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I won't have the time to test my HE army in the following weeks so someone else may test the following suggestions for me.
1) VS Suicide Mages
There's quite some rumour of cheap mages going for suicide runs. All they have to do is provoking their own death by casting just a single spell with irresistible power. The answer to this may be the "Tricksters Pendant" from the Arcane section. The weakness of suicide mages is the possibility of rolling the wrong dice number on the miscast table. With the Pendant we may greatly increase the chance that these guys deserve a doom suitable to our goal.
2) Terrain issues
Although Sword Masters may really be better than White Lions, the increasing number of terrain on the table is worth to be exploited by the WL's. I would be interested if a army composed in regard of terrain, including for example WL's, Shadow Warriors, Ellyrian Reavers and Troops/Cavalry with the Banner of Ellyrion, Characters with Shadow Armor/Mask of the Merlord, Spells like Smoke & Mirrors/Steed of Shadows and Birona's Timewarp would be viable.
Also a large spear unit could stand in a gap of two difficult terrain obstacles and as such extending the range of an impenetrable wall (like the battle of Agincourt).
3) Using the Vortex Shard.
The magic phase is now much more about irresistible casting than it was before, meaning that any sort of mages can bring a devastating blow by just using enough dices to cast. Again the possibility of using suicides mages could be avoided by using the Vortex Shard. They would try to get into close range as soon as they can. So, seeing shamans and casters in cavalry regiments or cheap fliers using maximum speed riding against your lines can mean no good. The shard prevents them using their magic when they need it most. Also it dispels all spells remaining in play. If you get hit by irresistible casts, you can help yourself a bit by at least cancelling any lasting negative spell. Some people would also use "Transformation of Kadon" and here too, cancelling the transformation will maybe even insta kill the hapless mage reverting back to his weaker form. It costs 75 points, which is 3/4 of what you can buy with an archmage. At least there is still room for other kickass arcane items which are so cheap for HE.
Feel free to comment.
1) Haven't encountered this yet. The enemy would really have to be hoping to get a 2-4 on the miscast table to do any significant damage to our side. Anything else he's only gonna be scoring 50ish points vs probably losing his wizard. For the wizard's points he could have just bought pretty much any shooting unit and done more damage to our army : p
2) White Lions only have Forest Strider aaaaand... Forests are not dangerous terrain to any infantry anymore and Forests no longer slow movement. I had the same thought but for that reason I quit using them after the first couple of games. Banner of Ellyrion remains basically mandatory on Calvary units as always. They are too expensive to risk rolling a 1. Note that there is a second version available as one of the Common Magic Items now (gives its unit Strider special rule) but it costs 3x as much as ours O.o
3) Vortex Shard is nice when you are building a list against a specific opponent, but your Archmage can still only carry the one arcane item, so that somewhat limits it. I normally reserve it for a couple of VC players that I don't like very much : p