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Subject: Will it Play? Mage Wars rss

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Josh
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Intent of this Review:To provide a context for the game, using comparisons to hopefully known games in the industry, helping people who allready understand how games work and if the game works decide if they will LIKE how the game works, while remaining a short and sweet review.

What it is:Mage Wars is a two player(for now) game where two wizards battle in an arena using a constructed 'tome' of spells from a vast array available. Creatures, equipment, attacks, enchantments, incantations, and dice will be thrown about liberally.

How it feels to play the game:Mage Wars is a battle, and not just in the obvious sense. There is very little random in this game(there are dice, but it is not common for enough to hinge on a single roll that the dice dominate, or allow you to feel an abdication of control). Everything you've chosen is at your fingertips and what you do with it is all on you. This is a game that engaged you on all cylinders, and can leave you drained when you finish. However post-game analysis can easily lead to 'just one more' syndrome. You will KNOW you could do it better NEXT time.

Will it Play?
This is the part where I attempt to enumerate what to expect, and what not to expect from a game, hoping to help you decide if your money is well spent here.

*Do you like awesome art and components? Check. Quality is not an issue with any part of this game. The cards aren't 'sturdy' but since they will never be shuffled and spend a lot of time in sleeves they don't really need to be. The only gripe is with the insert. Points for effort, but really you might as well pitch it. There's a lot of wasted space. A couple baggies and some 2 dollar card boxes will serve you well.

*Do you like a faced-paced game that barrages your senses but rarely overwhelms? Then avoid Mage Wars. Mage wars is anything but fast paced(though a timed variant might add an interesting element...) And nothing comes at you quickly, but it's all the more overwhelming because of that. You have (almost) unlimited choice of path and strategy, you're responsible for your fate, and there's no 'enjoy the ride' moments to break the strain.

*I haven't played Summoner Wars(sorry) so I can't compare it there, but the other obvious choice would be Magic:The Gathering. Is it better than magic? No. But that doesn't mean it's worse either. It's in fact extremely different. Definitely easier on the wallet. I would put Magic in the class of games in the previous point. You build your deck, you can't possibly build a 'cover all the bases' deck, so you min-max and shoot for a theme-goal. Then you makes your bets and you takes your chances. Actual play of M:TG isn't overly strategic. You've done all the math beforehand, it's down to card draws and match ups for the most part. Mage Wars gives you more control, at the cost of more investiture in the game.

*Do you like feeling immersed? I have to say I think the game does this well. It's surprisingly immerse in a way other games of it's type aren't. Using M:TG again, I have a deck of cards, my cards do neat stuff, I tap these cards and play them to win. I don't think I ever 'feel like a planeswalker' in Magic. Creatures don't 'feel' big or impressive, even when they are. In Mage Wars there's a very real sense of 'self' down there, and when your opponent tosses down a fiery angel or a demon lord sweeps across the arena there's a real sense of 'oh no!' A Fireball I can toss from a safe distance, a flame blast can't be dodged but I have to get in close and risk myself. his comes back to the investiture. You care a lot more about yourself and your minions in this game.

*Dice, Do you like them? They're here, there's everywhere, but oddly they're not overwhelming. You can get a bad roll, you can get a good roll, if you hate those things then don't play the game, but I can say that the dice don't feel very 'swingy' in the game. The fact that there's a 0-2 range on damage dice, and effect dice are more interesting than overwhelming help to level off the random to something you have to account for, but aren't beholden to.

*Do you have a steady gaming group? This is nearly mandatory to get anywhere with this game. You have to learn the flow of the game even before you explore deck-customization, and that takes time. Playing with the basic-tomes is great for introducing new folks, but unless you want to keep them permanently assembled you'll need to be sitting down with regular partners.




Summary:Mage Wars is a game of deep strategy. It involves you before the game, during the game, and post-game(analysis) For those looking for something to sink their teeth into, it's a meaty hydra steak of goodness. For those looking to have zappy fun as mages... I'd put my money someplace else(Wiz-war?) I'm not even sure it is possible to play this game in a light manner. I've tried. It'll suck you in and force you to think. For me it's everything I wanted M:TG to be, your mileage may vary. Now excuse me I have to go tweak my Beastmaster deck...
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Angus McEachran
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Thanks for the well written review. You directly addressed some of the questions I have about the game, and I am now leaning more towards buying it.
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Chris Dieckmann
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I have to say that I think the dice distribution does lean towards making armor much less significant. The 2 unblock-able in particular. I think having three 1's and both 2's being regular would have been better overall while still allowing that lucky strike from a smaller unit.
 
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Joseph Arthur Ellis
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Chrisxny wrote:
I have to say that I think the dice distribution does lean towards making armor much less significant. The 2 unblock-able in particular. I think having three 1's and both 2's being regular would have been better overall while still allowing that lucky strike from a smaller unit.


Unblockable wounds are always a good thing IMO. Nice review, good job capturing the feel of the game.
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David Jackman
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Good review Josh.

I think one of the more important points about this game is what you mention it involves you before, during, and after the game. If you dont like customizing your spellbook, and you dont like playing games to iterate and fine-tune, you might not like this game.

Chrisxny wrote:
I have to say that I think the dice distribution does lean towards making armor much less significant. The 2 unblock-able in particular. I think having three 1's and both 2's being regular would have been better overall while still allowing that lucky strike from a smaller unit.


Well, on average, each dice will do .5 regular damage and .5 critical damage. So, for example, the roll on a 6 dice attack will average 3 regular and 3 crit.

The larger the attack, the more likely that all of your armor will matter. For example, if you have 3 armor, any attack less than 6 dice will probably roll less regular damage than 3.

Its kinda wierd, and I didnt like it at first, but now that I have played a ton, i think it is fine.

Yes, armor is less powerful, but it is also generally cheaper to get than extra attack. Each armor blocks, on average, half a damage, and each additional armor will be less effective than the ones before it. Going from 1 to 2 armor is a lot more significant than going from 3 to 4, for example.
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Chad Shamrowicz
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Copley
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That's Heathersome!
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Excellent review, thanks for sharing!
 
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