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Is lore of darkness any good? I would contend not... 
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Generalissimo
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This continues from this earlier post here.

When the Dark Elves book first came out, I was disappointed by the lore of darkness. I remain so, and here's a break down of why, for those who are interested :)



Signature spell #1: Power of darkness:

Casting cost: 8

Explanation: This is an augment that gives +1 to the unit's strength and +d3 power dice (get 3 and take a wound on the caster).

Why I'm not a fan: +1 strength to the unit the wizard is in? no thanks, I'd rather not have my sorceress's unit in combat, particularly given that if I roll a 5 or 6 for extra power dice generation then the sorceress loses a wound even before the enemy starts hacking at her. Cast on an 8? Even for a level 4, I still have to use two dice (as a natural roll of a 1 or 2 always fails), and for a level 2 even two dice is a gamble. If I do cast it, then 33% of the time I get one less dice back for my effort, 33% of the time get the same number of dice back, and the other 33% I get 1 extra dice in exchange for a wound on the sorceress. No, no, and just no.

--

Signature spell #2: Doombolt

Casting cost: 12/24

Explanation: A S5 2d6 magic missile with an 18" range (boosted version is 4d6).

Why I'm not a fan: Actually, this one is fairly decent, although the range is a bit thrifty. But it costs a pretty penny to cast (24 for the boosted version is tough going, and even 12 for the standard is pretty high)

--

Spell #1: Chill wind:

Casting cost: 5

Explanation: a 2d6 S2 magic missile at 24" that also causes a -1 penalty to the unit if it causes an unsaved wound

Why I'm not a fan: Strength 2? *sigh* Pretty feeble really. That -1 penalty to BS only occurs if you manage an unsaved wound, and with an average of 7 hits at S2, you actually may not manage that. Even if you do, it's a poor replacement for the old chillwind, which stopped a unit from shooting at all during its next turn. The spell is cheap to cast, but really not worth the effort.

--

Spell #2: Word of Pain

Casting cost: 9/12

Explanation: a 24" hex that causes -d3 to WS and BS and boosts to -d3 to WS, BS, S, and I

Why I'm not a fan: Taking the unboosted version first: If I cast word of pain on an enemy unit, most of the time it's not going to do much more than make them hit me on a 5 and let me hit them on a 3. As I hit most opponents on a 3 or 4 anyway and usually have a re-roll for ASF, the latter part is mostly irrelevant. As for the first half: making my opponent hit me on a 4 or a 5 rather than a 3 or a 4 is okay, but given our high weapon skills that's usually a mere -1 (or very occasionally a -2 to hit modifier), which is scarcely worth the effort. If my opponent is WS3, then 66.666' of the time, I am going to make him hit me on a 5 rather than a 4, and only 33.333' of the time will I get the benefit of auto-hitting him and him being unable to hit me. That may be fireworks when it happens, but scarcely a good idea to rely on or form strategies around. Looking at the boosted version: this is a bit better, but is quite expensive to cast and again, may not make a huge amount of impact, depending on the adversary. A S6, WS3 creature is still going to hit your WS4 T3 models on a 4 followed by a 2 a third of the time, hit them on a 5 followed by a 4 another third of the time, and only one third of the time be unable to hit you and get auto-hit by you. The spell is okay and can be very strong, but is mostly unreliable and expensive in my eyes.

--

Spell #3: Bladewind

Casting cost: 9

Explanation: all models in one unit within 24" takes a WS test or take a S4 hit with armor piercing

Why I'm not a fan: It's okay as a horde killer, but generally as the points per model goes up, so too does the effectiveness of the spell goes down. Cast this by itself against a unit of 36 goblins with WS3, T3 and a 5+ armour save and it will do very well: 18 hit, 12 wounded, and 12 killed. Nasty - but then those goblins are cheap as chips. Cast this by itself on a unit of 27 empire troops with WS4, T3 and a 4+ armour save unit and roughly 1/3 of the unit will take a hit (9 total), then another 2/3 of that will take a wound (6, and a further 1/6 will save the wound (5 dead). It's a reasonable spell, but not game changing. Cast it at a unit of 21 Chaos Warriors with WS5, T4 and a 3+ armour save and you're looking at 3 hit, 1.5 wounded, and 0.5 killed. It's okay, but nothing to write home about.

In order to be strong, it has to be synergized with word of pain, but then we run into problems with synergy (first off, you have to get the right spells in your initial dice rolling, which is not guaranteed, and secondly, many good opponents will spot a synergy chain coming and dispel one or the other part of it).

--

Spell #4: Shroud of Despair

Casting cost: 10

Explanation: all units within 12" lose Hold your Ground and Inspiring Presence, and causes a cumulative -1 penalty to leadership to all of the affected units when any of them fail a leadership test.

Why I'm not a fan: against hordes this can be very strong, as those ld5 goblins are really going to miss that re-rollable 8 or 9 leadership test from the BSB and general. But against more elite forces, this begins to become incidental to the game. "Oh no!" my figurative high elf opponent might cry "now my leadership 9 swordmasters have to test on a 9 rather than a 10 for their leadership tests...the horror!" Quite. With numerous units (and even armies) possessing immunity to psychology, this can be very circumstantial.

