Recommend
36 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Mage Wars Academy» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Academy Written Review rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Introduction


Mage Wars Domination was just pre-released two months ago at Origins and now we already have another being released, Mage Wars Academy (just Academy from here on out)!

Truthfully, I don't know what to call this. It isn't really an expansion. Mage Wars Academy is its own standalone game. However, every single card in Academy can be used in Mage Wars Arena. So it kind of is like an expansion but you can play it on its own and never have to touch Arena.

Academy is the culmination of your training at the school for Mages in Sortiledge. It is your "final exam" before you are recognized as a fully fledged Mage.

We're going to take a look at three different things; 1) The components, 2) The gameplay/rules and 3) All the different cards that come in this set.

Let's dive right in.

Components

Let's take a quick look at everything you get in Academy.

A new rulebook
2 spellbooks
2 status trackers
2 Mage cards and their ability cards
2 quickcast markers
6 attack dice and one d12
A bunch of other markers and tokens
And finally, 131 spell cards. All of which are brand new, never before seen spells. There are no reprints.

Now that we've talked about what you get, let's take a look at how to play Academy.

How To Play

In this section, I'm going to give an overview of how to play Mage Wars Academy. However, Arcane Wonders has released a series of videos on YouTube explaining how to play in a much more visually pleasing fashion. They explain it far better than I ever could so I highly recommend watching the videos. I'll embed the first one below.




I'm still going to take the time to type out how to play for those of you who prefer reading rather than watching videos. So here we go.

The rules for Academy are designed to be simpler than the rules for Mage Wars Arena while still giving the same epic feel that Mage Wars brings. Is it more streamlined, has less keywords, and has FAR less status conditions (at least to start).

Anybody who has played the full Mage Wars game will have an extremely easy time learning how to play Academy. But that was not the point of Academy. The point of Academy was to help bring in the gamers and non-gamers that had looked at Mage Wars Arena and either didn't want to, or couldn't, invest the time and effort it takes to learn how to play without having to look at the rulebook every turn.

I think it does a fantastic job of just that.


Setting Up

To play Academy, each player will need to select a Mage. In this core set, it will be either the Beastmaster or the Wizard. More Mages will be released over time, in "Mage Packs". If anybody reading this has played Netrunner, it will be very siimilar to the data packs. Basically, in a Mage pack, you will get a brand new Mage, their ability card, their suggested starting spellbook, and a bunch of other cards that will augment that Mage's spellbook, as well as the other schools of magic.

The players will also need their respective Mage's spellbooks. The rulebook of Academy provides a starting spellbook that I highly recommend both players using the first few times they play, regardless of whether they have played Arena or not.

There is no board in Academy. There is only one zone in the game, the space between yourself and the other player. Each player places their Mage card in front of them along with their Mage's ability card. The ability card contains all the important information that makes up your Mage, including health, channeling, their training, their ability, and other things.

Once that is done, each player gets a status tracker and resets it. There are two dials, one for Mana and one for Damage. Both players rotate the damage dial to zero. The Beastmaster rotates his mana dial to zero as well, while the Wizard actually sets it at 3 mana. Each Mage then places a quickcast marker on their Mage.

Finally, each player rolls the d12 to determine who will get initiative. The first two rounds of the game are considered "setup" rounds. Neither player can attack with any creatures or cast any attack spells during either of the first two rounds of a match.


Playing Academy

Congratulations! Once you have all that set up, you are ready for your first duel in Mage Wars Academy!

There are 3 phases to a duel in Academy. They are the Reset Phase, the Upkeep Phase, and the Action phase.

During the Reset phase, the initiative marker is passed to the player who does not currently have it (except for in the first round). All creatures are then turned so they are "Active". When a creature has used its action, they are turned sideways. In addition, all quickcast markers are flipped back over to the ready side. Finally, each Mage channels mana equal to their channeling.

During the Upkeep phase, some abilities or effects might be activated, such as Regenerate.

The Action phase is where most of the excitement occurs. Each creature may only take one action during a round. There are 3 types of actions. Attack, Guard, and Cast a spell. Only Mages can cast spells, so most creatures can simply decide between Attacking and Guarding.

Melee attacks work in almost the exact same way as Arena. As always, a creature making a melee attack must attack a guarding creature the enemy controls if they have any. That guarding creature then makes a counterstrike if it does not get killed.

Ranged attacks do not have to attack guards and do not trigger counterstrikes.

One change in Academy is how Mages cast their spells. Instead of a planning phase where a Mage must choose 2 cards to last the entire round, like in Arena, a Mage simply looks through their spellbook to choose a spell once they choose the "cast spell" action. The quickcast marker works the exact same way as in Arena.

There are 5 types of spells in this core set. There are creatures, enchantments, incantations, equipment, and attack spells.

These spell cards work the same way as the cards in Arena. They are either a full cast spell or a quick cast spell. They all cost a certain amount of mana. They are all from one of the various schools of magic. Basically, almost everything is the same on the cards. So Arena players will be able to look at a card and instantly know everything on it.

As always, play lasts until one Mage takes damage equal to or greater than their life total. That Mage is then destroyed and the surviving Mage is declared the victor.


Multiplayer


Academy also comes with rules for multiplayer gameplay. There are two forms of multiplayer, either team battles, or free-for-all.

In the team battles, initiative passes between the two teams instead of between individual Mages. Each team also activates one creature at a time, then the other team activates one, and so on. Also, both quickcast markers on the same team cannot be used back-to-back after one creature's activation. Guarding creatures protect both Mages on a team instead of just the controlling Mage. If your teammate dies, their Mage is removed from the board along with any cards attached to them. However, the remaining Mage retains control of the rest of the cards in play that were previously controlled by the destroyed teammate.

During free-for-all games, initiative is passed to the left. Activations also occur in a clockwise manner. Guarding creatures only protect their controlling Mage. A Mage can choose to attack an unguarded Mage even if another opponent has a guarding creature.


Building Your Own Spellbook


Making your own spellbook is half of the fun in Mage Wars. This is true for both Academy and Arena.

Academy spellbook building is very similar to Arena. Each Mage in this core set has 40 spellbook points to build their book with. Each Mage is trained in a specific school of magic. Cards from the schools your Mage is trained in cost spellbook points equal to their level. Spells from outside schools your Mage is NOT trained in cost spellbook points equal to double their level. And spells from opposite schools of magic (ie the Beastmaster and Fire spells) cost spellbook points equal to TRIPLE their level.

In addition, each Mage may only have 3 copies of a level 1 spell in their spellbook and 2 copies of any spell of a higher level.

Now that you know how to play Academy, let's get to what everybody is here for, the cards that come in this set. To start, we will take a look at the two Mages, their attack spells, and their equipment spells.

Spells

The Mages

First and foremost, we have the Mages themselves. This core set comes with the Keslar Grove Beastmaster and the Sistarran Wizard.

The Beastmaster is focused on using his creatures. He has a wide variety of them, including some powerful ones and some cheap, weak ones. So he can swarm or he could try doing a solo buddy build. He also has access to many enchantments designed to make him or his creatures better.

He has 40 spellbook points to build his book with, 24 life, no armor,7 channeling, and 0 starting mana. The starting mana of the Academy Mages is another slight change from Arena. In Arena, every Mage started with 10 mana. In Academy, it varies. Different Mages might have different amounts of mana they start with. The Beastmaster starts with none.

The Beastmaster is trained in the Nature school of magic and fire spells cost him triple when building his spellbook. Another important thing to note is the level of the Mages themselves in Academy. In Arena, all Mages were considered to be level 6 creatures. In Academy, they are level 4 creatures.

His ability, Stir the Beast, allows him to pay 1 mana once a round to have a level 1 animal creature he just summoned come into play active. This is a GREAT ability. In fact, it's one of the best abilities in the game, Academy or Arena. It's like a permanent Rouse the Beast except it only works on level 1 animal creatures. To make full use of this ability, players will want to use the Beastmaster as a swarming Mage with lots of level 1, weak creatures.

