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Subject: Frustrating game rss

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Ryan M
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Today we played Mage Wars for the first time. We played Warlock vs Beastmaster with the suggested starting decks. The first game went ok (the Warlock one by attaching a few curses to the Beastmaster that did too much damage).

The second game, we added a few cards and used the special abilities, but otherwise kept everything the same. The game was incredibly frustrating. The Beastmaster got out to a great start, and got the Warlock down to about 10 life. But then the Warlock started recycling the "do 2 damage, gain 2 life" curse on all the Beastmaster's creatures, while slowing the Beastmaster (and also slowing a few of his creatures) and running around the board. The whole while, his "do 1 damage per spell" curse was draining the Beastmaster. Over 3 hours later, the Warlock was almost fully healed and the Beastmaster had no cards left. We just stopped.

Are all the games like this and if not, why was this one so bad? I'm pretty sure we didn't get any major rules wrong - the Warlock only returned one of the curses each time something died. Do the extra familiars and mana abilities make the game flow better? All in all a very disappointing game day.
 
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Ed Bradley
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What else were you doing during these three hours other than watching hitpoints dribble away?
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Nico
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What you write sounds extremly boring ... and non realistic.
The Beastmaster should have many creatures to put the Warlock under pressure. Did you use random cards? Because you wrote

Quote:
The second game, we added a few cards and used the special abilities,


What are these cards? Did you just blindly added cards? Well that can't work. There are special rules for deckbuilding, otherwise you end up with a very unbalanced game. You will find example Spellbooks later in the rules for each mage, which built upon the apprentice books. Also when you use the "bigger" spellbooks use the whole arena, not the apprentice arena. We played now 2 games with Warlock vs Beastmaster, apprentice and normal, and i lost both as the Warlock ... but both matches were pretty exciting. And the normal match took us 5-6 hours

Maybe in the end, the game just isn't your kind of game.
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Ryan M
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We went up to 75 points, adding cards in Death/Fire or Beasts respectively that looked interesting. We didn't blindly add cards. And we used the whole arena - that was part of the problem. It was too easy for the Warlock to run away, especially after slowing a couple of the Beastmaster's creatures.

Beastmaster cast a ton of creatures, but Warlock kept killing them. Once the Warlock got low on life, the Beastmaster kept going after him, so the Warlock creatures were able to get some free hits on his creatures.
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Doug Bey
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Yeah, it sounds like there must have been a simple rule gaffe or a loss of focus.

I just can't imagine how the Death Link curse could cause so much trouble... yes, it's a great spell for the Warlock, but I can't imagine that after getting down to 10 life, the Warlock could almost fully heal.... What in the blazes was that Beastmaster doing during that whole time? The BM should have had plenty of options to attack, attack, attack! 2 points of healing per turn is nice, but the BM should have been able to land more than 2 damage per turn.

Did the Beastmaster lose focus on the winning condition of the game? Kill the opposing mage. Kill the opposing mage. Kill the opposing mage. The only games i've seen go "long" are when the players spend more time fighting each other's summoned creatures than trying to actually wound the other mage.

Much of this game is very intuitive, and plays as you would expect it to play... but even after a dozen games, I was still having some "aha!" moments either in terms of synergy, less frequently used rules clarifications, or double-checking when a spell is unique and/or legendary, and ensuring the target is legal. Always read the rules book several times through, just to be safe!

EDIT: I just saw you just posted a new reponse... You only used a spellbook of 75 points? There's your problem right there... the game is set at 120 points per spellbook. Playing a normal game of Mage Wars with only 75pts per spell book would be like trying to play a game of poker with only half a deck.
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Chris McDonald
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I too am confused. Death Link heals at most 2 damage / turn - less than that over time because the Warlock doesn't get to heal on the turn after the creature dies, he has to re-cast Death Link and then wait for the next upkeep. You should be able to dish out way more than an avg. 2 damage / turn - even a single charging bobcat should be able to do 2 damage.

