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Subject: An idea for a draft mechanic. rss

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Mike Beiter
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So like so many others, I cannot wait for this game to come out.

At my gaming table we are fans of drafting for customizable games such as these. So here is an Idea I have for an on the spot draft mechanic.

The way I figure drafting could work is to have all spell cards laid out on the table and determine drafting order.

Then each player in turn is allowed to claim a specified number of cards from the ones available, not worrying about total spell book costs just yet.
Then after everyone has drafted enough cards, they go off and make their spell books from the cards they chose. This gives the opponents some idea of what spells you have claimed, but no idea which ones have made it into your actual spell book.
This allows for a bit of bluffing too because you can never be sure of what will hit the table.

For a formalized rule breakdown.
1) Roll the 12 sided die, highest roller drafts first. Then all other players draft in descending order.

2) Begin drafting in a back and forth manner with lower cards allowed to the player who gets first pick.
First player selects any 2 cards.
Second player selects any 3 cards.
Third player selects any 4 cards.
Fourth player selects any 5 cards.

3) Then reverse order with each player always drafting 5 cards.
Fourth player gets 5 again.
Then players three, two and one all get 5 in that order and continue in this back and forth way until all spell cards have been taken.

4) Set a timer for 10 minutes. Everyone has that much time to make their spell book from the cards they drafted, using some but not all cards claimed in the draft. They place all unused cards away so no one knows what cards did not make the cut.

I would love to hear feedback on this idea. It works well for games like Heroscape, so I think it will work just as well for Mage Wars.
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Kevin Seachrist
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I like the idea in theory to prevent a feeling of always playing the same deck once it's optimized, but I would like to see how it will play out with the actual game (which I only know from images, comments, and a rulebook at this point). Are there going to be hotly contested cards between some or all mages? If so, being able to pull multiples at a time could be a clean sweep of all copies of a particular spell. Would that be an unfair advantage, or just a flag to everyone that "That's the mage who shoots fireballs"? I'm hoping the latter, and that would give the draft a good sense of tension and tough decision-making.

Or, will the majority of cards gravitate toward a particular mage, at which point the drafted decks will look pretty much like the constructed ones. I think this will be less of a factor as the game expands and mage specialties will begin to more frequently (partially) overlap, allowing for more immediate competition for particular spells.
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Harry G
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Hi Mike,
I like the idea allot. Drafting is always fun and makes for some interesting games. I would say the number of cards seems too high when you jump to 5 cards. That would mean the 4th player gets to pick ten card where as the first player picked two cards.
What I might do is have everyone pick 2 cards for the first round. Then make it 3 cards starting with the 4th player's second round. So then the 4nd player picked 5 cards compared to the 1st players 2 cards, which seems more reasonable. Then keep on increasing it by 1 card at the beginning of each round.
I would love to see this played out. I am interested how people draft and how hate drafting would come into play.
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Mike Beiter
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Thanks for the feedback.

I thought of the same concerns. Hate drafting could be a problem, but I thought of several fixes.

1) You cannot draft out of your specialized schools until the third round of drafting.
This would keep people from hate drafting immediately to deprive you of your top most powerful cards.
So most likely the first couple picks will be people’s heavy hitting minions, or high level spells.

2) Lowering the card numbers.
I was thinking the same thing that player four gets a lot of cards before player one gets their second draft, so lowering the number of cards by a couple is an easy fix.

3) Only 1 card of each kind can be drafted per player per round. So when my turn comes up to pick and I have 4 cards to take, I cannot take 4 fireballs. This gives everyone a chance to get at least 1 of the popular cards. And with the core spell tome it will help assure that people rarely get deprived.

My concern is that there are a lot of cards in this game. And with each expansion there are going to be more and more; so to keep it from taking too long, drafting more at a time can speed it up.

Also, going off of my idea #1 above with limiting you to your schools the first couple rounds, it could allow players to draft simultaneously since there will likely be no overlap in schools. But of course as the game builds this will not be the case as mages who come from the same schools will be fighting for the same cards regularly. I am guessing when the Druid comes out that he and the Beast master will regularly be drafting from many similar cards.

