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Mage Wars => Spellbook Design and Construction => Topic started by: Alexander West on August 20, 2014, 07:34:02 PM

Title: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 20, 2014, 07:34:02 PM
My tournament report from winning the championship at GenCon is now up on Arcane Wonders' Mage Wars page:
http://www.arcanewonders.com/arcane-wonders/gen-con-champions-tournament-report

If anyone is interested in discussing the book, I'm happy to talk about it here.

For reference:
Straywood Beastmaster
Attack:
3x Acid Ball
1x Geyser
1x Hurl Boulder
Creature:
6x Thunderift Falcon
4x Timber Wolf
Conjuration:
1x Deathlock
1x Etherian Lifetree
1x Lair
2x Rajan's Fury
1x Renewing Spring
3x Wall of Thorns
Enchantment:
1x Enfeeble
1x Jinx
1x Rhino Hide
1x Reverse Attack
Equipment:
2x Bearskin
1x Dancing Scimitar
1x Eagleclaw Boots
1x Elemental Cloak
1x Leather Boots
1x Leather Gloves
1x Mage Staff
Incantation:
1x Banish
4x Dispel
4x Dissolve
3x Force Push
1x Minor Heal
1x Purge Magic
1x Purify
2x Seeking Dispel
2x Teleport
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Lord0fWinter on August 20, 2014, 08:04:58 PM
My tournament report from winning the championship at GenCon is now up on Arcane Wonders' Mage Wars page:
http://www.arcanewonders.com/arcane-wonders/gen-con-champions-tournament-report

If anyone is interested in discussing the book, I'm happy to talk about it here.

That was an amazing and very insightful report, thanks so much for writing it! It's awesome to see into the mind behind tournament winning books. Congrats again on your victory!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 20, 2014, 09:10:06 PM
Couple of Questions:

So you never had any focus on your Falcons?

Did you see any creatures? lots of small/few mid/Ranged (like the Crossbowman)

Did anyone use Guard to counterstrike your birds?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 20, 2014, 09:24:15 PM
Damn fine report.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 20, 2014, 09:36:54 PM
When I used to run swarm Beastmaster, I ran into issues getting my Falcons picked off one by one, usually by Arcane Zap + Ranged Attack (usually Gorgon) + Wizard's Tower. How should I avoid this? Is Lifetree sufficient? The hard limit of 6 Falcons became an issue, and Bats just aren't as good or as cheep.

If you knew your brother was bringing a book with Orb + Obelisk + Gargoyle, would you still want to play Aviary?
I'm having a hard time imagining bringing three Suppression Cloaks. Is that common where you play?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Jon.Ambriz on August 20, 2014, 10:15:53 PM
Yeah, I was surprised by the Falcons, and really thrown off when you put your Lair in such an aggressive spot. Great report for the tournament.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 21, 2014, 01:35:03 AM
@sIKE:
So you never had any focus on your Falcons?
Yes and no.  Several opponents seemed to have plans to shoot them down (Lash of Hellfire, Ivarium Longbow, Ring of Fire, Chain Lightning, Mage's Tower + Jet Stream, Gargoyle Sentry), but I was mostly able to break it up with Dissolve, Etherian Lifetree, falcon damage, or in one case extreme good luck.  That said, I felt like no one dedicated to focus fire fast and hard enough.  I was very surprised none of the Wizards used their Arcane Zap to shoot down birds, and none of the Warlocks seemed to have Flameblasts to trade with falcons.  I feel like a good plan vs. swarm is to kill the creatures as quickly as they come out, but I think a lot of books lacked the tools, and possibly some pilots lacked experience playing against swarm.  (One of the advantages of playing a book widely regarded as "not viable".)

Did you see any creatures? lots of small/few mid/Ranged (like the Crossbowman)
I saw few mid from several players, Ranged from just one, and never lots of small.

Did anyone use Guard to counterstrike your birds?
Frequently, but it doesn't help much.  The pet and the beastmaster both have plenty of health to soak up a counterattack, so I usually just have them trigger the guard first to clear a path for the more fragile birds.  Even if those two characters aren't available, each bird is usually able to soak a single hit since most guards hit for 3-4 dice and the falcons have 5 life.  I had games where each bird took turns soaking 1 hit to set off a Guard.  One of the huge advantages of Flying is being able to completely dictate the sequence of attack interactions.

@RingKichard:
When I used to run swarm Beastmaster, I ran into issues getting my Falcons picked off one by one, usually by Arcane Zap + Ranged Attack (usually Gorgon) + Wizard's Tower. How should I avoid this? Is Lifetree sufficient?
I think whether the ranged attacks or the falcons win has everything to do with tempo.  Like, if I've summoned 2 falcons on turn 2 and 2 falcons on turn 3, they have enough attack between them to destroy a source of ranged attacks possibly in a single turn.  On the other hand, a smaller force of falcons might be destroyed in detail if they are coming a few at a time due to a slower deployment schedule.

When facing a Wizard's Tower (presumably with Jet Stream), it's obviously crucial to stay away from the wall unless absolutely necessary.  I'm also quite willing to burn extra mana on an attack spell to kill it early (usually Acid Ball to get rid of the armor, or Geyser because it's cheap).  A lot of Wizards have just 1 Jet Stream in their book, and it going away when a tower dies is a big perk.

Gorgon is pretty expensive.  Depending on the circumstances I'd consider Acid Ball + Birds to kill it, or even Banishing it if there were enough other threats that my birds needed to keep busy taking apart some other threat.  I could also see it being worthwhile to Teleport/Force Push a Gorgon so birds were able to get to it without taking a hit on the way in due to its range of 2?

Lifetree can be very good or useless, depending on what spells and ranged attacks they are using.  My general rule is that if I can make a falcons life total equal to the sum of some attacks + 1, I want to play it.  For example, vs. a Wizard with Mage Zap, Etherian Lifetree makes a falcon go from 2 zaps on average (3 + 3 > 5) to 3 zaps on average (3 + 3 < 7).  However, if a Wizard had an Ivarium Longbow, I'd want not to use the tree since (4 + 3 = 7) it's going to die in two shots either way (4 + 3 > 5).  The math changes as your birds acquire injuries, of course.

If you knew your brother was bringing a book with Orb + Obelisk + Gargoyle, would you still want to play Aviary?
That's a good question.  After playing Nick I was contemplating what I would do if an opponent cast Orb + Obelisk at the end of a turn, and then on the next turn played Mana Siphon.  I think my Beastmaster plus pet can dish out enough damage to destroy those things in a reasonable span, but maybe with a Guard getting in the way it could get ugly.  (Though I'm uncertain a Guard could survive long enough to get an action token if my swarm is sizeable.)  My instinct is that unless the trap is laid perfectly the Aviary could overcome it, but if each piece is played and supported in the right order, I could see losing several birds to Upkeep effects to pay for movement.

I think an interesting line of counter play might be to keep around 10 mana banked so that the turn the Orb/Obelisk do get dropped the swarm can move and attack as normal?

I'm having a hard time imagining bringing three Suppression Cloaks. Is that common where you play?
Nope!  Thankfully, I've never seen 3 Suppression Cloaks.  However, vs. opponents from an unknown metagame, one must always consider the possibility.  I thought against Nick the odds of 3 were low, given that so much of his book is designed to beat swarm anyway via stacking armor with the Veteran's Belt.

@Jon.Ambriz:
When doing the math on whether I wanted to play the Lair, I was definitely crediting it for getting my falcons 1 square closer to an opponent who was turtleing in the corner.  The fact that a Falcon deployed T2 at B2 can attack a mage at A1 on T3 is great.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on August 21, 2014, 02:17:07 AM
Congratulations on your win, I know you've heard that plenty already, but in all honesty congrats man. Given that swarms, especially the Beast Master, have been given such a bad light do you see your victory changing perceptions?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Death-from-above on August 21, 2014, 07:02:06 AM
Well done man! Congrats on the win and I appreciate the fantastic report. I really enjoyed your breakdown of each card and how they attributed to your overall plan. I am very interested in trying out that Aviary build!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 21, 2014, 08:14:35 AM
@SilverclawGrizzly:
Thanks for the congratulations!  Don't sweat that I'm going to get tired of being congratulated, it feels great, and I don't think it will ever get old!  ;)

Given that swarms, especially the Beast Master, have been given such a bad light do you see your victory changing perceptions?
It's too early to know for sure, but I think the answer is yes.  Public opinion is a powerful force, and it's been against swarms for some time.  However, the tools have been there for swarms to work for a while (since DvN in my opinion), and it's pretty hard to ignore a swarm winning the biggest annual Mage Wars tournament.

