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Defending Against Enemy Magic -- the Druchii Way 
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Lord of the Dragon Caves
Lord of the Dragon Caves
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Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 6:34 pm
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Location: The Dragon Caves of the Underway (Indianapolis IN)
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1. Overview

This article is intended to be a companion to my article Game-Winning Magic in 7th Edition Warhammer. While that article discussed my view of the most efficient ways to manage offensive magic, this article looks at the other side of the coin--minimizing the enemy magic phase and effectively managing your magic defense. Of course, like the other article, this one comes from a distinctively Druchii perspective.

Prior to the new book coming out, the Dark Elf army may have been the army most vulnerable to enemy magic. Expensive, low-toughness troops with generally poor armor meant that even basic magic missiles could take a heavy toll. And the relatively high cost of Druchii Sorceresses meant that even just a scroll caddy was (and still is for that matter) a more expensive choice than in most other armies. The Seal of Ghrond helped a bit, but it was no panacea.

This vulnerability to magic has significantly lessened in the new book. Part of this is because Druchii troops have become generally cheaper across the board. If you can put more models on the table, you can soak up more enemy magic. But more important, the new book gives Druchii options to take what I call "scalable" magic defense. What I mean by that is that the effect of the defensive items is not limited. As the scale of the enemy magic increases, the effect of these defensive items can also increase--they do not run out like scrolls or the dice in your dispel pool. This type of capability is embodied in Null Talismans--giving Magic Resistance--and the Ring of Hotek--by far the best item for magic defense in the game today.

As in my other article, my focus is not so much about army construction as it is about managing your defensive resources. The actual level of magic defense you want or need will vary from game to game, and should be tailored to your opponent if you know who you are fighting.

2. Scalable Defense

The ability to take items providing a scalable defensive benefit in the magic phase is a HUGE benefit to the Druchii. The Ring of Hotek in particular allows you to defend against even extremely heavy magic with a minimal investment of your own. Because Null Talismans and the Ring of Hotek do not run out, they can allow you to defend against multiple enemy spells without seriously depleting your reserve of dispel dice and scrolls--and so I'm going to discuss these items before getting into the subject of dispel dice and scrolls.

a. The Ring of Hotek

I have heard non-Druchii players complain that the Ring of Hotek is horribly overpowered and/or under priced. Although the January 2009 official FAQ to the Dark Elf army book has weakened the Ring, it is still amazingly cheap for what it does.

Think of it this way:

A Dispel Scroll costs 25 points and allows you to stop a single enemy spell during a game. But even a Dispel Scroll cannot overcome Irresistible Force, and you need a relatively expensive character to carry it.

The Ring of Hotek costs the same 25 points, it can stop an unlimited number of enemy spells over the course of a game, it can be carried by a unit champion, and since miscasts take precedence of irresistible force, the Ring of Hotek protects you even in the face of enemy items/abilities that increase the probability of Irresistible Force.

But the best part about the Ring of Hotek is that it becomes more effective the more magic you are facing. The more dice the enemy rolls, the more chance of a miscast. The percentages are set forth in the table below:

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As you can see, when an enemy casts a spell on 3 power dice within the area of effect of the Ring of Hotek, there is a 44% chance of failure--almost half of such spells will fail. And that jumps up to over 70% at 4 power dice.

The effect is that if you use it right, the Ring of Hotek can make your army virtually immune to some of the most devastating spells in the game. Since the real game-breaking spells almost invariably have a high casting value requiring 4 dice to reliably cast, the Ring of Hotek stops them more often than not. The Ring of Hotek also has a tremendous deterrent effect. Once your opponent knows you have the Ring and where, he or she might not even try to cast anything on over 2 dice, thereby protecting you from the most devastating spells in the enemy arsenal.

With the January 2009 errata and FAQ for both the main rulebook and Dark Elf army book out, it is now clear that unless within 12' of the caster, the Ring does not work against spells that have a defined area of effect or that place a template without necessarily targeting a specific unit. In particular, it does not work against the Vampire Counts spell Wind of Undeath, suggesting that it would not work against other spells that have an effect on your entire army. Unfortunately, the FAQ rulings still do not provide clear guidance about what spells do and do not have a "target." For example, does it work on a spell (like Waagh!) that affects your opponent's entire army when within 12' of an enemy unit, or does the Ring need to be within 12" of the caster to work against such a spell? Although some analogies can be drawn, I expect arguments to continue due to a lack of absolute clarity on which spells have a target and which do not.

There are two ways to field the Ring, both of which have their merits. The first is to use it on a mobile character, mounted on a Dark Steed or more preferably on a flying mount, and to shadow enemy casters. This can be effective since the Ring can potentially stop any spell of the caster(s) within range, regardless of the target. It also avoids any question about whether certain spells have a "target" or not since you are more worried about the caster's location with this tactic. The potential downsides are that if the enemy caster is also mobile, it can escape the area of effect. Your opponent can also limit the effect of the Ring in this situation by widely spacing his or her casters so that you cannot get them all in the area of effect.

