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Tutorial Heavy Magic Tactica

Discussion in 'Lizardmen & Saurian Ancients Tactics' started by Scalenex, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    This Tactica is dedicated to figuring out what works and what doesn’t for a heavy magic list. In most cases this means two Slann. This can also mean a Slann and Tet, a Slann and Kroak, a Slann and Tehehaun, or a Slann and a non-LM L4 caster in an ally army with shared power dice. In most cases, if I say “Slann” you can generally read it as “Slann or any other upper level spell caster.”

    I am assuming we are not talking about Storm of Magic. As far as I’m concerned, any lore combo works with Storm of Magic because they are ALL overpowered, and it’s almost impossible to have too many casters. Also, I'm assuming no End Times Magic rules. If you are using End Time magic in a competitive environment, you want a Slann with Focus of Mystery. Period.

    I am assuming we are talking about a player who has committed to a heavy magic army, so I’m not going to get into whether you should go heavy magic or not. I’m talking about how to maximize your synergy for those you are set on heavy magic. I’m also assuming you can afford these combos, so I’m not going to get into “what can or can’t you fit in a 2500 point list?” Whether it’s 2500 or 5000 points you have roughly the same amount of power dice and the basic principles apply.

    Basic Rules

    You want lots of power dice: Harmonic Convergence, Channeling Staff, Reservoir of Eldritch Energy, the Book of Ashur, and the Forbidden Rod are all lovely things. If it produces power dice or boosts your casting rolls, you want it.

    You have at most 12 power dice: Variety is good, but you can’t cast everything. Count up the number of spells you have including bound spells. 10 spells is usually about as high as you want to go in a heavy magic game. Anything more than 12 is probably a very bad idea. Two Slann means Arcane Vassals are probably a good idea, but NOT too many. Skink Priests are still spell casters and you are paying points for their spells whether you use them or not.

    This means a two Slann list should probably never take the Solar Engine or any magical item with bound spells. You should probably never pair a WD Slann or lore master (High Magic or Maz) with a second Slann of any type, even Kroak since you probably want to cast his spell over and over again.

    Two Slann and Telepathic Confabulation: Telepathy is not a worthless power, but do not swap spells without a plan. I don’t care if one Slann is in range of everything you want to hit and one isn’t. If you have two Slann and you end up transferring all your good spells to one of them guess which Slann the dice gods will send into a vortex? Also if you have one Slann with eight spells and one with four spells, you KNOW the dice gods will jinx the Slann with eight spells.

    So what do you use Telepathic Confabulation for? In most cases I would advise one Slann in a TG bunker and one Slann running by himself or with a unit of Skirmishers. Don’t be afraid to use Telepathy to niche your Slann. If you give the ranged attack spells to your solo Slann and the battlefield control spells to your bunkered Slann you won’t need an arcane vassals in most cases. Miscasts will sting a lot less from a solo Slann, so give the spells you are likely to throw five or six dice at to your solo Slann. In most cases the bunkered Slann should be your general and BSB and the second Slann is basically a magical artillery piece.

    Two TG bunkers are not a terrible idea, but it won’t leave you many points leftover to buy dinosaurs. I would be reluctant to try a double bunkered Slann strategy where one of the Slann isn’t a Life Slann or Kroak (both these Slann have miscast protection). Unless you really can’t live without Ld 10, I would recommend making your general and BSB separate characters when you have two units of Temple Guard. That way not all your eggs are in one basket. Whichever Slann isn’t the BSB should have the Gleaming Pennant on his TG block, that way the bunker gets at least one reroll.

    It’s legal to put two Slann in one TG unit, but that’s not a good idea. You are losing a lot of second rank attacks. The nice thing about two Slann is that your game isn’t destroyed if one Slann dies, you lose this insurance when you put them in one place, and you don’t get to use Telepathic Confabs (they can just talk to each other).

    If one of your top tier casters isn’t a Slann, that’s probably good. In most cases you’ve gained some useful abilities (like with Tet) and the non-Slann is probably cheaper to boot. You only need one general/BSB after all. If one of your desired lores is Heavens, there is almost no reason not to take Tet (barring local comp banning him).

    If you double up on the same lore, I would also strongly advise taking an Engine of the Gods for the ability to reduce that lore’s casting difficulty by one. This allows you to make up for efficiency what you lose in variety. Note, taking two Slann with the same lore is the closest thing we have to a BRB lore master without Maz though you’ll end up with the signature twice which can be good or bad depending on your attitude towards the signature spell in question.

