Magic Paths: A Review

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    • Magic Paths: A Review

      T9A's magic path redesign in 1.2 started off with a good idea. Design philosophies of magic and then make spells which represent those philosophies. Tie paths to races by aligning magic philosophies with the character of the race in question.

      Unfortunately, the end product has failed in a number of ways. A few paths are in a reasonably good place: Pyromancy, Divination, Shamanism. And even they aren't perfect. Most paths have significant failures of design - either in mechanics or in conception. Most critically, the race-magic philosophy connections don't seem to have been coordinated with other ways that the character of the race has been expressed in game - in particular, the types and battlefield uses of mages by those armies don't seem to have been given any consideration at all when deciding how to divvy up philosophies of magic. Or in some cases, the philosophy of magic seems sound, but the spells designed for it weren't actually designed for the wizard who would hold that philosophy. These don't just create poor mechanics interactions, but are painful failures of background to manifest itself in the game world.

      Ultimately 10 posts will follow this one (please refrain from commenting until I can properly reserve all 10 spots), each one examining a magic path in detail, and who uses it.

      I will refrain from commenting on the process of the magic phase, where possible. That is already being redesigned.

      I will instead be focusing on the design of the paths - how the philosophy is given flesh and substance by mechanics, the realization of that design on the table, and the quality of the mechanics of each path. I will also look at who can use the path, and how that path works out in practice for those users.

      (Posts will be in alphabetical order, although I will not be writing them in order, but give priority to paths which need the most help).

      This series will sadly not have room to discuss the cost of wizards relative to the value of spellcasting, another important issue which needs addressing in a comprehensive way.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

    • Cosmology

      Who can use?

      DE (Oracle, Dark Acolyte conclave)
      HE (Mage, Master of Canreig Tower, Sky Sloop w/ Storm Pennant)
      SE (Druid)
      UD (Heirarch, Scales Colossus)
      VC (Nosferatu)

      The 'elven' magic path, it's not clear why UD or VC have access to it. Most races who have it have it on all their spellcasters, but it is a limited set of races.

      It's kind of shocking SA doesn't have access to Cosmology, especially as Couatl are apparently deeply interested in cosmos (from the magic fullbook).

      Background: What do we know?

      It's the path of balance. One could pithily sum up the entire fluff bit in the magic fullbook by quoting Ursula K. Leguin: "To light a candle is to cast a shadow". I would note that the fluff we have is straight from an HE professor of Cosmology, so we get it straight from the horse's mouth.

      Game Mechanics: How does it play?


      It's supposed to be a path about making little nudges to the universe to push things in your favor. Unfortunately, it doesn't really do that.

      Problem 1: All of the wizards who can take cosmology are fragile and don't want to be anywhere near combat, yet the path is almost universally 18" range. That tends to mean that you can't get buffs where you need them, and your opponent can choose what targets you have for offensive uses.

      (Dark Acolytes are of course durable and fast, and can get where they need to be to deliver spells where they want. Of course, only the magic missile is any good. The Colossus also avoids this problem because it is also durable and doesn't mind being in or around melee, and it has both the magic missile and Touch the Heart, which can heal it. As it casts bound spells, it can ignore the path mechanic entirely).

      HE Asfad Scholar mitigates this a little bit, so if that was the only problem HE might actually get use out of it. Sadly...

      Problem 2: There's no dispel dice pressure. The path is a mixed bag of spells. Having to roll for them generally means you get a spell or two which aren't particularly useful in that game at all. Even if every spell is potentially useful, they generally aren't all useful on the same turn. So it's painfully obvious to your opponent what needs to be dispelled and what doesn't. And this is on top of super short range on everything which severely limits your targets (and thus the potential usefulness of your spells). You pretty much never get anything relevant through unless you roll small magic phases.

      Problem 3: The effects tend to be weak. Yeah, you've got two options, so they made the options worse than other spells. Compare Evocation's Whispers to Mind Games chaos version, for example. There's a couple exceptions, but now you have to luck into rolling them. And since it's locked into the same magic paradigm with a small number of spells known and a small number of magic resources each turn, it can't really go weaker than everything else, because it still gets the same number of effective casts.

      Problem 4: the path mechanic is mostly just annoying. It doesn't add anything (and its easy to forget to switch tokens at the end of your magic phase - start would have been better). You don't shape what you want to cast around which token you have. You cast what you need, and sometimes that makes it easier to cast (although because the number of dice you'll rationally throw at a spell has a lower bound of 2, you'll generally find it doesn't save you dice on the easiest to cast spells anyway, so doubly pointless there). And even when it does save you dice, that doesn't usually help you because of problem 2: you only have a couple spells each turn that are worth casting anyway.

      Fundamentally, the flavor of the path would have been met much better by weaker spells which used less magical resources so you could cast more spells (and slip through 3-4 effects reliably every turn). But the game mechanics sticks you with the same number of spells as other wizards, so you can't make more attempts, and forces you to roll 2+ dice per spell to not get shafted, so you end up using the same amount of magical resources per spell as other paths. Yet the spells were still made weaker on average, so when you do get something through, it doesn't mean as much. It's also not clear why the wizard has to be so close to make these tweaks in the first place.

      Background to Mechanics: Was the Concept Realized?

      Not really. The concept really wants to operate differently than other magic systems - not so much spells as tiny little alterations. The short range is also a conceptual failure, to me, as I don't see any reason someone concerned with cosmic balance would need to be so close. This should be butterfly wings flapping in China kinds of manipulation.

      This would have worked better for me, thematically:
      -Cosmology wizard generates a number of tweak types based on the number of spells they know. (Maybe two tweaks per spell known). Some are positive, some are negative.
      -Roll magic dice as usual. Instead of generating dice, this generates tweaks. The player may propose a number of tweaks equal to the sum of the dice. They may use the same tweak more than once, but cannot tweak a unit they have already tweaked successfully, nor propose a tweak on a unit that they have already proposed for that unit. The defensive player may veto a number of tweaks equal to half the number the active player proposes. Propose tweaks one at a time, and allow the defensive player a chance to veto or not each time.
      -All tweaks have a range of 48"

      For something closer to regular spellcasting, let them ignore Not Enough Power as the path special, and design spells so that the casting value is between 4+ and 6+ on all spells, with two separate spells per spell generated (sort of like at present, they come in pairs). Now we can have a bunch of minor spells and a path that can be one-diced for everything without being an idiot. (Given we allow BH and DH to bound spell spam, and these effects would be even more minor, it doesn't feel like it should be a problem at all).

      Background to Army Background: Was the path properly allocated?

      For the most part yes. This seems like a reasonably elven concept, assuming such concerns do get written into the general elf background somehow. If the elven races don't seem to adhere to a philosophy which incorporates this conceptually, than it really won't feel elven at all (even if it appeals to our Tolkien fantasy elf concept). I may end up questioning why Dark Elves care about this if this philosophy isn't embedded in Dark Elven thought and society, and similarly for HE and SE.