The Beastmaster also has a basic melee attack of 2 dice.

Now that we've looked at the Beastmaster, let's take a look at the Wizard.



The Wizard tries to control the zone of battle through trickery and deception. He has access to many enchantments designed to force the opposing Mage out of their strategy. The key to defeating the Wizard is adaptability and predicting what he will do.

The Wizard has the standard Academy spellbook points of 40. He has 24 life, 1 less than the Beastmaster. He also has a channeling of 7 but he starts the game with 3 mana.

The Wizard is trained in the Arcane and Air schools of magic. He has no school of magic that he is opposed to, so he pays a maximum of double for any spell he puts in his spellbook.

The Wizard's ability, Extend Magic, allows him to add an extra Dissipate token to enchantments by paying an additional mana cost equal to that spell's level.

There are 5 spells in Academy with the Dissipate trait, 4 of them being enchantments. In case you all don't remember, the Dissipate trait was introduced in Forged in Fire on the Rolling Fog conjuration card. What it does is gives cards a certain number of rounds that they remain in play before they get destroyed. So if a card has the Dissipate X trait, it stays in play for X amount of turns. Once X amount of turns is over, it is automatically destroyed.

Many of these enchantments with the Dissipate trait are meant for "control" style of play, so this ability allows him to play that way even more efficiently.

Just like the Beastmaster, the Wizard also has a basic melee attack of 2 dice.


Now that we've seen the Mages, let's move on to the other cards.

Equipment

Emerald Elk Stave

First up we have the Emerald Elk Stave.

This is a 2 cost equipment spell. It is a level 1 Nature spell and can only be used by a Beastmaster. It takes up the shield slot.

It allows the Beastmaster to heal 2 animal creatures in his zone 1 damage each during the Upkeep phase by paying 1 mana for each creature healed this way.

This is a pretty good card in Academy. Many of the Beastmaster's creatures are level 1 and pretty weak. We'll see them later on. This helps allow him to keep them alive. The healing doesn't cost an action to use.

The card itself costs 2 mana to cast and the healing costs 1 mana, so it isn't expensive to use either.
I expect to see this used in Academy practically every match. It's just too good not to use. In Arena, it could prove useful as well. Many Arena Mages won't want to Dissolve something like this, so it could stick around and heal a bunch of damage.

The thing is, the creatures have to be in the Beastmaster's zone, so that means he will likely have to venture into the fray of battle, which is obviously dangerous.

Johktari Hunting Knife

Next we have the Johktari Hunting Knife.

This is a 4 cost equipment spell taking up the weapon slot. It is also a level 1 nature spell.

It gives the controlling Mage a better attack; one that rolls 3 dice. Additionally, it has a special effect. Once a Mage attacks with this weapon, a friendly Animal creature gains melee +1 until the end of the round.

Also, if the Mage is level 5 or higher, the weapon rolls an additional attack die. This is the first of a couple of cards that have certain things happen depending on what level the creature it affects is.

For 4 mana, this is a really good weapon in Academy. It works well with the Beastmaster's many animal creatures.

The issue with it is that to make full use of its benefits, you must attack. That means that you cannot use your action for summoning creatures, which are probably more important. Therefore, I think this is best used after you get some creatures out on the board or are trying to save up mana for something expensive. In either of those cases, you won't mind using your action for attacking.

Kajarah

Johktari Beastmasters rejoice! There is finally an equipment spell with a quick action ranged attack!

Kajarah is a 3 cost equipment spell from the Nature school. It is level 1 and takes up the Weapon slot.

It gives your Mage a quick action ranged attack of 0-1 zones that rolls 2 dice of damage.

In addition, if one of your animal creatures has already damaged the target this round, it rolls 3 dice instead.

This is a pretty good weapon in Academy. The ranged attack allows your Mage to get around guards and not be worried about Counterstrikes.

In Arena, something like this is what the female Beastmaster has been waiting for. Unfortunately, the range of the attack is only 0-1 zones which means she still has to be up close and personal with the action, which doesn't let her use her innate Fast ability to its maximum potential. Oh well. Maybe we'll get what she needs in the future.

Leather Chausses

Leather Chausses is a very simple card, but groundbreaking at the same time.

It introduces a new equipment slot, the breeches. It only costs 2 mana, is a novice level 1 spell, and gives the Mage Armor +1, like Leather Gloves and Boots.

This card will see tons of use in both Academy and Arena.

It's that simple.

Packleader's Cowl

Packleader's Cowl is another Beastmaster only card. It costs 3 mana and is nature level 2.

It takes up both the helmet and cloak equipment slots. Normally this would be a bad thing but currently the Beastmaster doesn't have any other equipment he can wear in the helmet slot. So it doesn't really affect it.

It gives the Beastmaster Armor +1 and in addition, allows him to pay mana equal to the level of a friendly minor Animal creature in his zone to give it a guard marker once per round during his activation.

Minor and major spells are something newly introduced in Academy and are incredibly important to how the game plays. All spells level 1 or 2 are considered Minor spells. Any spells level 3 or higher are considered to be Major.

Back on topic, this is a VERY powerful card. Like his ability, it doesn't cost him an action to use. His innate ability gives him an infinte Rouse the Beast for level 1 creatures and this spell gives him an infinite Defend for minor creatures.

This card will see lots of play in both Arena and Academy. The only downside is that many Minor creatures are fragile and might be killed if attacked. So I think it may be better used on level 2 creatures who are a bit more durable.

Repulsion Cloak

Repulsion Cloak is a Wizard only equipment spell. It costs 4 mana, is a level 1 Arcane spell and takes up the Cloak equipment slot.

It is essentially a weaker/cheaper version of the Suppression Cloak. When the wearer gets attacked by a melee attack, the attacker must pay 1 mana. If they don't, the attack is cancelled.

This is an excellent defensive spell in Academy. The Mages generate more mana, making a single mana more valuable. Combining this with the other mana denial spells in his spellbook, the Wizard can completely drain his enemies of their mana. Every Wizard will play this in Academy.

In Arena, I don't see it being played as often. Wizards will play Suppression Cloak instead.

Rod of the Arcanum

Rod of the Arcanum gives its wielder a better attack. It costs 4 mana and is a level 1 Arcane spell. It isn't Wizard only, so the Beastmaster can use it too.

It gives an attack of 3 dice. In Arena, it's 4 dice.

In addition, when the attack from this weapon hits a Non-Mage creature, the controller of said creature loses a mana.

This is another tool in the Wizard's mana drain arsenal. The issue is that the effect only works when hitting a creature that isn't a Mage, which isn't usually the best option.

This is a fine card in Academy and most Wizards will likely carry it, but I do not see it being used much in Arena. There are simply better options for Wizards, like Mage Staff.

Sistarran Robes

Next we have the Sistarran Robes, a chestpiece for the Wizard.

It costs 4 mana and is a level 1 Arcane Spell. It isn't Wizard only but 95% of Mages who use it probably will be.

It gives Armor +1. In addition, if an opposing Mage loses a mana because of an effect you control while wearing this, you then gain a mana. This can happen once a round.

As you can see from some of the other Arcane equipment shown already, this pairs nicely with a few of the Wizard's other cards.

If attacking a non-mage creature with the Rod of Arcanum while wearing this, it will cause a swing of 2 mana, something that is can be a big deal in Academy.

This card is a bit harder for me to predict how often it will be used in Arena. Some Mana Drain Wizards may try it but my bet would be that most will not in favor of chestpieces that give 2 armor.

Wispwillow Amulet

Here we have the first amulet in Academy, the Wispwillow Amulet.

This is a 3 cost spell from the Arcane School. It is a level 1 spell.

This amulet his the Dissipate 6 trait, meaning that it will be in play 6 turns. It comes into play with 6 Dissipate tokens on it and one gets removed every Upkeep phase.

What this amulet does is give the Mage wearing it a mana whenever one of those Dissipate tokens is removed. So you pay 3 mana to eventually gain 6.

