The latest General’s Handbook is here. It lasts for 12 months instead of only 6. We’re now in Andtor, the Bitter Land and magic is all over the place. So how do armies without any magic cope? Can they? This isn’t clickbait, the answer is yes, yes they can, and they might even be better off because of it.
Previously we reviewed the latest General’s Handbook so I’m not going into too much detail of what’s in it here, go have a look through that review if you’re not caught up on the new season first. Today we’re looking at armies that either don’t natively have a wizard in their unit list or ones that can skip over taking a wizard and still do just as well, or maybe even better.
Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics
Grand Strategies and Battle Tactics can be tough this season. Slaughter of Sorcery was made for you, since it requires you kill all Wizards (including your own), you’re in a better position by not having any at all.
But if you want a counter to every army that gets a bit more difficult. Tzeentch and Lumineth are armies that can have lists of all wizards, and even stuff like Soulblight or Bonereapers can have multiple wizards that are hard to kill. If you want answers to more armies, Barren Icescape or Overshadow can be easier to do in some armies, so consider your options when possible. There is always of course, your book Grand Strats which may look more appealing when your GHB options are so slim.
Battle Tactics can be a real rough one, as well. You are down two from most other armies, Magical Dominance being one of the relatively surefire ones if set up right, and Magical Mayhem. The rest are doable, but being down two hurts, so make sure to study up on which ones your army book has for alternative options.
Primal Dice for Unbinding
Non-magic-having armies still get to make use of Primal Dice and are in the unique position of being able to use them solely for unbinding spells. So long as you have unbinds to start with (such as Kharadron Navigators or even the humble Heroic Willpower) then you’ll have a bunch of extra dice to use to stop those all-important spell. This puts you at an advantage because you’re not intending to save yours for your own castings. More importantly just by having these for unbinds your opponent will feel forced to spend some of their own to get spells off at a higher cost The more dice they throw the more likely they are to miscast! It’s important to remember that your opponent will need to decide how many of their Primal Dice they want to use (one at a time, of course) before you even have to choose if you’re going to attempt to unbind.
There’s something very satisfying watching your opponent use up Primal Dice on early casts and then not even try to unbind them, waiting out that one all-important spell you know they’re going to cast later on. Now of course the advice to Wizard-havers here is to not go crazy with your Primal Dice too early in the phase or on spells that won’t make that much of a difference; not always an easy thing to discern!
If you don’t have any Wizards then you get to take from the Nullstone Adornments Enhancements. These help you combat the magic of your enemy so that your army isn’t left useless against all the extra casting. Like any other enhancement you get 1 for free and then can get more via battalions such as the Warlord. These are not artefacts, technically, but you can’t give one to a hero that has an artefact either, so be careful and make sure you have enough heroes too.
Hand-carved Nullstone Icon
This is the auto-take of the bunch for most non-magic armies. The hero is allowed to unbind a spell or dispel an endless spell like a Wizard. Each time that hero successfully unbinds/dispels they can keep going. So it’s not just one unbind, really, so long as you stop a spell you can keep stopping spells. If you have a hero that also has a bonus to unbinding spells, like the Cities of Sigmar Runelord, then even better.
Pouch of Nulldust
I’m usually not too too big on once-per-game abilities, which has nothing to do with me often timing them poorly, I promise. This once-per-game item is used at the start of a hero phase and removes every endless spell on a 5+ roll. Also wizards will miscast on double 1, 2, or 3 (counting as a primal miscast if primal dice are used). Having that threat just there will make your opponent think twice about throwing a Primal dice into the mix if they’ve already rolled a 1, 2, or 3 on their cast. Removing endless spells on a 1/3 chance is also nice, since it’s just free. If you’re taking a second one of these from a Battalion then this is a solid second choice; mixing it with the threat of endless unbinds from the Nullstone Icon is huge and will make your opponent more tempted to use Primal Dice hopefully resulting in more miscasts.
Poished Nullstone Pebble
When the hero is targeted or otherwise hit by a spell or endless spell then on a 4+ the effect is transferred to another unit within 3″ or just ignored if there are no friendly units in range. This is a mixed bag. Only working on the hero means you’ll likely want this on a larger one that’s also not trying to be within 3″ for the sake of Look Out, Sir. Think of things like Magmadroths, Stonehorns, etc that may be targeted by magic and don’t otherwise have a way of stopping spells. Easily the worst and most case-specific one of the bunch, the other two above are just more broadly useful.
Armies Without Magic
There aren’t many factions that just don’t have any wizards at all, but they do exist and some people even play them! There’s also a few that do have wizards available to them but don’t actually need them and can play just as well, or maybe even better, without spending points on magic. Today we’re looking at those that simply don’t have any magic at all, without allying one in anyways. Of course the Arcane Tome does still exist but we’re going to pretend for the sake of this article you’re foregoing magic or casting entirely, and so get to use Nullstone Adornments etc.
I’ve been playing Fyreslayers since they released in the first edition of Age of Sigmar and they’ve changed a lot in that time. Still no Wizards of course, that’s not the dwarven/duardin way!
Fyreslayer lists can look shockingly different to each other considering the army list is 13 heroes and 3 different units (sort of 4 units but that’s just a weapon choice really). Most Fyreslayer lists include somewhere between 1-3 Magmadroths, a handful of foot heroes, and then a bunch of surprisingly tough infantry.