      I really don't understand UD having it though. It feels weird that the group which cut themselves off from the afterlife and bound their souls to their decaying bodies is one of the armies that has access to a path about 'balance'.

      Nosferatu make even less sense.

      It also feels like SA's Couatl should have access to it.

      So consider this a tentative yes with some reservations and a little confusion.

      Mechanics to Army: Does it play well?

      No. The range is too short, the effects are too diverse and frequently too minor, and none of the regular wizards who can have it want to be anywhere near 18" from an enemy or their own front lines if they can help it. It's a colossal pile of fail in play on all the wizard chasses who can use it.

      It should also be noted that UD suffers the additional problem that it isn't evocation. Since they're compelled to field an Evoker Heirarch anyway, to even field a Cosmologist Heirarch they have to field a second one. Needless to say, even if Cosmology was a playable path, UD would still never field one.

      (As already noted, if not for other significant problems with Cosmology, Asfad Scholar would make it more playable for HE, but range alone isn't the only thing that makes it unplayable).

      Soul Colossus is the only example of this path working well, and it ignores the path mechanic and got two of the best spells in the path and is a T6 monster.

      DE Acolytes with it are lackluster. They're pretty expensive for only bringing one spell worth casting (the magic missile, and any magic missile is worth casting), but they are fast enough to get it where you need it to go. Altered Sight is just a colossal waste of magic dice, and a better chassis than a wizard doesn't help it in the slightest. I think I may be the only person to have ever played non-Yema Dark Acolytes with conclave since 1.2 (just to see how they were), and its easy to see why - for 30 points you go from an average magic missile to an amazing magic missile (with shorter range, but they're fast) and pick up another offensive spell in return for losing a spell you'll never bother with. (And get Strider and get +1M...).

      That said, they're still better than an Oracle with it, because they make up for the short range, and they are guaranteed a good spell. But there's no reason to even field regular acolytes when you can field better yema acolytes.

      VC might be the only place it even theoretically plays well, and that's mostly because the Nosferatu vampire gets Evocation of Souls regardless of their path. So once you've used most of your dice on raising undead between your vampire and 2-3 necromancers, you get to choose 1-2 spells between the handful of evocation spells you have and your cosmology spells on the vampire. This is very much not the magical experience of most races (who don't have a buff wagon of +2 to cast spells, and don't get to productively cast a trait spell multiple times each turn as their primary use of magic, so tend to only bring one wizard). The Nosferatu vampire is also much less afraid of dying to getting sneezed on.

      Spell Mechanics

      Altered Sight - A steaming pile of garbage. The only halfway decent place to put this is on archers, and slightly more S3 hits is nothing to write home about - still not worth the magic dice needed to cast it. If it could be reliably cast on 1 die, it might be worthwhile.

      Touch the Heart - Pretty amazing if you're a T6 monster. Nearly useless if you're a T3 elf wizard.

      Mind Games -
      The cosmos version is junk. Elves all have good leadership (and if they want a leadership boost, divination's attribute, which they all have access to, is significantly better). Two of the elf armies have Ld10 generals whose leadership you can't even boost. UD pretty much ignores leadership, should a sigma-6 event occur and a UD cosmologist were to see play.

      The chaos version is decent, except it has 18" range and most of the armies with access to the path have little useful to combine it with. UD can do some serious leadership bombing, but it gets a better leadership bomb spell in the evocation path it has to take anyway, with 24" range, and it has to take evocation anyway. Also, there's too much ITP in the game for leadership penalties to matter most of the time.

      Truth of Time -
      The cosmos version is hard to use, because you have to cast it almost a full game turn before you get to use it. Not only are you likely to forget you have it, but your opponent will probably just move whatever you wanted to charge out of your charge arc so it doesn't do anything. (Or otherwise make it irrelevant - chaff you, charge you, etc...). This makes it pretty bad. Maybe if it was RiP or an aura... It's a good idea, but magic coming after movement makes it hard to implement in a way that isn't awful.

      The chaos version is more useable, but that's a low bar to clear, as it's pretty much strictly worse than Witchcraft's Will'o'Wisp spell, at about the same casting value and range. It also doesn't affect the Champion's ability to set a minimum charge distance (whereas Will'o'wisp, by making it random movement, denies the ability to even guarantee 4"). The only thing it has going for it is your opponent will be moving next, so you can see where likely charges are and where it will make a difference (as opposed to the cosmos version where all your opponents forces get to move before you get to use it).

      Ice and Fire - A magic missile, which means its good. If there's anything to hit within 18" of you. S3 hits limit its usefulness somewhat, and make it one of the game's worst magic missiles. But a magic missile is a magic missile.

      Perception of Strength - the 18" range is a huge limiter here, as your wizard does not want to be near combat. Being able to get it on an enemy unit usefully is rare. Being able to put it on your own unit does happen occasionally. But it tends to be the only thing worth dispelling when you can cast it usefully, so it never goes through when it matters.

      Unity in Divergence - Once again, the 18" range really limits how much you can make meaningful use of this. The chaos version requires a large enemy unit to matter. The cosmos version will be a dispel priority when it would ever matter, and 18" range will generally mean where you really want it is too far away. (Or they'll just focus on other targets if you're trying to shield from ranged shooting).

      I suppose if you get lucky and get Perception of Strength and Unity in Divergence in the same game, and were willing to put your wizard close enough to cast both of them, you might actually force your opponent to make hard dispel choices. I've never had both at the same time, and never usefully cast either of them.

      I really want to focus attention on how schizophrenic this spell set is with 18" range. If you want to cast Perception of Strength, you probably don't have a target for Ice and Fire or Truth of Time. If you want to cast Truth of Time, you probably don't have a target for Perception of Strength. Only ~half your spells will matter in any given turn in the small area the wizard can affect, and that makes your opponent's job of dispelling what matters really easy.

      What Should Be Done?

      This path needs to be redesigned so it actually functions on the table.

      It needs to be designed with the fact that its casters are T3 elven wizards who cannot fight in close combat, and that means longer ranges. They're nearly the only (wizard) users of this path, and the ones who study and shape the way it gets used in the world - it makes no sense that the path isn't designed with them in mind. It certainly shouldn't be designed with UD's colossus in mind, which is what feels like was done (with the other 5 spells just being after thoughts).

      As long as UD is compelled to bring an evoker, they will never play any cosmology wizards, no matter how amazing the path is made. So functionally, they might as well not have it.

      Some of the effects need to be powered up too. Elves pay a lot of points for their wizards, and they can't have spells which are wastes of power dice - players will simply take other paths that have enough pay off to justify the cost of those expensive wizards.

      The path mechanic needs to be completely rethought too. It's busy work with no real purpose, and Not Enough Power defeats any use the super low CVs might actually have. (If Not Enough Power goes away with the redesign, this, at least, will be fixed).

      Even a fundamental back-to-basics redesign would not be out of the question. If this path isn't extinct in competitive play yet, it probably will be in 6 months if nothing changed. And it's painfully easy to see why.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Squirrelloid ().