This works great in Academy because matches generally last around 6-8 rounds. In Arena, with longer matches, this card won't be as useful. Use a Moonglow Amulet instead in Arena.

Wychwood Ironvine

For the last equipment spell in this set, we have the Wychwood Ironvine.

It is a 5 cost equipment spell taking up the belt slot. It is Nature level 1.

This belt gives its wearer Armor +1 and the Regenerate 1 trait.

This is a very good card. It is currently the only belt that gives armor plus it gives regenerate 1. This makes it slightly better than Regrowth Belt, depending on how much armor you already have equipped.

It will be used constantly in Academy and probably very often in Arena as well.

Next up we'll take a look at the attack spells of Academy.

Attack Spells

Arcane Missiles

Arcane Missiles is the first attack spell of this set and it is one of my favorites.

It is a 6 mana Arcane Level 2 spell. It is a full action to cast and targets 1-3 creatures or conjurations.

It rolls 2 attack dice and the attack is Ethereal and Unavoidable. The damage is also critical.

The reason I like this spell so much is because it is Unavoidable. The Beastmaster has quite a few creatures that have really good defenses but low life.

This spell helps take them out easily. If I was building my own Wizard spellbook, I would try to put 2 of this spell in there.

In Arena, it's alright. The full action makes in unappealing to me but it was probably made that way because of Wizard's Tower. The damage is critical which is nice but for 2 more mana a Wizard could just cast a Fireball. Or for 1 less mana, an Acid Ball. I just don't see it being used.

Forked Lightning

Forked Lightning is another good attack spell in Academy. Every attack spell in Academy is pretty good actually. They're good in Academy, at least.

This one is a 6 mana level 2 Air spell. It's a full action, just like Arcane Missiles, and targets a creature or conjuration.

It rolls 3 attack dice of lightning, Ethereal, damage and also inflicts a Stagger condition on a 7+.

The nicest thing about this card, though, is the Sweeping trait. This means that the attack hits 2 different targets.

This is a really useful way to possibly kill or Stagger two creatures with just one action.

From my experience in Academy, having the most creatures is paramount to being able to win. It isn't always the case, but the winner of the match usually has more creatures alive at the end. Having more creatures means that you can set them on guard and protect your Mage from melee attacks.

This is a spell that is good at both doing damage and removing guards.

In Arena, it has the same problem Arcane Missiles does. It's a full action and better attack spells can be cast instead.

Lightning Jolt

Lightning Jolt is an attack spell that I think will definitely see use in Arena. It is a 4 mana Level 1 Air spell.

It is a quick action with range 0-1 and targets a creature or conjuration.

It rolls 3 dice of Ethereal lightning damage with a chance to Stagger on a 5+ effect die roll.

The most basic of Lightning spells, this card is fantastic. 4 mana for 3 dice is pretty good and it has a very high chance to Stagger.

In Arena, I think this will be used quite a bit by Wizards or any future air Mages. It's a quick action so it can go on Wizard's Tower but it is only range 0-1 so it isn't overpowered.

The most similar card in Arena is Arc Lightning, also a level 1 Air spell. Arc Lightning is 5 mana but has the same range, target line, and amount of attack dice. The differences are the Arc Lightning is Unavoidable, which is nice, and that the effect die rolls are different. Arc Lightning has a chance to Daze on a roll of 7-8 or Stun on a roll of 9+. I'm honestly not sure which effect is better. The Stagger is easier to inflict and is more useful on a Minor creature, but Arc Lightning could potentially Stun a large creature or even a Mage.

I honestly think they both have their uses but since Lightning Jolt is newer, I'll probably try it more xD

Piercing Thunderstrike

Piercing Thunderstrike is possibly the best attack spell for Arena that is in Academy.

It is a 6 mana, quick action spell with range 0-1. It targets a Creature or Conjuration and is a level 2 Air spell.

Piercing Thunderstrike rolls 4 dice of lightning damage with the Ethereal Trait. It has a possibility to Stagger on a 7+ effect die roll.

The unique thing about this card, however, is that it has the Piercing +2 trait. The only other attack spell with Piercing is Devil's Trident.

This is a great card to use on lightly armored creatures or Mages. In Academy, the Piercing +2 will cut through most creatures armor and the Stagger is just icing on the cake.

In Arena, this card's purpose will be much the same. It shines when played on creatures of 2 or 3 armor, obviously. Air Wizards will love this card.

Voltaic Discharge

The very last attack spell in this set is Voltaic Discharge. It is a 6 mana, full action, zone attack. It is an Air Level 2 spell.

When you cast it, it attacks every creature in the zone, including yours and even your Mage.

It rolls 3 dice of lightning damage and inflicts a Stagger condition on a roll of 7+ on the effect die. The attack has the Ethereal trait as well.

So yeah. This is kind of like a last resort spell when your opponent has a bunch of creatures out and you have like 1 or 2.

This spell is just a chance to try to even the playing field by taking out, or at least Staggering, a good number of their creatures.
I don't see this being used in Arena. Electrify is another Air school zone attack and it costs just 3 more mana. It doesn't attack the caster, rolls 4 dice, and is even Unavoidable. So yes, this attack is not inherently Unavoidable. The Beastmaster's animals can all still try to Dodge it unfortunately.

Incantations

Crumble

There are 4 incantations of Academy, all of which are similar to their counterparts in Arena.

The first of these is Crumble, Academy's Dissolve.

It's a Level 1 Water spell and targets an equipment. It costs X where X is the casting cost of the equipment, but you actually gain 2 mana after you cast this.

So it seems just like a different version of Dissolve, right? There are two small detail that separates them. First, Crumble targets the equipment itself, not the Mage. This means that a Nullify will not stop it. Second, Crumble is a full action. This means you cannot move and cast it in Arena.

Crumble is a full action spell. That's perfectly fine in Academy. It is the only way currently to get rid of equipment in Academy, so you absolutely MUST have this in your spellbook. But in Arena, in my opinion, Dissolve is usually still the better option.

Disperse

Disperse is almost the same story as Crumble. It's very similar to Dispel from Arena.

It is a level 1 Arcane spell and targets a Revealed Enchantment. It costs X mana where X is the reveal cost of the enchantment. Not the total cost. The reveal cost.

So again, you're saving 2 mana.

But again, it is a full action. Like I said, same story as Crumble. This is a fine card in Academy and will be used often, but in Arena, it will be left to the side and not used very often unless you don't plan on using your full actions for other things.

Group Mend

Group Mend is a lesser version of Group Heal in Arena.

It is a 5 mana incantation from the Holy school. It is a level 1 quick action spell and targets an entire zone.

It heals every friendly living creature in that zone 2 dice. The dice are rolled for each creature individually.

Since there is only 1 zone in Academy, this is a very useful card. Your creatures will all be in the same zone throughout the match.

So if you have a few creatures with some damage on them, this is definitely worth playing.

In Arena, 2 dice of healing isn't as effective. The only time I would really put this in my book is if I have a strategy where I know at least 3 creatures are going to end up in the same zone, something like a swarm book (which by the way, are much more viable after this set).

Mend

The last incantation, Mend, is a Novice healing spell. It costs 2 mana and is level 1.

It is a quick action and targets a living creature. So it can be used to heal a Mage if necessary.

It heals the target the number rolled on 3 dice. 2 mana for 3 dice of healing is extremely efficient.

Every spellbook in Academy should have at least 1 of these if not more.

In Arena, the biggest issue with it is that the range is 0-0.

So your Mage has to be in the same zone as whatever you want to heal.

For 3 more mana in Arena you could simply use Minor Heal and heal 5 dice for 5 mana instead. It costs 1 more spellbook point though unless you are a Holy Mage.

I think this is one of those cards in Arena that may be thrown into a book when there is 1 spellbook point left and the book needs a healing spell. Other than that, I think Minor Heal is better for Arena play. The reason for this is 3 dice of healing will often have less of an impact in Arena. This is because the creatures in Arena generally have lower health.


