Lores of Magic
Chaos magic is all about damaging things and having some buff/debuff/board control side effects, which is all well and good, but some of the spells feel slighly inadequate, and some of the Lores are missing parts of that armoury.
Lore of Nurgle: slight tweak to Cloying Quagmire. In addition to suffering damage, the unit affected by Cloying Quagmire moves as though in difficult terrain until the Chaos player’s next magic phase.
This tweak gives Nurgle sorcerers (and mono-Nurgle builds) at least a chance at some board control. There’s still a choice involved, as Slaanesh affords guaranteed board control spells, but it allows mono-god theme builds at least a chance at getting what they need.
Lore of Slaanesh: fine as it is, with a strong emphasis on control and buffs/debuffs with some damaging components worked in.
Lore of Tzeentch: Remove Call to Glory (problematic little bitch of a spell) and replace with Glean Magic from the Daemons book. Remove Baleful Transmogrification and replace with Boon of Tzeentch from the Daemons book.
Tzeentch magic is mainly about damage, but it also has a strong mischevious streak, stealing enemy spells and frustrating enemy leadership with Glean Magic and Pandaemonium. Call to Glory was a bizarre spell – what happens to the Hero if it’s dispelled? – and Baleful Transmogrification was just useless (so it’s like a Banshee scream, which is already a niche ability, and it can be dispelled so it’s even less likely to do anything? failcake.) I see high level Tzeentch wizards spamming out Fire and Treason or going for the big Gateway enabled by Boon, and the lower level ones being more about getting a key Pandaemonium up or stealing an enemy buff with Glean Magic.
Gifts of the Dark Gods
Daemon Princes may take up to 100 points of Gifts.
Chaos Lords and Sorcerer Lords may take up to 75 points of Gifts.
Exalted Heroes, Sorcerers and Shaggoths may take up to 50 points of Gifts.
Chosen, Knight, Chaos Dwarf, Ogre and Dragon Ogre unit champions may take up to 25 points of Gifts.
Each Gift may only be taken once per army.
The goal is to get more Gifts into the army, make some of the Gifts more attractive by making them available to models who actually need them – imagine, a Sorcerer with Distendable Maw might actually get to make an Eye of the Gods roll in combat! I’ve also renamed them so that they’re less God-specific (rather than doing a huge list of Gifts of each God).
Mantle of Chaos – unchanged (I was tempted to beef it up, but I just want you to imagine how tough a Daemon Prince with this and the Crimson Armour of Dargan would be…).
Tendrils of Power – renamed from Tendrils of Tzeentch (since the Mark is strictly better), this is one for the characters with other marks.
NEW GIFT: Dark Insanity – the model replaces its base A characteristic with 2d3. 60 points.
NEW GIFT: Imposing Bulk – model gains +2 Unit Strength. 50 points. TACTICAL TIP – yes, this does make man-sized Chaos characters immune to Killing Blow, and yes, this does mean Daemon Princes gain the ability to break ranks with a flank charge.
NEW GIFT: Infernal Knowledge – the model becomes a level one Wizard. May not be taken by models with the Mark of Khorne. 50 points. Told you Tzeentch Shaggoths would get some lovin’, and it’s nice for Tzeentch players who want to use a melee character or two.
Distentable Maw – fine as it is now that it’s available to Heroes. Clarify that characters removed by Distendable Maw do generate Eye of the Gods rolls.
Word of Agony – clarify that characters removed by Word of Agony do generate Eye of the Gods rolls.
Diabolic Splendour – fine as it is now that it’s available to Hero-level Sorcerers, who will get a lot of mileage out of that Panic modifier.
NEW GIFT – Power Vortex: the model generates one Dispel die to add to the army’s pool. May not be taken by Sorcerers. 30 points.
Stream of Corruption – rename to ‘Black Breath’, remove ridiculous one use per game restriction.
Third Eye – fine as it is.
Soporific Musk – fine as it is.
NEW GIFT: Enshrouding Vapours – enemy models in base to base contact with this model suffer -1 WS, S and A. 25 points.
Bloodcurdling Roar – change the range to ‘place a large template centred on this model’, otherwise it’s fine. OR replace it with the Banshee scream rule, if you want to be boring.
Conjoined Homunculus – fine as it is.
Fury of the Blood God – rename to ‘Spellbinder’, increase points cost to 30, remove ‘no magic items’ restriction (does Khorne hate magic swords? NO, fact fans, he does not!), add ‘may not be taken by Wizards of any sort’ instead.
Acid Ichor – eeeeh, maybe make it a Poisoned, Flaming attack or something silly like that instead?
NEW GIFT – Fell Fire: the model gains Flaming attacks. 15 points.
Many of the Gifts would be great if characters other than Chaos Lords – who never get fielded because they don’t make happy Dispel dice time – or Daemon Princes – who never get fielded because they’re rubbish – could actually get anywhere near them. I’ve introduced a few new ones, mostly to help ease the army’s dependence on Sorcerers, give melee characters a few exclusive Gifts to counterbalance the increased access Sorcerers get. Finally, I’ve corrected some of the stupid limitations that were put on Gifts that didn’t need them because ‘one of these per army’ is quite limiting enough.