Also re: running away, there just aren't that many places to hide - a fast creature (like a fox or the legendary panther) standing on one of the center spaces can attack all but 2 spaces on the board. And the beastmaster can tanglevine as well.
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C. E. Freeman
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It sounds like you were playing apprentice spellbooks. That is a good way to learn the rules of the game and get a feel for game mechanics. The spprentice books definately don't give you the same experience as full spellbooks. This was done on purpose so as not to overwhelm new players with too many spell choices while they are still learning te rules. Play as many apprentice games as you need to learn the rules to your satisfaction and don't get hung up in the outcome of the game. The game is balanced and once your command of the rules is sufficient to play full spellbooks you will find answers for the things that gave you trouble during your early games.
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Philip Moerenhout
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hi Ryan,

My first couple of games were rather frustrating and long as well. I was disappointed back then. Now this game is in my top 2.

The reason the game takes so long at first is because you're still learning the game and you are making a ton of suboptimal choices.

A first game normally will not have a lot of strategy in it, you'll just be casting spells which make some sense to you at the time but are not very effective : proof of that is that your game takes so long. A simple Dispel could have taken care of the Death Link which seemed to cause you so much trouble.

Once you start building your own spellbooks and strategies you'll see that the game usually doesn't take longer than 1 to 2 hours.
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Ryan M
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cfmcdonald wrote:
I too am confused. Death Link heals at most 2 damage / turn - less than that over time because the Warlock doesn't get to heal on the turn after the creature dies, he has to re-cast Death Link and then wait for the next upkeep. You should be able to dish out way more than an avg. 2 damage / turn - even a single charging bobcat should be able to do 2 damage.

Also re: running away, there just aren't that many places to hide - a fast creature (like a fox or the legendary panther) standing on one of the center spaces can attack all but 2 spaces on the board. And the beastmaster can tanglevine as well.


I had killed most of his cheap creatures earlier in the game, so he didn't have any fast creatures left. I also used some vampiric strikes and the "5 dice/gain life" to gain some life. But the Death Link was killing his guys.

It was very easy to slow his guys, use guards where necessary and run away. As for the comment about him losing focus - if anything, he attacked me so much, that my creatures were able to kill his creatures. So he was maybe too focused on me. He certainly wasn't able to kill me.

As for the length, it was horrible, but the real problem was how unfun everything was.
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Purple Paladin

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Very experienced gamers here. First game, 5+ hours (mostly because learning rules slowly). Second game was 3+ hours, mostly because the Warlock played defensively, and I, playing the Priestess, kept healing and hiding.

Defensive and turtling tactics are very common in the first few games of these types. Your not exactly sure what to do; what the spells do; and afraid rushing forward will get you killed.

Our 3rd game, we had most the rules/spells down; the Warlock played very aggressively (as did I), and the game lasted about 90 mins, and was very fun and exciting.

You'll get there too.
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Scott Douglass
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I've never played with apprentice books, so I'm not sure how that would work out, but I can see people running out of steam with them. They look extremely limited, and I can see games with them being frustrating.

If you're opponent keeps improving their board position there will sometimes come a point where you just can't ignore their creatures anymore. Focusing down their mage is fine so long as you can get damage through faster than they can heal.

Sounds like the BM would have benefited from a Hurl Boulder or 2 to finish the Warlock off.

Games get faster with experience. I've played 3 games in ~3 hours.
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Susan Garey
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Purple Paladin wrote:
Very experienced gamers here. First game, 5+ hours (mostly because learning rules slowly). Second game was 3+ hours, mostly because the Warlock played defensively, and I, playing the Priestess, kept healing and hiding.

Defensive and turtling tactics are very common in the first few games of these types. Your not exactly sure what to do; what the spells do; and afraid rushing forward will get you killed.

Our 3rd game, we had most the rules/spells down; the Warlock played very aggressively (as did I), and the game lasted about 90 mins, and was very fun and exciting.

You'll get there too.


