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Mage Wars => Mages => Topic started by: silverclawgrizzly on April 13, 2017, 01:13:09 PM

Title: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on April 13, 2017, 01:13:09 PM
Thought I'd do a write up on my favorite mage, been meaning to for a few weeks now but time and all. Anyway here is my look at the Straywood Beastmaster and why he continues to be my mage of choice. I'm going to basically go into his strengths, weaknesses, and strategies.

Training: So this mage is trained in Nature, which I consider to be the most flexible of schools and I'll get to that more in a bit. The thing a lot of people overlook though is he pays triple for Fire, to which I reply "So?" Other than the Battle Forge there's nothing in the Fire School a Beastmaster could want that can't be found elsewhere. Attack spell damage he can get from Earth and a damage barrier he can get from Air or Holy. Even the DoT from Burns can be found in Dark if he wants. Sure the Wizard and Siren have no triple cost but the Beastmaster might as well.

Mage Abilities:

Quick Summoning: Right off the bat you get what he's most know for. This is the first thing that really marks his flexibility. He can summon two creatures a turn without need of a spawn point. No other mage does that. Also unlike every other mage he can take a step and then summon a creature. The combos this allows are obvious. His most iconic Level 1 is obviously the Falcon but that's not to say it's his only good one. I'll go into Equipment and Creatures more but it's very easy for a Beast Master to step up, and summon a guarding creature into his zone given very little prep. Also he's the only mage who can summon something you'd rather not deal with during Final Quick Cast, giving you a nice weapon next turn if it's your initiative your opponent has 1 chance to avoid.

Pet: Oh man there are endless Pet threads. What do you Pet? My favorite Pet is a Timberwolf but that's just me. Given the insane variety of his creature a Beastmasters Pet ability is his second great versatility tool. You can go all in with a huge pet that'll waste valuable enemy resources to deal with, or you can turn a low to medium level threat into a real problem. Remember Pet is basically a free Bear Strength when it's in your zone. That turns even 3 dice creatures into Knights of Westlock levels of pain. Yes Pets die but it's reusable so it's a mixed dice at best killing a Pet. Your opponent has to be wondering what you'll Pet every game. That uncertainty can only help you.

Battle Skill: People over look this. People are fools. The Beastmaster is a brawler. With 36 life a 4 dice swing, and easy access to good armor he's meant to beat people down. Stepping into his square is always a risky proposition. He hits as hard as a Warlord or Warlock with his bare hands.

Attacks: And here's where we run into the one school where the Beastmaster has issues. Every single attack spell in a Beastmasters book is in there for a reason. He's not trained in a single one, not even partially. Only the Necromancer gets it like this and at least he gets  a partial discount on Devils Trident. However a Beastmaster isn't tied to any particular school and as he only pays triple for Fire he's free to pick and choose any attack spells he wants. He's not stuffing in more than he should just cause he gets a discount. The one thing he can do easier than another mage is afford Hawkeye to give his limited attacks a punch at least. The other downside is his attacks are probably one and done as Elemental Wands aren't cheap spell point wise.

Conjurations: Ok this is where people tend to gloss over the Beastmaster and make a huge mistake. Nature is one of only two schools with an at cost mana raising Conjuration. It possesses the single best tie up in the game with Tanglevine(go ahead and Teleport. I promise I can waste every one of your Teleports with my vines.) The Beast Master has the strongest spawn point in terms of armor, life, and mana generation without tricks. That his low level creatures are so cheap combined with his 2 mana a turn Lair means he can spit them out fast even with the steep buy into with the Lair. His totems provide arena wide bonuses in two cases and make him increasingly nastier in the third. His terrain protects him and his creatures, it's purely defensive and does it in three ways counting the hindering effect(which his creatures are immune to.) He can even lay hands on cheap little free attacking conjurations such as Corrosive Orchid if he wants. Yes it's mainly a Druid staple but it's also a great surprise for a Beastmaster that has you tied down. His walls should also be mentioned in that Wall of Thorns is such a cheap cliche way of putting the hurt on the unwary you have nobody to blame but yourself if you get caught with it. Bloodspine Wall is underrated in my view as well.

Creatures: Okey dokey shall we? Nature has easily the most diverse and versatile creatures in the game. On any conversation of "best creature for the mana" you're going to get 2-3 animals in any debate. There isn't a Level 1 in the game that can compete with a Thunderift Falcon and the Timberwolf is the standard for Level 2 effectiveness. A lot of the creatures are for solving problems or filling needs. Guards? You've got three good cats for that now. Need high damage? You've got bears, rhinos, and  access to the best buffs in the game. High armor? You literally have acid shooting dinosaurs for this problem. Try em they work. The sheer range of good Level 1-4 creatures you have access to is ridiculous. Even old standards like Feral Bobcats are still viable while newer threats like Darkfenne Asps let you get into games normally reserved for Dark. His Level 4 guys like the Grizzle, Cervere, Kralathor, and Slavorg are all famous for just how much they define effectiveness. His Level 3 threats like the Kumajaro Leopard and Rajah are better than anyone gives them credit for because they're sneaker threats. His familiar is an immediate hate magnet making the opponent react to you. Of course he swarms better than anyone not running a zombie Necromancer(and that's a tie really.)

