Inspired by @2twoto
's "Under-performing spells" thread, I decided to start this one.
I agreed with most of his observations from that thread.
For me, under-performing spells are an unfortunate missed opportunity but over-performing spells are having a bad impact on the game for several reasons. For one, they accentuate the weakness of the under-performing spells. Secondly, they mask true problems with faction strength/balance. For example, if a faction has to rely on one or more spells to be "mid-tier", it probably needs to be looked at as there should be a choice in which spells to bring, it should not be mandatory. Thirdly (and this is more opinion than fact), I think certain spells impact the ways battles are fought in a negative way.
I don't play all factions extensively, so in the following list I may have missed some over-performing spells, but here is at least what I believe a good starting point.
Note that I am fully aware that nerfing certain spells that a faction relies on heavily means that the faction will get weaker as a whole to some degree. However, if you think about it, IF it is true that a slight nerf to one spell makes a faction weaker overall, it probably means that the faction is poorly balanced, and the faction should be re-evaluated as a whole to see where the real reason for their under-performance lies. Perhaps one can argue than an exception to this rule is IoN for VC, as this is literally a spell that they are supposed to rely on both from faction design perspective and lore. However, even here I think the above applies.1) Spirit Leech - 8 WoM - 554 averge damage to single entity. (previously said 936, mistake spotted by yst)
For sure we know it's the best spell in the lore of death. How do we know this? I have never, ever seen someone bring a death caster without spirit leech. Often a death caster will ONLY have spirit leech. Perhaps that says more about the lore of death. However, other spells from this lore are used, even in high level play, so it's not like the lore outside of spirit leech is useless.
Furthermore, a death caster is sometimes brought as a second caster with spirit leech only. This says a lot about the value of the spell. As players are willing to pay the tax for the caster, just to have this spell.
The spell itself is super easy to use and there is very little counter play available, other than keeping the target of the spell away from the death caster. Frequently though, this is not possible as the high value target it needed in the fight and death casters typically are very mobile.
One way to realize how good the spell is to consider the Greenskins. I think most people would agree that Azhag on his Wyvern is the best GS lord. But if you really think about it, this is not because he is such a great melee character or because of his abilities or because of his speed or survivability. The actual reason is that he has spirit leech! The way to prove this is to note that an Orc Warboss on a Wyvern has nearly identical stats to Azhag, just without being a death caster! In fact, as a pure melee character, the Orc Warboss might even be slightly better as he is a bit more tanky (he has +7 MD and can use the opal amulet to give 22% ward save). But, the orc warboss on wyvern is NEVER used and is probably considered the weakest GS lord.
One way to bring spirit leech in line with other spells would be to reduce it's damage or increase it's WoM. However, this would be a rather bland nerf. I think a more interesting mechanic might involve some way to be able to mitigate the damage by the target of the spell. Here are a few creative proposals:
a) the target of the spirit leech gains a percent damage reduction from the effects of the spell equal to the current WoM level of his side. Given that during the battle, you rarely keep your WoM topped up at 30, the practical reduction in damage would not be very significant. But what it would do is make spirit leeching less viable tactic at the beginning of the battle when WoM is at 30 or close to it.
b) make the target of the spirit leech gain a percent damage reduction that is equal to their current leadership / 3 (or maybe something other than 3). This way, units with high leadership are somehow protected from the spell. A funny consequence would be if a unit is routing, they would actually be more susceptible to the spell!
c) the damage the spirit leech does is increased (reduced) by the percent difference in leadership values between caster and target (or some proportion of the difference). So a beat-up death caster is not as good at spirit leeching. 2) Healing spells (including IoN):
These spells in a way are the reverse of spirit leech. Easy to use, not at a lot of counter play. Often, life wizards are brought just for the healing. I don't want to write a lot about this as I have already written a lot about spirit leech. Similar issues arise. In some ways, Allarielle is similar to Azhag in the lore she plays based around spirit leech / healing.
I wouldn't really propose an outright nerf to the spells by reducing total healing or increasing WoM (maybe a little?). What I would say instead is to change the role of the spell a bit so that the healing is also viable on weak units. I would propose some mechanic where the stronger the unit is, the less it gets healed. I am not sure what the best mechanic for this would be. Base it on model count? (more models in unit = more healing). In a way, make it like a Fate of Bjuna spell but in reverse. Or perhaps base the amount healing on unit cost (cheaper units heal more). Maybe some combination of the 2? This idea would I believe be great for VC, as it would allow for different builds and different uses of IoN (ie. supporting front-line/Chaff).
I have a few other ideas about why summons (in general) and net type spells are a bit OP, but I don't want to make this write up too long, so will leave at the this for now.
What are your thoughts