Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lizardmen in 8th Edition: Lore of Life

By request, here are my thoughts on Lore of Life.

Lifebloom (Lore Attribute):
This is a pretty cool attribute. Free healing is very nice and you can use this to keep a choppy saurus character or a stegadon going long after it should have succumbed. Very nice.

Earth Blood (Signature Spell):
Nice spell. Regeneration is always nice and with Throne of Vines it's working half the time. This is somewhat negated by the sheer amount of flaming attacks available to most armies now but it's still pretty good to have. You're going to want to use this in conjunction with Throne of Vines and the other spells in this lore to create a really nasty anvil unit your opponent will never get through.

Awakening of the Wood (1):
Decent spell for its cost. Unfortunately, I don't really foresee many people getting any use out of this. With the random terrain generation chart, I at least don't foresee myself putting anything in a Mysterious Forest that has such a potential to start munching on my guys. Luckily its a good spell even when not in the woods.

Flesh to Stone (2):
+2 Toughness is fantastic. +4 Toughness is even more fantastic. This will make your opponent need 5s to wound you at best, 6s to wound you with Throne of Vines. This is a must have spell for this lore.

Throne of Vines (3):
This is the spell that makes this lore. It allows you to throw tons of dice at each spell with no fear of miscast and makes all of your spell but Dwellers Below even more fantastic. You will start every magic phase with casting this spell if you don't already have it up.

Shield of Thorns (4):
Great spell for your impossible to kill anvil unit. Get this up and it forces your opponent to seriously think about whether they'd rather dispel Throne of Vines or this in their turn. Every turn they don't dispel this (if cast with Throne of Vines), they'll have to take 4D6 S4 hits. That is just awesome.

Regrowth (5):
Bring your units back to life? Very cool. D3+1 is so-so for the point cost but D6+1 with Throne of Vines is truly very nice.

The Dwellers Below (6):
A fantastic spell against some armies. The last spell you will cast against others. Strength test or die is very nice against things like elves but against things likely to pass their tests, you are probably better off keeping all of your buffs going.

Overall Lizardmen Thoughts:
This seems to be the lore that everyone on the internet absolutely loves for their slann. It's easy to see why. Take a big old unit of temple guard, stick your slann in it, march it up the field, and give it 4+ regen, +4 toughness, bring back D6+1 casualties, and give it an extra 4D6 S4 hits in close combat every turn? That's just AWESOME!

I haven't tried it myself but when I really think about it, I don't see it as actually being that great on the table. If your opponent brings a badly unbalanced list, sure, you're going to dominate the magic phase and their is nothing he can do about it. But what it really comes down to is Throne of Vines. This is the spell your opponent has to stop. Without this, your battle plan falls apart.

You have two choices every magic phase, cast this spell with a lot of dice to keep it from being dispelled or go for the minimum. If you go for the minimum, your opponent can throw all of his dice at it because this is what he needs to stop. All of your other spells lose a lot of their effectiveness without it and will expire by the next turn anyways so you'll just have to recast them all over again and who knows how good your next magic phase will be.

What if you throw enough dice at it to make it difficult to dispel? Well, if you irresistable force it, that's fantastic and you get it. If you don't, this is where he whips out his dispel scroll or feedback scroll and we get to watch your slann implode. What if you do get it off and he knows he can't stop it with his dice? Well, then all he has to do is stop your follow up spells. If you've thrown a ton of dice at this spell, you're not going to have much left for your other spells. And he can just dispel throne of vines in his magic phase. On average, it only takes 2 dice on a level 1 wizard to dispel it. 2 dice on a level 4 wizard is virtually a guarantee.

I think a savvy opponent that brings any decent amount of dispel is going to tear apart a Lore of Life list. Sure, if your opponent isn't so savvy or just plain has shitty lucky, you're going to tear him apart with this list, but with magic so random in this edition, I think this list relies too heavily on being able to be consistent in your magic phase.

There are of course some ways to mitigate this and try to make sure you have enough dice to do what you need to do. My personal recommendations are to always take The Focused Rumination on your slann and seriously consider taking the Forbidden Rod on a skink priest and a Power Stone on the slann himself. These will help you generate your necessary power dice on a bad winds of magic roll and enable you to recover and get things back on track. A Power Scroll to irresistible force Throne of Vines or another spell on command is also useful and should be considered.

As far as partnering this with Lore of Heavens on your skinks, look for synergy with Iceshard Blizzard to help get your anvil unit into combat and Curse of the Midnight Wind to make it even harder to kill them.


  1. I agree with a lot of your views on Lizardmen Life magic. It is probably the best choice for a Slaan, and the front runner for all lores in 8th Edition.

