Sunday, 19 June 2011

Lores of Magic: The Lore of Metal

The Lore of Metal is a slightly strange Lore, with 2 of its damaging spells lethal against the right targets, but literally useless against others. If you allow for this fact (knowing that sometimes these spells will do you little good), the remainder of the Lore offers a range of augments and hexes, with a nasty super-spell at the end. It’s an interesting mix. Is it worth taking?

What does is do?
The Lore Attribute, Metalshifting, is what makes a couple of the spells in the Lore of Metal so variable, depending upon your target. Magic missiles and direct damage spells in the Lore (in fact, only one of each) use the target’s armour save to determine how easily they will wound. A target with a 6+ armour save is wounded on a 6+; a target with a 2+ armour save is wounded on a 2+. As per usual 1s always fail, however a 6 does not always wound. If the target has no armour save at all, the spell cannot hurt them. Any wounds that are inflicted by the spell count as Flaming Attacks, and ignore armour saves. So as you can see, the same spell could prove utterly deadly against heavily armoured targets, but targets with no armour are completely immune. So sometimes these spells will be no use to you.

Searing Doom is the Lore’s Signature Spell, and is the first of the spells to make use of Metalshifting. It’s a fairly bog-standard magic missile, doing D6 hits with a range of 24”. However, with the variable damage depending on your target, the spell could be relatively innocuous, or very, very dangerous. To reflect the potential of the spell, the casting level is a rather steep 10+. This will feel very expensive if you’re targeting something with an armour save of 4+ or less, but it will start to feel like a bargain against knights or a Steam Tank. The spell can be boosted to inflict 2D6 hits, however the casting value is then a whopping 20+. A signature spell that needs a 20+? I will grant you that when you wipe out a sizeable unit of Blood, Chaos or Grail Knights, you will feel the casting value was worth it. But a lot of the time, you won’t even consider the spell, let alone boosting it.

Next we have Plague of Rust. This is a nasty little hex spell that reduces your target’s armour save by 1, permanently. So you could keep casting it on the same target and eventually remove its armour entirely. This will not cripple a unit straight off the bat, but even point of armour save can be important. The spell is extremely cheap at 7+ (10+ to double the range to 48”), so it’s the sort of spell you will throw your spare dice at. If you get it off under those circumstances, the effects are a real bonus.

I shall point out that if you’re planning to roast a unit of knights with a spell like Searing Doom, you will not do yourself any favours by rusting their armour off first. You’ll just make it harder to kill them. Anyone caught doing this deserves a special slap for silly behaviour. But we both know it will happen…

Enchanted Blades of Aiban is an augment spell that gives the target unit +1 to hit in combat and shooting, and makes the attacks magical and Armour Piercing. The spell lasts one full turn and is really rather handy. You won’t find many spells that boost To Hit rolls and armour penetration at the same time. Most units wouldn’t mind having this spell in play when they’re in close combat. A big unit of Crossbowmen is an ideal target for the spell – all missile troops like having +1 to hit, Crossbows already have good range and decent strength, and the Armour Piercing puts their damage on a par with Handgunners. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I would spend quite a few dice to prevent this spell being cast on a big unit of Flamers of Tzeentch, as well…

The other augment spell in the Lore is Glittering Robe. It grants the target Scaly Skin (5+), which is effectively improving the unit’s armour save by 2. This could mean you will have great weapon-wielding troops with a 3+ save (or in the case of Empire Greatswords or Chaos Warriors, 2+). The benefits of this are obvious. The spell lasts one full turn, however its range is only 12”. On the bright side, the boosted level of the spell (requiring a 16+) will affect all your units within 12”. This could make the centre of your army an impenetrable rock.

Gehenna’s Golden Hounds is the other spell that makes using of Metalshifting. It does D6 hits to a single model, which may be a character in a unit. However, the Look Out Sir rule applies, so the majority of hits you inflict will end up being wasted on regular troops. The spell’s range is only 12”, although this can be boosted to 24” by increasing the casting level from 9+ to 12+.

This is a strange spell. Allowing Look Out Sir when you’re only doing D6 hits anyway means you may never actually inflict a hit on the character you’re after. The best target for the spell is a heavily armoured character in a unit of heavily armoured troops. This means that if you do manage to hit the character you will probably wound him, and any hits taken by his bodyguard won’t be wasted on low-value, poorly armoured soldiers. Ultimately you have to consider this spell as another low-level Searing Doom, and any hits you manage to get through onto a character are a bonus.

