Total War: Warhammer/Tactics
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Welcome to the general tactics dump for Total War: Warhammer and it's sequels. Something to help with noobs and lower the bloat on the main page. If you want to take this knowledge to the online scene (God help your soul) take a look at the community made Banner Rules at Total War: Warhammer/Tactics/Banner Rules
In many ways, Warhammer II plays like your standard Total War game. It features real time battles with an army of roughly 20 units max on each side. There will be at least two armies on the field and whoever is able to completely shatter the other side first wins.
Each army has it's own collection of Infantry, Missile troops, Cavalry, Artillery and Monsters to play with, each offering a different play style. For instance, Dwarfs offer a defensive solitary play style focused around heavily armored infantry and strong missiles where as the Beastmen are an aggressive hit and run faction designed to get in, hit the enemy and break leadership, then get away before the enemy can counterattack. The asymmetrical play style of the factions is a massive part of the appeal.
The battle maps also play a huge role in how battle play out. Some maps are heavily forested, meaning missile heavy armies may struggle due to increased cover for the enemy. On the flip side, some maps have a lot of water, debuffing units unless they have the aquatic trait. It is smart to take a look at your terrains before you plan how you're gonna win.
If you play ranked multiplayer, there will be a limit to how many of a certain kind of unit you can bring, mainly to stop you from missile kiting your enemies to death with a mass horse archer spam. As such, focusing on what you might need for the match up is key.
Every faction has a mix of different kinds of units. While they are all different, they each fall under one of these categories.
- Lords: The generals of your army and your most important unit. He can buff leadership and other stats and usually tends to be a beast in combat either through melee or magic. Problem is that if they die, the whole army suffers for it so you have to protect this man. You can also only bring one.
- Heroes: Your secondary leaders, usually coming in both melee and mage form. Not as much as a badass as your lord, but are usually cheaper and you can bring more than one.
- Melee Infantry: Simply put, the foot boys you are throwing into melee. These infantry tend to be slow but also tend to be pretty good at holding the line and dealing damage in prolonged melee compared to missiles and cavalry. Their job is usually to engage the enemy front line and either hold long enough for your other elements to do their job, or break through and begins pouring into the enemy backline.
- Swords/Axes/anything the Lizardmen use instead: Generally tend to be more DPS focused. If you are buying sword infantry, you get them because you want them to deal damage to the enemy frontline.
- Dual Swords: Infantry that sacrifice a shield in exchange for an extra weapon. They tend to have much higher attack than the standard sword infantry and usually carry an Anti Infantry bonus, so they are much better in the frontline fight at DPS. However, they have lower defensive stats and a vulnerability to missiles, and the fact that they usually rely on Anti Infantry means they aren't as versatile as the standard sword unit.
- Spears: Your more defensive option. Not as good at killing things but better at holding the line than swords. They also usually come with an anti-large bonus, meaning they do more damage when fighting bigger targets. Many also come with some kind of kind of charge resistance. Units with both will completely turn the tides on enemy cavalry.
- Great Weapons: Infantry that usually carry two handed weapons like great swords and great axes. They tend to have majority AP damage, so they do more damage than normal sword infantry, but also don't have shields so missiles are very effective against them. Most units with great weapons also tend to have a low attack speed, leaving them vulnerable against hordes.
- Halberds: Great weapons for spears, really. Same thing with great weapons, trades a shield and lower attack speed for more AP damage.
- Missile Troops: Your ranged boys. Good at dealing damage from a safe distance but generally suck in melee. They tend to come either with arc fire or line fire. Arc fire like archers can shoot over allied troops and don't need line of sight, but do less damage. Line of sight troops like guns tend to do way more damage, but need to actually see their enemy before they can shoot, so if allies or terrain is in the way, they might not get a shot in. Luckily, their difficulty in positioning correctly is negated by one simple fact: while only the melee troops in actual contact with the enemy will attack, all 120 units of archers will attack at the same time.
- Bow Infantry: Often, but by no means always, the lowest tier of missle infantry you can recruit. Usually trades raw damage for greater range, the ability to fire indirectly and rate of fire.
- Crossbow Infantry: Basically the same as bow infantry, but they trade range for rate of fire (although not much) and more armour-piercing damage. Notable for covering a large variety of different units, such as the rather mediocre Imperial Crossbowman to Darkshards.
- Gunpowder Infantry: Loud, smelly, and more often than not more dangerous for their user than the enemy (a mechanic entirely missing in-game), these are all kinds of primitive guns. They hit hard, don't care about armor and usually come in unpleasant numbers for the receiving end. The only major downside to them being that they can't shoot indirectly, so you have to make use of clever unit deployment and/or flanking to get the most out of them. Of course, if they are forced into melee it is usually an absolute disaster, more so than other ranged units.
- Hybrid Infantry: Sitting comfortably in between ranged and melee infantry, all of these guys (and gals) can switch between ranged and melee combat at the press of a button. The Elf factions in particular use a lot of them (with Great Weapon Shades and Lothern Sea Guard being outright the best options) so be prepared to not charge them blindly with cavalry; nearly all of them are more than capable of dealing with lower tier cav on their own.
- Weapon Teams: Exclusive to Skaven, these are Clan Skyres crazy contraptions of the shooting, burning and drilling variety. They trade unit size in exchange for an ungodly volume of firepower; once they are properly set up, there is hardly anything stopping them. On top of that, they are also armoured and have large HP pools, giving them a surprising resilience against counter fire from enemy ranged units. Beware of cavalry, for what they posses in offensive power, they lack on the defense.
