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In Magic We Trust Ė 7th Edition High Elf Magic Tactica
by Lord Anathir
I am new around here, but Iíve decided to write a tactica for our 7th edition book, focusing on my favorite phase; Magic. I began writing this tactica late (June 200 because of the different magic phases I have been testing since the bookís release. Reading this tactica may help you in your own casting phase, and help you get through your opponentís phases.
Iím going to try to make this as short as possible Ö without losing any content.
Magic is the most unreliable phase of them game, but if harnessed successfully can yield the greatest results. Anything that reduces the fickle nature of the phase is always useful.
Chapter 1: The Transition from 6th to 7th edition
1.1 Ė The Lore of High Magic
All in all, high magic has not changed very much. Our major spells, vaulís unmaking, flames of the phoenix, and fury of khaine, have stayed the same, as well as curse of arrow attraction. What has changed are our smaller support spells. As I will explain later these are vital to a lore of magic.
Walk Between Worlds is gone, and has been replaced by Shield of Saphery, a spell that grants a 5+ ward save to a friendly unit within 18 inches. The new spell is very useful, especially for buffing troops that you know are going to take a beating. It is not Remains In Play, and thatís very important, which means you can continue casting and your opponent canít dispel it.
The other new spell is Courage of Anaerion. This is the ultimate battle line spell, especially if you have a battle standard bearer. If your mage is in position, it will give important units stubborn for two combat phases. Without the battle standard I wouldnít always trust important infantry to hold with it (ld 8/9 can still be failed). However, for minor units (like a unit of 5 archers), making them stubborn for a round could be important. Never go into combat assuming you will get this spell off, because your opponent can dispel it, you could fail to cast it, miscast it, and so on.
Drain Magic has changed. It is no longer the terror of the spell it used to be, because big nasty mages can just chuck another dice at whatever spell he needs. Also, it doesnít stop irresistible force. Overall, it just doesnít shut down that slann/uber lvl4 like it used to. What it does now however, is shut down smaller enemy casters. The +3 is a huge handicap for smaller lvl2 mages, allowing you to save dice for your opponentís lord caster. Finally, the new drain magic has unlimited range, and those spells are always good.
Overall, the lore has a wider variety of spells that helps out a high elf army. It has something for nearly every phase/stage of the game and augments different kinds of high elf troops (shooting or cc or whatever) better then any other lore. It doesnít mean we should take high lore all the time, but it is certainly a lore I take often with at least one mage. The problem with the lore is that it doesnít do one thing in particular very well. It doesnít have damage spells like fire, it doesnít have the anti-monster spells of beasts, and it doesnít have the mass no-range spells of heavens. But thatís what the regular 8 lores are for.
1.2 Ė Arcane and other Magic Related Items
7th edition does not offer us the same potent magical trinkets that our old book did. Our bound items were hit hard. While the Ring of Fury is more or less the same, it now costs 40 points, meaning we cant use it in conjunction with a dispel scroll. Ring of Corin took a mega beating. It used to be a dice drainer item, when that your opponent would have to use 1 (or 2 if he really canít afford to let it go) to stop it. Now it is more of a surprise item. The one use only is a huge blow. Even worse, it is now an arcane item and nobles/princes can not take it. The old combination of ring of corin and jewel of dusk on a mage is dead.
The loss of honors is also a huge blow. While we still retain seer in our arcane item section, we canít take it on multiple mages. Also, we canít stack it with other arcane items. The loss of channeler means our lvl 2 mages cant throw 4 dice at a big spell any more. It means that they wonít get any big spells off unless we take a lord level caster.
We retained most of our arcane items, and even got a few more to chose from. Unfortunately, there is huge competition for every arcane slots, so I still end up taking most of the stuff I did last edition.
Book of Hoeth:
With Teclisí new rule, a lvl4 with the book is nearly useless, unless you want him on a horse, eagle, dragon or you simply donít want to use special characters. Its old weaknesses are still there. You run the risk of not rolling for an important spell, your hero mages are weaker (which you have to take because he only offers 4 dd and no scrolls) and you have high chances of miscasting with the 4 or 5 dice you will be using to cast spells with IF (to make full use of the item).
I am not a huge fan of the item. It is useful against a few armies (tomb kings, vampires, and other armies with big magic phases. But it is an arcane item. I simply canít justify taking a caster lord just to stop my opponentís magic for 1 phase. Against armies that donít have magic, not only is the cost of the item wasted, but the cost of the caster is wasted as well (a lvl 4 without casting items is useless.
This is a great item if you have the arcane slot to buy it. Not only does it grant you dispel dice (of which it is hard to come by in a HE army), but it gives a low magic army (ie dwarfs) virtually no chance of dispelling a remains in play spell of low casting value (such as howler wind). The crystal also screws up the planning phase for an opponent because if he has a magic phase designed for 10 power dice (like Teclisí 2x5 dice phase) then he suddenly has that plan disrupted by the crystal.
There have been rule debates regarding whether you can use the crystal in the MIDDLE of your opponentís phase. It doesnít say you canít in the description, but in the rulebook it does say that you generate dispel and power dice pools in the beginning of your phase. The crystal affects the quantities of these pools so therefore must be used in the beginning of the magic phase. Generating dispel and power dice is a distinct part of the magic phase, just like dispelling remains in play HAS to come after you finish casting spells. Similarly, you canít pass step x (pool generation) move on to step y (casting spells) and then say to your opponent Ďoops, lets go back to step xí.
Sigil of Asuryan:
This is overpriced and unreliable. Two dispel scrolls are better in my opinion.
Iíve played around with the staff for many games this new edition. In theory, it lets you cast spells of certain casting value with one less dice then you normally would. For example, I would cast a 7+ spell with 3 dice, but a 6+ with 2 dice. With the staff, I can go ahead and treat that 7+ spell like itís a 6+ spell and thus save a power dice. However, in a real game I find that I rarely roll a 6 (+1 for SS) and more often roll above 6 and cast the spell normally, or below 6 and fail the spell normally. The latter actually causes me to lose dice, rather then save dice as I intended it to be. Also, there are only a few of those threshold spells which are actually cast on the brink of 2/3 dice (7+) or 3/4 dice (9/10+). Finally, starwood staff is an arcane slot and Iíd rather have something more reliable.