Looking at the cards available, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see a viable Anvil Throne soldier book or any Warlock demon book do well.  The "Fast" Battle Order for the soldiers, and the teleport power on Wildfire Imp both get the creatures where they need to be, while both Altar of Carnage and Pentagram offer powerful economic engines to support them. 

Heck, even a Wizard's Blue Gremlins have the sort of mobility I want from a swarm creature, and Gate to Voltari isn't too shabby at mana generation.  Though, Wizard is slightly lacking in the mass buffs I want for my swarm.  I guess everyone has access to Marked for Death, but no other mass buffs like Armory or Bloodfire Helmet make it a little harder.  On the other hand, the little buggers are pretty hard to kill due to their dodge and point of armor, so that's something.

To be successful, these books will have to overcome two hurdles that the Beastmaster doesn't face:  1)  They will have to figure out how to deal with the fact that summoning is a slow action.  Not being able to move and summon a creature means they will have to adopt at least slightly different strategy than Straywood.  2) They must pay either mana or actions for high mobility.  With falcons, there is no ongoing cost to keep forces mobile, but that isn't true of either Battle Orders or the Teleport powers on the various imps.  Mana in this game is often pretty tight, so there is some struggle.

Even if the other books can't make it work quite as well, I'm pretty sure Straywood based swarms are going to be a long term part of the metagame.  Though, it's certainly possible they will fall our of favor from time to time if players go overboard on playing tons of hate against them.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on August 21, 2014, 09:07:38 AM
Big gratz for winning the tournament. I wish we would have something like this in Germany.

While reading your report i noticed that you only faced four of the twelve mages.
What would you have done against a defensive priestress with knight guards, lot of healing to stay alive? Or a necromancer with zombie guards and Idol of Pestilence to bring bloodthirsty to full effect?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Laddinfance on August 21, 2014, 09:35:50 AM
Most zombies have pest, he could have easily ignored them. Now, the Zombie Brute could be quite a problem. However, If his mage is in the same zone then the zombie would have to attack him instead of guarding. Clever play could really help here. However, Idol of Pestilence does have real potential.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: jacksmack on August 21, 2014, 09:51:30 AM
What an awesome game report.

I love that u included purge magic in a BM book. I dont think any 1 would ever expect that.
Its a spell that see little play already, and when its played its almost always a wizard that casts it.

Your use of healing spring is also very inspiring - especially combined with life tree. I have not yet been able to figure these 2 cards out myself.


Did you ever feel action starved with this build?
(like: wanting to dispell, forcepush, equip armor and quickcast another bird in the same round)
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 21, 2014, 09:52:12 AM
@Schwenkgott:
I wish we would have something like this in Germany.
Yes.  I hope lots of Mage Wars players sign up to be Ambassadors, partner with gaming stores, and keep growing the community.  It would be great if this game got big enough to have anything like the global organized play some TCG, LCG, and miniatures games have.

What would you have done against a defensive priestress with knight guards, lot of healing to stay alive?
Aganist the Priestess I'm pretty sure there are no quick mage assassinations, so I think I would play a game of total attrition.  I'd want to use my pet and my Beastmaster to blow Guard tokens so that my falcons would be free to attack whatever target I'd decided to focus down.  I might also need to play Etherian Lifetree so that a regular falcon could take a 5 dice hit, depending on the circumstances.  Either way, I'm guessing I'd make extensive use of Renewing Spring to top off characters that had gotten injured in action.  I'd try to pick off the Priestess' summons one by one as they came into play, until I built up a critical mass of birds to push for the mage herself.

Or a necromancer with zombie guards and Idol of Pestilence to bring bloodthirsty to full effect?
I'm pretty sure this is the circumstance where my Force Pushes and Teleports would really shine.  If there weren't a lot of guards, I'd take a hit on the Beastmaster or pet and then focus the guard down.  If there were a lot of guards I would use my movement spells to pull the Necromancer away from the entourage so the Falcons could get at him.  Depending on the type of Zombie, I'd also consider using Etherian Lifretre to make it so a regular falcon could soak a guard hit, and combine it with Renewing Spring to make the process repeatable. 

Using the falcons to destroy the Idol of Pestilence would also be in the consideration, but might not be feasible if there were a lot of Zombies guarding it.  In general, I'd probably be wanting to keep my Beastmaster away from any large number of Zombies because they hit so hard, or I'd have wanted to armor up before wading in.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 21, 2014, 10:21:06 AM
@jacksmack:
I love that u included purge magic in a BM book. I dont think any 1 would ever expect that.
Its a spell that see little play already, and when its played its almost always a wizard that casts it.

My brother and I both love this spell, and nearly always have 1x in our books.  Sure, it's expensive, but having a card that can punish an opponent for some lines of play means blow-out opportunities in games that aren't open to everyone.

One kind of neat thing about playing an aggressive proactive book like Aviary is that I know the struggle is going to revolve around my birds and my life total.  As long as I can protect those two things, (and by protect, I also mean make sure my birds aren't negated by lots of armor or a Suppression Cloak) I'm pretty sure I can win.  Therefore, I don't have to play as many cards that work in a broad range of circumstances and can just play narrower cards that will be relevant to the scenario I know I will create.  This leaves SP for things like Purge Magic.

Did you ever feel action starved with this build?  (like: wanting to dispell, forcepush, equip armor and quickcast another bird in the same round)
No, I usually feel like I have plenty of actions.  So much so that I am usually running around the field punching my opponent when I'm on the offense, or hiding in a corner drinking from a Renewing Spring when I'm protecting my life total.

What I am constantly feeling short on is mana.  The Beastmaster channels 9, and the Lair channels 2, which isn't enough to break even when summoning two 6 mana birds in a turn.  As such, I must sometimes give up summoning one, or even both falcons in order to cast other spells or save up for the next turn's summons.

During the tournament I came to appreciate cards with low costs like Leather Boots, Leather Gloves, and Rhino Hide since they often fit well with spending 6 on a falcon and having 5 mana left over to invest in other magic.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on August 21, 2014, 11:24:02 AM
If it should happen, that you get bored and cannot find someone to play with, join us on Octgn. I'd like to play some games with you ;)
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: baronzaltor on August 21, 2014, 11:43:16 AM
It seems like the stronger counter to the book is actually just in promo form, that being Gravikor.  Having everything in a 2 zone radius lose flying seems like a heavy knee capping.. suddenly everything is hindered and openly attackable.

I think Gravikor is epic though, so if you can burn it down fast enough it might not be as hard a hit.

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 21, 2014, 11:49:44 AM
One other question: What kind of Zone Attacks did you see?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on August 21, 2014, 01:37:31 PM
@SilverclawGrizzly:

To be successful, these books will have to overcome two hurdles that the Beastmaster doesn't face:  1)  They will have to figure out how to deal with the fact that summoning is a slow action.  Not being able to move and summon a creature means they will have to adopt at least slightly different strategy than Straywood.  2) They must pay either mana or actions for high mobility.  With falcons, there is no ongoing cost to keep forces mobile, but that isn't true of either Battle Orders or the Teleport powers on the various imps.  Mana in this game is often pretty tight, so there is some struggle.

Even if the other books can't make it work quite as well, I'm pretty sure Straywood based swarms are going to be a long term part of the metagame.  Though, it's certainly possible they will fall our of favor from time to time if players go overboard on playing tons of hate against them.

One of the ways the Warlord can make up for the slowness of summoning is with Garrison Posts. Yes it's still a full action to summon a creature but when you can have it summoned half way across the board that's a big help. They're fragile, and easily taken down, but also easy to replace. The Warlord will also really shine when Alter of the Iron Guard is legal.

