Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 Hide
18 Posts

Mage Wars Arena» Forums » General

Subject: On the fence, need help rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This game has long been on my radar but I haven't been able to pull the trigger. I nearly bought it yesterday but held back. I'm looking for you guys to convince me my concerns should not hold me back from buying it.

My concerns:

It's primarily two player
I will not get a ton of opportunity to play this two player. I might be able to squeeze it in once every few weeks but nothing regular. Will we enjoy this with 3 or 4?

My opponent won't be able to deckbuild
If I play this it will likely be pulled off the shelf to play and not planned in advance. I don't think it would be worth it to sit down and deckbuild right before playing (not worth it in terms of time expenditure). So we would likely be using preconstructed decks or I could build multiple decks ahead of time so I would have knowledge of what cards were in each deck. Can this be dealt with?

That's it, two concerns but they are major enough to keep me away. I do think I could play this one or two times a month and I'm leaning towards picking it up as it looks really stellar.

So, are these issues small enough that I should pick up the game anyway?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
brian d
United States
California
flag msg tools
I play once every few weeks with the pre-built books from the starter and have a lot of fun. Great, great game. I've read that the pre-built books, since they lack focus, take longer to play than a game with player built, focused book. The games I play typically last an hour to two hours.

Now I've never played 4 player but I've read that 4 player games need a 2nd board in order to have room for that many people.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
trevor

Missouri
msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Get it, it rocks.

But seriously it's only a 2 player game as of right now, but if you can find people to play it, it is VERY fun.

I'm in STL, I'll play ya!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jaded Lounges
United States
Vashon
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Noli me tangere, Caesaris sum.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Your concerns are not unjustified. I have some difficulty getting it to the table because of the two-player issue, and the deckbuilding aspect does not really work for my level of involvement. But I do love the game and I am glad that I have it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ivan Kidd
United States
Thomasville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I play multiplayer more than I play 1v1 and I've discovered a few problems with the rules as written, but overall I have a blast with it. First I'll discuss the problems I have with team games and how I resolve them, then I'll discuss the problems with Free For All games and how I resolve them.

Team Games
Problem One: Having to Kill both Mages.

This might not seem like a problem at first, but it has turned out to be one in my group's team games. We've found that once one of the two mages on a team is dead, that team has pretty much lost. Thus, games tended to revolve around singling in on one mage and focusing them down as fast as possible. Again, this might not be a problem for your group at all, but after almost a year of playing like this, my group decided they did not like this type of game play.
Fix: We now play where each team has a shared life total. I created a simple chart by multiplying each Mage's Life total by 0.75 We then add the result for the the two mages on a team to get their Shared Life Total, rounding down any ending decimals. The reason for this conversion was that simply adding both mages' Life together resulted in somewhat too long of games. Any damage done to one mage is then totaled against the Shared Life for that mage's team, and any healing done to one mage subtracts damage from the Shared Life for that mage's team. The Chart is as follows

Druid = 22.5
Wizard, Priestess, Forcemaster, Necromancer = 24
Priest, Johktari Beastmaster = 25.5
Warlord, Beastmaster = 27
Warlock = 28.5

Problem Two: Alternating Seating
This was the biggest problem with the team games for us. The reasoning behind Alternating Seating makes sense, you want to split team mates up so that their team doesn't go twice in a row. Makes perfect sense for balance. However, in practice, it makes it exceedingly difficult to actually work as a team.
Fix: We now play using Shared Turns for teams. Rather than having initiative pass between individuals, it passes back and forth across the table between teams. When it is your team's turn, your team may activate only one creature but it can be either teammate's creature.

Overall Results
These two rule changes have both sped up playing time and increased the enjoyability of the game for us thus far. The game still takes about twice as long for team games as it does for 1v1, but considering you have twice the mages involved and those mages discuss strategy with one another, I think that is about appropriate. The board can feel a little crowded at times, but playing on a single board, with teammates starting in the same corner zone, does work just fine. I initially worried about the Shared Turns rule resulting in an alpha gamer taking complete control over a team, but thus far that has not been a problem.