Had the exact same experience. I was worried the game was not going to work for us because of the length. It gets shorter as you figure out what you are doing. And be aggressive!
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Purple Paladin

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Ryan M
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If you guys say so. He was being extremely aggressive and attacking me every chance he got. I can't imagine it would be possible, at least with the decks we had, to be more aggressive.

As for the apprentice decks - why bother even listing beginning decks if they are mostly useless?
 
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C. E. Freeman
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killjoy00 wrote:
If you guys say so. He was being extremely aggressive and attacking me every chance he got. I can't imagine it would be possible, at least with the decks we had, to be more aggressive.

As for the apprentice decks - why bother even listing beginning decks if they are mostly useless?


They're an excellent way to learn to play without overwhelming new players with too many choices. I hardly consider that useless. My first two games with apprentice books took 90 minutes each. Who knows how long they would've taken with 120 pt books. My last two games with full books took 30 and 45 minutes respectively. The games got a little bit of a learning curve. Didn't you say one of your games took 3 hours? Imagine how long it would have lasted with full books.
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Ed Bradley
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We've all had games that last 3+ hours when we started. "Luckily" there were no Apprentice spellbooks back in the old days

Sounds like you were not aggressive enough and your decks lacked the basic tools for doing the job.

Last time I played the battle felt like it had been a lengthy epic, like some of the early games. But it had taken under 2 hours. That's a long game when you have some practice.
 
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Ed Bradley
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killjoy00 wrote:
If you guys say so. He was being extremely aggressive and attacking me every chance he got. I can't imagine it would be possible, at least with the decks we had, to be more aggressive.

As for the apprentice decks - why bother even listing beginning decks if they are mostly useless?


You also say you easily killed his small creatures. Did he not keep a load of them safe then swarm you in one go?

There are lots of reasons the game CAN drag out. I'm just not sure why YOURS did without more detail. Lacking dispels is one thing.

However if one player is always going to run away and heal the game WILL take forever unless your deck can stop that happening. Most constructed spellbooks can. Looks like the Apprentice lists can't.
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Chris McDonald
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Fwing wrote:
killjoy00 wrote:
If you guys say so. He was being extremely aggressive and attacking me every chance he got. I can't imagine it would be possible, at least with the decks we had, to be more aggressive.

As for the apprentice decks - why bother even listing beginning decks if they are mostly useless?


You also say you easily killed his small creatures. Did he not keep a load of them safe then swarm you in one go?

There are lots of reasons the game CAN drag out. I'm just not sure why YOURS did without more detail. Lacking dispels is one thing.

However if one player is always going to run away and heal the game WILL take forever unless your deck can stop that happening. Most constructed spellbooks can. Looks like the Apprentice lists can't.


Well the apprentice game is intended to be played on a half board (3 x 2). So running away is a lot harder.
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Doug Bey
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There's a lot of talk about the length of the game... As for me, I've had MW games go for 3 hours, and other games go as fast as 45 minutes. But here's the thing: Even with the longer games, time flies by!

THAT is a sign of a great game. Even though you've been sweating bullets, biting your nails, cursing under your breath, and pulling your hair out for the past 3 hours, you're still shocked when you look at the clock and realize how much time has passed by. You were having so much fun, that you lost track of time.

The same thing happens during our 3 hour games of Twilight Struggle. Long games? Absolutely. Did it FEEL like a long game? Not at all. Time flies when you're having fun.

On the other hand, a 5 minute game of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland with the younger kids can feel like an eternity... snore (which is why instead we play Rattlesnake, Secret Door, Max, Zombie Dice, etc... fun games to play with the 4 year old!) But I digress.
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Ryan M
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Time definitely did not fly by for us. There is a ton of annoying fiddliness that made each turn have a lot of decisions that often didn't matter.
 
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Remus Rhymus
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killjoy00 wrote:
Time definitely did not fly by for us. There is a ton of annoying fiddliness that made each turn have a lot of decisions that often didn't matter.


It sounds like either you got some rules wrong, or you need to be patient and understand that there is a learning curve and it will take a few plays for things to click, or Mage Wars just isn't a game for you. Yes, it can be fiddly, but that fiddliness improves and becomes more streamlined as you learn the nuances of the game.

I think Mage Wars is probably the best game I've ever experienced playing. For me, my first game lasted close to 5 hours (I was teaching and playing with an 8 year old kid) and it was fiddly and I was learning as I was going, constantly refering to the Codex and we got a bunch of rules wrong, but we still had a blast playing it and had a desire to try again and get through the learning curve. We eventually got our game time down to a reasonable two hours and we're enjoying this game more and more. If you're not having fun, then maybe it's just not for you.
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Kevin C.
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Quote:
There is a ton of annoying fiddliness that made each turn have a lot of decisions that often didn't matter.


I think this is the sentiment that should carry the day.

Even with all the glowing anecdotes you are getting here, you have to be willing to go back and replay the game yourself. If you find the game annoying or made of meaningless decisions, you have a pretty big mountain to climb on any replay.

Your experience would have to be a 180 from your previous one and I don’t really see that happening. There would have to have been a massive rule error that created the “unfun” for you to have a much better experience this time.

The game is what it is. There is a bit of fiddliness to it that will always be there to some extent and your opponent can turtle. Your job in building a deck is to account for this sort of thing and other possible threats, but that is effort that might not be worth putting in.

Your game partner would have to be willing to put in the same effort or else you have a tuned deck and he doesn’t. This won’t make for a great play experience either.

The game rises and falls, clearly, on the contents of the decks. So, for example, if you can’t dispel anything or deal with annoying equipment, your game would be “unfun.” You have to have the flexibility to adapt. If you can’t, your game could be quite boring because of one particular card-type your opponent has.

My 11-year old and I really enjoy this game, but we found it quite fun from the get-go. I haven’t had much luck in undoing bad first experiences, unless this was caused by a gross rule error that rendered the game “unfun.”

It doesn’t sound like that is what happened with you.

Good luck,

Kevin
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Purple Paladin

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Well, all I can say is if you expect the first game or two you play, especially of these types of games, to be quick and easy, then you didn't watch any of the dozen+ videos on it before you got it.

This is what I call a TI=F game, or TIF; Time Investment equates to fun. If your not the type that likes to spend time learning a game, over multiple plays, then this is probably not the game for you; definitely not the game for you.

The only games I have in my entire collection that were quick and easy on the first play are "Escape" and "Pit".
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Doug Bey
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Purple Paladin wrote:
Well, all I can say is if you expect the first game or two you play, especially of these types of game, to be quick and easy, then didn't watch any of the dozen+ videos on it before you got it.

This is what I call a TI=F game; Time Investment equates to fun. If your not the type that likes to spend time learning a game, over multiple plays, then this is probably not the game for you; definitely not the game for you.

The only games I have in my entire collection that were quick and easy on the first play was "Escape" and "Pit".


Well said. Mage Wars is up there, in my book, with Twilight Struggle both in terms of sheer awesomeness, as well as your TI=F equation.

Twilight Struggle took a LOT of reading and preparation to make sure I had down the rules before the first game played through, and then even more time invested to learn the cards to improve play. The same was with Mage Wars. I read through the rule book several times, watched the videos, etc., before the first game. The rulebook codex was our friend that first game. But because we were prepared and knew the game well going into it, we had a blast ironing out the bugs along the way.

And maybe this is a factor as well: We skipped the whole "apprentice" game, and went straight for the full game off the bat. Watered-down versions of great games can often come off as, well, watered-down.
 
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Purple Paladin

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If you make sure learners know that they are playing a tutorial; not to win, or even finish the game, but to learn it; and that it's not representative exactly of the full game itself, then I think things go smoother.

Our first game of Runewars and Elcipse were 6+ hour disasters; we did not even finish them. Then we spent the next week re-reading the rules, and saying "oh, we did that wrong; whoops, we messed up that rule". Just the usual growing pains for games of this caliber imo.
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