Likewise I feel the Wizard is going to cut cartwheels when the Summoning Circle is brought out. Honestly anyone can cast these but I could see a "Wizard Delivery" book where last action you lay one of those down, next turn when you have initiative your Gate of Voltari brings out a Hydra, and you Rouse the Beast it in the other Mages face.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Laddinfance on August 21, 2014, 05:15:30 PM
Summoning Circle does not work with spawnpoints.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 21, 2014, 11:00:21 PM
@sIKE:
One other question: What kind of Zone Attacks did you see?

Ring of Fire and Chain Lightning were the only ones cast.  After my match one of the Warlocks complimented the fact that I kept positioning my birds in a way that he couldn't get enough value out of a Firestorm to cast it.  In a similar vein, I saw both Circle of Fire, and Circle of Lightning, which I feel are both more effective than most of the area spells that do less than 5 damage in a burst.

I am curious about your questions... what's the hypothesis you're working on?


Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 21, 2014, 11:34:27 PM
I am just trying to get an understanding of your opponents and their lack of counter swarm play. Everything I have asked is typically what I have seen used to counter swarms.

Your use of the Lifetree to give the Innate Life +2 is quite impressive when you consider 6 birds. It takes them from a very squishy 5 Life to 7. Most Wizards I have seen use Zap + Hawkeye and Wizards Tower + Hurl Rock (5 mana cost) to take birds down. Your still spinning them up faster than he can kill them though, but as time goes on the kill power of the flock goes down, and of course you have bad rolls.

Damage Barriers was one that I forgot to ask, but with the Life Tree it is not quite as potent.

Saw the power of Akiro's today, quite the stinker for a control deck like I was playing. It could be quite devastating for and against swarm.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on August 21, 2014, 11:45:40 PM
Summoning Circle does not work with spawnpoints.

Ah so it doesn't. Hmmm still you could full cast the creature into a good position and then Rouse the Beast. Not as cool but might still be devastating.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Laddinfance on August 22, 2014, 08:17:59 AM
Oh for a Wizard it's still a good card, but it's not earthshattering.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 22, 2014, 09:26:47 AM
Oh for a Wizard it's still a good card, but it's not earthshattering.
A turn 2 Gorgon / Iron Golem in the FC?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Laddinfance on August 22, 2014, 10:23:12 AM
Oh for a Wizard it's still a good card, but it's not earthshattering.
A turn 2 Gorgon / Iron Golem in the FC?

It's not too much different than people using Divine Intervention aggressively.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 22, 2014, 12:14:45 PM
@sIKE:
I am just trying to get an understanding of your opponents and their lack of counter swarm play. Everything I have asked is typically what I have seen used to counter swarms.

I have a fair amount of experience with constructable game metagames, and have found there is almost always a rotating weakness in those metagames to some strategies while players focus on beating the top performing strategies.

Wizards have been dominating Mage Wars for a while, largely with their mana production, toolbox towers, and Battle Forge equipment stacks.  I imagine that players tried to bring more cards that were strong against this sort of play, and fewer that are good against other strategies.  It happens that the cards good against a Wizard are close to the opposite of the cards which are good against a swarm.  (I know I played around a dozen anti-Wizard cards, and only 1 anti-swarm card.)

I think a part of what happened is that people just didn't quite have enough gas vs. swarm because it's been underplayed for a while.  0-1 Wizard's Tower, 0-1 Hurl Rock, 0-1 Jet Stream, 0-2 Flameblast, 0-2 zone attacks, 0 ranged creatures, 0-1 flying creatures, 0-1 Mage Staff, 0-1 Lash of Flame are just not high enough counts of the critical cards for such a matchup.  Bump up those counts and the road gets a lot rockier.  (Though, I agree that Etherian Lifetree can be a real game changer, turning spells that deal the "perfect 5" into "not quite lethal".)

I did have plans to fight through more hate with wolves if a game went on for a while, but none of my games got to this stage.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Cnoedel on August 22, 2014, 02:08:30 PM
" I wish we would have something like this in Germany. " [2]

Besides, congratulations! Your book looks awesome!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: baronzaltor on August 22, 2014, 03:29:00 PM
Oh for a Wizard it's still a good card, but it's not earthshattering.

Johktari BM is actually the mage who can make most aggressive use of it, she can get it into the opponents starting square on the first round.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sdougla2 on August 22, 2014, 03:39:05 PM
I would rather use the Lair with the Johktari Beastmaster than Summoning Circle. And I would rather put it in either NC or FC rather than their starting corner.

The problem with putting something like that in their starting corner is that if they don't have any infrastructure in that area (read conjurations), they can just run away, and the ability to summon into that corner won't have much of an impact on the game anymore. Even if you can't put the enemy mage into as immediate pressure by placing a Spawnpoint/Summoning Circle in a central zone, it allows you to do a better job applying pressure over time. A Falcon summoned into one of the center zones can reach all but 2 zones on the board.

I need to experiment with more aggressive swarm options like the Aviary. I've often found that swarm plays can be largely blunted by simply focusing down the creatures individually even without specific anti-swarm tech. The trick against Falcons is to have ways to attack them.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: baronzaltor on August 22, 2014, 03:42:06 PM
I was just pointing out that she has the ability to cast it pretty much anywhere the fastest, for whatever purposes that may be.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: AsianChexMix on August 22, 2014, 09:35:42 PM
I just want to gain some kudos to you for your win and report. It truly made me sit back and think more about this game and how to tinker with my books based on my meta. Very insightful and love seeing it all work out!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on August 22, 2014, 10:35:06 PM
I think I'll start a separate thread for the Summoning Circle. I'd like to keep this one focused on explaining how awesome Alexander is :)
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on August 23, 2014, 02:26:48 PM
@Alexander first a big congrats on the win! and then a big thank you for posting this and the tourney report.

In another tread you discussed Akiro´s Favor:
and the roll of the dice...

Mage Wars is actually great as far as dice variance goes.  I love that they made cards like Akiro's Favor, which are essentially insurance on dice outcomes.  Additionally, as a player you get to choose whether you play a high variance strategy or a low variance strategy.  Some kinds of books are *much* more dependent on a few die rolls than others, whether because the latter book uses fewer die-based mechanics, or rolls *so many* dice that any specific die roll isn't a big deal.

Creatures like Emerald Tegu, Sosusko and Darkfenne Bat becomes a lot better with Akiro´s.

I think Emerald Tegu goes from 33% to ~50% to make a rot,
Sosusko goes from 50% to ~75% to taunt,
and Darkfenne Bat goes from 25% to ~37%.

I think Emerald Tegu now is a stronger candidate to replace yours/anybodys Timber Wolfs.
As you cannot have 8 Thunder Falcons - 1 or 2 Darkfenne Bats might be an option?

And i think Sosusko is a big actiontreat?

The downside on Akiro´s favor is probably the action/time you take to cast it..
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 24, 2014, 12:19:53 AM
@Bilbofilter:

Thanks for the congratulations, I'm glad you enjoyed the report and these posts.  :)

Akiro's Favor is a card I'm pretty excited about.  One of the things I immediately thought to do, and almost made it into The Aviary was a Sosruko, Ferret Companion + Akiro's Favor package.  My thought was that the mana was worth spending against most solo mages because the ferret could put them at a huge action deficit.  Andrew talked me down from this plan, pointing out that enchanting Sosruko now made a 10 mana target that could easily be killed by a single Flameblast or Perfect Strike.  I'm pretty leery of setting myself up for trading down mana, so I backed off the idea.

In retrospect, I think I would have very much liked a Sosruko against Nick Tinko's Fire Wizard, possibly against Andrew's Forcemaster, and likely vs. Harry's Warlock.  Being able to waste a solo mage's main action, and possibly stop them from moving is very, very powerful.  What I don't think I realized was that Etherian Lifetree is just as helpful to the ferret as to the falcons.  I wouldn't always play lifetree just to support Sosruko, but if I had a lifetree, it becomes reasonable to enchant the ferret due to his increased survivability.