Free For All Games
Problem One: Ganging up on Someone

The first problem with Free For All games is that they run a high risk of people ganging up on one of the players. This often doesn't feel fair to the player being ganged up on.
Fix: A simple solution that I found on these forums is to make it to where if the mage on your right dies, you take damage equal to half your total Life. This gives the game a bit of focus and works really well to prevent unfair alliances.

Problem Two: The Board
A single board was not made for Free For All games. There's not enough room to manuever or put down your necessary conjurations when you have to worry about multiple opponents with nobody to aid you. Also, starting positions are not fair, as some mages will be closer to you than others no matter how you arrange it.
Fix:The only true fixes for this is to either get two boards to put together or create your own larger custom board. Two boards together is the recommended solution, and the easiest one, but I do not think it is the best. Sure, it fixes the problems with limited space and gives you plenty of room to manuever and place conjurations, but you still have an issue with starting positions.
Ideally, I would like to have a 5x5 zone board for Free For All games. This provides roughly twice the zones as a single board does, so should have plenty of room to manuever and place conjurations. Also, instead of starting in the corner zones, each mage would start along an edge of the board in the central zone on their edge. This means you would be exactly 4 zones away from EACH opponent (assuming 3 or 4 player games). This is slightly closer than the 5 zones you start away from your opponents in 1v1 or 2v2, but I believe it would work just fine. I have not actually created such a board however, so it is untested.

Overall Results
I don't often play Free For All games. Most of my games tend to be Team Games. We tend to only play when we have 3 players, meaning both 1v1 and Team Games are not possible. However, the few times I have played, the games have ended up very close with very tense endings, decided mostly by who has initiative in the final round.

Deckbuilding Problems
This is the bigger problem for you, in my opinion, since you say that you will be playing with more than 2 people more often than not. If you just build the starter decks, games will drag on longer as they are not focused (and the prebuilt wizard actually is almost designed to make the game last longer). Also, if you only have a single core set, you will only have 2 spellbooks and 2 player status boards.

My Recommendation If you get the game, get two core sets. That way you will have 4 spellbooks, 4 status boards, 2 game boards, and 2 sets of dice and markers. This will allow you to play with more than just 1v1 at a time, whether you want to do teams, free for all, or break into two separate 1v1 games.

I also recommend very very highly that you play in Apprentice Mode your first few games and with anybody you introduce to the game. It is a fantastic way to learn the rules and learn the cards. If you just jump into the full game right away, expect your first game to take 5+ hours, mostly due to you flipping through your spellbook and reading every single card each planning phase trying to decide what you should do. Apprentice mode cuts that down to like 45 minutes per game for your first few games. You'll still have analysis paralysis and frequent references to the rules and codex, but the close quarters and smaller spellbooks ensure the action continues at a reasonable pace.

After you and your group is familiar with the rules and you become ready to move up to the full game, I suggest you customize Spellbooks for your group to choose from instead of using the prebuilt books. Yes, you would know what was in each book, but that is okay. You can allow the rest of your group to flip through the books before beginning a game, if they wish to. Or, they could simply learn the different books through experience (assuming you don't change them too often).

Experience is a big part of the game too. Both with the rules and with the spellbook you are using. One reason I'd recommend keeping the books fairly consistent. Once you know your book and the rules, you can hammer out a 1v1 game in under an hour easily. Otherwise, expect it to take a few hours.
9 
 Thumb up
6.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steven Durst
United States
Tampa
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
In my mind, while you can play MW with more than 2 players, it is not ideal and as the previous post revealed, has some mechanical problems. I know MtG as well can theoretically can be played with more than 2 but when I played this was not really something done much.

Mage Wars is a 2-player game and always will be played primarily that way. If you do not or cannot play a 2-player game, then do not pick it up. However, if you would like a deep, tactical and fun game, then Mage Wars is for you.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent reply Ivan. Thanks everyone else too.

If I buy the expansion spellbooks should I not buy a second core set?

