I'm playing 2500 point games at the moment, but I'm having some trouble with the Mages.
I typically take a Level 4 Archmage, usually with only minimalistic gear (Dispel Scroll + Ward; Annulian Crystal, that sort of thing - pretty much under 50pts of magic items) because I find having more troops works better for me - 120-130 is my typical model count, and also because I take a Prince so cannot take a fully-tricked-out Archmage as well within the points limit. However, lately I've been finding my units are a little bit more vulnerable than I would like, and I'm trying to scare up some points from a pretty full list - and really the only thing that stands out is my Archmage.
I have often seen it said that the Level 4 is one of the key aspects of Warhammer, regardless of race, but doubly-so for the High Elves. Yet a Level 3 gets nearly the same bonuses, and with a Silver Wand has just as many spells to choose from, or for a couple of points less than the full Level 4 can choose exactly which 3 they want. Given how limited Power Dice are in 8th Edition I don't see a Level 3 as too much of a drawback. But then I got to thinking - how about a Level 2? It is much cheaper however they are only half as effective. But I have found I typically only end up casting 3-4 Spells a turn anyway due to Power Dice limits, so being able to cast 2 (naturally) or 3 (Silver Wand/High Magic) isn't too much of a change there - the slight reduction in Power Dice used in total means you have one or two left (comparatively) to make up for the loss of casting bonuses.
Previously I have always thought that Level 3 is as low as I would go - a slight shaving of points saved for still having a decent enough range of spells, casting/dispelling bonuses, and still has access to the full array of magical gear. Yet having seen the new Empire rules, and looking over the various 8th Edition Army Books, insane Magic defence seems to be on the out; likewise so does insane magical offence (the likes of Tzeentch and Dwarf abilities are simply unachievable for most recent books). So could this not make the Level 2 more viable? Having less defence to contend with, and less offensive Magic sent their way is something of a change. Naturally, you could make the case that this makes a Level 4 Archmage all the more potent still - but it is a hefty chunk of points!
So, do you think that the apparent trend away from Magic-bonuses in the 8th Edition books alters the way we should view our character selection, or do you think the changes are reinforcing the "take-it-or-lose" attitude towards the Level 4 that I have seen plenty of online?