The other way to field the Ring is on a character or unit champion who is intended to stay with the main body of your army, putting your units under an umbrella of protection from enemy magic. This has the advantage that you don't really need to worry about the location of the enemy casters, but has the disadvantage that you need to bunch most of your army together in order to protect it from enemy magic. One advantage of this second approach is that you can give the Ring of Hotek to a unit champion, giving more flexibility in the magic item choices for your characters.

As good as the Ring of Hotek is, you might not want to rely on it exclusively for magic defense in a tournament setting. It does not help at all against bound items--or Tomb Kings incantations that count as bound spells. Similarly, it doesn't help against spells cast on a single power die since there is no chance of miscast. Both Ogres and Vampires counts often cast multiple spells on one die each, and so you should have a plan for dealing with such possibilities.

Finally, remember that the Ring affects your own casters too! For that reason, I generally would not include it in any army that is heavy-magic. Even if you are careful and keep your casters away from the Ring bearer, it can end up severely limiting both your maneuvering and you target selection for spells.

b. Null Talismans

Like the Ring of Hotek, Null Talismans provide scalable magic defense in the sense that the Magic Resistance the provide works against multiple spells per turn as many times as the bearer is targeted. Null Talismans are not nearly as powerful as the Ring of Hotek though for several reasons. First, the Magic Resistance they give is limited to the unit carrying them -- you don't get the same umbrella of protection. Second, unless you really go nuts and put load of Null Talismans on a Lord-level character, you will often have to supplement their effect with dice from your dispel pool. Finally, the thing that really irks me is that I wish Null Talismans were only 10 points each -- that way I could fit two of them on a champion of Knights or Black Guard!

Although Null Talismans aren't quite as good as the Ring of Hotek, and suffer from weaknesses that the Ring does not, Null Talismans can still be worthwhile. In fact, they can be very good at dealing with a magic phase of multiple, low power spells that the Ring has trouble dealing with. The Ring and Null Talismans actually complement each other very well--giving two or three Null Talismans to a character in the same unit as the Ring will protect the unit from both powerful spells and low-level magic missiles. The combination is a very good way to protect an "uber-unit" from enemy magic. An good example of this is the "Shade Death Star" unit discussed here.

Even in the absence of the Ring, Null Talismans are useful for protecting a particularly valuable unit from enemy magic. I think that a single Null Talisman is a good item for a Black Guard champion to protect an expensive unit that can be quite vulnerable to magic missiles due to toughness 3 and 5+ armor. Although you won't be able to rely on the single die to really stop anything, the extra dispel die per spell can come in handy. At the very least, it might cause your opponent to throw an extra die at otherwise low-level spells, decreasing the overall number of spells you have to face.

With the recent (January 2009) errata to the 7th edition rulebook--changing Magic Resistance so that it only works against spells that "target" the unit with MR rather than also spells that "affect" the unit--Null Talismans are no longer so effective. They apparently do not work against spells like Cleansing Flare, Crown of Taidron, Drain Life, and Wind of Undeath since they do not actually "target" the units in the area of effect. On the other hand, it has been clarified for the FAQ to the Dark Elf army book that you can have multiple characters with Null Talismans in your army. So they can be a good way to sprinkle some additional magic defense around your list.

c. The Staff of Sorcery

The Staff of Sorcery is really a "semi-scalable" defensive item because although the benefit from it is potentially unlimited--it works every time you try to dispel--it is functionally limited by the number of dispel dice in your pool. It doesn't work entirely on its own. Obviously, the big downside to the Staff of Sorcery is that it is an Arcane item--it can only be carried by a Sorceress or a High Sorceress. As such, it competes for points and space with both Dispel Scrolls and arcane items that give a benefit to the offensive side of the magic phase.

The Staff of Sorcery can be very useful against a magic phase that features a lot of casting on one power die since it gives you a reasonable shot at stopping those castings with only one dispel die of your own (Ogre Kingdoms, Tomb Kings, and Vampire Counts can all fall into this category). The Staff of Sorcery is also useful against opponents who like to use a lot of Bound Items, again for the reason that it allows you to more reliably dispel with just one die--a Nurgle Daemon army that uses multiples of the Staff of Nurgle gift, for example.

3. Dispel Dice – When and How to Use Them

Against a low-magic enemy, defending in the magic phase can be pretty easy. If you have more dispel dice than your enemy has power dice, then you may not have much thinking to do. But when you don’t have the luxury of such an advantage, you will have some thinking to do. Planning the defensive magic phase is similar to planning the magic phase when you are on offense. But it’s a bit less predictable—you have to try to anticipate what spells your enemy is going to try to cast.

a. The Most Important Rule – Know Your Enemy!

It seems obvious, but you can’t plan your magic defense if you don’t know what your enemy can cast. I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve had an opponent throw dice to dispel something nasty I’m casting only to realize later that the dice should have been saved for use against something even worse!

Don’t make this mistake! If you don’t remember what spells your opponent has, then ask—spells aren’t secret. And if you happen to be playing in an “open list” environment like a lot of independent tournaments in the United States, be sure you are aware of every Arcane Item and bound spell in your enemy’s list and what they do.