- Others: Some kinds of missle only show up on one kind of unit and even then there is only one faction that can use them, so i'm putting slingers, javelins and that sort of things into this umbrella category. Mostly rather weak weapons that either benefit from being used in great numbers (slings and javelins) or really strong weapons that suffer from limited ammo-capacity (Norscan Axe Throwers come to mind).
- Hounds: Technically, these units can be any kind of very fast, cheap melee cavalry and not just doggies but whatever. These cheap puppers are used to harass and interrupt Artillery crews, chase off routing units, chew on squishy casters and Heroes and sometimes take out a ranged infantry unit. They're not tough by any means of the word but they're fast and can hold a unit back in a few crucial moments. Some of them are specialized to the point where they can be used for other roles, like the Poisoned Warhounds that can charge into the backs of the enemy line to apply a rough debuff.
- Cavalry: Boys on horse (or other fun creature) back. Mobile and has high charge but tend to fall apart fast in prolong melee.
- Shock Cavalry: Lance cavalry with loads of Charge Bonus but little in the way of defense; charge them into the sides and backs of the enemy, retreat after 10-15 seconds and repeat until the enemy is mashed, red pulp on the ground... Or crushed bones, or green shroom-mush or what-else. One of the reasons you bring Spears and Halberds is to keep these dudes away from your lines. They're also often decent at countering other Cavalry units.
- Melee Cavalry: Rare mounted troops that excel in longer engagements (but not forever; they're still cavalry). They usually use Great Weapons, Halberds or Sword'n'Board. Almost never used alone; they're better at quickly engaging and messing with a line battle you're already engaging with with you troops.
- Skirmish Cavalry: The deeply annoying yet totally crucial lighter cavalry. Annoying because they are tiresome to micromanage and run away all the time when fighting against them, and infantry can never catch them. Crucial because Skirmish Cavalry can fight in melee but usually work better as ranged, mobile units harassing the enemy's ranged units with melee attacks, countering enemy Shock and Melee Cav with ranged attacks and higher movement speed, and shooting into the back of the enemy line.
- Chariots: Those sweet ones that swing low. Chariots are a bit rare and are used to break through enemy lines with impunity, cycle-charging like a maniac. They are dismantled very quickly in prolonged melee and tend to not do a lot of damage unless they're charging. One of the hardest type of unit to use properly because they need to be micro-managed at every turn. Also out of every unit, chariot suffered the most when they are out of vigor (aka exhausted), which lowers their speed to the point they can't knock over as many infantry as it wishes during charging and gets caught easily in the crowd as result. So always remember in campaign to not get attacked during march stance while fielding those bad boys. Some chariot units have ranged weapons but don't use them as a ranged unit, make sure to turn melee engage on. Their small unit sizes means that their ranged attacks tend to be a lot worse than other units and if they are staying out of melee they are not using their ability to break through enemy lines. That being said, a chariot having ranged attacks isn't a reason to not use it, think of its ranged attacks as just inflicting some extra damage and more importantly, a leadership penalty as it charges and retreats. Many players forego chariots altogether due to their micromanagement and fragility, which is to their detriment. Properly used, they can shatter enemy lines and ruin morale.
- Ranged Chariots: Unlike the former category where missile attacks are just a way to deal a little extra damage and a leadership penalty, these chariots are specialized for ranged combat and should only be charged into an enemy when out of ammo. Their function is often similar to that of an artillery unit but more mobile, blasting enemy units with powerful ranged attacks and retreating should opponents try to reach it.
- Monsters: A category that covers a bewildering amount of different units, every Monster does something different for the faction it's found in. Usually they are either infantry-slayers, monster/cavalry-eaters or huge battering rams meant to break up the enemy's line. A few factions even have "artillery" monsters balance their exorbitant cost by being able to hold their own in melee. Some monsters (like Giants) are cheap and cheerful units you can just throw into the enemy for a spell, while others (like the Dread Saurian) can easily eat up a fourth of your money in multiplayer matches. The only faction without access to a monster is the Dwarfs (Gyrocopters does not count).
- Monstrous Infantry: Monsters that generally come in a small units size and feature slow, relatively tanky monsters designed to help out in the front line. Here's a tip, do NOT throw them in alone, team them up with other infantry. That way the enemy units will have to split their damage across 2 different units instead of being able to focus your monsters down.
- Monstrous Cavalry: Faster, harder hitting but also squishier than the infantry option, they are meant to be used a lot like cavalry. Use them as heavy flankers and for pure raw charge bonus and can even be decent in prolong melee. Their downside often comes in the form of cost, frailty and lower model count compared to most cav.
- Single Entity Monsters: Big super monsters meant to be a gigantic problem for the enemy and generally have impressive stat lines along with a combination of fear and/or terror. Their attacks can stagger smaller monsters. However these guys tend to be expensive and have a massive target that says "Shoot me" in every language in the Warhammer world, so use them wisely.
- Warmachines: Single entity monsters, but mechanical. These range from imperial Steam Tanks to the Skaven DOOMWHEEL. What all of them have in common is high armour, high morale, large HP pools and very powerful ranged attacks.
- Fliers: Your flying units, ranging from cheap fliers meant to bog down missiles and artillery to fucking dragons. Their edge is that since they can fly they can engage on their terms and you can get them anywhere in the battle they need to. Their downsides comes in needing breathing room to take off again and generally frailty. Even dragons aren't a unit that can stand being in melee for too long, so you got to micro them well. Be warned: soaring around in the skies means ranged units can fire freely without being blocked by either the terrain or their own troops. Many fliers are also large units and can be easy pickings. Wait for them to be preoccupied or flank them so they have to reform their formation before firing.
