Greetings! Today I’d like to discuss something of which I’ve become a big fan of as of late, namely the Lore of Metal. High Elves are spoilt when it comes to choosing their magic deck. Not only do they have access to all 8 rulebook lores, they also have their own proprietary magic school, as benefits the unquestioned masters of the magical arts (hush, Mr. Slann, nobody likes you anyway).
The choice of magic lore seems to be subject to a certain degree of variation depending on the changes in the metagame as 8th edition has progressed. Early on, Life was a clear favourite since it emphasised survivability of big infantry blocks. Shadow has been a consistent winner (for good reason), and lately the Light Coven has seen a surge in popularity, the the extend that it will probably be comped at the next ETC. My favourite lore however may be somewhat under appreciated, but I feel that Metal has a lot to offer to an aspiring High Elf general. The following will assume the presence of a single level 4 wizard, since in most of my lists it’s what I find myself including.
One attribute of a good lore is a good default spell, and Searing Doom certainly delivers. Heavily armoured troops (especially considering the popularity of monstrous cavalry) can be a headache, since your White Lions can’t be everywhere at once and Swordmasters die to a stiff breeze. The basic version of the spell is easily cast on 2 dice, and although it’s damage output is somewhat unreliable it will generally be significant since the prime targets will not sport a lot of wounds. As an added bonus, the fact that it is a flaming attack is just wonderful (hello Mr. Hydra!). The amplified version of the spell is hard to cast (highest value in the deck in fact!), but certainly worth 6 dicing if an opportune target presents itself.
Plague of Rust
This spell is a bit of an outlier since it synergises negatively with the rest of the Lore, as lowering a units’ armour save makes your damage spells less effective. There is however a place for it, since it is very useful for dealing with the mid-level armoured troops. Changing a 4+ to a 5+ makes a big difference, especially when subjecting the target to a large volume of low strength attacks (i.e. missile fire and spear attacks), which you will probably have in abundance. All in all a solid spell.
Enchanted Blades of Aiban
My personal favourite due to it’s flexibility. +1 to hit, coupled with Speed of Asuryan, almost guarantees that all of your precious attacks will hit. It also dramatically increases the usefulness of a large unit of Archers or Seaguard should you include them. The extra armour piercing is lovely (and synergises well with Plague of Rust) and goes a long way to even the odds when cast on a combat unit that is not as a hard hitting as Swordmasters, White Lions or Dragon Princes. Specifically, Phoenix Guard and Spearmen come to mind. The hidden gem of this spell however is that it also makes any attacks flaming AND magical, making this a great choice for an all-comers list where you need a way of dealing with regenerating or ethereal units.
Very easy to cast on one unit, and fairly reasonable to cast in a bubble. The extra two pips of armour go a long way to keep your squishy elves alive, especially the elite units that generally only have a 5+ save in combat. For added giggles, having a 1+ save versus shooting attacks on your White Lion horde is priceless.
Gehenna’s Golden Hounds
Not too sure about this one. It’s the one spell that I’ll probably swap out. The spell’s usefulness is severely limited by the fact that you can only target one model. By targeting a unit champion you can sort-of sidestep this issue but it’s rather cumbersome. The nail in the coffin is that the unboosted version is only 12″ range and that you have to boost it to beyond that, making the amount of dice used hard to justify. One possible use I can see is targeting heavily armoured chariots, which might be more relevant since the recent release of the Warriors of Chaos and Daemons of Chaos books, as I have a sneaking suspicion that these types of unit will become more prevalent.
Transmutation of Lead
Solid spell. By decreasing BS you help your poor elves, who are very susceptible to shooting, stay alive. Lowering the WS of an opposing unit is not as useful as it sounds (you generally hit on 3’s and get hit on 4’s either way), but versus enemy elites it might give you an important edge, and lower quality units could be made to hit your elites on 5’s, which will significantly add to their survival chance when faced with a high volume of low quality attacks. Lowering the enemy’s armour save is always welcome, as explained above, rounding out this extremely useful and versatile spell.
Not as potent as some of the other heavy hitting spells, but very useful nonetheless. For a reasonable casting value you will eliminate a third of the chosen unit, with a small chance of getting rid of characters. Since this will not happen often it should be seen as an bonus, not the main aim of the spell, but it’s nice when it happens. Since most lists will contain a large unit that worries you there will always be opportune targets for this one. The secondary effect is interesting but shouldn’t be too much of a factor, although it can have hilarious effects should you be able to affect low leadership units that inexplicably find themselves out of BSB range, or if you opponent is notorious for failing important leadership rolls.
The varied uses and all-round usefulness of the deck make it clear winner in my eyes when only one Lore can be chosen.Summing it up :
Ways of dealing with heavy armour? Check.
Ways of dealing with regen and ethereal? Check.
Solid offensive unit buffs? Check.
Solid defensive unit buffs? Check.
Enemy debuffs? Check.
Deathstar decimator? Check.
I, for one, am happy to have embraced the ways of the Metal Mage, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone playing High Elves.
If anything, you will not be “that guy” who relies on Skillrazor to win his games! That alone should make you consider this most excellent Lore.