Similarly, be sure that you know about and keep track of things like Magic Mushrooms and Warpstone Tokens that come as standard equipment for some wizards and that can increase their abilities in the magic phase.

b. Budgeting Your Dispel Dice

If you know what your opponent can throw at you, you can figure out what to try to stop and how many dice you’ll need to do it. The first step is to prioritize. Ask yourself—“What enemy spells can hurt me the most?” These are the spells you want to save your dice for.

The answer to this question may be different at different stages of the game. For example, if it is early in the game and a spell like Unseen Lurker could only be used to make a non-charging move, I put it low on my list of priorities. But if the enemy has a unit in position to make a magical and potentially game-breaking charge, I’ll save dice for it (or more preferably a scroll).

You also need to think about what spells your enemy can and can’t cast because of range, line of sight, or other factors. Failing to stop a spell in expectation of something worse that never comes is an easy mistake to make. Many times when I have fielded a magic-heavy army, I’ve had opponents try to budget their dispel dice based on how many dice I have left available to me instead of based on the number of spells I have left that I’m able to cast. I cast some spells that they let through, thinking something big is coming down the pipe, and then I end my magic phase without using all my dice. This generally happens early in the game when one or more casters may not have the range to cast all their spells and use all their available dice.

Note on Prioritizing: In thinking about which spells you should plan on trying to dispel, put a premium on stopping "force multipliers": (1) Spells that increase the spellcasting ability of your opponent; and (2) Spells that increase the effectiveness of later (or earlier) spells. The idea is that by preventing the spell that is a "force multiplier," you are effectively defending against either a bigger spell or multiple spells.

On the first point, there are two spells that can increase the number of casting dice available to your opponent--Power of Darkness and Boon of Tzeentch. The reason to dispel them is that in stopping a 1 or 2-power die casting, you are also effectively stopping a later, bigger spell that would be cast with the bonus dice. Another Tzeentch Daemon spell can also fit into this category--Glean Magic. It has a casting value of 7, but can be used to steal and automatically cast one of your own spells that has a higher value.

On the second point, these spells can be harder to identify, but they are generally spells that have an effect on Leadership. The Death Lore spell Doom and Darkness! is a good example. Because the spell has an effect on leadership tests, it can increase the effectiveness of magic missiles and any panic tests they might cause. And since panic tests happen at the end of the magic phase, your opponent can wait to cast Doom and Darkness! until the end, after it has become apparent where the panic tests will occur. The Slaanesh Daemon spell Phantasmagoria and Tzeentch Mortal spell Pandaemonium can be used in a similar fashion. But they can also be cast earlier in the phase--and it can be particularly important to dispel them--since there are other spells in the same Lores that depend on Leadership tests for their effect. One other example of a "force multiplier" is Hammer of Sigmar, a Prayer available to Empire Warrior Priests, which allows a character to re-roll dice to hit and wound. It is not limited to HTH or normal missile attacks, and so I have seen it used on Empire wizards so that they can gain re-rolls on the to-wound rolls for their spells.


Once you’ve thought about what your opponent can and can’t cast in a given phase, you need to think about how many dice to save for the spells you are really worried about. Since the same percentages apply to dispelling as to casting, it’s worth looking back to a table from my prior article showing the percentage of casting by casting value and number of dice:

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This table can tell you how many dice to use to dispel during the course of the magic phase, but should be used slightly differently on defense than on offense. When deciding how many dice to use to cast, you want to keep the pressure on your opponent, so you should choose the number of casting dice to roll based on the most efficient use of those dice. But on defense—particularly where your opponent has significantly more casting dice than you have dispel dice—once you’ve decided to try to dispel, you really need to get something out of those dice you’ve rolled. If a spell is important enough to roll dice against, you want to make sure you stop it. This doesn’t mean you should throw efficiency out the window. If your opponent casts a spell on a “4” it’s just plain stupid to use 3 dice to try to dispel (anything that casts on a 4 is probably not that important anyway). But it does mean that you should often use more dice than the green-shaded number in the table. For example, against a spell cast on a “6”, I would consider using 3 dice for a 91% chance to stop it rather than the 72% chance on 2 dice. Similarly, I might use 4 dice to dispel something cast on a “9” to increase my chance from 74% to 85%.

So how does the table help budget dispel dice when you don’t know what your opponent is going to roll? The answer is that you can use it to predict how many power dice your opponent is likely to throw at a particular spell. As a rule of thumb, if there is a spell I know I am going to want to stop, I save one more dispel die than the number of power dice I expect my opponent to throw. The reason for this is simple—if the spell is successful, then chances are that your opponent is going to roll higher than the bare minimum needed and you will need to roll more dice in order to have the best chance of dispelling. If your opponent has a bound spell that you want to budget for, then the use of the table is obvious—just take the casting value into account and plan accordingly.

Since you are on defense and can't really know what your enemy will cast and when, the goal here is to identify whether there are one or two enemy spells that are at the top of your priority list and to know how many dice you need to set aside to defend against them. If they are spells with really high casting values, you may need to either plan on using a scroll or two (if you have them), or to plan on not trying to dispel at all.

