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Suggestions for good magic defence in 8th ed
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Author:  Red... [ Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Suggestions for good magic defence in 8th ed

As a player who has always disliked magic in warhammer, I am often more keen to get a good magic defence than I am to get a good magic offence. In 7th ed I used to run a level 1 with two dispel scrolls and a champion or character with the ring of hotek. Combined, the two were usually pretty good at reducing the impact of enemy magic on my game.

Well, now we are firmly into 8th ed and I am still struggling to find a good solution to enemy magic. Let me quickly chart out the options we have:

Seal of Ghrond.
One extra dispel dice is useful, but expensive for what it is. It certainly helps with magic defence, but not by a huge amount and not by enough to really change things.

Staff of Sorcery.
This has improved considerably as an item since 7th ed. The ability to dispel at +5 on your level 4 or +3 on your level 2 makes life a lot easier, but it takes up an arcane item slot and can't be taken by non-wizards. Again, by itself, it is still not enough to turn things in your favour.

Dispel scroll.
This is fairly much an auto-include in many people's armies. It is good value for points, but you can only take one and it takes up an arcane item slot and can't be taken by non wizards. Again, by itself it is still not enough to turn things in your favour.

Ring of Hotek.
The former saviour of my magic hating ways, this item has now been considerably nerfed. I've tried putting it on a Pegasus Master to go and fly near the enemy wizard, but he always seems to get shot to death in turn 1 or 2, and placing it amongst my rank and file troops means it takes several turns to get into position, as well as being relatively easy for an enemy wizard to move away from. It also no longer stops the spell from being cast and takes up precious magic item points (particularly if given to a BG or CoK champ).

Book of Ashur.
Like the staff of sorcery, but adds magic offense too. A nice item, but very expensive. Again, by itself, it won't really fix your magic defence reliably.

Null talismans and other magic resistance items.
Magic resistance is useful against some spells, but relies on your opponent a) targeting the unit with magic resistance item(s), b) using a damage dealing spell that doesn't ignore ward saves. Bearing in mind that some of the most potent spells in the game are now either hexes, augments or ward save ignoring damage spells, magic resistance as an idea is now something of a farce.

Feedback scroll.
Theoretically very nice - your opponent tries to cast a spell with 6 dice, you let it through and then smack him with the scroll. On average, his wizard should take two wounds, enough to kill a hero mage. However, in reality your opponent may well have a ward save on his wizard, reducing the number of wounds incurred, and 2 wounds on a mage lord is still not a kill. He can continue to cast as he pleases and, if he has lore of life or darkness, can even heal the wizard back up to full health again! The scroll is also very expensive, takes up a precious arcane slot and doesn't dispel the actual spell involved.

Scroll of leeching.
This is an okay scroll. Your opponent gets one spell off and then, hopefully, you can shut his magic phase down. Again though, it is expensive, takes up a precious arcane slot and doesn't dispel the actual spell involved. It also flouders if your opponent casts lots of spells using two or three dice, as you're spending a huge chunk of points to add a rather feeble two to three dice to your dispel pool, for one turn only.

Sivejir's Hex scroll.
Worst...Scroll...Ever. Okay, so it has some comedic value and, if your opponent rolls badly, can really cripple his magic offense. But, there is a mere 33% chance that a level 4 will be turned into a toad and, while there is a 66% chance that a level 2 will be turned into a toad, there is then a 50% chance of him returning to the game fully functional in subsequent turns. It is not reliable, far too expensive for what it does, doesn't block the actual spell it's used against and takes up an arcane item slot.

Sceptre of Stablility.
It's like a cheap dispel scroll that doesn't always work. It's not too badly priced, but it isn't reliable, can only be used once and takes up an arcane item slot.

Channeling.
You can take multiple wizards in the hope of channelling additional dispel dice, a strategy that can be buffed by taking the chanelling staff (note, the staff only applies to the dice roll of the wizard who has it, not all wizards). Problem is that the cost of fielding even multiple level 1 wizards start to add up quickly, and again it's not remotely reliable (3 wizards have a 50% chance of adding a single dispel dice each turn - hardly dependable or value for points).

