Tuesday, 8 July 2014

All the Colours of Magic: Wood Elf Magic Tactics

With the Wood Elf magic lore options going from 3 to 10 it can be somewhat daunting trying to select a lore to use on your mages. I myself have trialed 7 out of the 10 lores on offer and now present my opinions on those 7 lores in order to help you choose the lore that best suits your Wood Elf army. The 7 lores are Fire, Metal, Beasts, Life, Death, High and Dark.

Standard magic related image? Check


Just like its odd seeing Dark Elves use Light magic it is similarly odd to see Wood Elves use Fire magic. Odd as it may be the lore of Fire can be useful in a Wood Elf army and the spells that make this so are: The Flaming Sword of Rhuin, The Cloak of Cascading Fire, Fireball and The Burning Head. The benefits of the Flaming Sword are clear, +1 to wound is a very useful thing and at only 8+ to cast its a bargain, chuck this on a unit of Trueflight or Swiftshiver Glade Guard and watch the carnage. The Cloak is great for giving a WE combat unit an edge even before the first blows have fallen (2d6 S4 hits on any enemy unit in BTB contact will ruin someones day), Fireball provides a scary number of S4 hits that can seriously weaken or even destroy some units and the Burning head is great for causing low LD units to either flee off the board or get set back a few turns, and given that WE still have a hard time vs horde units panicking one such unit is a great way to buy time for your line. The other spells have their uses but its those 4 spells are of the most use to a WE player. Its not the best lore on offer but its not bad.


Oh Metal where were you in the last book when we didn't have enough anti armour gear. Now with Arcane Bodkins, Killing Blow, Treewhack and Waywatchers (and Armour Piercing on everything) you are kinda useless to us, well not entirely. There are still some good spells in Metal for Wood Elves, those being: Plague of Rust, Enchanted Blades and Glittering Robes. Plague of Rust is good for softening a target unit armour save wise before hitting it with your Armour piercing Glade Guard. Enchanted Blades is just a generally useful spell, who doesn't like a general +1 to hit although the Armour Piercing is redundant in a Wood Elf army and Glittering Robe is a useful spell for an army that lacks decent armour saves on most of your best units. Lore of Metal is best used as a buff lore in Wood Elf armies, yes Final Trans and the Golden Hounds are useful spells but Hounds is only good vs high armour save targets and Final Trans is a auto kill on a 5+, so its good  but it is still a 5+.

Now about searing doom, dont use it is my advice. Its a 10+ for d6 hits and a 24+ for 2d6 hits and it only works if you hit high Armour Save units and the Wood Elf army doesnt exactly lack ways to deal with High AS models. Its a spell that costs a lot for little results and there are other things in this army that do what it does only better.

The lore of metal isn't a bad lore for Wood Elves, and if you can find a way to make those buffs/debuffs work then you will find that the Lore of Metal can be a good lore. If you don't think the Lore of Metal will work with your army then don't try it, chances are you already have a lore that will suit your army already in mind and i advise you go for that one.


Beasts, oh Beasts. One of the 3 Lores that Wood Elves had on offer before (and i rate it as the 2nd best lore out of those 3 only because the options were Life, Beasts and Athel Loren). Now with 9 other Lores to choose from where does Beasts place in the mix? To answer that lets take a look at some of the spells that i think a Wood Elf army can use, those are: Wild Form, The Curse of Anraheir and The Amber Spear. Wild Form is a decent spell for just about every army, and making Eternal Guard strength and toughness 4 is a nice thought, in fact boosting the strength and toughness of any unit in the Wood Elf army is a nice thought. The Curse of Anraheir is great, causing a 20 strong Knight bus to stop and await for the effects of Curse to dissipate is a sight i advise all Wood Elf players view at least once. On top of that -1 to hit is always a welcome debuff to hit an enemy unit with. The Amber Spear effectively makes Wood Elf Mages mobile Bolt Throwers that don't need to roll to hit, and is a perfect way to deal with the monstrous, gribbly beast of the moment. So while Beasts doesn't lack good spells (Wildform you can get every time) i don't think it has enough to warrant putting it on a Level 3 or 4. Put it on a level 1, default to Wildform and you cant be any happier.