  2. Earthblood didn't strike me as all that impressive, since it doesn't stack with the Slann's Ward Save anymore.

    The rest of the stuff is amazing, though.

    I'm not as scared of dispelling, since Lizardmen can bring a lot of anti-caster tools if they care to. And since you're L4 and shrugging off miscasts, the opponent is going to be hard-pressed to keep up with you. (An "antimagic" list can give you problems, but that's going to be a pretty specialized build.)

  3. I'm gonna try this Lore out at the FLGS tonight, we'll see how it goes

  4. I think you're over-analyzing the whole Throne of Vines things. Sure it is cool, but the spells work fine without it. In the 1500 point games we've been playing, if your playing against a Slann, the Slann generally does whatever he wants in the magic phase as a level 1 or 2 guy is at a disadvantage to dispel and about half the time the dispel pool is only 3 or so dice.

    Three dice is basically one dispel attempt period.

    FWIW the Slann I faced used Lore of Light, casting Light Speed on his Sauruses around his Slann was his main priority that and hexing my biggest block of infantry to make their Strength and Toughness one less if I recall correctly.

  5. It's an easy mistake to make, but I feel like I need to correct this bad math regarding dispel dice. You were close. In fact it's nearly exactly half the time you'll have 4 or less, but the other half you'll have 5 or more. The actual probability of having 3 or fewer dispel dice is only 1/4 (think of this as both dice needing to come up as 3 or less so it's a 1/2 probability for each die multiplied to get the 1/4 that both are 3 or less).

    Really, the bigger concern is that the Slann is probably generating dice every time he casts a spell so for most armies against Lizardmen the disparity in dispel dice to power dice can be quite large. Considering how cheaply most armies can field a level 3 (or 4) Wizard, I have been finding that most armies have been choosing to do so. If you are just fielding a level 2 (and certainly a level 1) you are pretty much asking to be taken out of the magic phase all together against many armies (which is a fine approach to take for some armies).

  6. A few more thoughts:

    There are going to be quite a few armies out there that will be able to reliably stop Throne of Vines every turn. Even if they can't, it's so simple to dispel during their own magic phase and suddenly you have to throw all of your dice at getting it back up again if you want to maintain it.

    If you don't get Throne of Vines up, you lose the miscast protection you were relying on. In a big block of temple guard, one wrong miscast can cost you the game. So if you want to be safe from miscasts, Lore of Life by itself isn't enough, you really need to have Cupped Hands as well. Yes, it's a fantastic item and you're going to take it with every other lore so it's not too much of a difference in this regard. But it means one of the purported benefits of Lore of Life isn't really a benefit.

    I see people tossing around thoughts about how amazing this lore is. About how game breaking it is when you get your temple guard unit that will never die and never break, etc. But I just don't see that happening. The amount of luck and failure on your opponent's part that is required for this to happen is so great that I don't think this lore is going to be nearly as good in the long run as everyone seems to think it will be.

    I guess what I'm saying is the lore isn't bad, but I disagree with the general consensus that it is the best by far. Quite a few of the other lores are at least as good, if not better than Lore of Life.

  7. I think it depends on what you're doing with your army. Lore of Life is a great choice if you're not specifically trying to fill other gaps, because it synergizes well with most of the things that Lizardmen want to do. But some (many, even) armies will have other priorities, depending on what unit's they've taken, and I think that's the strength of the new magic system- each Lore pushes your army in different directions, or vice versa.

    In terms of other selections Death is high on my list, and I think Fire could so some really fancy stuff as well, but I'm a sucker for Focused Rumination.

  8. 'Death' is hard to get working with Lizardmen, because Slann and TG are designed to go together, and 'Purple Sun' carries two tiers of risk with it (firstly with miscasting on an irrestiable for the large version, and secondly for rolling misfire on it's artillery roll). The other Death spells are nice, but their tiny range is a little worrying (you don't wanna have to rush into close-quarters).

    Fire is sorta redundant if you have an EOTG and/or Banner of Flame on your TG block. The former generates a lot of S4 wounds at similar range to fire spells (and it's automatic and unblockable), the latter is again passive and only goes away once the bearer dies (which if it's the Slann make take a while).

    It's the shootiest lore (and the bonus to cast is good), but the end-tier firestorm spell is a bit lackluster when you compare it to 'Dwellers', 'Pit of Shades' and the ever-hated 'Purple Sun'. Instead of having to worry about rolling to wound and enemy saves, the alternatives all just force characteristic tests ('Dwellers' is broken against low Initiative monsters and blocks, 'Pit' is IMO better than 'Purple Sun' in many ways, 'Purple Sun' is made of internet tears and win). Not to mention all three of those alternative lores have much better buff/hex spells.