I can say with fair certainty that I have played a variety of different armies and scenarios in WarHammer 8th Edition. However it has taken me quite a while to really understand when and how to use Wizards in this new environment. My initial views have change drastically and my tactics have also been similarly adjusted to meet what I feel is the best way to build a competitive list that includes appropriate magic support. The truth is that there is no solid answer… instead you have to look at each army and take a few simple facts into account when building your list. As you might suspect… I have these points for you in bullets for easy of reading 😉
- Can your Wizard fight?
- Is taking a hero level Wizard appropriate?
- Is taking multiple Wizards appropriate?
- Do you have access to Loremaster?
- What options do your wizards have access to?
Let me break these down a bit more…
One of the most common mistakes that I have made in the past is to think that taking a level 2 wizard is enough to help me defend against a magic heavy army. That by grabbing my ankles in the magic phase my opponent will need to grab their ankles in another phase of the game. This is simply not true.
There is a saying I recently made up while playing SWTOR that I’d like to share with you now: “If you want to make an Omlette, many Bothans must die.”
Considering that most games, and by most I mean 99% of all games you will likely play in 8th edition, will be between 2000 and 3000 points you always need to make room for a level 4 wizard or something similar. I know you might feel like it’s hard because you will need to cut out other units in your army, but at the very least a level 4 wizard with a ward save will do wonders for the way your army performs. It really doesn’t matter how much your characters cost or how much you feel you NEED that mega-killy-lord on a Dragon… you must take the level 4 wizard. However there clearly are instances where this is not the case which I will review later in this post.
With that being said… You should be noticing the 3rd bullet above and asking yourself when a level 1 or level 2 wizard is appropriate. The answer is simple depending on how you answer the 4th bullet. Do you have access to Loremaster? This is a game changer for many armies and the way that they use their wizards. If you do not have access to Loremaster then taking a level 2 wizard with the same lore as your level 4 is a way to get close to it. This all depends on your army specific lores and if there are spells in them that you consider a ‘must have’ for the performance of your army. There is nothing worse than rolling up your 4 spells on lore of life only to miss rolling Throne of Vines. Taking a level 2 wizard and rolling his spells FIRST is a great way to make missing that spell nearly impossible. It also allows for a scroll… hurray? This is one of the few times where taking multiple wizards is appropriate. It is almost never a good idea to take two level 4 wizards. You just aren’t going to have that many dice that often and the cost is huge.
Finally, the next thing you need to consider is if your Wizard can fight and what options he has available to him. If your wizard can fight then you are in the minority. You should do the best you can in order to make your wizard a better fighter. Two great choices are the Fencers Blades or the Sword of Anti-Heroes. Both are cheap and will make a huge difference in your list. Usually, if you can make a Wizard that pulls double duty as a fighter you should seriously look into building your list around that. Vampires, Slaughter Masters, Chaos Sorcerers and Daemon Princes are excellent examples of how best to build a Wizard who can fight.
If your wizard can’t fight and probably shouldn’t…
Then you need to look over his options. The big thing you need to look for is mobility. This is by far the best way to keep your wizard alive. Bunkering has its advantages… but you will find that more often than not your opponent will have ways of going after that bunker with a passion. Bunkers are pointless when your opponent has a flying monster that he can bring down on it in 2 turns. Unless your Wizard can fight, he should not fight and that means he should not be in infantry units. Directed attacks will drop your wizard in one turn. Which means the best you can hope for is flight. Don’t be afraid to take a magic carpet if you don’t have access to something with wings that you can buy as an upgrade. If you are being a Scrooge with your points then buy a horse or lizard or wolf or whatever with MV 8+ and stay the fuck away from combat. Positioning is everything for most Wizards now that bubble spells are part of the standard strategy of the game. Making sure that he is ALWAYS in the perfect position to cast a bubble and hit multiple units is a great way to shift the balance of the game in your direction. It also helps to avoid having a miscast wipe out half of the unit he is walking with…
Let’s now take some time to break down the armies and some my best recommendations…
Malagor, the Dark Omen (He can already Fly, is T5, and has bunch of great abilities that give your beastmen a much-needed boost. I don’t care how much he costs. Take Death or Beasts as his Lore)
Great Bray-Shaman (Magic Carpet + Lore of Beasts means there is no need for a level 2 as you will always be trading Kadon for Wystan’s Wildform. Fuck lore of the Wild. Honestly if the Braystaff was still a great weapon I would be giving you different advice.)
Prophetess (Magic Carpet or Horse. If you take a horse, then take a Talisman of Protection or the Book of Ashur. Lore of Beasts is the money winner here.)
Daemons of Chaos:
Kairos Fateweaver (He can already fly and he knows like a billion spells and gets a +6 to cast and dispell with a Re-roll per turn… Oh, and a 3+ Ward. Oh, and he’s a Monster… This guy makes even a level 4 wizard grab his ankles in the magic phase. IMO he is better than a Lord of Change)
Herald of Tzeentch (Put his ass on a Disc of Tzeentch and give him Master of Sorcery for Loremaster. Then pick a rulebook lore and go nutts! This is one of the few places that having nothing but a level 2 is appropriate. Any further magic defense you give him is a major bonus of course.)