--

Spell #5: Soul Stealer

Casting cost: 11/14

Explanation: A direct damage small blast template gets placed within 18" (boosted to 36"). Scatters d6, with a S2 no armor hit. On a 4+ for each wound caused the caster gains additional wounds up to 10 (casting 11/14)

Why I'm not a fan: Just so many random variables here. It's a small template that scatters d6, which means the number of models it is going to hit can be very low. Against T3 creatures, it wounds on a 5 and against T4 or above creatures, on a 6. Yes, no armour saves can be helpful against heavy cavalry and elite armoured forces, but those tend to be quite small in size and so are easy to miss on that accursed scatter. Of course, you can't cast it any where near your own units, or else that D6 scatter might end up on your own troops, which is hardly ideal. The additional wounds are nice, but are only gained on a 4+, after the scatter has landed successfully on an opponent's head and you have luckily rolled lots of 5s and 6s. This one sounds good, but can so easily fizzle. It's short ranged at the lower level, and very expensive at the boosted level (quite expensive for the lower one too to be honest).

--

Spell #6: Arnzipal's Black Horror

Casting cost: 15/25

Explanation: Roll an artillery dice and multiply that number by the caster's level, then move the small blast template that many inches. Models that the template moves through or lands on take a strength test and if they fail, are slain outright. The boosted version uses a large template. If you roll a misfire on the artillery dice, it lands on your sorceresses head instead and then moves in a random direction, decided by the scatter dice.

Why I'm not a fan: Are you feeling lucky? There's a 1 in 6 chance that this spell ends up on your own sorceresses head. While many of our opponents have high strengths, we certainly don't. Roll that misfire on the artillery dice and you are in a lot of pain. This one is also awfully expensive, even for the unboosted version. I don't like playing Russian roulette, so this one's a no go.

--

Overall, the lore is okay, but for me it's way too focused on direct damage, costs considerably too much, requires too much emphasis on synergies that require a lot of work and - more frustratingly - luck or poor opponent choices to succeed, have too much randomness and potential for back firing. Given the awesome lores that there are out there: shadow, life, beasts and metal to name just a few, lore of darkness just lacks the versatility, reliability, and strength that it needs to be a good choice.

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Last edited by Red... on Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Tue Jul 29, 2014 8:32 pm
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I have been running dark magic in most of my games lately and while I see your point on some things I disagree on some others. Not trying to change your mind as I see many of the things I disagree on are just a matter of opinion, but just giving another perspective.

Power of Darkness: I agree not a great spell, have never swapped for it yet, but not a bad spell for that left over power dice at the end of the phase. The +1S for the sorcs unit generally isnt great but with Master busses, Shrine, and Cauldron its not hard to keep the sorc in the second rank and safe in combat. Taking a wound on +3 dice sucks and after it happens once I dont see risking the spell again that game.

Doombolt: Great spell, I leave the boosted version for warlocks to 6 dice, but unboosted a lvl 4 only needs a 7 to do 2d6 s5 hits, that in my opinion is a bargain.

Chillwind: Bad bad bad, I do not like this spell at all and is always switched to doombolt, the only thing it has going for it, is that most archers have little armor so if you do get a wound its most likely to go through.

Word of Pain: I only cast the boosted version of this, again only needing a 7 on a level 4 to cripple a units offensive potential. Ignoring all the synergies this spell has even by itself it is worth the casting cost everyday in my book.

Bladewind: Need a 4+ for a free round of combat, granted not as good of a combat as our elves can dish out, but still its basically a round of combat that the enemy doesnt get to strike back to. definitely aimed towards hordes and non elites. My regular opponent has a horde of MaA thats about 10 dead on the unit of 40.

Shroud of Despair: While I agree it is useless against some opponents, it is very useful against others and can cause some unexpected chaos. I have not used it but have read the posts about ways to use it including forcing panic checks by shooting chaff units to cascade the ld checks.

Soul Stealer: Again not a game breaking spell, but it has its uses, because its only S2, many will let it go because of bigger threats, the main target shouldnt be small units of knights because it can scatter but hordes, or medium units where you are more likely to get a full template worth of hits in there, or target the units they enemy doesn't care about anyways Slaves for example, they will let it go and you can give you sorc some extra wounds to survive a round of combat.

Black Horror: I see your point with the Misfire and that would not be good, but I think you have the description wrong or I am just reading it wrong, its not a teplate that you just place and scatter, its a vortex that has the potential to travel 40" the turn it is cast passing over many models. Even with enemies that have a high S value and without getting off Word of Pain or Soulblight, thats still a 1 in 6 chance of death. multiply that by the amount of models you can hit by good positioning which we have access to with pegs and steads.

The thing is that I find Dark magic not to be the most devastating list, but most of its spells are average or above average, and when you do get a combo in they can become game changing. They made it for Dark Elves for a reason, each one on its own can hurt but put some maneuvering and strategy into it and watch them cry.


Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:52 pm
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Thanks for the indepth reply Taijushue, very informative and I agree with some of your points. I was expecting others to have different opinions and find it useful for my own knowledge of the lore to hear alternative perspectives on the spells :)

Yes, I erred in my description of black horror - edited it now to fix it.

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Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:14 pm
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Well, plenty of arguments there!

You did not mention the Lore attribute. It looks negligible but well, sometimes it adds some benefits.
It works with spell #S2, #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5. Only spells #S1 and #6 do not trigger it.
It causes a number of hits which depends on the number of the dice cast, if they is a double or a triple.
No hit 83.33% on 2 dice, 55.56% on 3 dice, 27.78% on 4 dice, 9.26% on 5 dice, 1.54% on 6 dice.
When it hits, that makes an average of 7 hits (2 dice) increasing slowly to 8.3 hits (6 dice).
In average, you can hope for 1.17 hit with 2 dice, 3.21 hits with 3 dice, 5.40 hits with 4 dice, 7.10 hits with 5 dice and 8.18 hits with 6 dice.

So reasonably, you can count on more hits as soon as you cast 3 dice. OK, they are S1 AP so they will not cause wounds very often.
Interesting is that the additional hits happen after the initial spell. That means that a character could well lose his "look out, Sir" for the additional hits.

