Magic in The Old World: Forces of Fantasy

Today we start our three part mini-series on Magic in The Old World. Reece takes a look through the Forces of Fantasy armies, faction by faction, to break down which Lores they can take and how to make the use of them.

Magic in The Old World is potentially an extremely strong part of any force, and with so many different lores to pick from and so many different ways to incorporate those lores into a strategy or theme, it can be difficult to sort through all the combinations of what could-be and what should-not-be. On top of all these lores, each faction usually has its own special selection of faction specific signature spells that give that little extra spice potential to any particular game.

Now, the smaller-than-normal elephant in the room is that Dwarves do not take any Lores, have almost no selection the spells they can cast, and don’t really do that much spell casting at all. The hairy little fellas will have to sit this one out as the smarter/more insane races of the Warhammer world talk about the sparkly hand-wavy motions they do to incinerate their neighbours. While Dwarves are not members of their local grimoire club, they will get their own faction focus in the future, which will include the bound spell using unit The Anvil of Doom, so keep on the lookout for that. 

Looking at each spell we’ll outline some strong options and scenarios, then talk about the following, where appropriate: best use case scenarios, the likelihood of utilising those best use case scenarios, and how well we predict the spell to play against the field at a competitive event.

Evergreen Spells

Before we dive into each individual faction, there are some spells that simply stand out from the rest and are useful in nearly any army they are taken in. All of the spells below should be considered to be of great value when they’re usable, and some of them are just damn good all the time. So, we’ll quickly run through those spells here, with a little more added on top in each faction’s breakdown. 

Battle Magic

Battle Magic is proving itself to be one of the strongest spell Lores out there due to having at least 3 spells that nearly every faction can benefit from. 

Fireball: Fireball is the spell attached to the Ruby Ring of Ruin, and it’s still good outside of that item. At 24 inches in range this spell is one of the longest in the game, and you’ll be using it to absolutely destroy any low armour, low toughness unit. The prime targets for this spell are basically half the game, but it excels at clearing chaff off the board so you can do what you want to do. Magic Missiles are great against skirmishers because they don’t roll to hit, and most skirmishers don’t have much armour and have low toughness, and also try to hide around corners and out of range. Everything Fireball has going for it counters what skirmishers want to do. It is also a fantastic spell at clearing out the last few models of a unit to claim full points, which is primarily what you’ll be doing with this spell in turns 4-6. An absolute workhorse of a spell and should be in every list that can bring it. You’ll see this at every event. 

Pillar of Fire: With how much we just raved about Fireball, this spell is in the running for best spell in the game. It is the only Magical Vortex spell that moves in the direction you want, and that’s mostly enough to make it one of the best. With how vortex spells work in The Old World, you want to chain them through units so that they “pop” down a long line of targets. The template can not end its movement on top of a unit, so the template keeps moving through units until it is able to be placed on the battlefield not touching any of the units it just incinerated. Because of this it counters lone wizards trying to hide from shooting, some weaker war machines, skirmishers (again), and makes reasonable dents into most infantry out there. Having -2ap on top of all of it just feels unreasonable. If you can field Pillar of Flame, play Pillar of Flame. Another event mainstay. 

Arcane Urgency: While this spell is less evergreen than the other two above, this is one of the best Conveyance spells in the game. Unlike most Conveyance spells, you use this little time-lord spell after already moving, which when combined with anything that already moves fast will mean you’ll rocket across the board and likely into the next table over. Below we will mention which armies this serves the best. If the opponent has those units, you can bet they’ll be using this. 


The Summoning: One of the best Signature spells in the game, The Summoning is a slightly stronger but shorter range version of Fireball. The extra little point of ap on this spell does a lot of work into units with only a 5+ save, which is a shockingly large amount of the game. Due to it being a Signature spell it is also very reliable to take. Any faction that can spam cheap wizards that use this Lore can have this plan in their back pocket ready to do mass finger-guns at high noon. As it is a signature spell, it’s highly likely you’ll encounter this spell at an event. 

Daemonic Vessel: One of the top two combat buff spells in the game. While it only lasts for the turn you cast it, having strength, attacks, and ap buffs on a single spell can be gross. It’s harder to cast on a 10, and only affects the unit the wizard is in, so you have to jump through a few hoops to get this one working. If your wizard can fight, this is a great spell to have. Likely to encounter this spell, especially against a field of infantry or cheap cavalry. 

Dark Magic

Battle Lust: The other strongest combat buff spell, Battle Lust clocks in at only a 9 to cast, and has range beyond the caster. This added flexibility is what likely has this spell be better than Daemonic Vessel as a general use case, and if cast on a unit that already has a good stat line the rerolls from Hatred can really turn a blender unit into a wood chipper unit. More common than Daemonic Vessel as it has more use cases, expect to see it. 


