Lore of Metal : A High Elf Perspective

lore of metalGreetings! 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.

Searing Doom
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.

Glittering Robe
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.

Final Transmutation
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.

4 thoughts on “Lore of Metal : A High Elf Perspective

  1. Fantastic choice of topic. I was going to hold back on such posts for a while yet because I felt too inexperienced.. but now.. “the bullet is through the church”.

    Metal is the lore I love to love, but it depends heavily on the meta and army you have built. I still need more experience with it before I can rely on just metal I think, but it’s a goal I’m working for 🙂

    Plague of Rust.
    Would you consider not casting this spell on a 2+AS foe, just to keep searing doom more effective? I would not. I’d like the backup it gives, in spite the cost so I’m not too worried about the (limited) negative synergy.

    Enchanted Blades of Aiban.
    One pointer.. It doesn’t make attacks flaming, only magical. I too made a wrong assumption there till someone pointed it out to me. It won’t help against regeneration but definitely helps against ethereals.

    Glittering Robe
    Surprisingly enough, I struggle with this spell because of the range. It really weighs on your options regarding positioning.

    Gehenna’s Golden Hounds.
    As a sidenote, it’s also good against a Dwarven Anvil. (Dark Elf feeding the war between High Elves and Dwarves!) Certainly a keeper against monster armies.

    Transmutation of Lead.
    It looks good on paper but the “BS” penalty isn’t as marvellous as I hoped it would be. The issue there is the range of 24″ which means you need to get fairly close. That’s alright when you’re fighting 1 unit, but with a gunline it doesn’t allow you to disable one flank while hammering the other. You can boost the range, but then it becomes very expensive for the benefit it gives you.
    So far it’s been a bit disappointing (for the cost anyhow).

    Final Transmutation
    Interesting note to make here: units immune to psychology are not immune to stupidity. It’s not uncommon to find low leadership units that are immune to psychology, such as demons, skeletons… I think even frenzied units need to take the test. So it can have an enormous impact against some armies that are otherwise covered by such special rules like Vampire Counts, Demons and Skaven 🙂


    I like Metal, I really do, but it just doesn’t always work.

    For one, it’s very restrictive on your positioning because of the range. With spell ranges of 12″ , 18″ or 24″ before they get boosted, you can’t run on one side of the board and expect the spells to hurt on the other side of the board. If I’m stuck choosing between Metal and Shadow, this would be the main reason. I can’t spread my forces and abuse any gap in the enemy’s line by using each flank… without loosing magic support.

    Boosted ranges can solve some of the problems, but then the spells become very costly for their benefit. Combined with the situational nature of some spells, you can be pigeon holed into one spell that can still make a difference in that turn.. But then the spell needs a lot of dice, and really makes it easy on the enemy to choose his dispel strategy.

    No spell will have as dramatic an impact on combat on its own as the Shadow spells can. This means combos become more important, but they are more difficult to get since the enemy is more likely to stop one spell and it’s bound to be the most important one.

    Without long range control, without real gamechanging combat buff, your army will need either of these natively. I think this is why it’s mostly popular in Dark Elf lists focusing on large elite (special) infantry or lists stacking flying characters.

    In my opinion, it’s a good lore but difficult to fully master and make it weigh through in almost any situation.

  2. I certainly agree with some of your comments. Good catch on the flaming part of the blades!

    I would certainly consider casting plague of rust on heavy cavalry should the opportunity present itself. If I recall correctly, your Dark Elf colleague in our gaming group successfully lowered my DP’s armour save to a 4+ before proceeding to evaporate them with crossbow shots. My point is simply that it has a higher marginal utility when targeting medium armour save infantry blocks. Depending on the available targets this might be academic though, but generally there will always be a use for it.

    The same can be said for ToL. Taken individually, none of the effects are amazing when taking the casting cost into consideration. However, the spell’s inherent flexibility in my view makes up for this. Since it has a different number of effects which can very well prove to be decisive in a given circumstance I still rate it highly. I’d rather have three “lesser” effects that will always find a use than a big one that is situational.

    In essence this is the main reason I am enamoured with the lore. It’s a high utility lore, and even though it’s effectiveness is somewhat reliant on the local meta, as you correctly remark, I feel to see how it can entirely disappoint when you have 4 spells available. Consistency is the key here 🙂

  3. Another thing I just realised, and which can be a big factor in how we view the lore is how and where one deploys his wizard (sounds dirty somehow…)

    I, like most HE armies, generally like to keep my caster in a nice big block close to the main combat units. Which makes the 12″ bubble less of a liability.

    • We can adapt a similar style, but that requires infantry units which I haven’t been using lately. It would be good for a Sorceress in a spear bunker, but so far my experience with that Sorceress in the back with the RXBs has been “meh”.

      Another difference is probably the option to choose spells. This would even make a level 2 metal sorc very powerful, even more so with a level 4. With some spells being situational, you can easily end up getting 1 spell that’s not very good against this opponent, 2 spells that are “okay but not terrific” and 1 good spell.

      Take demons or beastmen. Unless there’s monsters and monstrous cav, there won’t be much armor in the list.
      – Searing doom becomes barely worth the powerdice.
      – Plague of Rust can only have 1 or two units as a target.
      – Blades: good, that’s a keeper
      – glittering robe: good, but it’s only going to be a winner in combat (unless you’re fighting wood elves)
      – Golden Hounds? Ehm, no.
      – Transmutation of Lead: well, the BS part won’t matter too much, nor the AS. The WS can be handy.
      – Final Transmutation: good.

      Say, you don’t have both final transmutation and the blades, then your action at range is limited to 1 spell (final transmut or the blades) and some defensive armor casting which isn’t going to make a huge difference. Once in combat, you’re have 3 spells, but either you have final transmutation and you’re down to 2 which are not capable of making a huge difference on their own: ToL isn’t going to cut, the armor is the only one left. Or you have the blades which will make a difference since now you have 2 relevant spells, but will they really turn a combat around? One could be stopped by dispel dice and if you succeed the second one, in comes the scroll which wasn’t forced out because you lacked Final transmutation.
      It’s like the lore is trying to jump over a wall of utility, and either gets the right approach, giving it a clean jump over it, or it just does’t make the cut and delivers next to nothing. This is why, for example, I often combine it with the ruby ring of rhuin. It helps me throw a few powerdice with something that’s always useful and increase the pressure of the powerdice in case I get a bad roll on my spells.

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