Also, if I got spellbooks from on here and just built them without paying too much attention, would that work fine?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Corey Esser
United States
Dubuque
Iowa
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
While I have not played multiplayer yet, so I can't comment on that, I can comment on the deckbuilding aspect. I own this game and built the 4 spell books in the core book. We have played with them, and while the games were a bit long, we were still learning the rules and checking the book frequently. But we have fun with it. Another person in my group also has the game now, and if we decide we want to try deckbuilding, this helps. But we try to plan that ahead of time and show up with built spellbooks.

I've read a lot about what to buy... be it 2 core sets vs spell tomes, etc...and my advice is that if you are interested in the game, find someone to play with before you buy it, so you can make a more informed decision. If that's not possible, and you are as interested as you seem, go ahead and get the core game...by trade, auction, whatever...and play it a few times. One of the great things about Mage Wars is that its popular, so if you decide its not for you, there are plenty of others looking to buy/trade for it. Its a pretty safe investment either way, in my opinion.

I hope this helps.

C
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ivan Kidd
United States
Thomasville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you buy or build extra spellbooks, you'll also need to make extra status boards (easy to do) and buy the extra action markers pack (yellow and green) in order to enjoy multiplayer games. I like the extra action marker pack anyways as the two distinct colors are very nice for multiplayer games, but you could make do with just blue and red in team games if you had to.

My recommendation though is still for an extra core set. It's well worth the value. For customization purposes alone, the extra cards are worth it. The rest of the stuff is just icing on the cake. But we get a little ahead of ourselves.

Your main questions were:
Can it be enjoyed with multiple players? YES
Should you customize your spellbooks? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Would customized spellbooks cause issues with group play? NOT IF DONE PROPERLY.

Overall, I highly recommend you get the game. You can start with 1 core set if you want to make sure the game is right for you and your group, but it will be a 1v1 game like that (and again I suggest that you learn it in Apprentice Mode). If it turns out you like it, you can then look into a second core set or other arrangements as behooves your group.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, if 2 is recommended for multiplayer I may just pick it up now, I can get a couple of copies for 50% off MSRP and they may not be there long. One of te spell times and one of the expansions was also on clearance.

Edit - one thing that's not clear to me is whether I can customize the spell books for other players in advance or if that breaks the game (since I would know what they have). That may be what your "Yes" is referring to above Ivan but I'm not sure if that's what you meant.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ivan Kidd
United States
Thomasville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't think that breaks the game. Some people will say it's more fun not knowing what you're up against, but my friends and I know each others spellbooks forwards and backwards and still have a blast. Even though you know what they have, you don't know what they're going to do with it. Does knowing your opponent's spellbook give you an advantage? Yes, and it's probably fair to let them look at yours before the game begins if they wish to. But does it break the game? No, it doesn't.

What would break the game is to build unbalanced spellbooks. Any game winning strategy you come up with for a spellbook, the others have to have a way to counter it. Then the first book has to have a way of defending itself against those countermeasures. Then even if you both know the other's spellbook, it's all about who uses the cards at their disposal smarter. When should I push my strategy? When should I defend my strategy? When should I attempt to disrupt my opponent's strategy? And that's if everything was straight forward black and white. You'll be surprised at the creative uses people can get out of spells. You may have memorized every card in their book and they can still surprise you with a combo you never dreamed of.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dean Adam
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is an unofficial, but play tester proposed multiplayer variant. You can find it on the arcane wonders site, and on BGG site. Essentially its something like kill the player to your left.

Arcane Wonders has commented that they will be focusing more on multi-player play over the next year. So I'd suggest that this is an area that will improve in the future.

However, I'd also say that this is one of the best two player games available. There really isnt anything else like it and I'd whole heartedly recommend the investment.

I'm in a similar situation to you, owning the games but playing with others who want to get started, rather than spending time thinking about spells. One of the solutions we've used is for them to build their deck prior and either assemble it when they arrive, or send it through. We use http://www.gameknight.org/MageWars/

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dean Adam
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There are a couple of threads on BGG that compare the cards you get from buying a second core set vs the spell tombs. I've just gotten to the point of buying the spell tombs, but had made two extra status tracker boards and brought the extra player tokens.