    Strong Combos

    Fire and Life: You are lacking high strength attacks, but otherwise you get some nice synergy. You got lots of ranged direct damage and lots of potent augments. Both lores can only augment one unit at a time, so I’d recommend building one super unit in your list (probably a very large TG bunker) and buffing the crap out of it. Then give your plethora of ranged attacks to the solo Slann and have kill every redirector first then target all the mobile points deniers that refuse to fight your souped-up deathstar.

    Fire and Death: I AM THE LORD OF DESTRUCTION! As long as the Winds of Magic are favorable, you can send your enemies to Hell. Almost literally since you will be sending them everlasting fire and everlasting death. You have the flexibility to target units with fire or enemy characters with Death. Better yet target characters with Death and THEN switch to Fire on units to make it easier to panic people. If you can cast Purple Sun successfully one time without a serious miscast, you have probably won the battle since you will be able to use all the power dice you just gained to follow up your Purple Sun with a metaphorical flaming orange sun. Even getting a few dice here and there from hero snipes will translate into free fireballs.

    Beasts and Shadow: You don’t even need a lot of characters to pull this off. A buffed up character will really dominate an enemy unit that has been sufficiently hexed. Smoke and Mirrors and Steed of Shadows can help you make sure your badass characters make it to the hexed targets quickly. Wyssans and Anaheir stack nicely with ANY of the Shadow hexes.

    Light and Life: Fluffwise this fits together. Crunchwise this also fits together. The buffs stack perfectly. Your Toughness boosts, Regeneration, and healing mix very well with WS boosts, ASF and penalties for attackers hitting you. Also, the casting costs of both lores are relatively low, so power dice shortages are slightly less of an issue than with other combos. You have Dwellers for a nuke spell and a variety of lesser ranged attacks for smaller targets. I see no downside here except a lack of high strength attacks, but that’s what cowboys and dinosaurs are for. With Light and Life buffs, killing your cowboys and dinosaurs will be a Herculean task.

    Light and Heavens: Fluffwise this fits together too. The battlefield control spells work well together. Especially Speed of Light. If you are WS 10, rerolling 1s means you hit most of the time. WS 10 + Iceshard and/or Midnight Wind means the other side will rarely hit you. Both lores can be used on single targets or multiple units. There is really nothing missing in this combo.

    Light and Shadow: Shadows can’t exist without a source of light. You don’t have a nuke spell here, but there is enough light direct damage that that isn’t a huge deal. You have a diverse toolbox if you can buff yourself and hex the enemy with equal faculty. Melkoth’s doesn’t mix well with Speed of Light, but it works great with Pha’s Protection and Timewarp. The other Shadow Hexes go with everything. Mindrazor likewise plays very well in conjunction with all Light buffs. Hitting more often AND wounding more often? Yes, please. Net of Amytok and Enfeebling Foe are a nice combo if you can pull it off (chances are an opponent will see this coming and dispel one of them).

    Life and Shadow: Just like with Light and Shadow, you get a lot of options by slanting the battlefield both ways. You can make your troops more resilient while making the other side’s troops weaker. Enfeebling Foe followed by Dwellers would of course be spectacular, but most experienced players will not let you cast both of these spells in one phase.

    Life and Death: This is the combo for players who want to feel godlike. I’d almost take this for the fluff alone. My Slann are the alpha and the omega! Once the enemy characters are neutralized, there will be relatively little left to threaten your super units. Throne of Vines and Purple Sun go together very nicely of course. Soulblight and Dwellers get along well too.

    Heavens and Death:
    Shadow and Death: For players who want to be as dark as possible. You can hex strength or toughness into the ground and then cast an attack spell that targets that trait. You can use Steed of Shadows to make up for the short ranged nature of Death. You can do this to people.

    Double Fire: Fireball is a nice spell to double down on. Kindleflame will see lots of use. The spells are long range enough that you can get by with minimal vassals. The one downside is everything you have is strength 4, so the non-magical units in your army need to really be packing high strength attacks. This works very nicely with Telepathic Confabulation You probably want one Slann running solo casting magic missiles while the second Slann sits in a Temple Guard with Flame Cage, Cascading Fire Cloak, and Flaming Sword of Rhuin.

    Double Light: Banishment is stronger when you have multiple Light casters. Shems is not bad spell to double up on. You generally want your TG Slann to have Speed of Light and Pha’s protection and your solo Slann to have Banishment and Timewarp (since Timewarp tempts miscasts).

    Double Death: You should be getting extra power dice most of the time which makes this a great combo for a heavy magic game. Spirit Leech is definitely a spell I wouldn’t mind casting twice. The downside is the fact that the spells are fairly short range. That means you want arcane vassals which means you are likely to be pushing your total spell count toward borderline unacceptable levels, or you are taking Troglodons which few people like to do. Purple Sun should not be cast from a TG block if you can help it.