- Artillery: Your good old catapults, bolt throwers, cannons or what ever crazy contraptions your race can bring to the table. Can lay down an absolute whooping from very long range, some being table to take down even the scariest monsters with fairly little problem. However, they are garbage in melee, are ridiculously slow, are somewhat expensive, and need extra room and a clear line of sight to even fire, which means they need protection more than just about any other unit type in the game. However, it pays off by racking up hundreds of kills before the enemy even meets your front line. Important to note is that while the contraptions themselves offer cover to their crews, they aren't invulnerable and can be destroyed by ranged units and magic.
Each unit in the game has a unit card, which shows the player what they are generally good and bad at. Noobs might be confused as to what the fuck all these words and numbers mean, so here is the breakdown!
- Health: Fairly simple, how much health the unit has. If the unit has more than one model per unit, you can divide the total health by the number of models to see how much health each model has. It's important to know that the threshold at which a model actually dies is surprisingly high and the game itself speads the damage units suffer evenly among the models in that unit.
- Armor: This stat helps mitigate damage coming at your unit. If they are hit by a missile, melee attack, or a spell, a RNG roll goes off to see how much of the non-AP damage goes through the unit's armor (between 50 and 100 percent). Every point of armor is a percentage of reduction, NOT a flat amount. The more armor the unit has, the lower percentage of non-AP damage that will get through. More info on AP and non-AP damage below.
- Shield: If the unit has a shield, this is where it's factored in. Shields help block missile fire coming at you. It comes in two tiers (technically three, but you never see gold shields outside of campaign buffs). Bronze shields block 33% of missiles where are a silver shield block 55%. Keep in mind this only works on small arms fire and not artillery because a shield isn't gonna fucking save you from a cannon. A very few units can deflect arrows (and bullets somehow) with their weapons, being treated as having a bronze shield even when they carry none.
- Leadership: How much morale the unit has. The higher the number is, the less likely your unit is going to rout and run for the hills. Run off the battlefield or rout three times and that unit is gone for the rest of the battle (but not necessarily dead). If it reaches 100, the unit may as well be unbreakable.
- Speed: Fairly simple, the higher the number, the faster the unit.
- Melee Attack: This determines the likelihood of your attacks hitting the other unit. The higher the number, the more likely the attack is to hit against an enemy. This number is often rolled against the next number in this list.
- Melee Defense: Widely considered one of the most important stats in the game. Melee defense is the likelihood your unit has to block the attack of the other unit attacking it, causing it to sustain no damage; However, before either Melee Defense or Melee Attack is applied, there is a base chance of hit of 40% (35% in WH2) before Armor is applied. There is also a minimum of 10% (8% in WH2) and maximum chance to hit of 90%. If you have a choice to buff either Melee Defense or Armor, take Melee Defense. Because what's better than mitigating damage? Not taking damage at all!
- Weapon Strength: How much damage your attacks do. This stat tends to be split into multiple categories. There are also two hidden mechanics: damage on weapon sweeps is split evenly between all enemies hit and weapon strength does not factor in attack speed.
- Weapon Damage: How much damage is going to be rolled against the enemy armor to see if it gets mitigated or not. Generally, if this makes up the majority of your Weapon Strength you want this unit fighting unarmored units.
- Armor-Piercing Damage: Or AP damage for short. If your attack gets through the other unit's Melee Defense, this is the amount of damage that's going to get through no matter what. If the Weapon Strength is mostly Armor-Piercing, then you want these guys going up against heavily armored units to tear through them.
- Anti-Large Bonus: Damage that is not factored into the roll unless they are fighting something the size of a horse or bigger. If they have this stat, throw them against cav or monsters. Applies to both Melee Attack and non-AP damage.
- Anti-Infantry Bonus: Same as Anti-Large, only meant against infantry or smaller. If they have this stat, they are infantry blenders. Applies to both Melee Attack and non-AP damage.
- Magic Damage: Certain units and some Legendary Lords inflict their attack as magic damage. This is useful against enemies with physical resist like Plague Monks and absolutely needed against supernatural enemies like Cairn Wraiths (whom are known for having 75% physical resist, being a ghost and all). Be wary, though: more units in the game have magic resistance than physical resistance, including every dwarf unit (they were created to resist the winds of magic after all). Of course, this is also the damage types of many of the spells in the game. Good news for units that largely rely on Magic Damage came in the form of a developer Q&A on Discord: Warhammer 3 will rework Magic Resist into Spell Resist, making Magical Attacks on units actually worth a damn and many of them into potent can openers.
- Fire Damage: Like Magic Damage, it deals extra damage to those weak to its damage type (AKA units associate to trees like Treeman, Tree Kin, Dryad and Durthu, because fuck them racist elf loving trees, right?). Unlike the tabletop version, flaming attack deal extra damage against units that are capable of regenerate health (vampire, trolls, ghouls) instead of just stopping their regeneration. Apparently, CA hates fire damage for some reason and stated in the game that flaming attacks are weak to heavy armor units despite Irondrakes being able to deal AP damage on the tabletop, due to their flame being able to melt armor. We'll just have to wait and see if CA is willing to fix it. Also, like Magic Damage, some units such as Dragon Princes and Irondrakes have Fire Resistance against its effect. Both Physical resistance and Fire resistance will apply for fire melee damage and fire missile damage.