Malekith's Spellshield.
This is a very specialised item that you are unlikely to see in games of less than 3k. It suffers from the same problem incurred by all MR items, mainly that it relies on your opponent casting a damage doing spell that doesn't ignore ward saves against Malekith. It is useful for damaging mages, but a saavy opponent will know about the item's effects and may cast any relevant spells at other units instead. It's also worth caveating that - arguably - Malekith's spellshield has now been replaced by the far worse common spellshield in the BRB. I don't know whether this is accurate or not.

Malekith's Circlet of Iron.
This adds one dispel dice to the pool (as well as one power dice), which - like the seal of ghrond - is useful, but not game changing and fielding Malekith is very expensive.

Hellebron's Amulet of Fire.
This dispels the first spell cast against Hellebron and her unit on the roll of a 4+ or more. This is actually fairly decent, as it will intercept all hex and damage spells against Hellebron's unit, but it has to be used after other dispel attempts have failed (meaning you have to make a gamble as to whether you let the spell go through and have a 50% chance of dispelling without wasting any dice, or use dice to try and dispel the spell first, wasting the Amulet of Fire). It also relies on you taking Hellebron - a very specialised character - and your enemy targeting her unit with spells. Finally, it only applies to the first spell cast against the unit, which limits its use (it also raises the question as to whether the AB is referring to the first spell successfully cast against Hellebron or just the first spell cast at her (e.g. the effect is wasted for the turn even if you dispel the first spell by other means)).

Mage hunting
by harpies, pegasus characters, lore of death, scouts and other means. This method has the advantage that you can neutralise your enemy's magic offense (and defence too!), resolving your entire magic defence problem. However, it relies on you managing to get a unit or spell into contact with the mage in question, wound them and have them fail any ward saves they might have. This can be trickier than it looks, particularly if your opponent has positioned his army well, and is unreliable at best.


Depressing conclusion
So, that concludes my whirlwind tour of the options for magic defence for dark elves in 8th edition as I see it. Hopefully this has been a useful summary.

The problem however is that none of the options seem very attractive, even when combined.

Currently, I usually take a level 4 with the staff of sorcery or book of ashur as basic. If I have the points, I will take a level 1 or 2 with a dispel scroll and throw the seal of ghrond into the mix somewhere too. This gives me +5 to dispel, one free dispel dice, and a dispel scroll.

My question to you folk at D.Net is whether this is the best I can do? I often struggle to contain my opponent in the magic phase, particularly if they have power dice boosters such as the banner of saphery (+D3 power dice each turn), a dragon mage (+1 free power dice for each spell attempt), a goblin shaman (every time you fail to dispel one of their spells, they can steal a dispel dice from you and convert it into a power dice on the roll of a 5 or 6), power familiar (+1 power dice) and many more besides. Many other armies seem to have very robust magic defence, what is the best we can do with ours?

Author:  Tethlis [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:05 am ]
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8th edition isn't about completely shutting things down anymore; it's about taking damage, and giving it back to a stronger degree. Step up, fighting in multiple ranks, no partial hits for templates, Winds of Magic rolls, these were all designed to enforce the idea that yeah, your guys will get hurt, but you have the same advantages so you should be able to spin them back around on your enemy.

With magic, completely shutting down an opponent's face typically isn't necessary; it's just key to prioritize the most damaging spells, while biting the bullet on everything else. Similarly, you can make your own spells count, and your opponent has no choice but to try and stop what's important.

It's just one more mechanic to the game, like the idea that both sides have shooting units, and both sides fight in combat. You can't completely neutralize it, but you can still try to dull the edge so it doesn't sting so bad when it affects you.

Author:  Tmarichards [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:41 am ]
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A few general rules of thumb:

1. A level 4 is almost always a good bet, unless you're running a double Dreadlord or Black Dragon list.

2. Always put the dispel scroll on the lower level mage, so that if your main mage fails to dispel you can still use the scroll.

