Storm of Magic: First Impressions
It's here, it's finally here! I've been spending the last few days pouring over this new expansion for WHFB, and I have to say, that I'm very excited. The book itself has a satisfactory heft to it, and is in the full color and wonderful hard bound style which we have been lucky enough to enjoy with the Tomb Kings as well as the Orcs and Goblins books. It has a magnetically closing front, which while I find kind of annoying, is actually quite handy. When you open the book and lay it flat, the front cover fold out to the right with the Wheel of Magic spinner on it, which is quite a handy place for it. Overall it's production value is quite high and the spinner itself even feels well built and even the spinner has a satisfying feel, almost like it has bearings, though I'm sure it doesn't.
Enough about the paper, lets get to the rules and concepts behind it, shall we?
Immediately, I noticed how simple they made the expansion, with a mere 8 pages of rules, and very quick to learn. You start off with your normal, legal army, then tack on an extra 25% from "Monsters and Magic" from the Storm of Magic book. This is something which I love compared to Apocalypse. There aren't formations, strategems or any other weird clumsy things to consider when making an army, you simply write up a normal list, then add on to it. Everybody has access to the exact same new monsters and new magic items, so nobody is getting any odd advantage in army creation.
The basic scenario for Storm of Magic is based on Battle Lines, though at the beginning, you take turns placing fulcrums, then both deploy wizards in fulcrums on your half of the board. After this it's the normal 12" deployment, plus within 6" of any fulcrum you control. The objective is to control the most fulcrums, which is probably pretty predictable, resorting to victory points in the case of a draw.
The fulcrums are pretty straight forward as well. They are a building which can only be occupied by 1 model at a time, can only be occupied by a wizard, can only be assaulted by a single model (of any unit type) and gives the model inside a pretty nice ward save. Owning 1 fulcrum gives you "Presence," while having at least one and no less than the enemy gives you access to "Equilibrium." and having more than the enemy gives you "Dominance," all of which I'll go over next when talking about the magic.
I was afraid that the Magic Phase was going to be a nightmare, made both much more powerful and complicated, but fortunately I was wrong. The Power Dice is a simple 4D6 and the enemy gets the highest 2 in Dispel Dice. The player whose turn it is spins the wheel of magic to see which lores get a straight bonus to cast (+5/4/3 depending on the lore), and as long as the player has Presence, he can move it D3 spaces in either direction, but it must move the entire number rolled, so if you declare "clockwise" then roll a 2, it must move 2 spaces clockwise. Furthermore, casters which miscast while on a fulcrum must roll on a special miscast chart, after they roll on the regular one. This cart can be goofy as well as devastating.
Each wizard has a selection of bonus spells called "Cantrips." These are known by every wizard on both sides and cannot be unleaned or destroyed. These spells are Magic Duel, Transagar's Transportation and Unbind Monster. The first spell allows a caster to engage in a duel against another caster, which if you win, you push out the enemy caster and may take the fulcrum yourself. The second power allows you to teleport from one fulcrum to another and the third has various effects on monsters which are purchased from the Scrolls of Binding.
The more powerful spells are called "Cataclysm Spells." The main 8 lores have 3 cataclysmic spells, one for Presense, Equilibrium and Dominance. As you may expect, Dominance spells are the most devastating, while Presense is only a little devastating race specific lores seem to have 2 additional spells, one for Presense and one for Equilibrium. Dwarfs have access to special "Ancestor Runes" which can be extremely devastating, if not prone to miscast, though it should be noted that they only roll on the fulcrum miscast, not the normal one as well. They have 3 runes, one which buffs friendly units in combat, another is a magic missile, and the 3rd is for healing, they each target a number of enemy units equal to the number of successful strikings you get in a round. Overall, I was actually expecting the spells to be MORE devastating than they are, don't get me wrong though, the spells are all immensely powerful. I think they are all fairly balanced with each other, but I was expecting nearly every lore to have spells which wipe entire units off the board every turn, which is what those rumors led many to believe.
As well as new magic spells, there are a selection of new magic items, which do some pretty crazy things. One lets you rearrange some tiles on a modular game board, models, scenery and all, while other summon a bunch of Blood Forests which get stronger depending on how many fulcrums you have, and another can make all your attacks hit and wound automatically with Multiple Wounds (2D6)!!! But, as you should expect, these items are incredibly expensive, ranging from 100 to 250 points, taken from your extra 25%, not your normal army list.
Last, but not least are the monsters. There are 45 Scrolls of Binding, which are all basically a page of the book which talks about the particular monster. Some of these Scrolls have 2-4 variations of monster (Spider, Gigantic Spider, Arachnarok Spider), and many of the monsters have upgrade options as well (Lash Tail, Tusks, etc.). None of the monsters jumped out to me as over powered or under cost, but that will take some games to decide for sure, some of the monsters are also different points than their counterparts that can be found in the normal army books, a great example being Hydras for about 50 points more expensive than before, or slightly cheaper Cygors and Ghorgons (not cheap enough though imo).