Greater Daemons (There are few things more durable and hard to kill than a Greater Unclean One, few Casters better than a Lord of Change, and fewer still casters that people care less about than whatever that Slaanesh one is called. I am sure that Nathan could break down the Greater Daemons better than I can, however I will note that the Great Unclean One is by far my favorite. Pay the points for all the upgrades and only really worry about a miscast sucking him into the void… but how often does that happen anyways?)
Supreme Sorceress (Here is the first of the lucky armies that can take inexpensive flying mounts. Dark Pegasus with a Talisman of Protection and Dragon Egg for a breath weapon and Toughness boost make this Wizard a BITCH to deal with. Take another level 1 wizard with the same lore to close that Loremaster gag with a Sac-Dagger purely for casting Power of Darkness and drop her in a unit of fodder. Then just sit back and watch your opponent cringe.)
Dwarven Runelord (Go. Fuck. Yourself.)
Archmage (Put him on a Great Eagle for extra wounds and toughness and flight. Then it’s your call between taking a Book of Hoeth, Book of Ashur, or kiting him out with a Talisman of Protection and additional magic gear. If you are feeling crazy give him a magic bolt-thrower bow too. Of course, Loremaster is always worth the points. Take him alongside a DragonMage and you will be laughing all the way through the magic phase. IMO You do want extra Wizards, but you need to play them smart in this list because of their low toughness. Fuck Teclis!)
Slann Mage-Priest (Outside of very few special characters will you find a Wizard better than your run-of-the-mill Slann. In truth you have two viable options: 1- Lore of Life, Loremaster, Focused Rumination, Becalming Cognition, BSB+Standard of Disipline, In a unit of Temple Guard. After all my games with a Slann in a unit of Temple Guard this is the only setup I can recommend. 2- Solo Slann, Hover, Loremaster, Focused Rumination, Becalming Cognition, Ethereal, Cupped Hands, BSB+Standard of Disipline, and a Healing Potion make him pretty damn durable and mobile. Pick any Lore and have a blast making your opponent grab his ankles. Metal and Light are my favorites. Skinks are a waste of time unless you really feel like you need an expensive dispel scroll.)
Slaughtermaster (Here is where we get into the real meat of Wizards who can fight. I didn’t understand why so many people have chosen to simply kit these monsters for combat instead of casting until now. There are so many variations you can use to great effect… but I will only list a few… 1- Fencers Blades, Glittering Scales, and a Greedy Fist. This basically makes the best of units hit him on a 5+ and brings his stat line close to that of a Tyrant. 2- Sword of Anti-Heroes, Tricksters Helm, Septer of Stability. Re-rolling to wount a T5 character with 5 wounds who can regen would via his lore attribute is dirty enough, put him in against a unit with multiple characters as this character will be ripping through their ranks. 3- Great Weapon, Armor of Silvered Steel, and a Dawnstone. 2+ Re-Rollable armor save and S6 in combat? Hot damn. Most other Hero and Lord choice characters will not be eager to start a challenge with someone like that. The nice thing is that you can still fit a cheap Tyrant into a 2500+ point list along side a Slaughtermaster.)
Orcs & Goblins:
Orc Great Shaman (You have a couple of middle of the road options in the Orc and depending or if they are Savage or not, you may or may not use this information. Can they fight? Well, that’s up for some debate but I say the answer is “No”. Using the Magic Carpet and Talisman of Protection is still probably your best bet for keeping him alive and keeping him in position to cast for effect. However, putting him on a boar to save points or to allow for more items is acceptable too.)
Goblin Great Shaman (There is no dilemma here with the Goblins regarding combat. Stay the fuck away. Magic Carpet and Talisman of Protection is smart, but Wolves are pretty damn fast and cheap. Don’t waste an Arachnarok on your Shaman as again I say, STAY THE FUCK OUT OF COMBAT. Considering the cost of these guys I can understand of someone wants to take a trio of level 2 wizards on Wolves for the loremaster, but that’s gonna hurt against a level 4 wizard on the other side of the table. Madcaps mushrooms and make it work… but only just.)
Skaven Grey Seer (If you need a Bell then you need a Grey Seer. However if you don’t want a Bell then putting this guy on a Magic Carpet with a Talisman of Protection is the best option. I can’t really recommend one way or the other as I have seen both succeed and fail in colossal results. Your own playing style will come out here, but I really do feel that what I have said about mobility applies here.)
Balthasar Gelt (I love me some lore of Metal, but you know what I love more? Casting it on a 6+ and having Loremaster. He can fly, has great ranged and magic defense, and a wealth of other cool abilities. By far this is your best choice for the Empire.)
Wizard Lord (Magic Carpet with a Talisman… or… A fun trick for ruining your opponents day is to take a pair level 1 wizards on horses. One will be lore of Beasts and the other will be Lore of Fire and each will take their signature spell. Each wizard will also have either a dispel Scroll of a Seal of Destruction. Having the ability to shut down more than one magic phase is pretty huge, more so than worrying about keeping your expensive wizard alive. Does it make up for not be able to dispel as well as you normally would? That’s up to you to decide, but I sure think so.)