Your primary goal when casting spells is to get them OFF, not by how much you get them off.
This is an interesting item, but it really doesnít improve magic defense. Especially for an arcane item, Iíd just rather have something that wonít be wasted half the time. But I did use it a few times in mage battles (lol).
It is our best arcane item because it makes our lvl2s decent casters and able to react to wide variety of threats. There isnít really anything else to explain about it.
Ring of Corin:
Iíve already talked about this and take it sometimes, depending on how many mages I have.
Staff of Solidity:
This is a very interesting item. It does give your archmage some insurance when it comes to miscasting, but I always find myself taking another item over it.
Jewel of Dusk:
This is a strong item. Like the annulian crystal, I sometimes let it go in favor of quality over quantity. Instead of giving a lvl2 jewel of dusk I would give him the seer staff. If your opponent has a dragon, and you want your level 4 to take lore of fire for other reasons, then your lvl2 can take lore of beasts and select beastís cowers and the wolf hunts. Now what is better: 100% chance of getting those two spells and 2 + d3 + 2 dice to cast them with or two random spells and having 2 + d3 + 3 dice to cast them with?
This is the arcane item I give my lvl4. It is not as reliable as seer, but it is as close as it gets. I can live with 5/6 spells of a lore to get Ďthatí spell. If you donít roll it then you donít, itís that simple. However you have all the other spells so you should be able to improvise.
Gem of Sunfire:
Due its Ďone use onlyí and Ďlore of fire onlyí clauses, it is a very situational item. It has its uses on a dragon mages, especially because they HAVE to take fire. I wouldnít give this arcane item to a DM though, as I will explain later. This item is a 3rd lvl2 or 4th lvl2 item, and shouldnít really be taken before seer, silver wand, jewel of dusk or the annulian crystal.
They are still 20 points. Take note of the 30 pt arcane items you can give to a lvl2 in conjunction to a scroll. I usually take the seer staff, so that lvl2 is the one that gets a dispel scroll. My level 4 often has the silver wand so he always has space for a scroll or two.
Stones are surprise items that let you cast a big spell when you need and when your opponent does not expect it. I sometimes carry a stone on a lvl4 but my lvl2 with seer can be a viable option. You can decide to let your seer mage take a 3 dice spell (the one you want to cast every turn) and a 4 dice spell and go for it once a game with the stone. Donít simply use it as two free power dice, use the surprise factor as well.
Staff of Sorcery:
Staff of Sorcery is the same price as the Annulian crystal. HE armies struggle for dispel dice and already have +1 to dispel. Therefore, when I have space for a 40 pt anti magic item, I take the crystal over the staff.
Chapter 2: Regular Caster Characters
2.1 Ė Mages
Mages are our basic casters. Unless you intend to play complete magic defense, they should always be upgraded to a 2nd level. There a few instances where keeping the 1st level is alright and worth saving points. I donít run this any more (I canít), but in 6th edition I used to use this magic setup:
Lvl 4, ring of fury, seer, scroll, scroll
Lvl 2, seer, channeller, silver wand
Lvl 1, ring of corin, jewel of dusk
Note the lvl1. If he carries the jewel of dusk (which is a 15pt item filler for ring of corin) what are the differences between him and a lvl2? The lvl2 would have an extra spell and an extra dice. Now, this extra dice can not be used by the other two casters, so in order to be efficient the lvl2 would have to use 3 dice per magic phase. Now, unless he rolls a good spell that requires 3 dice, his last dice is wasted. Therefore, I used to run this mage as a default spell wizard casting on 2 dice (and thereby a constant not affecting the rest of the phase). He was an excellent mage, supplying a fireball/basic drain magic/burning iron/potent of far, a dispel dice, and a strong bound item.
In our current edition, keeping the lvl2 is a bit more important. What else would you give a lvl1 mage with the jewel of dusk? Ring of fury doesnít fit, Ring of corin is arcaneÖmaybe a scroll? There arenít many options that are worth it. When I introduce my magic setup for 7th edition I will explain why these small spell casters are not of maximum efficiency any more.
For low magic armies, mages can be kept at lvl1 with a pair of scrolls. Some people donít even bother with a caddy and just try to max on troops and saturation of targets. If I were to play that kind of army I would take the caddie. There are some spells cast in the first two turns that simply canít go off, something that is more then just pure damage (with 140pts of substitute troops could take) and more game breaking.
I will go more into mage item setups and how to use them later.
2.2 Ė Archmages
Archmages are our main casters and bear the brunt of the magic phase. I use him as my general. Itís good to keep your archmage (and usually, all your mages) close to your main infantry battle line, for the purposes of leadership, protection, aoe spells, short range spells, etc.
The level 4 on the archmage is more or less mandatory. There arenít many feasible reasons to keep him a lvl3. Keeping him alive is a key factor as well. Losing him means youíve lost your general and primary magic offense and defense (and lots of VP).
Leadership 9 is wonderful for your spear elf blocks. Add in a battle standard bearer and maybe a buff aoe spell and you will have a formidable army anchor (Iím not a huge fan of taking charges though, even with ASF. Iíd rather do the charging myself, so I get to pick the targets and make him react to my actions.)
Chapter 3: Secondary and Special Casters
3.1 Ė Dragon Mage of Caledor
I am not a huge fan of the dragon mage. I have used it for a bit this edition, but, while I like the concept, I feel it was not executed properly in the list design.
The Dragon Mage rides a sun DRAGON. Iím going to talk about the sun dragon later, but I will say only that it is too weak to do damage to most support units (which is the job of a dragon), such as knights, decent missile units, and some other small things. Its flame template isnít the best either.
The DM himself has to take lore of fire, which isnít a bad thing. The Warrior-Mage rule isnít to my liking. Although having flaming sword is nice, you are restricted to one (or 2 with the wand) spell that is useful outside of combat. When cast, flaming sword isnít uber-good either. 3 st6 that hit on 2s is awesome, but for a spell that can be dispelled and then RIP dispelled it just isnít good enough. If his default was fireball, he could do some damage running around.