- Charge Bonus: A bonus to both Melee Attack and Weapon Damage (split between Armor-Piercing and non-Armor-Piercing based on percentage) that lasts for 15 seconds after running into an enemy. It starts decaying immediately upon contact with enemy and is almost negligible after 10 seconds. Note that walking into an enemy unit is not the same as charging, you have to actually run into them. You also have to cover a small distance in order to build up the charge bonus.
- Ammunition: A stat unique to ranged units that tells you how much ammo they have. If the unit has 20 ammunition, then they can make 20 shots before running out. This stat goes down as they shoot, allowing you to keep track of how many shots you have.
- Range: Simple enough: the higher the range, the farther a unit can shoot.
- Missile Strength: The same as Weapon Strength, only this stat doesn't worry about Melee Defense. If it hits, it's doing damage (including if it hits your own troops). It also has all the subcategories of damage listed under Weapon Strength. The value given in the stats is actually over 10 seconds, not per shot (because what constitutes a single shot of a flamethrower?).
- Mass: An important stat that isn't mentioned anywhere inside the game but is still important. Units come in two kinds of sizes: small (anything on foot) and large (anything that's mounted or at least as tall as a man on a horse). The larger the unit, the larger the mass. What's important is how mass affects charges and such, because it determines how one unit able to withstand them. Lowly infantrymen (and heroes and Lords on foot) will get knocked around alot when that Necrosphinx - a massive ancient Egyptian robot wielding two fucking swords - starts attacking them. Knocked down models are unable to move and fight, which can give you an edge. The enemy Lord can't bother you if he ragdolls after every hit. Mass also determines how easily a unit can push through a blob of units, whether it is to retreat or whether it is to attack the ranged units by plowing though the melee infantry line. Nothing can stop a two-ton War Mammoth when it decides it doesn't want to be there.
Some units have special passive abilities that have a variety of effects; the most common will be listed here.
- Flying: Does what it says on the tin. Can only be engaged by other flying units and ranged attacks or magical projectiles.
- Causes Fear:Not to be confused with "Causes Terror", Fear inflicts a penalty on the enemy units' leadership, making them more likely to flee. Most monstrous and/or supernatural enemies have this ability, and some Lords and Banners have it as well. If a unit causes Fear, it is itself immune to it. Like Terror, it falls under Psychology, so some units are immune to it.
- Causes Terror: Units that cause Terror can randomly cause enemy units to flee outright, regardless of their morale, although they recover faster than when losing morale. If a unit causes Terror, it is itself immune to it.
- Frenzy: A unit with frenzy gains a significant bonus to their melee stats as long as their leadership is above 50%.
- Aura of Command: Found on every Lord and Hero, they project an Aura around themselves that increases Leadership for friendly units. Most Lords and Heroes also can be skilled to make their Aura of Command better and/or to include more bonuses.
- Aquatic: Aquatic Units fight better and move faster in wet terrain, such as rivers and swamps. Unsurprisingly, most Vampire Coast units have this.
- Stalker: Stalkers remain invisible to the enemy until a certain distance, regardless of line of sight. The only things that can break their invisibility are close distance and if they start to attack. Certain units can fire while invisible without breaking it.
- Strider: Striders ignore any movement and vigour penalties from terrain; they will always move with 100% movement speed, but also can move through obstacles, such as trees.
- Berserk: Once a unit with Berserk falls under a health threshold, they will start a rampage, causing you to lose direct control over them. They will always attack the closest enemy unit they can see. It wears off after a few seconds or if their morale gets broken. Lizardmen call this ability Primal Insticts, it does the same.
- Vanguard Deployment: An interesting ability with a lot of potential uses; it allows for a unit to be deployed outside your normal deployment zone. Several Legendary Lords can aquire traits and skills that give units this ability (or in the case of Skarsnik, basically your entire roster for the first half of the game).
- Sundering strikes: A very rare ability, melee attacks made by a unit with this ability reduces the armour of the enemy hit with it by 30% for 20 seconds.
- Ethereal: All supernatural enemies (such as Ghosts) have this. Ethereal units take next to nothing in damage from physical attacks and only Magic Damage does damage against them.
- Ward Saves and Resistances: Not technically a passive ability, but the game does not do the best job at explaining it, so i'll explain it here. Ward Saves are a flat damage reduction against everything that your unit or character gets hit with, Resistances only against certain kinds of damage. Many characters can have these and in the campaign it is advisable to get them wherever possible. Both Ward Saves and Resistance cap at 80%, so there is (sadly) no invulnerability cheese possible.
- Spell Resistance: As of the the latest Discord Q&A (can be read here) Magic Resist will be reworked into Spell Resist. Works like Magic Resist before, but only affects spells.
- Poisoned Attacks: Poisoned attacks reduce the enemies melee stats and movement speed for 10-20 seconds. Some units have different kinds of poison that work in the same way and usually cause the same effects with greater severity. Fun fact: table top version's poison deal constant damage to a unit model each turns, it was changed to stats debuff in this game due to how broken it is when it was put in practice in an actual total war game (In Total War Attila, The Antean faction has a unit called Poison Archers that fires constant damaging poison arrows. If used right, it can annihilate an entire enemy line even on the hardest difficulty).
- Regeneration: Units with Regeneration heal themselves over the course of a battle, up to a maximum that varies greatly on what faction you play, but is usually 60% of the HP stat. Usually more "neat to have" than outright useful, but some units (Like Malus Darkblade) can have outright broken regeneration, so keep that in mind. Important: Regeneration does not replenish dead models on a unit that has more than one.