    Moderate Combos

    Fire and Metal: Fire will deal with poorly armored targets and Metal will take care of the well armored targets. You have potentially two very potent close combat buffs. You will probably get Flame Cage OR Final Transformation and either is quite nice at neutralizing large blocks. If you get both, even better. The main downside with this lore combo is if you are facing an enemy resistant to flaming attacks, you are going to be in big trouble.

    Fire and Heavens: Fire provides lots of low strength attacks and Heavens provides small numbers of high strength attacks. This synergizes well. Flame Cage and Wind Blast go together very well, but you aren’t guaranteed to get both of those spells at once. The non-attack spells are okay, but I don’t see Heavens and Fire augments and hexes being more than the sum of their parts.

    Fire and Shadows: Fire and Shadows works well together if you roll Withering. If you weaken the toughness of whatever the biggest threat on the other side is, you burn it to ashes pretty easily. If you don’t get Withering, these two lores will do okay but they won’t synergize too well. Besides Withering, I would focus on combining the hexes and augments to slide target matchups in your favor. Fire technically makes smoke, but I don’t see Smoke and Mirrors helping out much with this pairing.

    Beasts and Metal: Beasts has two decent battlefield control spells, Wyssans and Anaheir. If you combine one of these spells with the Metal hexes or Enchanted Blades, you will probably win whatever combats are thus affected. The problem is neither lore has much to affect multiple units at once (unless you lots of characters well positioned I guess), so you have to be very good at picking your targets. I don’t see any weaknesses here, but I’m not seeing any synergy either.

    Beasts and Light: This won’t work on any list, but if you have lots of fighting characters this could work. Every aspect of your characters will get buffed to phenomenal levels. The downside is since you are already looking at two lord level casters, you won’t have much room for lots of Saurus characters outside of an absurdly large grand army. Wyssans and Anaheir are nice with the Light buffs for whole units, but you don’t need to go magic heavy to get that combo. Just take a Light Slann and a Skink priest or two.

    Beasts and Life: Beasts boost your Fighting level characters and Lifebloom keeps them at full strength most of the time. There are two drawbacks. First as with most Beast combos, you will be hard pressed to have the points for lots of fighting characters AND two magic lords. Second, while Lifebloom should work well with a Beasts strategy, I just don’t see what you’d do with the actual Life spells.

    Beasts and Death: This is very character focused. Beast makes your characters potent. Death removes the enemy characters. Soulblight also works nicely in conjunction with Anaheir or Wyssans. The downside is that you will probably spending close to half your points on characters alone. You need fighting characters to benefit from your battlefield control spells and you need Skink priests to help target the low range spells.

    Metal and Light: Light lacks heavy hitting spells and MOST enemies you would want high strength spells against have good armor saves so a one-two punch here is nice. High toughness poorly armored enemies you can of course shoot with Skinks. Outside of direct damage, I don’t see much synergy. The Metal battlefield control spells add almost nothing to Light buffs. Is it really worth throwing PD away to give your enemy -1 WS if you are WS 10?

    Metal and Life: Metal is offensively focused and Life is defensively focused. Unlike a Metal/Light duo the battlefield control spells won’t step on each other’s toes since Metal affects you hitting and being hit and Life affects you being wounded. The downside is each spell only targets on unit at a time meaning at any given time a small part of your army will be dominating while the rest is out in the cold. Your tactical maneuvering needs to be top notch.

    Metal and Heavens: Most of the Heavens spells hit so hard you don’t need to soften up their armor. On the plus side, all the buffs and hexes stack together perfectly.

    Metal and Death: For starters it’s fun to say “I’m playing Death Metal.” The Metal and Death battlefield control spells mix nicely, but you are lacking conventional direct damage spells and you can only target one unit at a time. The success or failure of this combo hinges on your ability to roll Purple Sun. Whether you actually cast it or just use it to draw out dispel dice, the entire magic phase revolves around it. If you can’t get a giant pile of Life Leeching power dice, Death Metal won’t produce a lot of synergy.

    Light and Death: I actually got this from challenging a Sphinx once. It was glorious, but I’m not sure I’d want this combo if I had to actually pay points for both lores. Extra power dice are always in fashion and Death provides the one thing Light is missing, a nuke spell. Buffs are nice and character sniping is nice, but I don’t see how they go together. If you are sufficiently buffed, the enemy characters won’t be able to hurt you that badly, so sniping them is less important.