    • Druidism

      Who can use?

      BH (Soothsayer)
      HE (Master of Canreig Tower)
      KoE (Damsel)
      SA (Skink Priest, Jade Staff)
      SE (Druid, Treefather Ancient, Dryad Matriarch, Briar Maiden conclave)

      A reasonably widespread path.

      Background: What do we know?

      Druidism is not wild nature - it is one of the three civilized paths. It is society in harmony with nature and nature ordered by society. (See the back of the magic fullbook - it's grouped with Pyromancy and Alchemy).

      The first fluff piece for Druidism concurs, as it emphasizes a religious observance by a society which shapes nature and purges that which is deemed undesirable from it (the mistletoe parasite from the oak trees).

      The second phrases this relationship in terms of society. The 'great planetary engine' that is the source of druidism's power. Even the metaphors for the source of a druid's power are expressed in terms of ordering nature and predictability and how it supports human existence.

      General Mechanics: How does it play?
      Druidism is sadly a one spell path. That one spell is Summer Growth. At it's core, Druidism is about bringing your models back again and again and again. If you don't get Summer Growth, you're going to suffer.

      Druidism also relies on its Trait spell as a small Summer Growth engine (via enhancing the attribute, as well as being a general spell enhancer). It's interesting as far as it goes, but it's also highly vulnerable and failing to get it through cripples both the Attribute and many of the spells.

      Now, the other Druidism spells are all playable most of the time. You'll make use of them. You won't regret having them. But they aren't the reason you chose Druidism (that's Summer Growth), although they do help you get it through because they carry enough threat to draw dispel dice.

      Druidism also has decent range some of the time. If there happens to be a well-placed piece of terrain that you can measure range from, it can give you a lot of options. This is going to be very inconsistent, and apply to a small number of spells in any given game (as which terrain is in a key place will be unpredictable). Otherwise, Druidism suffers from very short ranges, many of which are only 12", so willingness to see your wizard in combat is critical to make the most of this path.

      Background to Mechanics: Was the concept realized?
      It feels weird that Oaken Throne is a spell that can be dispelled, fluff-wise. (Balance-wise it makes sense).

      Beyond that, mechanically the spells are a grab bag of things - a magic missile, some defensive buffs, some hexes. To say that Druidism represents a wide set of interactions with nature is to say that anything would have fit. Summer's Growth is a good fit here, mechanically, tied to growing things, and Spirits of the Woods is a good tie because of its interaction with forests. But aside from that, it feels like any grab bag of spells could have fit.

      So definitely yes in specific cases, and a 'sure, but anything could have fit' in the rest.

      Background to Army Background: Was the path properly allocated?

      As a civilized path of magic, it's strange that an army like BH has access to it. (I would have figured them for Shamanism, Evocation, and Witchcraft - all the primal paths).

      As a path that's about the harmony of nature and society, KoE also feels like a slightly weird fit. To the medieval European, the primeval forest was dark and terrifying. Nature was meant to be mastered, not to find harmony with it. More KoE fluff could resolve this problem, especially regarding the damsels and their order.

      SE, HE, and SA are great fits to this path.

      Mechanics to Army - Does it play well?

      KoE: Has good targets for Summer's Growth. Watching 3 grail knights pick themselves up from the dead is a frightening number of points (and effectiveness) returned. The grab bag of effects gives the damsel good options, and her ability to hide in a knight bus lets her be close to the enemy. Spirit of the Woods is also quite useful in letting cavalry maneuver around and through forests, or eliminating steadfast in a troublesome unit. And expensive knights always appreciate buffs. Healing Waters is the one failure here - gaining regeneration doesn't stack with the Ward save that all knights have, so its utility is marginal. The lack of a signature spell can easily mean getting stuck with a spell you won't use.

      Druidism has strong competition from Divination (mixed buffs, damage) and Shamanism (offensive buffs, utility summon) for KoE.

      BH: Generally has better path choices. Evocation and Shamanism both provide this army what it needs better than Druidism can. It also doesn't have the greatest choices for Summer Growth - it's infantry isn't particularly powerful, and it's powerful units are monstrous or monsters, which means few points returned per wound healed (monstrous), or few wounds healed (monsters). The Shaman is willing to get into combat though, which means it will frequently have targets in range.

      HE: As long as you roll Summer's Growth, a Master of Canreig Tower with Druidism is quite playable. Fail to get Summer's Growth and you're in for a very unfun game. With expensive infantry that want to be fielded in large units, HE has the best targets in the game for Summer's Growth, and can pick up a lot of combat effectiveness turn after turn if the opponent allows (or can't stop it). Defensive buffs are also exactly what fragile elves want, because units like SMs and LG bring the offensive power they need already.

      SA: Can have decent targets for Summer's Growth, although Raptor Riders see little play. Defensive buffs are not what this army tends to want - so frequently other paths will take priority. Jade Staff shows up reasonably often. The other big problem is that the Skink Priest can only be a Wizard Apprentice, and isn't very good in combat on his own. He needs to be mounted on a monster to really function with druidism, and that's a large point investment for a path which doesn't cover what the army really needs done.

      It's also not immediately clear to me how Summer's Growth works with caiman/skink joint units, although I have not tried to parse the rules in detail.

      SE: A surprisingly bad path here. Unlike HE, large infantry units are uncommon, which makes Summer's Growth very hit or miss. Small units also limit the impact of defensive buffs. When they do field large infantry units (generally dryads), divination tends to be more popular. SE really wants buffs that are aura-cast, and that makes divination the natural fit (to hit multiple small units at once). The druid, in particular, is also profoundly bad at combat, which makes it an especially bad choice on him.

      It goes without saying that an SE player fielding large elite infantry units will find Druidism to be more to their liking, and share HE's outlook on the path.

      Briar Maidens, unlike SE's other casters, have the speed to get where they need to go, and can heal SE's monsters in a pinch with the attribute.

      Spell Mechanics
      Oaken Throne (T): improves all the spells, reduces CV, and RiP. The fact that your opponent can block it or dispel it really hurts the path, as many of the spells aren't worth casting without it, or are quite marginal.

      Fountain of Youth (A): Goes from nearly useless in many armies that have it without Throne to pretty amazing with Throne up. With cowboys or monsters, it has more utility without Throne up.

      Master of Earth: an okay magic missile that becomes quite decent with Throne. Measuring from impassable potentially extends the reach significantly, if there is impassable in a useful place.

      Healing Waters: Unless you're KoE, a handy boost even without Throne, assuming you aren't playing against an army that throws mostly fire damage at you.

      Entwining Roots: The most likely to get to use the 'measure from terrain' feature (because forests tend to be common), the unaugmented version is marginal depending on relative WS. The augmented version is much more likely to achieve an important breakpoint.

      Spirit of the Woods: The augmented version is actually quite marginal, because you have to wait so long to make use of it. (Your next turn to move or charge through that forest). The augmented version is mostly for breaking steadfast without a bus. The one spell in this path that can become almost entirely useless against some armies (Yema DE, SE).

