Writing Your Own Spellbook – Step Two: Defense
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
-Helmuth von Moltke
You can’t expect your opponent to just let your strategy roll over them. They will try to stop you and you must be prepared for that. Now, I am not a fan of the idea of “necessary” spells, but there are some things that every Mage should be concerned about regardless of what strategy they have planned.
First and foremost, every Mage needs to be worried about their own demise. It doesn't matter what your strategy is; if your Mage dies, your plan for victory will fail. Thus, you should include ways of preventing damage. Armor is the most reliable way of doing this but there are other types of defenses that could be useful as well. In addition to preventing damage, removing damage is also very useful in keeping yourself alive. You can remove damage with effects like Regeneration and Vampiric as well as direct healing spells.
Along the same line, if your opponent employs these defensive measures, it is going to interfere with your attempts to kill them no matter how you plan on doing so. Thus, you should have ways of removing these. Corrode can be very handy in dealing with armor, but I would recommend every book to include a way of removing Equipment and Enchantments entirely. Dissolve and Dispel are usually the answers for this.
Finally, every Mage should be concerned about positioning. Even if your strategy doesn’t normally care about where things are located, I assure you that your opponent can make life hell if you don’t have a way to move things around. Finding yourself trapped in a corner might make you concede quicker than you thought possible. There are lots of spells to help control positioning, including pushes and walls, but Teleport is currently king.
In addition to universal concerns, your particular strategy may have weak points that you need to be worried about. Let’s take a look at the five archetypes we set forth in our last discussion.
The primary fear of a Solo build is that they won’t be able to deal their damage. When you’ve placed all your bets on one horse, you have to be able to depend on that horse. You need to be able to get past guards and defenses, such as with Mongoose Agility and Falcon Precision. You also can not let your Mage be controlled by effects like restrained and incapacitated. You may want to pack extra Teleports and Dispels, as well as a way to remove conditions.
Another fear you’ll have is the sheer numbers of creatures your opponent could overwhelm you with. Killing them typically takes longer than it does to summon them, and distracts you from killing their Mage. So that’s usually not a very good option. Instead, you want to find other ways to reduce their numbers and usefulness. Suppression Orb and Mordok’s Obelisk makes it expensive to field a large army, and Walls can further prevent that army from getting to you. Including single target control spells, such as Force Hold, can help deal with especially annoying creatures.
Buddy builds' main fear is very similar to that of Solo builds, except now it’s worrying about your creatures being unable to deal damage. Since your damage is spread among a few creatures, it might not seem like as big of a threat to have some of them reduced in effectiveness. However, it is much easier to control non-Mage creatures and there is the new possibility of your creature being permanently negated by being killed.
Thus, your attention shifts slightly away from dealing with guards and defenses (though those are still important) and more towards keeping your critters alive and threatening. Take a look at what critters you’ve picked out and think of ways to shore up their defenses and protect them better than they do by themselves. Rhino Hide and Regrowth tend to come in handy, but you need to tailor things to your individual needs.
Who cares about guards and defenses when it only prevents a small fraction of your damage? Why should you care about a lowly fox being crowd controlled or even killed? Instead, a Swarm build worries about mass devastation.
The first concern is arena wide effects that affect your entire army. These usually come in the form of Conjurations such as Mordok’s Obelisk or Idol of Pestilence. Having an efficient means of destroying Conjurations is therefore paramount. Force Hammer is generally a good option.
The second concern is zone wide effects. Unfortunately, there’s not really a good spell you can include to prevent these from devastating your strategy. Instead, you need to keep this in mind while playing. The strength of the swarm is that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket, so you should keep that the case and not pile all of your creatures into the same zone where they could be efficiently dealt with.
Finally, the one thing that could prevent a lot of your damage is that pesky armor. I already talked about dealing with armor, I just wanted to stress the point that Swarms care more about this than most other builds. Equipment removal and Corrode is a must.
Mana Denial (Control)
The noose you are tightening around their mana supply takes a little while to strangle them, so your biggest concern is staying alive until then. Most likely this will go back to the defensive and positional spells we’ve already discussed. You may also want to include some good defensive creatures, such as Gargoyle Sentry.
Zone Control (Control)
A Zone Control build is kind of playing it’s own mini-game. Its biggest fear is losing that mini-game. If it is unable to prevent it’s opponent from getting an advantageous position, or if it’s opponent can turn the tables and deny them from having good positioning, then it is doomed. Nullifies and Jinxes to prevent Teleports and Pushes are a good idea. Enchantment Transfusion can help you to get these where needed as well.
At this point you should be able to build a decent book. We could still make it better, though. Next time we shall look at the concept of Adaptation, or changing your strategy to meet specific situations.