Plague of Rust: In the running for the best Hex spell in the game, the uses for Plague of Rust are simple but effective. Point it at the thing you want dead this turn. The massive range of 21 inches combined with being able to cast it into combat means that you can nearly always find a good cast for this spell. Nearly all things worth killing in The Old World have at least a passing armour save, so why not just take it away completely and slaughter your enemy while their shiny metal hats dissolve to brown dust? If you already have means to deal out damage, particularly at range, but really want to turn up the heat, then Plague of Rust is the best spell for that. This spell will make its mark in every event, so expect it in matches where it’s possible! 

Earthen Ramparts: Earthen Ramparts is not particularly powerful, but it gives unique benefits that any army with access to this Lore can claim. A very defensive buff and probably the best at it, this spell has the unique effect of essentially causing enemies to have disordered charges due to the low linear obstacle. The ward save is great, but it is at the price of no marching or charging. Best used on infantry but also very useful on Cavalry that don’t particularly need the charge and can strike before enemy units due to a high enough initiative. Whenever you roll this spell, always keep in mind how it could be used against any particular opponent before subbing it out for a signature, you might just be surprised at its strength. A common defensive spell in a common lore, you should expect to see this spell. 

High Magic

Fiery Convocation: This spell, while strong, is entirely dependent on what your opponent is fielding. This bomb will do incredible damage to units of infantry in formation but mostly nothing else. It can do some work into some kinds of Cavalry, but you mostly want to take this to drop it on a brick of infantry that you want to soften up before charging it. While this spell is not always good due to what your opponent has, its value does not change much based on your own army list, so we’ll place it here in this list. Uncommon to see due to the factions that can take High Magic and who it is good against. Don’t expect it, but do respect it. 

Tempest: Another spell that has more value depending on what your opponent takes, Tempest will stop any Fanatic shenanigans due to turning a massive 9 inch circle into a drug-free zone that no Fanatic may enter, also known as difficult terrain. This is a very specific use for this spell but causing lower movement and worse charges in a large area is pretty good all around in The Old World, and you’ll likely always have a decent use for it. Similar to Fiery Convocation, unlikely to see, but still keep it in mind. 


Glittering Robe: A fantastic defensive spell when going against an army with a lot of Ballistic Skill based shooting, but also functions in combat! It lasts until your next turn but is limited to having the Wizard inside the unit to gain the benefits. This spell also knocks off other Enchantments so make sure you cast this first if you’re looking to stack effects. Most things hit most things on 4s in combat in TOW, so reducing them to 5s is roughly a 33% increase in survivability and is likely to swing any even sided combat firmly in your favour. A very good signature spell, expect it to be part of an enemies defensive game. 

Column of Crystal: One of the most unique spells in the game, Column of Crystal makes you trip out of your gourd so badly that it will stop actual real cannon balls that hit it. While flavourfully only an illusion, you can be certain that the frustration this may cause your opponent will be very real. Creating a block of impassable terrain has so many good uses that it’s impossible to name them all here, so I’ll give one of the best ones; throwing it down in front of the enemy dragon right in its face so that it literally can not see anything and can not charge. On top of that, you may drop any Magical Vortex at the start of any sub phase for free, so you can block whatever you want from doing whatever they want, then drop it to completely ruin their day. One of the most dynamic spells out there and a ton of fun to play with. Hobby hint: Just go get an actual real crystal online (mine is Selunite), as it will be much cheaper and likely better looking than anything built from scratch. Highly versatile spell and a fan favourite, expect this spell at every event. 

Miasmic Mirage: Simply the most immediately impactful Hex in the game. There is a reason this spell takes an 11 to cast, and it’s not because of how funny it is to imagine a dragon falling over rocks it sees in its head. Due to the nature of when you cast Hex spells, 15 inch range and an 11 to cast can be unreliable, but when this spell hits it is really crippling. Turning your opponents high cost melee specialists into lawn ornaments for a turn is extremely valuable and if you’re taking Illusion, you should take this spell. Much like Column of Crystal, this spell will be in every event. Illusion has rather poor options for the other spells in the Lore as well, so this and Column are must-picks. 


Since nothing in the Forces of Fantasy can use this lore innately, the only way to gain access is through the Wizard Hat magic item, which means you’ll also always be rolling for this lore randomly. 

Fist of Gork (Or Mork): Similar to Fiery Convocation in that it is useful mainly against blocks of infantry, this spell in Forces of Fantasy will only be cast with a +1 and is a 9+ to cast. The Template can scatter, and the damage is not too crazy even if it hits. Take a skip on this if you want to get the most out of your Wizard hat, but take it if you want to add more punch *groan* to your melee character.