      Stone Skin: Very good for elite infantry, less good otherwise. Not particularly dependent on Throne, but Throne can make it much better depending on the S you're defending against.

      Summer's Growth: The all-star of the path. Putting your models back into play is where this path gains most of its value. For optimal use, bring elite forces in large units.

      What Should be Done?
      Non-random spell selection would really help. So much of using this path is about exploiting Summer's Growth that the possibility of not getting it discourages using it.

      It might help to make some of the buff spells aura cast in some way if an army like SE is intended to get much use out of this path. Might also help SA.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

      The post was edited 5 times, last by Squirrelloid ().

    • Evocation

      Most of my experience with Evocation is playing against it. I've tried it in a DL list once, and when I play UD I tend to play a minimal Heirarch and supplement with a pair of scales colossi.

      I've played against plenty of VC and UD. (VC seems to be one of the most common armies, kinda getting sick of BG-stars). I don't think I've played against any other armies using Evocation.

      Who can use?
      There's really two groups of Evocation users - those that animate the dead, and those that don't.

      UD (Death Cult Heirarch)
      VC (Necromancer, most Vampires)

      BH (Shaman)
      DL (DP, GDs, Harbingers except Wrath)
      SA (Couatl)

      Background: What do we know?

      Evocation manipulates the soul. It can be succored and augmented, it can be diminished, and it can be rended by the spells of the path. It can even be commanded to serve after death. Each soul has a true name - a unique sound that belongs to that soul.

      We also know from the UD fullbook that the soul goes elsewhere when the body dies, at least usually. That this elsewhere is not in the world.

      We're given some reason to believe that the passage of the soul is people or belief specific. The gates of the underworld closed only for Naptesh, and Setesh made himself master of only their afterlife. (Now, this point in particular is unreliable, as it is myth. And we know there was an alternate account that was destroyed by the command of the priesthood of Sunna, but not what it contained. But that the soul goes elsewhere normally and does not for Napteshi is indisputable).

      But where does the soul go? We have a clue from the daemon use of Evocation. That evocation can be used to augment daemons is strong evidence that daemons either have souls, are composed of soulstuff, or are made of similar substance to souls. Otherwise evocation wouldn't work on them, since it works by manipulating the soul. That suggests that souls go somewhere beyond the veil in death, and that things beyond the veil are made of something that is or is similar to souls. When a daemon crosses over, it brings its 'soul' with it, and builds a body around it.

      General Mechanics: How does it play?

      The primary spell from Evocation is the trait spell, which every caster knows. It dictates the way the path plays to a large extent.

      For undead armies, its performance really depends on how many bonuses you can rack up, and the VC advantage that you can heal some units beyond their starting size, making it useful from turn 1. Unfortunately, UD has no such bonuses, and heals fewer wounds on similar units, making it very lackluster for UD, while powerful for VC.

      For other armies, it's amazing. It lets you capitalize on small wins by double-reducing leadership (-1 to Ld in 6" + -1 from fear), and gives you a good chance of forcing a failed fear check and reducing your opponent's WS.

      Otherwise the path is kind of schizophrenic. It's got some decent to amazing combat buffs, a utility movement spell, a leadership and WS debuff and two character nukes (one of which is highly situational). With no signature to swap to, you're likely to get an eclectic mix of spells that don't necessarily play well together on the same mage, and don't necessarily do what you were counting on from the path. This makes the path highly inconsistent on the table, especially for UD (whose Book of the Dead was supposed to be the answer to their issues with raising models, but you can't guarantee you'll get enough augments to make good use of it). Random spell generation is one of the biggest issues with the path at present. If you could pick your spells, it has good tools to work with.

      Because all the spells can be cast while in combat, and many have short ranges, the ideal caster would be combat capable.

      Background to Mechanics: Was the concept realized?

      Let's be honest, most of the path background is the magical equivalent of Star Trek technobabble. It could justify anything so long as it applies to a living creature, and since most models are living creatures... But then they even apply to non-living creatures, which suggests those things have souls (which will bring us to our next problem...). So the only real fit to background here is that anything could fit, because the background doesn't have enough detail to understand the mechanics of souls.

      I'd note the magic fullbook flavor text for Spectral Blades is lacking, as it describes the spell as boosting the weapon rather than the creature. If we're going to go that far, it really is phlebotinum that can do anything required of it.

      But the bigger problem is... raising the dead. How does that work when you're using a path that manipulates souls, souls that go elsewhere after death. I mean, for UD we're okay, their souls don't go elsewhere. But for VC... where do those souls come from? Do souls never get reused (reincarnation, whatever), repurposed, or otherwise transformed so that they're always sitting around waiting for a necromancer to pull them back through the veil?

      And consider that pulling just a little bit of magical energy through the veil to cast spells in general is dangerous enough to risk catastrophic miscasts. Why is it Thaumaturgy that risks even bigger catastrophe, while VC necromancers are not only pulling magical power but potentially dozens of souls through the veil per spell? Just think about the 12" Aura version... A VC caster raising undead is basically tearing the veil wide to pull souls through by the bucketful. How does this not routinely explode in their face if any other path has any risk of miscast?

      And how does soul energy raise wounds for animated constructs like Sphinxes? Is there a body bound in the center of each construct? Were victims sacrificed in blood rituals to bind their souls to the stone? More information is needed.

      A final significant problem is UD specific - we know from the fullbook fluff that not only are the Napteshi souls bound to their bones in death, but they continue acting autonomously over long periods of time. Even the bodies from long ago battles remain animate (and apparently aggressive). So why Dust to Dust? Clearly the Heirophant isn't keeping the souls bound - they have nowhere to go! And clearly the Heirophant isn't needed to keep them active - the ones crawling through the sandstorm in the fluff were clearly active with no Heirophant nearby. The only thing that makes sense is that the Heirophant manipulates their souls to repair their bodies - but that means they shouldn't collapse when he dies. It just means they stay down without a heirarch around to raise them. The Heirophant and Dust to Dust can and should be removed from the UD book, because it's contrary to the rest of the fluff, and indeed contrary to the basic premise that Napteshi souls are barred from moving on. No fluff could salvage this, because the souls have nowhere to go, so the Heirophant can't be keeping them there.

      Background to Army Background: Was the path properly allocated?

      As the 'it raises undead' path, obviously VC and UD had to have it. UD has the best thematic fit with what little we know about the mechanics of how the path works. While VC obviously needs some way to raise dead, it's not clear that way should have been evocation, as discussed in the last section.