Reckless is the special rule that makes this character even worth considering. At first glance the rule is fantastic, almost broken. He has the major rule of a 2nd Gen slann! However, he has problems generating reckless dice. First of all, he only has 2 of his own dice, and 2 spells. His spells are random, meaning you donít really know how to structure your phase before the game. Giving him seer means he is still stuck with 2 dice (and the staff is taken away from a lvl2). My lvl4 has silver wand so that is unavailable. Gem of sunfire is an option but of limited use. I would give him the jewel of dusk, for that all important 3rd dice. (the other 2+2 from sorcery) are reserved for my other mages.
With jewel of dusk:
I roll for 2 spells, hopefully I get a spell that can be cast with 3 dice. Firey Blast and Burning head are good 3 dice spells, Conflagration of Doom and Wall of fire are 4 dice spells. If I miss the 3 dice spells on the roll Iíll have to cast the 4 dice spell with my 3 dice and only generate 1 reckless dice.
All in all we have a unit that tries to fulfill two rules properly; mobile heavy punch, and heavy magic. The end result is that the DM does not do either properly. A toughness six mount is nice, but the t3 rider is simply free combat resolution in close combat and does not warrant the 350-435 points and 2 hero slots.
I do know people who have used the dragon mage to some success, but I personally do not like it.
3.2 Ė Mage Knights
Mage knights are simply nobles or princes with the Radiant gem of hoeth, making them lvl1 wizards and giving them access to arcane items. Mage Knights excel at adding a relatively cheap default spell and a cheap dispel dice to the pool. I have found nobles are excellent candidates for carrying the gem. Unfortunately, a good opponent will realize you have no other equipment and may decide to target the noble in combat if he has the opportunity.
I do not like princes with the RGoH in the context of an offensive magic army. The RGoH is used to bolster an already strong magic phase. A prince instead of a lvl4 will mean the magic phase is already weak to certain extent. If you need more magic why not convert the prince to a noble and get a lvl4 caster? You also have to ask yourself why you are taking a prince in favor of a noble in the first place. Usually, the prince is taken in order to take a big mount or kill or tie up enemy combat characters. If that is the case the RGoH is not a suitable item as it eats your talisman item slot (meaning you canít take Talisman of Loec) and does not leave you for both a protective and offensive piece of gear (both of which are important when fighting enemy lords). If your Prince isnít going to do either of these things and is there to kill a few troopers why not simply take a noble instead?
Instead of trying to have a prince cast magic and fight in combat it is wiser to let him specialize in the fighting aspect and leave magic the casters.
The RGoH and a scroll or two on a Prince in a defensive magic army is not a bad idea but I tend to find that he needs to dedicate his full magic allowance to protection and offensive gear instead of buying the RGoH or similar auxiliary units.
Chapter 4: Special Characters
4.1 Ė Teclis
Teclis may well be centerpiece of our primary competitive build. This is primary due to his reliability in selecting spells, avoiding harmful miscasting, casting through enemy defenses, and so forth. He simply provides the tools high elf armies need to deal with most units your opponent can field.
Teclis has a weakness, and its not the toughness 2 (if heís combat with mage hunters, youíve done something wrong, and t3 isnít going to save you barring bizarre situations). His weakness is that as a special character, your opponent knows exactly what he does, what items he has and so forth. Iíve seen a wood elf player hide his treeman behind a forest the whole game upon Teclisí selection of pit of shades. The Teclis player eventually lost because he didnít kill the treeman and the remainder of his spells werenít of much use to him against the rest of the woodie army (pit of shades has limited use against welves).
Additionally he can only select spells from one lore and therefore he does not take full advantage of lore combination.
But overall, despite the few minor disadvantages listed, Teclis is in my opinion a solid choice in any all comer list.
4.2 Ė Eltharion
Eltharion is the epitome of multitasking. He has a lance style weapon that ignores armor saves, provides leadership ten, provides 2PD/1DD, has a ward save and rides a flying monster that also has a ward save. Heís a strong choice, and can be incorporated into some monster/heavy magic character setups. Eltharion on Stormwing, a dragon mage and a regular lvl2 makes for a powerful magic phase and provides 2 terror monsters as well. Unfortunately, I donít think the riders are adequately protected and hence I leave this setup left at home. He is too expensive to be as vulernable as he is to mobile missiles, such as hail of doom arrow, xbows on dark riders, pistoliers. Once he dies the griffon loses his ward save and will go down quickly.
Eltharion on foot is a nice balance between combat and magic. He provides leadership, hitting power, magic, and so makes a nice general for armies. His disadvantage is his fragility, even more so because your opponent knows he has low armor/ward.
Chapter 5: Defining Your Magic Phase
When you write your army list, you have to decide what sort of magic phase you want. Itís really quite simple, the options are as follows: None, Light, Medium, Heavy, or Ultra Heavy. Iím going to run through them briefly and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.
5.1 Ė No Magic
No Magic is simply just that. You run naked with two dispel dice and try to take out mages and swarm your opponent with too many targets. The primary advantage of taking no magic over light defensive magic is that you save the points of the scroll caddie and invest it in more troops.
While in theory 4 eagles, two dragons and multiple heavy cavalry units give you enough mage hunting options, there are a few armies/setups in particular that will burn you. Mobile mages come to mind, like kairos fateweaver, tomb king priests with cloak of dunes or mounted, slann embedded in giant stubborn units. Could you imagine trying to catch the flying tzeentch mages with no magic/shooting of your own? Youíre screwed. He is just going to keep dancing around casting anything and everything at you. Tzeentch magic is not flaming (according to the errata) so your dragon prince and dragon lord are in trouble.
On the other hand, if you draw dwarfs or other low/no magic armies then you will have plenty of combat potential to defeat them easily.
No magic is a very risky rock-paper-scissor setup which may lead to your undoing (or success) based on the luck of the draw in tournaments.
5.2 Ė Light Magic
To me, light magic is a simple scroll caddie. 140 points for 3 dispel dice and two scrolls is not that expensive, but itís not that cheap either. Like no magic armies, light magic armies rely on overloading your opponent with targets that are adept and taking out war machines and eagles. However, unlike no-magic lists, scroll caddies can dispel two important spells in turns 1 or 2 that will give your units a better chance on the way in.
The scroll caddie setup suffers when playing a no magic army, because 140 points of your army is effectively wasted.
A dragon mage with two scrolls with a prince on star dragon may be the best character setup for fast assault armies. Sure, dragon mages die easily, but by the time they die they have probably burned their scrolls. At that point, itís the toughness 6 dragon that is more important, not the mage on top.
