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Subject: Substandard cards rss

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One thing I love about Mage Wars is that it doesn't show the usual deficits of fast expanding, card based games: first, the inconsistency of card power levels compared to cards of the same release generation (or expansion) and second, power creep (new cards replacing older ones because they are simply better in all aspects).

With 3 expansion and roughly 300 different spells Mage Wars has retained an astonishing good consistency among its various spells in terms of mana & spell book cost vs. effect and shows no sign of palpable power creep so far.

Still there are a couple of few cards that feel and in fact are substandard. I browsed through the spells and identified a dozen spells that I think fail in compariosn to the others - not because they "suck" or do nothing but because they either cost more than an equivalent card (mana or spell book costs) and/or have an effect lesser to that of an equal cost card.

When going through the list I also realized that 8 of these 12 were cards designed for the Warlord. This is maybe another reason why this particular mage is perceived by many as the less competetive among all present mages.

Lets see the list:

Sectarus: Interesting idea but its too expensive to be used only as a weapon and the familiar aspect is too restrictive to be used consistently. Other weapons (Lash of Hellfire, Vorpal Blade) or the Imp familiar are better choices for the Warlock in both departments. It's also of a higher spell level than the other options. This should have given either Channeling +1 instead or being a spawnpoint.

Hunting Bow: Along with Galvitar the most expensive weapon in the game but really falls off compared to it or to the Ivarium Longbow. Same stats as the Ivarium Bow but 3 mana and 1 spell level more for a very restrictive bleed effect. It should have had been less restrictive, maybe Beastmaster only as a trade off and/or two effects like the present normal non-bleeding attack and a second full attack with low damage but high bleed chance in order to justify the higher investment.

War Sledge: A Warlord only weapon that occupies both hand slots but doesn't inflict any more damage than any one-hand weapon? The full attack is ok effect wise but you won't gonna use it very often in a match, especially that the Warlord isnt designed for close combat.

Gate to Hell: Nice idea but terrible execution. Spell level 6, 12 mana and a full action for the effect of a simple totem. Then 12 mana and a full action more for 4 dice damage which doesnt affect flyers and can be predicted by the opponent? The Summoning Circle effect is a fine addition but overall this is underwhelming on so many different aspects.

Barracks: Its cheaper mana and level wise but it has too many restrictions to get its mana value up. And in the beginning it can't consistently deploy creatures as well (you need at least 2 mana on it). Clearly, the worst spawnpoint of all.

Akiro's Hammer: Too restrictive in its use (only conjurations), Ballista is just better and more versatile in what it does.

Ressurection: You can re-use one of your creatures that has died by paying a heavy mana and spell point tax (level 4). Clearly inferior to the animate dead mechanic which is cheaper, of lower level and can choose any discard pile. Just put the creature you want to play twice in your spell book instead of this.

Whirling Strike: Better use Battle Fury - this costs more mana and spell book points and it only works on a full attack which you have to forfeit for a quick attack just to attack one more time than you could have with Battle Fury...

Akiro's War Cry: Level 4, 14 spell points and epic (non-bindable to the Warlords Helm!) and doesn't do significantly more than Zombie Fury. Zombie Fury has the correct cost/effect ratio, this War Cry doesnt.

Goblin Grunt: Among all the 4-5 mana cost creatures this is the blandest - normal damage output but no traits. Also suffers that there are no good soldier synergies in the game.

Goblin Bomber: Even though the one time boom effect is nice, for 8 mana you could summon much better creatures that will outdamage the Goblin Bomber.

Spiked Pit: A Hellfire Trap that creates the stuck condition instead of burn - but it costs more mana and spell book points. For its 7 mana better use Tanglevine and you control when the opponent's creature is held and not your opponent (as he has to walk onto the pit first).

I think that the designers had a couple of these cards in mind and did everything right with the Necromancer, especially comparing these cards with the Necro's equivalents: Ressurection (Animate Dead), Akiro's War Cry (Zombie Frenzy), Barracks (Graveyard), Goblin Grunt (Zombie Crawler), Gate to Hell (Altar of Skulls) and Sectarus (Libro).


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Mark Turner
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Interesting.

The more I read about the warlord, the more I wonder how it slipped past playtesting. How did a mage so universally decried as substandard emerge as a favorite of the play test team?

Clearly it's harder to spot errors in a small group, and obviously there is always the chance a wider player pool will find ways to 'break' even well tested items, but this does seem like quite a miss.