3. If your highest level mage is a level 2, try to work the Seal of Ghrond in. Assuming an opposing level 4, once per phase this extra dice makes up for the deficit in levels on one spell, just be sure to identify which spell you need to stop.

4. You will lose troops and concede victory points in your opponents magic phase, the issue is controlling. Let him have the spells that won't matter so much, stop the big ones. Better to lose 3-4 shades from a magic missile than half a Corsair unit from Dwellers.

5. Very simple, but often overlooked- mages cannot cast if they are dead. Go and punch them in the head until they fall over. As always, the best counter to anything in warhammer is (to steal a phrase from Day[9]), " Go f*****g kill it".

Author:  Meteor [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:52 am ]
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If your main concern is shutting down magic and not dishing it out, then try the following

Lv3 w/ Dispel Scroll.

That's it. Cheap, effective.

You can further augment that by equipping a Seal of Ghrond to her or somewhere else for the +1 DD.

She's equipped to block off the first major magic phase your opponent gets (ie double 6 on Winds of Magic), and as a base Lv3 for +3 dispelling, she'll be able to block two spells during each other ordinary magic phase. She won't be able to stop a second major magic phase though, so you need to make sure you press the advantage before that happens.

Don't be stingy either, throw more than enough dice on the one or two spells you want to stop that turn. Let everything else through. Better to stop one or two than to fail half way.

Author:  Dalamar [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:21 am ]
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You're saying your master with Ring of Hotek is getting shot down by turn 1-2. How do you equip him?
Arm him with Pegasus (3rd wound helps), Ring of Hotek (duh) and Cloak of Hag Graef, and watch your opponent waste entire shooting phases trying to kill him.

You're looking at 1+ armor target that is wounded on 5+ by anything weaker than a bolt thrower (which wounds on 4+). Barring some unlucky rolls he can take a lot of punishment from regular shooting units, and can even withstand a CANNON (remember, cannons no longer ignore armor saves, so in his case he'd still be saving on 3+ since the cannon's S would be lowered to 5)

Author:  Lord tsunami [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:59 am ]
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agreed with dalamar. that pegasus master is really hard to shut down, and you can throw him in to combat with a closeby support unit to totally nullify shooting too. i only do this when i upgrade him to BSB though, to make sure he wont run.

Author:  Dalamar [ Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:08 am ]
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The same character can deal with skirmishers and war machines (say if there are no wizards to deal with, or they're otherwise dealt with).

Other things worth mentioning for 8th ed magic defense speaking from my experience.

If you have level 4, Dispel Scroll isn't a neccessity. You will be duelling other level 4s but you will shut down level 2s without much effort (unless Winds of Magic really hate you of course)

If you only have level 2s for your defense, I would give one the Staff of Sorcery, another one Dispel Scroll, and most likely stick the Ring of Hotek master in there. If not the ring of hotek, then seal of ghrond somewhere (though sadly it's too expensive for a champion)

Author:  Errdrigar [ Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:54 pm ]
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I'm quite suprised that Channeling Staff is not in the main list and noone has mentioned it. +1 to roll for Channeling means it doubles the chances for getting an extra dispel dice (and power dice, but we are talking about defence). It's cost in points is low enough to take Seal of Ghrond also - good mix for a hero level Sorceress IMO because Master can be better equipped with something else.

Author:  Dyvim tvar [ Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:29 pm ]
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I often just take a level 4 wizard and don't bother with any toys directed specifically for magic defense.

Author:  Tmarichards [ Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:43 pm ]
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Errd wrote:
I'm quite suprised that Channeling Staff is not in the main list and noone has mentioned it. +1 to roll for Channeling means it doubles the chances for getting an extra dispel dice (and power dice, but we are talking about defence). It's cost in points is low enough to take Seal of Ghrond also - good mix for a hero level Sorceress IMO because Master can be better equipped with something else.


Main issue I find with the Channelling Staff is that it's third on the list of Arcane Items I want- my Level 4 always has either the Stabby Dagger (easily one of the best magic items in the game) or the Tome of Furion depending on what comp the tournament is subject to, and my Level 1 always has the dispel scroll. Both of these I'd personally rate higher than the Channelling Staff.