5.3 Ė Medium Magic
Your classical medium magic setup consists of two level twos with a mix of defensive and offensive items. In theory, you have a magic setup that is capable of punishing low magic armies late game, while having decent magical defense.
The loss of multiple seers and channelers really hurt the medium magic setup. Before, it was possible to run two mages with seer and a scroll and continually cast a certain spell on three dice twice a turn. Now, since only one mage can take seer and select an important spell the other has to risk rolling for it. Not getting the spells you want really destroys a magic phase because your opponent can ignore the useless/weak spells you have and thereby save dice for more threatening spells.
Medium magic suffers from a Ďjack of all trades, good at noneí syndrome. It really doesnít have that much of a better defense then light magic (4dd, 3 scrolls vs 3dd 2 scrolls), and its offensive potential will not threaten armies with decent protection.
Comparing Medium Magic to Heavy Magic: Medium magic with two level twos loses the ability to reliably cast spells the big four dice spells. It can be done with a setup using a single level four, but then you lose the option of taking a prince (which is what makes medium magic attractive in the first place).
I sometimes run this setup because I do like the flexibility it provides: Lvl 2, Seer, Scroll + Lvl 2, Scrollx2, Silver Wand. I find the banner of sorcery isnít really necessary. 6 power dice for 2 spells of 3 dice or 3 spells of 2 is what I will usually cast. The banner of sorcery really wonít add all that much, just two more dice for a default spell. Not worth 50 points in my opinion. The volatility on the number of dice coming from your banner makes it difficult to plan a magic phase when it has so few dice in it.
5.4 Ė Heavy Magic
Heavy magic is my choice of magic setups. It involves a level four archmage and a level two mage at the very least. A second level two is optimal.
Heavy Magic has a few advantages over medium magic. Namely, you have better offensive magic and defensive magic. The level four means you have access to the big 12+ spells.
Compared to ultra heavy magic, armies with heavy magic donít rely solely on magic to win them the game. While their magic phase is a threat, if something goes wrong in the magic phase (like miscasting) or if you lose a mage to mage hunters, the game is still winnable via close combat and shooting.
I will get back to this phase later.
5.5 Ė Ultra Heavy Magic
These setups are those that dominate the magic phase through loads of power dice, dispel dice, scrolls, bound items and power stones. 3 or 4 mages is the common way to get this done.
While you can be fairly certain you will dominate the magic phase, your army will suffer from not having any combat characters, battle standard bearers and being prone to miscasting and losing your entire phase.
Also you have to take into account armies that are resistant to magic, or those who happen to stock up on anti magic, or those that are fast enough to engage your weak close combat troops without taking lots of damage from magic. It is very risky, and that is why I donít invest in a 950 point magic phase.
Chapter 6: The Most Efficient Magic Phase
*For the rest of this article, I will be referring to this magic setup:*
Alright here it is:
Level 4 Archmage, Silver Wand, Ring of Fury, Scrollx2
Level 2 Mage, Seerstaff, Scroll
Banner of Sorcery
9-11 PD + 1 Bound, 5 DD + 3 Scrolls
High Elves are a unique race in the sense that we have the seer staff and silver wand. These items give us a near 100% chance of getting the spells you need for a particular game. We have 55 spells to choose from. We should take full advantage of this. Some people like picking the jewel of dusk and the annulian crystal as their arcane items, but what good is one more power dice if you donít have good spells to use it on?
Other armies generate more power dice, more dispel dice or have +1 to cast, or dice battery spells, or whatever, but very few armies have the spell flexibility and reliability that we do.
Therefore, in order to take full advantage of it is to select and consistently cast the nastiest, dirtiest game breaking spells you can. Forget casting default spells; those are for armies like empire that roll randomly on the chart and hope for the best.
It is no coincidence that my average number of power dice is 10. It is just what you need for this sort of magic phase: a big 4 dice spell, followed by a 3 dice spell from the level 4 and another 3 dice spell from the level 2.
In other words, High Elf magic phases are about making every single dice count.
There will be more on spell selection later.
Chapter 7: The Changing Roles of Magic Through-out the Game
I have identified three phases of the game (early, middle, end) where your magic phase has to accomplish different goals.
7.1 Ė Early Game Magic
Do not be surprised or disappointed if your magic phase does little or nothing for the first two or three turns of the game. During these turns your opponent will likely have all mages alive. This means he will be burning his scrolls and have his maximum dispel dice pool for the rest of your spells.
The roll of magic at this stage is simply to get rid of his dispel scrolls as quickly as possible. This is usually done by casting the 4 dice mega damage spells (flames of the phoenix, spirit of the forge, pit of shades). With your remaining 2 3 dice spells, you might be able to get a few spells off, or you might have them dispelled or scrolled. 2d6 magic missiles at fast cavalry are good choices, or drain magic vs magic heavy armies, or beast cowers on dragons. Whatever you think will yield the best results.
Needless to say, in order to be successful in this phase, you need strong damage spells. Having solely support spells (such as stubborn, ward save, make-your-unit-cause-fear) and casting fireballs and other weak damage spells early game means your opponent can save scrolls for the middle and end game magic phases.
7.2 Ė Middle Game Magic
I define the beginning of the middle game magic as being the point in the game where legitimate combat begins. Note that Iíve already said that magic cannot be counted on for the first few phases of the game. Therefore I make it a point when writing my army list to have a functional combat contingent that can operate as if magic didnít exist.
At this point in the game, provided you succeeded in the early game magic phase, your opponent will be out, or short of scrolls. This is where your magic begins to shine.
You have a choice in terms of what spells you chose to cast. This depends on what your main threats are, unit match ups in close combats and so on. You have a choice between continuing your ultra high damage spells, or switching to auxiliary spells to help your combat units out. Not all lores of magic have combat aiding spells, but the good ones do. The lores with the holy trinity of damage spells; High (flames), Metal (spirit of the forge), Shadow (pit of shades), all have combat aiding spells.
High Magic has Shield of Saphery and Courage of Anaerion. Both of which are potent spells. Courage and a nearby battle standard bearer transform makeshift combat units into rock solid anvils that can hold superior units until aid arrives.