The Empire

Skipping over (with a very small hop) the first entry in the Forces of Fantasy book, we get to The Empire of Man. Previously known for its colleges of magic and long history with magic, The Empire keeps a small amount of that flavour alive, but at the price of not having any faction specific signature spells. To understand how magic helps The Empire, we first need to look at what the empire likes to do in The Old World. Without delving too much into detail about the minutiae, The Empire has weak melee foot troops, strong Cavalry, good artillery, and decent ranged units. This usually generates a force that has some Demigryphs in it, has a few cannons, perhaps some Outriders, and maybe a Steam Tank. While this is all dealers’ choice about what you bring, the magic that The Empire will get the most out of will be the spells that are a force multiplier for their stronger units. 

The Empire wizards also get access to a very large number of Lores, more so than any other faction. It’s due to this wide selection that can gear your magic in a lot of different ways, and due to the Wizard Lord limit being similar to a Crystal Maze final challenge (take as many as you can and stuff them in your pockets) it is a strong strategy to take as many as you can and pump out as much damage as possible with them.

Empire Amber Battle Wizard. Credit: SRM


Curse of Arrow Attraction: While not at its best here, it still provides value in an Empire army that is doing its best to utilise ballistic skill shooting. The unit to gain the most value out of this Hex is likely to be your Hellblaster Volley Guns. If you plan on taking a handful of them to the next game, this spell could unlock a lot of damage that would otherwise be left on the table. At a very large 21 inch range, it’s possible to move up with your Wizard and Hex and shoot a unit with this on turn 2, provided they moved into range of the Hellblaster. An unlikely spell to see on the board, as most Empire players are not really playing with a lot of ballistic skill based units. 


The Summoning: Empire get an additional trick on top of everyone else, and can take a nifty item called Wizard’s Staff, which grants a +1 bonus to Magic Missile casts. Due to the lack of limitations on Empire wizard, it is perfectly reasonable to cram as many of the Wizard Lords as you like and give them all a magic stick for a little fleet of +5 to cast on The Summoning. As a signature spell you know you’ll always get it so this is something you can easily plan around having every game. The Summoning spam is alive and well with The Empire, expect to see this in a lot of lists. 

Steed of Shadows: Blocks of infantry are not what Empire really wants to be doing as their infantry took a hit in TOW, but if you do have a large amount of Infantry and want to shove them into your opponent’s face, then this spell is great for that. A unit of Greatswords suddenly 24 inches up the flank and looking for a T2 charge is daunting to most units in the game. Somewhat common pick due to the pick rate of Daemonology for The Summoning, so it will often be the case that one of those infantry units can zoom over the battlefield in any Empire army. 


Infernal Gateway: This spell has a unique play pattern for The Empire, and that is that both types of Warrior Priest activate their abilities in the command phase and some of them are useful for charging or buffing a unit they are in. Some of them are also not tied to them being in the unit for the unit to gain the benefits. With this nifty spell you can chant for a unit, give them, say, +D3 charge bonus, then charge them in only to yank the character to safety and leave the delivered unit behind. It’s a very specific circumstance but one that The Empire does quite uniquely. A very niche scenario makes this only somewhat ok to use, so don’t expect to see it that often. 

Battle Lust: While good most of the time, this spell is pretty valuable on Demigryph Knights. Only the knights up top benefit from the extra attack, but one of the only downsides of Demigryphs is that they do not have a fantastic weapon skill and can sometimes fluff the rolls. With hatred rerolls you can have some peace of mind that this flurry of feathers and claws will Tasmanian devil itself through whatever it hits. Certainly the best buff spell The Empire can get their hands on. If they take Dark magic, this is what the Empire player is looking for. 


Earthen Ramparts: In a full gunline style army this spell is very helpful. If you’re looking to shoot your enemy down you’re likely in Elementalism anyway for Plague of Rust, so picking this up will give you the stronger front line you may need to control the field. Having a detachment on the side of a unit with this is quite the challenging unit to charge for some units, so if you want a defensive spell to pair with Plague of Rust then this is the one for you. Good pick and likely to be at events in an Empire list. 


Spectral Doppelganger: For each faction we’ll take a look at the best use case for this spell as it can be very different for each faction. This spell used to be much more dangerous before the most recent FAQ which took away the Mace of Helstrum, so this spell does not really have a good place on the list anymore. The best combination with this is now the mainline Ogre Blade, as you always want to keep 30 points for Lore Familiar to actually pick the spell you want. Due to the updates, highly unlikely to see this spell in Empire lists. 