I am sure if people explored this idea in play testing, a happy balance of cards per round can be established, as well as some rules to keep it from being unbalanced with who has access to what cards.
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Marc Bennett
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i have never drafted in a customizable game that was not a CCG. in a game like magic its easy to take a couple boosters one at a time and each player takes one and passes till your done. with a game like this im not sure how well drafting would work.

i see this more as being build your spellbook ahead of time and in secret and bring it to the game. i would try a drafting mechanic for novelty but i dont believe it will be my prefered way of playing.

having said that let me add something to this discussion.

I am assuming all specalized cards would automaticly go to thier respective mages. for example all wizard only cards would go to the wizard. what about school only spells? like the holy mage only or dark mage only? would you restrict those cards from being chosen by someone who doesnt have that school? or leave them out to be snatched up by someone else as a strategy? and if you leave them to be snatched up, you could leave the mage only spells in as well for the same reason. do you grab your powerful wizard only spell early so no one else grabs it from you? or do you leave it and hope it lasts? or maybe your planned book doesnt even need it, your opponent will never know.

interesting idea to explore.
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Marc Bennett
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another way you could possibly do it is this. first give all players thier mage only cards.

sort all cards by school (in case of multiple schools go with the more dominate one)

shuffle each school together and deal them out face up in piles of 5 cards so the schools are grouped (hope i am explaining this right. so all the fire spells are in this area, if there are 30 fire spells there would be 6 groups of 5) the last group in each school may have fewer cards.

all piles are face up and public knowledge. so looking around first mage picks one pile, then all mages in order pick 1 pile, last mage picks 2 piles, then it reverses at 1 pile each back to first player who then picks 2 etc. till all piles are picked then make your spellbooks from that.

order example
player 1- 1 pile
player 2- 1 pile
player 3- 1 pile
player 4- 2 piles
player 3- 1 pile
player 2- 1 pile
player 1- 2 piles.

as more sets come out you could make the piles larger, 10 cards, 15 cards. in order to keep drafting down to a reasonable timeframe.
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Mike Beiter
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Interesting ideas.

I feel a draft mechanic is necessary for anyone who does not own the game. If I invite 3 friends over who want to play, there is no way for them to make spellbooks ahead of time, so we have to devise some way for everyone to sit down together and divy up the cards.

I think half the fun of this game is customizing your own mages spell book.

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Marc Bennett
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MajaiofDreams wrote:


I think half the fun of this game is customizing your own mages spell book.



very very true there. i still see strange possibilities. what if you never get a heal or a disolve? could put you at a severe disadvantage.
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Mike Beiter
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Klaxas wrote:
MajaiofDreams wrote:


I think half the fun of this game is customizing your own mages spell book.



very very true there. i still see strange possibilities. what if you never get a heal or a disolve? could put you at a severe disadvantage.


I think with 2 players it will not be an issue. Especially with the core spell tome. There will be enough of the "popular" spells that you can easily secure yourself at least 1. With 3 or 4 players I imagine there may be some common spells that get nabbed up, so maybe player 4 does not get a healing spell, but in turn, maybe player 1 does not get a fireball... I think this will add to the strategy of the game as you will have to create a spellbook to compensate for deficiencies in certain schools.

I think if you have a good strategy and play your cards right, the game will keep a balance of its own during game play.


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Marc Bennett
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MajaiofDreams wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
MajaiofDreams wrote:


I think half the fun of this game is customizing your own mages spell book.



very very true there. i still see strange possibilities. what if you never get a heal or a disolve? could put you at a severe disadvantage.


I think with 2 players it will not be an issue. Especially with the core spell tome. There will be enough of the "popular" spells that you can easily secure yourself at least 1. With 3 or 4 players I imagine there may be some common spells that get nabbed up, so maybe player 4 does not get a healing spell, but in turn, maybe player 1 does not get a fireball... I think this will add to the strategy of the game as you will have to create a spellbook to compensate for deficiencies in certain schools.

I think if you have a good strategy and play your cards right, the game will keep a balance of its own during game play.




but then what if player 4 is playing the priestess? lol a priestess without minor heal could be.... awkward. although im sure she will have greator heals, the minor im sure is still very useful
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Mike Beiter
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Klaxas wrote:
MajaiofDreams wrote:
Klaxas wrote:
MajaiofDreams wrote:


I think half the fun of this game is customizing your own mages spell book.



very very true there. i still see strange possibilities. what if you never get a heal or a disolve? could put you at a severe disadvantage.


I think with 2 players it will not be an issue. Especially with the core spell tome. There will be enough of the "popular" spells that you can easily secure yourself at least 1. With 3 or 4 players I imagine there may be some common spells that get nabbed up, so maybe player 4 does not get a healing spell, but in turn, maybe player 1 does not get a fireball... I think this will add to the strategy of the game as you will have to create a spellbook to compensate for deficiencies in certain schools.

I think if you have a good strategy and play your cards right, the game will keep a balance of its own during game play.




but then what if player 4 is playing the priestess? lol a priestess without minor heal could be.... awkward. although im sure she will have greator heals, the minor im sure is still very useful


I would think/hope that people are not going to all draft out all copies of the same card instantly.
It may happen… We won’t know until the game arrives.
But with the rule of each player only being allowed to draft one card of each copy per draft cycle, this will give everyone a chance to grab one copy of the common popular spells.
If the first two drafters each grab a heal spell and there are only 2 copies left, then you may want to grab one while you still can. (I am not even sure how many copies of any given spell there are in this game)
And if you see half or more of a popular spell get drafted, and you still draft other cards when your turn to pick comes up, then it is your own fault if you did not snatch a copy when you had the chance.

The idea for sure has to be play tested. There is no way it can be perfect with 4 players without large amount of cards. But that is what the expansions are for.
Inevitably someone will be deprived of a card on occasion. But I feel this will not be the card that tips the scales against them. Drafting is only half of the game.

I am sure some peoples draft strategies will be to draft the more common popular cards early and then draft in their schools exclusively after for their heavy hitters. But this leaves the risk of leaving their highly desired cards open for some other player to pay extra points to grab from them before they had the chance to draft it.
“Fine, you took the last minor heal spell, but I just grabbed (insert awesome angel name here)!”

In the world of drafting it will never be perfect. When we used to draft in 8 player Heroscape tournaments I used to host at my house, there was occasionally someone going, “Awe man! You drafted ___! I was going to draft him next turn!” But it never lost them the tournament.

Plus as the game had expansion after expansion, the options were so diverse that there were never any issues anymore.

I think Mage Wars will be just that way. By the time the 4 player expansion officially comes out, there will be so many cards and options that no one is ever going to get screwed out of their strategy or have a weaker spell book.
But with the base set and the core spell tome, 2 players will have more than enough options. Perhaps when the 4 player expansion hits, investing in a 2nd copy of the core spell tome will be needed?

We shall have to see…


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Patrick C Connor Jr
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Great discussion and great ideas everyone! Thanks for the interest and support!

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Harry Kalaitzidis
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Just got my copy of the game (including the Core Spell Tome) and I thought I'd throw out there my idea for drafting.

It is similar to booster drafting in MtG, meaning that each "turn" the players draft from a limited pool of cards. First you need to sort out all the cards in different piles. The first pile will contain one copy of each card, the second will contain one copy of each card which is available in two or more copies, the third pile one copy of each card available in three or more copies, etc. If the last pile has less that 3 times the number of players, merge it with the previous pile.

Decide which Mage each player will play, define the drafting order and deal out 3 cards per player face up on the table, from the first pile. Starting with the first player, each player drafts one card in descending order and then an additional card starting from the last player, in ascending order (i.e. player A, B, C, D, D, C, B, A, in a four-player game). Each player has now drafted 2 cards and only 2/3rds of the cards on the table have been drafted. The remaining 1/3 is discarded and a fresh set of 3xplayers cards are laid open on the table. Drafting this round starts with the player that drafted second the previous round. Repeat the drafting rounds, until there are not enough cards left in the first pile to complete a set. Discard those cards and start drafting from the second pile. Continue until all the cards have been drafted. Now the players construct their spellbooks using the 120 spell points.

The issue with this method is that it requires a lot of cards since more than 1/3 of the cards are not used eventually, and it might also cause problems when playing with only the core set, or if more than 2 players are drafting. To compensate for that you could initially decide to use less than 120 spell points, in order to restrict the maximum size of the spellbook.

Comments and ideas are welcome.
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