The Lore of Metal in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, simply put, is a powerful offensive lore designed to be most powerful against heavily armoured troops. It shines when facing heavy cavalry, and anything else with a good Armour Save like Chaos Warriors or Steam Tanks.
In addition to its direct damage spells, the Lore of Metal features a couple of hexes and augments, giving some versatility to the spell list.
Lore Attribute: Metalshifting
The Lore Attribute of Metal defines the entire Lore. It makes the Metal direct damage spells wound more easily against well-armoured foes, and they also ignore armour. To add insult to injury, said spells are also Flaming Attacks.
The Metalshifting Attribute is pretty amazing. It means that hard targets like heavy cavalry and Steam Tanks are like paper to Metal spells. On the flip side, it makes the Lore of Metal almost completely useless against armies with little or no armour, such as Wood Elves.
Signature Spell: Searing Doom
A simple magic missile, with a boost for more hits. The power of this spell comes from the Metalshifting Lore Attribute, which turns it into a devastatingly powerful direct damage spell (against the right targets, of course). Signature Spell that can 1-hit-kill a Steam Tank? Yes please.
If you’re taking the Lore of Metal, you are probably facing a foe with lots of heavily armoured troops, in which case you want this spell. If this spell is useless in a battle, chances are you shouldn’t be using the Lore of Metal. Thus: always switch a spell for Searing Doom.
1: Plague of Rust
A target unit’s Armour Save is reduced by 1… permanently. You can stack multiple casts on a single unit, but remember there is diminishing returns: reducing 2+ to 3+ is great, but reducing 5+ to 6+ is a bit of a waste of power dice. Obviously, this spell should be targeted at stuff with 1+, 2+, or 3+ Armour Saves.
The purpose of the Plague of Rust is to soften up a unit for shooting or close combat. You should try to target units that aren’t already going to be hit by a high-Strength attack (which would reduce their Armour Save anyway). For example, if a big unit of Chaos Warriors is about to clash with your Spearmen, reducing their Armour Save can really help. It may sound obvious, but don’t waste a single casting of this on something with a 1+ Save, if you’re just going to be hitting it with regular S3 attacks.
You should try to target the Plague of Rust at a different unit to either your direct damage spell targets, or the targets of your War Machines (or, rather, your War Machines that Ignore Armour Saves).
2: Enchanted Blades of Aiban
Grants a unit a hit bonus, Armour Piercing, and Magical Attacks. This dramatically increases the damage output of any unit, for either close combat or shooting, against pretty much any target. There’s not really that much to say about this spell: it’s great, you should use it. Magical Armour Piercing Sword Masters hitting on 2s are pretty cool.
3: Glittering Robe
So you’ve got your Magical Armour Piercing Sword Masters of Doom from the above spell, but some bastard has realised how dangerous Sword Masters are and is pincushioning them with arrows before they get into combat. That’s where Glittering Robe comes in.
Glittering Robe grants Scaly Skin (5+). Not exactly spectacular on something without armour, but Scaly Skin stacks with armour. So, to use the Sword Masters example again, you’ve suddenly got a 3+ Save. That makes a huge difference to survivability. It can even be boosted to affect all nearby units.
As a general-purpose Augment that is useful pretty much all the time, Glittering Robe is a great spell and you should pretty much always take it if possible.
4: Gehenna’s Golden Hounds
Unfortunately, this is where the Lore of Metal starts to get more disappointing. Gehenna’s Golden Hounds is a direct damage spell that is almost completely inferior to the Signature Spell Searing Doom. Okay, technically speaking it’s slightly easier to case and the boost is a lot to cast, but unboosted it has less range and boosting doesn’t increase hits.
So what has it got? Well, you can target individual models. But… they get Look Out Sir! rolls. And because it’s a Metal spell, it’s pretty much useless for Wizard-sniping (since most Wizards are unarmoured). So, you’re pretty much down to trying to take out Champions and maybe causing the occasional wound on BSBs. Yup. Pretty lame.
The only thing I can really say in favour of Gehenna’s Golden Hounds is that you can cast it in addition to Searing Doom, if you really want more straight damage. Nevertheless, if you roll this spell, it’s a pretty good option for switching for the Signature.
5: Transmutation of Lead
The Transmutation of Lead is, sadly, another spell that is a bit of a letdown. All it does is reduce a unit’s WS, BS, and Armour Saves by 1, for a turn. Frankly, a bit meh. If you want Armour Save reduction, the Plague of Rust is easier to cast, and is permanent. Reducing WS by 1 rarely does anything, and reducing BS by 1 isn’t going to do a huge amount in most cases (and Glittering Robe will generally be a better defensive option).
It’s not that the spell is terrible… it’s just a bit lacklustre by comparison with how powerful a lot of the Lore of Metal spells are. I would say this is probably the worse spell in the list.
6: Final Transmutation
This spell has good and bad points. It’s a pretty simple everything-take-a-Characteristic-test-or-die, except instead of a Characteristic test, it’s simply a 5+ to fail. On the plus side, this means that it works well even when the enemy has great stats (by comparison, the Death spell Purple Sun of Xereus is pretty useless against Elves). On the down side… there’s a clause which says multi-wound models only fail on a 6. This makes it pretty much useless for killing Monsters and Monstrous Infantry and you’re not going to do much to characters either.
The main advantage of this spell is actually that it doesn’t behave like a normal Metal direct damage spell, and is therefore useful even against unarmoured or lightly armoured foes. For example, if you took the Lore of Metal against Warriors of Chaos to take on the Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights, you can use Final Transmutation to nuke Marauders.
There’s also a Stupidity test for nearby units afterwards, but that’s pretty much just a cute bonus: you should never rely on random things like Stupidity tests.
The spell is certainly not bad. If you roll it, go for it, but other spells are more important.
The Lore of Metal is a powerful Lore, with a good selection of great spells. With a powerful Lore Attribute and great Signature, in addition to scaling well with boosted spells, this Lore is effective on any level Wizard.
The main issue with the Lore of Metal is its focus on anti-Armour spells makes it a bit weak against lightly armoured and horde armies, so it’s a bit touchy for a tournament. Nevertheless, the strong Augments and Hexes combined with the utility of your spells being Magic Flaming Attacks will help even if there are no targets for more ‘traditional’ Metal spells.
Like all magic, the best use of the Lore of Metal is to cover the gaps in your army. Having the Lore of Metal in addition to, say, three Cannons, is complete overkill and you will suffer against horde armies.
Of particular note are two interesting targets for Metal spells: Bretonnian Knights, and War Machines. War Machines with a good Armour Save (like a Hellcannon) are a nice target because their high Toughness makes them otherwise difficult to wound. Bretonnian Knights are notable because, in addition to most of the army being prime targets for Metal spells, Metal spells don’t have a Strength value so they will not trigger the S5+ clause in the Blessing of the Lady, so they only get the normal 6+ Ward.
The Lore of Metal is a relatively easy Lore to use, so is quite suitable for beginners.
Hits: Searing Doom, Plague of Rust, Enchanted Blades of Aiban, Glittering Robe
Misses: Gehenna’s Golden Hounds, Transmutation of Lead