-=-=-

About PoD, it can be considered as Taijushue says, or in conjunction with Soul Stealer. With additional wounds, it is no longer a problem to be in melee.

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Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:23 pm
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Rather than complaining about each spell, why not objectively evaluate it. I have and continue to have reservations about the lore but you can't evaluate it without looking at the +1 to cast and lore attribute (which is actually under-rated when you throw 3 or mroe dice at something).

POD: Agreed. i almost never choose it because of the downside risk and +1S is usually not helpful in a mage bunker unit unless I fear a dweller's below spell.
Doombolt: Casting cost is a bit high but with +1 to cast and S5 it gives us a great way to deal with tourgher and high AS units. It actually is pretty viable to cast the boosted version with six dice but I only do it when and if that Daemon Prince is left with a single wound or my target is a big nasty or something like that usually late in the game. 2D6 S5 with 24" is quite potential for a magic missile. Usually one of my rolled for spells ends up choosing doombolt and with a mobile mage, I usually have decent targets for this spell.

Chillwind: yup, miss the old version but I'll take this against Wood Elves and High Elf shooters on a single dice throw at the end of the phase.

Word of Pain: Here's where you lost me. Boosted, I get to nerf WS, BS, I and S and maybe sneank in some damage even if the target is in combat and the range is 24". I'd take the casting cost at 12 over a boosted miasma at 10 and I almost always cast Miasma. This has longer range than enfeebled (unless boosted) and usually the equivalent of a boosted miasma plus enfeebled in one spell without the ability to dispell it in my opponent's magic phase (RIP spells have pros and cons. Low magic armies just dispell enfeeble next phase.). If they let this through, then they are nerfed in combat and potentially vulnerable to bladewind or black horror.

Bladewind: this is basically an anti-horde spell for cheap hordes. You have to look at the casting cost relative to the potential damage against many armies in the game. The dark ellf army really needs this spell when facing certain armies like Skaven, many VC builds, many TK builds, and some O&G builds and even plague bearer based daemon armies. Great range on this and good potential. For that casting cost, I figure it needs to generate about 6 to 7 S4 AP hits (essentially the same number of hits as a boosted mid-level fireball) or a base banishment with no benefit from the lore attribute or lore of light wizards). or else hit something with great value per wound sufficiently vulnerable. Since the target of such a spell is usually either high value or low value but high model count, it is situational. I'd gladly cast it against a mid-sized glade guard unit or a decent sized unit of HE archers to take out 22.2% of the unit of average with the cost per model being so high. I'd gladly cast this on a larger witch elf, dark rider, DE warrior, or corsair unit as well. In VC, Black nights, glade guard, ghouls, skellies, and zombies are all worth taking out with this spell if large enough units. Then again if you get of WoP or have a lore of shadow mage with miasma getting off this spell can become rediculous in terms of the damage to some elite units in the game. Only against WoC and certain truly MSU WE armies do I find enough lack of good targets to not take this spell when rolled for. Since I only need a 9 to cast and can cast with two dice pretty reliably, I assume that I need only to average 25 points of damage if success to cast this spell.

Bladewind table: WS is on the rows and Toughness is in the columns. This does not consider the AS, which can easily be factored in the analysis.
1 2 3 4 5 6
0 83.33% 83.33% 66.67% 50.00% 33.33% 16.67%
1 69.44% 69.44% 55.56% 41.67% 27.78% 13.89%
2 55.56% 55.56% 44.44% 33.33% 22.22% 11.11%
3 41.67% 41.67% 33.33% 25.00% 16.67% 8.33%
4 27.78% 27.78% 22.22% 16.67% 11.11% 5.56%
5 13.89% 13.89% 11.11% 8.33% 5.56% 2.78%
6 13.89% 13.89% 11.11% 8.33% 5.56% 2.78%

For example, an ironguts bus with 10 models with WS3 and T4 and 5+ AS will take 25% wound ratefor an averge of 2.5 wounds which is worth more than 35 points of damage on average. Of course, a unit of annoying gnolbar trappers hit with despair and then bladewind loses 44.4% of the models and pretty reliably flees, clearing some chaff out of the way for more than 25 points of value as well (10 gnoblars plus trapper upgrade). Then of course those LM skink skimishers units of ten will lose 5.6 models on average worth more than 38 points and possibly flee as well or better larger skrox units and chameleon skink units are also worthwhile targets.

Shroud of Despair: This is an even more situational spell and one I do often opt out of unless facing O&G or Skaven armies and then this spell rips those armies to shreds for obvious reasons.

Soul stealer: annother spell that is sometimes too situational. Basically, this is good if they have larger expensive units with high armour saves or a lot of larger T3 units where the scatter will likely hit enough and take enough wounds to boost my mage's wounds to rediculous levels. Great spell for armies with larger high AS cav units with T3, like Bretts and Empire or a DE Dark Rider bus or warlock bus unit. I'd put it on a unit of 10 wild riders for good value as well. The big threat is soulblight and then this on a T4 or T3 unit.

Black Horror: it ain't purple sun against those I1 and i2 armies but it is surprising how many times even a S4 unit takes one of these and dies and one can roll this reliably through lined up warmachines and engineers for a lot of damage (warmachines autofail such tests because they have no S value on the machine and can't use the crew's S). Of course, with soulblight and word of pain in the spell mix, that puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. Also, this is not a six dice required spell. A lvl 4 has a decend chance (62.5%) of casting this with 3 dice. If you are less than 11" from the target unit of rhe first unit hit with the target unit behind and less than 4.5" or 5" between them then this will roll through and wreck some stuff, esepcially if soulblight or WoP gets off on a target unit. That being said, I use this one sparingly or only with a good ward save to magic damages on the mage or with a lvl 2 mage taking dark magic that I can afford to lose.