If you have no scrolls at all, sometimes it can be better to use your dispel dice trying to stop magic missiles or other small stuff rather than saving them for the one really big spell you know is coming. If that spell is truly a game-changer that will put your opponent into a winning position, then by all means, save some dice and hope for double 6s on your dispel roll. But otherwise, it can be better to bite the bullet and let your opponent cast unopposed. One thing you need to consider is that your opponent may never get to cast the big spell if he or she miscasts on an earlier spell. Or if it’s a really big spell, your opponent may miscast on that attempt--there is about a 20% chance your opponent will miscast if using 5 dice for a spell. The bottom line is that if you know in advance that you don't have a reasonable shot at stopping a really big spell, it can be a better use of your dice to forget about that big spell and use your dice on the smaller stuff that you can stop.

c. The Really Nasty Stuff – Save Your Scrolls

If I am facing a magic-heavy enemy and have Dispel Scrolls at my disposal, I have a few rules I like to follow in order to get the most out of them, as well as to maximize the value I get out of my dispel dice.

First, in planning my defense, if there is a spell that I know I really want to stop and it has a casting value of 12 or greater, I'll plan on using a scroll for it. The reason why is because if I'm going to need 5 dice to have a good chance of stopping the spell, I should use those 5 dice for something else. Of course, if all I have is a Level 1 scroll caddy, I won't have 5 dice to use even if I wanted them!

Second, I try not to use my scrolls prior to turn 3 if at all possible. The third turn of the game is often critical juncture--combat is often joined in earnest, and enemy casters will usually be positioned in range to cast all their spells and influence the events of this critical turn. In my experience, it is very rare for game-changing spells to be cast on turn 1 or 2, and using a scroll that early in the game can cause big regrets later.

There are some exceptions. For example, an early casting of Wind of Undeath by a Vampire Counts player can cripple your army if you have a lot of small harassing units like Harpies, Shades, and Dark Riders. Another example is an Orc & Goblin player who casts the Waaagh! spell after declaring a Waagh!--potentially causing several magical charges at once. But again, these are exceptions rather than the rule. Unless a spell is going to have an early effect on a large and/or critical portion of my army, I will generally not scroll it.

Another exception to the rule against using scrolls early is if you are facing a low-magic army and you have plenty of dispel dice. In that case, you might as well use your scrolls early any time your opponent rolls well on casting rather than taking a risk that you'll roll poorly on your dispel. Better to use the scrolls in that situation rather than sit on them and never use them through the entire course of the game.

e. Adjusting Your Plan During the Magic Phase

Since you don't have control over when the enemy casts or what the result of his or her dice may be, you will have to make adjustments as the phase progresses. If your opponent miscasts or fails in an early casting roll, you can save any dispel dice you were planning on using and can use them for something else instead. An early Irresistible Force can have the same effect since you can't use any dispel dice against it.

Similarly, if your opponent rolls very high on a casting roll, you may need to reconsider whether to still try against a spell that you would have otherwise thrown dice at. Figure out how many dice it would take to reliably stop the spell, whether you have enough to do it, and what your opponent has left to cast that you might be able to stop by saving the dice. If it is your opponent's last spell, then by all means, roll your dice. But if not, you may want to save them if trying to dispel would leave you defenseless for the rest of the phase. One thing I try not to do is use a scroll against a spell just because my opponent rolled very high. The decision on whether or not to use a scroll should be driven more by the potential effect of the spell rather than the casting roll.

Also, over the course of the magic phase, you need to pay attention to whether your opponent has a big spell that he or she may be able to cast using secondary sources of power dice, such as Power Stones, mushrooms, or warpstone tokens. If it seems like an opportune turn for your opponent to cast that big spell, you should assume it's going to happen and hold back some dice or a scroll if it makes sense.

Similarly, if you are playing with closed lists, you need to be aware of your opponent's army book and what sort of bound spells might pop out at the end of the phase. Against Vampires, for example, I would always presume that the Book of Arkhan is out there, and would save a dispel die (or two if I absolutely know it's there) for it in any turn when it could be used to get off an important charge.

One important thing that may cause you to adjust your plan for magic defense is the targeting of spells. Specifically, if a spell that you were planning on letting through ends up targeting one of your spellcasters or another source of magic defense (such as a carrier of the Ring of Hotek), you need to strongly consider trying to stop the spell. If the spell could take out part of your magic defense, that will come back to bite you in later phases. Use a scroll if necessary. It doesn't make sense to save a scroll only to have the carrier get killed by a spell you could have stopped.

4. Tactical Defense – Mage-Hunting, Screening, and Other Tricks

Aside from army set-up and wise use of dispel dice and scrolls, there are other things you can do to minimize the effect of enemy magic. What you do in the movement, missile, and combat phases can substantially effect your magic defense.

a. Mage Hunting

Obviously, if you can kill enemy wizards, they don't generate power dice and can't cast spells. But it can be very difficult to kill enemy wizards. It's hard to plan for in advance--you need to be opportunistic and take advantage of favorable situations as they arise. That being said, it is important to build your army (particularly in tournaments) so that you have some mage-hunting capability. This is important because even if you are unsuccessful in your attempts to hunt down enemy wizards, having mage-hunting units gives you greater ability to control the movement of the enemy wizards. If enemy wizards have to stay in units or in terrain to protect themselves, you can more easily keep track of them and limit their targets.

