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Should competitive list bring magic?


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So I've been watching a lot of bat reps involving LRL and seraphon. It occurred to me that if you don't bring a top level mage like Lord Croak or Teclis, you stand very little chance of getting anything useful from your wizards, because you'll just get countered and be a waste of points. In a competitive scene both of those guys are pretty common, so is the correct answer just to skip wizards? All of the top mages pay alot for the ability to shut down opponents magic, and if you don't have any those points are wasted. They will of course have free reign with their magic, but lets face it, unless you have an S rank caster they were going to have free reign anyway.

Am I off base here or are the top casters so oppressively good at magic that you might as well not bother unless you have one yourself?

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Current design of magic in AoS leads to exact what you described: Strong Spellcasters tend to easly block the whole magic phase of the opponent if he has less powerfull wizzards. It is already enough to have an unbind for each cast to statistically dominate over the opponents magic in the hero phase. 

3.0 does improve the situation a bit as a roll of double 1 disables the caster. This is an effect that can be almost ignored by some spellcasters (due to rerolls) but in general more hurts T2 or T3 casters. 

The issue with taking no magic is that it often gives up the last resort of magical defense (having 1 unbind is often better than having none) and that many armies rely or highly profit from their spell lores (StD's main tool for mobility is the Mask of Darkness, DoK highly benefit(ed?) from Mindrazor and so on. 

Also, as this is a game of chance and random luck, it might still happen that you get that one important spell off despite your opponent having that rerollable +3 unbind for each of your spells. But you are right that one should consider how much effort (and points) shall be invested into models that have a high risk of becoming useless due to a single Kroak/Teclis around.

As someone who often faces such sheningans with rather mediocre spellcasters I feel that his is a "blind spot" of AoS gamedesign that feels like overlooked and simply unfun to be in. This is btw one of the few rare cases in which playing Khorne turns into pure joy.

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I have the same feeling. Esspecially if your army kind of needs that one or two spells to function on a proper level. Sylvaneth, Nighthaunts and other armies with smaller wizards that don't have a bonus to cast are in a weird spot. You need the spells for your army to work but you won't get most spells throught the cast in this meta. 

So your choice is to not bring them and forgo the buffs or you try to bring wizards and maybe get lucky.

In both cases you lose out vs the magical dominant army

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In most of my armies I do not even bother bringing wizards. They are a complete waste of points against Kroak, double casting boosted grey seers, teclis, nagash, arkhan, tzeentch in general etc.

I play a lot of single caster - no bonus to cast/unbind - rather weak buff armies (BoC). Or its not worth the enhancement to become one (SoB)

The extra points bringing more bodies to soak up the extra mortals flying around seemed to work better. Just make enough threats that they cannot debuff/kill them all.

 

Edited by BigNStinky
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Good to see I'm not crazy, how I was thinking of dealing with magic was running an idolator tzneetch list with zero casters, but three prayers on 2+'s. It counters magic by virtue of the tzneetch aura, Being near my warlord gives a 1 in 3 to make any cast on my units fail, or a 1 in 2 for units blessed by my war shrine, which is way better odds than having sorcs could give me. If I need to get rid of an endless spell there is always a heroic action that can give me the same odds I'd have with a sorc. I'll miss mask of darkness, but with a smaller board and chaos knights being less awful in 3rd, and untamed beasts having chaos marauder charges on top of advance and charge, hopefully I won't be too slow.

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It's been a problem with fantasy since before AOS, it was even worse in late WHFB in terms of "bring a T4 wizard or go home."

For whatever reason, the developers either don't know how to design a magic system that doesn't allow magic doms to render non-doms useless, or they think that is fine and not a problem in the first place.

This tends to mean that AOS lists either take a magic dom or they take one basic caster just in case they don't face a magic dom so they can do their stuff. It's the middle casting lists that get squeezed the worst IMO, you still see single 1-cast no bonus casters and you see doms, what you don't see is much inbetween. And armies that rely on their magic yet don't have the magic doms kinda just get screwed, it's a large part of why e.x. Nighthaunt and Sylvaneth are so weak. 

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2 hours ago, yukishiro1 said:

It's been a problem with fantasy since before AOS, it was even worse in late WHFB in terms of "bring a T4 wizard or go home."

For whatever reason, the developers either don't know how to design a magic system that doesn't allow magic doms to render non-doms useless, or they think that is fine and not a problem in the first place.