Chaos Daemon Sword – a model with the Chaos Daemon Sword adds d3 to its Weapon Skill, Strength, Initiative and Attacks (roll for each characteristic at the start of the game). Every time the character takes a wound, they must take a Leadership test or become possessed! Possessed characters are subject to Stupidity, Frenzy and Hatred of all enemies (with the Stupidity actually representing the character fighting back against the Daemon running rampant through their mind and soul). 75 points.
Still a bit ‘lolChaos’, but I think it makes more sense this way – if the character gets distracted, the Daemon runs rampant and the player loses control of them. It should be about ‘loss of control’ rather than ‘takes a wound’, because that’s boring and doesn’t reflect what the weapon is all about.
NEW ITEM: Mordrek’s Damned Armour: adds d3 to Toughness and Wounds, but the character may never join units. 45 points.
I miss Mordrek. And this sits nicely with Imposing Bulk.
Armour of Damnation – clarification: if the model trying to attack the model with Armour of Damnation re-rolls its misses, the two rules cancel each other out.
Collar of Khorne – grants Magic Resistance 3, does not grant a Ward Save, 30 points.
Rod of Torment – goes up to 50 points, becomes Power Level 4.
Book of Secrets – the model becomes a level 1 Wizard (including the generation of Dispel dice) and may use the Lores of Death, Metal, Shadow or Fire. If the model is already a Wizard, it gains an extra spell from the Lore it would normally use, and does not generate extra Power or Dispel dice. If the model Miscasts, roll d6+1 on the table instead of 2d6.
A level 4 Wizard with the Book of Secrets and a Spell Familiar gains access to a complete Lore of magic. All the other books get to do it, now Warriors can too, albeit in a slightly roundabout way that means they have to give up an extra full Wizard who can be a melee character – they give up a lot to get it, but they can get it!
Magic Standards: okay, these have needed some work.
Banner of the Gods: models within 12″ become Stubborn and Immune to Fear, Terror and Panic. 125 points.
Doom Totem: unchanged.
Banner of Wrath: goes up to power level 5, goes up to 50 points.
Blasted Standard: straight 6+ ward save, goes down to 25 points.
Banner of Rage: unit becomes immune to fear, terror and panic, goes down to 25 points.
Because it was better than the Mark of Khorne. That was, in a word, stupid.
Festering Shroud: does not harm friendly models, triggers at the start of the close combat phase and counts toward combat resolution, goes down to 25 points.
Providing a bit of equality with the Skaven magic items that work like this.
Rapturous Standard: unchanged, but goes up to 25 points.
Archaon: has the Marks of all the Chaos Gods, and counts as a character for all of them – however, he just gains +1 attack from the Mark of Khorne, rather than Frenzy. He is also a level 2 wizard, but he does not use the Lore of Tzeentch: he must use the Lore of Death, Metal, Shadow or Fire. The Swords of Chaos (his mandatory Knight unit) are a Core choice, but may not take Marks of Chaos. The Slayer of Kings stays the way it is (I like that it’s a bit different from the usual Daemon Sword).
Galrauch: fine like he is.
Sigvald: fine like he is.
Valkia: gains Frenzy instead of +1 A, but otherwise fine like she is.
Wulfrik: Hunter of Men applies whenever Wulfrik is in a challenge with an enemy Hero, otherwise unchanged. He’s too slow for a “must reach this model in melee” ability to be worth two shits, but I love his capability to airdrop Marauders, that rules.
Kholek: moves Dragon Ogres into Special section. He and Throgg enable a truly monstrous monster army.
Scyla: fine as he is.
Vilitch the Curseling: gains Daemonic Robes (may never be wounded on more than a 3+) and Chaos armour.
Festus: grants his unit Relentless.
Throgg: fine like he is (he rules, if I played Chaos I’d do a Throgg army).
And here endeth the lesson, really.
Re-reading the book has made me regretful. I really enjoyed modelling my Chaos army, back in the day. I would be tempted to do another, were it not that everything you need to make that book function comes at such high point costs that it becomes mutually exclusive in a regular game. I’ll do a thing on the viable builds I can see in the book later on, but suffice to say that nearly all of them have key weaknesses that could only be managed by bringing in elements from the other builds, which would be impossible in the Sacred Cow 2000 point game and difficult in anything below 3000. At which point everyone else gets double Lords and triple Rares and the Warriors are back where they started… *sigh*
I tell you what, though. If WFB 8th edition does shift to 3000 point games as standard, the Warriors may see a new lease of life. Emphasis on may. Percentage points allowances for characters are likely to be a wash: sure, the enemy will have fewer points to spend, but their Wizards and utility characters will still be cheaper than the Warriors of Chaos ones and therefore still more efficient. I suspect that, as a bad book, it will stay bad: but if a lot of people fail to adjust to what 8th edition brings, the intelligent Chaos player may have a moment in the sun as they enjoy actually being able to bring everything they want to the table.