So, the issue with Dark magic is that it is admittedly situational. It is a good lore but has some strengths and weaknesses. The lore ideally tears apart some armies i struggle with (like skaven) but has limited abilities absent getting off combinations of spells against one army I struggle with (WoC).

On the lore attribute, it is worth a lot more than at first blush just because 2D6 AP will usually sneak a wound through on anything without a high AS.
Here are the probabilities based on dice rolled:
Dice Rolled 2 3 4 5 6
Doubles Only 16.67% 41.67% 62.50% 69.44% 61.73%
Triples 0.00% 2.78% 9.72% 21.30% 36.73%

Bascially, if you roll three dice, then you will get a lore attribute almost half the time. If that is despair, then you hit a lot of stufff. One of the biggest threats to my favorite fast cav builds one turn one is war machines with multishot, BS shooting abilities. I use word of pain on an organ gun or HBVG or RBT and will likely get a wound (or two) on it as well from the lore attribute. Then I will save one dice back at the end and chillwind and often that will get a second wound and another -1BS.


Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:43 pm
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I'm with you Red, there is no reason to take Dark over the BRB lores. Some of the spells can be decent, but they are all too situational for competitive play. Other lores can fulfil similar roles, but better.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:00 am
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One thing I need to mention: Never take Dark Magic on a sorceress on Foot. Dark Magic is built for mobility and having your sorceress in the right place at the right time is crucial.

Power of Darkness - is a great spell to finish off a magic phase and then kick off one more spell. +1S is not very useful? Well, cast it before you attempt a black horror as a safety feature. Cast it by a sorceress in a unit of warlocks or cold one knights and it suddenly becomes a must dispel spell, nicely drawing out dispel dice. Sorceress in combat? No problem. Use my build of Black Amulet + weapon of choice. It does work wonders. Sword of Anti-Heroes is recommended with this combination, a single enemy character making your sorceress actually able to kill him with two S5 attacks, rerolling hits and 1s to wound.

Chillwind - granted not the best spell out there but it's super easy to cast and much better at dealing with war machines than say a fireball. It's super cheap to cast, you can safely attempt it on your last power die and 2d6 hits will on average put a single wound on the machine. Sounds like not much but -1 to hit on a Hellblaster does matter for example.

Word of Pain - This spell goes through once at the right time and you've won the game. I'm speaking from experience. True, opponents will quickly learn that this is the spell to STOP RIGHT NOW. Which you can use as a leverage. You still likely have your support wizard and warlocks to mess them up. Let them save their dice to stop word of pain as you cast soulblight and miasma (to nearly same effect too)

Bladewind - is fantastic against almost any infantry, bar perhaps warriors of chaos. Cutting down some blocks by a third can be devastating to your opponent.

Soul Stealer - is the one spell that I keep switching off of but only because I can never roll a hit. I hit a grand total of a single model ever with this spell. That is when it scattered off of a horde of 40 halberdiers and clipped a corner guy. It still has potential though and worth keeping if you already have all the other spells you wanted.

Black Horror - It's a vortex spell. It's a vortex spell that makes you test on usually one of the lowest "high" stats. Far better against elves, skaven, humans, WoC, DoC etc than Purple Sun. It's only worse than purple sun against dwarfs (equal in case of most characters) and OK. And never, ever forget that War Machines auto-fail characteristics tests. A single black horror along enemy gunline can wipe them out entirely. Then it becomes a moving impassable terrain that your opponent will have to waste power dice on to get rid of.

Other lores are far easier to prioritize dispelling while Dark Magic essentially has 6/8 medium to high threat spells that need to be stopped.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:41 am
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Dalamar wrote:
One thing I need to mention: Never take Dark Magic on a sorceress on Foot. Dark Magic is built for mobility and having your sorceress in the right place at the right time is crucial.

Power of Darkness - is a great spell to finish off a magic phase and then kick off one more spell. +1S is not very useful? Well, cast it before you attempt a black horror as a safety feature. Cast it by a sorceress in a unit of warlocks or cold one knights and it suddenly becomes a must dispel spell, nicely drawing out dispel dice. Sorceress in combat? No problem. Use my build of Black Amulet + weapon of choice. It does work wonders. Sword of Anti-Heroes is recommended with this combination, a single enemy character making your sorceress actually able to kill him with two S5 attacks, rerolling hits and 1s to wound.

Chillwind - granted not the best spell out there but it's super easy to cast and much better at dealing with war machines than say a fireball. It's super cheap to cast, you can safely attempt it on your last power die and 2d6 hits will on average put a single wound on the machine. Sounds like not much but -1 to hit on a Hellblaster does matter for example.

Word of Pain - This spell goes through once at the right time and you've won the game. I'm speaking from experience. True, opponents will quickly learn that this is the spell to STOP RIGHT NOW. Which you can use as a leverage. You still likely have your support wizard and warlocks to mess them up. Let them save their dice to stop word of pain as you cast soulblight and miasma (to nearly same effect too)

Bladewind - is fantastic against almost any infantry, bar perhaps warriors of chaos. Cutting down some blocks by a third can be devastating to your opponent.

Soul Stealer - is the one spell that I keep switching off of but only because I can never roll a hit. I hit a grand total of a single model ever with this spell. That is when it scattered off of a horde of 40 halberdiers and clipped a corner guy. It still has potential though and worth keeping if you already have all the other spells you wanted.