Magic in Bretonnia attempts to take a more specific role when compared to the rest of the factions. Namely, it appears to be shaped into a protective and supportive role for the knights. The comparatively fragile Damsels’ and Prophetesses’ main features favour them being inside a unit of knights and giving the unit a number of protective spells and effects to enhance their potential. Well, that’s not the only way to play them and potentially not even the best way to sling magic in The Old World. We’ll be discussing a few roles that can be played with the Lores of magic afforded to us in the Grand Army selection but we’ll also be talking about the Outcast Wizard that is open for the Exiles Army of Infamy from the Bretonnian arcane journal. 

The Outcast wizard gets access to all the Lores of magic that an Empire wizard does, but does not get access to the Lore of the Lady that the Handmaidens do. Due to the cheap cost of the Outcast wizard, they do things that the Empire does but even cheaper! The catch is that they’re limited to level 3 and their miscasts are more deadly. We’ll talk about each spell coming from which wizard is likely to use it where possible. 

Bretonnians Signature spells are quite good here, so we’ll be able to cover all of them alongside the rest of the Lores. 

Bretonnian Prophetess. Credit – Warhammer Community

Lore of the Lady

The Lady’s Gift: One of the best defensive spells in the game. Not much in Bretonnia gives Regeneration so this spell is worth a lot to the faction. It also has a little failsafe built in so even if you roll low you’ll still get some value out of it. Being a Remains in Play and not requiring the wizard to be in the unit is a massive deal here. On the first turn of the game the Handmaiden can buff a powerful unit, then leave it there and try to avoid the enemy wizard to keep the buff stuck on them for as long as possible. You can even cast it into combat! A great spell and you’ll likely take it every game. Expect to see this at any event with Bretonnians. 

The Lady’s Wrath: This spell is a little more aggressive than The Lady’s Gift, and this spell comes in use when the opponent does not have any Wizards and has invested heavily into combat. You’ll want to use Shield of the Lady to keep your Handmaiden safe and cast this in your biggest baddest unit to punch the widest hole in line. This spell on any unit of Knights is a good time. Not very likely to to be seen, but it has a very potent use case against no wizard lists. 

Burning Gaze: This spell is unfortunately against two other fantastic spells, so Burning Gaze does not get that much attention, but against highly armoured cavalry this spell can absolutely destroy the battlefield. It requires some more finesse to get in to position to use it but when it works out you will definitely get all the attention from nearby units to kill the source of the Hot Stare. It’s unlikely that you’ll see Fiery Look in many events, as it’s only really useful against a specific type of enemy, but when you’re fielding highly armoured knights, beware the Inferno Glance. 


We’ll take a moment here to talk about Battle in general for Bretonnians, as they are one of the factions that has access to the mobile artillery build for their wizards. This build is a level 4 on a fast mount, a Unicorn or Royal Pegasus in this case, that has Lore Familiar and Ruby Ring of Ruin. With the Lore familiar you will take Fireball, Pillar of Flame, Arcane Urgency, and your choice of signature spell (likely The Lady’s Gift). This one wizard will blow up a large chunk of your enemies forces and is the best way to approach the Battle lore. The other spells in this lore do not compare to this build at all, and this is something you should be expecting to see in many events. 


The Summoning: Much like The Empire, Outcast wizards can be taken en masse and just pick this spell up on every wizard. It’s a very reliable shooting core to be on the look out for this in every Exiles list that has more than 1 wizard. 

Steed of Shadows: Outcast wizards can yeet a unit of Knights of the Realm on Foot across the battlefield into the perfect spot for a charge next turn, which is exactly what they want to be doing with Furious Charge and great weapons. The perfect movement spell for this use case, and in an Exiles list you’re much more likely to have blocks of infantry than any other build of Bretonnia. Expect to see this in nearly every Exiles Bretonnian list. 

Daemonic Vessel: The Lady’s Wrath’s bigger scarier brother appears! You know that unit of foot knights that just appeared at your front door? Well now they’re even scarier than before with this attached to them. An Outcast wizard that is determined to buff its unit of Foot Knights is a terrifying thing to see just appear on a flank. It has a few moving parts to it, but if this combo occurs then the enemies of Bretonnia are in for a world of hurt. Expect to see this in the same lists that would use Steed of Shadows. 


Earthen Ramparts: A very nice spell to have in your back pocket if you’re running a larger amount of Knight Errants. The no charging stipulation can stop a bad Impetuous roll and keep the young whippersnappers safe. The ward safe is somewhat redundant but can be useful if the Errants have been used to flee from a charge previously and they lost their blessing. Unlikely to see this that often, but if the Bretonnian player is in Elementalism this is a likely pick. 

Wind Blast: A lot of wizards don’t move across the board that much, but Bretonnia is the horse faction so nearly every wizard they take will be moving, and moving fast. This helps Wind Blast a lot because a good use for it is to shove enemy units off the board that are near an edge. With only 15 inches of range this can prove challenging, but this is mitigated with high movement. Similar to Earthen Ramparts, a solid pick if you’re in Elementalism anyway and will likely be on the common side for that reason. 


