Warhammer Magic Guide: Lore of Heavens

HeavensThe Lore of Heavens is an averagely powerful spell Lore in Warhammer Fantasy Battles, with a mix of Augments, Hexes, and Direct Damage. It notably features the (in)famous Comet of Casandora spell. It has an interesting selection of spells for both defensive and offensive purposes. It is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades Lore. Whilst primarily used by those who have no choice, like Skink Priests, the Lore of Heavens has some interesting options available, particularly for movement control and area denial, and can perform well in the hands of Level 1-2 Wizards.

Lore Attribute: Roiling Skies

Some Lore Attributes are massively powerful boons that can shake the earth and alter the course of an entire game. This is not one of them.

Roiling Skies adds a minor hit bonus when using damaging spells on Flying creatures. I’m not sure I’ve ever used spells against a Flying unit that wasn’t a huge Monster of some kind, and most Monsters will shrug off a few S4 hits. Most other Flying units are in such small numbers that it’s not worth spending Power Dice on them.

Suffice to say, it kinda sucks. But pencil it down somewhere, it might come in handy one day for nuking a Sorceress on a Pegasus or something.

Spells

Signature Spell: Iceshard Blizzard

Iceshard Blizzard is a pretty nifty hex that penalised To Hit rolls and Leadership. It also works against cannons etc. It’s got a very low casting cost and can be boosted for 48” range if required. The Leadership penalty is a nice bonus, but you shouldn’t use it for just that.

Having been on the receiving end of this spell many times, I’ve seen opponents start the game focusing on my ranged units, and then switch to targeting close combat units when charges start happening. Whilst primarily a defensive spell, you can use it offensively by targeting a unit you’re charging. If you target a ranged unit that you’re heading troops towards, you can gain from it twice: once from the unit firing in their turn, and then again when they Stand and Shoot you during your charge.

This is definitely one of the better Signature Spells in the game, since it’s powerful, cheap, and versatile.

1: Harmonic Convergence

This spell makes the target unit reroll 1s for To Hit, To Wound, and Armour Saves. For a very cheap spell, that can be boosted to affect all nearby units, it’s pretty good.

This spell is more powerful when used on units that already have good stats. Rerolling 1s when on a 2+ Armour Save makes a unit pretty much invulnerable to anything S3 and below.

With that in mind, Harmonic Convergence is best with certain kinds of armies. If you’re relying on hordes of weak troops, they simply aren’t going to gain as much from this spell as elite units. The spell is for making great troops unstoppable, not for making average troops good.

2: Wind Blast

This is a very strange spell. It’s a Magic Missile that pushes units rather than actually damaging them (although the unit can take small amounts of damage if it hits something).

Spells like this are hard to use well, and they won’t end up being useful in every game. You have to be creative and come up with ideas on the fly. The trivial usage is to push advancing foes backwards (hopefully out of charge range), but Wind Blast has much more potential.

Some usages include: pushing units into Forests or other terrain, pushing units into sight/range of your ranged units, pushing units out of cover or another defensive position, pushing units into each others’ way, or pushing Independent Characters out of Look Out Sir! range.

You should also try to convince your opponent that this spell is more effective against plastic and resin models than metal ones…

3: Curse of the Midnight Wind

Curse of the Midnight Wind is the exact opposite of Harmonic Convergence: you force one or more enemy units to reroll 6s. Not exactly imaginative, but it can be fairly effective.

This spell works best on targets who already need to roll at least 4+ for whatever it is they’re doing. Combining it with Iceshard Blizzard can neuter the combat effectiveness of almost anything.

The bonus selling point of this spell is it will almost completely negate Poison and Killing Blow.

A big difference between this spell and Harmonic Convergence is the casting cost of the boosted version: it’s much higher. That makes this spell a bit less effective in the hands of Level 1-2 Wizards.

The role of this spell is very similar to Iceshard Blizzard, so it’s generally not a good idea to take both if you can help it. I’ve tended to see Iceshard Blizzard favoured because of its better range and lower casting cost, but your results may vary.

4: Urannon’s Thunderbolt

After a host of relatively complicated spells, Urannon’s Thunderbolt is simple: hit things with S6 hits.

