Monday, August 15, 2011

First game of Storm of Magic!

So there has been a lot of buzz about the new expansion for Warhammer Fantasy, Storm of Magic. I’ve been rather excited about the expansion and finally got my first game of it this Sunday. I had a totally blast playing Storm of Magic. My buddy Josh and I had decided to play 2500 points + 625 magic & monsters and scenario 2 out of the book.

Now before I get into our game, let’s talk about the actual book itself. I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to actually read through this expansion yet but it’s worth the money for the book. The book itself is a full color, 154 pages, has an enclosed cover (opens on the front cover rather than side) and also it has a spinner for the Winds of Magic on the inside front cover. The actual game is changed by the expansion modifying the army composition and the Magic phase of the game. I’ll make a brief list of things that are new and changed in Storm of Magic.

• Army Composition has been altered. You may take up to 25% additional points worth of forces in Artefacts, Monsters or Pacts. E.g. – 2500 army list + 625 monsters/magic = 3125 pts total.
• You have terrain features called Arcane Fulcrums which help your casters shape the flow of the Winds of Magic. They also serve as the main victory conditions and the font from which your wizards can cast their epic spells.
• The Magic phase now has you roll 4d6 for your casting dice and your opponent gets the two highest of the four rolled for dispel dice.
• New spells available – Cantrips, Ascended Lores, Ascended Spells.
• Magical Flux – the wheel in the inside cover of the book determines what Lores of Magic are in ascendancy during your Magic phase.
• Dozens of monsters listed in the book including older expansion creates: Truthsayers, Fen Beasts, etc.. not to mention you also have Forge world monsters included as well – Great Spined Chaos Beast, Exalted Bloodthirster, Plague Toads, etc…
• New Mysterious Terrain to completely disrupt your game!
• Crazy new artifacts
• Sorcerous, Daemonic or Undead pacts – Tomb Kings, Vampire Counts or Daemons available for “killer” deals!

When the expansion was released I purchased the book, the new finecast Cocktrice, a box of magical vortexes, two packs of magic cards (ascended lore ones), 2 sets of arcane fulcrums and 2 old metal Albion Truthsayers. I have not yet found a use for the Cockatrice but I’m sure that will change as I play more games.

Now many people feel the Magic phase is already overpowered in Warhammer Fantasy 8th edition. Hi, it’s not. Here’s the deal and I’ll make this brief cause I’m sick and tired of hearing people bitch about the magic phase in Fantasy.
1. Magic does not scale – anything taken to the extreme is overpowered at lower point levels. If you’re playing at 1500 points and your opponent brings a level 4 caster, pretty sure he’s going to dominate the magic phase. Why? It’s a god damn level 4 and you’re playing 1500 points. If that doesn’t work for you allow me to spell it out in plain words. If you bring a bazooka deer hunting – guess what? It’s going to kill the shit out of that deer. Was that a good choice? No, probably not but you brought it anyway. That goes the same for any phase – if I bring 4 units of 20 Glade Guard and you are playing Warriors of Chaos, pretty sure I’m going to dominate the shooting phase. Same god damn principle – pull your heads out of your ass it’s not 7th edition anymore. There are some seriously bad ass spells in 8th edition but I really feel that if you are playing at around 2400-3000 points, which btw seems to be the accepted level of play for a LOT of people, then the “unit slayer” spells aren’t as scary because you have a ton of more units left to keep going.

2. The Magic phase is random – Just because you brought 2 level 4 Wizards and a level 2 and are absolutely going to dominate the magic phase doesn’t mean you won’t roll snake eyes for your magic dice. It’s the CHAOTIC Winds of Magic. You know from the Realm of ….Chaos.

3. Yes you can throw up to 6 dice at a time per spell. Ok, please do. Please get an Irresistible Force roll and drop a template on your own troops or get sucked into the warp. Every IR option is bad. Some aren’t as bad as others but they still result in something going horribly wrong.

4. If you and your friend are playing at a lower point level and you look across the table and see nothing but level 4’s and level 2’s then perhaps your buddy should examine the definition of a “friendly game.” But that’s a rant for another post.