As far as bats go, I like them, particularly against high armor opponents.  Andrew and I seriously considered including a few as "falcons 7 and 8".  Getting to rot through armor can cause a lot of trouble, and tax people's condition removal resources.  However, I don't very much like the idea of enchanting them, as a 3 point enchantment is a big investment on a 5 point bat.  For just two points I could get another bat, which will double my rots, instead of increasing them by only 50% and putting a lot of eggs in a tiny basket.  Enchanting a Tegu makes a bit more sense to me, a third of the cost of the animal for 50% more rot sounds good if what you want is more rotting.

Edit:  I feel where Akiro's Blessing is really going to shine is the near-solo mage who is relying on a lot of Burn/Corrode/Stun or can't afford to have below average damage dice.  Probably a Warlock, Forcemaster, or aggressive flavor of Wizard?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: BoomFrog on August 24, 2014, 09:04:18 AM
In the week before Gencon when we actually put our books together bats never even got considered.  If we had talked about it I'm sure we would have put 1 or 2 in, they are clearly a good choice.  Once you have 3-4 falcons out and your opponent has no creatures then you have dominance over the creature fight.  At that point a bat quick cast on top of the enemy mage will not be likely to need fast and the 1/3rd rot is better then the 1 lost attack die when attacking a mage.

On a side not, we were originally considering Alexander's deck to be a hyper agro deck like my forcemaster, but in retrospect after the tournament it is clearly a control deck.  You gain an incremental advantage over your opponent from the efficiency of falcons and then spend all your mana and actions negating the rest of your opponents play.  In that context 5-6 dissolves and acid balls makes a lot more sense.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 24, 2014, 10:37:54 AM
@BoomFrog:
In the week before Gencon when we actually put our books together bats never even got considered.  If we had talked about it I'm sure we would have put 1 or 2 in, they are clearly a good choice.

Well, I probably should have thought about them out loud instead of only to myself.  I removed them in my initial cuts before I talked to you about the book because they didn't have Fast.  It wasn't clear to me that they were a good choice until we discussed them after the tournament.

On a side note, we were originally considering Alexander's deck to be a hyper agro deck like my forcemaster, but in retrospect after the tournament it is clearly a control deck.  You gain an incremental advantage over your opponent from the efficiency of falcons and then spend all your mana and actions negating the rest of your opponents play.

Yeah, I was thinking about this after the tournament!  I think it's actually economy-aggro.  This is to say that its first stage is economic development in the form of Lair (investing 15 in +2 mana / turn and +1 action / turn), and then immediately changes gears to maximum aggression (for a Nature mage).  This feels like pure aggression against a lot of books, but explains why I always felt on the back foot when playing against more aggressive books on the spectrum.  Your Forcemaster is also economy-aggro, but much more emphasis on aggro because you spend 7 fewer early mana on economy, and the aggressive cards you buy into have a faster payback than mine do.

I kept thinking my nightmare matchup would be a 100% aggressive mage who just ran at me and then unleashed a stream of Fireballs, Explodes, and Hurl Boulders.  Any mage who could convert their first 46-50 mana (4 turns) into 36+ damage is scary, and will easily beat the rate the falcons can kill someone even with punching backup from a Beastmaster.  (Falcons can't kill until the end of turn 4, where this hypothetical aggressive mage would probably kill at the beginning of turn 4.)

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on August 24, 2014, 11:42:51 AM
Well i only own five Thunder Falcons so that makes bats an obvious choice  :)
I was thinking about making the bat pet instead?
Summoning it early would be nice, but thats probably to slow?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 24, 2014, 12:51:44 PM
Against a hyper-agressive Attack Spell book, since Togorah isn't really an option, I wonder if the best strategy isn't damaging disruption. You've already got Dancing Scimitar, Reverse Attack, and Wall of Thorns/Force Push. A Rolling Fog might help with blocking LOS, and once the opponent is forced into melee, things like Defend and Circle of Lightning can help, too, as long as you've got a solid creature to put them on (Dire Wolf? Bridge Troll? Dragonclaw Wolverine?).

I do think the biggest weakness of this book is its vulnerability to being hated out, but playing it this year at Gencon was an inspired metagame choice.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Sailor Vulcan on August 24, 2014, 01:26:01 PM
Congratulations on your win!

It seems every time someone asks a question about your spellbook it just looks tougher and tougher. Are you on OCTGN? Everyone's going to want to play against you on there now--including me!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: zot on August 24, 2014, 09:30:25 PM
"
I kept thinking my nightmare matchup would be a 100% aggressive mage who just ran at me and then unleashed a stream of Fireballs, Explodes, and Hurl Boulders.  Any mage who could convert their first 46-50 mana (4 turns) into 36+ damage is scary, and will easily beat the rate the falcons can kill someone even with punching backup from a Beastmaster.  (Falcons can't kill until the end of turn 4, where this hypothetical aggressive mage would probably kill at the beginning of turn 4.)
"

Which is why i mentioned that i would have liked a matchup against you. Alas, I made a huge mental error against Nick in round 2. Of course easy to say in hindsight. Otherwise you might have had your nightmare scenario. In fact, that is exactly the same way I should have played against Nick. Bad misjudgement on my part.

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 24, 2014, 11:20:14 PM
Alas, I made a huge mental error against Nick in round 2. Of course easy to say in hindsight. Otherwise you might have had your nightmare scenario. In fact, that is exactly the same way I should have played against Nick. Bad misjudgement on my part.

Interesting.  I think Nick's book is close to the best possible against this "pure aggression" mage.  Having Battle Forge, multiple copies of Dragonscale Hauberk, Veteran's Belt and plenty of armor and healing seems like the right combination of tools and actions to blunt a concerted assault?

The reason I think The Aviary is so weak to this line of play is that it's investing mana in aggression instead of defense, and only has token copies of armor and healing.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: reddawn on August 25, 2014, 08:25:45 AM
Did anyone play zone attacks against your birds  or a few bigger flyers to eat'em? Anyone try to Fireball your tree?

I read in the report that the wizards didn't really use Arcane Zap, which is really odd to me.  And even against non-swarm, a zone attack can still be pretty good if you catch the opponent and a conjuration in the same zone, though ideally there'd be more than that. 

I usually put in at least 1 zone attack or if I'm playing Necro, Poison Gas Cloud.  If you can time them correctly, their efficiency is pretty ridiculous.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Cnoedel on August 25, 2014, 08:58:09 AM
Destroying the Tree is probably a good way to deal with this book since the birds are very vulnerable without the tree!
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 25, 2014, 09:36:28 AM
Did anyone play zone attacks against your birds  or a few bigger flyers to eat'em? Anyone try to Fireball your tree?

I read in the report that the wizards didn't really use Arcane Zap, which is really odd to me.  And even against non-swarm, a zone attack can still be pretty good if you catch the opponent and a conjuration in the same zone, though ideally there'd be more than that. 

I usually put in at least 1 zone attack or if I'm playing Necro, Poison Gas Cloud.  If you can time them correctly, their efficiency is pretty ridiculous.
I am very used to Hawkeye on a Wizard using Arcane Zap. Making it a 4 dice 2 zone ranged attack. Combined with a small 0-1 ranged attack can deal out some good damage.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Satenus on August 25, 2014, 11:48:49 AM
First of all Congratulations for your Victory in GenCon Alexander, and second, Thank You Very Very Much for your article about the book and the tournament, and also for the feedback to the community in this post.
The deconstruction of the book  and your explanations about your choices and their possible implications have make me (and others) change the way I think about the game, of course in a good way. I'm new to the game (4 months old) but I've read a lot about the strategy and resources used in the game, and your article about the book (Straywood Aviary) while specific, has really far reaching implications, specially in the meta-gaming part, and I personally consider it a must read for new players who want to get to the next level, not necessarily competition level, but at least to the build yourself a solid book level.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 25, 2014, 04:09:25 PM
@Biblofilter:
Well i only own five Thunder Falcons so that makes bats an obvious choice  :)
Heh, I know what you mean!   :o  Prior to the tournament I only had 3, and had to borrow 3 from Andrew! 

