extra magic level worth the points? How do you use them with your army?
Well...let me preface my comments by saying that they only really apply if you aren't going "whole hog" on magic. This is only if you want to stay in shouting distance of your opponent and have sufficient magic defense. Magic is almost an all or nothing proposition for empire armies. What I think it actually is is all or one, as in one caster. I'd hesitate to say that you could afford to have even a single character be "other than a mage" at or below 2000 points if you're making more than one a mage. I think if you go magic heavy but take a BSB, for example, you end up in a situation where you can pretty reliably shut down most armies' magical offense, but you don't quite have enough offense of your own to put you over the top...that one more hero level mage that you've decided not to take results in a stalemated magic phase...which is a disaster if you've devoted all but one of your characters to magic!
If you decide, as I have, to worry about magic defense, but not put all of your eggs in that basket, I think that priests, in general, will carry you a long way. The only thing they can't do on magic defense is wield arcane items.
1. You really really really need at least one mage, be it hero or lord.
2. If you only have one, take the rod of power over a pair of scrolls. It's better to have extra DD in every turn than one or two one-use scrolls...and since your solo mage isn't going to be producing much offense, there will be PD laying around not accomplishing much...it'd be a shame to let those go to waste!
3. If you're taking multiple priests and are playing at the 2k level, you have a lord slot open...IMHO, the best use you can make of this is to take a wizard lord as your only mage. Why? Well, what are your choices? You could take a pure fighty character, like a general, as a character hunter...but he'll be "merely human," so you're better off with a cheaper VHS-equipped character for those duties. If you took a general for the leadership bubble, keep in mind that you have a bunch of priests leading units with LD8, and several of their prayers deal with bolstering the unit's will to fight...Taking this LD9 poor excuse for a combat monster is really the best alternative to a WL. The AL is a joke if you aren't rolling out a Walter...which, while not cheesy, is extremely unfluffy (there's only one Walter and two arch lectors...funny how they turn up on every battlefield!) Between the fact that his second prayer is almost a waste (since he can't maintain two RIP spells simultaneously) and the fact that he's still only PL4, he's almost a waste of a lord slot, again absent the Walter.
So what are the benefits of the WL in an army with no other wizards? Besides the fact that he generates two DD (the only real upside of an AL, by the way), he's got a 100 point trinkets allotment. That allows you to take the rod of power AND two scrolls, giving you a ridiculous amount of flexibility in terms of balancing your magical efforts between defense and offense. If you're playing brets, you'll probably load up the rod with DD to convert them into PD, and rely on the two scrolls to see you through on the off chance that one of the ladies gets something important off. If you're playing VC, you can safely transfer the two "pool" power dice, and maybe one of your own, into the defensive phase, and still have the threat of a 3D6 spell (saved for last!) to make the enemy think twice about dispelling those puny-but-pesky priestly prayers. Is it essential that you take a WL if you take no other wizards? Of course not! But it seems to me to be a very good use of the slot, and the ability to take the rod and still have room for a scroll or two is pretty cool. /edit/ Note: You could of course take two caddies, one for the scroll and one for the rod, but given the general mediocrity of our lord choices, I find that two hero slots are more valuable than a single lord slot. That's why I'd rather take just one mage, and make it one who's allowed to take the rod AND some scrolls. I'm not just taking the WL for the 100 point allowance, I also find that being able to take four of the six spells in a lore makes him more reliable in terms of getting the spells that you want. I'd only ever count on a battle wizard doing his job if it's the default spell I'm after. Even two rolls of a D6 for spell choice when I need a 4 to come up on one of them is dicey...pun intended.
To answer the specific questions that I haven't already addressed:
What lore works best with them?
Depends...I very much prefer to select a lore based on what it will do for me, rather than what it will do to my opponent. Mainly, that's because I build "all comers" armies. If I'm designing a list to take on a very particular build of a specific army book, then, yes, there's room to discuss which lore works best in that case (metal against brets, for example, although beast cowers can be funny, too). OTOH, metal's best spells fall flat against most DoC and O&G armies...so I don't consider it the "best" all-comers list. An example of "what can a lore do for me?" would be taking shadows to make a flying wizzie with VHS to go character hunting. My personal preference is actually the lore of light. It supplements my priestly spells in buffing the (otherwise found wanting) morale of my troops. That's the real reason that I take the lore on my WL...dropping an ITP bubble over my battle line (without pesky special rules like crumble) effectively eliminates the main drawback of fielding ranks'n'flanks. But if I happen to be playing against undead....~grin~
Is the extra magic level worth the points?
On a Wizard Lord-ALWAYS. On a scroll caddy-NEVER. Other hero-level mages...usually. It depends. If you're only interested in the default spell for his chosen lore, you only need that extra level for an extra PD...probably not worth the points. If you have your heart set on a specific spell other than the default spell, two chances at it is better than one...plus you get that bonus PD (that you may very well need to get the spell off anyway). If you're going magic-heavy, you almost certainly want all the PD and spells you can get your hands on. The though of playing against 12PD and possibly 10 different spells is a lot more frightening than 9 PD and 7 potential spells...the benefits of taking L2 wizards over L1 add up fast when you're taking a lot of them!
What magic items do you use for them?
If I can take only one, it's always the rod of power. Being able to shift dice from phase to phase is awesome. After that, it's pretty much scrolls. I can't think of any other arcane items off the top of my head that I'd take...as for items that anyone can have that I'd consider putting on a wizzie...well, of course there's VHS... I'd put Aldred's on someone else, though, a character who's more likely to be up close and personal with an opponent's caster. Putting it on my own wizard forces me to get him in range when he's probably more comfortable skulking around in back. Maybe the armor, if the wizard's mounted...but overall, I'd rather have the shroud than Tarnus.
Are these worth the character slot they take?
One is always worth it...if you take zero, you're wasting two PD (which that one could convert, along with his own single PD, into DD), and you can't take scrolls or the rod to give yourself a fighting chance on magic defense. After that, I'd say they aren't worth it unless you're taking at least four.
How do you use them with your army?
Defense and support. I field one WL with the rod and two scrolls. When facing a magic-heavy enemy, he ports three PD into DD, pops 2-3 weak spells to take some heat off the priestly prayers, and scrolls anything game-breaking. When facing an army with little magic to speak of, he ports three DD into PD, giving himself nine dice to cast with, and generally makes a nuisance of himself. When facing average magic, he doesn't use the rod much, and does what he can with six power dice, six dispel dice (one each from the pair of priests I field), and two scrolls.
Last edited by Marnepup; June 7th, 2010 at 20:32.
IG since 1999 __ DA since 2002 __ Tau since 2005 __ SoB since 2007
Brets 1997-1999 __ TK since 2009 __ Empire since 2010
thank you for the indepth article marne, your defensive outlook on magic is pretty much how i see myself playing with.. magic yeah.