The key is to have credible mage-hunting threats in your army so that you can use them if the opportunity arises. Against the squishy casters in most armies, this generally means harpies and Dark Riders, who have the charge range and mobility to go after enemy mages. Even if an enemy mage is inside a unit, harpies and Dark Riders can put out enough attacks to threaten most low-level enemy casters. In fact, Dark Riders can become downright deadly in a mage-hunting role if you happen to have a Cauldron of Blood in your army. With +1 attack and hatred, Dark Riders can be effective in performing "suicide charges" against an enemy unit, knowing they will lose, but directing their attacks against a mage in hopes of killing him. Shades are harder to get into position for a charge, but if they have a weapon upgrade--either extra hand weapons or great weapons--they can do very well as mage hunters too. And like Dark Riders, they can benefit from the cauldron for extra hitting power. I once had a unit of shades charge a ghoul unit and kill a Vampire Court inside of that unit!

A smart opponent will deploy his or her mages at the corner of a unit in order to minimize the number of attacking models who can allocate against the mage. But if you opponent puts the mage towards the center of the unit, take advantage of that by charging and multiple getting Dark Riders or Harpies in contact.

A Master on a Dark Steed or Dark Pegasus can also serve as a mage-hunter. But his ability to conduct successful "suicide charges" can be neutralized fairly easily by using unit champions issue/accept challenges. If you are going to use a Master in such a role, that's a good place to give him the Ring of Hotek or a Null Talisman or two so that he doesn't get killed on the way in.

Having a reasonable amount of missile fire in your army is also very important to controlling the movements of enemy casters--and killing them if they are stupid enough to expose themselves. Even just two units of Dark Riders with crossbows can be sufficient to do this. A Reaper Bolt Thrower or two on a hill can also strongly deter enemy wizards from venturing outside units. And if you use combat characters on flying mounts, a pair of Repeater Handbows lets them hunt mages outside of units even if they can't charge--just drop right next to them and unleash a hail of shots.

Although most enemy wizards will be relatively squishy, lacking armor and magical protection, especially in the case of lower-level casters, some armies have true warrior-mages that can be hard to kill. Warriors of Chaos can have mounted casters with toughness 4 and 2+ armor save. Vampire Counts and Ogres also have tough casters. But aside from the occasional Lord on a dragon, these casters will still generally try to stay inside units if you have a credible shooting threat. The -1 armor save on crossbows means that even 2+ armor Chaos Sorcerers can't ignore them.

b. Screening

Since most damage-dealing spells require line-of-sight to cast, controlling the line-of-sight of enemy casters can be a good way to defend yourself if you are primarily worried about thing like magic missiles and other direct-damage spells. Harpies are the perfect troops for the job. They are cheap, mobile, and since they skirmish, even a unit of five can spread out and screen off a large area.

If you are facing an enemy caster with multiple damage-dealing spells, force your opponent to use their big spells on the cheap screening troops. You can do this by focusing on dispelling any low-value magic missiles that are intended to blast the harpies to clear line-of-sight to more important targets beyond. If you stop the little stuff, your opponent can be forced to use the big spell on your 55-point unit—a small sacrifice in many cases.

In addition to using your own troops, look for opportunities to use terrain for screening purposes, as well as the enemy’s own troops. Sometimes if you are using Dark Riders or Harpies for bait-and-flee purposes already, see if you can’t set things up so that when the enemy unit charges, it will obstruct line-of-sight for a spellcaster on the same side.

c. Other Tricks

Aside from killing mages and screening, their or other ways to control or limit the enemy magic phase. One of the simplest is to engage enemy wizards in combat even if you can’t kill them. A mage in combat will often have its spell-casting ability severely limited by line-of-sight problems and complete inability to cast magic missiles. If you can draw an enemy unit containing a mage into combat, it gives you less to worry about in the magic phase.

One sneaky way to do this is to take a charge from which your opponent would otherwise expect you to flee. Many enemies expect units like Dark Riders to always flee from a charge. If one of your harassing units gets charged by an enemy unit containing a mage, consider taking the charge instead of fleeing if it would limit the enemy’s magic phase.

Depending on the enemy spell selection, getting your own units into combat can be just as effective in cutting down the enemy magic phase. If your opponent's spells election is heavy on magic missiles, for example, you can take away targets by getting them into combat. Of course, since you have to be in combat on your enemy's turn, this means either taking charges or being in a protracted combat. Nevertheless, it's something to keep in mind.