I was thinking about making the bat pet instead? Summoning it early would be nice, but thats probably to slow?
I think it depends on what kind of opponent you're facing.  If they are aggressive the bat will be slower than a falcon, and probably not one of the first fliers to summon.  However, if they are slower or more defensive the bat can actually be better.  The rots will slowly add up, and over time the bat will deal more damage than a falcon.  (If the bat is doing well enough, it will cause them to spend mana + actions on a Purge, which is also fine.)

@RingKichard:
Against a hyper-agressive Attack Spell book, since Togorah isn't really an option, I wonder if the best strategy isn't damaging disruption. You've already got Dancing Scimitar, Reverse Attack, and Wall of Thorns/Force Push. A Rolling Fog might help with blocking LOS, and once the opponent is forced into melee, things like Defend and Circle of Lightning can help, too, as long as you've got a solid creature to put them on (Dire Wolf? Bridge Troll? Dragonclaw Wolverine?).
Could you explain a little about what you mean by damaging disruption?  (Or link me to a discussion of the tactic elsewhere?)  Defenses, Dazes, and LoS blockers all make sense to me, but I got a little lost when we started talking about putting Defend and Circle of Lightning on creatures or forcing the opponent into melee?

Rolling Fog was the last spell Andrew and I cut from the book before the tournament.  We liked the idea of not being able to be targeted, but we kept trying to imagine a situation where it would work better than a card we already had and we couldn't come up with any.

I do think the biggest weakness of this book is its vulnerability to being hated out, but playing it this year at Gencon was an inspired metagame choice.

I agree that every book can be hated out.  I'm curious which way you think is best to hate it out:  a) kill the Beastmaster faster than the Lair-Falcon engine can take over the game; b) invest in a mana engine for mana parity, and then trade removal spells with birds; c) play a reasonable game and set up a big Suppression Orb/Mordiok's Obelisk turn; d) summon bigger creatures to fight the little ones; e) something else?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on August 25, 2014, 05:41:35 PM
I think a priestress with a temple of asyra, some knights for guard action, valshalla and some clerics would bring you in a world of pain.
A Warlord with a fast Crimson with akiros favor could have the same effect: A dead falcon every round.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 25, 2014, 05:43:33 PM
My theory:

Focus kill the birds. Most of my builds carry a Mage Staff mainly for the Lord of Fire but would be useful on the birds. A Bear Strength and I am rolling six dice. Add a Zone Attack like Hail of Stones after 4 birds are out and it would be tough not to take a couple down and then from there just work to kill one off a round until only one or two remain and then ignore or kill with counter strike from a guard. I would hope that time would permit me to deploy 1-2 mids over time to even out the action advantage and give me the aforementioned guards.

The pet bird would get hate from a Hurl Bolder or Fireball.

A Wizard would get a Hawkeye and use his Zap in conjunction with either a Zone Attack like above or a Wizard's Tower with a Hurl Rock Spellbound.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 25, 2014, 06:55:02 PM
Could you explain a little about what you mean by damaging disruption?  (Or link me to a discussion of the tactic elsewhere?)  Defenses, Dazes, and LoS blockers all make sense to me, but I got a little lost when we started talking about putting Defend and Circle of Lightning on creatures or forcing the opponent into melee?

I was thinking that the goal would be to get down dual use cards. So, for example, Wall of Thorns blocks LoS, which can save you a lot of damage. But it's also a threat when combined with Force Push. Same with Dancing Scimitar. It's a defense, but you can also pivot and use it as an attack. Reverse attack is the same way: it saves you damage, but it's a lot more threatening than a block. The idea here would be to play for tempo, using stalling tactics to buy time for the Lair to finish making enough birds, and then to turn around and use your former defenses as a swing offense to win the game.

While I was thinking about this idea, I could only really come up with 3 cards that fit this gameplan when the opponent stays at range and lobs attack spells. But there are other spells that work similarly against melee attackers, and usually an agro book is going to have a melee option for when the ranged assault doesn't work. That's when Defend, Retaliate, Circle of Lightning, etc, become useful. They're defenses, but they also cause damage.

The key to this harebrained scheme would be Rolling Fog. A total agro book is not going to want to give you three free turns, so they're going to have to get close instead of staying at range 2 and waiting to lob Boulders again. 

Quote
I agree that every book can be hated out.  I'm curious which way you think is best to hate it out:  a) kill the Beastmaster faster than the Lair-Falcon engine can take over the game; b) invest in a mana engine for mana parity, and then trade removal spells with birds; c) play a reasonable game and set up a big Suppression Orb/Mordiok's Obelisk turn; d) summon bigger creatures to fight the little ones; e) something else?

I think Suppression Orb + Obelisk can go in pretty much any book (except Warlord) if they want to win this matchup badly enough, and it doesn't require changing the rest of the spellbook (unless it's a swarm spellbook, obviously). The other options you suggest would require major surgery to add to most spellbooks, and I think of that more as general strategic metagaming than outright hate.

In practice, the hate I was thinking of was something like

1. (20) Gorgon Archer (4)
2. (14) Suppression orb (6) Hawkeye (3)
3. (13) Mordok's Obelisk (5) Arcane Zap (4)
4. (13) Chain Lightning (1) Arcane Zap (0)

Or the Hawkeye + Chain Lightning could instead be Wizard's Tower + Jet Stream + Voltaric Shield + Voltaric Shield, for example.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: IndyPendant on August 25, 2014, 08:56:30 PM
Quote from: sIKE
I am very used to Hawkeye on a Wizard using Arcane Zap. Making it a 4 dice 2 zone ranged attack. Combined with a small 0-1 ranged attack can deal out some good damage.

I've enjoyed reading this topic because Straywood is one of my favourite mages, and I've been trying to get swarms to work since I started playing.  Haven't posted yet because I haven't had much to say except a bunch of "Me too"s here and there.

But no one else seemed to catch this, so I thought I'd better point it out: Hawkeye only gives Ranged +1, or +1 dice rolled for ranged attacks.  It does not add a zone to the distance the ranged attack can reach.  Arcane Zap would still be range 0-1 with Hawkeye.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 25, 2014, 11:11:19 PM
Quote from: sIKE
I am very used to Hawkeye on a Wizard using Arcane Zap. Making it a 4 dice 2 zone ranged attack. Combined with a small 0-1 ranged attack can deal out some good damage.

I've enjoyed reading this topic because Straywood is one of my favourite mages, and I've been trying to get swarms to work since I started playing.  Haven't posted yet because I haven't had much to say except a bunch of "Me too"s here and there.

But no one else seemed to catch this, so I thought I'd better point it out: Hawkeye only gives Ranged +1, or +1 dice rolled for ranged attacks.  It does not add a zone to the distance the ranged attack can reach.  Arcane Zap would still be range 0-1 with Hawkeye.
Since the Falcons attack is melee based "to kill" my mage they would have to be 0 zones away (not be a smart alec) which would bring them within the 0-1 range of the spells I am talking about: Zap, Hurl Rock, and Hail of Stones.  Matter of fact I am utilizing the beginning of the game (say the first 4-6) rounds that the falcons will arrive in waves of two birds each (say I stay in my start corner and place the WT in the center zone on the arena wall) that by round three the first two birds could attack my WT. I could Zap and Hurl Boulder one bird and hopefully kill it (10 dice). The next round three birds attack my WT or Wizard and I Zap one, Hail of Stones the zone with the most Birds, and then take out the strongest with a Hurl Stone). One of the birds will get an extra attack dice from the Hawkeye. So we are talking a total of 4 (Zap) + (5 + 4 + 4 Hail)  +  6 (Hurl) dice rolled. On average should kill two birds with luck all three, if one of the first three birds were a pet he would get the focus of the Zap and the Hurl and the Hawkeye +1 buff on the Hail (15 dice). Mana permitting the Hurl would be Boulder on the Pet. I haven't moved and the other mage is now in face would be my guess.

If the swarm is held back then it is Orb/Oblesk time, I put a cheap 2 range attack spell on the WT and start shooting at the Flock.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Wildhorn on August 26, 2014, 09:51:33 AM
By the way sIke, +X Ranged doesnt buff zone attack (written in codex).
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 26, 2014, 10:21:52 AM
By the way sIke, +X Ranged doesnt buff zone attack (written in codex).