Life is good, in fact if it wasn't for another lore that i will get to i would say that the Lore of Life is the best lore for Wood Elf armies. As it stands its probably the second best lore you could pick for you Wood Elves. The spells that make this lore as good as it is are as follows: Earth Blood, Flesh to Stone, Throne of Vines, Shield of Thorns, Regrowth and Dwellers Below. The Signature spell of Life gives a 5+ regeneration save (its increased to 4+ if Throne is on) and its cheap so you can give any unit you wish a fairly decent save. Flesh to Stone gives a unit +2 toughness (4+ if Throne is on) and it is a laugh to make your Wardancers toughness 5, or Treeman toughness 8.....Throne of vines is a spell that many players have no idea how to deal with, many are unsure if they should  let it though or try and dispel it off the bat (dispelling off the bat is the best idea). It gives the mage it is cast on a 2+ save vs miscasts and buffs almost every other spell in the lore. Shield of Thorns is a great way to deal with flankers, it deals 2d6 strength 3 hits to any enemy unit in base to base contact (strength 4 if Throne is on) and it remains in play. Regrowth should be classed as necromancy as it raises d3+1 (d6+1 if Throne is on) worth of models back from the dead, i don't need to speak about the uses of this spell as they are fairly obvious and it has been FAQed that it can be cast on lone monsters (so Treeman) for even more fun. Dwellers is Dwellers, it is a good way to mow down hordes and make your opponents nervous while they take strength test for their characters.

On top of all those spells the lore attribute restores 1 wound to a nearby model within 12 for every spell cast, which really helps to deal with miscasts and challenges. All this means the lore of life is still a great lore and is still a very good choice for all Wood Elf armies. If you are building a combat force then this lore should be the lore for you. That being said there is a lore that i value even more than life.


In all the reviews i read/listened to Death and Shadows were the two lores most recommended. I have only recently used Death and it has potential, there are spells that a Wood Elf army can use and spells that are pretty situational. The spells i recommend are: Soulblight, Doom and Darkness and Spirit Leach (no i don't recommend any of the strength and toughness snipe spells, your a Wood Elf army arrow of Kurnos and Waystalkers are your snipers). Soulblight boosted is your best friend as reducing all enemy unit's, within 18, strength and toughness by -1 is just the ticket to make that combat go your way, or to ensure that your Glade Guard really make pincushions out of that enemy unit who foolishly wandered in front of them. Doom and Darkness isn't a subtle spell, -3 Leadership to your least favorite enemy unit is great especially if you are about to give em a Glade Guard volley (or fight a vital combat with them). Spirit Leach is probably only best when combo-ed with Doom and Darkness, as snipe spells go its not bad but remember that most enemy characters will have at least leadership 7 if not more, so Doom and Darkness followed by Spirit Leach is the way to go.

Death is perhaps my least favorite of the lores i have tried so far, personally i have got more out of Beasts and Metal than Death. If you can see a way to make it work then use it to its full potential. If you cant see its use right away or just cant see it working for you skip it, take life instead i assure you you will love it.


The Dark Elf lore. Off the bat i want to say that while Doombolt is a good spell i see it as over rated. Its casting value is too high and most opponents are smart enough to throw enough dice at it to dispel it. With that being said let look at  what are the good spells of the lore of Dark: Power of Darkness, Doombolt, Chillwind, Word of Pain and Shroud of Despair. Power of Darkness is a nice little +1 strength boost with a extra d3 power dice on the side, beware that rolling a 3 for the extra power dice will hurt your mage (and may end up killing her), Doombolt is a 2d6 strength 5 magic missile that costs 12 to cast and 24 to cast if you want 4d6 hits. Its downfall is its short range (18 inches), high casting value (for boosted at least) and that its a clear and present danger that your opponent will almost always try and dispel, and its not like the lore of Dark doesn't have other more sneaky damage spells. Chillwind shouldn't be expected to do huge damage, 2d6 S2 hits never should, but the -1 to BS and WS is what you should the using the spell for especially just prior to a charge (either receiving a charge or actually doing the charging). Word of Pain is a nice little debuff that you will need to cast the boosted version of in order to reap the full benefits, at the boosted level it reduces the targets Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength and Initiative by d3 which is vital in any fight where the opponent has higher strength (so pretty much very fight) and Initiative than you do with the initiative being the more important stat because we all like re-rolls to hit. Shroud of Despair screws with the enemy morale, any enemy unit within 12 of the caster cannot use hold your ground or inspiring presence and will get a -1 LD for each (including reform tests and the like) failed leadership test. This is perhaps the best spell in the lore as it will be able to do more for you than just about every other spell (including Doombolt and Power of Darkness), it can make battle lines crumble if you use it right, i advise combing it with fear causing troops it get that -1 LD before the end of combat so hopefully your opponent will be testing on the LD of the unit at -1 with no re-rolls.