Spectral Doppelganger: There are two main users of Doppelganger in the Bretonnians list. The first is a regular handmaiden that has used Shield of the Lady to put themselves at the back of a unit and then uses this spell in combination with the weapon Sword of the Stout Hearted, which is basically a very slightly worse Great Weapon without the Strikes Last rule. The unconventional pick is the Outcast wizard with the Exile exclusive weapon Frontier Axe. The Frontier Axe is an incredibly undercosted weapon and it boosts the Outcast wizards combat ability immensely. Due to having a full 75 points worth of options, an Outcast wizard can take the Frontier Axe, a Lore familiar, and a Potion of Speed to charge the foe, cast Doppelganger, and get 2D6 Strength 5 hits with -3 ap, and Multiple Wounds (2). A serious threat to any multi-wound model that it can outspeed. Be careful around this Outcast wizard; if you see Illusion and the Frontier Axe on the list, be afraid of combat with this book worm. 

Wood Elves

Wood Elves are in a similar spot to where they have been since they were first created, and that is firmly in the ranged combat role. They do it well in TOW, and magic is a big part of that. They have the ability to create unique characters with unique combinations with spells affecting them all in different ways, so always be on the lookout for new ways to use magic for the Wood Elves! 

Before we dive into the main Lores, we need to take a moment to talk about the Sisters of the Thorn. This unit can take any spell from Battle or Elementalism and cast it as a bound spell of up to level 2. Being able to pick a spell that is not a Signature Spell is a very powerful ability and as such, the Pine Nuns are an incredibly strong force in the Wood Elves faction. The strongest use for them is to simply take 3 units of 5 with the correct command to get level 2 bound spells, and then take Pillar of Flame 3 times. You can start your first turn by just casting the Pillar of Flame and walking away with all 3 units to avoid getting dispelled. This causes an inferno to approach the enemy that is very difficult to interact with. If you happen to be a faction that has high toughness and high armour saves, well they can just switch that over to Plague of Rust and the mass Poison Attack arrows from the rest of the army will make quick work of that. Wood Elves are one of the best at magic in TOW and a lot of it is due to this unit. 

Wood Elves signature spells are not all sunshine and rainbows, though, and there is likely only one good one. We’ll talk about all three and where they can find some use. 

credit: @raineraugsburg

Athel Loren 

Tree Singing: This is probably the signature spell that you will take most of the time as Wood Elves if you choose to take an Athel Loren signature. Being able to turn on a lot of your different faction features and rules with a 7+ cast is pretty good, even more so if the board you’re playing on is a bit bare for woodland features. This particular woodland terrain feature is also more hostile to enemies so it can be used as a small hazard to make the enemies approach just a little more treacherous. Since there is nothing in particular you can do with this woodland feature that you would not be able to do with one already on the battlefield the use cases are pretty normal. Due to the requirement of a lot of features to have a woodland terrain feature, you’re likely to see this spell often if there are Wood Elves on the prowl. 

Forest Walker: This is theoretically the longest range movement that a Conveyance spell can give, but due to its timing you will never be able to charge the turn you use it. You’re also limited to where you can place your characters with it, and the fact that you’re limited specifically to characters causes this spell to be a bit of a dud. You can certainly cause your Treeman to move much faster than he ever thought possible with this, but since your opponent will get a full turn afterwards to avoid any charges, this might not be the best use of a cast. The main use for this spell is to move some reasonably short range units that will fire in the shooting phase and put them within range of an enemy unit that is hiding in the back field. The unit appears to count as having moved, so you’ll still get those minuses when shooting. Good targets with good ranged attacks for this spell are Treemen with Strangleroots, Characters on dragons to use the breath weapon suddenly, or a Wizard that has mostly short ranged spells. Unlikely to see this spell all that often, but against a defensive gunline this might be whipped out to threaten some backline units. 

Flock of Doom: One of the worst spells that Wood Elves have access to, Flock of Doom has the unfortunate property of using the small blast template. Not only is the template small, the hits that get inflicted are only strength 3 at ap -1. This is not the type of spell that gives much value per cast, especially when casting on a 9+. You’re unlikely to see this spell on any Wood Elf table and if you do, you shouldn’t be all that afraid of it even if you have its prime targets on the board. 

Battle Magic

On top of the Sisters spam, a Wood Elf army can take the mobile artillery cannon as well. A Spellweaver with a Lore familiar, Ruby Ring of Ruin, and mounted on a Unicorn, Warhawk, or Great Eagle can cause all sorts of issues. 