      If souls are the currency of creatures beyond the veil, or if they're made of souls or soul-like substances, then it makes great sense for DL. It would make even more sense if they had some special relationship with the path of their own (like units having bound evocation spells, or giving bonuses to evocation casting rolls that target them). And the damage spells make less sense for them - it makes sense they're great at manipulating their own essenses, but doesn't necessarily follow that they're great at manipulating the souls of mortals through magic. (Obviously manipulating mortals by talking to them is essential for Occultism and deal-with-the-devil kinds of stories :D )

      BH and SA are perplexing. It really doesn't seem to fit at all. This isn't the 'primal' path or location spirits - that's shamanism. Maybe its a case of not enough information - certainly for SA its hard to say it makes no sense, because there's so much necessary information lacking. But BH is Pan and the Bacchae, frenzy and lust and intoxication, celebrating this life and the temporary pleasures, not focused on the immortal. Evocation feels like the exact opposite of what they should be doing.

      On the other hand, evocation lends itself to being a dark path. UD is a dark tragedy. If there's any flat out bad guys in T9A, it's VC. DL may be alien, but tends towards dark from a human perspective. Books like WDG and DE would seem to be good fits for evocation.

      Mechanics to Army: Does it play well?

      VC - Plays quite well, but pushes them towards lots of small casters. Fortunately they get a whole bunch of boosts to using the path Trait (especially healing units above starting size), and they can bring an aura boost to their casting rolls for evocation too. I see 3 necromancers + a count frequently, and many magic phases involve nothing but Evocation of Souls. That said, lots of little casters means someone will probably get a spell they care about and be in a position to use it. But if they don't, the trait is never wasted. The army runs off the path, and it seems quite powerful when built around using it.

      That said, there's Bastiat's problem of the seen and unseen. I see very similar armies, because those configurations are good at using the trait to run. I'm sure there's a lot of units that see little play because they aren't worth using once you've committed to the engine necessary to run your trait battery, frequently because they don't benefit much from it. It is quite likely the VC army's internal balance is really bad because of their dependency on evocation.

      Full disclosure: I played an eccentric VC army on UB once. I didn't use Evocation at all, because I'm crazy. It did okay. But it meant suffering from VC weaknesses that Evocation of Souls is supposed to cover without recourse to raising wounds, and it really limited my unit choices in strange ways.

      UD - Plays poorly. The trait is poor due to lack of all those bonuses VC has to boost its performance, and lower evocation numbers in general. Book of the Dead, UD's sole performance boost for raising dead, requires randomly generating the right evocation spells, which makes it like playing russian roulette with your army for 100 points - roll poorly and you just wasted >2% of your army points for nothing. (And unlike VC's Gates of the Netherworld, it doesn't work on monsters). Even if things work out perfectly, it's still bad raising, it's just bad raising without casting the trait, whereas VC's bonuses make casting the trait again and again and again worthwhile. Guess which evocation spells you can cast multiple times per turn... Worse, VC's performance upgrades scale with number of casters. As a magic item, Book of the Dead only benefits one caster.

      Also has the game's worst evocation caster - a 'stand in the back' caster who doesn't want to be anywhere near the frontlines, and whose viable bunkers start and end with skeleton archers, who really don't want to march to keep up with the rest of the army. This makes random spell generation really painful, because you can get some spells you literally cannot use. I mean, you could luck out and roll all the spells you actually want. But you probably won't.

      DL - Admittedly I only have one game, but it was scary enough to draw off dispel dice and maintain pressure in the magic phase. The trait is a real multiplier in combat, especially for MSU (which seems popular for daemons these days).

      Now, it's not going to dethrone Thaumaturgy for Change. And for the strange Change player who uses Aether Wand, it's not going to compete with Alchemy or Divination (because Aether Wand desperately wants an attribute). But for Lust-focused armies, Evocation is definitely in competition for first place with Divination at present. (Honestly not sure about pestilence. Divination probably edges it out, since you're focused on defense, and Divination cranks that up a couple notches).

      BH - haven't seen it, but just the trait alone looks brutal. Combine it with monster mash (terror! moar fear!) with a jabberwock and Whispers, and you have some serious Ld bombing capability. The combat buffs and magical movement certainly aren't going to hurt. The big question is whether it competes with Shamanism... I think you'd have to build a list around Evocation, but I think you could do it.

      SA - I honestly have no idea, I've never seen it played. Doesn't feel like it really shores up their weaknesses, nor does it play to their strengths very well. Would love to hear any SA player thoughts on it.

      Spell Mechanics

      Evocation of Souls -
      For VC, this spell is powerful. They raise a lot of bodies, and have several special rules and options that boost the performance of the Trait, to the point that they can almost ignore the rest of the path much of the time. It's not uncommon to see 3-4 necromancers dedicated to raising corpses. It's worth pointing out that the spell is an aura at two of its three levels, meaning you can potentially raise a lot of undead, and VC can also raise certain units beyond their starting size, making Evocation of Souls a good spell to cast even on first turn.

      For UD, the trait spell is kind of meh. It's ability to raise is ~1/2 to 2/3 as good as VC's, making it hard to sustain the same kind of numbers. At the same time, unlike VC, the primary combat characters for UD don't come with any magic, so you can't bring a beatstick character and have him contribute to your magic phase. Representative comparisons: BG: 4+d3 vs. NG: 4, despite being units with similar capabilities. Skeletons: VC 4+d6 (average 7.5), UD 6, for identical units. And UD doesn't have the same options for boosting the performance of Evocation of Souls (No Gates of the Netherworld, no Corpse Cart buff, no exceeding starting unit size). It's all those cumulative boosts to Evocation of Souls effectiveness that makes it great for VC, and without them it's a terrible use of magic dice.

      Armies that don't raise instead get an amazing ability. Grant fear, potentially in an aura, and those units additionally reduce the leadership of any unit within 6" of them by 1. I rate this version higher than the undead raising version, it's just so powerful in the right match ups.

      Spectral Blades - A good combat buff that's trivially easy to cast. 5+ CV is a joke. The boosted version is almost never worth it unless you're facing regeneration or you have S3 attacks against 2+ armor or a similarly skewed matchup. Doubling the CV means going from pretty much no risk of failure on 2-dice to some risk of failure on 3-dice, and lethal strike is typically a low value combat buff.

      Danse Macabre - magical moves are always good. Magical moves that can be cast in a 12" aura? Yes, please. The only serious issue is you have to hedge on whether you get it off or not, because if you put yourself in a bad position while planning on it, and then it gets blocked, you're kind of hosed.

      Ancestral Aid - not as good as Spectral Blades, because to-hit is a softer roll than to-wound, but still a decent combat buff. Why it has a higher CV than Spectral Blades I simply don't understand. The boost (if you have a ranged unit) is only 2 CV more, but many of these armies have better things to do than throw 2-3 dice on a buff for ranged attacks. It's not like anyone has this and handguns (when it would be awesome)...

      Touch of the Reaper - The second best assassination spell in the game (the best being in Occultism). The problem of course being that getting your character assassinated isn't very fun, so it's not powerful enough to remove any characters that really bother you most of the time. Especially if they have special saves. It's the kind of spell that could be significant, which means it mostly exists to draw dispel dice, because there's enough risk to make it scary.

      It has some decent alternate uses though. It can pinch hit as a champion killer to avoid your GD or other monster getting locked down in a challenge later. It's also a decent source of wounds against single model units like chariots and monsters.