- Unbreakable: An unbreakable unit will never flee and always fight to the last man, regardless of losses and the situation on the battlefield. Can be a two-sided sword, as most unbreakable units are very expensive elite units that you most of the time really do not want to lose. Iconic units with this trait are the Dwarf Slayers (because slayer oath) and Empire Flagellants (because they are Sigmar's Zealots).
- Expendable: Your meat-shield ability. Expendable units do not cause a leadership penalty when they flee from the battle to other units except other expendable units. Very important to keep in mind with the more horde-centric factions of the game like Greenskins and Skaven; this makes tarpits possible without having your main line completely collapse.
- Wounds: A game three trait specifically for single entity units. Once they fall below half health, they lose a chunk of their speed and their weapon damage in both standard and AP. Done to nerf single entity spam, and makes sense given an injured monster wouldn't fight as well as an uninjured one.
- Undead: The Undead work differently from regular units in that they are functionally Unbreakable (meaning that they will never flee), but their Leadership status comes in six steps that are distinct from regular units (here from good to bad): "Strong Binding", "Stable Binding", "Weak Binding", "Critical Binding", "Crumbling" and "Disintegrating". Starting with "Crumbling", the unit will continually lose HP at a slow, but steady pace. "Disintegrating" is the severe form and only occures when the morale would normally be Shattered for living units, the unit will die in a few seconds.
- Daemonic: Signifies that the unit it a Daemon. Pretty much works exactly like undead, the unit is unbreakable and instead starts taking damage when leadership is down before being "Banished" back to the Realm of Chaos.
Magic works in a similar way to the TT game, although there are some differences, but, played right, Magic can be a devastating force that can turn a loss into a victory.
First, the Basics: Like in the Lore, how much Magic you can use depends on the Winds of Magic and how strong they are blowing. On the campaign map, there are visual indicators for how strongly the winds blow but you can also just hover your cursor over any given place on the map and get a number. This number indicates your base power reserve on the battlefield. Certain Lord and Hero traits, followers, and skills can increase your reserve. If it isn't obvious enough, you need a spellcaster Hero or Lord on the battlefield to use one of the many varieties of Magic. All spellcasters know a Lore of Magic; this determines what spells they can learn and use. Some Lords know two Lores or, in the cases of Teclis, Morathi and Alarielle, have an assortment of spells from all Lores. To use spells, you simply select the desired ability and follow the on-screen on placing it. The system is intuitive enough that it doesn't need much explaining and the in-game spell browser even has a video of every spell in action. Once you cast a spell, the cost of it will be deducted from your available power which will regenerate over time at a rate based on your remaining power reserves. Your available magic outside of your reserves is capped at 30, but the amount of spells you can cast is limited via the overall power reserve; once it is drained, you won't get more unless you use abilities like Arcane Conduit. More on Arcane Conduit later. Spells have a chance to be miscast, inflicting minor damage to the spellcaster. You can, at an additional cost in spellpower and a higher chance of a miscast, double click to overcast a spell for more powerful effects, provided you have the spell skilled out.
An exception to the afromentioned rules are bound spells; these are spells that come from magical items your Lord or Hero pick up after a battle or are spells from a different Lore of Magic certain characters can learn, or, more commonly, spells that are tied to a specific item. Bound spells do not cost spellpower or affect power regeneration and have a fixed cooldown, but can often only be cast a fixed number of times. For example, once leveled up, a High Elven mage of any Lore can cast Fireball four times for free except for a 90 second cooldown between each cast.
There are a lot of Lores of Magic to choose from, generally speaking, they can be put into twocategories: The Generic Lores (Fire, Light, Death, Beasts, Heavens, Life, Shadows, Metal) and Faction specific Lores (Skaven Spells of Plague, Skaven Spells of Ruin, Skaven Spells of Stealth, Lore of the Big Waaagh!, Lore of the Little Waaagh!, Lore of High Magic, Lore of Dark Magic, Lore of the Deep, Lore of Nehekhara, Lore of the Wild, Lore of Vampires).
The generic Lores are accessible to most factions with some missing here and there. The Empire generally has the broadest variety of Lores (namely, all, plus Lore of Metal through Balthazar Gelt) to choose; Bretonnia and the Wood Elves the least. Faction specific Lores are usually only available for one faction, with some exceptions through bound spells and special characters. Each Lore comes with a passive attribute that affects units map-wide. Before we dive into a deeper description of the Lores themselves, a word on Arcane Conduit and Greater Arcane Conduit.
Arcane Conduit is an active ability that replenishes your power reserves and increases the power recharge rate for 30 seconds, after that, it goes on a 60-second-cooldown. Use this ability! Extra spellpower is never bad and the power you have on hand cannot decay away; only your increased recharge rate reverts to normal after the effect ends. But it's never bad to just use it. It is a no-brainer. The premier mage characters even have access to Greater Arcane Conduit, which is simply a permanently active version of Arcane Conduit. Certain magical items as well as some Lore attributes can increase your reserves and recharge rate as well.
Onto the Lores then.
- Lore of Fire: Fire, so much fire that it has the potential to make the Salamanders jealous and a Sister of Battle rethink her career choice. Provides a number of handy buffs, and two great AoE attacks. Not much to say, since it is so straightforward. The Lore attribute makes the enemy more vulnerable to Fire damage, which synergizes well with a variety of units and increases its own damage even further (Lores apply during the countdown to cast). It is considered the best Lore of Magic for dealing damage. Archaon the Everchosens preferred Lore, for some reason.
