Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WHFB: Primer to 8th Edition Common Magic Items Part 1

Hey all.  In this multi-part series I'm going to go through the common magic items in an effort to help get new players up to speed with the new edition.  While every item has a theoretical use, some are more useful in an all comers setting than others.  I'll talk about each item, give a few of its basic uses, strengths, and drawbacks.  Then I'll assign is a score on a 5 point scale with 5 points being the best and one point being terribad.

Let's start with the choppy ones: magic weapons.

Giant Sword: +3 strength.  60 points.  It's way overpriced.  There are not many scenarios where +3 strength is very much better than +2.  Most Hero or Lord level combat characters in the game are strength 4 at least, and there aren't too many times where strength 7 is better than Strength 6.  Fighting Monsters or chariots would be an exception, but most people don't tool their combat characters out for that purpose.  Over priced and pretty useless.  Rating: *

Sword of Bloodshed: +3 Attacks.  60 points.  Expensive.  It can be really strong on a model with high base strength like an Ogre character or Chaos Lord.  If it was cheaper, that is.  Right now 60 points is too expensive for ANY combat weapon in the game.  Rating: *

Obsidian Blade: No armor saves allowed.  50 points.  Waaaaay too expensive.  A Lord with Strength 5 and a +2 strength sword is not going to allow most armor saves, either, and do it cheaper.  This item is a noob magnet.  Rating: *

Ogre Blade: +2 Strength, 40 points.  It's a much better value than the Giant Blade, but honestly 40 points is probably still too much to spend on a magic weapon.  Compare it to a mundane Lance, or Flail, or Great Weapon.  Those are like 5 points each and while they have drawbacks, they aren't really 35 point drawbacks. Rating: * 

Sword of Strife: +2 Attacks, 40 points.  Let's pretend in your army book there was a second Lord choice that for 40 points more came with 2 extra attacks.  Nobody sane would use that.  Speaks volumes for this item.  Rating: *

Fencer's Blades: Paired weapons, gives bearer WS10.  Costs 35 points.  Pros: you get WS10, and +1 attack.  Con: you can't use a shield.  Would you pay 35 points extra for a Lord whose statline had WS10 and +1 attack?  Me either.  Rating: *

Sword of Anti-heroes: 35 points.  +1 strength and +1 attack for each character in base to base contact at the start of every combat phase.  Pretty weak, in my opinion.  It's situational and you might go the entire game without using it once.  It think 35 points is too much to pay for anything situational. Rating: *

Spelltheiving Sword: 25 points.  Wound a wizard, he loses a spell.  Utter trash.  If you are easily wounding wizards they should be dying.  Rating: *

Sword of Swift Slaying: 25 points.  We have the first winner.  This is an amazing item.  On a high initiative Lord or Hero chances are this will be giving you re-rolls to hit in addition to striking first.  This item is useless for High Elves, obviously, and weaker on low strength characters.  But high strength, high initiative characters like Chaos Exalted Heroes it becomes startlingly good.  Rating: *****

Sword of Battle: 20 points.  +1 attack.  Same criticism as the sword of strife.  Compared to paying 5 points more for the Swift Slaying Sword, this just doesn't make sense. Rating: *

Berserker Sword: 20 points.  Frenzy you can never lose.  This gives you +1 attack and Immune to Psychology.  The drawback of frenzy is inconsequential usually.  This is generally superior to the Sword of Battle. Rating: **

Sword of Might: 20 points +1 strength.  Strong.  Makes you character significantly more killy.  Strength 5 is light years better than the standard strength 4.  Rating: ***

Gold Sigil Sword: 15 points.  Gives you Initiative 10 in combat.  Not too shabby actually.  It's a cheap and always useful item that will let weaker characters defeat strong ones.  Always useful.  Rating: ***

Sword of Striking:  15 points +1 to hit.  Heroes hit  on 3's usually.  Hitting on 2's is mega awesome.  This is very good on high strength characters that don't have much trouble wounding.  Rating: ****

Biting Blade: 10 points.  Armor piercing.  The poor man's Sword of Might.  Not a bad value at all.  Rating: ***

Relic Sword: 10 points.  Always wounds on a 5+.  Very situational, but also very good in those situations.  Useful against monsters, chariots and Steamtanks.  It essentially doubles your chances to hurt them in combat.  It does what the Sword of Strife does for 30 points less.  Think about that.  Rating: **

Shrieking Blade: 10 points, bearer causes fear.  Fear is more or less useless in 8th edition.  So is this item.  Rating: *

Tormentor's Sword: 5 points.  Gives Stupidity when it deals a wound.  I consider 5 point weapons to be more valuable for the fact that they are magical than their real powers.  This sword's ability is useless, but for 5 points you get to hurt Ethereal units and bypass wards that only work on mundane attacks. Rating: *

Warrior's Bane: 5 points, a wound causes the person to lose an attack.  Not bad actually compared to Tormentor's Sword.  It's very good on high initiative characters to allow them to win combats against superior opponents.  Rating: ***


The magic weapons in the BRB are generally overpriced compared to the army book items.  Under normal circumstances, the only ones worth taking are Warrior's Bane, Sword of Striking, Gold Sigil, Sword of Might and Sword of Swift Slaying.  

Comments?  Criticisms?  Death threats?


  1. In the Lizardmen book there's a magic sword (I forget the name, I don't have my book with me right now) there's a +2 attack magic sword that cost more than the sword of strife. Despite this, I'd be inclined to agree with your analysis and go with something like the sword of striking on a saurus character.

  2. This is good, I am just starting Fantasy, and can never decide what to give my characters.

  3. Don't get me wrong Alex, a ton of stuff in the army books are garbage too, but the best things from the army books are generally better than the best things from the basic book.

  4. Out of curiosity I did the math(hammer) as to the average number of hits you'd get with the sword of strife vs the sword of striking. Since I play lizards, assuming you have saurus lord with 5 attacks fighting a generic enemy and hitting on 3s:

    sword of strife: 4.67 average hits per turn
    sword of striking: 4.17 average hits per turn
    no magic weapon: 3.33 average hits per turn

    Now, all caveats about mathhammer in effect - for that small statistical difference, I'd say your analysis is spot on and it'd be more cost effective to use the later weapon over the former. I'd also agree with you as to the better choice of weapons being in the army books - I just found the duplication of some items in BRB which are already in some army books interesting.

  5. Now run the mathhammer for that saurus lord with the Sword of Swift striking for 25 points, assuming you have a higher I than your target. It has so much awesome. In addition to getting nearly the same amount of hits as the Sword of Strife, you are also striking first. It just cannot be beat on characters with high base strength.