Black Horror - It's a vortex spell. It's a vortex spell that makes you test on usually one of the lowest "high" stats. Far better against elves, skaven, humans, WoC, DoC etc than Purple Sun. It's only worse than purple sun against dwarfs (equal in case of most characters) and OK. And never, ever forget that War Machines auto-fail characteristics tests. A single black horror along enemy gunline can wipe them out entirely. Then it becomes a moving impassable terrain that your opponent will have to waste power dice on to get rid of.

Other lores are far easier to prioritize dispelling while Dark Magic essentially has 6/8 medium to high threat spells that need to be stopped.


+1 to that, I love dark magic.
Plus if we don't use it, magic wise were just high elves in dark clothes ;)


Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:05 am
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I forgot to mention, but an analysis of Dark Lore should include the fact that there are not one, but two default spells, and we have Tome of Furion available.
This makes this Lore specially reliable for the choice of spells, compared to any other Lore.

Here, you can plan to take either one signature plus one specific spell with your Lvl2, and change your choice according with the opponent you face.
Against any army, one or another of the spells you described above as situational should become game-breaking.
How do you rate the possibility to get one game-breaking spell guaranteed, against any opponent?

But I cannot provide the analysis myself, as I do not play against most armies.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:06 am
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+1 for Dark Magic

Since most of the spells have been very well explained now, I don;t think i have to add anything to that.
Well written comments everyone.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:56 am
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I have a few disagreements and a lot of agreements with the OP here, as some of you might know.

Power of darkness: 100% agreed its a lackluster spell. The only use I can find for it is in death stars. Cold one knight stars for example. But there, beast magic is so much superior that I question taking dark in a cold one or warlock bus.

Doombolt: Make no mistake. This is actually an awesome spell. Why? It has S5. Sure, it costs more to cast than our 'readily comparable cousins' soul quench, but one higher strength is everything. It MURDERS chaff, it does nasty things to monsters wounding on 5's instead of 6's, and even monstrous cav and other 1+ must respect this spell. A metal signature cast at 10 does ~3 wounds to 1+. Our signature at 7 average hits inflicts ~5 wounds saved at 3+, which is 1,8 wounds or so. Its not at all bad.
However! Warlocks get it for free. Which means doombolt is mostly an emergency swap if your lvl 4 should roll shroud of despair vs an undead or daemon army. Sure, lvl 4 casts it 1-2 points easier than the warlocks, but 'wasting' a spell slot for a triplicate spell? Meh.

Chillwind: a decent -1 BS hex. Thats what it is. Against most archers it will kill a few, then put -1 BS on them. The couple of wounds is just a bonus. And for that reason, I think the spell is inferior to, say, shadow signature.

Word of pain: well, I dont think you give the spell enough credit in the OP. Word of pain is incredible. It is. Tossing it on a biggie will reduce S (return damage), WS (same, but also increase our own hit) and I (meaning bigger chance of keeping our rerolls vs things like daemon princes). But then thats that, in my opinion. It has great synergy with bladewind (but low chance of getting the combo off), and sure its a great hex to toss into a melee between rank and file models - but in most cases, a soulblight might be even better here, which our warlocks get for free.

Bladewind: yay, kill cheap hordes. Most elite infantry you actually need to worry about pack WS4 minimum, sometimes even 5. Ironguts are WS3, but there are so few models at multiple wounds that I think a doombolt might do the job better here. My issue with this spell is that it kills what our infantry kills just fine themselves. Why would I spend magic effort clearing 60 halbardiers when my witch elves (or even spearmen, heck!) absolutely mauls them over a few combat rounds? Much rather focus on the demigryphon knights...

Shroud: Can be really, really great. Since its AoE, it must be on a mobile sorceress, and it can really ruin someones day. But you put your sorceress at GREAT risk by casting this baby.

Soul stealer: spot on in the OP. First it scatters. Then it inflicts puny S2 hits. It does ignore armor, but thats just because it would otherwise suck the big one. Small template, so it wont cover many cavalry models. Then the wound steal is also a random effect. It all makes for an unreliable spell. Give me a boosted version to the large template and we're talking.

Black horror: strength based vortex. Great for taking out war machines and cheap, low strength hordes. See my bladewind argument. It allows ward saves, so any serious death star will laugh here; first, they pass most of their S tests at S4+, then they ward save the few deaths caused with the MR(3) they are sure to pack for the same reason. Its dwellers below with worse area effect and without the ward save ignore. Whats worse, you also get look out, sir! against it. It does one thing right: kill war machines. But then, pit of shades or purple sun does the same job.


Overall conclusion on dark magic: it seems like we have gotten a worse 6 from death, a combination of shadow spells into one (word of pain), and then some lackluster magic missiles and a modified treason of tzeentch all into one lore. It does a lot of things okay, but nothing really really well. If you wanna hex stuff, get shadow. If you wanna kill stuff, get death. Leave the magic missiles to the warlocks, and spend them on things where it will actually matter.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:24 am
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Quote:
Why would I spend magic effort clearing 60 halbardiers when my witch elves (or even spearmen, heck!) absolutely mauls them over a few combat rounds? Much rather focus on the demigryphon knights...


I've seen this way of thinking here a time or 2 before...and maybe i'm doing something wrong in my lists.

Using the example of Demigryphs ...my way of thinkins is that why would i use magic to try to get a few wounds through on them when my Executioners can kill 3 of them before they even strike back.

Also using the example of Witch Elves vs 60 Halberdiers......sure my 21 Witch Elves will win almost every round of combat against them...but will be grinded to nothing in a round or 2. I migth even start with a 40 man horde...but shooting will often half that unit before it gets into combat. Often enough though my opponent will use 2 blocks of 30-40 halberdiers....and while my Witch Elves might be able to win against one such horde...the other runs around and kills the rest of my army...

What do i do wrong here?