Hammerhand: A wonderfully overlooked spell due to the lack of power generally found in the Assailment class of spells. This spell has a very unique use case with the Wood Elf Shadowdancer. The Shadowdancer comes with Strikes First naturally, which is often limited to the Elf combat characters, but here we get to use it to cast Hammerhand at Strikes First speed. This can come as a surprise to an opponent who charge a lone Shadowdancer with a unit they believed could handle it! With a low casting value, good ap, and Strikes First, Hammerhand has a great use here. With that said, it is unlikely to be seen in many tables as the Shadowdancer is a rare unit to see anyway. If you do see one, it just might have Hammerhand! 

Curse of Arrow Attraction: This spell is at its best in Wood Elves. The only shooting they have outside magic is Ballstic skill based and they are often hitting on the low numbers, which makes rerolling 1s that much better. This is quite literally the best place for this spell to be in the entire game, and you’re likely to see it if Battle Magic is on the list. 

Curse of Cowardly Flight: Wood Elves have access to a Spite that reduces leadership, and with that in mind this spell can actually have some use. It’s a small combo but worth mentioning and if against a low Leadership faction that can flee, this could be seen. As it doesn’t make units flee outright it is still unlikely to be seen on the table as a pessimistic mage might consider this spell as just giving your opponent a free reform. 


Plague of Rust: This spell deserves another mention in Wood Elves, as with a large storm of poison tipped arrows, this spell just ruins units. This combination of rules will give the most bang for your magical buck if bows and arrows are your game. Highly likely to see in a Wood Elf list. 

High Magic

Fury of Khaine: Normally quite a low power spell, this enchantment actually finds its best home on the shoulders of a unit of Wild Riders. Affecting both rider and mount this will turn Wild Riders into an even stronger bullet to blast through front lines. Giving a charging unit of Wild Riders the attack line of 6 attacks per model is bordering on unhinged. You will be unlikely to see this spell in Wood Elf lists, however, due to how good Elementalism and Battle Magic are for them. 


Mind Razor and Confounding Convocation: Both of these spells are quite poor in most matches, but Wood Elves having access to a leadership reducing ability gives these spells a new lease on life (but not enough to push them beyond Battle and Elementalism) 

Spectral Doppelganger: There are a couple setups and combinations that Wood Elves have access to with Doppelganger, and some of them can be a bit surprising. The most straightforward combo is to give a Shadowdancer a Lore Familiar, pick Doppelganger, pick up a Spear of Loec and run into the closest high armour save unit or infantry/cavalry character. With this setup you’ll have a First Strike, Killing Blow, Armour Bane (2) character throwing down 2D6 attacks on top of their 3(4 with Furious Charge) normal attacks. This setup has a few costs and risks though, as the cast will only get a +1 to cast and if you’re near the front line it’s likely that the enemy Wizard is in range to attempt a dispel. Not only that, but you then also have the opportunity cost of using the Lore Familiar here, where it could potentially be of use elsewhere, and since Illusion doesnt have anything else for this character if you don’t pick Lore Familiar its very unlikely to get the spell you want. I’d say this combo is not that common but it’s a very fun one that can cause some surprises. 

The next build is the classic level 4 wizard on a flying mount of your choice. Spear of Twilight is a pretty good weapon here and fits in the points allocation nicely. The low strength of the wizard doesn’t matter here due to Spear of Twilights ability to always wound a 3+, it always has its -2 ap, and to top it off it has a nice Killing Blow attached to it. The biggest downside here is that even though this is an Elf wizard, it still only has Initiative 4. Against most things the 4+3 from the charge is enough, but since we can’t fit in a potion of speed with these two items, you might become limited on targets against other Elf armies, but A Befuddlement of Mischiefs is a Spite that can help with that. A fun play pattern with this build comes with being on a Warhawk (which is Monstrous Cavalry I might add) that comes with Feigned Flight. Illusion is a Lore that likes to be quite close to the enemy, and it’s often the case that your Wizard is in danger of getting charged by at least one thing in your opponent’s turn as they approach, but with the Warhawk you can charge a unit, Doppelganger them, and if you win the combat you can restrain and keep up dispel ranges in the middle of the army. When the opponent attempts to charge the level 4 a simple flee will get you to safety and will immediately rally them due to the Feigned Flight ability, which will keep up dispels for the rest of the turn. On top of that, the Warhawk comes with Fear, which means you don’t have to have that risky failed charge on a large Fear causing unit when you really just wanted to bonk the character sitting inside of it. This is a very risky build as it puts a good amount of points in the line of danger, but is only of the few ways to really get the most out of the Illusion lore. 