High Liche Priest (Now that this guy isn’t glued to your Casket you can actually keep him alive longer than a few turns! Put the Cloak of ‘Flying over units and dealing damage’ on him instead of the magic carpet, with a Talisman, and laugh all the way through the movement phase! I honestly think this is the best way to play this character.)
Count Mannfred (Firstly, He can fight. So it really makes no difference if you want to bunker him in a unit of knights or infantry, or just have him running around on his barded steed. The man has a wealth of spells and is able to do a lot of damage. One of the issue with the Hunger is that you need to be able to survive being wounded, and with a high initiative opponents 3 wounds can fly away fast… which is why Mannfred has 5 wounds. it’s points well spent on this Vampire as he will easily push over the middle of the road Wizards and will tear most characters apart in the process.)
Vampire Lord (It’s a tricky proposition to drop so damn many points into a character in order to make them good at everything. However, most armies don’t even have that opportunity… so quit your bitching. Vampires are probably the luckiest of the bunch with a huge stat line, insane options, and essentially twice the gear/powers allotment than other army. In the same breath I think it’s important to note that MOST of the big casters and monsters on this list so far have been 400+ points or more, so kiting your Vampire to the max is acceptable. I have my favorites, but virtually any variation is acceptable and useful. Just don’t give him Glittering Scales… that means you are Team Edward…)
Necromancer Lord (Now that he can be taken as a level 4 again, he is once again a viable choice in your army. Considering that he has no options for mobility the Magic Carpet and Talisman of Protection is a smart move. However it is acceptable to plunk is rotting ass on a Corpse Cart with the Book of Ashur (Or the Nightshroud) and keep him well behind your front lines. The one benefit of having an entirely unbreakable army is that he will have more than enough time to get out of the way of charges. Just remember that flying monsters will ruin your day if you don’t have some sort of flying monster of your own that you can use to block charges should the need arise.)
Warriors of Chaos:
Galrauch (Magic Dragon with two breath weapons? Yes please. If you can fit this monster into a list you probably should. As I have stated already, keeping a wizard alive is a lot easier when they are big ass monsters that can fight.)
Daemon Prince (He didn’t make the cut in the Daemons of Chaos list but he makes it here, but only barely. Make him a level 4, give him flight, give him a mark, and maybe a breath weapon if you are feeling fancy. He’s going to land you somewhere between big bad double-dragon and a Sorcerer Lord, but that’s where he should land. Since he can fight, but not fight like a Vampire or Dragon, so pick your battles carefully. You really should only be taking a Daemon Prince if you can’t afford the more expensive alternative. Being Stubborn helps a lot too.)
Sorcerer Lord (He can fight. So very similarly to the Ogres and Vampires you can put him anywhere and he will be find. Gearing him up with Fencers Blades, Sword of Anti-Heroes, or the Chaos Rune Sword are all good options. With his armor you can also make him very hard to kill, so have fun and go for broke with a level 4 who can do just about anything.)
Spellweaver (He doesn’t fly so much as he’s like a pogo stick… but anyways. The lore of Athel Loren blows the goats so taking a level 4 is a MUST just so you can get Lore of Beasts. Put this guy on a Great Eagle and give him the 3+ FailWard item along with a Book of Ashur and have fun. He has the option to take some funky arrows if you are feeling crazy.)
You may have noticed that I didn’t talk all that much about arcane items outside of a few things here and there, or that I didn’t say much about dispel scrolls, and there is a reason for that. The reason is that they typically aren’t worth the points. I know it’s funny for me to say that after I told you to suck it up and pay for the level 4 wizard, however the difference between a level 4 and a level 2 is pretty massive, the difference between a level 4 with a 4+ ward/Flight and a level 4 with a fancy magic stick (See Spellweaver above) is that at the end of the game your opponent has reaped in 300-400 victory points by killing your wizard and you got off one extra spell or killed a few more models. Call it points denial if you want or simply call it smart and safe like I do. Most games are not won on the backs of wizards but are won with the proper support a wizard can deliver without allowing your opponent to break even on points simply because he directed a few attacks at him in combat.
As for scrolls? Sure, take them if you really feel like they are worth taking. I am not going to say that they are not as I know many people swear by them. I personally find that they rarely change the flow of the game for me to potentially kill a magic phase for you opponent. Killing two magic phases however, like in the Empire example I gave above, it totally worth the points.
In the end everyone has their own style and everyone likes being able to try something new. I can say from the experience of my last 20 games though that two things were almost always apparently. I almost always killed wizards on foot that were bunkered in units. I almost never killed the wizards that were able to fly around the table, constantly out of my reach. I have played my Orcs, Ogres, Vampires, Lizardmen, and High Elves in 8th Edition… a pretty decent cross-section of the available army types considering that 3 of those have had new books since 8th was released, and this is what I have arrived at more than a year later.
In the end of you disagree… say so. You know I don’t even like you people anyways.
Thanks for reading!