Now that we've seen the 4 incantations, we'll check out the enchantments.

Enchantments

Akiro's Game

Akiro's game is the first enchantment in Academy. All enchantments still have a casting cost of 2.

This enchantment has a reveal cost of 3 mana and is a level 1 War spell. It targets a zone, which there is only one of in Academy. It is Epic, so you can only have one in your book.

When you reveal this card, you gain two mana. So it really costs 1 mana to reveal but still costs 5 mana to destroy.

During the Upkeep phase, the most expensive creature in the zone gets a Stagger marker placed on them.

If there is a tie, the effect die is rolled to determine which creature gets it.

So I think this card is fantastic. It's cheap both to cast and to put in a spellbook. You can put it facedown and reveal it right before the Upkeep phase to get a Stagger on your opponent's strongest creature. Don't expect it to last a while though, your opponent will likely try to get rid of is ASAP.

In Arena, I think this could be useful as well. This is another zone enchantment which is something I'm always in favor of. You could put this in a zone with a conjuration you want to keep alive, like a spawnpoint or something else important. If your opponent sends out a single creature to destroy it, you can then reveal this card and have that creature be Staggered every round.

Arcane Ward

Arcane Ward is a Novice Level 1 Arcane spell. It has a reveal cost of 0 but is a mandatory reveal. It can only target Non-Mage Objects.

It's very similar to Nullify except that the mana your opponent spends on the spell is given back to them.

The enchantment or incantation they tried casting on the object is still cancelled and destroyed.

Interestingly, its target line means you can place this enchantment on equipment or other enchantment cards. I don't know how often that will happen.

I think it has better uses, but it's an interesting idea.

This card is amazing. We have an Arcane spell that is Novice and is something that many Mages will want to use in Arena and Academy.

Obviously the drawback is that it cannot be placed on Mages themselves, but this is essentially the new Nullify to use on anything that isn't a Mage. It costs less mana and less spellbook points to use. It gives your opponent their mana back but destroys the card they had used. I think this card is close to an auto-include in both Academy and Arena, especially for Warlords.

Badger Frenzy

Badger Frenzy is the first on a couple of cards that target Minor creatures. In this case, it must be a Minor, Living, Animal creature.

It costs 1 mana to reveal and is Nature level 1.

It allows the creature to gain the Doublestrike trait the next time it makes a quick action melee attack. Then, after that attack, this card gets destroyed.

In addition, if the creature is level 1, this card costs 1 less to reveal, making it 0 to reveal.

I think this is a great Academy card. The Beastmaster has many great targets for this spell which we will see in part 3 of this review. Academy Beastmasters should pack all 3 of these into his spellbook. It's that good.

In Arena, it could be very good as well. There are plenty of good targets for it like the Timber Wolf. For 3 mana, the Timber Wolf would get an extra attack of 4 dice, which is really amazing.

Divine Reversal

Divine Reversal is pretty easy to understand.

It's a mandatory reveal of 1 mana and is a level 1 Holy spell.

It targets a Living creature, including Mages. When the creature is attacked, this card must be revealed.

2 damage from the attack is cancelled and then the creature this card was on heals 2 damage. Divine Reversal is then destroyed.

This card will draw comparisons to other healing spells. The most similar one is another enchantment, Healing Charm. Healing Charm is not a mandatory reveal and costs 3 mana to reveal. The other stats are the same, but the thing it does it obviously different.

Healing Charm lets a living creature heal up to 4 dice of damage when revealed. Depending on the roll, that can either be fantastic or awful. Divine Reversal has a more predictable outcome because it blocks 2 damage outright, then heals 2 damage, which is less random than 4 dice.

I think this card is viable in both Academy and Arena but I don't know if anybody other than the Holy Mages will use it in Arena.

Dodge

Dodge is another Novice spell introduced in Academy.

It's a level 1 War spell but any Mage can use it for 1 spellbook point. It costs 2 mana to cast and 0 to reveal.

It can only be cast on Living creatures. It has a mandatory reveal that activates when the creature it is on gets attacked.

Dodge counts as a defense. This is important because you can only use 1 defense per attack. So if Dodge doesn't work and the creature it was on has their own defense, they cannot use it.

If the creature this was on was a Minor creature, Level 1 or 2, it simply Dodges the attack automatically.

If it is a Major creature, the d12 gets rolled and on a 7+, the attack misses. Either way, Dodge is destroyed after the attack.

The most obvious comparison to this card will be Block from Arena. There are a few differences. Block is not Novice and is a Level 1 Mind spell. It costs 2 mana to Reveal. It can also only be played on Corporeal creatures. & it does not have the different effects depending on the level of the creature it is on. Dodge is a great card in Academy where there aren't very many Unavoidable attacks yet.

Which is better in Arena? I think they're both useful. Block is better on Major creatures because it guarantees that the attack misses. With Dodge on a major creature, it is a 50% chance to hit. On Minor creatures, however, Dodge is obviously better. So I think that spellbooks that have Minor creatures that are vital to their strategy will really enjoy and use this card.

Exile

Exile is the first enchantment in Academy with the Dissipate trait. It costs 3 mana to reveal and is an Arcane Level 2 spell.

It can only target Minor creatures and has the Dissipate 2 trait. With the Wizard's ability, it can be made into a Dissipate 3 card.

Exile essentially works as a lesser version of Banish, except as an Enchantment instead of Incantation.

So when the creature this is attached to activates, Exile can be revealed. The creature then gets banished outside of the arena, along with the enchantment and gets the Dissipate tokens placed on it.

When the Dissipate tokens run out, the creature comes back into the game.

In addition, if the creature this is on is level 1, the cost of this card is 1 less.

This is a great example of a card that adds to the Wizard's control game in Academy. Although only able to be used on a Minor creature, it disrupts the tempo of the opposing Mage and removes one threat from the zone, albeit temporarily. This will be a popular card in Academy. Will it be used in Arena? That's harder to say but I doubt it, unless spellbooks that use low level creatures become popular again.

Gator Toughness

Gator Toughness is Nature Level 1 enchantment that can go on any living creature.

It costs 2 mana to reveal nomatter what it is played on.

It gives the creature Armor +1 and Life +2.

In Academy, this extra armor and two extra life is quite a big deal. Academy creatures have less armor and life than their Arena counterparts, so this will actually affect them more.

In Arena, this is a good card as well because both of these traits are stackable. So this can be played on a Mage with all their other armor to make them a tank. This + Rhino Hide + Elemental Cloak + Leather Stuff + Chestplate = 9 armor. Then all you need is Veteran's Belt.

9 armor is a bit much, even with Veteran's Belt. But it's pretty crazy to think about. I'm not even taking into account things like Fortified Position and Divine Protection. This kind of defensive strategy isn't really practical, because armor gives diminishing returns. But my point is that there are plenty of options for getting armor in Arena. Corrodes will be even more important now.

Rhino Hide costs 1 more mana if being put on a Mage and is realistically the better option. 2 armor is better than 1 armor and 2 life if the Mage has no armor on it already. This is a fine card for Academy but will not be played on Mages. Its best use will be on creatures.

Giant Size

Giant Size is one of my favorite enchantments from Academy.

It's an Arcane level 2 spell and costs 3 mana to reveal. It can only be cast on Minor Living creatures.

It has the Dissipate 2 trait, so it lasts 2 rounds before it gets destroyed.

This can be made into Dissipate 3 with the Wizard's ability.

It gives the creature Life +5 and Melee +2 for as long as it is in play.

This can be crucial on a weak creature with little life, or it can make a decent creature into a great one.

Much like Gator Toughness, this card is more significant in Academy because of the generally low health values of creatures. In Arena, this is a perfectly good card as well. There are plenty of level 2 creatures who would be good targets for this, such as the Timber Wolf or Blue Gremlin.

Hoodwink

Hoodwink is an interesting card. It doesn't cost anything to reveal, targets a non-Mage object and is a level 1 Arcane spell.

It is Wizard only and Epic.

When the card is is attached to is the target of an enemy action, Hoodwink can be revealed.