High Elves

High Elves are blessed with multiple different styles of playing and a lot of different units to make many builds possible and functional. It would appear that the only real constant agreed on unit that is incredibly powerful is the Prince on Star Dragon. This is not really much to build a magic system around as it is largely self-sufficient but luckily the High Elf wizard has so many options on how to field them that we most certainly will not cover all of them here. However, we will cover some of the most powerful options. If you think you’ve got the busted answer that we missed, hit us in the comments below! 

Most of the variety that the High Elves gain is from their Elven Honour special rule. This opens up builds that make other factions extremely jealous and rightly so. Wizards on chariots can sometimes be a liability, but if that chariot happens to fly then it’s a bit less of a problem. As well as mounts, the Shadow Stalker honour also allows the Wizard to hang out with scout units if you’re looking to do some kind of turn 1 play with an important Hex. 

It is also worth noting that High Elf unique special rule, Lileath’s Blessing, allows them a single reroll of a failed casting roll per turn. This is one of the more powerful magical special rules out there and a lot of factions have to pay with their arcane item to get this effect. This brings a certain amount of reliability to the High Elf magic phase that all those other lowly factions can only look up to. Now, lets see what these snooty NIMBYs have in store for us. 

The signature spells of the High Elves from the Lore of Saphery are not extremely impressive, but some of them have uses that we’ll outline below. It’s more likely the case you’ll default to taking a regular lore signature spell than one of these, but if you end up taking High Magic then you’ll probably take one of the Lore of Saphery signatures due to Drain Magic being a pretty sub-par pick. 

High Elf (aka Swifthawk Agents in AoS) Swordmasters. Credit: Rich “Cronch” Nutter

Lore of Saphery

Hand of Khaine: Assailments are in an odd spot as mentioned before, and this spell is on the lower end of the power scale within the Assailment spells. This causes Hand of Khaine to be pretty terrible. The strength hit is not high, the casting value is in the mid ranges, and it only hits once. You’ll want to avoid using your signature pick on this spell and most High Elf players will do the same, so you’re unlikely to ever see this used. 

Courage of Aenarion: This spell actually has quite a few things going for it. While only a 15” range it is a Remains in Play spell that is cast on a 10. Normally a high cast is a bad thing but with Remains in Play spells you want the static cast to be as high as possible so it makes your opponents dispel attempts even harder in their turn. This is a decent spell to cast on the first turn of the game and have the unit that is buffed with it run ahead of the wizard and do whatever job they need to do. This spell also drops all other Enchantments on the unit so you want to cast it first to stack it with anything. A reasonable spell that is better than Drain Magic, so if the High Elf player is taking High Magic this is a likely Signature spell to see play. 

Vaul’s Unmaking: This is a reasonably unique effect to have on a spell. The ability to take apart the opponent’s combat lord to make them easier to deal with can be invaluable. However, there are a few wrinkles in this elven garb, and that is it being a Hex spell with only 12 inches of range, and an 11+ to cast. Both of these factors can cause this plan to fail at different stress points, and means it is an unlikely plan to succeed. A powerful spell that is difficult to cast for multiple reasons is a very swingy prospect, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing this spell on the table all that often unless the High Elf player is facing down an army that hinges its gameplan on a few key magical items. 

Battle Magic

Another faction that can use the level 4 mobile artillery platform is the High Elves. They come with a plethora of good mount options to run around on and with the casting rerolls this little package can cause some serious pain. Ideally you’ll want to equip this unit the same as the others, with a Lore Familiar, Ruby Ring of Ruin, and on a fast mount. The stand out mount options for the Archmage are any of the Dragons, a regular Elven Steed, a Great Eagle, or a Lothern Skycutter. The Lothern Skycutter being especially interesting due to it having the Firing Platform special rule, meaning all those shooting attacks coming from this Wizard will have 360 line of sight, something the Great Eagle and the Dragons can not boast. 

Hammerhand: Another unique Hammerhand user, High Elves gain the ability to get Hammerhand on a Strike First user as well. You can take Loremaster on a combat character and pick up Hammerhand from Battle Magic. With Loremaster, you also get a reroll for the spell and it’s a reasonably easy cast at a 7+, meaning odds are that you’ll get this through assuming no dispel protection. Since you’re only casting one spell anyway, your reroll here will be very useful. You’re not that likely to see this combination across the table as it lacks a delivery system, but perhaps a certain magic carpet salesman could help achieve these dreams? 

Curse of Arrow Attraction: While not as good as in Wood Elves, the High Elves make a very solid case for second place users of this spell. With the deadly bolt throwers in the back, it can be pivotal to have them hit their mark. This also has a lot of use in a high ranged build High Elf list that uses a lot of Sisters of Avelorn and Shadow Warriors. If your Wizard has the Shadow Stalker honour, this is a possible Turn 1 hex that can be thrown down and exploited immediately. Unlikely to see this spell as well unless you’re facing a lot of ranged ballistic skill shooting, but it will be good when it’s there. 


