The core magic Lores in the Warhammer rulebook are a lot more useful, and hence see a lot more play, with the changes in 8th Edition. If you’re unfamiliar with the lists, it can be difficult to know which Lore to take, especially for you lucky souls that can choose all 8. In this series we look at each Lore, analyse the spells, give tips on use and advise when each Lore should be used. In this post we’re looking at the Lore of Beasts.
The Lore of Beasts has an interesting mix of spells. It primarily focuses on Augments, but also boasts two Magic Missiles and a Hex. It immediately offers itself as a fairly general spell list that can be played comfortably with and against pretty much any army. The spells are fairly easy to cast, but have good enhanced versions for if you have the power dice to spare.
The Lore of Beasts is also fairly character focused, with one spell being a self-Augment, and two others being self or another character (or boost for all characters within a certain range). A properly kitted combat character appropriately Augmented can decimate a unit. Nevertheless, the game is certainly not hero-hammer in 8th Edition, so having too much of your magic focused on character buffs is a bit of a double-edged sword.
Overall, the Lore of Beasts is a fairly offensive spell list, designed to augment and supplement offensive armies.
Lore Attribute: Wildheart
The Beasts Lore Attribute, Wildheart, makes your spells easier to cast against, er, beasts. Pretty much everything that isn’t Infantry (unless they’re Beastmen) or War Machine.
Lets be very clear on this: by comparison to the powerhouse attributes in, say, Death, Shadow, and Life, a minor boost to your casting ease is next to useless. Also, since it reduces the casting value rather than boosting your roll, it doesn’t change how easy your spells are to dispel… by comparison, Fire’s Lore Attribute does increase the casting value. Sure, if you’re using Beasts, try not to forget about the Wildheart bonus… but it’s not something to write home about.
Signature Spell: Wyssan’s Wildform
As Signatures go, this one is pretty solid. +1 S and +1 T to a unit for a turn. Range is a bit short but it can be boosted. It’s a good buff, it’s not Remains in Play which in this case is a bonus because the enemy can’t dispel it in their turn, and it’s useful on pretty much any unit. A great start.
1: The Flock of Doom
A pretty simple Magic Missile (at measly S2). If you roll this, consider what you’re facing: are lots of S2 hits going to do much? Magic Missiles like this are great for taking out T2/3 Skirmishers and Fast Cavalry, but won’t really do much against anything else. If there isn’t such a target in the opposing army, you might want to consider swapping it for the Signature.
2: Pann’s Inpenetrable Pelt
A Toughness boost either for the caster, another character, or, if boosted, all nearby characters. Whilst it lacks the general utility of unit Augments, buffing characters can be handy, and is quite obviously a good way of keeping them alive longer. Even on a T3 Man or Elf, this will allow them to be quite resilient to Shooting and Magic Missiles, and grant some protection against even Great Weapon attacks.
Interestingly, this can “stack”, as such, with Transformation of Kadon (see below), although due to that spell’s restrictions you’ll need to cast this first. If you’ve got the power dice and are willing to risk it, it almost certainly be of use.
3: The Amber Spear
This spell… is cool. You pretty much shoot a Bolt Thrower shot out of your hand. Boost for Cannon (you should usually boost it, unless you’re desperately short on power dice). This can be a lifesaver against Heavy Cavalry or even a Steam Tank if your army doesn’t have access to War Machines. If you’re lucky, you can one-hit-kill dragons (I’ve seen it happen).
Obviously, standard notes about usage: if your opponent is fielding, say, nothing but Night Goblins (to use an extreme example), then this is pretty useless. Best against anything with a good Armour Save, high Toughness, Multiple Wounds, or any combination thereof.
4: The Curse of Anraheir
The only Hex in the Lore of Beasts. It’s interesting because it has two effects: it makes the target suffer a penalty to hit, and it makes all terrain very dangerous. This makes it a very versatile spell, as you can adjust how you use it depending on how the game is going.
Getting peppered by crossbowmen? Penalize their hit rolls. Enemy Horde half-way through a Forest? Make them take lots of Dangerous Terrain Tests. About to charge someone? Reduce their hit rolls, and, for more laughs, try to get them to flee through terrain.
It’s strong and it’s versatile. What more do you need? I recommend taking it whenever you can.