With the Magic phase in a standard game being random already – you can image how funny it to roll several random options in Storm of Magic. Dependant on what the spinner lands on, that determines what Lores of Magic are in Ascendancy which gives the casters access to cataclysmic spells and bonuses to casting certain spells.
So this Sunday I played against Skaven using the 2nd scenario out of the book. We had 3 arcane fulcrums and I threw together a list for fun. One thing I did not want to do was use the same list I do in my normal games for Storm of Magic. The reason is because my normal Wood Elf list only has 1 caster and even then she really is there just to augment a unit or two.

There is one rule I’m going to stress above all others in Storm of Magic:
The game is insanely random – don’t attempt to take it seriously.

My Wood Elf list was rather tame and used some units/combos that I don’t normally take:
Treeman Ancient
Level 4 Spellweaver w/ Lore of Life and Deepwood Sphere
Level 1 Branchwraith with Cluser of Radiants and 18” magic missile
3x 12 Glade Guard w/ Banner+Mus
10 Wild Riders w/ FC
6 Treekin
4 Treekin
2 Eagles
14 Dryads w/ Champ
Young Forest Dragon*
Living Deadwood Staff*

Josh brought:

Grey Seer on Bell
Warlord on Bonebreaker
Plague Priest Level 2
Warlock Eng w/ Doomrocket and Level 2
40 Stormvermin
40 Clan Rats
30 Clan Rats
40 Plague Monks
5 Rat Ogres w/ Handlers
Ratling Gun
Warpfire Thrower
Bonebreaker Giant*
Hydra w/ Flaming Breath*

So to briefly summarize the game:

Turn 1 – Nothing spectacular happened for Wood Elves – Magic got shut down completely and did some casualties to his Rat Ogres. Meanwhile he nukes the Truthsayer and does 4 wounds to my Treeman Ancient with the Doomwheel.

Turn 2 – Everything is in the perfect storm. I have Blood Forests surrounding my fulcrums, his units are all in the blood forests. I have Lore of Beasts in Ascendancy and High Magic. I have Dominance cause I occupy two fulcrums. I roll and get 22 casting dice. Josh get’s 12. I’m about to SHRED some faces and..I roll a 4 on the random Magical chart for the encounter and it says “no magic phase”.
NOOO!!!! CREED!!!!!!!!!
Doomwheel get’s popped by the Treeman Ancient while in the forest with Strangleroot attack.

Turn 3 – Things are going well for Skaven, they do some pretty important sniping and manage to charge my spellweaver on the fulcrum. Bonebraker giant squashes Treeman ancient. Plague Monks fall finally to the 2 units of Treekin and the Treekin overrun into the Grey Seer unit. Turn 3 Magic phase comes around for Josh and he rolls a 1 for the Scenario random magic chart. The entire battlefield revolts and reduces the strength of my army down to 1/4th of what it was. This was HUGE for Josh. I was laughing cause it literally was so random and chaotic that you have to laugh.

The rest of the game went pretty well. At the end we had no wizards on any of the fulcrums, we were close however. Very close. We ended up going with Victory Points where Josh came out ahead of me by several hundred.
Things I learned this game:

1. Use the Cantrips to get rid of the big monsters
2. Living Deadwood Staff = synergy with Wood Elves. Def. taking again – that’ll be a podcast topic in the future.
3. Taking a few crazy monsters may work out better than one big one.
4. Watch out for stupid terrain!
5. Don’t blow yourself up on the fulcrum. Just because you can throw six dice doesn’t mean you should.
6. Josh is obviously a savage cheater – It’s impossible for me to lose. UNPOSSIBLE! And you know he’s shady cause he’s playing Skaven! Just Kidding Josh – I had a great game.
7. The Ascendancy Lore spells are amazing. Wood Elves got some good options that I fully intend on using in the future. Seriously good synergy. I’ve also probably converted to the Lore of Life rather than Beasts for my other games. We’ll see!

I can see where people may want to play this expansion competitively but I would recommend against it. It’s meant to have fun and use crazy armies you wouldn’t normally see on the board. i.e. High elves using a Daemonic Pact or Ogre Kingdoms with a bunch of Unicorns.
In short (too late) – this is a fun expansion and I recommend it to anyone looking to Monster Mash or have a game that is steeped in crazy happenstance and random luck. Totally worth the wait.