    Life and Heavens: These two lores don’t step on each other’s toes, but I’m not seeing a lot of synergy apart from the fact that your buff spells give you the resilience to safely drop Comets in places where you are engaged in close combat with the enemy. Because of this, you probably want Tet, so you are guaranteed to have access to Comet.

    Heavens and Shadow: The hexes and buffs of the two lores go together fairly well. The thing that keeps this from being a strong combo is redundancy. The Heavens spells hit VERY hard so you don’t really need to hex targets beforehand.

    Double Heavens: Two Heavens Slann is okay, but you probably want to take a Heavens Slann and Tet. That way you actually have a chance of duplicating spells other than Iceshard Blizzard (not that there is anything wrong with two Iceshard Blizzards). Tet has lots of cool abilities which more than makes up for no telepathic confabs. You only need one Slann to be your general and BSB after all. Most of the attack spells are long range, so you can probably get by without any arcane vassals, especially since Comet doesn’t need line of sight at all.

    Double Shadow: Smoke and Mirrors is a lot of fun, but what is the point of endlessly swapping places if both Slann can already swap spells? The lore attribute is not super useful, but the rest of the lore should do okay. Give your solo Slann Steed of Shadows and Pendulum for sure. At the start of every turn, ask yourself “This turn am I more likely to want Pit of Shades or do I want Mindrazor?” Whatever the answer to your question is which spell the solo Slann should have.

    Kroak and Life: Well you don’t want Dwellers or Awakening, but the rest of the lore compliments Kroak’s bomb nicely. Kroak has offense covered and your Life caster provides the defense. As an added bonus you can heal wounded arcane vassals pretty easily assuming they aren’t killed outright.

    Double Life: A double Life Slann should probably have TWO Temple Guard unit since a solo Slann can’t really do anything with Earthblood. Also you don’t have to worry too much about miscasts blowing up Temple Guard because whichever Slann is casting Dwellers is all but guaranteed to have Throne of Vines. Note, as a RIP spell, you can have a Slann cast Throne of Vines in turn one and then give it to the other Slann in turn two. If neither Throne is dispelled you can have TWO Thrones of Vines, in theory anyway. A sane opponent will dispel at least one of them. Double Life really screams at you to take lots of dinosaurs but that’s hard to squeeze into an army list with two Temple Guard blocks.

    Double Beasts: Two Slann with Beasts is a bad idea. You don’t need two Slann to take Wyssans twice in one list and Transformation of Kadon is useless to Slann. A Beast Slann and Tehenhaun has potential though since you can guarantee the Prophet of Sotek will get Transformation of Kadon if you roll the Slann’s spells first. Also it’s the cheapest double lord caster combo we can do. Make sure you have LOTS of characters or this build is likely to disappoint you.

    Kroak and Shadow: Kroak doesn’t really need magical support, especially one with above average casting cost, but Shadow lacks regular damaging spells entirely so there is no redundancy at all. Steed of Shadows and Smoke and Mirrors can help position arcane vassals. If there is a unit Kroak can’t kill by his spell alone, you can use one of the hexes to soften up the unit or Mindrazor before flinging Kroak’s TG at the problematic target. Also, Withering goes well with the Kroak bomb.

    Kroak and Death: Again, Kroak doesn’t really need magical support, but Death Slann can do things Kroak can’t do. Kroak can’t snipe characters. If Kroak hits a unit that is deprived of its characters it’s more likely to panic, especially if Soulblight or Doom and Darkness are involved. A few power dice here and there are nice, but leave Purple Sun at home, it’s too temperamental compared to Kroak’s spell. Death Slann and Kroak Slann both benefit a lot from arcane vassals so you should really be able to get lots of mileage out of your Skink Priests or Troglodons.

    Weak Combos

    Fire and Beasts: I don’t see any synergy here. Fire is for getting rid of weak things, Beasts is for boosting your characters. Both lores lack a magical answer to nasty single model targets. Flame Cage is nice if you roll it, but otherwise you don’t have a single spell to hit large units with.

    Fire and Light: The lores are too similar. I’d rather double down on one of these lores for the built in synergy for either Kindleflame or the informal Council of Light approach.

    Beasts and Heavens: I don’t see how character buffs are supposed to synergize with lightning attacks and general purpose hexes. Sure these aren’t bad things, but the whole is not more than the sum of its parts here. Also, this is boring. We LM players use Heavens and Beasts all the time, if I’m spending this many points on powerful spellcasters I want to play around with lores I can’t get from Skink Priests.