5: The Savage Beast of Horros
Similar to Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt, this spell, The Savage Beast of Horros, targets either then caster, another character, or (when boosted) all nearby characters. However, instead of buffing Toughness, it increases both Strength and Attacks, dramatically increasing the amount of damage a character can dish out.
I personally favour the Strength and Attack boost over the Toughness, for two reasons: firstly, you should never rely on Toughness to keep a character alive: there are too many ways of getting high Strength attacks, and it’s too easy to roll 6s; secondly, the Strength and Attack bonus can turn the tide of combat… or the game.
The extra Strength will allow the character to easily wound and cut through armour. The extra attacks are insult to injury. The combination also allows properly kitted combat characters to go up against Monsters like Hydras and stand a good chance.
Once again, if you could get this off before Transformation of Kadon it would be pretty funny, although most likely overkill.
6: Transformation of Kadon
If you’re reading this and you don’t already know what this spell does, you are probably living under a rock. You’re also probably confused, since I’ve mentioned it twice already. Well, it turns the caster into a freaking Dragon.
Okay, okay, it doesn’t have to be a Dragon, but the Great Fire Dragon is the best choice, because of fantastic stats and a Breath Weapon. The enemy will throw everything at dispelling it, so you’ll probably need to roll Irresistible anyway, so may as well go for the bigger version.
There are two problems with this spell:
1. You have to be on foot
2. Charging happens before Magic
This means that you basically have to charge a fairly defenceless Wizard right into what is probably the best unit in the enemy army, and desperately hope you get the spell off. If it doesn’t work, due to lousy Winds of Magic roll, lousy casting roll, or they simply dispel it, then your Wizard dies. This makes it a bit sub-optimal for Level 3 and 4 Wizards, since you’re risking a lot.
If it goes of, you crush your enemy. Lots of high Strength attacks, a combat Breath Weapon, and Thunderstomp, plus high Toughness and a good Save, mean that there probably isn’t going to be much left afterwards. If there is, you’re screwed, because if the enemy is still there and Steadfast then they’ll dispel it in they’re Magic Phase and then dice your Wizard. Maybe bring another unit to cancel Steadfast, but going solo should be fine against units of Heavy Cavalry and the like.
A Power Scroll (common magic item) is a very popular choice, although I believe it is banned in some tournaments ‘cause it’s kind of cheesy. It makes you almost guaranteed to Irresistible/Miscast, and being a Dragon will allow you to resist almost any Miscast result (a S10 Template is actually pretty favourable if you’re in base-to-base with enemy Heavy Cavalry).
As mentioned, being on foot is a problem. Apart from the fact that a mounted Beasts Wizard effectively has 1 less spell on his list, it’s a problem because a dude with 4 or 5” movement that absolutely needs to charge someone is a bit touchy.
Keeping the Wizard in a unit is optimal. Due to the way the spell works, you can actually put the Wizard in the back rank, just in case the spell doesn’t succeed. If it *does* succeed, then, due to the changing base size, the Wizard will be placed adjacent to the unit, in contact with the enemy. It’s a little cheesy but it’s perfectly legitimate and it’s the safest way.
The Transformation of Kadon is a good spell, no doubt, but it’s a high-risk / high-reward spell. It’s very difficult to pull off, but if you can use it correctly it can turn the game around. If you have a Beasts Wizard on foot, then I would advise coming up with some sort of plan for what you do if you roll this spell.
The Lore of Beasts has an interesting range of spells. The Lore is at its best when you have solid characters to Augment, but its strong Signature, two Magic Missiles and Hex make it competitive with most armies. The difficulty of using Transformation of Kadon is, I believe, a bit of a negative for the Lore in general, and actually does discourage me from using it (my Wood Elves have access to either Life or Beasts). Nevertheless, it can be extremely powerful when combined with the right characters and units.
The Lore of Beasts is a bit of a tricky Lore to use, and I would not recommend it for beginners. To get the most out of it, you need strong tactics to ensure your units and characters are exactly where you need them to be, when you need them to be.
The Lore of Beasts is best when used with armies that are very manoeuvrable and offensive, such as Beastmen or Wood Elves. The other armies that have access to Beasts will probably get more out of other Lores that synergize with their troops better.
Hits: Wyssan’s Wildform, The Amber Spear, The Curse of Anraheir
Misses: Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt
Hit and Miss: Transformation of Kadon