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:13 am
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about PoD i didnt see it mentioned that ward save and MR works against this. so a sorc in brolock bus with Ward and MR2 has a 2++ against the PoD wound . and a +1 to str on that unit is very sweet indeed

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:54 am
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Cold73 wrote:
Quote:
Why would I spend magic effort clearing 60 halbardiers when my witch elves (or even spearmen, heck!) absolutely mauls them over a few combat rounds? Much rather focus on the demigryphon knights...


I've seen this way of thinking here a time or 2 before...and maybe i'm doing something wrong in my lists.

Using the example of Demigryphs ...my way of thinkins is that why would i use magic to try to get a few wounds through on them when my Executioners can kill 3 of them before they even strike back.

Also using the example of Witch Elves vs 60 Halberdiers......sure my 21 Witch Elves will win almost every round of combat against them...but will be grinded to nothing in a round or 2. I migth even start with a 40 man horde...but shooting will often half that unit before it gets into combat. Often enough though my opponent will use 2 blocks of 30-40 halberdiers....and while my Witch Elves might be able to win against one such horde...the other runs around and kills the rest of my army...

What do i do wrong here?


Well. Cost for cost, executioners do in fact not beat demigryphon knights (I did the math once, it was kind of surprisingly awful). They tie, eventually grinding each other to zero, but the demis will win the first combat rounds. This is without magic support. Give them timewarp, and your executioners vanish. I realise this is slightly off topic, but it does serve as illustration.

You say 3 demis? This is 174 points. Okay, they probably have a musician, so 184. This is 15 executioners with a musician for 190 points. Lets take the match shall we. Lets even deploy the executioners 8 wide.

Execs go first. 15 attacks at 3+ to hit, 10 hits, will wound on 2+ and reroll 1's. Lets just assume 10 wounds. 4+ armor save left on the demis, for 5 wounds. One model dead. Now the 2 remaining demis return fire. 6 demi attacks for 3 hits, roughly 2,8 wounds plus 2 stomps for another almost-2, total 5 executioners dead, plus 2 knight attacks that inflict another. So 6 casualties. Considering the demis very likely charged (or the empire player is stupid), they win the first combat round by a few.

Round 2, 9 executioners left. 6 hits, for 6 wounds, for 3 unsaved. So theres a demi left on one wound. He will drop 3 executioners like before. Combat ties, demi win on musician.
Round 3, the remaining 6 executioners kill the last demi.

So yes - your executioners win. But it takes them 3 full rounds, and theres not a lot of manpower left afterwards to join in any other fights. And they lose the combat consistently. Considering demis also cause fear, thats a lot of leadership checks you have to endure underway.

Upping the numbers to 5 demis with mus vs 24 executioners FC I have outlined this in the bottom of my original post on knights vs executioners performance here. It takes 5 full combat rounds for a conclusive result, and the executioners lose the first 3 rounds. Now replace the demis with skullcrushers who have 2 attacks more on the rider and 1 more on the mount, and a consistent S5, and your combat is lost before it begins. Unless you can pack hexes or augments, or frenzy, onto your executioners, you will not beat MC in a convincing manner, sadly. And if you fail just one fear check along the way, its lights out.

Yes, if you have 30 executioners in horde formation vs 3 demis, you will wipe them. But how often does that happen ;)



As for witch elves. 60 halbardiers cost 390 points with FC. For the same price comes 30 witch elves with FC.

Round 1. Witches go first with 50 attacks at 3+. 33 hits hereof 8 poison, plus rerolls for the 17 misses: another 11 hits, hereof 3 poison. So 11 poison, and 33 regular hits wounding on 4+ for 16 wounds, and 6 1's for another 3 wounds. 30 wounds total, 6+ armor save. You murder 25 halbardiers.
Return attacks. 30 pieces, for 15 hits and 10 wounds. 10 dead witches.

Round 2. Witches go first again, this time only 40 attacks. A reduction of 20% combat efficiency, so we can assume they murder 20 halbardiers this time by extrapolating. How many are left now? 25 from first round plus 20 now... 15 halbardiers left you say?
Return attacks. 15 pieces, for like 7 hits and some 4-5 dead witches. Wait, halbardiers are not steadfast when theres roughly 15 witches and 15 halbardiers left, are they? Nope. This is where they run. And if they dont, your witches obliterate them in the final combat round.

And there will still be 15 witch elves standing when you're done. They will still pump out a massive 35 attacks. What with the frenzy and ahw on the front rank and all.

Again, this is without magic support and stuff. If you give the halbardiers a buff wagon for +1 to hit and then a warrior priest for hatred, you're probably looking at a whole other story. But then again, if you give them that... then you can also give your witches a cauldron.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:22 am
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Whilst the OP makes many good points, I feel I must speak out in defence of dark magic.

First think I really like about it is the mix of spells within the lore. You've got a vortex, direct damage, an augment and a hex. I've not found any other lores that offer that degree of flexibility. For an army with a single mage plus warlocks, that flexibility is great (especially if you have the tome). In a competitive setting, I've found that dark has very few (if any) bad match ups, which isn't true of the other lores.

Going through the spells one at a time, and bearing in mind I run this in an MSU list:

Power of darkness: nope, never taken it. I can see it might have a use for a mage in a bunker with the dagger, where she can 1 dice it at the end of the phase.

Doombolt. The boosted version is largely a trap, but two regular castings (one from the mage, one from the warlocks) dramatically increases the odds of one getting through. That's a chaff unit per magic phase at the start of the game, or making a start on whittling down an enemy horde.

Chillwind. Another spell I don't recall ever casting. However with the rise of shooty elves (especially woodies) I think it's value goes up. Especially if it'll push poison woodies to hit on 7s instead of 6s.