There are some other tricks you can take advantage of if you want to prevent the use of particular spells that depend on limitations within the language or effects of those particular spells. For example, if you are facing a Wood Elf opponent who uses a lot of Tree Singing, you can stop the movement of a forest by putting a unit of harpies or Dark Riders in the path where your opponent wants to move the forest. Since the forest stops if it hits a unit, you can limit the enemy magic just by getting in the way. Note that the way I interpret the spell and as I have seen others play it, the Wood Elf player cannot use the damage-dealing aspect of Tree Singing against a unit that stops a wood from moving like this--in order to be targeted, the unit needs to be at least partially in the forest feature. The upshot is that you can stop the Wood Elf trick of "surfing" units on a forest with Tree Singing simply by getting in the way. If your opponent had planned on casting Tree Singing on the same forest 3 or 4 times, you've just stopped that with no expenditure of dispel dice.

In a similar fashion, if you are bogged down in a protracted combat with an infantry unit in a Vampire Counts army and want to prevent your enemy from replenishing the unit with Invocation of Nehek, drop a unit of Harpies in right behind the enemy unit. Since (according the official Vampire Counts FAQ) Invocation can’t be used to add models to a unit if they would within 1” of an enemy (other than an enemy that the target unit is already engaged with), you can limit the ability of your enemy to replenish or enlarge the unit.

5. Special Cases – Vampires, Tomb Kings, Ogres & More

a. Vampires

Vampires frequently present a special problem because of repeated castings of Invocation of Nehek on one die—so many times that you have no hope of stopping them all. The most common tactic is for a vampire players to field probably two or three modest sized blocks of foot troops (often ghouls), using a Vampire Lord with the appropriate bloodline power to increase the size of the units before reaching combat, and to replenish those units after they suffer casualties in combat—giving them a huge edge in a battle of attrition. To top it off, the Vampires also have magical movement and some nasty direct-damage spells that you have to worry about.

If you know you are going to be facing Vampire Counts, then the Staff of Sorcery is an excellent item to limit the effect of the 1-die Invocations. With a +1 to dispel, you have a much greater chance of stopping them on one die of your own. It may even force your opponent to use two dice per casting, which is harder for you to stop, but in that case, you’ve already cut your opponent’s casting in half.

If you don’t have the Staff (and even if you do), I let most early-game invocations go without trying to dispel. Save your dice and scrolls for the stuff that will hurt your army—Wind of Undeath in particular—and only use dice to stop Invocations after you have already accounted for the big spells. Once in combat, try to use the trick described just above (dropping harpies behind the unit) in lieu of having to dispel the Invocation.

b. Tomb Kings

Tomb Kings pose many of the same problems as Vampire Counts. They are easier to deal with in some respects due to the limited selection of incantations. But are more difficult in others due to the fact that they never miscast.

If you know you are facing Tomb Kings, then the Staff of Sorcery is great for dealing with the 1-die incantations from Tomb Kings and Princes, allowing you to save more dice to deal with those of the Liche Priests.

Because they can’t march, Tomb Kings rely on their incantations to get into combat. Almost invariably in turn 3 (sometimes turn 2 or 4) a Tomb Kings player will be trying to execute multiple magical charges, and it can be a turning point in the game. Save your dispel scrolls for that turn, and try to stop critical charges. In particular try to make sure that the Tomb Kings player cannot get multiple charges on the same unit—stop one of the chargers so that the other unit is unsupported and more easily defeated. Also, don’t forget you’re a Dark Elf—you can still flee from the magical charges!

c. Ogres

Since Gut Magic spells all cast on a 3+ (at least the first time they are cast in a magic phase), magic-heavy Ogre armies will try to overwhelm you with 1-die castings. Often times, there will just be too much for you to stop.

When facing magic-heavy Ogres, I try to focus on stopping the spells that can hurt my units—Bonecrusher, the Bangstick Bound Spell, and Braingobbler. The reason for this is that all the other Gut Magic spells give extra stats or abilities to an Ogre unit, but I will normally have a chance to get rid of them before they really make a difference. If there is an ogre unit that is buffed-up with Gut Magic, I simply won’t take a charge from it. I’ll flee instead. And if I charge in my turn, I’ll use Power Dice to dispel the Gut Magic spell on the target of my charge. The Staff of Sorcery again comes in handy for this, giving you a 72% chance to dispel an in-play Gut Magic spell on 2 dice.

d. Others

A specific discussion of defending against Mortal Nurgle magic can be found in a separate thread -- Defending Against Enemy Magic -- Mortal Lore of Nurgle

I'll add links to discussions regarding other specific armies in this section as well.

6. Conclusion


Hopefully this article has given you some ideas about how to deal with enemy magic and survive. Even against the heaviest magical assault, you can prevail if you manage your resources and make the most of your tactical opportunities. Good luck, and don’t forget the Ring!

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Last edited by Dyvim tvar on Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:13 pm, edited 21 times in total.



Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:10 pm
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nice read, I look forward to the next installment, thanks!


Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:04 pm
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Dyvim Tvar wrote:
The Vampire spell Wind of Undeath--which can otherwise be devastating to low-toughness elves-- becomes next to useless if you have the Ring.


unless you happen to be me - my op cast it three times in one game, 3 dice every time - zilch, not even a hint of a miscast - and half wounds off 2 of my monsters!