When revealed, the controlling Wizard gains 3 mana and Hoodwink is destroyed. When destroyed, Hoodwink is placed back in the Wizard's spellbook, essentially making it Cantrip.

So you basically gain 1 mana every time you play this card.

It will be best used similarly to how Decoy is used. Put it facedown on your creature and make them think it is an Arcane Ward or something. Then when they try to trigger it with an incantation or enchantment, just reveal it and gain a mana.

In Arena, the mana gain could be 2 if wearing an Enchanter's Ring. But it would be used essentially for the same purpose, pretending it is something else.

Iguana Regrowth

Iguana Regrowth is an enchantment whose reveal cost is X where X is the level of the creature it is attached to.

So it can be pretty cheap or pretty expensive, depending what it goes on. It can target any living creature, including a Mage.

It is a Nature level 1 spell and gives the creature Life +2 and Regenerate 1.

This card goes really well with Gator Toughness. If they both are put on a creature, that creature gets a total of Life +4, Armor +1 and Regenerate 1. In Academy, and even in Arena, that can be a really big deal.

Like many of these cards, they'll have the biggest impact on creatures with low health.

In Arena, it isn't AS good but I do think it has its place.

I would be interested to see a Fellella, Pixie Familiar build where she gives herself all these enchantments to make sure she survives and then proceeds to dole out enchantments to all the other creatures.

Joined Strength

Joined Strength is an awesome card. It costs 1 mana to reveal, is a Nature level 1 spell, and can only be cast on an animal creature.

It is unique, meaning only one can be in play at once, and Beastmaster only.

It gives Melee +1 to whatever creature it is on. The next part can be a good or bad thing, depending how you look at it.

Whenever that creature takes damage, it takes one less damage and your Mage takes that 1 damage instead. This can be dangerous if the creature gets attacked multiple times in a round.

That is good because it will allow that creature to stay alive longer but it gets damage on your Mage, which is never good.

If the creature ends up getting destroyed, the Beastmaster can pay 1 mana to move this card to a new animal in his zone.

So again, I think this card is great. It can give a creature that little boost it needs to be truly formidable. In Arena, it will be good as well. It can be played on the Beastmaster's Pet to make it even more powerful.

Minor Essence Drain

Minor Essence Drain is the Academy version of the Arena card of similar name, Essence Drain. It is a level 1 Arcane spell and costs 0 mana to reveal. It can only target Minor creatures.

It basically gives that creature Upkeep +1, meaning that the creature's Mage must pay 1 mana during the upkeep phase or the creature gets destroyed.

The thing is, it does not actually call it Upkeep +1, it just states what the effect is.

This is because one of the main goals of Academy was to make the game simpler. One way of doing that was removing many of the keywords so that players don't have to reference the codex so often.

This is another one of the Wizard's control cards. This one provides another avenue of mana denial. Often, the owner of the creature it is attached to will chose to kill the creature if it is cheap. So as the Mage playing this, it works in your favor either way. If they kill their creature, then awesome! You just spent 2 mana to kill a creature. If they let it live and choose to pay the upkeep every turn, then great! They have 1 less mana a turn and this card will break even in just 2 turns.

Combining this with the Wizard's equipment and other mana denial spells makes this a formidable strategy. If swarms become popular again in Arena, this card could help destroy them.

Panther Stealth

Panther Stealth is yet another awesome enchantment from the Nature school. It is a level 1 spell and can only target a Minor living creature.

It costs 1 mana to reveal but costs 1 less if the creature it targets is level 1.

It gives that creature the Elusive trait. This allows it to ignore guards, which is great.

The Academy Beastmaster has many minor creatures whom would love this card.

It can completely change the game in the Beastmaster's favor.

This will be useful in Arena as well if using low level creatures. Things like Timber Wolf or Vine Snapper could benefit greatly with this enchantment on them.

Shrink

Shrink is a card that should be in almost every Wizard's book in both Academy and Arena.

It costs X mana to reveal where X is the level of the target creature. & it can target any non-Mage creature. It is a level 1 Arcane spell.

It has the Dissipate 2 trait and causes the creature to gain the Pest trait.


Again, pest means they cannot hinder enemy creatures in Arena and that they can be ignored if guarding.

In addition, the creature that has been shrunk rolls 2 less attack dice.

So, like I said, this card is great. I think its main use will be on guarding creatures.

In both Academy and Arena, the Mage can use their quick cast to cast this on a guarding creature and then use a full action to attack whatever they want. This would wreak havok on things like Guardian Angel and Dwarf Panzergarde.

In Academy, it is a good counter to the Packleader's Cowl of the Beastmaster.

Tangleroot

Tangleroot is the last of the Enchantments with the Dissipate trait. This one has Dissipate 3.

It is a Level 1 Nature spell and costs 2 mana to reveal. It can only be cast on Non-flying Corporeal creature.

Basically it reduces the attack dice of the creature it is attached to by X, where X is the number of remaining Dissipate tokens on it.

The name and image of this card make it seem like it would be similar to Tanglevine, but they're really quite different.

Tanglevine is all about stopping movement, something there is none of in Academy.

Instead, this enchantment can make a creature absolutely pitiful, at least at first. As the tokens grow less and less, they get their strength back. I like the idea of the card but somehow the theme of this one just throws me off a bit.

I would think a card with an effect like this would be more akin to the Dark school and would be released with the Warlock whenever that comes out.

Regardless though, this is actually a really good card. I predict it'll be played in both Academy and Arena.

Wolf Fury

The last enchantment is one that will DEFINITELY see play in both versions of the game.

Wolf Fury is a Nature level 1 spell that can only target living creatures. It costs 2 mana to reveal but costs 1 less if the target is a level 1 creature.

It gives the target Melee +1 and their melee attacks Piercing +1.

It kinda reminds me of Lion Savagery except it is just a straight up melee boost instead of relying on movement between zones with charge.

This is just another great nature enchantment from this set.

It can be played on anything, but a good target for this spell would actually be Mages who want to get in and do the fighting themselves. This pairs well with a bunch of other cards and a Mage with a good weapon could prove truly dangerous with the assortment of boosts attached.

Now we'll move on to the last type of card in Academy, the creatures.

Creatures

Ankylodon

First up we have the Ankylodon, another dinosaur! Hopefully this is the continuation of a trend and we continue to see more dinosaurs added to Mage Wars over time!

It costs 8 mana and is a Nature level 2 spell.

Ankylodon has 3 armor and 6 health which makes it pretty survivable in Academy because of all that armor. In Arena, he should be able to survive a few hits as well.

It has a full action melee attack of 3 dice with sweeping. This attack is great in Academy but because it is a full action, he cannot use it to counterstrike.


This guy is great for attacking multiple creatures that are guarding and removing their guard markers.

In Arena, I don't think he'll ever get played. There are much better level 2 creatures. If the attack wasn't a full action, he might see some use. But it is, so he won't.

Atticaran Porcupine

The Atticaran Porcupine is another 8 mana, Nature level 2 spell.

It has 9 health and 1 armor, making it arguably less survivable than the Ankylodon.

It has a quick action melee attack of 1 dice with Piercing +1 and the Counterstrike trait.

That means that whenever he gets melee attacked, whether guarding or not, he always makes a counterstrike.

In addition, his ability states that while he is making a counterstrike, he gains melee +2. So that 1 die attack goes up to 3 dice, which is pretty decent in Academy.

I don't think this guy will get used much in Arena either. There are simply better level 2 options in the Nature school.

Azurean Genie

Next we have yet an 8 mana creature, the Azurean Genie. He is level 1 Arcane and level 1 Air. It is nice to see another Air school creature.

The Genie has no armor, 10 health, and a quick action melee attack of 3 dice.

What is special about him is that he comes into play with 3 Wish tokens. He can remove a Wish token as his action to give a Living creature in the same zone Melee +2, heal it 2 damage, or give it a Stagger condition.