The lore of Metal has Transfiguration of Lead, a potent spell that will make you spear elves look like combat ninjas.
Finally, the lore of Shadow has the fear-causing spell and unseen lurker. Having a block of spears cause fear is always nice, as is unseen lurkerís extra movement to gain a flank charge or something else of the sort. Notice the short casting range of unseen lurker.
There are very few other combat support spells; Doom and Darkness, Blinding Light, Second Sign of Amul, Potent Far. Unfortunately the rest of these lores are bit too weak for my liking although I will sometimes take them depending on the army match up. When I say Ďtoo weakí I mean they do not have the strong damage spells (that have 24 inch range) that bring out scrolls in turns one and two that make casting these support spells possible.
Please note it is sometimes best to just keep casting the uber damage spells and let your combat troops fend for themselves. You really have to look at the combats and see if your troops need help or not. It is imperative to never enter a combat based on the premise of casting a certain auxiliary spell.
Do not forget to get your mages out of harmís way the turn before combat is engaged. Run them into forests, behind units, into war machine crew, anywhere they arenít going to get killed. Unless you are fighting some weak close combat army like skaven or an army that still has accurate shooting, never keep your mages inside the units.
7.3 Ė End Game Magic Phase
If youíve done things right and your mages are alive and his scrolls are gone (or mages dead), turns 5 and 6 is where your magic should shine. Switch your spell line up back to that of turns 1 and 2. Go for maximum damage. There really isnít much else to say about this phase.
Of course, there are some exceptions to all of the above
Chapter 8: Spell Selection and Lore Combinations
8.1 Ė Damage and Auxiliary Spell Ratios
Based on the spells you need in chapter 7, you should have damage spells AND auxiliary spells. The key thing to identify is how many of each.
When rolling for spells, roll the level 4ís first. Although he has 5/6 spells of a lore, his selection process is not foolproof. Occasionally he misses a spell you would like to have, and so on. Therefore, let the level 4 roll spells first, and then select spells with your level two.
The lores I pick with both my mages are based on the damage spells. Without the damage spells, the scrolls donít come out early game and the magic phase wonít work.
The level 4 Mage has 5 spells, and he can only have 1 big four dice spell. A 3 dice big spell that you can cast for good damage and a combat auxiliary spell are mandatory. The last two spells can be split as you see fit (often the randomness of the 5 dice will decide this for you.
Lets say you roll poorly and you donít get one of the three Ďmandatoryí spell types. If you donít get roll the big 4 dice spell you are in a bit of trouble, but in that case Iíd select direct damage spells on my level two (fire ball, fiery blast) and scrap the whole Ďburning scrollsí concept and go for nuke spamming.
I donít select a big 12+ spell with my level 2. I donít its worth failing to cast half the time. How I miss channeler and casting with 4 dice. The first spell you pick should be a damage or important 3 dice spell. Then look at what you rolled for your level 4 mage. If he didnít get a combat auxiliary spell, select one with your level two. If your level 4 already has one you can chose to get another one, or get another auxiliary spell or another damage spell. The second spell is really at your discretion. Certain armies you come up against will require you to take different spell combinations.
So, for example, in the last game I played (against a Skaven Seer Council) I took High Magic with my level. I rolled 1,2,3,4,5 with my archmage. The Ď5í spell is his Ď4 dice big spell Ė the scroll spellí. His Ď3 Dice Big Spellí is Drain Magic. It is not as nasty as flames but my opponent will really want to dispel it. He has 2 close combat auxiliaries in the 1 and 3 spells, a missile auxiliary in 2, and a nuke in 4.
The level 2ís Ď3 Dice Big Spellí is Drain magic, which he can swap for his nuke. He has an auxiliary in curse of arrow attraction.
Lets say I rolled 1,2,4,5,6 on my level 4. In that case I would select spells 3 and 4 with my level 2, in order to give me the strong combat auxiliary of the lore.
Chapter 9: Casting Spells
9.1 Ė Number of Dice Per Spell
Remember your goal is not to waste any dice, so you want every spell to go off successfully. Donít ever throw a few dice at a spell and hope for a big roll in order for it to go off (unless you need to gamble). I find this chart works well:
There are a few exceptions of course. If you know your opponent doesnít have any scrolls left, and you might want to raise the value of a 12+ spell as much as you can so that he canít dispel it with dice. This can be done by using 5 dice to cast.
9.2 Ė Order of casting spells
Usually every turn you will identify which spell you really want to go off. I would sandwich this spell right in the middle of your phase. People often try to dispel the first spell or save dice for the last one, so I find the middle does just fine. Also, you donít want to leave your important spell to the end of the phase because you risk miscasting on some unimportant spell and ending the turn without even casting your important spell.
The order of spells isnít really that important, and against strong players it doesnít matter too much because he will know what spells you have, which ones need dispelling and which ones donít.
9.3 Ė On Miscasting
Miscasting is something you have to accept as part of magic. Expect it at any time, especially at the worst possible moment. Do not try to cast lots of lower powered spells just to reduce the chances of miscast. Go all out. You have RBT for reliability.
Chapter 10: Keeping your Mages Alive
Keeping your mages alive is a fundamental part of the magic phase. Your opponent will try to hunt them down, shoot them, panic the unit they are in, and so on. The key thing is not to just hide them, but to place them in safe positions where they can cast their spells at the desired targets.
Early game, I usually keep my mages in blocks of spear elves. Spears give you the bodies that protect mages from shooting. Your opponent might actually shoot your spears instead of your swordmasters!
Things get interesting and difficult when your opponent moves units into charge range of your spears. Even if the opponentís unit in question is not strong in combat, the mages shouldnít be kept in the spear units unless the attacking unit can be vanquished by your spears in one round of combat and there is no risk to your mage.
When your mages are threatened by units that cannot be destroyed by speed of asuryan, you have a few options:
a) run for cover inside a forest. Forests are wonderful places for mages to be in, because they can dance around units by utilizing the two inch line of sight rule while still being able to see out of the forest at the units he wants to cast at.
b) run into war machine crew or missile units. I donít use missile units in my army so I often send my mage into rbt crew. He isnít fool proof against shooting, but he is much safer then being in the open.
c) block your opponentís units from seeing him via using your own units to get in the way.
