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adhesivespatula
09-02-2010, 15:23
Hey all, just had a question about old edition Warhammer Fantasy. I was reading the rumors about how there have been hints of switching the magic system to an older style, namely the "Winds of Magic." Now whether or not that happens is neither here nor there, I am just curious as how the old system works. My friends and I are somewhat unsatisfied with the current PD/DD system and looking for some house rule alternates. So! If someone could explain the old system I would greatly appreciate it!

Avian
09-02-2010, 17:49
Well, first spells only had one of three power levels (1-3), not like it is now with casting levels going from 3+ up to 25+. Typically the better spells had a higher power cost (except in the case of High Magic, which was silly good).

Spells were on cards, which wasn't very important in and of itself other than that you could only have one of each spell (which made getting first pick important). You drew randomly which you got (1 per level) and there was no "swap-for-first" like there is now, so the chance of getting a useless spell was higher.

[Dark Elves, who have traditionally had crappy spells, had for example one spell that boosted your other spells*. If you were a level 1 and only got that spell, you were a bit humped.]

Each turn, there were 2D6 magic (not spell) cards to be distributed amongst the players. These were mostly Power cards (22) with some Dispel (8) and a few other cards (6). The cards were dealt evenly to the two players (the player whose turn it was got the odd card if there was one) and if you were unlucky you got Dispel cards when it was your magic phase and Power cards if it was your opponent's.
Typically you got 3-4 cards, with most being Power cards.
[Sometimes you forgot the magic card deck at home and had to spend ten minutes before the game making an improvised deck from pages torn from notebooks. Ah, the good, old days. ;)]

To cast a spell you needed a number of power cards equal to the spell's level, which you then used up.

Dispelling required at least one Dispel card and would then work on a roll of 3+ (dispelling with a higher level wizard), 4+ (equal level) or 5+ (lower level or no wizard at all). Naturally you chose to nominate your highest level wizard to do the dispelling if he was available (not fleeing, dead, etc.).
You could also spend Power cards to increase the chance of casting the spell (each gave +1 to the casting roll) and the opponent could use his additional Power cards to lower your roll (each gave -1 to your casting roll). The chance could not be better than 2+ or worse than 6+ (assuming of course that you had a Dispel card in the first place).
Once both players had finished upping or lowering the chance, the dispelling player would roll a D6 and either cancel it or not.

Spells were typically quite powerful. For example the Gaze of Nagash which is currently an 8+ spell, 24" range causing 2D6 S4 hits, was then a power 2 spell, 18" range causing 2D6 S4 hits with no armour save.

At the end of the magic phase, each player could save one card until the next phase per wizard he had, which gave you more control over the randomness.


By itself, the system wasn't too bad, but the racial spell decks and magic items made it a bit silly. High Elves, for example, could use Power cards (which you got a lot of) as Dispel cards (which were much rarer) and their spells were often 1 level lower than comparable spells in other decks (for example they had a power 2 spell that made all friendly units within 12" Unbreakable and rallied fleeing units automatically). And when drawing spells, they could draw one extra and discard the one they didn't want.
[Dark Elves could use Dispel cards as Power cards, which was a lot less useful. And had no other bonus. Humped again.]

And Undead could simply pick whichever spells they wanted. And recast. [Destructospelloverloadkablooie!]


* It also had a 1-in-6 chance of killing the caster outright (don't ask why, it just did). Dark Elves really lived up to the name of a race with very good magic in those days...

Shamutanti
09-02-2010, 18:27
I always thought the new magic system, at least initially, was a far more effective and efficient play system. It meant carrying less stuff around.

I also just enjoyed it over longer stretches - the old magic system was fun if you only played WFB every now and again but I often found it tedious after multiple games over a short period of time.

adhesivespatula
09-02-2010, 19:12
Thank you so much for the info! I am thinking about maybe doing some sort of modified system. It's just that many armies can just abuse their books and draw on silly numbers pf PD/DD, making the magic phase overly brutal in some cases. You gave me a lot to think about, thank you very much!

Nurgling Chieftain
09-02-2010, 19:19
And Undead could simply pick whichever spells they wanted. And recast. [Destructospelloverloadkablooie!]So, one of the most complained about aspects of the current magic system was the same in the previous system? :p

Avian
09-02-2010, 19:45
Undead magic in the previous army book wasn't all that bad. The collective Undead book was three books ago.

Nurgling Chieftain
09-02-2010, 20:38
But the previous army book was in the current magic system, right? Gah.

Croaker2
09-02-2010, 20:45
Don't forget - Dwarves and any army with no wizard would have spells cast against them in both the opponent's magic phase and their own.

Like I've said elsewhere, when we used to play 3 player games, there would be 3 magic phases before my dwarves got to move again. Ouch.

enyoss
09-02-2010, 21:01
Don't forget - Dwarves and any army with no wizard would have spells cast against them in both the opponent's magic phase and their own.

Like I've said elsewhere, when we used to play 3 player games, there would be 3 magic phases before my dwarves got to move again. Ouch.

That was only the case in 4th edition, and was then fixed in 5th edition. Before then though you're right, it was a bit nuts! Take as an example a battle report back around WD186, where several successful casting and dispellings of Traitor of Tarn on a goblin shaman (take over control of an enemy unit... ouch!) meant that Hand of Gork, with an increasingly deified groan if exasperation and aching forearm, yo-yo-ed one unit of Orc Boyz towards and then away from the enemy in almost every turn of the game.

It truly was a time of crazily powerful spells and magic items. Plus, the pure wackiness of some spells would have today's rules lawyers tearing their hair out... practicality went out the window, and stuff was knocked up just because it sounded cool or `felt right'.

Avian
09-02-2010, 21:02
That's not really correct. In 4th edition everybody could cast spells in each player's magic phase (except Dwarfs and other people with no wizards excepted, of course). You could (well, would, really) be cast against even if you were a Skaven player with three Warlocks.

Lordsaradain
09-02-2010, 22:27
How many cards were dealt to each player, each turn?

enyoss
09-02-2010, 22:44
There were 2D6 cards generated and they were shared as Avian said earlier. In bigger games (4K +), it was recommended that an extra D6 or two were added to that though.

I know 2D6 cards doesn't sound like much, but there was also a `Total Power' card which cast a spell without needing any power cards and which could not be dispelled (much like Irresistible Force in 7th edition).

Kuroi
09-02-2010, 23:18
...That sounds like a horrible system <.<

The Clairvoyant
09-02-2010, 23:43
And Undead could simply pick whichever spells they wanted. And recast. [Destructospelloverloadkablooie!]

So, one of the most complained about aspects of the current magic system was the same in the previous system?

Pretty much. Undead wizards rolled to see if they could recover necromantic spells (a necro lord was automatic, a vampire lord was a 5+ if i remember rightly).

The idea of the recasting was to allow players to spam the summon skeletons spell (level 1), but it was mostly used to spam curse of years (level 3). I think this was even mentioned in the designer notes for 5th ed vampire book, or it was in WD.

Yes, people whine about spamming necromantic spells, but that was how they were intended!