      Whispers of the Veil - A debuff to leadership and WS, both can be useful. Tends to be best when you can send in your elite units, who can really capitalize on the reduced WS, letting them both win the combat by more and maximize the chances of breaking the enemy. It's also Remains in Play with good range, so you can drop it on a critical unit early, and then let them either suffer later or burn up precious magic dice later to get rid of it.

      Hasten the Hour - Short range, high casting cost, and only a few wounds make this spell highly situational. Yes, it can target characters, but it's only 1 wound. And to make full use of it, you need a champion and several characters in the unit you're targeting. On top of that, it's a 3-dice spell even with +3 to cast, and you'll probably want 4-dice if you're at less than +3. Probably the worst spell in the path. The only good part is that it's not a missile, so you can use it on one unit while fighting another one.

      The sixth spell is a highly situational spell

      What should be done?

      The biggest problem is background and flavor. I think the evocation background needs significantly more development without reference to any of the current implementation. Hash out more specifically what it does (and how) and what it's about. Then redesign the path with that better background. It's sort of a hot mess covered by vague magic technobabble.

      As far as playability, non-random spell generation would solve some issues. With the diversity of things the path does, it's hard to plan an army around using all of it. It would help to know what you were getting ahead of time.

      But the most significant play issue is just how badly this path works with UD. VC proves how many band-aids are needed to make raising function well, and UD doesn't have them. While non-random spell generation would help a little, the Book of the Dead is nowhere near competing with all the special rules VC can bring to bear on raising, nor with VC's inherently superior raising ability. (Sure, it's less points than bringing all that stuff to bear, but you can't generate enough raw effect to really matter. VC may have to invest a lot, but the total effect they generate makes you sit up and notice).

      The best solution is to remove the restriction that UD has to bring an evoker. Let them play with their other paths instead. Ditch Dust to Dust while we're at it - it's unsupportable based on what we know about the background. Heck, ditch the Heirophant rule entirely. An army with no evoker just gets patched up later by a heirarch who isn't there at the battle. It's not at all like the VC situation, where the general is the general because he personally raised the army - the Heirophant doesn't need to be the general at all! UD undead are bound to this world and can't leave, and they're bound to follow the Pharoahs. And frankly, an army with a Pharoah and no heirarchs at all would be kind of cool, and isn't out of keeping with the background at all. The Pharoah can take his army out for a spin and leave his heirarchs at home.

      In contrast, VC's major issues here have to do with internal balance of units which don't raise well, and other magic paths (and vampire bloodlines who can't take evocation). It isn't that evocation doesn't work for them, it's that making it work requires intensive investment.

      For non-undead, the path seems fine (outside of needing non-random spell selection).
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Squirrelloid ().

    • Occultism

      Who can use?
      DE (Oracle with yema upgrade, dark acolyte wizard conclave with yema upgrade)
      ID (Prophet)
      VC (Vampire - BotD, Nosferatu, and non-bloodline)
      VS (Vermin Daemon)
      WDG (Sorceror)

      Occultism is one of the least available magic paths. Even for races who do have access, it's frequently only present on a single spellcaster option of multiple spellcaster chasses (VC, WDG, VS) or requires an upgrade (DE).

      Background: What do we know?
      The path is presented as the traditional Faustian bargain - deal with dark powers to gain magical powers and uncanny knowledge. While morally neutral in an important sense (what purpose you put the power to is your decision), it involves dealing with malignant entities to gain that power. The path has a poor reputation, at least among humans, and its practitioners are secretive. Its practitioners are supposed to be scholars in the 'secrets man was not meant to know' vein. (See Magic Paths fullbook: Occultism).

      While the power to use the path is granted by malignant entities, it is not really used by malignant entities. Neither WDG Daemon Princes nor DL have access to it. @Giladis has said that it should not be available to creatures from beyond the veil. (The VS Vermin Daemon having it therefore appears to be a background mistake, and not consistent with other decisions with this path).

      General Mechanics: How does it play?
      It plays as a path for combat casters, especially monsters and ridden monsters. Its spells are short range, and all of them can be used while the caster is in combat. (Two of them cannot affect the unit the caster is in combat with, or any other unit in combat, but can choose units in range that are not in combat). The zero spell, Pentagram of Pain, wants the wizard and his unit to be far from the rest of your army (ideally over 12" away from any of your own units) - that emphasizes the combat monster push of the path, because its the only spell you can always choose to have. The non-damage spells mostly buff combat performance.

      Forbidden Knowledge is the odd duck of the path mechanically, increasing path reliability and not improving combat or killing things. This pushes spellcasters using the path to maximize how many spells they know (because it needs another spell to be useful). It doesn't really go with the other spells thematically in terms of mechanics. (As a general matter, this isn't really a spell. You don't cast forbidden knowledge, you have forbidden knowledge).

      The path special ability lets the caster sacrifice models to increase aspects of the spell's performance. Any intention to make use of this pushes armies towards MSU configurations, especially with relatively cheap troop types. Despite this, over half the armies with access are composed primarily or entirely of elite infantry.

      Background to Mechanics: Was the concept realized?
      The path design is a complete failure. In fact, the mechanics are pretty much 100% the opposite of what a path for secretive traditional Faustian wizards should look like, Forbidden Knowledge aside (which, again, doesn't sound much like a spell you cast).

      (This is not to say that a path with mechanics focused on combat monster wizards is a bad idea, but it should not be a path whose background is reclusive researchers who horde eldritch tomes and true names, then make Faustian bargains with eldritch creatures).

      Background to Army Background: Was the path properly allocated?
      When being assigned to spellcasters, sometimes the background seems to have been used, and sometimes the mechanics seem to have been used. The latter results in playable pairings, the former only when the wizard can be mounted on something combat capable even with a wizard on its back.

      DE: It's tempting to think of Occultism as a Path of Lust replacement here, since its tied to the Yema Cult upgrade on the wizard, and just assume it makes sense. But it's very much not, either thematically or mechanically. Yema is the enticer - nothing about Yema suggests reclusive wizards summoning eldritch horrors and making bargains with them. This seems to be a complete background failure.

      ID: Given ID regularly engages in the binding of fire 'daemons', gaining magical power from dealing with such creatures makes sense. Good fit of path to army. But they don't really represent the reclusive wizards presented by the magic fullbook well (in large part because ID society makes them mainstream).

      VC: While vampires bargaining with horrors makes a certain amount of sense, it's not clear what the vampire has to offer such creatures. It's soul is already corrupted by vampirism. And sacrificing undead models wouldn't seem to offer anything to otherworldly creatures to make the Sacrifice mechanic make any sense. They're just zombies and skeletons you'll raise again by the truckload.

      Further, the bloodlines which have Occultism available are a mixed bag. While Nosferatu meets the reclusive Faustian wizard paradigm, Brotherhood of the Dragon very much does not (and seems to have been chosen because it makes a great combat character - its mechanics, not its background).