Stagger conditions are a new condition introduced in Academy. It has a different effect depending if the creature it is on is a Minor or Major creature.

If they are a Minor creature, they are incapacitated until their next activation.

If they are a Major creature, they roll 2 less attack dice next time they attack. Either way, the Stagger gets removed at the end of the creature's next activation.

So this guy is pretty good. The only problem is that using a Wish token uses his action, but Staggering a Minor creature can often be worth it, as can healing something 2 damage. Giving a creature Melee +2 doesn't seem that worth it because his own attack rolls 3 dice. I could see it being used if another one of your creatures has some piercing and you're trying to kill something with armor.

This guy is great in Academy and will be pretty good in Arena as well. There are plenty of good Minor creatures in both games and his ability to Stagger them makes him very useful.

Darkfenne Asp

The Darkfenne Asp is a 4 mana, level 1 Nature spell. This little guy has wreaked havoc on me when I play as the Wizard.

He has no armor and only 3 health. But he has a defense of 5+ which can be used as many times as he wants. Which makes him hard to kill without Unavoidable attacks, which there are hardly any of in this set.

The Asp has a quick action melee attack of only 1 die. But on a 7+ of the effect die, he causes a Weak token.

For those of you who do not remember, Weak is one of the best tokens in the game. For each Weak token on a creature, they roll 1 less attack die. In this set, there is no way to get rid of them, so they are devastating.

The Asp is a Pest, which means he doesn't Hinder in Arena and also that it can be ignored if guarding. But it doesn't care about any of that. It just wants to inflict those Weak tokens over and over again.

This card can be brutal in Academy especially when paired with the Beastmaster's ability to pay an extra mana and bring it into play active. He is a great target for the Badger Frenzy enchantment card. I forsee it becoming less useful in the future due to the probability of more Unavoidable attacks being added. In Arena he could be useful in swarms but his low health makes me doubt he'll see play all too often.

Jade Gremlin

Jade Gremlin is one of my favorite creatures from this set. It only costs 4 mana and is a level 1 Arcane spell.

JG has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice.

He has no armor and only 5 life, so pretty fragile huh? Not so fast. His ability lets his controlling Mage pay a mana whenever he is melee attacked to have him avoid the attack.

So he basically has a infinite, always-effective defense against melee attacks, unless they are Unavoidable.

So, shoot him with something. An attack spell, ranged attack, doesn't matter. You can't hit him up close, so you will almost always have to shoot him.

He does have the Pest trait, which we already talked about. To reiterate, it makes it so he doesn't hinder in Arena and can be ignored when guarding. If he didn't have the Pest trait, he would be the greatest guard in the game, so it's good that he does.

This guy is great in Academy and will likely see plenty of use in Arena as well.

Lightning Raptor

Lightning Raptor is easily my favorite creature from Academy. It costs 8 mana and is a level 1 Arcane and level 1 Air spell.

This bird has 1 armor and 9 life. It has a quick action, lightning melee attack of X dice, where X is the number of Charge tokens on it.

In addition, the attack is Ethereal and on a roll of 7+, inflicts the Stagger condition.

Lightning Raptor is Unique, meaning that only one can be in play under your control at a time.

This bird gets Charge tokens during the Upkeep phase, one token per turn. The maximum number it can have is 5. When it gets to 5, the attack gains the Counterstrike trait.

Playing the Wizard, this is my favorite creature to bring out on the first turn. Since the first two rounds are "setup" phases, by the time anybody can attack, he'll have two charge tokens on him and you'll have had plenty of time to boost it with enchantments to prolong its life.

His only downside is his frailty. But if he gets up to those 5 tokens, he is amazing. If your opponent brings one of these out, kill it. As quickly as you can.

This is an amazing creature in Academy. It should be good in Arena too. It just needs to be supported with enchantments that boost its survivability.

Mana Worm

Mana Worm is like the infant version of the Mana Leech from Arena.

It is a 5 cost creature and it is Arcane level 1.

It has 1 armor and 6 life so it will likely survive an attack in Academy.

The worm has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice. When it attacks and damages a creature, the controller of that creature loses a mana.

This is a pretty simple card but can be very important to the Wizard's strategy. This is another tool that pairs nicely with the Wizard's other mana denial spells.

It is a good card for Academy where mana is even more important. Mana denial Wizards in Arena will likely use it as well due to its low cost.

Paralyzing Basilisk

Paralyzing Basilisk is yet another 8 mana creature. He's a really good one.

He's Arcane Level 2 and has 2 armor and 7 health. So he'll last through a few hits on average.

He has a full action ranged attack of 0-1 zones. The zone distance doesn't matter in Academy but does in Arena. It rolls 2 dice and has a chance for a Stagger if it rolls 7+ on the effect die.

This guy is really good in Academy. His attack is ranged which lets him ignore guards. It also has a chance to Stagger which is awesome.

He isn't a great guard because he doesn't have a quick melee attack to counterstrike with.

In Arena, only having one attack and it being a full action attack really hurts his usability. With there being zones in Arena, he can't move and attack, which is unfortunate. I suppose he could be used to protect conjurations but the Arcane school has better creatures to do that with.

Pellian Lynx

Pellian Lynx pretty simple.

It is a 4 cost Nature level 1 spell. It has no armor and only 5 life so it will die quickly.

It has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice with 1 piercing.

It is an Animal spell, meaning that the Beastmaster can use his ability with this card, which I would almost always recommend doing.

The 5 life puts it just above the threshold of being likely to be killed in one hit, but it is possible.

That is why I recommend bringing him out active so he can get at least 1 hit off.

The Lynx is an okay creature in Academy but will never ever be used in Arena. For 1 mana more in Arena, you could get a Bitterwood Fox with the Fast trait and 1 more die or damage, or the Feral Bobcat with a defense and the Charge +2 trait.

Rajah, Jungle's Talon

Now this is one of the Beastmaster's best creatures in Academy.

Rajah is an 11 mana, Nature level 3 creature and man is he awesome.

He has 1 armor and 11 health. He won't go down easily.

He has a quick action melee attack of 4 dice with Piercing +1.

He is Legendary, which means that only one of him can be in play at a time and he is also Elusive, which means he doesn't get hindered in Arena and that he can ignore guards when attacking.

This guy is amazing in Academy and will be amazing in Arena as well.

He is almost like a lesser version of Cervere, the Forest Shadow from Arena. He costs less, has one less armor, doesn't have a defense, and isn't fast. He does have Piercing +1 though. Cervere costs 4 more mana, 15, but that extra mana gives him a defense and the fast ability, which I think are worth it.

I think they are both viable options in Arena play.

Razortusk

This is the 6th creature that costs 8 mana and there are still more to come.

The Razortusk is a Nature level 2 spell. It has 2 armor and 7 health.

It has a quick action melee attack of 4 dice.

Pound for pound, this is one of the best creatures in Academy. It will survive a few hits and has a significant attack all for 8 mana.

In Arena, it won't see as much play. For one more mana, you can get a Timber Wolf with the same attack and armor, but with 3 more life.

Redcrested Cockatrice

This is the 2nd to last creature that costs 8 mana, I promise!

The Redcrested Cockatrice is an Arcane Level 2 spell.

It has 1 armor and 9 health.

Its attack is a quick action melee of 2 dice that inflicts the Weak condition on a 7+ effect die roll.

Its ability gives it Melee +1 and Piercing +1 whenever making a counterstrike.

That makes this bird a great choice to guard with.

In Academy, as I already discussed with the Darkfenne Asp, Weak tokens are devastating. Any card that can inflict them is very useful.

It's hard for me to judge how they'll be used in Arena. For 3 more mana, the Wizard can get a better guard, the Gargoyle Sentry. However, this card has the chance to inflict weak tokens, which might make it see play. Only time will tell.

Ridgeback Skunk

Ridgeback Skunk is a 7 cost Nature level 2 creature.

It has 1 armor and 7 health. It has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice.

What makes this creature unique is it's ability; one that is very thematic.