Word of Pain. Now this spell I really like. Just like doombolt, I often combo it with casting from the warlocks. Targeting a key enemy unit with soulblight and this will see either their strength and toughness drop, or their strength and initiative (ensuing ASF re-rolls). Neither are good, especially when said enemy unit is in combat with fighty characters with 1+ saves, cold one knights and/or toughness 5 chariots...

Bladewind. One type of enemy army that gives my MSU list trouble is one with multiple large blocks that I can't blow through in a single round of cc, such as skaven, undead and gobbos. This spell patches that weakness really well!

Shroud. Often not hugely useful, but when it is it really is! Again, my army struggles when it can't break it's foe in a single round, so anything that increases the enemy's chance of running is great! It also helps if the enemy has frenzied troops, trolls etc, or otherwise has left soft friendly units within 6" of a unit within the general and BSB bubble thinking them safe from panic. Finally, I've quite a bit of fear causing units in my army. If I can hit 2-3 units of low ld chaff with a chariot or knight blocks, then they might well fail 3-4 leadership tests. If I can catch a bigger enemy unit in the bubble, I'm much happier at the idea of pitching into said big unit with a couple of characters even though I know I'll not break their steadfast... That said, if my sorceress wasn't on a pegasus, I don't think it would be so useful.

Soul stealer. People with knight based death stars are afraid of it, so I've used it to lure out dispell dice, but that's about as good as I've found it gets...

Black horror. Again, with a pegasus mounted character, this spell is really good! War machines auto die against it, and if it's cast down the enemy's battle line it can inflict impressive casualties. Also it kills steam tanks 1 time in 6. Anything that kills steam tanks is good in my book! Finally, vortexes block movement, allowing some good (if high risk) battlefield control. Again, with the sorceress on a peg (and assuming she has a 4++), her chance of dying from this are low at 1 in 36 (1/6 to misfire, str test on the peg's str 4, 4++ ward).

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:07 pm
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@Thaundril
Thanks for explaining your point of view and your math for this.
Concerning the Executioners I agree it is a bit dicey...most of the time my Executioners are 21 (3x7) or 28 and when playing Empire I often include the Razor Standard in there to take care of Steam Tank and Demi Gryphs. I've never looked at the odds before but it would seem that i've been lucky in the last 3 matches against Demi Gryphs with that unit.

Same goes for witches against halberdiers.... Again you are right in a one on one fight... most of the time i use a small band 21 Witch Elves...and have to get through two 30-40 man units of enemies....If i can seriously deplete atleast one of these units I have a better chance of coming out ahead in the game.

But thanks for explaining your point of view.
I think this shows that the power of Dark Magic depends on the composition of your army and the way you play.
My play style comes down to me quickly and efficiently getting rid of one unit at a time in set-ups favourable to me. Most of the time this is done by me weakening enemy units before i get into combat. I will admit that I've always had a hard time getting through several units of slaves FAST. In the passed i kinda managed by using Lore of Shadow spells on several units and hoping i could keep that up. Now, with dark magic i destroy severals dozen rats per unit before i even engage them

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 2:38 pm
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Wow, lots of really great feedback and comments! I'll try to reply in more detail later, but for now will just comment on this

Quote:
Plus if we don't use it, magic wise were just high elves in dark clothes

My dark elf bleakswords are garbed in a cheerful enchanted blue with silver chain mail and my executioners are clad in the same upbeat blue with shining gold plate armour, so mine can't even claim to be dark clothed ;)

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 4:58 pm
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Is the Lore of Dark Magic any good? Yes.
Is it better or worse than any of the other lores we have access to? It depends.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:16 pm
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I do not contend that dark magic is allways a bad choice, regardless.

I am of course heavily biased by my local meta which involves armor. And armor. And more armor. And also, we usually dont tailor lists even when we play a friendly game we make all-comers, because its just more entertaining than guessing what your opponent brings, and then going for the counter. For this reason, I mostly dont have a razor standard on executioners since thats one heck of an investment (I feel). And for the same reason, I take death magic almost every time I can, simply because even if you dont have any good characters to snipe on, you can always just remove a skullcrusher model with a well placed spirit leech, since it ignores armor. Dark magic struggles vs armor I feel, and that is why I just dont like it that much.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:04 pm
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Thraundil wrote:
Well. Cost for cost, executioners do in fact not beat demigryphon knights (I did the math once, it was kind of surprisingly awful). They tie, eventually grinding each other to zero, but the demis will win the first combat rounds. This is without magic support. Give them timewarp, and your executioners vanish. I realise this is slightly off topic, but it does serve as illustration.

You say 3 demis? This is 174 points. Okay, they probably have a musician, so 184. This is 15 executioners with a musician for 190 points. Lets take the match shall we. Lets even deploy the executioners 8 wide.

Execs go first. 15 attacks at 3+ to hit, 10 hits, will wound on 2+ and reroll 1's. Lets just assume 10 wounds. 4+ armor save left on the demis, for 5 wounds. One model dead. Now the 2 remaining demis return fire. 6 demi attacks for 3 hits, roughly 2,8 wounds plus 2 stomps for another almost-2, total 5 executioners dead, plus 2 knight attacks that inflict another. So 6 casualties. Considering the demis very likely charged (or the empire player is stupid), they win the first combat round by a few.

Round 2, 9 executioners left. 6 hits, for 6 wounds, for 3 unsaved. So theres a demi left on one wound. He will drop 3 executioners like before. Combat ties, demi win on musician.
Round 3, the remaining 6 executioners kill the last demi.