      VS: Vermin Daemon shouldn't have occultism, background-wise. That they do seems to have been decided on pure mechanics, as they're the single best chassis for it that has it available.

      WDG: As the WDG Sorceror has already made a kind of Faustian bargain with the Dark Gods, Occultism makes a lot of sense. But like ID, while it makes perfect sense, it is again a society where this is mainstream - these are supermen in plate armor, not reclusive wizards, in a society where everyone of importance has made a Faustian bargain.

      It's rather worrying that there isn't a single instance of an army with Occultism where the caster actually represents the viewpoint presented in the magic fullbook occultism fluff.

      Mechanics to Army - Does it play well?
      A background-army + background-mechanics fits should mean a mechanics-army fit, because the proper background would give it a suitable role with the casters in the army. Sadly, background-army fits are lacking, and background-mechanics fits are non-existent. This creates a very mixed bag.

      DE: The oracle with Occultism is nigh unplayable. Oracle on a horse doesn't get light troops, which means there's no bunker unit for her, so she can't jet around the board to be close to the enemy and be able to productively use her spells. She's also a terrible combat chassis, and wants to be as far away from combat as possible. The only real option is to stick her on a dragon. This is a terrible set-up. Not only do Oracles pay more for the dragon than a prince does, for no apparent reason (there's a ton of anti-synergy here), but we're also talking a 1100+ points investment on a highly vulnerable model that only has M7. I tried it back in 1.2 when people would at least still play 5k points, and it was very marginal. In 4.5k points? Unplayable.

      On top of all that is the insult of having to pay 30 points for Yema just to choose it, even though it's literally the worst path available to the Oracle. Okay, second worst - Cosmology is so bad that you couldn't make me play it by giving me points back.

      The yema acolyte wizard conclave works, but only because the spells are pre-chosen and include the best spells in the path. And even then, it's only because the chassis is a highly mobile light troop cavalry with M10 and some decent combat potential. That lets it be where it needs to be when it needs to be. (That they also have a 4+ ward save gives them protection against the enemy and against miscasts). In short, the wizard conclave gets what it needs to function and at a reasonable cost, whereas the oracle most certainly does not.

      ID: It's okay here. The wizard comes with plate armor, T4, and A2, making him somewhat competent in combat, and gives him access to magic armor. Axe of Battle is pretty much required, and I2 makes Hardened Shield a great choice (since you're probably striking last anyway). He also has a good combat mount option at a reasonable price (the Lamassu), which provides the mobility necessary to make good use of Occultism. Still, you're talking ~1000 points to field a viable Occultism wizard, and my results have been mixed.

      VC: Nosferatu is a terrible choice for Occultism, despite being the best thematic fit. Brotherhood of the Dragon is a decent choice for Occultism, despite being a terrible thematic fit - the big issue here being you can't take 4 spells, so Forbidden Knowledge will limit you to taking only one such wizard (you can drop it once for Pentagram). Of course, most VC armies want nothing but Evocation, because their armies run on it, so in practice its a bad fit for the army generally.

      VS: Mechanically Occultism is amazing here. Literally the best possible chassis.

      WDG: Like ID, WDG sorcerors are combat-competent, and have decent mount options, so it should work reasonably well here. Not an army I play, but I'd expect similar levels of performance.

      Spell Mechanics
      Pentagram of Pain - Either this spell should be easier to cast, or it should do more damage. It's only a little easier to cast than Pyromancy's boosted Scorching Salvo, and that doesn't have the disadvantage of hitting your own troops, and has twice the diameter (that's 4x the area). It's kind of lackluster now, and as the one spell you can count on, it's going to be the basis of how you plan on playing your wizard. I have never gotten a good use out of this. Needs significant improvement.

      Hand of Glory - Good on the right chassis. The path doesn't encourage wizards who can be embedded in a unit, so the sacrifice will never be used. You can't choose to go without a ward save and rely on this, because your opponent will make shutting it down a priority. So it's at its best when either you couldn't take a ward save (ridden monster), or come with one natively (Vermin Daemon, ID Prophet on Lamassu) and its a boost in effectiveness. Basically, this exacerbates all the reasons you want to play a combat monster or ridden monster with this path.

      Breath of Corruption - Best in Show. This is the allstar of the list. Yeah, they're only S3 hits, but they're *toxic*, which means AP6. And it's a really cheap spell to cast that your opponent will underestimate. Good for pulling dispel dice once your opponent realizes how badass it is, good for wrecking stuff when it goes through. The boost to 18" from the sacrifice makes it incredibly versatile, and is especially useful turn 1-2. But its fundamentally close range (and combat use) helps push the path toward combat wizards.

      Forbidden Knowledge - Pretty much worse than Druidism's Trait, and unlike Oaken Throne you can roll it. Oaken Throne was made a trait because rolling it was awful - why this spell was allowed given that is unknown. It also has a 7+ to cast instead of 4+ like oaken throne. I've honestly never played with it (I swap this for Pentagram every time I get it). This spell is terrible, and its mere presence in the path has large effects on how you choose to field your casters, pushing you towards only a single occultism caster with lots of spells.

      The Rot Within - The effect is too little to care about most of the time, even though its permanent. You're unlikely to get it off more than once in a game, anyway. The sacrifice only matters for combat casters. If you ever see this cast, it'll be because the +1WS from the sacrifice hits an important break point for the caster against the opponent's army (like pushing him to 5+ to hit for most of his opponent's forces). The worst part about this spell is your opponent will probably just let it through, so it doesn't help bleed dispel dice or put pressure on his dispel resources.

      Marked for Doom - decent with the sacrifice. Merely okay without, as its not enough wounds for the risk of miscast (spell wants at least 3 dice).

      The Grave Calls - its merely okay on a highly mobile chassis. But 12" range and needing a sacrifice to hit S6 really limits its versatility. In many cases, Breath of Corruption is better. The 12+ casting value could come down to 10 or 11 easily. If it must stay at 12+, it needs more range or S6 innately. (Without a highly mobile chassis, the 12" range makes this unplayably bad.)

      What Should be Done?
      Honestly, the path needs a complete redesign. Given the background, this should be a 'stand in the back' wizard path for fragile casters, and available to DE (without upgrade), EoS, goblins, ID, and VS magisters. That means long ranges, with hexes and damage spells. If this isn't feasible, the background needs to change.

      The current mechanics make an interesting path for combat monsters - and I wouldn't be opposed to repurposing many of the existing spells for such a path. But it should be made available to such casters - DL, WDG including DPs, Vermin Daemon, and etc...

      As it stands, this path is a hot mess and desperately needs help.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

      The post was edited 3 times, last by Squirrelloid ().

    • Pyromancy

      Who Can Use?

      Everybody. Well, it certainly feels like that sometimes...

      Ring of Fire (Generic Magic Item)
      EoS (Wizard)
      HE (Mage, who also has an honor specializing in it)
      ID (Prophet)
      OK (Shaman)
      OnG (Orc Shaman, Goblin Witch Doctor)
      SA (Couatl Lord, Thyroscutus with Sun Engine)

      With 6 armies and a generic magic item, Pyromancy is probably the most widespread magic path available.

