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Weathering the Storm

For a while there, I wasn’t sure we would survive to see this release. We can now add tornados to the list of freakish weather that has hit Alberta this year. A brutally long winter, massive forest fires, unreasonable amounts of rain causing floods, and now tornados. I don’t want to know what’s next… but the one kind of storm I’ve been looking forward to is finally here!

Storm of Magic came out last weekend, to the joy of Fantasy gamers and often the chagrin of 40k players, it would seem. I have yet to play a game with the new expansion, but every person I’ve talked to and every battle report I’ve seen online have all been positive. Like any good supplement, the rules add a new dimension to the game without breaking anything or being overly cumbersome.

40k players, on the other hand, didn’t hesitate to bemoan the same old things they always bemoan about Fantasy: the “randomness” of it all. Nevermind the fact that adding more dice actually shifts probability towards a normalized curve, or the fact that these game-breaking spells are incredibly difficult to pull off. Some spells have casting values of 35+, and you can never cast the Cataclysm spells with Irresistible Force. You can’t auto-dispel them with scrolls either, just to keep things fair. If you actually roll a natural 35+ then it makes sense that some jerk can’t just scroll it. That would be incredibly anti-climactic…

Overview

Anyway, enough about that! Back to the overview! The magic phases are expanded by adding more dice, more spells for each Lore, and some Cantrips to keep things very interesting. Wizards can knock each other off of the all-important Fulcrums, they can summon new units and creatures to do their bidding, or they can unbind enemy units to send them out of control. In total there are 60+ new spells and abilities, but each army will only be able to use a handful in a single game, so it’s all very manageable.

In order to really take advantage of the new spells and abilities, you need to control the battlefield. Arcane Fulcrums are the star of the show, serving as objectives and power-ups for your spellcasters, plus they included some expanded rules for Arcane Ruins, Sigmarite Shrines and Wizard’s Towers for added shenanigans. You could end up with a healthy stat boost to your units, or you could end up being sucked into the warp (ie. remove the entire unit from play). You really never know until you occupy one of these terrain pieces for the first time!

In terms of army composition, Storm of Magic doesn’t do anything too crazy (this is not Apocalypse, so GW won’t be advocating that anyone field an army of 75 Obliterators). In addition to whatever you take in your normal army list, you can spend an additional 25% on magic, Mythical Items (which are Magic Items on steroids, priced accordingly), or funky allies. You can take make a Sorcerous Pact to bring Daemonic or Undead allies for your army, or if that’s not your thing, you can select anything from a massive list of Bound Monsters. This covers everything from Forgeworld Greater Demons to wacky old creatures like the Fimir and Zoats.

Gamers with models older than I am rejoice! You can now field many of these goofy old things again!

There’s also some cool options for taking units of creatures that regularly appear in army books. Want a unit of War Lions of Chrace? Go for it. Feel like kicking monsters in the junk? The Bonegrinder Giant is for you. Not only does he get to Thunderstomp against other monsters, he also has a truly nasty set of special attacks that includes the aforementioned kick in the junk.

Hilights

Obviously I’m not going to go through the entire book to review every scenery piece, Cataclysm Spell, Mythic Item, and Bound Monster. While I have done that sort of thing once or twice before, I don’t quite feel like writing another 6k word essay right now 😉 Instead, I’ll try to pick out a few personal favorites that I can’t wait to try out.

The Zoat. Part of me just likes the name, but there’s also the wicked combination of nostalgia and in-game effects. Zoats are a relic from GW’s past, pre-dating modern Tyranids. They have an instinctual mastery of the Lore of Life that is pretty hard to beat. They are Level 3 (can be upgraded to Level 4), they get an extra +2 to cast while in forests and the forest they are in becomes Dangerous Terrain (fail on a 1 or 2!) for all enemies that dare to enter. Top it all off with decent Monstrous Infantry stats and a wealth of special rules (Cold-Blooded, Forest Strider, Swiftstride, MR(1) and Scaly Skin 4+) and you have an extremely complex and interesting monster that can add a lot of depth to any army. Some armies don’t have access to healing spells for a very good reason (ie. Warriors of Chaos), so you can really have some fun throwing this guy into a list.

Lore of Life Cataclysm Spells. While many of the lores have very interesting or devastating spells available to them, Lore of Life has to be one of my favorites. The basic Presence level spell summons a Blood Forest within 24″ and inflicts 2d6 S4 hits on any unit that is inside the Forest when it spurts from the ground. Not bad for a spell that casts on a 10+. Wood Elves will love this spell! The Equilibrium level spell is pretty nuts as well. Casting on a modest 15+, it creates a 5″ Magical Vortex that heals any unit that it touches for 2d6+1 wounds, distributed as per Regrowth. Cast this spell across your battle line for army-wide heals. Finally, the Dominance level spell is a true game-changer, as you would expect from any spell that casts on a 30+. This is an Augment spell that can be cast on any unit on the table, or even a unit that has been destroyed. The unit is immediately healed back to full starting strength. If the unit was wiped out entirely, it is respawned anywhere within 24″ (must be 1″ away from enemy models or impassable terrain). When you have uber spells flying around deleting entire units, being able to bring them back will be invaluable.