So yes - your executioners win. But it takes them 3 full rounds, and theres not a lot of manpower left afterwards to join in any other fights. And they lose the combat consistently. Considering demis also cause fear, thats a lot of leadership checks you have to endure underway.


You are taking some shortcuts on your math that skew your results.

Let's do it properly.

Round 1

Execs strike first. 15 attacks on 3+ average 10 hits. 10 hits wounding on 2+ rerolling 1s average 9.72 wounds. 4+ armor means average of 4.86 wounds. 1 dead demigryph and another wounded.
Demigryphs strike back. 6 attacks on 4+ average 3 hits. Add 2 stomps for a total of 5 hits. Wounding on 2+ averages 4.17 wounds with no armor save.
Knights get 2 attacks, hitting on 4+ average 1 hit. 1 hit wounding on 3+ averages 0.67 wounds. 6+ armor means average of 0.56 wounds from the knights.
So total wounds from the Execs average 4.86 and Demis average 4.73, which is awfully close -- Demis aren't going to "win by a few" even if they charged, especially if we assume the Execs have a banner instead of a musician (which is likely). Result is awfully close to a push with neither side likely to win by more than 1 or 2. Assuming everybody holds, on to ...

Round 2

10 Execs are left. I will assume for the sake of argument that they did NOT combat reform to a 5-wide formation, and so only 7 in the front rank can attack (along with 2 in the back).
9 Attacks on 3+ average 6 hits. 6 hits wounding on 2+ rerolling 1s average 5.83 wounds. 4+ armor means average of 2.92 wounds. Another Demigryph is dead and there is a single Demigryph remaining with a bout 1 wound left (average of 7.78 wounds inflicted on the unit over 2 rounds).
Demigryph strikes back. 3 attacks on 4+ average 1.5 hits. Add 1 stomps for a total of 2.5 hits. Wounding on 2+ averages 2.08 wounds with no armor save.
Knight get 1 attack, hitting on 4+ averages 0.5 hit. 0.5 hit wounding on 3+ averages 0.33 wounds. 6+ armor means average of 0.28 wounds from the knights.
So total wounds from the Execs average 2.92 and Demis average 2.36, which again is awfully close but again slightly in favor of the Execs, not the Demis. Demis aren't going to "win on musician" since we also assumed that the Execs had one. And if we assume that the Execs had a banner instead, they win by about 1.56. Assuming the Demis hold, on to ...

Round 3

7 Execs left. Since they clearly win the previous round, I assume they combat reform to 5-wide, allowing 6 to attack, which should be sufficient to kill the remaining Demi.

So yes, it is a relatively close combat, but if we do the math carefully, we see that the Execs have an advantage at every step. Especially if we assume that the Execs have a banner instead of a musician, it's the Demis that need to take 2 break checks to make it to round 3, not the Execs.

Yes, I did leave Fear out of the equation.

If you Timewarp or otherwise buff the Demis, that changes the equation. By the same token, if the Dark Elf player buffs the Execs or debuffs the Demis the Execs win in a rout.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:59 pm
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I take a few shortcuts yeah. Thats because fractions are not particularly useful, so I tend to round a little here and there. Btw demis knights have lances, so they are S5 on the charge. And they will have the charge, because of superior movement and swiftstride.

But yeah its a close call. My point was not "its a small swing to one side". My point is "the executioners wont just walk over the demis". If you increase the number of bodies to 24 exec FC and 5 demis with mus, its a much clearer picture of what I mean. But cheers for doing the fractions - it is of course more correct, assuming full average. I let my roundings be the standard deviation :badh:

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:39 pm
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I think it's a good lore, but that said, lately I find myself not taking it. I tend more towards Shadow for my Lvl4 against most armies, other times Death or Metal. My lesser sorceresses are big fans of lore of Beasts, but sometimes Fire too.

I can't wait to get Warlocks, so I can throw Doombolts around. So at the very least, I like that spell. :)

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:50 pm
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Thraundil wrote:
I take a few shortcuts yeah. Thats because fractions are not particularly useful, so I tend to round a little here and there. Btw demis knights have lances, so they are S5 on the charge. And they will have the charge, because of superior movement and swiftstride.


True. I forgot the lances. That roughly evens it out in the first round, and it's a push if the Execs have a banner (which is common for them but not so much for a small unit of Demis).

Thraundil wrote:
But yeah its a close call. My point was not "its a small swing to one side". My point is "the executioners wont just walk over the demis"


I agree with this premise -- it just came off as a general assertion that the Demis have the upper hand.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:37 pm
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But then what is more likely? Demis getting Speed of Light or Timewarp on them?
Or execs getting power level 3 frenzy bound spell?

also I wouldn't guarantee Demis a charge... because tactics.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:57 pm
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T.D. wrote:
Is the Lore of Dark Magic any good? Yes.
Is it better or worse than any of the other lores we have access to? It depends.


This.

Dark Magic is a good all-rounder lore. It doesn't address the principal weaknesses of most Dark Elf armies. It's not a strong counter to heavy armour or high Toughness opponents (which is why Death and Shadow are so popular), although it does have a few options for dealing with these targets. It doesn't increase our survivability other than by Word of Pain, or give us a true "you're dead and there's nothing you can do about it" spell (which is why Metal and Life are so good).

If you know exactly what you need your sorceresses to do, there are more specialised magical options out there. If you want a lore with a six-dice, battle's-over-let's-go-home spell, don't take Dark Magic. If you want a solid all-rounder spellcaster and have counters for heavy armour, high Toughness and Regeneration in your list already, my experience has been that Dark Magic is pretty solid. Even the much-maligned Power of Darkness is decent if you plan for it (with a ward and Magic Resistance in the unit), although it won't win a game by itself.

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Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:11 pm
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