With out cheapest mage option being 100pts, Dark Elves don't have the ability as some other races to just spam cheap magic options, and while she's definitely a good option, I just don't have the room for the 115pts that mage would cost me- that's almost the same price as my Spearman bunker, for example (15 with full command and Standard of Discipline weighs in at 120), or a small unit of shades.

Author:  Meteor [ Sat Oct 15, 2011 12:58 am ]
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I don't think you can completely shut down an opponent's magic phase, every turn. 8th ed really isn't designed like that as Tethlis has said, so you need to be in the mindset of suffering casualties and still do stuff despite that. Obviously the sooner you can do stuff aside from taking damage from magic, the better.

Which is why I suggested the straight basic Lv3 w/ Dispel Scroll.

She's designed to stop the worst from a few magic phases, long enough for you to start charging, sniping casters etc. The extra points saved from upgrading her to a Lv4 and splashing her out with items is added into your army, which really is the extra bodies used to offset the damage you'll take from the spells you let through.

If you really wish for a near shut down, you'll end up with something like a Lv4, a Lv2, a scroll, a Seal of Ghrond and maybe the RoH somewhere. That's as close as you'll get to shutting down magic, but in the end, you'll still suffer a spell or two. Except you'll have spent a whole lot of points into magic defense, leaving your army significantly smaller and therefore at the mercy of more bashy armies. Or you could try taking two Lv4s instead, that might be a little rude.

So it's a matter of finding the right balance, each army list will have a different need, we can list the combinations and their impact all day and night, but are they really suitable for your army? That's probably the most important thing honestly.

Author:  Errdrigar [ Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:23 am ]
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tmarichards wrote:
Main issue I find with the Channelling Staff is that it's third on the list of Arcane Items I want- my Level 4 always has either the Stabby Dagger (easily one of the best magic items in the game) or the Tome of Furion depending on what comp the tournament is subject to, and my Level 1 always has the dispel scroll. Both of these I'd personally rate higher than the Channelling Staff.


In my personal rating Seal of Ghrond+Channeling Staff > Dispel Scroll when I want more magic defence. It has potential of being more useful through entire game although possibility of stopping a 'big' spell with Scroll feels comfortable. Tome of Furion is also nice of course, but if I take a lore on lvl2 mainly for signaure spell to support lvl4, the third spell is not necessary.

It's by no means 'better' or 'worse' combination, I'm just saying that it has some uses depending on playing style and it's not completely worthless.

Author:  Brad [ Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:39 am ]
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Best way to shut down the enemy magic phase is to kill all their wizards.

Author:  Ichiyo1821 [ Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:10 am ]
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Dyvim Tvar wrote:
I often just take a level 4 wizard and don't bother with any toys directed specifically for magic defense.


I suggest this as well as hitting them hard and fast that the number of turns they get to cast magic is reduced. You can't really stop magic if you opponent gambles with 6dice or the army is really magic heavy. You just have to have enough bodies to soak some of it and still be viable in combat and/or hit him back with crippling magic. I honestly like naked SS with maybe a Sac Dag. I know a lot of DE players use Shadow and with being a hex/augment based lore, you can easily hide her behind your own units and still be able to cast your spells. She'll be safe from most direct damage spells that can actually snipe her that way.

Author:  Red... [ Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:55 pm ]
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Awesome, some really great ideas in here - a lot for me to digest. I'll respond in full over the next few days :)

In the meantime though:

Quote:
I'm quite suprised that Channeling Staff is not in the main list and noone has mentioned it.


I did in my OP. It's included in the 'channeling section'.

Quote:
+1 to roll for Channeling means it doubles the chances for getting an extra dispel dice (and power dice, but we are talking about defence).


Important to note though that this only applies to the Wizard with the staff, it's not a blanket +1 for your other mages (if it was, it might be almost worth taking. As it is, I can't justify it ahead of Staff of Sorcery and a Dispel Scroll).

Author:  Xbox360<ps3<pc [ Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:53 am ]
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Dont try to get magic defence for DE. DE rock at offensive magic. Just plan to lose people to magic, and give more than you take.

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