Repeater Bolt Throwers are excellent at killing fast cavalry and a magic missile will destroy a light skirmisher flying unit. Everything else can be avoided if you are smart and you use your spear elf units like this:
Notice how the mage sandwiched in between the two spear units has line of sight but can not be charged by either unit due to frontage issues. Make sure the spears donít break or else the mage will get hit with the overrun. Maneuvers like that should only be done as a last resort if you canít shoot or magic the mage unit. I like shooting little support units like that with repeater bolt throwers so I tend to not have very many problems with enemy mage hunting.
If your archmage has lore of shadows do not forget the steed of shadows spell.
Iím sorry I canít show more, but every game is different, and mage hiding is dependant on many variables (ie how much shooting your opponent has, where it is located, where terrain is, what army you are against, and so on). It is a skill that I feel I have mastered and is one that I think only practice can teach and develop.
Chapter 11: High Elf Anti-Magic
11.1 Ė High Elf Anti-Magic Overview
Some people say High Elves have excellent anti-magic, and some claim the exact the opposite. I am somewhere in between. I feel High Elves suffer against other heavy magic armies, but I also believe that we have a few certain bonuses that prevent us from being overrun by all heavy magic armies.
High Elves have +1 to dispel, which is a small, but much needed and valued bonus. Also, our dispel scrolls are valued at the discount price of 20 points. We have plethora of anti magic items, most of which I have discussed in the magic item section. Most of these are excellent items, but I feel there is always something more important to take over them; better arcane items for my mages, better talismans for my unit champions, better magic banners for my battle standard bearer or unit. I find myself taking dispel scrolls as my main source of magic defense.
Compared to many other armies, we are deprived of dispel dice. We have no diadem of power, black periapt or rod of power. We have no cheap army wide magic resistance, or cheap items that add dispel dice, such as seal of ghrond. Our main source of dispel dice come from the mages themselves.
The difficulty in high elf anti magic is that we struggle to absorb the magic missiles that opponents cast before big game winning spells. Magic missiles wreck our chariots, swordmasters, knights, war machines, eagles, white lions; all our support units bar phoenix guard. But some missiles have to go through. I try to let the ones targeted at my spear elf blocks go through. They have the bodies to take a few casualties and still be useful. I played with a 3DD, 2-Scroll army for a while, and that really helps you learn how to pick and chose what spells you let through and which ones you dispel.
The Drain Magic Spell is in theory a strong anti magic spell, especially if you yourself have a strong phase. But I have noticed the following. If your magic phase is strong enough to reliably cast it, then usually you have enough dispel dice to deal with enemy magic phases. Also, if your opponentís magic phase is strong enough to be worth casting drain magic on, he usually has enough dispel dice to stop drain magic with ease.
Drain Magic does force magic heavy opponent to try to dispel it or use scrolls against it, so I still cast it in the hope of getting a spell off later in the phase.
11.2 Ė Mage Hunting
Whether High Elves have strong mage hunters or not is another topic hotly debated by High Elf Generals. Once again Iím a bit on the fence regarding this issue. I feel high elves have access to a number of mage hunters, namely great eagles, shadow warriors, fast cavalry, even dragon princes or silver helms.
However, I find that I rarely have units go solely after mages. High Elf armies simply donít have the units to do so. Not only are units expensive, but great eagles compete for slots with important repeater bolt throwers. Scouts and fast cavalry are fragile, use special slots and are effective. Also, I think of better things to do for my dragon princes to do.
I do not believe active mage hunting is something high elves excel at. If I have an opportunity to kill mages I do, but I donít go full out to try to go after them. I know through my own mage hiding experiences how difficult and time consuming it can be to go after mages with units of your own.
Another issue worth pointing out is the increasing difficulty to kill mages. Looking at the warhammer world, there are only a few magic heavy armies that have armor-less low toughness mages like high elves. Slann are tough to kill, tzeentch characters either fly or have good armor, vampire counts have high toughness and can heal, tomb king princes and kings are tough to kill (and one of the priest flies), daemons are have ward saves and gifts and other stuff. True, skaven engineers are easy to kill, but even they have it easier then high elves due to the plethora of units they can run into and hide behind. They are the exception to the rule. All other magic heavy armies, bar high elves, have tough to kill mages.
Following this logic, I feel that trying to run a low magic army with lots of active mage hunters is not a reliable anti magic strategy. Only the best of this style of lists (like DE dual hydra, dragon, ring of hotek, fast cav blitz) have chances in all comer environments.
Chapter 12: The Roles of Magic in the Army
12.1 Ė Overview
Magic can have a number of specific roles in an army, but in the end, it is really all about helping your troops win combat. Magic is a support element. While possible, it is rarely used on its own to decimate armies to the man. I find magic works best when I target units that my combat troops have difficulty defeating in combat, or catching in the movement phase. Therefore, my usual targets are fast cavalry, flyers, heavy cavalry, war machines, monsters, anything that I canít kill efficiently in combat. It is a lot to ask of magic, and I do not. I call on three repeater bolt throwers to help achieve what I missed in the magic phase.
12.2 Ė Magic and Shooting
Repeater Bolt Throwers augment a magic phase very nicely. While Magic struggles early and becomes more of a threat as the game goes on, RBT start strong and fade as they are killed or units engage in close combat. As I have said earlier, do not be overly concerned if magic does not accomplish much in the first two turns. Three RBT will take out fast cavalry, missile units, chariots and extra ranks while your magic is burning opponentís scrolls. RBT are also reliable threats to the big monsters in the game; dragons, treemen, steam tanks, and so on.
Please note that while RBT are more accurate and reliable, their full potential is less then that of magic. Spirit of the forge does more damage on treemen, non high elf dragons and steam tanks then firing RBT at them. Pit of Shades kills Slann faster then RBT. Even a simple 2d6 magic missile into a fast cavalry unit or war machine is nearly the equivalent of firing two repeater bolt throwers at it.
However, I would like to stress the importance of having a presence of both magic AND shooting in army lists. RBT finish a job if magic goes wrong (miscasting, bad dice rolling, so on), while Magic can augment RBT via potent of far, second sign and curse of arrow attraction. RBT are early game support direct damage, Magic is late game support direct damage. They work well together. Some people consider RBT as a waste of points, but I think that they are worth their 100 points for the range, early game reliability and flexibility they provide.