This is a bit underwhelming. It doesn’t synergize with the rest of the spell list. S6 isn’t enough to easily deal with tough Monsters, Steam Tanks, and other annoyances. It doesn’t penetrate ranks or anything fancy. All this has got on Chain Lightning is cheaper casting cost and boostable range.

Skip this one unless you really need to blow up a few pegasi.

5: Comet of Casandora

The infamous comet! If you’re been playing Warhammer for any amount of time you should already know about this spell. You, well, drop a comet on someone. It takes a random amount of time to appear, can’t be dispelled, and creates an explosion that’s usually larger than a 40k orbital bombardment. It’s the nuke of Warhammer Fantasy.

There’s not a huge amount to say about the Comet of Casandora: it’s pretty easy to use. You choose a spot on the board where you’re pretty sure the enemy will still be in a turn or two, and… that’s it.

This spell is the ultimate answer to gunlines, since they simply can’t dodge. Against more mobile armies like Beastmen or Wood Elves, the effectiveness is significantly reduced.

Interestingly, this is one of the few ways in Warhammer to perform area denial. If you really want to control someone’s movements, try sticking a comet where they were planning on moving their knights.

By the way: watch for friendly fire. I’ve seen someone lose a game because they accidently hit the side of their Temple Guard with one of these things. The blast area can be huge.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone pass up on the Comet when rolled. It’s simply too cool. That said, the random time to appear does make it a bit unreliable, so depending on the situation it is not necessarily a no-brainer. It’s a very good spell, though.

6: Chain Lightning

Chain Lightning is a direct damage spell that can randomly affect multiple units. It doesn’t do a huge amount of damage per unit, but good strength and the potential number of units affected makes it reasonably strong.

Chain Lightning is a bit unreliable. It could affect an entire army… or it could affect one unit. Chances are it’ll hit 2-3. It performs quite well against small numbers of good troops, but will barely scratch hordes.

The important bit is just to make sure you hit them where it hurts. Independent characters, Monsters, Monstrous Infantry etc, and heavy cavalry are decent targets. Something where a small number of S6 hits will actually make a difference.

Overall, the only real selling point of Chain Lightning is it’s casting cost. By comparison to other Lores’ ultimate spells, Chain Lightning is simply not as effective: it doesn’t really scale, it allows Armour, Ward, and Regen Saves, and can’t instant kill things. The cheap casting cost means you can get away with using only 4-5 dice on it, and it’s appearance of threat makes it a good opener to suck up Dispel dice.

Conclusion

The Lore of Heavens is a bit average. There’s a good reason you don’t see it much used beyond Skink Priests (which have to use it): it’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near the level of power than Lores like Death and Shadow offer. Its odd mix of Augments, Direct Damage, and Hexes doesn’t really fit into any single playstyle, and the spells don’t scale well.

Both from reading the spells and my experience playing against, er, well, vast numbers of Skink Priests, the Lore just seems… average. There’s nothing particularly exciting or scary beyond occasionally having a comet drop on your head. It might just be because they’re Skinks, but Heavens Wizards are the one type of Wizard that I never really bother about hunting down from turn 1. The spells just don’t worry me enough to warrant the resources.

I would definitely never use Lore of Heavens on a Level 3-4 Wizard. The spells are cheap enough that Level 1-2 can handle them fine, and the spells aren’t good enough to warrant choosing Heavens over something else.

If you’re looking for a Magic Lore that’s going to augment your Warhammer Fantasy army with it’s vast power: the Lore of Heavens isn’t it. If you’re looking for a Lore that’s terrific fun to play: the Lore of Heavens isn’t it (unless you get overly excited by comets). The Lore of Heavens is just… alright. And “alright” isn’t a great place to be when surrounded by “amazing”.

Hits: Comet of Casandora

Misses: Urannon’s Thunderbolt

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About Duncan

Ellisthion's all about 5E D&D at the moment, but has at times has played every edition from 1E AD&D through to 5E, plus Star Wars: Saga Edition, Paranoia, and more. He DMs a lot, and tends to make overly-complicated campaigns and characters.
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