Hi all. In part one of this series I discussed how to actually win the game in the close combat phase. As you saw, it isn’t as easy as just throwing a bunch of random units into your list and pushing them forward; a plan is needed so that you can dominate a particular aspect of close combat and have the battles turn in your favor. In this installment I’ll talk about how lists are crafted that are designed to win in the Magic Phase.
Throw two level fours and a level 2 in your list, add some items that boost your spellcasting ability and you’re good to go!
Unfortunately it’s not that easy.
|Careful planning is key|
The first step is to have a plan. How will you use Magic to win the game? This can be board sweepers like Purple Sun, unit killers like Dwellers/13th, or a close combat buff like Mindrazor. If you don’t have spells capable of taking over the game, you can’t take over the game with spells. It sounds obvious but you often see people bringing a huge magic investment in characters playing Lores that don’t have the ability to control the game.
Once you know what your weapon of choice will be, you will need spellcasters that get it to you. This means either your Level 4 has to be a Loremaster, or you will need a Level 4 and a Level 2 at bare minimum. If magic is going to be your major gameplan, I would highly advise you to bring a second level 4 in a different, complimentary lore, if you can afford it. When Bad Things happen, this will give you another out. You definitely don’t want all your eggs in a single basket if you don’t have to.
|A Level 4 Wizard without a delivery mechanism isn't going to achieve much... for very long|
The next step is a delivery mechanism. Quite often in 8th Edition this will be in the form of a magic bunker. Usually, this is a unit that will house the wizard(s) with enough characters or unit command to put the main caster at least into the second row, safe from close combat. The unit should ideally be ultra-durable (Phoenix Guard/Temple Guard) or highly expendable (Skeletons, Night Goblins.) Bunkers thus protect the wizards from shooting and enemy magic, but also act as a close combat deterrent. When there is a BSB nearby (or in the unit) the bunker can be a rock that can only be dealt with through close combat. The alternative to a bunker is to make your casters highly mobile. Many of them can take mounts that have a movement of 8 or higher, and when rolling solo, it allows them to maneuver in a way that will keep them out of close combat altogether. Generally, you’re going to want to equip them with some kind of ward save if you take this option, since they will be more exposed to shooting or magic. The upside of this plan is that they are probably even safer from close combat than in a bunker, and you aren’t investing all the points a good magic bunker costs.
|Screw you, Teclis|
Now that you have your units picked out, you need to figure out a way to jam your spells through. Not every army book can do this, and the ones that can’t are going to struggle to pursue Magic as their route to victory. At this point you have a couple of options. You can find a way to ignore miscasts (Teclis, Cupped Hands etc.) or generate extra power dice. If you can ignore miscasts, just throw 6 dice at your key spells and there is a very little chance you won’t succeed in casting it. Items like Book of Hoeth make this even easier. If you can generate significantly more power dice than your opponent gets dispel dice (Power of Darkness, Focus Rumination, Banner of Sorcery, Warp Stone, Magic Mushrooms etc.) you can win the Magic Phase through attrition and force your key spells through. The last option is to bring a lot of small spells and machine gun the opponent. This strategy also relies on outclassing them with Power Dice.
It bears repeating at this stage that some armies simply can’t do this. If you don’t have the ability to generate lots of power dice, or a way to use Irresistible Force to jam your spells through, you simply cannot count on winning the magic phase. And if you can’t count on winning the magic phase every turn, you are going to be unable to win with a magic based list consistently.
With all of these things accounted for, your Magic shell is complete and you have to assemble the rest of the list. The rest of the units you select ought to compliment the Lore you selected. If your plan is go to Life Magic with a powerful bunker, you’re going to want defensive units that can stay somewhat close to your bunker and benefit from the relatively short range of Life buffs. If you are going to use Shadow Magic, you will want some close combat units that can benefit from the enemy debuffs in the Lore, and really benefit from Mindrazor. Since Shadow spells have a longer range, you can afford to have units that advance forward and play more aggressively. This goes back to your Plan from the beginning of this article, but simply put, the Plan/Lore you choose should have tremendous synergy with the rest of your list.
With these considerations done, you can play a list whose goal is not to tread water in the Magic Phase, but to dominate it, and win the game on the back of powerful spell casters.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions?