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Subject: Ideas on introducing mage wars... rss

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Daniel Heidenreich

Palm Bay
Florida
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The biggest hurdle I have found for trying to get my wife and friends to play this game is that they are presented with a book of cards rather than simply a hand of five or so cards on the first round of play. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with the amount of reading, rules, and options presented to them as a beginner. So I am trying to think of ways to make the first game easier to learn. I have looked at the apprentence spell books, but I think they are still too comoplex. I would love to hear suggestions and have two I might try out on my own.

1. Unlock Pages. I was thinking about organizing the book from basic usefull cards to more complex cards (but still only use apprentice style books). At the beggining of the game each player would only be able to use the first sheet of cards. Each round a new page would unlock.

2. Trim the book down to 3-4 pages of cards. I was wondering if anyone has tried to playtest a really short and basic game and if there were any spell book builds that would shoot for a 20-30 min. game.

Has anyone tried these methods or have some other ones they might want to share?. Thanks.
*edit title to better reflect the question
 
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Mr G
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Re: Ideas on introducing mage wars to freinds and family...
My ten year old son picked up the gameplay very quickly by just watching me play a few turns solo with apprentice set up. I talked through what I was doing and he asked several questions.

Two games later...

He beat me!
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Jonathan Challis
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Re: Ideas on introducing mage wars to freinds and family...
Honestly, if the complexity is too much for them, then I think you should respect that, and play other games with them, and find other gamers for Mage Wars.

It IS a very complex game. Not ruleswise, but strategically and tactically, and it's not a game for a casual audience. I don't think what you want to do is ever going to be successful.
 
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Daniel Heidenreich

Palm Bay
Florida
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Re: Ideas on introducing mage wars to friends and family...
Kelanen wrote:
Honestly, if the complexity is too much for them, then I think you should respect that, and play other games with them, and find other gamers for Mage Wars.

It IS a very complex game. Not ruleswise, but strategically and tactically, and it's not a game for a casual audience. I don't think what you want to do is ever going to be successful.


Perhaps I should explain that complexity is not really the issue. For example my wife regularly plays twilight struggle with me and we have played mage knight just fine (which in particular is more complex than this game). Not to mention others in my game group regularly play very heavy games. It is just the initial time investment and AP causing first few turns that I have seen turn even hardcore gamers off of this game.
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Ivan Kidd
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Maybe you need to just try a bit of patience. I have not had any trouble teaching people apprentice mode. They do take a little while to go through the book. It might not be much fun for you to watch, but they are engaged learning what they have.

It also helps to remember you don't have to explain all the rules up front. This goes for any game really. People don't like to listen to a long rules speech. You can explain things as they come up and answer their questions.
 
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Jonathan Challis
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I think my definition of 'hardcore' gamer is very different to yours - if they can't learn rules, and are put off by time or a learning curve, then I wouldn't use remotely that adjective.

That said, if they can play Twilight Struggle and Mage Knight then they can play Mage Wars (I own all three). I wouldn't say Mage Wars is less complex than Mage Knight actually, I'd say very much on a par, but yes they should definitely be able to learn it and play it no problem.

Dumbing the game down for an intro is not IMO the solution at all however. If they are interested, then they can have the rules explained, or they can read the rules thoroughly themselves before playing (or both). And if they are not willing to do either, then they are not sufficiently interested - accept that.
 
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Ivan Kidd
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I don't agree with the stance that you should just give up on teaching the game. That doesn't seem healthy for growing the hobby and isn't really giving them a chance. However, I also don't think that you need to modify the game in order to teach it. Apprentice mode seems perfectly fine to me, it may just be the way you're going about teaching it that is causing issues.

The Arcane Wonders website has an instruction guide for how to teach the game here: http://www.arcanewonders.com/resources-and-downloads

If the main problem is simply them figuring out the spells, I would just allow them time to look over the spellbooks and ask questions. Organizing the book by Spell Type and explaining the differences between the different types also seems to be helpful.

Equipment = Buffs your mage.
Creature = Another critter to fight for you.
Incantation = One time use miscellaneous effect.
Attack = One time use damage effect.
Enchantment = Permanent Buff or Debuff to a critter.

Don't need to explain conjuration because they aren't in Apprentice Mode (except for Beastmaster Tanglevine, which can be explained separately and compared to an enchantment).

At this point, they know where to look to do what they want. If you also explain how to read the cards, especially the target bar, then they can figure out what most of the spells do for themselves. They'll ask questions about certain traits, of course, but in general it shouldn't be hard to figure out.
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Michael Dusoe
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I think the apprentice books are fine, but I do think that the game benefit from a rigged demo, kind of like Munchkin has to walk beginners through the basic mechanics. A preset collection of cards and a script to go along with it that will get basic mechanics into play right away.

Each apprentice book could have 4 or 5 spell cards defined in the script that are used right out of the gate. Then the script could be like:
Turn 1: Put on equipment and summon a creature
Turn 2: Enchant the creature, then move and use an incantation
Turn 3: Creature attacks...

I dunno, something like that. Preset, no decisions, just mechanics practice. Then, after 4 turns, the board is engaged, the players are engaged, and they still have most of a spellbook to run with.

Hmmm, maybe I will try to come up with something...
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Ken Staples
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My printed copy of the rulebook has a walkthrough that has the first few steps of beastmaster v warlock. It gets you started then hands it off to finish playing. I don't think the electronic copy has it though.
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Purple Paladin

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They have an entire mass of videos teaching the game also. I've never seen so many for one game. Some people just learn better watching than listening or reading.

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Rafael Santos
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Toronto
Ontario
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Here is what I usually do and works very well. Also, assuming that you are playing with people that have some extra time since this method takes more time.

Match A
A1. Explain channelling;
A2. Explain how to summon creatures;
A3. Explain all about move/combat (guard, attk bar, defence, hinder...). However, I do not explain any trait (regenerate, legendary, Aegis, etc)
A4. Omit mage abilities
A5. Play a quick match with only 10 life for each mage using the Apprentice Spellbooks


Match B
B1. Explain all about creatures traits
B2. Explain all about equipments
B3. Explain all about enchantments
A5. Play a quick match with only 10 life for each mage using the Starting Spellbooks


Match C
C1. Explain what is left
C2. Play with the Apprentice Spellbooks as suggested in the rulebook.



It worked very well for me. I could get the players engaged and able to play quite competitively against me.

In one occasion, I could teach two new players with this method (I was only teaching) they could start playing very quick and they told me they had a blast!
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Ray
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I think one option might be to let them make decisions but not have to follow every rule right off the bat. If you and another played in the same side against another duo...let one cover the rules and the other inexperienced player make the fun choices of spell selection, movement and turn order.
 
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Jason Nopa
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I don't think the OP is saying that the game is too complex. I think he's just trying to figure out a way to introduce it so that it doesn't overwhelm players and gets them up and running faster.

I will agree that some of the prebuilt regular books can cause AP. Even though I come from a MtG background, it took me a while to understand how some of the cards should be played. And because it's now in a 2D space where placement matters, it's more to understand.

I think the idea of unlocking 'pages' or spell types is a good one.

How I would do it:

Start with equipment, creatures, and battle on a halfboard.

Next add attack spells and incantations (selecting simple ones).

Then once they get the battle mechanics down, you can unlock conjurations and enchantments. (as i see them as modifiers to the arena)

I feel like this gives them a stronger overview of the types, so that once they get to normal sized books with all spell types, they aren't trying to remember things about placement, reveal costs, etc. They should have the basic idea. The apprentice books do a decent job, but i think if you force it into stages, then they can grasp it faster...just my opinion, anyway.
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