The last of the items on my list of 8th Edition Rule Changes to review two years on was the (un)predictability of magic.
Here’s what I said two years ago:
In 7th Ed, magic was largely predictable and to a large extent people set themselves up from a defensive standpoint. You knew if you had 5 DD plus 2 scrolls you could stop most things especially in the Comp environment which had a 10PD max cap. Yes there was still one die raising and the odd game changer got through but it was rare at the top end of tourney play.
8th Edition is much more fickle. You can't rely on it either way as much as you could. The ability for a Lvl 1 to pick up 6 dice means it is high risk/reward. You can build a magic phase to defend against it but the certainty is less. For my Skaven list I've gone through the books and built a list that can grasp the winds of magic if they are there but can also go a game without me getting anything off. I think this reflects how magic should be.
Re-reading it I think that the analysis stands the test of time. Magic in 7th Ed was very predictable and it was mostly a defensive phase than an offensive phase (magic missiles, VCs and TKs excepted). Effectively everybody acted like a Dwarf and built their list to ensure that they rarely got hurt. If anything looked like it would break the mould then the Comp stick came out and bashed it back down.
And this fitted the ethos of 7th Edition, where everything was about certainty and removing the unlikely from the game. If you knew your distances and knew your rules then it was unlikely you’d be put into a position where you’d have to adapt when something unpredictable occurred and bit you in the ass. It was the time of the micro-manager.
Magic now is entirely different. It is unpredictable. You know that you will likely have a lot more spells flying your way over the course of the game and as a result you’ll have to swallow a few dead rats. The skill now is knowing what to let through and what to stop – and also knowing what you’ll have to stop later in the game.
The decision-making that occurs in the game now is far more interesting for me as a player than I felt it was under 7th. There a good eye and a good list went a long way. Now the list still has to be “good” but there are layers that you need to build and offsets you need to make. And at the end of the day you can still get steamrolled by the Winds of Magic if they fat-tail.
Isn’t that what you should expect from the Winds of Magic? A degree of fickleness.
Rule Change: A