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REVIEW: WHFB: Storm of Magic

5 Minute Read
Jul 19 2011

Frost here with a review of the ambitious expansion Storm of Magic, which contains rules for massive monsters and magic in games of Warhammer Fantasy.

What Is It?
The question burning in the minds of many readers is, “Isn’t it just Fantasy Apocalypse?” In some ways, yes it is. In some very significant ways, it is not. For instance, unlike Apocalypse where armies have no force organization chart or limits imposed on non-unique units, Storm of Magic requires you to bring a normal army. That army then gets an amount of extra points equal to 25% of its points value for the purpose of buying monsters, magical items or entering into a pact. You don’t have to worry about an opponent bringing 3 exalted bloodthirsters to your 2500 point game. In fact, you will need to have no less than a 3100 point game to bring just one. This means that, at least as far as army composition goes, you can expect any given army to be fairly representative of what you would normally see, with a few extra monsters of varying size accompanying them. But it is hardly the army that makes Storm of Magic battles more epic than the typical game.
How Does it Work?
Magic is what makes Storm of Magic (who would have guessed?) a truly different Warhammer experience. First off, magic and dispel pools are effectively doubled, and the winds of magic actively change throughout the battle and can be manipulated if the player has enough magical fulcrums. These fulcrums also grant access to cataclysm spells, and the more fulcrums you have relative to your opponent, the more cataclysm spells you can gain access to. Some of these spells are powerful enhancements that make your units orders of magnitude more powerful. Others are withering hexes that turn an otherwise indomitable foe into a frail nuisance. Many cataclysm spells are much more direct, getting straight to the business of killing a lot of models in various gruesome ways. The lore of life even has a spell that can grant a unit all of its lost wounds and even resurrect a unit that has been completely wiped out!
Don’t think that just because these spells are powerful that they are easy to cast. First of all, cataclysm spells do not benefit from irresistible force, but they are susceptible to miscasts as normal. If a wizard survives the first miscast and happens to occupy an arcane fulcrum, then they must also roll on the arcane fulcrum miscast chart. Cataclysm spells also have massive casting values, most in the 20-25 range, with some as high as 35. Without the benefit of irresistible force, all casting values have to be met naturally. The 6 dice per spell limit is still in effect, so those who can get around this limit have a distinct advantage, but also take a great risk. Also, dispel scrolls cannot stop cataclysm spells, though other effects work as normal against them.
Throughout a game of Storm of Magic, Wizards will actively duel each other using cantrips, magic that allows you to strip an opponent off of his fulcrum and occupy it yourself, or to disrupt his hold on his bound monsters. Unlike cataclysm spells, cantrips are cheap in casting value and require no fulcrums to cast, making the magic phase far more intense as both opponents carefully plan how to use their casting/dispel dice.
There are also new magic items that must be paid for with your “magic and monsters” allowance. Some of these items give incredible boons to the wielder; others can manipulate the terrain itself as a weapon. One in particular allows you to choose two numbers between 1 and 6, making all rolls of the first number become the second number for all purposes (including your opponent’s rolls) for an entire game turn. The fun part is that all of these magic items ignore the wielding character’s magic item points limit altogether.
You also have the option of spending your monsters and magic points on a small ally force of Chaos Daemons, Tomb Kings or Vampire Counts.
Then, of course, there are the monsters. Some have nearly maxxed-out stats and incredible killing potential in melee, while others are much more subtle and powerful in a very different way, like the cockatrice, a relatively cheap monster that has a 12” ranged attack with heroic killing blow. Even the Fimirs and Zoats have reappeared, ready to add their considerable magic prowess to your own.
He’s back!

Last time I saw this this model, Bill Clinton had just been reelected.

Then there is awesome new stuff like this!

Is is Good?
Now that I have told you what Storm of Magic is, I will tell you what I think about it. As far as its effect on Warhammer Fantasy as a whole, I think it is fairly positive, though limited in scope. Despite Storm of Magic having a lot of fun potential, it won’t bring new players to the game in any appreciable amount. There is a lot of potential to grab their attention with the new models, but in the end the core competitive game of Warhammer Fantasy has not changed one bit. While SoM is a worthy expansion for WHFB, it will not have the sort of impact on the player base that, for example, a new army book would have.
As far as tournament potential, I would not even dare speculate as to how nasty this expansion could get in a competitive setting. This one is recommended for friendly encounters only (like Apocalypse for 40k). That being said, I think devoted Warhammer Fantasy players will more than likely enjoy the zany shenanigans that break up the predictable flow of typical games. Every army in the game has new boons of considerable power to draw from, with no one left out. Also, the investment cost of getting your army ready for Storm of Magic is considerably less than Apocalypse. It may even consist of buying only one monster or an additional wizard.
So there you have it. If you have played a game of Storm of Magic, tell us your impressions. Everyone else, feel free to discuss the content and implications of this new expansion.

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