Can you tell me what page you are looking at? I am look at the 5/12/14 version of the FAQ and have not found where this is in the codex.


**** Found it under the Ranged +X section. blerg. Why it is not in the "Increasing the Attack Dice DURING an Attack Action" section is beyond me....

Haven't play a swarm in a while and Zone Attacks have come out of my books as a result. So 22 dice instead of 23 dice. Nice catch.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: IndyPendant on August 26, 2014, 09:14:06 PM
I'm not sure what point you're arguing there, sIKE.  I wasn't trying to state that Hawkeye + Zap was a bad tactic against a bird swarm; it's a pretty good tactic.  I was just stating that Hawkeye doesn't make Arcane Zap a 2-Zone Ranged Attack.

That was...the entirety of my point. ; )
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 26, 2014, 09:28:19 PM
@reddawn
Did anyone play zone attacks against your birds  or a few bigger flyers to eat'em? Anyone try to Fireball your tree?  I usually put in at least 1 zone attack or if I'm playing Necro, Poison Gas Cloud.  If you can time them correctly, their efficiency is pretty ridiculous.

Just the one Ring of Fire and the one Chain Lightning.  I think just one is not enough without a second or some other kind of damage to finish off the injured.

Only one flyer was played vs. the Beastmaster, a Gargoyle Sentry.  It didn't last long because there was already a critical mass of birds that took it out in 1-2 rounds.

No one tossed a Fireball at a tree, but that does seem odds on to be a great answer.  You're down a mana, but if a bunch of creatures drop dead it's absolutely worth it.

@sIKE:

I like the plan of focus killing the birds, though I think the trick is making sure the mana/attacks line up so that the anti-bird mage isn't wasting too many mana/actions.

I think Mage Staff is good for one bird, but will probably get Dissolved before you kill a 2nd.  (A big win for the book with the Mage Staff, since you traded mana but turned your ineffective attack into a dead bird.)  Hurl Rock (on Wizard's Tower) and Hail of Stones seem a little frustrating since they will often leave birds a hair away from dead.  I guess in the variance they should kill some, but the majority should survive.  Though, I guess if enough are stunned off a single Hail of Stones maybe something on the ground could mop one up?

I like Flameblast better for killing a bird than Hurl Rock since the Burn will often finish the bird off (and sooner than healing next turn could be applied).  I guess either is fine off a mage with Hawkeye since they go up to 5 damage.  On the edges of the arena Jet Stream is the best since you get 4 dice plus a good chance of 3 dice as the bird hits the wall, which I think makes it the best Wizard's Tower spell.

I wonder, though, how much mana this Wizard will spend killing 26 mana worth of birds (3 normal + 1 pet), and how much damage they will take from the birds in the meantime?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on August 26, 2014, 09:45:20 PM
@ringkichard
I was thinking that the goal would be to get down dual use cards. So, for example, Wall of Thorns blocks LoS, which can save you a lot of damage. But it's also a threat when combined with Force Push. Same with Dancing Scimitar. It's a defense, but you can also pivot and use it as an attack. Reverse attack is the same way: it saves you damage, but it's a lot more threatening than a block. The idea here would be to play for tempo, using stalling tactics to buy time for the Lair to finish making enough birds, and then to turn around and use your former defenses as a swing offense to win the game.

Thanks for explaining the idea.  Yes, I love playing cards that are versatile in terms of whether they are an attack or a defense.  Don't forget that Thunderift Falcon is also versatile in this way!  It can attack, and then later can be made a "chump" guard if you need more life!

The key to this harebrained scheme would be Rolling Fog. A total agro book is not going to want to give you three free turns, so they're going to have to get close instead of staying at range 2 and waiting to lob Boulders again. 

The thing about this is I don't want them to get close.  I find there is sometimes a turning point in the game where all I want is to preserve my life total while the birds do the rest at far range.  Lightning Barrier and Rolling Fog aren't going to keep me alive, and probably the former won't do enough damage to change the math of who is going to win the race to dead.  In both cases, a Hurl Boulder, Heal, or Reverse Attack is probably going to affect the math more significantly.  However, I could see something like Wall of Earth be a good tool in this vein.  (Completely cutting off LoS in a way that Rolling Fog only wishes it could.)

I think Suppression Orb + Obelisk can go in pretty much any book (except Warlord) if they want to win this matchup badly enough, and it doesn't require changing the rest of the spellbook (unless it's a swarm spellbook, obviously). The other options you suggest would require major surgery to add to most spellbooks, and I think of that more as general strategic metagaming than outright hate.

In practice, the hate I was thinking of was something like

1. (20) Gorgon Archer (4)
2. (14) Suppression orb (6) Hawkeye (3)
3. (13) Mordok's Obelisk (5) Arcane Zap (4)
4. (13) Chain Lightning (1) Arcane Zap (0)

Or the Hawkeye + Chain Lightning could instead be Wizard's Tower + Jet Stream + Voltaric Shield + Voltaric Shield, for example.


Wow, that looks brutal.  I'll have to set up a game and see if I can figure out any way to beat that.  I hadn't really thought about how well Suppression Orb synergizes with archers!  This could even be a case where Hawkeye and Chain Lightning are overkill because Archer + Zap is almost certainly lethal?  I like that this concept gets the Suppression Orb up early, so that the mana costs it is inflicting directly halt development of the swarm's resources.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on August 27, 2014, 09:43:25 AM
I wonder, though, how much mana this Wizard will spend killing 26 mana worth of birds (3 normal + 1 pet), and how much damage they will take from the birds in the meantime?

All of the cards in my post add up to 33 mana. This includes the Enchantments, the Tower, and the Staff. Which are useful through out the game. Once you add in Falcons 5 & 6 that is 38. The Hurl Rock + Zap is 5 mana and only uses one of the Mage's actions and is a very efficient 2 damage dice per mana spent with the Hawkeye buff. The powerful thing about this line of play, is that on my Initiative I can run the Zap, Rock, and Stones all three chained together without giving your Falcons a chance to attack. I would use the Hail of Stones to first to kill any hidden Reverse Attacks and then try to pick off the weakest of the flock with the Rock then the Zap. I think I could kill all 4 birds (with average rolls) in two rounds.

Your mage is the great unknown here, as this would not be happening in a vacuum. So my other action would be left to help prepare a response in that area (mana depending as always).
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: jacksmack on August 27, 2014, 10:05:08 AM
Its easy to come up with counters to a known problem.

But you have no information when preparing cards round 1. I have never seen ANYONE start round 1 with casting a gorgon archer and leaving quickcast untouched.

When preparing round cards in round 2 you usually have some pointers to how your opponent is going to approach this match, but generally there is ALOT of room for both players to change gear still.

End of round 2 or atleast 3 it is usually when you are able to figure out what your opponent is up to.


This is why i enjoy playing the same mage with different spellbook when i play against the same opponents.
Sure, they will see a BM, but will he run Lair swarm or aggro few bigs? Or maybe sit back and meditate while his lair spawns an army of timberwolfs led by redclaw.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 27, 2014, 04:54:35 PM
Yeah, knowledge is a huge weapon in Mage Wars. Hate is a lot easier to apply if you know what to expect and can plan. That's why Aviary is such a brilliant metagame play: powerful questions most people weren't trained or equipped to answer, even if the training and equipment were readily available. It'll be interesting to see if that happens again.

The sort of Wizard that might play Gorgon Archer but nothing else is likely playing a "planA/planB" opening that tries to give the opponent initiative on round 1. The Wizard sees Beastmaster on the other side of the table, and wins the initiative die roll and choses for the Beastmaster to have Initiative on the first round, so that the Beastmaster is forced to attack on his own initiative on round 3, or else wait till round 4.