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Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:19 pm
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I got in a debate last night regarding whether or not the ring would effect "wind of undeath" As it doesn't target a unit, it simply effects them. I eventually conceded that it would not be effected because the wording of the ring is that units "targeted" and not "effected" within 12" of the bearer. But mostly I was sick of arguing with a stubborn headed opponent. (he wouldn't let me use my cauldrons MR against the spell that allows every undead unit within 12" to make an attack in CC, even though my cauldron was in cc with an undead unit within 12" of the caster because they weren't "effected" by the spell either. )

So , long story short, wind of undeath - is - effected by the ring?

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Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:53 pm
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keep in mind that the ring not only effects spells targeted within 12" of the ring, but also effects any caster who is within 12". As for whether not the spell counts an area effect if the target wasn't within 12", I don't know.


Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:33 pm
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I thought the ring was underpriced as well. But I've taken it to every battle and half the time it doesn't even effect play. Occasionally it's a nasty surprise for my opponent and sometimes, like twice during my last game, it caused my own Sorceress to miscast. For items like this which are both a curse and a boon, I think it's fine.

Yes, Winds of Undeath is effected by the ring. Any unit within 12" of the ring that is directly effected by a spell (ie. takes damage) is effected. Your opponent was a jerk.


Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:46 pm
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I so want to use the RoH against one particular opponent
the last battle I played was 1000 points Empire vs Lustrian Skaven plague horde guys.
I went with a Captain on pegasus and a cheap captain as my characters, he had two level 2s and because of the special lustrian skaven rules, both had plague, and he killed pretty much my entire army in the first magic phase.
it casts on 13, so needs 3 dice minimum, and he often used more as he had warpstone tokens or some such which added power dice. Basically his entire army was built around casting plague twice a turn, and I'd love the RoH to mess him up!


Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:59 pm
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My interest in Magic has been waning over the alst few years, and I'm much more interested in using magic-less lists that can hold their own in a reasonably competitive environment.

I like where this is going, and the timing couldn't be better. I'll be following this one.

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Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:27 am
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When i play, I have been prefering low numbers of magic troops, maybe a null talisman, and usually a ring of Hotek, but what becomes the real problem without a scroll caddie, and very few dispel dice, is how do i prioritise what to counter. This is made doubly hard by playing aainst VC almost every battle. So if you can count dice, you know that their chance of getting something off on unprotected units is almost always a problem. So do tell, how does everyone prioritise their defences?

Logical answer would be those that are the biggest threat, but do you value these things against chance? or worst potential case of certain outcomes. It is always a difficult balance. are you willing to block the last attempt of danse against a unit thta needs the charge? or are you going to save those dice for a magic missle set on some of your necessary central block units that need the static combat res? that one seems easy actually, but please, how do you guys approach chance situations against magic, which inevitably is full of chance anyway.


Mon Oct 27, 2008 6:44 am
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Always been a non-magic user, and tonight for the first time in like a year I fielded magic - four casters, and it's garbage. Simply not my playstyle, and I was completely out of my element and all over the place. Back to my anti-magic ways.

I've always played very aggressively against magic armies, fielding anything that I can throw at them from hydra, shades, harpies, CoC, monsterous mounts and the magic items such as SoG, RoH, NT and scroll caddies. Crystal of Midnight is too expensive to be taken regularly, unless you're against a low ld army with few casters.

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Brokenstone wrote:
... what becomes the real problem without a scroll caddie, and very few dispel dice, is how do i prioritise what to counter.


I'm going to cover this issue in the top post, but if anyone else has thoughts, feel free to put them out there now.

The bottom line though is that sometimes you can really be in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't situation" with no easy answer. In a situation where you have two spells that the enemy can cast that might be equally devastating to you, my general rule is save your dice for the one with the lower casting value. Your opponent may throw fewer dice at it, making it easier to dispel. That being said, you have to make your decisions a bit on the fly. If your opponent is casting a magic missile on 2 dice and rolls an 11, even if that missile could have a game-changing effect, the number of dice necessary to reliably dispel means you might need to suck it up and save those dice for the next spell.

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Just a small note to help in creating the article:

In fact, an overview of magic defense planning should, in addition to other things, include the special cases of magic phases - VC, TK and OK come to mind mainly.


Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:22 pm
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I agree with Dyvim especially on the last one.

Now 1st line of deffense is the ring, 2nd line dice and for the really nasty occasion when you risk your battle plan avoid dice at all cost and use the dispel scroll.

For example a vanhel's Dancing is cast at a value of 11 and now you risk being flanked by a nasty unit do not risk with 3 dice, go with a dispel scroll instead and keep the dice for the Book of Arkhan.

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Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:47 pm
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phierlihy wrote:

Yes, Winds of Undeath is effected by the ring. Any unit within 12" of the ring that is directly effected by a spell (ie. takes damage) is effected. Your opponent was a jerk.


Whoa... are we saying that area of effect spells "target" the units that they hit?? Unless someone can show me a FAQ that deals with this issue, I'd have to completely disagree with that. That would allow MR to come into play against so many spells that don't actually directly target anything... including Black Horror. For a spell to target a unit, you have to specifically announce that unit as a target.