Plague of Rust: In addition to its normal strengths, you can make it seem like your opponent left their armour out in the rain several nights before the battle by using that Shadow Stalker honour as mentioned before to Plague of Rust a key target on turn 1. 

Wind Blast: As a faction with a large amount of flying mount options, it is very easy to get this spell in range. Forcing a Give Ground moves a unit away from the source of the Give Ground, so you can create a scenario where you land your flying wizard behind a unit, then Wind Blast them towards your army, potentially getting them in range for special rules such as Breath Attacks. If Elementalism is taken, this is a high priority spell as it’s just good damage on top of everything else you can do with it, expect to see it in a list that has taken this Lore. 

High Magic

Walk Between Worlds: Where the Wood Elves don’t gain all that much from this spell, the High Elves exploit it to its maximum. Having your Archmage on a dragon that suddenly goes ethereal is one of the stronger things you can do with your Conveyance spell. On top of having Reserve Move to fire off any shooting spells and get in position to dispel in your opponent’s turn, this spell can cause real issues to armies that are not prepared to unload a good amount of magic attacks down field. Being a more infantry heavy faction if they want to be, a High Elf wizard can also turn a block of any of the 3 types of elite infantry they have into unkillable targets in the right circumstances. Very useful in High Elves and you can expect to see it if the player has either their Archmage on Dragon or is heavily invested in infantry. 

Fury of Khaine: On the flipside, this spell is not quite as good here as it doesn’t have the kind of buff targets that Wood Elves do. With that said, some great targets for this spell are Lion Chariot of Chrace, Titanic Chariots, and Lothern Skycutters. All these targets will get 4 additional attacks if cast on them, with the strongest target likely being the Skycutter due to the additional ap granted by Cavalry spears and the Swiftfeather Roc’s attacks. Due to the somewhat short range of this spell, it is also safer for its target to be a unit that can charge from a very long distance away such as the Lothern Skycutter. Not a common sight on the table, as there are a lot of good options for magic in High Elves, but this is another feather in the cap of things that can achieved, and it’s reasonably powerful and can cause combats to be swung in key positions. 


Glittering Robe: This spell deserves a mention here as due to the Loremaster Elven Honour, it is possible to have any unit rolling around with this spell up its shiny sleeve. It is doubly good in High Elves as the classic blunder of having 3 toughness is an ever present downfall of the faction, so having anything that can reduce incoming damage is great, and this spell is one of the best at that. 

Shimmering Dragon: Look, you can have Shimmering Dragon cast from an Archmage on a dragon on to another character on a dragon. It’s not good but I really needed to say it. Moving on. 

Spectral Doppelganger: And for the last entry we have the Doppelganger builds for High Elves. The strongest unique weapon that High Elves have access to is The White Sword. This clocks in at 70 points and so it fits snuggly with a Lore Familiar to always pick up Doppelganger. 

The first build is to have it on your Archmage. This build is likely to get the cast off, but on the charge will only be striking at Initiative 5 (1+3 for charging, +1 for Elven Reflexes). The mount to give the Archmage is likely going to be the Lothern Skycutter as it flies and has Swiftstride, both of which are integral to get this build in to combat with its target ASAP. Due to the mid range initiative, it can be assumed that powerful dragon lords will hit the Archmage build before it hits them and attempts to slay their dragon. The defensive profile of this setup is not bad, but not great, with Toughness 4, 7 wounds, and a 4+ armour save you will likely meet your feathery doom to any Initiative 6 dragon lord with an Ogre Blade. 

A second build for using Doppelganger is to use the above setup, but instead switch out the mount for a Frostheart Phoenix. This gives Strikes Last to all those in base contact, so the Initiative problem is mostly solved. You can either risk a simultaneous strike with The White Sword, or go for a more safe Ogre Blade/Dragon Slaying Sword setup.

Of the two builds, the one that has the best chance of killing a properly kitted dragon lord is probably the second, but neither of them are likely to see the table. It is much more common to simply have your own dragon lord and just try to fight them that way, but its important to note that these options exist for High Elves, as a shift in your meta could cause this build to become more powerful than it was previously, so keep those weird eyes peeled and long ears to the ground! 

Just Miscasting Anyways

So that concludes Magic in The Old World: Forces of Fantasy deep dive. Coming in the future is the Ravening Hordes and the Legacy factions as separate articles where, much like this one, we’ll be focusing on the best way to wring all the possible arcane advantages from the colourful rag known as the winds of magic in the Warhammer universe. If you’ve found any additional magic combinations and setups that you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below so we can all fear your brainy prowess.