Transmutation of Lead is a hex spell that gives the target -1 WS, BS and armour saves for a full turn. 12+  (15+ to double the range to 48”) is pretty steep for the spell to be used to give a shooting unit -1 to hit, so this spell will most commonly be used to affect a combat. The penalty to WS (as opposed to -1 on To Hit rolls) means the spell can be beneficial either offensively or defensively, depending upon the WS of your troops and theirs. Given that it’s coupled with a penalty to armour saves, it’s safe to say that the primary intended purpose of the spell was offensive – improve your chances to hit the target by dropping its WS, and make the hits hurt more by reducing the armour. However, you will find a variety of uses for the spell, provided you can justify its casting level for the task at hand.

The “biggest” spell in the Lore of Metal (although even its boosted cost is less than the boosted level of Searing Doom – go figure) is Final Transmutation. You roll a D6 for each model in the target unit. They die outright on a 5+ with no saves of any kind, or a 6 when they have more than 1 wound on their profile. So the regular troops die on 5s, the characters on 6s. In addition, all enemy units within 12” of the target (including the unit itself) must take a Stupidity test at the start of the next turn, because models killed have been turned to gold, and people get giddy with greed when they see life-size statues of pure gold…

Let’s face it, spells like this can turn games. Needing to roll a 6 means you are unlikely to kill opposing characters, however these things do happen (about 16.6% of the time, in fact. Although I’m sure it feels to the victims like it happens more like 90% of the time). The spell should kill roughly a third of the target unit (provided they’re not something like Ogres, with more than 1 wound each), which makes it worthwhile for that alone. The Stupidity could make a terrible mess of the right army, especially if you managed to take out the general or Battle Standard with the spell.

Although it’s in the same basket, this spell is not as nasty as The Dwellers Below, as there is only a 1 in 6 chance that critical characters will be killed. This will be cold comfort to those who are on the receiving end of the spell and lose something important, but you can’t please everyone.

Who can get it?
High Elves
Dark Elves
Lizardmen (Slann only)
Daemons of Chaos (using Master of Sorcery)
Vampire Counts (using Forbidden Lore)
Warriors of Chaos

Who will use it best?
The Lore of Metal is another example of a Lore that will work best backing up (or being backed up by) a wizard of another Lore. Against the wrong opponents (eg Wood Elves, most Daemons, or any army that doesn’t field very heavily armoured infantry or cavalry), 2 of the spells in this Lore (including the Signature Spell) will be relatively ineffective and not worth their casting values. You don’t want to be relying on these spells to inflict damage on the enemy – if you need to do damage, you need the option of using another Lore.

Glittering Robe has the potential to turn a moderately armoured heart of an army into something seriously tough. If you’re fielding infantry with a 4+ or 5+ save, you will get a lot of mileage from this spell. On the other hand, if your army really has little armour to begin with, or is mainly comprised of cavalry, the spell will be less useful to you.

Enchanted Blades of Aiban is the sort of spell that will benefit most units, and in the same way, any player can find a use for Transmutation of Lead. These are all-round spells which are pretty flexible, so you probably won’t be disappointed if you roll them up.

Anyone with the spare power dice will probably have a crack with Final Transmutation. The chance to remove characters, or at the very least to whittle down a good unit, is well worth the casting cost. In the same way, Plague of Rust is a relative bargain for its casting level, and is a good use for leftover dice.

Players whose armies struggle against heavily armoured targets will get the most out of the Lore of Metal, but everyone can find a use for most of the spells. The Lore is well worth considering, however if you need your magic to do damage, I wouldn’t be selecting this Lore alone.


  1. Ive found that against Wood Elves the signature spell is quite amazing, throwing it at a treeman or treekin can cause some serious hurt (flaming for double wounds, magical for negating wards, and both have good armour). Im yet to see a Wood Elf army without either treekin or treemen yet either. I agree its not the best against Daemons though.

  2. You're right, although Searing Doom is fairly useless against most targets in the Wood Elf army, it's extremely savage against Treemen and Treekin. I guess given how important those units are in the army, the spell being effective against those alone is probably enough to make you glad you have it.

  3. Metalshifting is on the target unit's unmodified armor save, so spells like Searing Doom will not be hindered by reducing the unit's armor save with Plague of Rust.

    1. I'm not so sure about that. Plague of Rust effectively changes the stat for the rest of the game. At that point I think their "unmodified armour save" becomes the reduced value. Something like Glittering Robe would have no effect on Searing Doom, but Plague of Rust is permanent.