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Subject: Spell tune rss

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Pasi Rauhala
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Do you see the spells of each of the armies as being about equal? Imo some of the spells seem more or less useless and some armies have clearly better spells than the others. I wouldn't mind other armies having better spells than others if all the armies still had plenty of useful spells.

We played a 4 player game the other weekend with me playing the Wildryn(Barbarians), other players had Elven, Dwarven and Orc armies. It might be that it is just the lack of experience speaking, but I think that the Wildryn spell-list (as are some others) is ... bad. Bad in a sense, that it has spells that you(I) will very rarely use, almost never. I used 'berserk' and 'the horde' in the game we played.

Both level 2 spells would be ok if there weren't the random factor. My neighbour with evil intentions was the player with Dwarven army. His level 2 spells have the same effect as the barbarian equivalents.

Dwarf: stonewall = prevent next 3 hits.
Barbarian: d6 -> 1-4, two hits restored to friendly units.
The Barbarian spell fails at about 30 % of the time, so the actual heal restoration potential is about 1,4 hit points.

Dwarf: hammer of stone = all Dwarven units fight with +1 strenght.
Barbarian: d6 -> 1-4, the hex becomes desert hex for duration of battle.
Ok, here the barbarian spell has some potential over the other spell by possibly negating the terrain bonus from your enemy units. Very rarely you (I) fight in such a terrain and with the randomness in the spell, there is little point in trying to surprise you foe by putting all your milk&honey in the same basket. And the barbarian army doesn't really have all too many troops that fight better at desert.

And level 3 spells.. well.. playing with my careful buddies it means that after you cast a level 3 spell, your wizard is history. Although the wizards were history anyhow against the Dwarven chaos units+wizard combos.

Anyhow, both Barbarians and Dwarves have about the same general damage spells but their level 2 spells are very different in power. I think that either the Barbarian damage spells should be worse or the other spells better so that the spell list would be in balance.

And a minor quibble about the orc spell 'panic' or whats its name. The Orcs used it in every combat.

My opinion is that a spell list is not in balance, if there is a spell that you will always use and/or some spells that you will just about never use. And I see the point that it is nice to have spells that are rarely used but in a 6-spell list I don't buy it.


Pasi
 
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Eliot Hemingway
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I can't really compare Dwarven and Barbarian power levels, since I don't have the Dwarven army. I can only compare with the armies I own, which are the Elves, Orcs, Undead, and Barbarians.

The Elves are, in my opinion, the weakest. They have a lot of targeted damage spells, but the level 1 targeted spell is the most cost effective and is usually sufficient. The spell "fly" can be amazing at times, but requires an extra wizard just hanging around to cast it because of the rules about casting movement-phase spells. Summon can also be solid, but the cost isn't cheap at 2 steps.

The Orcs have perhaps the best spell list that I've seen. The sheet on the Columbia Games website doesn't give them a targeted spell, but the sheet that I own lists Fire Arrow (L2 targeted spell) instead of Fire Globe (L2 untargeted spell). I haven't seen any errata in the rules, so I play the list I own. That means that the Orcs have firepower on par with the Elves, but also have Panic and Swarm. Swarm can flat out win battles, and doesn't automatically expose your Shakla to an insta-kill from a targeted spell. Panic is always good, but its power partially depends on the size of the stacks running around. If most stacks are 3-4 units, ripping off a Panic can be winning. If the stacks are 6 units strong, Panic is still good but not overwhelming. The problem is that it only works 2/3 of the time; the last time I played against the Orcs, my opponent missed three Panic rolls in a row. He was counting on getting the spell off, so I ran him over when he didn't get it. Unlikely? Yes, but far from unthinkable. Even one missed roll can be painful. Panic is risky to rely on.

