Winds of Magic: Lore of Life
The Lore of Life is without question the most defensive lore in all of Warhammer. With it's ability to grant regeneration, additional toughness or even resurrect models, this can be a nasty lore to ensure that your expensive troops stay alive.
Lore Attribute: Lifebloom
Any time you cast a Lore of Life spell, you are able to instantly heal a wound to any model within 12". This can only work on multi-wound models that have suffered a wound, and can't be used to resurrect a model into a unit. To gain full advantage of this rule, you need to have some multi-wound monsters, such as Steam Tanks or Treemen, though even without it, you'll still probably be taking the odd wound on characters through the game, but not as likely early on when the big stuff will be taking shots.
Signature Spell: Earth Blood
The first spell of the lore and we're already talking about a fantastic augment. This spell always targets the wizard and any unit they are with, granting a pleasant Regeneration (5+). The casting value is moderate, so usually you'll be rolling 2 dice, even on a level 4. The only drawback to this spell is that it cannot be cast on any other unit than the wizards unit, which isn't a problem if your wizard's unit is likely to be taking some wounds (Temple Guard in combat) but if your unit is in a mage bunker, stuck in the back of your army, it probably wont be that useful.
1. Awakening of the Wood
No lore is complete without some form of damage spell. This is a direct damage spell which causes a standard D6 S4 hits, which is increased to 2D6 if they're even slightly in the woods. The range is on the short side at 18", but there is one big thing to remember, this is not a magic missile, meaning it can be cast on anything in the front arc, into combat and no requirement for Line of Sight. It has the lowest casting value in the lore which can be cast reliably by most wizards, though is still usually ignored in favor of other spells.
2. Flesh to Stone
This is the money maker in my eyes. A simple augment with a good range and grants a whopping +2 Toughness for a full turn. When casting this spell, if you put it on a unit that isn't engaged in combat, your opponent will probably think twice about charging. When you cast it on a unit that is in combat, your opponent is going to definitely groan. The casting value is also fairly low, though you'll always want to throw at least 2-3 dice at this spell, just because thinking about T6 Saurus or T5 Elves is unpleasant.
3. Throne of Vines
So far we've talked about units getting Regeneration (5+), +2T, or a pseudo magic missile which can deal some nasty damage to a unit hiding out in the woods. Well, lets make all that way effing better! Throne of Vines basically enhances everything else in the lore. Earthblood becomes Regeneration (4+), Flesh to Stone is +4T, Awakening of the Woods becomes S6, Regrowth will heal D6+1 wounds and Shield of Thorns is buffed up to S4. On top of all that, you'll ignore miscasts on a 2+! So now you're going to ask, "Adam, what could you possibly dislike about this spell?!" Well, here's the problem, it's a spell. If you're not going to have access to loremaster, you may not want this spell, and especially if you're using a Level 2. If a Level 2 has this spell, then that means they only have one potential spell which can benefit from it, and either one of the two spells will probably be dispelled by the enemy, so what good is it? When you're using a Level 4, it's not as bad, but you may get stuck choosing between Regrowth, Dwellers, Flesh to Stone, Earth Blood and Throne of Vines, all of which are amazing choices, so you will have to either pick between buffing your spells, or having access to a wider variety. That said, I usually take this on a Level 4 whenever possible, which just makes the other spells more difficult to pick. Don't forget that this is a Remains in Play spell, so it is possible that your opponent will dispel it in their own turn, so when you get it off, use it as quickly as you can.
4. Shield of Thorns
With that out of the way, lets talk about Shield of Throrns. This is a RIP Augment that will cause 2D6 hits at the end of EACH magic phase, which includes the enemies turn as well, to any units which are in base contact with the target of this spell. Often times when the enemy is facing down S6 hits from Awakening of the Wood, or allowing you to get off Flesh to Stone or Regrowth, this spell tends to be overlooked so they can focus on the more overt offenders. Since this spell has kind of a high casting value, the enemy will have to dedicate 2 dice to dispel it reliably with a level 4, and if they choose not to, then that means by the time your next magic phase comes along, you'll have caused 4D6 hits, and it just keeps going. This spell certainly isn't as impressive as the others, but because everything else is so threatening, it is nice to have something that the enemy will probably put a lower priority on.
Do you hate it when all your expensive Temple Guard are dying? Me too! Regrowth has a pretty high casting value, and stock will net you D3+1 wounds worth of models back to a unit (cavalry counting as 2 wounds per). On it's own, this spell wont be winning many games, and to really get the most benefit from it, you have to be casting it on expensive troops. To really benefit from this spell, you need to have Throne of Vines up, which puts you at an average of 4.5 wounds, instead of 2. You can boost the spell to double the range, but then you're really casting on a high value. Generally speaking, I avoid this spell on a Level 2 when possible, since you need to 3-dice it to have a 50% chance to cast, so realistically, 4 dice to get back ~2 models.
6. The Dwellers Below
The highest casting value spell in the lore, and tied for highest casting value in the game, this is one of the fabled uber spells of 8th edition. It has a very short range, though can be increased to 24" for +3 casting value, but the damage it can deal is devastating. You simply target a unit, then every model in the unit takes a Strength test or dies, no saves of any kind allowed. This pretty much means erasing half of a unit that is S3, or 1/3 of a unit that is S4. Damn! Now, there are some targets that this spell is essentially pointless against, namely monsters (usually S5+), Trolls (S5), Mournfangs (S5) and so on. If you are facing a lot of units which are S5 you might want to reconsider, and even against S4 armies, this may not be the best choice, since the dice you're using to cast this are coming from your pool for your buffs. In general, it's one of the nastiest spells in the game, though it is dependent on what your opponent has in their army.
This really is a lore you can't go wrong with, even their weakest spells (Awakening and Shield) really are decent to cast. The biggest problem with the lore is that a level 2 really has a limited selection of spells that they can reliably cast, but as long as you keep this relegated to your Level 4's, then you'll be in good shape. If you're running any monsters or other large, multi-wound models, you'll really get the most out of it, since they'll probably be taking wounds as you advance. Just keep in mind that Throne of Vines is a fun spell, but often not necessary, so don't feel pressured to take it every time it comes up. See you next week with the Lore of Heavens!
When you are facing life, it is really important to keep in mind the strengths of the units in your own army. If the enemy casts Earth Blood when they're standing across from a unit with the Banner of Eternal Flame, maybe you can let that go. Similarly, when your unit of S6 great weapons are about to face off with a unit that will go up to T5 with Flesh to Stone, it's only costing you a few wounds. Most good Lore of Life casters will try to trap people into dispelling Throne of Vines, by throwing a lot of dice at it. Think about it though, if your opponent spends 3-4 of their 7-8 dice, and you just let it go, you are now probably left with equal to or more dispel dice then they have power dice. It is often worth it to let people waste dice on Throne, so that you can dispel the rest of their magic easily, then stop Throne in your own turn.
Lore of Life is accessible to: Bretonnia, Daemons of Chaos, High Elves, Lizardmen, The Empire, Wood Elves.