Then the Wizard picks two creatures, probably Gorgon and Golem/Jelly. Since the Beastmaster has to take his creature activation first, the Wizard gets to see what's coming, and react accordingly. In this case, it'd be Gorgon if he plays Lair, Battle Forge, or Pet Falcon, and Jelly for Steelclaw, Pet Dire, Cervere or Double Move.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: jacksmack on August 27, 2014, 07:15:03 PM
Then the Wizard picks two creatures, probably Gorgon and Golem/Jelly. Since the Beastmaster has to take his creature activation first, the Wizard gets to see what's coming, and react accordingly. In this case, it'd be Gorgon if he plays Lair, Battle Forge, or Pet Falcon, and Jelly for Steelclaw, Pet Dire, Cervere or Double Move.

The wizard will not see if the BM runs few bigs or Lair when its his turn to act.

BM runs to NC and wait with his QC till quickcast phase. It will be a lair or a ring/flower or even a forge.
But you wont get to cast a creature by then.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on August 27, 2014, 09:11:45 PM
Well a more simple plan for a Wizard vs a Beastmaster is to cast a Mana Crystal (or another zone exclusive conjuration) in the NC. That is if the Wizard wins the initiative.

Now a swarm beastmaster strategy is going to be a lot slower.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: BoomFrog on August 28, 2014, 09:35:23 AM
That is probably a good move for any player against a Beastmaster, although you're only disrupting half of the birds, you're still getting hit by a QC pet on round 3.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 28, 2014, 01:02:26 PM
The wizard will not see if the BM runs few bigs or Lair when its his turn to act.

BM runs to NC and wait with his QC till quickcast phase. It will be a lair or a ring/flower or even a forge.
But you wont get to cast a creature by then.

My personal list of possible threats I'd be reacting to in that circumstance is

I think we can pretty safely disregard double move + Mana Crystal from Beastmaster. If BM wants to try to build his economy, that just means Wizard plays turn 2 Tower or Forge 0and turn 3 Gate.
 
Against a 2nd turn Steelclaw, Opening with Jelly (or Golem) is probably the right play. If you start with Gorgon, you're probably locked into Gargoyle Sentry on 2nd turn to try to catch up on ground defense, but if you've got Eagle Wings for the Gorgon you're in good shape after that once you get Wizard's Tower up.

Against nearly all kinds of Lair openings, Gorgon is probably the right play, I think. Weak is good against medium threats, and the damage is good against small ones.

Against Battle Forge I'd suspect that Gorgon is correct, but I can't prove it. You may actually want 1st turn Gate to Voltari instead, here. But if you're playing Watergate or something similar, you're probably not too worried about the Beastmaster trying to solo you. You've got enough Dissolves that you can keep the threat minimal.

So, yes, some kind of scouting of the enemy spellbook is going to be important. In a tournament, that means control gets better as the day goes on and book play-styles are revealed. In casual play or league it just means learning your opponent's spellbooks and habits over time.

Then again, I may have a excessive regard for Gorgon in the current meta. She's no good against Necro, for example, and iffy against Warlock now. But against Beastmaster, I think she's still a tremendous play.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: V10lentray on August 31, 2014, 04:35:08 PM


In practice, the hate I was thinking of was something like

1. (20) Gorgon Archer (4)
2. (14) Suppression orb (6) Hawkeye (3)
3. (13) Mordok's Obelisk (5) Arcane Zap (4)
4. (13) Chain Lightning (1) Arcane Zap (0)


Being there is only one archer in the Core set you would really need to won a lot of cor sets or borrow all of those. Plus, unless you are playing the wizard, Gorgon archer is too expensive to be in any other book (8 points minimum) and you can only have 4 copies of the archer Max in any book.

I've tried to put an archer in many books, she's just too expensive, it's almost not fair.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sdougla2 on August 31, 2014, 04:57:39 PM
That opening was clearly tailored for the Wizard. No one else has Arcane Zap, and it's much more expensive for anyone else to take Gorgon Archer and Chain Lightning. There are other options for other mages, though the Wizard has a particularly strong set of options against swarm.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on August 31, 2014, 08:39:03 PM
I have always loved Gorgon Archer in Beast Master, but yes, it's spendy.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Shad0w on September 01, 2014, 05:34:29 PM
I was questioning the 2 turns you held back in the one top 4 match.
After looking over the game state I can see it was a good line. I just do not know why you moved the 1 falcon in early. 8)

Was it an attempt at baiting the other player?
 
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on September 01, 2014, 05:44:37 PM
@Schwenkgott:
I think a priestress with a temple of asyra, some knights for guard action, valshalla and some clerics would bring you in a world of pain.

For a little while I abandoned the Beastmaster because I had a few bad games against Priestess.  She has one of the better economies (Temple + Cleric), and some very good creatures, including flyers, archers, and guards that can one shot an unbuffed bird.  I've also found a heal at just the right time can be very frustrating in throwing off combat math (much like Etherian Lifetree messes with it).

I think Valshalla might be overkill/too expensive/Banish bait, but I agree the rest of it may be very well positioned.

A Warlord with a fast Crimson with akiros favor could have the same effect: A dead falcon every round.
Sorry, I looked at the Spell Database, and I can't figure it out.  What is Crimson?

@RingKichard:
I'm a bit amused that your PlanA/PlanB called for Ooze vs. double move.  Aviary was always double move, with Lair only revealed on final quickcast.  Obviously, this might not have been what you meant, or could be adapted to with a game of testing, but funny all the same.  ;)  (Good catch jacksmack!)

@Biblofilter & Boomfrog:
Yeah, building a Mana Crystal or Battle Forge at NC/B2 to block the Lair is interesting.  The down side is that it's going to take a bunch of "free" hits from birds as they go from the Lair location to B2 to get in position to attack NG/A1.  However, I think it's generating mana (and tempo in the case of the forge), as well as life, and could be worth it.  Clever tactic, whether it turns out to be good enough or not.

I wonder if it's better to put the Lair at FC/B3 or A3 after that?  (Assuming Beastmaster stats at C4 here.)  I guess probably A3 since A1 is still within 2 moves, and everywhere is within 4 moves.

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on September 01, 2014, 05:49:29 PM
@Shad0w
I was questioning the 2 turns you held back in the one top 4 match.
After looking over the game state I can see it was a good line. I just do not know why you moved the 1 falcon in early. 8)

Was it an attempt at baiting the other player?


Could you be more specific about which match it was, what turn it was, or any more context?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sIKE on September 01, 2014, 06:19:44 PM
Quote
What is Crimson?
He's deutsch but he means Grimson Deadeye, Sniper.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: BoomFrog on September 02, 2014, 09:52:27 AM
@Biblofilter & Boomfrog:
Yeah, building a Mana Crystal or Battle Forge at NC/B2 to block the Lair is interesting.  The down side is that it's going to take a bunch of "free" hits from birds as they go from the Lair location to B2 to get in position to attack NG/A1.  However, I think it's generating mana (and tempo in the case of the forge), as well as life, and could be worth it.  Clever tactic, whether it turns out to be good enough or not.

I wonder if it's better to put the Lair at FC/B3 or A3 after that?  (Assuming Beastmaster stats at C4 here.)  I guess probably A3 since A1 is still within 2 moves, and everywhere is within 4 moves.
If the defender places a zone exclusive conjuration in B2 then that means they moved, probably to B1.  So you place the lair in B3 so their escape routes are symmetrical.  This only works for the defender if they have initiative round 2 and use that to move away.  Of course now you've committed to moving round 1 and 2 so you can't summon any creatures which is probably going to turn out poorly for the defender.  I think this tactic can only work with summoning a spawnpoint in B2, maybe druid placing vinetree or wizard placing a gate in NC?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on September 03, 2014, 07:47:14 AM
With a wizard vs a Beastmaster "the lairblocking play" (putting a cheap configuration in your NC) seems like a good counterstrategy with the goal of keeping the lair three moves away, thereby somewhat counteriing the fast falcons, summoned from the lair in Alexanders deck. That should make the swarm somewhat slower.