Every Fyreslayer player going into this season will know that the Nullsidian Icon on a Battlesmith is just an absolute must-take. It normally is anyways actually but even more so now! Running Greyfyrd Lodge with a few foot heroes for even more artefacts it’s easy to always take the Volatile Brazier on a Runemaster deploying next to the forge for an easy Grand Strategy score and some incidental mortal wounds via Molten Infernoth while creating a nice bit of table that models can’t stand on to control enemy movement a bit more. For the third artefact it’s often going to be the Ash-Cloud Rune for a Runesmiter popping up turn 1 to create a nice little bubble of models effectively immune to most magic for the next enemy hero phase.
I normally run 2 Warlord Battalions in my Fyreslayers as well opening up a 4th and 5th Artefact of Power, or a 4th with a 2nd Nullstone Adornment; the choice there is yours but I lean towards more Artefacts to have the Master Rune on my Runefather Magmadroth often saving him for a very-important phase and Magmalt Ale on a Grimwrath Berzerker. That Grimwrath with (normally) 16 attacks, potentially more, will easily punch up above his points before he’s removed.
While the sky-dwarves did receive some expected points increases going into this season they still have play for sure. They may not be the blunt instrument they were a few months ago but with good placement and forward thinking they can hit hard and take the objectives they need to win.
For artefacts it’s going to hard to skip the Voidstone Orb. Once per game auto-unbind is always going to be good; most magic casting armies will have that one all-important spell they need to cast and just guaranteeing that it’s not happening for a turn is game changing. You’ll need a Navigator to take the artefact, but that’s not an issue and most Kharadron players were fielding one already.
A Kharadron list doesn’t normally see as many artefacts as their molten brethren; often trying to fit into a One-Drop battalion instead of taking extra toys to try and garnish some early game control. Barak Zilfin is a popular choice to make Frigates battleline and count as “troops” for battalion purposes to make that easier while still taking multiple boats. That said, if you find yourself taking 4 foot heroes it’s worth considering a Command Entourage and being a 4-drop list, still out-dropping any army that’s not cramming into a single Battle Regiment, and being able to take an extra artefact to remove a Ward from a unit or a second Nulltone Adornment to help your anti-magic even further.
Blades of Khorne
You might assume when you hear that people are shoving their army full of wizards, Khorne would be mad about that. You’d be right.
Khorne has a tough time scoring Battle Tactics this season, especially on turn 1 without Magical Dominance and out of range to Axe your opponents some questions.
Still, that doesn’t mean you’re obliged to take wizards to patch up the gap. Khorne does an excellent job of applying pressure to casters. Hexgorger Skulls out the Skull Altar has a threat range of 32 inches, which either forces your opponent to take first and cast their spells but give up the opportunity to hit a double turn, or to accept that their spells are a chunk less reliable, and a lot more dangerous. Witchbane Curse stacks another debuff to this, bringing even the mighty Nagash down to casting just on the dice roll.
Nullstone Dust is another way Khorne can just really make casting spells a headache for one phase, and can result in wizards being chipped to bits by turn 2. Ripe for a Wrath Axin’!
The biggest offenders at the moment are spell damage based armies, and Khorne is pretty happy dealing with them in general. Reducing their output by over a third helps a lot. Conversely, armies that deal in debuffs, like Soulblight can be a problem. A one in three chance to dodge some of the nastier effects they can put out is a bit dicey for my taste, so keep the auto unbind in your back pocket.
Lastly, Khorne really benefits from being in MSU this season. Area of Effect spells like Malevolent Maelstrom are MUCH worse when they’re affecting 8 units and handing over 3 blood tithe. You can really dissuade that style of damage.
Last of all, some lists are really leaning heavily towards unbinds. While we only have the dice(and don’t get access to Andtorian Acolytes for extra primals) 1-2 a turn with many unbinds at least keeps us in it. Flesh Hounds, Slaughterpriests and maybe even Karanak are nice to bring along to get a chance to roll dice at the scary stuff.
Sons of Behemat
Sons of Behemat frequently take Arcane Tome as an artefact, as one of the better beneficiaries of Mystic Shield it’s hard to argue that you shouldn’t continue to do this. When your army is roughly 4 models with 35 wounds a piece, why wouldn’t you continue to take +1 to your admittedly mediocre saves?
You have two major counter options here. If you decide to go along with the wizard theme and bring Arcane Tome the Glowy Lantern does make endless spells better, including the incredible Geminids. For the Breaker Tribe, which you’re probably taking anyway, you can take Bossyboots and Clever Clogs as a hatred. While not as great as Idiots with Flags, the higher percentage of wizards can make Hatred of Sorcery easier to accomplish.
Admittedly there’s just not a lot of strategy here. Taking Arcane Tome probably remains as a good idea, using your newfound Mystic Shield and unbinding to improve your defensive capabilities when using Primal Dice. So don’t expect too much to change. Your primary boon here is the abundance of 3 objective maps, where Mega-Gargants thrive.
In short, don’t think just because this is the “wizard season” your caster-less army is out. If anything, think of it as an excuse to show those absolute nerds what’s-what and that you don’t need any fancy spells to put them down. With more wizards on the table, and primal dice potentially turning on them, take the sure thing and don’t rely on haphazard spells. Bully those nerds into submission instead.