Magic in Total War: WARHAMMER III – the storm cometh


Total War
October 29 2021

The winds of change blow through Total War: WARHAMMER III, and all your armies will feel the impact. Or, well, at least the ones with spellcasters. As part of our general update of game systems in WARHAMMER III, we’re tweaking the Winds of Magic, power reserves, casting spells, and even adding a whole new battle ruleset for particularly magical encounters in the realm of Chaos – Storm of Magic.

First, let’s detail the changes we’ve made to the Winds of Magic system which, while not a full overhaul, should make using spellcasters a more enjoyable prospect with more interesting consequences and greater strategic decision making. The core is that armies will now have a variable Winds of Magic reserve pool that increases or decreases based on the strength of the winds in their area. Some examples:

  • A basic, early-game starter army begins with 50 reserves of magic. It is in a region with Blowing Winds of Magic, providing +0 reserves per turn. Assuming nothing special happens, it remains that way.
  • That same army moves into a region with Calm Winds of Magic, which reduces by 10 per turn. It will have 40 reserves at the start of the next turn and will continue to drop the longer it remains here. If it is a daemon-faction army, it will eventually start to receive debuffs – with the opposite true at the other end of the scale. More on that in a moment.
  • Once again that army moves, presumably on some sort of marathon, into a new region, this time with Strong Winds of Magic, providing +5 per turn. It also adopts the Channeling stance, increasing it by a further +15, and is joined by a hero with the Magical Reserves skill, giving an additional +20% gain whenever the reserves are increasing. Its total bonus is +22 on the following turn, and it will cap out at 100 within the next few turns – if it finally stops moving.

Hopefully, that’s fairly clear. There are numerous other ways to increase or decrease your reserve pool, or impact your enemies – dilemmas, research, skills, items, post-battle decisions, and so on. One of the key factors, when playing daemon factions, is that even if you have no or minimal spellcasters, you’ll want to keep an eye on it for the benefits of high reserves and the drawbacks of low. Those are:

  • All daemon factions receive replenishment rate, leadership, and physical resistance debuffs when at low reserves.
  • At high, the buffs are campaign movement range and:
    • Tzeentch – barrier recharge speed.
      • Remember that the Winds of Magic have a lot of implications for Tzeentch and can be manipulated directly.
    • Khorne – spell resistance.
      • Note that Khorne has no spellcaster units, so this is the only real benefit for them.
    • Nurgle – melee defense.
    • Slaanesh – speed.

So, what about in battle? This reserves pool represents the amount of magic you have to draw on through the course of the fight. It slowly moves from the reserve pool to your power pool from which you directly spend it on spells. If the reserves run out you will need to either make-do with what you have or find a source of magical power on the battlefield – draining it from an enemy spellcaster with a Tzeentchian ritual, for example.

The opening, deployment-phase gamble for power from your reserves works much the same, though your total starting power is always a percentage of your starting reserves. Ergo, higher reserves, more power, no matter how bad your luck. Your reserves will return to their pre-battle level once you are back on the campaign map – this is partly for balancing and fun reasons, but also represents how the Winds of Magic are never drained, simply channeled.

But what if, just as an example, you took your army – mortal or otherwise – inside the Chaos Realms where the Winds of Magic are unpredictable and powerful? A constant roiling storm of devastation and regeneration? A Storm of Magic, if you will.

Storm of Magic

Storm of Magic is a new battle ruleset for Total War: WARHAMMER III, one that is always active in the non-Khorne Chaos Realms. If you are to fight a battle there, other than a Survival or Quest battle, it will use these settings.

Straight off the bat, reserves are infinite in the Storm of Magic. How quickly you can move them to your power pool will still be important, but you will never run out of energy to channel into big booms, magical lasers, or spirits.

The Storm of Magic also changes as the battle goes on, each lore having a chance to be the next in ascendancy. Which lore is currently empowered has a number of effects, laid out below, as well as giving you access to that lore’s Cataclysm spell as an army ability, charged by any spellcasting (by either side) on the field. Once charged, the change to the next random spell lore begins to count down – you lose access to the Cataclysm spell if the lore changes before you cast it. You can only use this Cataclysm spell if your army has a spellcaster, though the passive effects of an ascendant lore are still applied without one.

Cataclysm spells are ludicrously powerful abilities that mark the end of that lore’s ascendancy once unlocked, with one cast available for each side of the battle. They include massive buffs to allied troops; huge, persistent heals; or a fair share of devastating thunderstorms and volcanic eruptions. They are, simply, not very fair.

Here’s what each lore gets. Note that there is no requirement to be using that lore on one of your spellcasters, you still get access to the passive buff and cataclysm spell so long as you have any caster. There also aren’t Cataclysm spells or special effects for every lore in the game, just those laid out below.

  • Lore of Beasts
    • All units become immune to psychology and gain charge bonuses.
    • Cataclysm Spell: Merciw’s Monstrous Regiment.
      • The strength of the wild is imbued on one unit’s weapon damage, armour-piercing, melee attack, and physical resistance.
  • Lore of Life
    • All units gain perfect vigour.
    • Cataclysm Spell: Storm of Renewal.
      • A tree sprouts from the ground as raw life-energy flows across the battlefield, providing a huge regeneration aura.
  • Lore of Death
    • All units gain armour-piercing melee damage
    • Cataclysm Spell: Ashes & Dust.
      • A suffocating dust cloud chokes the life from enemies in a wide area after a short wind-up.
  • Lore of Fire
    • All units get bonus melee attack
    • Cataclysm Spell: Magma Storm.
      • A massive eruption protrudes from the ground, burning everything in the area in magical fire.
  • Lore of Heavens
    • All missile units deal extra damage and extra armour-piercing damage
    • Cataclysm Spell: Thorsen’s Thunderstorm
      • A great storm develops above the battlefield, annihilating an area with lightning bolts.
  • Lore of Light
    • All units gain magical attacks and immunity to psychology.
    • Cataclysm Spell: Time Amok
      • The flow of time is altered over a portion of the battlefield, improving allies’ reload skill, speed, and melee attack.
  • Lore of Metal
    • All units receive bonus armour and missile resistance
    • Cataclysm Spell: Gehenna’s Golden Globe
      • A great molten sphere emerges from the earth and rolls across enemy forces.
  • Lore of Shadow
    • All units get faster charge and movement speed
    • Cataclysm Spell: Dance of Despair
      • A haunting tune envelops enemies in an area, reducing their leadership, melee defense, and melee attack.

But what of Khorne, raging against magic (as he does against everything)? His forces receive further bonuses to their natural spell resistance in a Storm of Magic, toughening against the unnatural forces around them, but not the benefits of the ascendant lore. Such is his anger at the Storm that Khorne gains the ability to summon daemons more easily, allowing for a surprise Bloodthirster should your opponent get too cocky.

On the flipside, Tzeentch’s mastery of magic means that a Tzeentch army in a Storm of Magic battle gets to pick what the first lore in ascendancy will be, making it possible to tailor their strategy. His forces also have a lot of abilities, through armies and characters, to increase the rate at which their power recharges from the reserve – making an infinite reserve quite strong.

That’s all for the Winds of Magic today. We’ll be back soon with a look at all the tasty new lores coming to WARHAMMER III, their spells and effects.