Lets say the Wizard moves to B1 and cast a Mana Crystal in B2 and follow up with a Battle Forge in B1. (18+1 mana for round 2)
In turn 2 the Wizard could move 1 out of direct range from the lair, cast 1 equipment, 1 enchanment and a Wizard Tower. If the Beastmaster summon something flying, bind a Jet Stream, which is a serious treat to small flyers.
The Wizard could force push himself out of range and then summon with the full action but the Wizard Tower seems like a better choise.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Shad0w on September 03, 2014, 09:37:33 AM
@Shad0w
I was questioning the 2 turns you held back in the one top 4 match.
After looking over the game state I can see it was a good line. I just do not know why you moved the 1 falcon in early. 8)

Was it an attempt at baiting the other player?


Could you be more specific about which match it was, what turn it was, or any more context?

I can not remember clearly the exact match. The top 8 all blended together. In fact as I type this it may have been when you play your brother. I do think I know why it was to stay out of AOE range so the least advantage could be gained. When you moved the one falcon in I think it was to bait a CL or something.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: BoomFrog on September 03, 2014, 11:15:25 AM
Well it wasn't in his match against me since he knew for a fact that I didn't have any AoE spells in my Forcemaster book.  :)  Probably in his second top 8 match against the air wizard?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on September 03, 2014, 11:22:04 AM
@Shad0w:

Hmm.  There were two times where I ended up holding back and spreading out my falcons in the top 4.  In both situations my opponent had a Suppression Cloak in play, so I couldn't just keep having the birds peck away at their life total.  Instead, I was spreading them out to get good board coverage, and usually having one guard on the opponent's square to Hinder them.  There was also the concern about Firestorm, making this seem like a good division.  (Chain Lightning seems almost impossible to avoid?)

For example, against Nick in the finals there was a point where his Wizard was at A3 with a Suppression Cloak.  I split my birds between B2 and B3 so that if he didn't move they could all get him in A3, but if he did something like teleport + run for it, I had birds that could get him even in C1.

If there was a question about why I didn't attack into the Suppression Cloak when I had around 30 mana, the answer is that I wanted to remove all the defenses on my opponent rather than just pay mana for damage, especially against the heavily armored Fire Mage in the ultimate round.  Though I did have nearly 40 mana at one point, I did spend it all getting his armor back down to 0 and Teleporting his Wizard the last round so that each of my birds could hit for full value (which I think would have been lethal, but he conceded once it was clear he was losing the life tiebreak).
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Wildhorn on January 02, 2015, 07:41:41 PM
I necro this to ask Alexander West how would you have played against a Earth Wizard using a Golem Pit?

I fought tonight using this build:

Pit Pit MoineauxBeastmaster
Attack4 x  Acid Ball1 x  Hurl BoulderConjuration1 x  Rajan's Fury1 x  Lair3 x  Wall of Thorns1 x  Tooth & Nail1 x  Harshforge Monolith1 x  Etherian Lifetree1 x  Renewing SpringCreature6 x  Thunderift Falcon2 x  Timber WolfEnchantment1 x  Rhino Hide2 x  Jinx1 x  Reverse Attack1 x  Brace Yourself2 x  NullifyEquipment1 x  Regrowth Belt1 x  Eagleclaw Boots1 x  Leather Boots1 x  Dancing Scimitar1 x  Leather Gloves1 x  Morning Star1 x  Elemental Cloak1 x  Mage Staff2 x  BearskinIncantation2 x  Teleport1 x  Minor Heal2 x  Force Push4 x  Dispel1 x  Banish4 x  Dissolve1 x  Purge Magic1 x  Seeking Dispel2 x  Purify
Total cost: 120 pts

It won against a Forcemaster an another Aviary BM, but against guarding Golems, if I attacked, I either lost the bird from the counterstrike, or the Wizard's Zap finished it.

The Wizard was not really moveable, he had Nullify on him and a Teleport ready to get back to his pit.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Knabb master on January 03, 2015, 04:31:23 AM
You should use your beastmaster or pet against guards so that as many falcons as possible survive.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on January 03, 2015, 05:00:33 AM
I would try to separate the Mage from his guards and abuse the slow trait of the golems. A Force Push or Jet Stream through a wall will help here. With their fast trait, the falcons can move in after that.

A Tanglevine on the golem or Mongoose Agility on the Falcons can can reduce the guard effectiveness of the golems to 0.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ACG on January 03, 2015, 05:31:11 AM
A Tanglevine on the golem or Mongoose Agility on the Falcons can can reduce the guard effectiveness of the golems to 0.

Mongoose Agility is inefficient, since you don't want to be enchanting swarm creatures. Tanglevine is definitely the way to go.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on January 03, 2015, 05:40:21 AM
Why not enchanting swarm creatures? They cannot be attacked by the golems, only by the mage. And i think the aviary has some ways to keep them alive. I would definitly enchant a falcon pet.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Wildhorn on January 03, 2015, 10:18:15 AM
I would try to separate the Mage from his guards and abuse the slow trait of the golems. A Force Push or Jet Stream through a wall will help here. With their fast trait, the falcons can move in after that.

A Tanglevine on the golem or Mongoose Agility on the Falcons can can reduce the guard effectiveness of the golems to 0.

All spells that I do not have and also, I said the mage is not moveable. It is a fucking Wizard, aka Nullify and ETed Nullify.

Also, Tanglevine is nice vs 1 golem, by 4th turn, he has 3 golems out and a Golem can one shot a tanglevine easy or the Wizard can teleport (he always had one ready) it out of the Tanglevine.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Schwenkgott on January 03, 2015, 10:49:13 AM
I don't consider ETnullify as a valid tactic for advanced play ... but that's another page of a huge book  ;D
If someone gets in your face quickly, you do not have the time to spend 2 actions to block only 1.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Wildhorn on January 03, 2015, 10:57:15 AM
I don't consider ETnullify as a valid tactic for advanced play ... but that's another page of a huge book  ;D
If someone gets in your face quickly, you do not have the time to spend 2 actions to block only 1.

Then you do not play advanced because an ETnullify is the best way to make someone lose valuable mana, an action and a spell in a critical moment.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on January 03, 2015, 12:06:15 PM
Easy guys, no one's credibility or competence is on trial here.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Moonglow on September 19, 2015, 09:27:25 PM
Hi folks, appreciate I'm coming to this thread a little late, but I was curious (and a little confused) about the benefits of deathlock in this book.  It seemed quite counter to the needs of the swarm and seemed a high SB cost.  You could get 4 call of the wild's in for that adding another 24 plus attack dice?

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: ringkichard on September 20, 2015, 03:49:29 PM
I'd guess that it's about action efficiency. Against a Priestess with 2 or more Heal, along with Battle Forge for Armor (& Vet Belt), it's probably more damaging faster to stop the healing than to pump the birds.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: sdougla2 on September 20, 2015, 04:16:54 PM
In addition, using Call of the Wild relies on having a large number of birds out to be efficient. Often your opponent will kill several of your falcons, at which point Call of the Wild starts to look a lot weaker.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on August 30, 2018, 09:05:08 AM
So i was looking to reread this tournament report, cause i was looking into Straywood Beastmaster.

Is this gem lost?

Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: DaveW on August 30, 2018, 04:38:06 PM
So i was looking to reread this tournament report, cause i was looking into Straywood Beastmaster.

Is this gem lost?

Isn't it in the first post in this thread?
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on August 30, 2018, 07:23:26 PM
So i was looking to reread this tournament report, cause i was looking into Straywood Beastmaster.

Is this gem lost?

Isn't it in the first post in this thread?

Im getting this:
"404 - File Not Found

The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable."

Its a shame as i remember that report as very well written, with nice explanations and thoughts for the cards in the spellbook.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: wtcannonjr on August 31, 2018, 06:35:43 AM
Given the challenges that AW seems to have with keeping this website/forums up to date, we may want to start posting folders and copies on the BGG forums.
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Alexander West on September 25, 2018, 12:34:16 PM
As luck would have it, the tournament report lives on in Google documents!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1z-LlYGM2GmgKm2Jnb9wuUUYTMttIkLy5Z13Y0IqVBGA/edit?usp=sharing
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Biblofilter on September 26, 2018, 01:51:40 AM
Amazing :) :) :)
Title: Re: The Straywood Aviary (GenCon 2014 Championship Spellbook)
Post by: Boocheck on September 26, 2018, 12:42:55 PM
This bring back so much memories :)