I would recomment against the building without paying attention. I mean would you play chess without paying attention to where the pieces went or what pieces you were using? The book building is actually a huge depth of the game. The apprentice books are an ok start, but you quickly start wishing you had more or less of particular spell, and the more familiar you are with the wider spell options, the less satisfied you are with the apprentice books (or even the starter books).

I recommend downloading the Arcane Wonders 'how to teach mage wars' doc. Its a great guide and everyone I've taught has had good things to say about the pace and approach.



charlest wrote:
Excellent reply Ivan. Thanks everyone else too.

If I buy the expansion spellbooks should I not buy a second core set?

Also, if I got spellbooks from on here and just built them without paying too much attention, would that work fine?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
moonglow wrote:
There are a couple of threads on BGG that compare the cards you get from buying a second core set vs the spell tombs. I've just gotten to the point of buying the spell tombs, but had made two extra status tracker boards and brought the extra player tokens.

I would recomment against the building without paying attention. I mean would you play chess without paying attention to where the pieces went or what pieces you were using? The book building is actually a huge depth of the game. The apprentice books are an ok start, but you quickly start wishing you had more or less of particular spell, and the more familiar you are with the wider spell options, the less satisfied you are with the apprentice books (or even the starter books).

I recommend downloading the Arcane Wonders 'how to teach mage wars' doc. Its a great guide and everyone I've taught has had good things to say about the pace and approach.



charlest wrote:
Excellent reply Ivan. Thanks everyone else too.

If I buy the expansion spellbooks should I not buy a second core set?

Also, if I got spellbooks from on here and just built them without paying too much attention, would that work fine?


By not paying attention, I meant grabbing a spell book for each different type of Mage online and building it without spending too much effort to memorize what spells are included. Then when handing out the spell books players can look them over before we play.

I didn't mean randomly throwing spells into it, I can definitely see how that would be horrific.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mr G
United Kingdom
Hatfield Heath
Essex
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Your concerns are very valid.

I would rate Mage Wars my favourite game of all time, so I will attempt to show how I deal with them.

It is a two player game. Yes, there are variants, but they are mechanically worse. It is, however a GREAT two player game. I play most of my games on OCTGN, an on line board game platform. It works beautifully.

Time consuming spell book design. This game rewards investment in book design and tactical thinking. If you are the only guy with the game, and you just pull out books for your friends to use, you will miss the core enjoyment of pitting wits against one another. Again, this is remedied for me via OCTGN, where there are some VERY committed players.

I guess what I am saying is that your concerns are valid. If you want to properly enjoy the game in the real world, you need friends who are invested in it as a two player event.

Me, I use OCTGN for my fix, and it works really well.

My recommendation ? Buy the core set, play with your friends, use OCTGN.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bippy the Goat
msg tools
mbmb
To the OP:

If you've ever played a great game two-player game full of tricks, evasion, epic drama, subtlety, and occasional bloodbaths, Mage Wars is for you. Either player can win up until the end and there are numerous paths to victory. The tension and drama remain high throughout.

Mage Wars delivers a very deep game each time. Its not a casual game by any means, and ought not be plopped on the table when time is limited or interest is low. I have never tried multi-player because who needs more than one gamer-friend when there are games of Mage Wars to play?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh Murphy
United States
Missouri
flag msg tools
badge
Fore!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Building books from what you find posted here and on the Mage Wars website's forum should work great! Just note the suggested strategy/opening moves on a notecard that travels with the book so whoever gets the mage will have some idea what to do with it. I also suggest placing some optional replacement cards in the back of the book so the player can switch things up a bit if they want to try something more out of the box.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charlie Theel
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
FYI, I appreciate all of the help everyone has offered, however, I've decided not to purchase this game now. It looks awesome, however, I do not think I will be able to commit to it like it deserves. Maybe some day...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.