The Undead spell list is a lot like that of the Elves, but with two important differences: Crypt Smell and Sacrifice. Crypt Smell is exactly the same as Panic. It gives the Undead better combat capabilities, which is something that they could use considering their weaknesses in stand-up fights. Sacrifice is just like Chain Lighting, the L3 Elven spell, except that it costs only 2 if it kills the target. This change actually makes it usable, since it doesn't necessarily make your caster vulnerable to insta-kill or prevent him from dispelling.

The Barbarians, which you describe as weak, look quite potent to me. Berserk is a perfectly good targeted spell. The Horde can be amazing, both effectively boosting movement and allowing overstacking. Slash & Burn may be narrow, but it can flat out win battles that should otherwise be unwinnable (c'mon, who else can truly challenge Elves in the forest?). Milk & Honey is indeed weak IMO, but it also has its occasional uses. I think it's best either towards the end of a battle or after one of your expensive units gets hammered by a targeted spell. Restoring a couple Huscarl strength points is not worth it. Restoring a couple points of Hippogryphs or Horsebows can be of huge logistical value (hmm, trade 4 or 2 points of wizard steps for 12 points of units? In many scenarios, that's almost an entire build turn saved!). The real standout is Dawn Raid. This spell can lead to some of the most brutal beatings in the game. The key is to cast it only when there isn't an enemy spellcaster around to wack your Runecaster. I've heard that a large part of playing the Barbarians is maneuvering into a position to outguess the other player on wizard placement. So while the Barbarians have a lot of powerful but limited spells, their level 1 spells are almost always useful. I would not call the Barbarians weak, even if a few of their spells are outclassed by those of another race.

If I had to rank the armies on spell power alone, I think it would pan out roughly like this:

1) Orcs (Panic & Swarm - though if Fire Globe really replaces Fire Arrow then I'd drop the Orcs by at least once spot)

2) Barbarians (A number of spells with unique and powerful effects on top of a solid base of L1 damage spells)

3) Undead (Crypt Smell and Sacrifice set them above the Elves)

4) Elves (More targeted spells than needed and Fly can be unreliable and logistically problematic)

Overall, yes, there are spells that you usually cast more often than others. The value of wizards is that you *can* cast those other spells if you *need* to, which can drastically affect the strategic situation with canny players.
 
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Gary Pressler
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Quote:
1) Orcs (Panic & Swarm - though if Fire Globe really replaces Fire Arrow then I'd drop the Orcs by at least once spot)


Perhaps the very earliest copes included the Fire Globe spell, but all the copies I know of, bought approximately 1, 2, and 4 years ago, all have Fire Arrow. Plus, if you compare the text of the Troll Tracks spell, the version we all have is better defined: "move as an Amphibian" versus "Move as a Troll".

Regarding the original post, I also disagree that the Barbarians have weak spells. Corbeau already gave good examples of when the higher cost spells are useful. Yes, they are a bit risky, but when they work, they tend to crush. No, most of the Barbarian units are not desert folk, but a successful Slash & Burn makes the horsebowmen A4! And, as mentioned, it gives a decent chance of disloging Elves (or Ferkin) from forest hexes. Their summoning spell, The Horde, is cheaper than the Elven and Undead versions (and more general than the former) with the tradeoff that the target must be adjacent.

I agree that the Dwarves have some great spells. They make enemy Castles much less threatening. However, the Dwarves have no native flyers beyond Wizards. (The included Gargoyle chaos unit is great for flanking, but expensive for its relatively weak combat ability.) Having all mountain folk units gives them some mobility, but they are very rarely going to be able to use their terrain bonus in combat. Their strength in spells balances their weakness in other areas.

If I had to pick, I would say the Amazons have the weakest spells. They certainly make chaos units a high risk to use, but, beyond that, they are fairly lackluster. The Chariot Charge spell is rarely worth using. I like their variety of terrain abilities, but with two types of mountain folk units, their strength is really mobility. They are unable to dominate any one sort of terrain for battle. I am tempted to give them a slight edge in their attack spells, but I've probably balanced things out well enough with their additional chaos units.
 
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