    Metal and Shadow: I don’t see much call for Smoke and Mirrors, but the buffs and hexes play well together. What pushes this in the weak category is that neither lore has much in the way of conventional direct damage. Unless you know for a fact your foes will primarily be well armored units with poor Initiative scores, your ability to put the hurting down at range is limited. By the rules as written as far as I can tell, if you cast Melkoth’s first and Transmutation of Lead second, you can bring an enemy to WS 0. This won’t kill the unit, but it will let them be hit automatically. While technically legal, I’m guessing most opponents will not accept my interpretation of the rules this way if you surprise them with this. If you work the rules lawyering out ahead of time, your opponent will simply dispel one of those spells.

    Double Metal: Metal’s niche is awfully specialized in its niche to take it twice. If you are playing against a very well-armored opponent this might help, but that level of list tailoring is just plain poor sportsmanship, and it would be embarrassing if you lost anyway.

    Kroak and Fire: If Kroak isn’t providing enough Strength 4 hits for you, something is seriously wrong.

    Kroak and Beasts: You don’t want to bother with the Beasts battlefield control spells, most of your lesser characters will be expendable arcane vassals, not fighters.

    Kroak and Metal/Light/Heavens: Metal/Light/Heavens mixes a little battlefield control with a little direct damage. Kroak has the damage covered and his unit of Temple Guard gets a free buff, so these BRB lores will just be poaching his power dice.

    Wandering Deliberations and Anything: Don’t get me wrong. I like WD Slann a lot, but I’ve seen another LM end up last place in a tournament trying this. With a second Slann, you are looking at a minimum of 12 spells, and that’s with no arcane vassals. With Tet you are looking at 15 spells. You aren’t going to have enough power dice to justify your points’ expenditure for all your casters. There are relatively few situations where I’d want double signature spells except for Wyssans and Iceshard Blizzard which you can get with Skinks. WD Slann are generalists. When you go with TWO lord quality casters you usually want two specialists and zero generalists.

    High Magic and Anything: With Focus of Mystery, you are looking at a minimum of 12 spells, and that’s with no arcane vassals. You aren’t going to have enough power dice to justify your points’ expenditure for all casters. Without Focus of Mystery your odds of getting the High magic spells you actually want are pretty low.

    Swapping out High magic spells in a game with two lord level casters is kind of a waste of time because you won’t get the spells you need till turn 2 if that soon. With your power dice so tight, you need to use all the spells you cast. Also, if you swap out High Magic spells from a caster without Focus of Mystery, he arguably ceasing to be a High Magic Slann. Two BRB Slann should be able to give you the magical variety to handle several situations without Contemplations.

    I’m open for suggestions and anecdotes about games actually. I’ve only tried two magic lord armies a couple of times.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2015
  2. cyberhawk94

    cyberhawk94 Member

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    One big combination you missed out on is Death + Heavens. By Heavens I mean Tetto (this doesnt work at all without him).

    11 spells can be too many easily, but with Tet's re-roll 1's plus the extra power dice from Death, you will end up casting half your spells every turn. This works similarly to the other Death+cheap lore combinations with the advantage of Tetto being half the cost of a Slann. DnD the General, Iceshard something else, Drop a comet on their head, if you have spare dice Spirit leech the now LD 5-6 general away. And now half their army is panicing.
    Scalenex likes this.
  3. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Thanks cyberhawk94. I included your post in the OP. I also noticed I missed Heavens and Shadow which I put under moderate combos.
  4. eaglesmvp11

    eaglesmvp11 New Member

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    Hey, sorry if this is considered necroing, since this is a few months old, but I am hoping it is ok for a tactica discussion. I would really like to know if you think 'Heavens plus X lore' is altered considerably with the Heavens being Tetto'eko? Do any of the lores benefit immensely from the likely rerolling of ones? I know you did mention Tet in a couple places, but I wonder if there are any particularly strong Tetto combos with a Slann (aside from of course Kroak and Tet, but that probably warrants its own paragraph too!)
  5. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Thread Necromancy is okay on indexed tacticas. I hadn't thought of how the re-rolls would apply to this.

    Tet's "Herald of Cosmic Events" will benefit about any Slann. I think it will help players a slightly more if they favor lots of weak spells rather than a few big spells because a "1" hurts more when you are throwing two or three dice than when you are throwing five or six. Still, nuke spells don't like "1"s either and a re-rolled "1" is another chance for IF.

    I think Tet's main advantage is his lower points cost than a Slann, the fact that he comes out of hero points and the Vanguards. The Herald of Cosmic events I don't see as a plus as much as I see it as compensation. A second Slann can take the Forbidden Rod or Channeling Staff + Harmonic Convergence combo. Herald of Cosmic events does essentially the same thing almost as good stretching your dice a bit farther.

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