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Hi, the rules discussion for RoH is here This is a discussion for tactics.

The biggest deal is knowing what spells you can let through, and what ones you have to dispel, this will of course vary depending on your opponent, your army's position and how lucky you feel.

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Sorry, didn't mean to go off topic. My apologies.


Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:55 am
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Uh...if I cast Black Horror and even the tiniest sliver of a model with magic resistance is touched by the template, I'd give it magic resistance dice when my opponent tries to dispel it. I mean, why wouldn't you??


Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:38 am
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phierlihy wrote:
Uh...if I cast Black Horror and even the tiniest sliver of a model with magic resistance is touched by the template, I'd give it magic resistance dice when my opponent tries to dispel it. I mean, why wouldn't you??


So would I -- but that issue really goes in the Rules forum and hte thread Fro linked to. ;)

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Gruff wrote:
phierlihy wrote:

Yes, Winds of Undeath is effected by the ring. Any unit within 12" of the ring that is directly effected by a spell (ie. takes damage) is effected. Your opponent was a jerk.


Whoa... are we saying that area of effect spells "target" the units that they hit?? Unless someone can show me a FAQ that deals with this issue, I'd have to completely disagree with that. That would allow MR to come into play against so many spells that don't actually directly target anything... including Black Horror. For a spell to target a unit, you have to specifically announce that unit as a target.


...or you could read the MR rules in the rulebook. Even 'affecting' something brings MR into play.


Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:49 pm
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Something little from my experience: in general it's worth dispelling a bound item (I mean something serious and important like the auto 2d6 S4 hits or the D6 S4 or the van hel's dance, not the priest's ward save on unit that you'll not target in the shooting phase and that are far from you). The opponent knows that the item will surely cast the spell. There are more chances that he fails to cast a spell with his dice. So it could be useless saving your DD for something that the opponent could not throw, avoiding to dispel a "sure" spell. This looking at which spells your opponent can cast with his dice of course!

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Tue Oct 28, 2008 11:25 pm
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Ok -- So I've finished my article. Although I may go back and revise it based on comments recevied (if any!), all the topics I planned to cover are now covered.

Feedback is welcomed!

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Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:37 am
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Optimum article. Good job!

Quote:
Second, I try not to use my scrolls prior to turn 3 if at all possible.


Here I do not agree at all with you. You correctly posted some exceptions to this "rule", but in my opinion there is another important thing to consider.
If you let many spells (or some spells, or spells that normally you'd have stopped with your scroll) pass you'll face some nasty situations:
- panic checks
- unit destroyed
- unconfortable effects from powerfull spells (-3 to Ld, forced movements, forced tests etc)

This is not important for the main effect it has on your units, but for the effect it has for the remainder of the game. Having one or more units going around the table fleeing or being deeply wounded could weaken your strategy and when you'll start to use the scrolls there will be nothing to save. Then, as already said above, it is still possible that some spells will not be launched expecially those that require a high value and those are the same that you'd dispel with a scroll. What am I saying? I'm saying that an important spell (4+ dice to be cast) could easily (or at least with a great chance) cause before or after a failed or not be successful. If this doesn't happen in the first turns, it will (or it should) in the next.

Another thing to consider is the other type of strategy to avoid enemy spells: you correctly pointed out that the enemy casters cannot cast (or have a reduced power) when in melee, but the same happens when your units are in close combat!
If you've got a strong and solid formation (especially on foot particulary suffering from enemy magic) you could want to reach the combat phase as soon as possible: once in hth the main painful and nasty spells cannot be cast, mainly thinking about D6 and 2D6 Sx hits.

Viewing all this concept from above, you'll notice that, if you play correctly and with a bit of luck, you'll be in hth on the 3rd turn, so becoming "immune" to many spells, forcing the enemy to cast his less important spells for the next couple of turns. Surely you'll suffer in the last turn, but then you should have already wiped out many parts of the enemy army and maybe some mage that remained in the enemy units you broke.

It could sound like "use your scrolls before, because after who knows" but this is the point. If you go on mage hunting you'll need to protect your hunters to keep pressure on the fleeing mage that will throw anything to his pursuers. If you don't do that (even using the scrolls) you'll let him be really free of moving and nastier.

Sure it is important to save the scrolls when possible and use them for high cost spells, but it is also important understand when their effect will force the opponent to change his strategy, maybe hiding his mages or making some mistake that will favour your troops.

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Last edited by Master of arneim on Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:35 pm
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Thanks MoA -- you have some good points.

The bit about getting into combat to avoid enemy magic is something I should have included originally. I'm going to go back and edit the original post to cover that.

As far as saving my scrolls until turn three, that's not a hard-and-fast rule. As I noted in the original post, I will use a scroll if there is a spell cast early on that could have a significant game-changing effect. But by having the goal of saving my scrolls, it makes me think about whether or not the spell is really worth a scroll.

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Last edited by Dyvim tvar on Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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I stickied this thread. If anyone objects, please message me.

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Minor update to account for the January 2009 Dark Elf FAQ about Null Talismans and the Ring of Hotek.

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