When a living creature hits this guy with a melee attack, they get a Stagger marker put on them at the end of the attack, during the Counterstrike Step.

This ability makes Ridgeback Skunk an excellent guard in Academy.

However, if he attacks a guarding creature and that creature then counterstrikes him, that creature does not receive a Stagger marker.

That is because counterstrikes do not trigger additional Counterstrike steps. In Arena, I do not predict he will be used too often.

Sailfin Hydra

Time for the Wizard's big bad creature! The little cousin of the Darkfenne Hydra, this is the Sailfin Hydra! It costs 12 mana and is an Arcane level 3 spell.

It has one armor and 13 life. In addition, it has the Regenerate 1 trait, so it won't be dying easily. Its attack is a full action melee attack of 3 dice.

What's nice about the attack is that it has the doublestrike trait, meaning that it makes that attack twice in a row. The issue with it being a full action attack means that he cannot use it to counterstrike while guarding.

Also, in Arena play, he would not be able to move and attack, so I don't think he'll get used much. In Academy, it is a great creature, but not so much in Arena.

Satyr Gruff

Here is the final 8 mana creature, the Satyr Gruff. It is a level 2 Arcane spell.

It has 1 armor and 10 health with a quick action melee attack of 3 dice.

In addition, when he does 4+ damage to an opposing creature, they get a Stagger marker.

With his base attack of 3 dice, that will sometimes happen. However, if he gets buffed up, that could happen all the time.

He is a good creature in Academy. But I think he might be even better in Arena, simply because there are more buffs to give him, such as Bear Strength and Lion Savagery.

Interestingly, he is a soldier, so there are plenty of war cards that can help him out.

Slavorg, Fang of the First Moon

This is the most expensive card in this set at 15 mana. Slavorg is a level 4 Nature creature with a quick action melee attack of 4 dice with Piercing +2.

He has 2 armor and 13 health. He is Legendary, meaning only one of him can be in play at a time, Epic, meaning that you can only have one in your spellbook, and Beastmaster only.

He seems expensive, but that isn't really true. He actually costs 2 less mana for every animal creature in your discard pile. This makes him a potent mid or late-game creature after some of your beasts have been destroyed.

On top of all that, at the end of Slavorg's action, the Beastmaster can pay 2 mana to place a Guard marker on him. This doesn't require an action by the Mage, which is great.

This guy is pretty good in Academy but I just wish he had Elusive like Rajah or a defense like Cervere. I suppose his ability sets him apart and it is really good. He just has to be a late game creature or he's too expensive to bring out in Academy.

He could be good for swarm books in Arena as well. Not really sure honestly. Cervere costs the same amount and has Fast, Elusive and a defense. Slavorg has piercing +2 and 2 more health, but the defense of Cervere actually makes him more likely to survive. My estimated guess is that Cervere is better in Arena but Slavorg could end up being much cheaper. If you can get him for 9 or less mana, then he's easily worth it.

Steelclaw Cub

This guy is amazing. The Steelclaw Cub is a 4 mana creature from the Nature school. It is level 1.

It has 2 armor and 5 health, so it won't likely die in one hit by a creature in Arena.

The armor makes it pretty survivable unless it is getting hit by a Piercing attack.

It has a melee attack of 2 dice which is a quick action, and it's a pest.

Again, this creature is pretty awesome. For 4 mana, it is extraordinarily worth it. But it gets even better with the next card.

Steelclaw Matriarch

Behold the final member (maybe?) of the Steelclaw family, the Steelclaw Matriarch!

This mother bear is very protective of her children, which we'll see in just a second.

She costs 11 mana and is a Level 3 Nature spell.

She has 3 armor and 11 health so she has amazing livability in Academy. It'll take alot to bring her down.

Her attack is a quick melee strike for 3 dice.

But what makes her great is that she gains Melee +1 for each Steelclaw Cub you control in her zone. In Academy, you can have up to 3 level 1 spells in your book, meaning that her attack can get up to 6 dice.

In Arena, she could get up to 9 dice. Without any other buffs. Which is crazy. That will likely never happen though. And if it does, one zone attack might destroy the Cubs. I foresee both of these bears being tried out in Arena though. Whether they're viable or not is a different story.

Tarraki, Thousand Bites

Tarraki reminds me of Sosruko, the ferret from Arena. They're quite similar stat wise except for one big thing which I'll get to.

This little guy costs 5 mana and is a level 1 Nature spell.

He has no armor and 4 health but like the Darkfenne Asp, has an infinite use defense of 5+. This makes him hard to kill without Unavoidable attacks.

His attack is a quick action melee strike of 2 dice. It is also Unavoidable, which is great in Academy.

He also happens to be Elusive which is great because like Rajah, he can ignore guards.

The other traits have been covered multiple times already so I won't repeat them.

So comparing him to Sosruko, there are a couple of differences. Sosruko costs 7 mana. He also has 1 more health, with 5. But the biggest different is his ability for his attack to Taunt, which Tarraki does not have. Tarraki's attack is Unavoidable instead.

Guarding with creatures is arguably more important in Academy. This makes Elusive arguably more important as well. Any creature with the Elusive trait is very valuable in this format. In Arena, I don't see him being used.

Wychwood Faerie

Wychwood Faerie is a creature every Beastmaster should bring out during one of their setup rounds.

She costs 4 mana and is level 1. Like Tarraki, she has that same defense. She only has 3 mana so if she does get hit, she's likely to die.

Her attack is one 1 die but that's not really why she's important.

Once per round, if in the same zone as her controlling Beastmaster, the Beastmaster pays 1 less mana when casting an animal creature spell or enchantment.

So this is basically an investment card. She breaks even in 4 turns but that doesn't take into account her attacking things.

In a way, she is like a lesser version of Fellella, the Beastmaster's familiar. She costs much less, is weaker, and doesn't actually cast the spells for the Mage. If paired with enchantments to boost her life, however, she can last a while.

She is cheap enough to where I see her being experimented with in Arena too. I don't know how effective she will be. It's possible that she dies very quickly in matches.

Wychwood Hound

The last creature in Academy is the Wychwood Hound. It is a level 1 creature that costs 5 mana.

It has 0 armor and 7 health.

Its attack is a quick action melee of 2 dice, which isn't that great.

However, when in the same zone as another Wychwood Hound, it gains Armor +1 and Melee +1. So they get better when two or more are in the same zone.

It's important to not that these effects are not for EACH other Hound in the zone.

But still, 2 of them together in the same zone can be dangerous for their enemies.


These guys could be amazing in Arena when combined with Redclaw, Alpha Male, who gives all other canine creatures in his zone Melee +1 and Armor +1 as well. So a pack of them could get pretty potent!

So those are all of the cards from Academy. As you can see, we have all new cards and many of them will really change how Arena is played.

Conclusion

When I first heard about the idea of Academy, I really wasn't excited at all. I didn't think I would like it and didn't really think that Mage Wars needed this simpler way to play.

Man, was I wrong.

Everything about Academy has blown me away. I didn't think that the epic feeling of Mage Wars could be taken and made into a 30 minute game. But it has been. Academy is easier to teach, MUCH easier to learn, and possibly most importantly, MUCH faster.

As always, the first couple of matches tend to run long because of all this new information. But once we got it down, it really took like 20-30 minutes to play each game. There is no bad card in Academy for Academy. There are cards that wouldn't be good in Arena but every card works well in Academy. It is incredibly well balanced, just like Arena.

I don't like Academy MORE than Arena, but I will honestly probably play it more often. I can get more people to play this. If anybody reading this knows somebody who looked at Mage Wars and thought it was too complex, buy Academy and teach them that instead. I'm sure they'll have a different reaction. & after a while, if they want to try Arena, that's great. But if not, Academy is a fantastic game in its own right.

Academy is fantastic.

It has accomplished everything is was designed and intended to do. It is a simpler and faster way to play Mage Wars. Every card in here is good and they are all usable in Arena as well. If you heard of Academy and thought you wouldn't like it, I implore you, reconsider! It really is great and I look forward to future expansions.

