I’m definitely not fond of the kind of overwhelming magic that some editions of Warhammer were and are infamous for. That said, I’m not opposed to Kings of War’s level of magic (zap and heal) but it’s perhaps a little too simplified for my tastes. Same with HoTT. (I know KoW 2.0 has expanded magic a bit, but there are other things putting me off it that haven’t been addressed, at least not in the cheat sheet)
Rhoderic: I like the level of balance that Mayhem strikes. Six basic spells that must be bought out of the army’s points allowance, plus extra spells and rules for ‘binding’ in the expansion. Maybe not the sheer high level of customisation you might want, and you do have the ‘same old’ fireballs and teleportations; but some of the spells, especially the binding rules, might be more the kind of subtle magic you’re also looking for. Casting spells is initially like any other action during a player’s turn – you pay for it out of your army’s generated action point (command point: Cp) pool, with each subsequent action by the same unit (i.e. the wizard) in the same turn costing more Cps. There are also a couple of levels of penalties should the spell not be completely successful or if it’s a total failure. Then some of the spells also have additional consequences that might be applied in addition to the standard penalties. Magic can definitely be a foolhardy enterprise in this game!