Having played empire for years i've learned to like most of the lores but my favourites being fire, life, light, beast(since 7th edtion update), metal and proberly heavens. There all pretty good but magic doesnt come without its price on miscast and in points.
I dont realy have a favourite, many lores are better against certain opponents or when used with certain armies/army builds. I love dark elf magic, but somtimes it isnt the best for ranged attaks -to high rolling for lvl 2's- so instead i take tomb of furion and roll three dice on lore of Death =D shooty stuff there, and doom and darkness is best when forceing panic tests
My two favourites are fire and death. I always have 2 lvl2 wizards with these lores in my army. I find they mix good ranged killing power (all those S4 magic missiles) with some good disruption spells like doom and darkness.
I tend to play with two wizards: one has light, the other death (sorta contradictory but works wonders) My favorite light spell is the one that gives a unit Ws 1. Do it on grimgors unit or a charging unit of blood knights and see how pissed off the other guy gets he cant hit you! Combine it with doom and darkness and even a 5man pistolier unit can suddenly win big.
Another reason for these two lores is that they have relatively low casting costs, so when you combine them together with some bound items, the empire magic phase suddenly starts to look like an Ogre gut magic phase (long and bloody annoying to the opponent)
another fun combo is to take a lvl 1 wizard with lore of beasts and another with lore of shadows. Take the default spells (Bear's anger and Steed of shadows) and have fun charging your souped up mage at fast cav, artillery crews, and especially flyers (high elf eagle, cough) works like a charm. Add a third lvl 1 wizard with portent of far or a warrior priests prayer and he becomes ridiculously good (if expensive to pull off)
Anothe nifty combo against uber-units (although rolling these spells is random) is transmutation of lead and dazzling brilliance from the lores of Metal and Light respectively.
Pretty much these two spells together means that the unit will be hitting anything except gnoblars on 6's (5's for gnoblars) and be at -1 armour save....
A movement combo that is hard to pull off is the Unseen Lurker/The Wolf Hunts combo. Used with a unit of regular knights, you could potentially move up to 44inches in one turn (assuming you get 12 on "the wolf hunts' and you march move or charge with unseen)
Finally, this spell is fun to use against dragons. Lore of Beasts "The beast cowers". Thinking that a 700-odd point dragon cant move or fight for a turn is hilarious, especially considering a 65 point mage can cast it easily on two dice....
Imo hands down the best lore for general purposes is Death. I hardly ever see combos like the ones mentioned abovework on intelligent players because they seem to use their dispell dice *grrrr*. But honestly doom and darkness is the best spell in the 8 basic lores no doubt. It has 2 basic magic missiles which are awesome, fear/terror spell which can be huge, a pretty decent nuke spell that works awesome against empire, elves, and Bretts and ok against others, and a spell that deals with pesky characters. I don't use mages with my Empire but I run 3 Lvl 2s with death in my Lizards, it works amazing.
But I find D&D doesn't need to be combined with magic, I love it for its versatility. It can affect a unit in any phase of the game which most magic can't do and with no LoS requirements there is always a target for you to doom. You can use it to panic a unit with magic or shooting (shooting is more reliable), ensure you break an enemy on combat, make the enemy fail fear/ terror. Its an awesome spell is what I'm trying to say.
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