Seven Secret Sigils of Summoning. While I’m not a fan of the alliteration that is everywhere in 8th edition, this spell is just awesome. It’s one of the spells that every wizard knows, and hot damn is it a good one! This spell casts on a 25+ and as a Cataclysm spell, it requires you to control at least one Fulcrum. This spell lets you summon a unit valued up to 75/150/300pts, depending on who controls more Fulcrums. You can add virtually anything from any of the army books to help you out (except Vampires, Tomb Kings or Demons, as you must make a Sorcerous Pact to get access to those). You can’t buy magic items for anything you summon, nor can you spawn a Monster or Unique unit type (such as a Steam Tank) … but you can raise special characters with no other restrictions!

Allies summoned by the Seven Sigils never award victory points if they are slain, which is great since they are incredibly susceptible to being banished by Lore of Light. In addition to any other effects, summoned units suffer 2d6 wounds if they are ever hit with a spell from this Lore (be it an Augment or a damage spell, you still take these wounds!). Overall this will allow gamers with broad collections a TON of options in their games, which is fantastic.

Great Taurus and Lammasu. I admit that I’m biased, as I really like the new Chaos Dwarf models that are coming out from Forgeworld. If the rumors are true and their rules will reference the Storm of Magic book, I will be very happy. Simply put, these rules are very imaginative and fun.

The Great Taurus has a good solid statline (including I3, which will be immensely useful against any Initiative Test or Die type abilities), and some amazingly fluffy special rules. It inflicts S4 flaming hits on everything in base contact (friend of foe). Non-magical attacks are -1 to wound it. It is fuelled by fire, making it immune to damage from the Lore of Fire and it is actually healed for D3 wounds if any Fire spell is ever sucessfully cast on it! For hefty points increases, you can give it Hatred/Frenzy and a S4 Flaming breath attack.

An excellent companion for the Great Taurus is the Lammasu. While this monster has nowhere near the combat prowess of the Taurus, it’s a freaking Wizard! You can upgrade it from Level 1 to Level 2, and give it spells from Shadow, Fire or Death. Like the Taurus, it can be given a S4 (magical) breath attack. It’s also got Magic Resistance (3) and an innate ability called Sorcerous Miasma that disables all magical weapons in base contact (again, friend or foe). Far from the best monster in the game, but a very fun one. He’ll be useful for defending Fulcrums, as he can fight better than most spellcasters and merrily squish infantry type opponents with Thunderstomp. Sadly you can’t Thunderstomp the model defending a Fulcrum, so he’ll be less useful on the offense.

I have no idea if a Chaos rider from the Manticore kit will fit on this thing, but I can't wait to find out!

The model that I want to paint the most from the new releases has to be the Cockatrice. I’m not super keen on it in-game, but hey it’s cheap and has a Heroic Killing Blow shooting attack, so it should be fun to use if nothing else!

Summary

Once again, GW has come up with a brilliant set of rules to make Fantasy a lot of fun. To the trolls on BoLS, I will say this: If you honestly think this expansion was designed for competitive/tournament play, you need to give your head a shake. That was never the point of the expansion.

The book is gorgeous. Full color, lots of fantastic artwork and battle scenes featuring crazy models and (literally) out of this world scenery. The book is gorgeous enough to make me overlook the 1-2 typos that I’ve spotted so far (ie. the formatting mixup with the Woodwaker’s Wand rules on pages 54-55).

The rules look very fun, balancing over-the-top effects (ie. the Dodecahedron of Continental Drift, which costs 250pts and allows you to rearrange the battlefield, including both scenery and units!) with a lot of common sense and relatively simple rules. Things will get crazy, but you won’t be sitting around arguing about complex rules interpretations. What more could you ask for?

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3 comments on “Weathering the Storm

  1. Love your comment about the scroll…your damn right after rolling a 35+ you shouldn’t be able to use a scroll! 🙂 However, I think some elements of SOM may make it into ‘competitive’ tournaments, and that surely people will use the rules for fun doubles tournaments and hobby weekend events.

    • Totally agree that elements of SoM will become the basis for the “magical flux” type scenarios that always crop up to fudge with magic phases.

      I don’t expect full SoM scenarios but something as simple as the ascendancy spinner or a game of Watchtower surrounding an Arcane Fulcrum that can only be claimed by a wizard would make sense.

  2. Linked this post in my latest review on Storm of Magic…interested to know if it generates any traffic for you?

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