12.3 Ė Army Selection to Augment Heavy Magic
I do like having 2 units of 20 spear elves. They are great at hiding mages, they provide a backbone and meat shield to the army. I think missile units like archers or lothern seaguard are also excellent choices for a magic heavy army, not because of their (weak) damage output, but because they provide an excellent place for mages to run to before the infantry engage in combat.
Dragon Princes are always good choices, they provide a threat that can be unseen lurker-ed 32 inches or wolf hunt-ed 16 +d6 inches.
Battle Standard Bearers are necessary not just for the infantry but because they provide you with a combat character that can be bear anger-ed and steed of shadow-ed. Also, BSBs let you make the most use out of courage of anaerion. I donít trust stubborn units to hold without a battle standard bearer.
Iíve already expressed my view on the excellent relationship between magic and repeater bolt throwers.
I do like having a unit of elite infantry. Selecting an elite infantry is difficult but this is how I see it. I can make units stubborn, I can give them a ward save (the spells are in the same lore too), I can make units cause fear, I can make units more resilient to missile fire (howler wind), but no where can I improve the raw hitting power of infantry. I always chose swordmasters over the other two elite infantry. They have much better hitting power, and if I play smart and screen them or donít get them into combats they canít win, I have no need of PGís ward save or WLís stubborn. If I chose to do so I can give swordmasters both a ward save and stubborn. High Magic is a very powerful lore against certain armies, and even if my level four decides to take one of the other big lores, my level two can always select the ward save spell and stubborn spell (can is the operative word. If you have read the rest of my article (namely chapter 8 ) you would know that I wouldnít select both the ward save and the stubborn spell, but would opt for at least one damage spell, provided drain magic isnít the spell Iím taking the lore for.
For reference, my current army list is:
Level 4, Silver Wand, Ring of Fury, Scrollx2
Level 2, Seerstaff, Scroll
Battle Standard Bearer, Dragon Armor, Great Weapon, Banner of Sorcery
20 Spears, Full Command
20 Spears, Full Command
10 Swordmasters, champion, amulet of light
6 Dragon Princes
2 Tiranoc Chariots
3 Repeater Bolt Throwers
Chapter 13: The Lores of Magic against Specific Armies/Setups
Since going through every single lore and pointing out that the lore of fire deals lots of direct damage and so on is tedious and obvious, so Iím only going to point out a few interesting combinations against a few armies/setups, mostly the heavy magic ones.
My best advice is to open the spell book and look at all of the spells closely. High Elves greatest strength is their superior and accurate spell selection.
13.1 Ė Dark Elves
Magic against dark elves became a headache with the addition of a simple 25 point item that sets a new precedent for anti-magic items. For those who donít know, the Ring of Hotek is a 25 point item that causes a miscast on any double of a casting value of a spell within 12 inches of the bearer. Also, any mages within 12 inches of the bearer suffer a miscast on a double.
At face value, the item seems devastating. Miscasting on doubles means your phase will be nearly completely shut down. The key to getting magic to work is to find out where the ring is. Here are a few observations that may aid you:
- watch for his mages and see if they are avoiding a certain unit champion or hero
- RoH is popular on cold one knight and black guard unit champions
- Pendant of Khaleth and Ring of Hotek are in the same slot, so they can not be on the same hero. Dreadlords, especially those on a dragon, will have the pendant and not the ring.
- watch for pegusii mounted heros hanging close to infantry.
- look for the hero that is in the centre of their army.
Alternately you can cast magic as normal until you miscast, in which case he has to reveal the magic item and thereby reveal who carries it.
The lore I would take on both my mages is the lore of metal. Iíve seen people suggest lore of heavens for re-rolling, or the ring of corin, but I donít think they are the best solutions. Iíd try to guess where the ring is and try to snipe the bugger. There is little chance of miscasting with only two dice and a 50% chance of killing a black guard unit champ, and 83% chance of killing a cold one knight champ. Many dark elf lists with the ring run only a caddie or less, so I think it would be safe to say the ring of hotek can be killed by the end of the second magic phase. The rest of the lore of metal is great against dark elves anyways. Spirit of the Forge hurts knights, dragons and hydras, and magic missiles hurt their fast cavalry and harpy spam brigade.
13.2 Ė Lizardmen
2nd generation slanns are problematic, but can be dealt with. Iíd go straight for the lore of shadow and pit of shades for my archmage. Unseen lurker is an excellent 2nd spell anyways. My level 2 will take high magic, for drain magic, and two other spells of his choice (probably curse of arrow attraction and fury of khaine). To kill the slann, simply keep casting pit of shades with your archmage every turn. Once he suspect he is out of scrolls you can risk casting it with 5 dice. I think you will eventually kill him in 6 attempts. If not, then view the spell as a dice/scroll drainer for unseen lurker, curse of arrow attraction, fury of khaine or drain magic. Consider testing out what ward save the slann has with bowmen or tiranoc chariot bows. A number of players will take the 4+ instead of the 2+ in favour of an additional spell or arcane item. With only a 4+ ward, concentrated RBT could take it out if they donít have more pressing targets.
Items to watch for:
Diadem of Power: 50 (I think) points. It stores dispel dice and power dice like rod of power.
Huanchi Banner: Usually on cold one knights, sometimes on infantry units. Itís a free d6 inches forward in the magic phase that canít be dispelled.
13.3 Ė Skaven
Again, drain magic will serve as a major dice drainer spell. You can cast it twice each turn, with flames of the phoenix from the level 4 as back up. Once scrolls are gone you should be able to get drain magic and/or flames off, either one is good. Donít worry about magic missile to target ratling guns or jezzails; that is why you have rbt.
If your opponent has a grey seer, beware the plague spell. Note that it has an 18 inch range
Items to watch for:
Storm Daemon: Bound level 3 spell that does 1d6 st5 (or something like that). Exhausts on a 1.
Tokens: Keep track of these. Remember if he rolls a 1 on a token to cast the engineer/seer takes a wound. If he rolls a 1 for damage for warp lightning the engineer takes a hit.
