The Lore of Dark Magic has been greatly improved in the latest Dark Elf army book (2008). It is a good lore with a lot of flexibility.
Dark Elves are capable of generating a really unpleasant number of power dice. A lord can have a bound item that casts the Power of Darkness spell. Plus they all can cast that spell, because they always know it in addition to normal spells. Another character can have the Sacrifical Dagger, which lets them kill one of their own troops (DE warriors are trash) for another power dice ON EACH SPELL. Almost every DE list that attempts to have a real magic phase will have the Sacrifical Dagger. In other words, a lord and a level 2, which is nominally just 8 power dice, can reasonably produce 16+ dice for real spells every phase.
Because of the power dice situation, slowing Dark Elf magic is not about managing their power dice. They have enough, or can make enough, to do whatever they want. It is about spell selection. Examine their spell selection and the battlefield position at the start of each magic phase and decide which spells you really want to stop. Stop those and ignore the rest. You are going to take some hurt from Dark Elf magic, focus on keeping it to survivable hurt. Additionally, pay attention as he uses his spells. If a spell you intended to stop fails to cast, or is cast against a less important target, you can move stopping something else up your priority list.
My beer ratings here are focussed on how important it is to dispel the spell and less on how useful the spell is inately. In most lores that is the same thing, but I feel that is less true for Dark Elves.
Power of Darkness - 1 beer
Casts on a 4+, generates D3+1 power dice for the caster only. So 50% chance of single dice casting, almost certain to cast when using the Sacrificial Dagger.
From the Dark Elf perspective, this spell is worth more than 1 beer. But from the defensive perspective, this is a spell you almost always ignore. As I said, you focus on the specific spells that threaten you.
About the only time to stop this spell is when cast by a level 2 that has two really really dangerous spells. Although not Dark Magic, my best example would be Pit of Shades and Unseen Lurker on turn 1 or 2. Even with the common pool, he doesn't have enough dice to cast both of those, so reducing his dice pool has meaning. A level 4 has access to enough dice all the time that he can reasonably attempt two big spells without Power of Darkness.
Chillwind - 2 beers
A basic D6 S4 magic missile, but with a bonus. Any casualties stop a unit from shooting in its next turn. Since we need to hurt most DE armies with shooting, this can be bad. It is fairly likely to get the single kill against crossbows/thunderers necessary to stop a shot. It is less likely to drop one war machine crew, but still quite possible.
I find there are usually bigger threats than Chill Wind. If cast at core shooters, I always let it go because their likely offense just isn't that high. Better that the crossbows not shoot a turn, but mostly live, than I lose half the unit to some other spell. If cast at an Organ Gun or Stone Thrower, I usually feel I have to let it go as well. The odds of all crew living are in my favor, although the odds of losing one are not trivial. If they have other good spells available, you have to play the odds.
Doombolt - 1 beer
A higher strength magic missile, but with shorter range (18 inches). Often out of range on turn 1. Examining the range at the start of the magic phase is part of deciding what spells you will stop. While it hurts more than chill wind, it still won't do a lot of damage to us. Better to lose an extra guy in a shooting unit than for the entire unit to be unable to shoot. Relatively better against other armies that have more expensive individual models, like heavy cavalry.
You might want to dispel this if it will finish off an injured Dwarf unit, or is targetted at the gyrocopter. Otherwise ignore it.
Word of Pain - 4 beers / 1 beer
The value of this spell is all about the situation. Making a shooting unit needs 6s to hit is annoying, but not the end of the world. Making Ironbreakers with Dwarf Lord that are engaged in close combat have weaponskill 1 is a disaster. This is something you usually ignore on early turns as survivable, but desperately need to stop on later turns. Worth saving spellbreakers to stop.
Bladewind - 1 beer
An odd spell. Effectively it is just a magic missile that might kill a unit champion. It could also wound a character, but that should be unlikely against Dwarfs. About as dangerous as Doombolt against us. It has better odds of taking out a war machine champion than a magic missile, but that is still unlikely.
Be sure to note the odd mechanic of this spell - close combat attacks. That means if the caster is in the front arc of the target, we get the hand-weapon-and-shield bonus against it. Also, just because it is close combat attacks, does not mean it avoids shooting randomization on war machines. War machines can be attacked in close combat, it just doesn't normally happen. Other than the one attack at the champion, this spell must randomize normally onto a war machine.
I might use dice against this spell when cast at a bolt thrower or otherwise weakened unit. But usually there are higher priority spells to stop.
Original Bladewind commentary left in just in case
An odd spell. Against most of our units, it is just a magic missile that might kill a unit champion. The problem is when they cast it at our war machines, it ignores the shooting randomization that makes magic missiles usually ineffective when cast there. You really don't want Bladewind hitting your artillery.
I might spellbreaker this if used on the Organ Gun, but probably not otherwise. I would definitely use dice against this spell anytime it targets a war machine.
Soul Stealer - 3 beers
Ignoring armour saves is bad, but S2 vs T4 reduces the damage a lot. High Elves hate this spell, it doesn't hurt us so much. Against a block of 25 Dwarfs, it should get about 4, which is survivable. The other effect is giving the caster more wounds. A high sorceress with 6 wounds doesn't die in close combat. If you have a chance to bash her over the head, don't let her heal up.
Note that the 12 inch range of this spell makes it worthless in the early turns. Until the caster is in range of a large Dwarf block, don't worry about Soul Stealer.
I would only consider spellbreaking this if I have a real chance of killing the caster that turn (which also means she doesn't have the Pendant of Kaeleth). I would like to dispel it with dice, but in most situations there are bigger threats.
Black Horror - 4 beers
Yes, the number 6 spell is nasty. BIG template bad! This will drop half a warrior block in one cast, plus maybe a few models in nearby units. It will also kill half a war machine crew, which means a tiny bit of luck could get them all. Plus it causes a panic test!
However, I have let this spell go through repeatedly. Against an elite unit that is already beat up, I almost always let it go. 15 Hammerers are still almost fully effective if reduced to size 10, which is what this spell would do on average. Even 15 Longbeards reduced to size 10 are still useful. But a unit of 25 warriors hit by Black Horror goes from 'combat threat' to 'diversionary fodder'.
Usually worth using dice to stop, possibly worth a spellbreaker.
Edited by David L, 06 January 2009 - 01:12 AM.