So I hope you all enjoyed this review! Let me know what you think of Academy in the comments below and until next time, I'll see you in the Arena! (Or is it the Academy this time?)

(The full review, with pictures, can be seen at magewars.weebly.com)
  • [+] Dice rolls
D
United States
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for the review!
Although as I post this, the video link did not work (with my mac comp).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jake
United States
West Hollywood
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the review!

If this game is what I hope it is I may just trade off my mage wars arena stuff. I have everything released so far and I love the game. But its such a time investment to know the spells and mages. You really need to get it to the table consistently. Also the playing time seems just a bit too long for what it is.

Thanks, Jake

8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
dcm70 wrote:
Thank you for the review!
Although as I post this, the video link did not work (with my mac comp).


Thanks for letting me know, turns out I embedded it incorrectly. I believe it is fixed now.

jakece wrote:
Thanks for the review!

If this game is what I hope it is I may just trade off my mage wars arena stuff. I have everything released so far and I love the game. But its such a time investment to know the spells and mages. You really need to get it to the table consistently. Also the playing time seems just a bit too long for what it is.

Thanks, Jake



Well, getting to know the cards in your spellbook ahead of time and learning the rules through multiple plays dramatically reduces the amount of time the game takes, in my experience.

That being said, it does require a bit of a commitment so I understand where you're coming from. Academy does make it much easier to get to the table, is easier to teach, and most importantly, faster to play. So if these are traits you're looking for, it may be everything you hope it is.

Arena will never be replaced for me. I don't mind the length of play. My matches typically take around 90 minutes because I know my spellbook well and know most rules by heart now, so I no longer have to refer to the rulebook for everything. Granted, it has taken many plays and many rule infractions to get to this point though.
11 
 Thumb up
1.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott "Tox" Morris
United States
Georgetown
Texas
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This may be one of the most comprehensive and well laid out written reviews of a game I've seen in a while. Well done sir, and I'm thrilled it ended with you enjoying the game. Thanks for taking the time to put this much into it, it is much appreciated!
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
Toxziq wrote:
This may be one of the most comprehensive and well laid out written reviews of a game I've seen in a while. Well done sir, and I'm thrilled it ended with you enjoying the game. Thanks for taking the time to put this much into it, it is much appreciated!


Thank you sir! & thank you for all the hard work you and all the other employees of Arcane Wonders put in to everything you do. You guys truly are amazing and I'm very grateful for the awesome games you have published
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Leitner
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think some of the changes to MW in Academy are very positive, but I will miss the tactical aspect with the loss of movement.

MW in it's current iteration is a dead game for me, which is too bad. I made a fairly large effort to get it at GenCon 2013…or was it 2012? I loved the game, but just could not get anyone to play…it takes far too long, generally clocking in at 2-2:30 hours.

Hopefully, AW will turn its attention to improving the original game…getting rid of the planning phase would be a good start…it takes forever in and of itself and unnecessarily lengthens the game with its artificial casting limitations.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
MDJD wrote:
I think some of the changes to MW in Academy are very positive, but I will miss the tactical aspect with the loss of movement.

MW in it's current iteration is a dead game for me, which is too bad. I made a fairly large effort to get it at GenCon 2013…or was it 2012? I loved the game, but just could not get anyone to play…it takes far too long, generally clocking in at 2-2:30 hours.

Hopefully, AW will turn its attention to improving the original game…getting rid of the planning phase would be a good start…it takes forever in and of itself and unnecessarily lengthens the game with its artificial casting limitations.


Try Battlegrounds : Domination. You keep the tactical movement but the games (at least in my experience) are shorter because of the victory point objective.

I doubt the original will ever get changed. There will just be more ways to play added over time.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Leitner
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lord0fWinter wrote:
MDJD wrote:
I think some of the changes to MW in Academy are very positive, but I will miss the tactical aspect with the loss of movement.

MW in it's current iteration is a dead game for me, which is too bad. I made a fairly large effort to get it at GenCon 2013…or was it 2012? I loved the game, but just could not get anyone to play…it takes far too long, generally clocking in at 2-2:30 hours.

Hopefully, AW will turn its attention to improving the original game…getting rid of the planning phase would be a good start…it takes forever in and of itself and unnecessarily lengthens the game with its artificial casting limitations.


Try Battlegrounds : Domination. You keep the tactical movement but the games (at least in my experience) are shorter because of the victory point objective.

I doubt the original will ever get changed. There will just be more ways to play added over time.


First I've heard of this. Thanks. I'll check it out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
MDJD wrote:

First oh heard of this. Thanks. I'll check it out.


I did a review of that as well. It can be seen here https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1388809/battlegrounds-domin...

There are some awesome videos of Domination done by Arcane Duels too if you'd rather watch a video than read a review.



3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
corum irsei
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hmm, TL;DR, I guess. I'm really hoping for more reviews on this, especially from someone who tried this after being disappointed by Mage Wars Arena. I'm still unconvinced that Academy will solve any of the issues with the base game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eddard Stark
United States
Suwanee
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
jhaelen wrote:
Hmm, TL;DR, I guess. I'm really hoping for more reviews on this, especially from someone who tried this after being disappointed by Mage Wars Arena. I'm still unconvinced that Academy will solve any of the issues with the base game.


I know it's quite long. Most of that is taken up by the different cards and me talking about each of them though. If you skip all that, it's really quite short.

I'm definitely a fanboy and like Arena so I can't help you there. But I really do feel like it solves most of the problems Arena has.

1) Much faster play time. ~30 minutes.
2) Easier to teach. Don't have to explain movement or most of the status markers/traits.
3) Easier barrier to entry. It's going to be about half the price of Arena, I think.
4) More portable. You don't need to lug a board around everywhere.
2 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lyle Williams
United States
Tonganoxie
Kansas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Enjoyed your review of MW Academy. I purchased Arena a couple of years ago. Loved the concept of the game, unfortunately did not have time to invest in learning Arena.

Excited about Academy. Have pre-ordered two copies of the game from Arcane Wonders. Think Academy will greatly reduce time spent learning the game and playing the game.

Thank you so much for your review of MW Academy!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
salonikios bullit
Greece
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review sir ,well done!
If i never played (or didn't like) Mage Wars this new version (Academy) would be a very good surprise and i definitely played it, i believe that is the main reason of coming to production (simpler rules and much quicker to attract new gamers and unpleasant ones).
But now after all these hours i have invest to Mage Wars Arena i don't think i'll give it a change mainly because i enjoy very much Arena and i finally have found the right group of players (which i play against).

Another issue that i dont like in Academy is the absent of the board which has serious impact to the tactical aspect with the loss of movement (as MDJD also mentioned). Anyway, GREAT GAME!

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Dunford
Canada
Kemptville
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
salonikios wrote:
Great review sir ,well done!
If i never played (or didn't like) Mage Wars this new version (Academy) would be a very good surprise and i definitely played it, i believe that is the main reason of coming to production (simpler rules and much quicker to attract new gamers and unpleasant ones).
But now after all these hours i have invest to Mage Wars Arena i don't think i'll give it a change mainly because i enjoy very much Arena and i finally have found the right group of players (which i play against).

Another issue that i dont like in Academy is the absent of the board which has serious impact to the tactical aspect with the loss of movement (as MDJD also mentioned). Anyway, GREAT GAME!



I think there's a lot in Academy that will appeal to Arena players; e.g. it serves as an expansion to Arena, bringing several new, generally cheaper (mana-wise) cards that work well in the Arena format. Don't be surprised when Arena players in your area bring out a Packmaster's Cowl (cloak/helmst for Beastmaster) or Kajarah ("boomerang" for Johktari Beastmaster with "quick" ranged attack) or a swarm of Wychwood Hounds and/or Steelclaw Cubs w/ Matriarch, with Slavorg as a back-up plan. And watch out for Exile, Shrink, Hoodwink, Crumble, Lightning Raptor, Azurean Genie, and various spells that cause Stagger.
2 
 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.