The lore of Dark is perhaps the most damage heavy lore available to the Wood Elves but Its unique lore attribute isn't worth mentioning and while the offensive capabilities of the lore are great it doesn't do well at buffing your own units (with Power of Darkness being the obvious exception).


High magic, aka the best lore of magic available to Wood Elves (in my view).  Even the spell i rate the lowest in this lore (Tempest) can still be useful vs certain armies. Every spell in this lore is a good spell and the lore attribute (effectively gives your mage an extra wound for each spell cast and not dispelled) is perhaps the best i have seen in WHFB, so lets take a look at the spells. Soul Quench is signature spell number 1 and does 2d6 strength 4 hits base and 4d6 boosted with a casting value of 8 and 16 respectively, overall not a bad spell to have up your sleeve and it has a low casting value to boot. Drain Magic is, in my view, by far the better signature spell, it removes any remains in play effects from the target unit as well as dispelling any spells currently effecting it meaning that you can let spells like Soulblight and Word of pain through only to remove their effects in the next turn (provided there isn't combat going on and you need your units at their standard stat value) and it is only 7+ to cast and a 14+ to cast the boosted version which effects all units with 18. Apotheosis is a great little get wounds back spell, Treeman and Kin love this spell especially and at only 5+ to cast its a steal and a cheap protection counter. Hand of Glory works best when you target the movement value or ballistic skill (swiftshiver shafts love Hand of Glory) of a unit and it has a low casting value (+5) so whats not to like. Walk Between Worlds (or the Get Out of Traps Free spell) is my number 1 favorite spell in all of WHFB. It makes a unit ethereal and gives it a 10 inch free move (20 inch move for boosted), its great for just about any movement related task you had in mind, it doesn't matter if you use it to get out of a trap, teleport onto someone's flank or walk through a Night Goblin Fanatic and laugh. Tempest is my least favorite spell in the lore but its still a good spell, the damage suffers from scattering but the 1- WS and BS is nice and will effect the unit even if the template clips the target unit. Arcane Unforging looks at tooled up and armour saved up characters and laughs, spitefully. It inflicts one wound on a target character using the save of the model as the to wound roll (so a model with a 3+ save would be wounded on a 3+) and destroys a random magic item on a 2+, so take that Demon Prince!! Finally we come to the Fiery Convocation, it is cast on a 19+ (making it the highest casting value spell in the lore) and inflicts one strength 4 hit to every model in the unit and it is remains in play, great of BBQing skeletons, clanrats and other hordes of nasties.

So there we go, a lengthy post that breaks down 7 of the 10 lores available to Wood Elf players. My top 3 recommended lores are: High, Life and Fire. Fire is there just for the useful buffs and the fact that the Signature spell has 3 levels of casting and so can be used in many different situations.  Hopefully this guide has been useful and you can take some of this advice into your games. But overall keep in mind that magic is a big part of the Wood Elf army and so regardless of what i have written here its a good idea to pick the lore that suits your playstyle. Until next time.


  1. Can't combine Spirit Leach with Doom and Darkness.

  2. Hi
    Just found your blog and enjoying it at the moment. Nice reviews of the lores, but it seems a bit non-complete without Shadow in it. Objectively speaking on of the most popular lores for the wood elves, and for me as well. Miasma is great for controlling the movement phase as well as reducing Initiative. Withering is extremely good if you have a shooty list, and Mindrazor on ASF glade guards suddenly make them quite dangerous.

    For me so far it's a tie between High and Shadow, and it really depends on the opponent. Without the lore attribute I wouldn't even consider High in front of Shadow.

    How come you have not tried Shadow yet by the way? Too obvious? :-)

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for the compliments, glad to hear your are enjoying the posts.

      I am currently run a level 4 High mage and a Level 2 mage (his lore changes from game to game), the level 2s role is to be the lore sampler and try out all the lores. Shadow hasn't gotten a chance in yet because when everyone was doing their reviews of the new book they spoke a lot about how good shadow was, and from what i have seen its pretty damm nifty. I decided to start with the lores that weren't talked about all that much to see if there was a combination there that people over looked, things like Glittering Scales on Treekin and the Flaming Sword on Glade/Eternal Guard. I will get around to shadow (in the next game i have lined up its going to be on the level 2) and Heavens and Light. The level 4 is permanently on High Magic as that lore is a wonderful thing and the lore attribute is just what a fragile, armourphobic elf needs.