This tends to mean that AOS lists either take a magic dom or they take one basic caster just in case they don't face a magic dom so they can do their stuff. It's the middle casting lists that get squeezed the worst IMO, you still see single 1-cast no bonus casters and you see doms, what you don't see is much inbetween. And armies that rely on their magic yet don't have the magic doms kinda just get screwed, it's a large part of why e.x. Nighthaunt and Sylvaneth are so weak. 

Almost everyone could bring a tier 4 wizard and the dice balance was on the side of the casting army every magic phase. Almost every army could, if they chose to, compete in the magic phase. Only a few just didn't have the tools (other then dwarves who obviously didn't have the tools by design)

 

It was not nearly as bad.

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If you can buff magic with +2 (better with +3), you are fine to go. Some big dudes (Ex.: Teclis) can stop some castings, but if you use magic as a support tool and not base your entire strategy around it, you are fine to use it.

Imho, some cheap wizards with +1 to cast and low CV spells are all you need. They can still unbind/dispell and try to cast Mystic Shield or Metamorphosis easier than what people think for a nice buff and are a good anchor points to throw CPs.

Edited by Beliman
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It seems to me that the magic game is a lot like the low-drop game in AoS right now.

You can try to really compete in the magic phase, which means getting a super-caster of your own (Kroak, Teclis, Nagash...) or bringing several strong small casters (Hallowheart, Tzeentch somewhat). If you do this, then your game plan will probably hinge on dominating the magic phase, and you will be in trouble if your spells get shut down/you don't get your magic off.

Given that a list that is only somewhat committed to magic will get shut down by magic-heavy armies, for armies with only a handful of small wizards without casting bonuses, it might be their best bet to just opt out of the magic phase alltogether. This takes the form of bringing no wizards, or maybe just one to have a chance to unbind endless spells. In this case, you can't depend on your spells for your strategy and have to view them as just a bonus if you get them off.

Finally, there are some armies that sit in the middle, although that space is generally less attractive because it's less consistent. I think armies like Soulblight or Lumineth without Teclis sit in this spot. They can bring several (occasionally quite good) wizards almost incidentally, at basically no cost during the list-building phase. For those armies, it's not a big investment to bring some magic and they can enjoy the incidental benefits of dominating the magic phase against low-magic, while maybe getting lucky once in a while against high-magic armies. However, such lists also cannot afford to build around getting their spells off, because high magic lists will still fairly reliably shut them down.

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14 hours ago, grimgold said:

So I've been watching a lot of bat reps involving LRL and seraphon. It occurred to me that if you don't bring a top level mage like Lord Croak or Teclis, you stand very little chance of getting anything useful from your wizards, because you'll just get countered and be a waste of points. In a competitive scene both of those guys are pretty common, so is the correct answer just to skip wizards? All of the top mages pay alot for the ability to shut down opponents magic, and if you don't have any those points are wasted. They will of course have free reign with their magic, but lets face it, unless you have an S rank caster they were going to have free reign anyway.

Am I off base here or are the top casters so oppressively good at magic that you might as well not bother unless you have one yourself?

 Like you said only if you  can bring over whelming amounts otherwise it's pointless.   Magic is one of the game systems that directly counters it's self. 

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Also they have brought in miscasts now, perhaps they could allow that a roll of a double, providing it meets the casting value, is an auto-cast that cannot be unbound.

E.g. CV 7, roll 4/4=8 and opponent cannot attempt to unbind it, but can still negate the effects if he has such an ability.

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15 minutes ago, Liquidsteel said:

Also they have brought in miscasts now, perhaps they could allow that a roll of a double, providing it meets the casting value, is an auto-cast that cannot be unbound.

E.g. CV 7, roll 4/4=8 and opponent cannot attempt to unbind it, but can still negate the effects if he has such an ability.

Haha, no

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4 minutes ago, stratigo said:

Haha, no

Care to elaborate why? 

It was just an idea that popped in to my head whilst reading the thread.

I think making Magic more consistent would be better for everyone, the ones that already dominate it likely wouldn't be effected as much as it's already so easy for them anyway, but would feel good in cases where your army has 1-2 spells and you're against Teclis or Kroak, rolling that double and forcing it through, as opposed to have every spell unbound every phase.

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3 minutes ago, Liquidsteel said:

Care to elaborate why? 

It was just an idea that popped in to my head whilst reading the thread.

I think making Magic more consistent would be better for everyone, the ones that already dominate it likely wouldn't be effected as much as it's already so easy for them anyway, but would feel good in cases where your army has 1-2 spells and you're against Teclis or Kroak, rolling that double and forcing it through, as opposed to have every spell unbound every phase.