-No disrespect to the above but its definitely not considered the "best lore for damage" most people consider fire versatile but not the best at any given task except maybe chaff killing, only great vs low armor or fire weak units. its good certainly but is bad at killing single targets with any kind of armor, anything with armor in general, or high health monstrous units. shadows and celestial are both better damage dealers vs armor. still flaming sword is very effective on ranged focused doomstacks, it makes sisters of avelorn, shades and others even more terrifying. no other spells directly boost archers and the front line protecting them at the same time. the thing people rave about is usually flaming head vs lightly armored infantry, which is devastating but also very specific and its vortex is usually considered bad.
- Lore of Light: Provides some very good buffs, a mediocre but cheap projectile, an extremely useful ensnaring ability that stops any poor suckers from moving so your missile units can shoot them, and a fairly cost effective Vortex that deals bonus damage against Undead. If you want your wizard to primarily buff up your units and stop enemies moving close to your unit, this is your Lore. Also one of the rarer lores, with only four factions (Empire, High Elves, Lizardmen and Tomb Kings having access to it.
-Net is so powerful many people consider it the strongest lore other than maybe vampires or life, for ranged and artillery armies especially. also banishment does not do more damage to undead, that's a myth based on how lore of light worked on the tabletop. in fact because it does pure ap damage but low base damage its actually worse than most vortexes on lightly armored units like most undead are. still pretty good.
- Lore of Death: Basically the opposite of the Lore of Light. Consists primarily of spells that debuff enemy units and some unmissable point-and-click spells. Lore attribute increases your power recharge rate which is never a bad thing. Important to note is that this Lore is the only Lore available to Greenskins other than the Waaagh! Lores. Azhag the Slaughterer uses this Lore (courtesy of his magic crown), as well as Arkhan the Black and that pompous fuck Mannfred von Carstein.
-A favorite lore in multiplayer for powerful direct damage spells you cant avoid, still good but not as effective in single player. purple sun is maybe the best of the armor piercing vortexes, its very large with good ap, some base damage, and disrupts enemy formations by throwing them around. With banishments similar cost (17 vs 18) purple sun is usually as good or better in every situation except it's duration.
- Lore of Heavens: A bit of an odd lore consisting of exactly one good buff for melee units and three potentially powerful but random damage spells and a very niche Lore Attribute that weakens flying units. If you like cosplaying as Emperor Palpatine or hurling Meteors, this is your Lore; Otherwise, a good skip.
- Don't underestimate it, i'd take it over fire for damaging spells, its better vs single targets and armor than fire. skip the comet usually, other 3 damage spells are more efficient. Wind blast is one of the best damage spells vs light armor in particular.
- Lore of Beasts: A very diverse, jack-of-all-trades lore that abuses cheap spells, with the most significant spell summoning a Feral Manticore (or a Great Eagle if you're playing High Elves or Wood Elves) to your side; Otherwise, it tends to be overshadowed by other Lores. If you have access to better Lores, you can skip it. The Lore attribute is interesting as it recharges your power reserve as well as increase your recharge rate for 29 seconds when you cast a spell, effectively giving you a good discount on your cheaper spells.
-people take it for manticores pretty much, it has some good buffs/debuffs, but don't expect to do any significant damage with it past early on. maybe on a second caster if you have enough winds of magic boosts from campaign.
- Lore of Life: The ultimate defensive utility Lore. It has lots of spells that buff the survivability of your units and has two decent enough damage spells as well as being the only Lore that has multiple healing spells. The Fae Enchantress and Alarielle the Everqueen speciallizes in this Lore. The Lore attribute heals all friendly entities (not units, entities!) on the map for some HP which is convenient. However, be warned: healing cannot revive already dead entities in a unit! It is widely considered to be an extremely powerful Lore of Magic if used correctly. Especially if running Sigle entity doom stacks it cant be beaten, heal up to full after every fight. lore attribute works better on low health infantry but other 2 healing spells are much better on small units of monsters or single entities.
- Lore of Shadows: A hybrid Lore that is best suited for a more subtle approach. Most of the buffs and debuffs are good enough. Pit of Shades is the only stationary vortex spell in the game but overcomes this by vacuuming up nearby units to deal consistent damage to them. What makes it stand out is the Lore attribute granting gives your units a whopping +24% speed boost, which is not to be underestimated.
- Very good lore for AP damage spells, all 3 are highly effective vs armor. plus a good single target debuff and a potent weapon strength buff. maybe the most versatile jack of all trades lore since its damage spells all work against armor. can damage all unit types very well except single entity and its buff and debuff can handle them indirectly. less effective than fire or celestial vs lightly armored chaff generally though miasma is very efficient vs high unit sizes.
- Lore of Metal: Certainly the rarest of the Lores (only the Empire's Balthasar Gelt, High Elves and Chaos' forces have access to it), it mainly focuses on debuffing and buffing armor and weapons. It can reduce enemy armor, can increase your own, and can debuff weapons. The take away spell is Final Transmutation, which is a massive AOE damage spell that gives EVERYTHING a middle finger (over a couple of seconds). Did we mention the passive that gives more AP to all your units? Balthasar's preferred Lore as the self-proclaimed (and frequenly proven) "Lord of Metal". Great for fighting factions that love to throw armor at you but only OK against everyone else.
- Often considered pretty weak, too much focus on buffing/debuffing armor makes it less useful late game in campaign, hounds is usually considered pretty bad, that alone means 3 of the spells are pretty situational or weak. still the other 3 spells are pretty good. best used on gelt who gets extremely cheap casting. Final transmutation is like an AOE spirit leach, only good on single entities and small units but still great.