13.4 Ė Vampires
I treat vampires the same as skaven, two drain magics a turn followed by flames of the phoenix. I trust RBT will take care of the varghulf for me. Like skaven it will be tough to get many spells off, but if anything gets through it will hurt. I have the amulet of light in my list so I will never have to spend magic on cairn wraiths. Black coaches are a problem and if my opponent has two of them I may take metal, shadow or beasts with both my mages to deal with them (beast cowers, commandment of brass, pit of shades, spirit of the forge).
Items to Watch For:
Book of Arkhan: Bound Movement Spell (Vanhelís Dance)
13.5 Ė Daemons
I donít really have enough experience against daemons to be really sure what to do against them. Iíve played them a few times but they come in so many flavors its tough to pinpoint exactly what Iím going to do against them.
13.6 Ė Wood Elves
You can split wood elves into two varieties. There are the elite wood elf offensive wood elf armies that feature one or two treemen, wardancers, dryads and glade riders. I like to take the lore of metal on my level 4 (for pit of shades for the treemen). Against armies that are heavy on one line archers I switch over to fire with my level 4 for wall of fire on single rank archers, multiple magic missiles, conflagration of doom for lone spellsingers, burning head for fast cavalry. Really, every spell is useful against wood elves. My level would probably take the two missiles.
13.7 Ė Dwarfs
I look at dwarf armies and try to see how many dispel scrolls they have. If Iím playing against thorek and he has no dispel scrolls, Iíll take shadow for pit of shades and try to cast the spell on 5 dice. However, against balanced armies Iíll take metal on both mages. Rule of burning iron is great against dwarf characters, spirit of the forge and magic missiles decimate infantry (even dwarf infantry), and the lore has the anti war machine spell and combat auxiliary spell.
13.8 Ė Brettonians
I have yet to see a brettonian army without four dispel scrolls. Charging on turn two makes it difficult for magic to have any effect on the early game. I take metal with my level 4, and based on the spell I miss, Iíll fill it with the level 2, or take beast cowers and hunterís spear. Turn 5 and turn 6 my spirit of the forge spells should start hurting knights (that is if I donít nail a damsel first). Brettonians are always a tough army, but then again there arenít really any easy games. But If I play well and utilize terrain there is always a chance.
Chapter 14: Mages on Horse or Foot
I keep my mages on foot because of the last two reasons in particular. The armor and shooting modifiers are minor differences. I would love the faster movement, but it is not essential, and models on horse can not be unseen lurker-ed. Finally, I find that the 360 degree arch is too important to pass up, especially when your mages are surrounded with units.
Thank you for reading this article.
I am always open to comments, and may add material as I see fit (for example, a few words on daemons).
Good Luck and Happy Gaming!
2006 Record (2k pts): High Elves: 20/5/2 (wld)
Excellent work! Two thumbs very much up, and rep to you. I was going to write a similar article for the new tactica WIP that has gone up, but I do believe that this has just taken the cake.
Other things that you may want to consider however:
the Staff of Sorcery, mixed with High Magic, puts forth a defensive +2 that really pins down armies who focus on a barrage of low-value spells. Great for stopping Invocation of Nehek, the DE powerdice spell, and dirty TK bound items.
also- the DMage is alright in a truely offensive army. I understand your point about failing as a mage, however there is another application for him
DMages aren't intended to fight alone- they're a chariot. I treat them as such atleast. The operate as my flankers, and occasionally they hunt down warmachines. The dragon isn't good in the same way as a normal dragon, or a prince, but I've knocked out lone mages, and even lone heroes, plenty of warmachines, and done loads of march-blocking. An eagle could do it too of course if you give up the spot for an RBT.
At 2K, i take a L2 with SilverWand, and then Ring of Fury. It gives him a bound to cast into a unit that he mixes with Dragon's Breath, and then the extra spell to generate more dice. Magically, his role is to draw out enemy Dispel Dice on the cheap. Either alot of lightweight spells doing a bit of damage at a time, or 1 huge spell that does all it's damage in one go. I never waste more dice on the DMage than he generates himself, and I don't take him without the Banner of Sorcery.
also- another reason not to take the Book of Hoeth: whenever you cast with Irresistable Force, your enemy is not going to expend DD to stop the spell. This means that subsequent mages will be facing a fully equipped enemy with plenty of DD potential. That pretty much covers that one...
Finally- the RGoH is good if you also want to take a BSB with only Combat Resolution intents. Obviously, if he's going in a center unit, he's likely going into an Elite unit. The only reason to take a magic banner on a BSB is to take the Banner of Battle. So, if you are feeling overly confident with his defense, or you are fielding him in a small, non-combat unit that is kept with 12" of major combat regiments, it might not be a bad idea to roll with the Gem to give you a little extra "oomph" in the phases. I would certainly not give the Gem to anything that I'm relying on to do ANY fighting, because that's 45pts you could easily spend on weapons/armor/saves/bounds
Altogether- excellent job, and there IS rep heading your way.
This is a very nice read. Thank you. I will use some of the ideas listed.
Very nice, detailed with some well thought out tactics. This helps me a lot. Thanks
Excellent read - however is there any chance of an outline for tactics at sub-2000 points? What are the magic options for 1000/1250/1500 point games without the Lord slot available.
Frequently I find that at this scale - there is no middle ground between all magic, and no-magic armies, whereas with a lord and multiple hero slots to play with, there are more shades of grey.
Fantastic work. Thanks for posting it.
I think you are not really new here, are you? Haven't you just been away for a while? I have read a tactica that you wrote a few years ago which is awesome.
Why the long absence?
@CaptainSarathai: so do you want to take on a new topic to write about for the WiP tactica?
And, not to get too off topic, I don't know if I'll write anything up. Really, my creative juices are spent on magic and my cavalry tactica, as well as the 'Elemental Warfare in WHFB' article. We'll see- if I manage to turn anything else out, I'll forewarn you lol
I struggle to think what would be best for a strong magic selection at sub-2000pts, since I really haven't had the time with the new army book to play it out significantly (all games so far on the new rules have been vs. dwarves, where I forget magic entirely).
I would say that the DM actually looks enticing due to the ability to take a dragon (albeit not a super-tough one) without a lord - however it does restrict you to 2 mages rather than 3.
I imagine that a combo of 3 level 2s, one of them with silver wand, one of them with jewel of dusk, and a unit with banner of sorcery should still function reasonably well.
Looks like another case of post 'n run...
Where is this Lord Anathir guy?
This above all; to thine own self be true.