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Subject: Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Mage Wars rss

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Ed Kabara
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Jackson
Michigan
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Originally posted on www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Mage Wars
Producer- Arcane Wonders
Price- $60
Set-up/Play/Clean-up- 30 minutes
tl;dr- This is my competitive card game! 100%

Basics-Enter the arena! Mage Wars is a hybrid of a collectible card game and a miniatures skirmish game. Players choose a mage and build a spell book using a point buy system based on the type of wizard chosen. Each wizard has different costs associated with different spells. Spells range from quick spells that do damage/move things/heal, summoning creatures, summoning walls, and enchantments that are reveled off turn to surprise your enemy. Players take turns activating creatures on the battle field or casting spells. Last man/women standing is the winner!

Mechanics- The mechanics of Mages Wars is as complicated as they need to be without being over complicated. Each turn you gain mana to cast spells, deal with attachments (good or bad), draw spells, and then take turns playing your spells and declaring your other actions. Actions range from moving, casting spells, or attacking. Play moves fast and is really fun. What really drew me to this game is the concept of a spell book. Instead of drawing random cards like Magic: the Gathering, players build a character specific spell book. As long as all players have the same number of points worth of spells, a character is legal for a tournament making spell book/deck building pretty easy. The spell book mechanic is really revolutionary, and it really makes this game stand out. The combination of the card game, the skirmish game, and the deck building CCG really make this fun and novel. 5/5

Theme- You're a mage. You could be a cleric, wizards, beast master, or a demon summoner with the base set. This really isn't "new," as magic the gathering had similar themes. And others have had this theme before that. However, the mechanics of the game really reinforce this theme of being a wizard. You build the spells book full of spells you will walk into the arena with. That right there wouldn't be new except you get to choose rather than just draw. Spending that minute before your turn agonizing over which spell to prepare that turn really makes the game that much more tense! Also, this game launched with a "living game" like prize support and story line. Like any other well thought out game, Mage Wars has store support, but this one also has a story. And depending on what Mages do WHAT and to WHO, the story will change. Since the back story of Mage Wars is mages fighting in an arena instead of fighting in battles, the story/store support really bring the story back to the game. It "almost" feels like an RPG. And that makes me feel like a wizard with something on the line! 5/5

Art/Execution- Art-beautiful so full points there. Execution of the game is well done also. You get LOTS of components in the box and lots of tokens to help you play the game. Also you get two spell books so one box will cover two players. And that right there is amazing! I've bought other games that were meant for more than one player and I needed two intro sets. The way this is set up lets me know that the makers of this game lover their players. 5/5

Instruction- Unlike an RPG where things can have a lot of leeway, Mage Wars has step by step instructions on how to perform every action. Since this game is direct player vs. player combat, the well explained rules really help keep fights to a minimum. The rules help move this game at a decent pace. There are a lot of rules, but if you want a quick game there are rules to help you teach/learn the game as a lower powered wizard with basic intro spell lists for your first game. From there the rules give you the advanced stuff and tell you how to make a good starting mage spell book. That's good dedication to making sure your players get off on the right foot. 5/5

Summary- I don't play Magic, I have house payments. At this point in my life, I like living card games (collectible card games that do not have random makeups of cards, you buy a set you get all the cards for the set). If I want to play a game with someone, it's going to be the Lord of the Rings card game. If I want some direct competition, it's Mage Wars. Tight rules, good cards and art, lots of options, a fairly cheap skirmish/CCG game, and a continuing story all draw me to this game. I tried it at GenCon and Origins and now I've bought all the expansions. I may not be good, but I always have fun. If you're in Jackson and you want to battle hit me up on twitter! 100%
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Peter Cooper
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Thank you for this review. I have only played the game a few times, but in general, I think I agree.
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Ivan Madd
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Statesboro
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Good review, but I think the play time you give may cause unreasonable expectations. I have seen several games end within 30 minutes, true, but games can easily last longer. Especially with new players. Even if you are experienced, I would say to expect each game to run about an hour.
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Peter Cooper
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Set-up/play/clean-up 30 minutes. Close, I suppose, in that set up is 5 minutes including making sure you have access to all the tokens which are printed differently on each side, and 25 minutes to re-set your spell-book. It's only the actual play that adds to that time!

I'm sure we'll get faster, but we played Beastmaster v Forcemaster the other day (well, over a couple of days because we didn't have time to finish in one go), and the Forcemaster's defences were brilliant so my Beastmaster couldn't hit her hard enough to take off enough wounds. She kept stealing things like my regeneration belt, and even my Pet! It took over 4 hours.
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Stephanie Baynes wrote:
Set-up/play/clean-up 30 minutes. Close, I suppose, in that set up is 5 minutes including making sure you have access to all the tokens which are printed differently on each side, and 25 minutes to re-set your spell-book. It's only the actual play that adds to that time!

I'm sure we'll get faster, but we played Beastmaster v Forcemaster the other day (well, over a couple of days because we didn't have time to finish in one go), and the Forcemaster's defences were brilliant so my Beastmaster couldn't hit her hard enough to take off enough wounds. She kept stealing things like my regeneration belt, and even my Pet! It took over 4 hours.

Wow, I can't imagine a game taking that long.

I find new players have a tendency to forget that you're trying to take down the enemy mage and not every creature they summon on the battlefield.
 
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Peter Cooper
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Being new to the game, we were looking up rules and checking what we were doing a lot. The Forcemaster seemed to be stopping all my attacks on her with various protection spells, regenerating (with my belt!) and some poor rolling on my part (2 hits on 5 dice), it just took a long time to get that last kill.
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Mike Stevens
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Nebraska
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Our first game took every bit of 3 hours. The 2nd game went almost 3 hours as we were still looking up keywords in the Codex which is fantastic. I would make sure that each player has their own copy of the Codex. Or 3rd game was a little over 2 hours and then we finally had a game that only took an hour. Almost every game since then has averaged about an hour. Even when I play with new players now, we can usually finish in about an hour. There is a certain learning curve to Mage Wars, but once you learn it everything just flows. One of the best games I own that just does not make it to the table often enough.shake
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