- Lore of the Little Waaagh!: As befitting for da Gobbos, tons of stuff that give your hordes of Goblins a fighting chance against the enemy. Little in the way of direct damage, but useful nonetheless. Curse of the Bad Moon is one of the optic highlights of the game, and a great spell to boot. The Lore attribute reduces the enemies power recharge rate.
- Lore of the Big Waaagh!: As subtle as a truck racing down a highway with 250 mph ON FIRE. Perfectly suitable for da Orks t' get Krumpin'. Foot of Gork is a devastating spell that can potentially end a battle with a single cast. 'Ere we go! is one of the best offensive buffs in the game and, combined with the Waaagh mechanic, this is a seriously dangerous Lore for anyone facing against it. Wurrzag the Great Green Prophet specializes in this Lore. The Lore attribute increases your power recharge rate. Decent enough.
- Skaven Spells of Ruin: The first of the three Skaven Lores, and the most offensively minded. Warp Lightning may be the most cost effective damage spell in the game, the other spells are rather niche but nonetheless useful. Howling Warp Gale can help a lot with flying nuisances such as Dragons, leaving them vulnerable to your considerable arsenal of ranged weapons and artillery. Ikit Claw uses this Lore, Warlock Enginners and -Masters use it exclusively. The Lore attribute lowers enemy Leadership and Melee Attack, giving your front line a bit more room to breathe, which you can then fill with Warpfire and Warpstone Bullets. flensing ruin is underestimated, overcasted it preforms as well as final transmutation overcast in terms of damage done per winds spent.
- Skaven Spells of Plague: Occupying the gap between pure utility of the Skaven Spells of Stealth and the pure damage of the Spells of Ruin. Whats interesting about this Lore is that it has not one but two spells that summon units and its ultimate spell causes immense damage while simultaneously debuffing the enemy - did I mention that Grey Seers with this Lore can summon Stormvermin? One of the best Lores, even if the most shiny bits are difficult to access outside of Clan Pestilens, since it requires you to level up either a Plague Priest or a Grey Seer for a considerable time to make full use of it - but when you can make use it, the enemy-things will feel it, yes-yes. Lord Skrolk uses this Lore and is the best candidate for using it.
- Skaven Spells of Stealth: The only Lore in the game designed to be used with a spefific sub-faction and, frankly, it does show. It offers a lot of utility and a decent Vortex spell but gets overshadowed in almost every regard by the Lore of Plague and the Lore of Ruin - unless you take the Limitations of Sniktch's campaign into consideration. It's still rather niche and, if you're playing as the other Skaven factions, you're better off using either Ruin or Plague.
- Lore of Vampires: Brutal. Definitively the best Lore in the entire game. Wind of Death will wipe entire units off the floor, averaging hundreds of kills per cast. Some general utility is found in using Raise the Dead to summon units to flank, tank damage, or bodyblock for your more valuable units and its Lore attribute heals (and revives) your undead minions. Its starting ability is also the best healing spell in the game in the form of Invocation of Nehek: a cheap, effective spell that uses excess healing to revive dead entities. There is little that can beat this Lore, which makes it only fair that it is exclusive to the Vampire Counts and Vampire Coast. Count Noctilus can use this Lore as well as all Vampire Lords.
- Lore of High Magic: Another jack-of-all-trades lore that is exclusive to High Elves, Spellweavers and Slann. It can do a bit of everything. Healing, direct damage, buffs, debuffs, AOE explosions and a passive damage reduction. Has the main drawbacks that jack-of-all-trades do: they can do a bit of anything but don't excel at anything and, since High Elves have access to ALL the generic lores, it's often better to pick one that fits their specific needs on the battlefield. One of the more useful spells is Tempest, a vortex spell that damages and heavily slows flying units, locking them in place for your archers or fliers to attack. Eltharion is the only Legendary Lord who specializes in this. people only take it in multiplayer for tempest pretty much, crap in campaign. its not even the best jack of all trades lore.
- Lore of Dark Magic: The unique lore of those assholes in Naggaroth. Where as the Asur Lores do have a few spells that help out their troops, Dark Elves say "Fuck that, let's just use our magic to torture the other guys!". Home to a really good debuff that can help swing fights, and the stand out is Soul Stealer, an AOE damage spell that heals the caster. Unfortunately, aside from those two, the others are just subpar damage spells, a debuff to armor, and a magic recharge spell that hurts the caster. All in all, it has a few stand out options but not one you really want to go all out in. Malekith specializes in this lore.
- Underestimated especially in campaign, power of darkness is the most effective WOM generator skill in the game it gives 3 times as much winds reserves as arcane conduit (30 vs 10) and 4 times as much winds gain speed (plus 60% vs 15%). Chillwind does 24 pure ap damage, 2/3 as much ap as a pendulum spell does. While Chill wind wont kill models much it can deal lots of cheap ap damage to infantry and cavalry, while being fast, cheap, and easy to aim. Doombolt is pretty good for the large AP damage done with good tracking, basic version is as about as good versus armor as overcast amber spear but much better AOE range to hurt units as well. Finally blade wind is a decent, cheap vortex that does about as well vs armor as firestorm thanks to the lore attribute, good vs hordes. You can even just use a dark caster as a winds of magic battery for another caster. also the wood elf lore attribute gives a nice boost to missile damage with every spell cast mapwide. comparable to the other damage lore's like fire, celestial, and shadow. excels most vs single targets and armor usually. can do the most single entity damage out of those 4 lore's and can be comparable to death and metal at that role thanks to Soul Stealer, Doombolt, and Word of Pain.