      Background: What do we know?

      "uh huh huh huh Cool." -Butthead
      "Fire. Fire. Fire. Fire." -Beavis

      This path is pretty up front about what it is. You set stuff on fire. There's some nods to greek elemental philosophy and medieval humors thinking in the fluff piece, but mostly, it's grand theurge arson.

      General Mechanics: How does it play?

      You want to set things on fire, this path delivers. Between a magic missile attribute, to no less than 3 spells that let you reach out and burn someone, you're going to get blasting power out of this. The other three spells let you variously set yourself and your buddies on fire, your buddies' weapons on fire, or the ground on fire. Ie, pretty much what it says on the tin.

      The path also has pretty decent ranges all around, so your wizard can just be a wizard and doesn't have to risk easy charges just to cast a couple spells.

      If there's one path that found the balance sweet spot, it's pyromancy. It provides value for the cost of fielding a mage, does what it's supposed to do, and never leaves you feeling like you didn't have anything useful to do during your magic phase. There are only minor problems with individual spells.

      Background to Mechanics: Was the concept realized?

      Heck yes.

      My only quibble, and it's a quibble, is that Immolation is poorly named. I'd probably just switch the names of Immolation and Cascading Fire. Immolation is only ever used with reference to an object, usually a person, so using it to describe setting the ground on fire doesn't really fit.

      Background to Army Background: Was the path properly allocated?

      Frankly, there are only a few races this wouldn't have worked well with thematically (SE and KoE primarily, arguably BH). So the better question is: was it limited appropriately?

      VC seems properly excluded - they have other foci and certain undead (zombies, vampires) tend to be flammable, which would create a large fire hazard. DE could have gone either way, so as much as DE would love pyromancy for how it plays, thematically there's no strong tie. DL would be a poor thematic fit - their paths are drawn from the mystic and primal groups, not the civilized group that pyromancy is in, and that makes sense. WDG, like DE, is again a thematic wash, and it was apparently decided alchemy was the better fit - that's fine.

      The only group who should really have it and don't is UD (not that it would make any difference given they won't field anything but Evocation with current rules). Why UD you ask? Keep in mind these are fundamentally Egyptian undead, and the primary deity of Egypt is a Sun god. And while the UD fluff is seemingly silent on other deities beyond the (renamed) Osiris/Set pairing, sun worship is fundamental to the historical source material. And there's plenty of sun iconography in the fluff artwork (including the headdress featured prominently as the army symbol), so its not as if any deliberate attempt was made to sever ties with the Egyptian sun deities. (Frankly, they can ditch Cosmology, which makes no sense whatsoever). If anything, they have one of the best claims to Pyromancy in the game (after ID and HE).

      Mechanics to Army: Does it play well?

      Ring of Fire: Quite possibly the most used magic item in the game. 'Nuff said.

      HE: As the best path in the game for fragile wizards, due to its good ranges (amplified by Asfad Scholar), this is the pre-eminent HE path choice. Order of the Fiery Heart, however, does not see much play - not so much because of pyromancy, but because its a lot of points that then has to be put on a large lizard and thus can't hide in a bunker, with a little wizard on its back who can't fight worth beans. In short, OotFH is a hot mess (pun intended).

      EoS: Fragile wizards like paths with long ranges, and EoS is no exception. It sees real competition here from bound-spell spam prelates, and because the wizard has a nice buff chariot mount that can let him play closer to his forces. (Also, with cheap but weak troops, buff spells are more powerful here than in many armies). So yes it plays well, but it's internally balanced against other choices.

      ID: This is probably the path that ends up working best overall. Because Prophets are combat capable, the fact that most of Pyromancy can actually be cast while in combat is a plus. But it's also got the range to use all its spells before the Prophet gets into combat, so it allows the Prophet to be used in a versatile manner. (Alchemy has similar numbers of blast spells, but all of them require the caster to be out of combat to use - with Pyromancy, only the attribute and Pyroclastic Flow cannot be cast from combat). That said, lots of players use Alchemy for its attribute, because they want to feel like they have the old fire synergy (even though nothing that goes into it for regular troops is unique to the army).

      OK: Plays very well, because Ogres tend to be outnumbered on units and need good ways of dealing with chaff so they can get the charges in they need to benefit from all those tasty impact hits on real units.

      OnG: A great path here as well. Flaming Swords, especially, is a boon to weak troops, and no one masses archers better than OnG. The artillery roll Pyromancy fills lets OnG see off chaff and soften up units to where its close combat units can deal with them.

      SA: The only place where I'm not convinced it should be a top choice (although killing stuff is always in demand, and its quite playable here). The Couatl has a good bunker option that lets him be close to the action, and the army has plenty of good chaff-killing options at its disposal.

      Spell Mechanics

      Pyroclastic Flow: Blow up one unit a lot. Nothing wrong with this spell.

      Cascading Fire: The utility varies wildly, depending on your army's ability to grind, and what you're in combat with. Can be significant or unnoticeable.

      Scorching Salvo: Blow up lots of units a little. Sometimes amazing and sometimes inconsequential when it goes through, it's a strong play to pull dispel dice.

      Immolation: The only real problem with this spell is the range. If it was 24" like most of the path, it would be fine.

      Flaming Swords: One of the best buff spells in the game. Also a good way to pull dispel dice much of the time.

      Enveloping Embers: Weak most of the time. Only really worth it against very large units, especially T3 units. Maybe a slight decrease in its casting cost would put this in a better place, 11+ instead of 12+. (Target unit needs like 30+ models, more with T4, to make it worth the risk of blowing yourself up at 12+, otherwise Pyroclastic Flow is always better).

      What should be done?

      Slight tweak to Immolation's range. Maybe a small CV drop on Enveloping Embers. Otherwise, the other paths need to get on Pyromancy's level.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Squirrelloid ().

    • Occultism is up. You may fire when ready.

      I'll probably do Cosmology next in the next day or so. It's not in as bad a place background-wise, but mechanically it's terrible.
      Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.



      Chariot Command HQ

    • The starting premise is wrong.

      Squirrelloid wrote:

      T9A's magic path redesign in 1.2 started off with a good idea. Design philosophies of magic and then make spells which represent those philosophies. Tie paths to races by aligning magic philosophies with the character of the race in question.

      First the mechanical theme of each path was designed and the general nature of spells, on top of which a broad philosophy was over layered to provide final focus for fine tuning the spells.

      Changes to the mechanics theme is unlikely to happen and the background is here to stay for at least a few years.

      The only thing that you can expect with certainty is adjustment of the spells while remaining withing both the established mechanics theme and associated background philosophy.

      But never forget the background you have read in the Paths Books are merely individual flawed interpretations from a human point of view. As new AB come out each will include additional (also unreliable) information how these Path are seen or percieved by factions in those AB's as well as how spells named and described in the Paths book can manifest differently depending on the user.

      edit: language was unpleasant

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