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As far as WHFB goes, I solely play VC, and as a VC player I know the importance of magic to this army, and the importance of bound items to giving the magic phase an extra kick in the pants. I have actualy never played a game without the Book of Arakine (or however it's spelt), and frequentaly take the staff of damnation as well.
The main thrust of this post, when during the game, and also when during the magic phase do you actualy use these items?
I find that during the first few turns of the game I rairly use them. A slightly more optimal possible flank position, or being on top of a hill to recieve a charge doesn't seem worth the risk of rolling a 1 and losing the book early. As far as the staff goes, it is pointless to risk until there is combat going on.
During the magic phase I used to save the bound items for last. Draw out the dispell dice and then pull out the bound items once my opponent has depleated his dispelling. However this has backfired on a few occasions. These occasions are when I fail to cast a spell, misscast and end the magic phase, or actualy roll irrisistable force. In the case of failing to cast a spell, or rolling irrisistable force, the opponent is not required to use any dispell dice, which usualy leaves him more then enough to swat the low level bound items, which usualy means I won't use them to avoid the risk of a 1. The case of the misscast is obvious.
I have found now that I would rather use the bound items first, force the opponent to look at the pile of dice in his/her hand and deside how many to risk against my untouched powerdice. This removes any random misshaps that I may roll during the rest of the magic phase, and makes sure I get the bonus to my magic that I payed for.
Well the Book of Arkahn I use slightly different from the rest of my items. The book has the power to *really* turn a battle or get a key charge off, and so I usually save it.
If I have other bound items, (especially those cast on a 4), I might end up throwing them out first. I took the Rod of Flaming Death against a goblin opponent, and it was more or less a "your opponent loses 2 dispel dice each magic phase" item, as he would absolutely need to dispel it each turn or risk a horrid panic test.
The Book however I save until I'm sure it will go off. Most opponents of VC are very aware of the book and its abilities, and thus will be very prepared for it. However if two turns go by and they don't see the book come out, they may assume you didn't take it, and throw that last dispel dice into blocking another spell of yours. You can then almost auto-win a combat by throwing in a wonderful flank charge.
Other little things to do are to cast seemingly threatening spells first. A cast of curse of years on his chosen knights of doom will likely warrant many dispel dice, leaving the bound items to go off unhindered. At the very least, the book can draw out a dispel dice or two.
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I tend to use bound spells first to take out away a dispel die or 2 with each use of a bound spell. The only change is if I have little or no dance spells and I need a charge, I will use the book last, unless i have a dance, I will use the book, then spell. I find rod of flaming death is pretty scary for your opponent, even high leadership armies get scared, who want to see a unit of there best troops running after only one death and a bad leadership roll.
It's better to cast your bound spells first because if you have a bad magic phase and don't cast many of your spells your opponent will have many dice to throw at your bound spells, but if you use your bound spells first and he throw away some dice at them, then even spells that were just barely cast have a good chance of getting through.
I also tend to wait. We've all experienced, I'm guessing, seeing the book or staff burn out on the first turn, and with the spell being shot down on top of that.
So I tend to save it because of the risk and because I want my opponents to either relax or get tense wondering if I have them.
And yes, regular opponents know all about the book of arkhan and save that one dispel dice for it, so I work to make them burn their scrolls and dice first.
But those may be my favorite two arcane items. Hellish vigor turns skeletons and zombies into a decent fighting force, and we all know the power of arkhan.
Hellish Vigour also tends to make my Grave Guard, with Banner of the Barrows, a Vampire Count, and a Vampire Thrall Battle Standard next to unstoppable.
I tend to wait though.
It's hard with my regular opponent, because he knows that I have it, and he knows that nothing I can cast is as important as getting that Book of Arkhan off.
But for others, I save it for last. Because, if it's a must need spell, I need to make sure I get it off. And that comes from making sure the opponent has no dispel dice left. And that comes from good castings of Curse of Years, Gaze of Nagash, and Invokation of Nehek.
Warhammer Fantasy: Vampire Counts | Wood Elves | Chaos
You speak much vampiric wisdom, Nell2ThaIzzay. I suppose the lesson is that VC generals should remain patient with their magic, knowing that it will pay off in the middle to late rounds.
For several lores, the utility of many spells decreases once units engage in combat. VC, on the other hand, can benefit from IoN at any point in the game.
In the situation where you have the Book and the Spell, I would definately wait on the book and draw out the dispell dice. Seeing the importance of the spell, the opponent would most likely throw more dice than necessary to stop it. Unfortunately, if your opponent is familiar with the army, he/she should guess you are drawing out the dice so you can use the book. The only option is to use spells/bound items that are threatening. Like Nell said, a good Invocation of Nehek could be just as scary if placed in the right location.