- Lore of Nehekhara: If you couldn't guess by the name, it's the Lore of the boney bois. It is a buffing lore, through and through, which can give additional damage and anti large, protections, and missile power. Given the fact that your average Tomb King soldier is a literal pile of bones that barely knows which end of the sword to poke the bad guys with... yeah, this can help out a lot. Settra and Khatep use this lore a lot. Overall it's... ok? The damage spells are VERY subpar, and with access to the Lores of light and death, there's really no reason to pick it. The passive heal is nice but won't let you compete with Vampire healing.
- Lore of the Deep: A Lore made up by CA and designed specifically for the Vampire Coast. It has three specific purposes: 1: Damage and dishing out LOTS OF IT (Vangheist's Revenge is one of the coolest looking spells in the game and can seriously lay down the pain), 2: Buffs to missile troops, which helps any gunpowder faction and 3: Summons. You can summon zombies, zombies with guns, and giant crabs to really push the fight in your favor. Cylostra was given this lore by Stormfels, and Luthor Harkon gets it in campaign when you fix his fractured mind. Is it a fun lore? Absolutely! It's a blast! Are the other lores for the Vampire Coast more practical from a competitive standpoint? Sadly, also yes. You can just use the summons on a deep hero with a vampire general so that's something. Its summons are likely more cost effective then lore of vampires depending on what you need. best as a supplement to vampires, not competition.
- Lore of the Wilds: Beastmen got shafted in a lot of ways in their race pack. Their unique Lore of magic was NOT one of them. Wilds has some surprisingly good damage spells that can really help the goat men clear through crowds. Also, a passive that make restores vigor is never one you can complain about. Oh, did we mention they can summon a Cygor? As in literally have one crawl out of the ground and throw shit at the bad people? Yeah, people like to complain about the shit missing in the Beastmen DLC (with good reason, mind you) but, in terms of their unique magic, Beastmen actually got it pretty good. Obviously, it's Malagor's favored lore.
- Lore of Ice: Placeholder for Warhammer 3. If the cinematic trailer and the Lore for Kislev is anything to go by, expect the Kislevites to throw around lots of frozen magic. Given how it was shown off, Tzarina Katarina will with a certainty of 99.9% specialize in this Lore.
- Lore of Tempest: Placeholder for Warhammer 3. The other lore of magic exclusive to Kislev
- Lore of Tzeentch: Placeholder for Warhammer 3.
- Lore of Nurgle: Placeholder for Warhammer 3.
- Lore of Slaanesh: Placeholder for Warhammer 3.
- Lore of the Great Maw: Placeholder for Warhammer 3... sort of. Well, we don't exactly know when the Ogres are going to come out, but given that CA has promised to include every race from 8th Edition WHFB, they're a very safe bet.
Spells themselves, just like in the tabletop game, come in six flavors: Buffs/Debuffs, Projectiles, Breaths/Winds, Vortexes, Bombardments, and Direct Damage.
- Buffs/Debuffs: Pretty self explanatory. You cast them on a unit or group of units, and it improves or weakens a unit's stats. Overcast buffs usually have an area of effect that affects multiple units; you can these spells cast either on one unit or just out in the wild. To be affected by any buff or debuff, a unit must have at least half its models within the area of effect.
- Projectiles: Similar to a ranged attack, it fires one or multiple projectiles in a straight arc at a target of your choosing. They tend to be cheap and very accurate, but need a line of fire to work. Best used by Casters who have access to a flying mount and to snipe monsters or single characters.
- Breaths/Winds: Basically a directional AoE attack. Winds hit the whole area their indicator... indicates, while Breath spells expand in a roughly tear sized shape. The indicator can sometimes be deceiving; some Breath spells and all Wind spells have a much larger range than the indicator suggests (most notably overcast Wind of Death from the Lore of Vampies AKA the best spell in the game) and it comes down to experience how each spell works best but, fret not, there is not much to it. Like all AoE attacks, they can cause friendly fire. What the game doesn't tell you immediately is that you can change the direction of your Wind or Breath Spell by holding the left mouse button before casting. Also, the Wind spells can deviate from the straight line the indicator shows, which can be quite annoying, but they'll never go as off-course as Vortexes. If a Breath/Wind hits a wall it'll be reflected, potentially letting you hit units that aren't lined up.
- Vortexes: Big pie plates and usually the most potent damage spells in any given lore. All but one move randomly over the map while they are active but all cause massive damage to units that have a lot of models in them. They never start moving where they can do the most damage so it's best to use them on an enemy unit surrounded by other enemy units.
- Bombardments: Think of them like off-map artillery from other RTS games. You pick an area, and a certain amount of projectiles come down from the sky, inflicting damage. Very straightforward and not hard to use.
- Direct Damage: Direct Damage spells work differently from the other damage spells; they directly inflict magic damage to a units HP stat rather than its models, like a damage-over-time effect and don't inflict friendly fire. However, unlike the others, individual models can resist them. Usually your more reliable character sniping spells (with Spirit Leech from the Lore of Death being the most effective for its cost), although there are some that work better against whole regiments (Like Final Transmutation from the Lore of Metal or Flensing Ruin from the Skaven Spells of Ruin). Ethereal units really hate those.
You still want to know more? Well just head over to Total War: Warhammer/Tactics/Magic and you will find knowledge a plenty.
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