Given the cost of all the reprints erratas that 'fixing' these cards would entail, it would seem to me that the easiest fix would be to tweak the warlord himself... Some kind of power to reduce the mana cost of war spells, perhaps, or boost their effects, in order to balance things out?

Has anyone house ruled something to that effect?

Will be interesting to see what they come up with the forged in flame set.
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I don't say its a bad card but I use the Ivarium Bow instead with my Beastmastress because the higher cost has not paid off in my games. The downside of the restriction is that the enemy mage always can do its action before you'll shoot at him even if you have the initative (because your first action is to attack with an animal) and in all my games the opponent either stepped out of range or entered my mage's zone, so I could only shoot him when having initative and then without the special piercing and bleed bonus which made paying the higher mana cost redundant. I rather have 3 more mana in the early turns and use Ivarium Bow.
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M. A.N.
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I'm not sure I agree with your inclusion of Sectarus as a substandard card. If you are running an aggro Warlock who is doing a lot of melee and has a spellbook with a bunch of curses in it, Sectarus is great: casts a curse without costing you an action, and don't forget, that curse can possibly be recovered via curseweaving. With native channeling reducing the cost of curses, Sectarus is a powerhouse for all but the most non-traditional Warlock.

I haven't tried to run many of the cards you call inferior, but at first blush, I think the Warlord may have suffered from over-theming. Does it makes sense that a Goblin Grunt would resemble a rank-and-file, chump soldier? Yes. Does it make for a powerful card? No. I'd still like to see if I can't find a viable, competitive Warlord strategy. Somebody obviously has.
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Again, Sectarus is not a bad card and my Warlock book included it for some time but whenever my Warlock got into melee, I was thinking "Hellfire Lash or Sectarus?" I decided for Hellfire Lash. I think in the moment when you put an curse under Sectarus during planning phase and move into melee range to the opponent, it gets dissolved. And whenever I was meleeing a creature with Sectarus I wasnt sure if I wanted to pay the mana for a curse that was not needed on a small or medium creature only because the action was free. Sectarus is a good replacement if your Hellfire Lash gets dissolved but most players wont use it as their main weapon.
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M. A.N.
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When I'm not bringing out a ton of creatures, the extra cast is very valuable. This is especially true if you're trying to time a combo right and rush your opponent with threats to address. It's all about timing and playstyle.
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Sacre Bleu
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Shelfwear wrote:
Again, Sectarus is not a bad card and my Warlock book included it for some time but whenever my Warlock got into melee, I was thinking "Hellfire Lash or Sectarus?" I decided for Hellfire Lash. I think in the moment when you put an curse under Sectarus during planning phase and move into melee range to the opponent, it gets dissolved. And whenever I was meleeing a creature with Sectarus I wasnt sure if I wanted to pay the mana for a curse that was not needed on a small or medium creature only because the action was free. Sectarus is a good replacement if your Hellfire Lash gets dissolved but most players wont use it as their main weapon.


Why would your warlock be attacking a small creature? Let your creatures clean up. With Sectarus equipped you want to go for the other mage or important creatures. You can bind deathlink when attacking creatures, and curseweave it back to your book when it dies. You can really stack curses on the other mage if you use sectarus on him.

Dissolve is an issue but that's the case for all weapons.

The action advantage you get from Sectarus is much better, in my opinion, than the burn potential of the lash. Don't forget that with most people running Drakescale Hauberk, the lash is actually weaker than Sectarus when attacking.

I think Sectarus is a much better card than the lash, unless your opponent uses many creatures that are weak to fire. You might disagree on that point, but I think Sectarus is far from substandard.
 
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It seems that opinions are divided on this No, honestly - I might be wrong on this. I replaced Sectarus with a Vorpal Blade and Sersyrix in my Warlock book because Vorpal Blade is cheap to cast and doesnt attract dissolves so fast and Sersyrix can support both a curse and fire damage strategy. I can see giving Sectarus another try though. I guess Hunting Bow and Sectarus are debatable but the rest of the list seems to receive consent.
 
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Alex Martinez
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I'm not sure I agree with a lot of the assessments, but I do find it odd that, with so many cards in the game, that anyone would expect all cards to be equally useful. Every game of this type has cards that end up being either far more useful than expected or far less. Even the Warlord is a good idea, just one that didn't pan out in long term play. (Although for the casual player, such as myself, he works just fine.)
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