Well, a changer of ways would never fail to cast a spell for one.

 

This just makes power casting armies all the more oppressive.

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15 minutes ago, stratigo said:

Well, a changer of ways would never fail to cast a spell for one.

 

I believe this is counted as a Modifed roll so wouldn't work, though two destiny dice could be used as those are counted as unmodified.

Ultimately I'm of the opinion that the current model for how magic is played out in this game isn't the best, so keen to hear ideas.

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5 hours ago, Liquidsteel said:

I think unbind range should be reduced to 18".

We now have a much smaller board to play with, it's time to let people actually play and enjoy the magic side of their armies.

This 100% - another way that could help the current problem is by making it so that after a single model cast or unbinds multiple times, say more than 2 or 3 would be good IMO, it becomes harder with each successive cast or unbind. It also might not be to bad an idea to re-add dispel/destroy scrolls in again also to help give an easy dispel regardless of power level

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I go back and forth on this as an IJ player and eventually opted to keep 1 wizard in my army.

  •  Being able to dispel endless spells like spell portal/ shackles without being forced to use my heroic ability
  • It's sometimes possible to stay our of dispel ranges 1st turn with longer range spells that target friendly units (e.g Hand of Gork)
  • Playing against factions w/o magic doms that have super impactful spells (e.g mind razer)
  • Playing against magic dom factions that also bring weaker casters (e.g Unbinding lumineth archers 5+ mortal wound spell rather than messing with Teclis himself).

It's obviously not a clear-cut decision, especially against the worst abuser (Kroak) from both a casting and unbinding perspective, but I tend to regret not bringing a wizard against Lumineth, DoK, STD, Soulblight, etc.

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7 minutes ago, Leemer said:

A one-time dispel scroll universal artefact would definitely be useful

Disagreed - I remember the days of trying to play a magic army when Dispel Scrolls were a thing, and they're toxic as hell when your primary game plan is already dependent on having proper positioning, making a casting roll, and the not having your spell unbound.  

Generally, there's a once per game point where a big spell really needs to have an impact - and allowing EVERYONE the guaranteed ability to take that away from you is the worst feeling in the world.  

Reigning in the current top casters is a reasonable goal/request - giving everyone the ability to flat out ruin any spell they want with no RNG is not a good solution.  

If they bring back the Dispel Scroll, it needs to be significantly reigned in from their historical power.  An extra unbind attempt a turn (anti-tome) or once per game reroll on an unbind check maybe.

The problem is that doesn't really fix the issue - any solution to the mega casters just makes the less mega casters even worse. 

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1 hour ago, KrispyXIV said:

If they bring back the Dispel Scroll, it needs to be significantly reigned in from their historical power.  An extra unbind attempt a turn (anti-tome) or once per game reroll on an unbind check maybe.

But remember that a Scroll of Unbind should be an Artefact. That's a lot to take in consideration, you are playing without 1 artefact and if your automatic unbind is not used right... ouch! And 3.0 seems to have a lot less Artefacts than 2.0 (at least, that's my perspective).

Maybe I'm a bit biased because as a main KO player, I already have that scroll (Voidstone).

Edited by Beliman
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As has been said more or less above. 

There should be good spell fast not good unbinders. There should just be limited dispel scrolls armies can take such as the knight incantor who get it's once per game. 

 

But oppressive magic shut down is too much. 

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24 minutes ago, KrispyXIV said:

Disagreed - I remember the days of trying to play a magic army when Dispel Scrolls were a thing, and they're toxic as hell when your primary game plan is already dependent on having proper positioning, making a casting roll, and the not having your spell unbound.  

Generally, there's a once per game point where a big spell really needs to have an impact - and allowing EVERYONE the guaranteed ability to take that away from you is the worst feeling in the world.  

Reigning in the current top casters is a reasonable goal/request - giving everyone the ability to flat out ruin any spell they want with no RNG is not a good solution.  

If they bring back the Dispel Scroll, it needs to be significantly reigned in from their historical power.  An extra unbind attempt a turn (anti-tome) or once per game reroll on an unbind check maybe.

The problem is that doesn't really fix the issue - any solution to the mega casters just makes the less mega casters even worse. 

Yeah, wouldn't want to have a chance to stop that flying necromancer from throwing a purple sun down the entire enemy army's line.

 

Magic was absolute nonsense in 8th edition when you could guarentee or near guarentee a cast even over a dispel. 

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