Enchantment: And you thought his creatures were diverse. Nature is the school of buffs obviously with Bear Strength, Rhino Hide, and Regrowth being staples since Day 1 of Mage Wars. But it's also the school of utility with Fast, Unavoidable, Charge +X, and FLYING all within easy reach for the Beastmaster. Holy crap I can make my guys fly and you can't as easily! Don't overlook his ability to debuff however with Tangleroot, it's scary how effective this little card can be. Beastmasters pay triple for a grand total of I think 2 Enchantments, neither of which he has any business running anyway. That means he can easily dip into War, Dark and Holy for stronger debuffs and advantages he can't naturally get like Aegis. No swarm book should go without Marked for Death. He actively gets more out of dipping out of school than anyone else I think because most mages when they go out of school for Enchantments are getting stuff he already has. Combined with an Enchanters Ring and Fellela he can get out a lot of Enchantments fast and cheap. Not enough people Dispel buffs and even if they do he probably has spares of the good stuff.

Equipment: Another area people gloss over because they aren't paying attention. He invented the passive healing game with the Regrowth Belt and even changed it up with Wychwood Ironvine. He finally got probably the best of the elemental reducing chest pieces with Chitin Armor, and he pays cost for the leather gear like everyone else. Interestingly he now has a piece of gear in the Packleader Cowl that both gives him armor and a defender if he desires. That's protection there! He's got options for his melee weapon and if you're staying in school I suggest the Hunting Spear for the piercing and option of range though it's not like it kills him to go out of school for a Mage Staff. Beastmaster doesn't worry about Force Push builds much thanks to his boots. He also has two nice discount rings for creatures and enchantments. For the Beastmaster most of his gear not only has a purpose but generally more than one. Armor and healing, Unmoveable and Climbing, Melee and range attacks. His doubling up here is a real strength and while he doesn't typically need a Battle Forge to get his stuff on he's got options a plenty.

Incantations: Another school where he lacks. So lets start with the two spells he does have. Rouse the Beast is a game changer when timed right. Counting your enemies actions and ability to hurt you is basic common sense we all do without thinking about it. Throwing a wild element in there screws up your math no doubt. Other mages can cast this but the Beastmaster can do it twice as much. You do this well, do it often then. While Call of the Wild isn't that popular it can be nice extra 3-6 dice of damage at turn depending on how you're swarming. If you haven't had time for totem placing it can get you a quick damage boost when needed. Now in terms of utility spells I'll say this, only one mage doesn't pay double for Dispel and only two don't for Dissolve. Everyone else is paying double or triple as well. He pays triple for Explode and He's neither killing it or hurting too badly here. He can afford some healing and some board placement in terms of Teleport and Force Pushes. The list of utility Incantations is so diverse everyones paying double or triple for something needed so he's not hurting too bad here.

Going out of school: Every mage does this. Beastmaster is no exception and his options are wide open honestly. He does very well dipping into both Dark and Holy as mentioned earlier but a smattering of Mind can help him with placement and protection of his creatures. Attacks are where he has to go out of school so stick with staples like Earth and Water, only go for Force Hammers if you have no other Ethereal. Avoid Holy and Air attack spells unless you have a very good use for them, though the case could be made for a Luminous Blast. Mainly though you'll go out of school for your utility Incantations, a few select Enchantments and maybe an equipment if you want.

Strategies: I'm not going to go into a "what do you do when this...." bit but here are your basic Straywood tactics that work well.

Swarm: I feel silly even mentioning it as it's so obvious. But it's true you can get out more creatures faster than anyone else and your little guys are amazing. The basic cures for swarm are easily dealt with and even the more advanced tricks can be worked around. Rajans Fury plus pretty much everything you have creature wise is great. Pulling out falcons is obvious but don't forget Cervere gets the same benefit and it makes running from your Pet a risky proposition. Use your Tanglevines to tie down guards and focus solely on the mage. Every mage has a break point as to how much they can take so just keep pouring on the hate with more guys on the board. Destroy Idol of Pestilence immediately with Force Hammer or hard creature strikes. Mix in heavy hitters so they can't focus solely on your weenies.

Posse: Never go buddy, just get 2-4 big bruisers and hurt people. Get the pain bringers like your grizzly, rhino, and gorilla. Don't overlook the gorilla it works. Hand out buffs like they were going out of style and advance quickly. If you want to prep you can cast your familiar to act as "cheerleader" handing out blessings from behind the lines. Cervere makes for a good choice here too as he forces opponents to rely on tricks other than just guarding. Otherwise your big bruisers can probably beat down any guard in the game. Nothing survives two grizzlies for long :) Be careful with your mana and watch what the enemy is doing as this is a tricky route.

Super Mage: Nobody buffs better or faster than a Nature Mage. With your built in Melee +1 you're already a step ahead of the game. Do not however think you're doing this solo. I mean yeah sure you could but you're losing to Araxian Warlocks and Force Masters. Best to get out some cheap to mid range guys and use Animal Kinship as well as you're Enchantments and Equipment. Best thing about Darkfenne Asp giving you Armor+1 from totems is you can replace it with a quick cast. Same with the Wychwood Hound giving you Melee +1 and the cat giving you Elusive...or the baby bear making you Tough get where I'm going with this? You can already swing 8 attack dice by Turn 2 if you want and that's going to make any enemy take notice. Bear Strength and Wolf Ferocity then the melee weapon of your choice. If you go with the spear you're only swinging 7 but you do have Piercing +3....that'll open any tin can you want. You can spam Brace Yourself on yourself at 1 mana a shot with your ring, that's 1 mana for 4 armor for the turn! Who doesn't do that?

Anyway that's my write up for my favorite mage. I left some things out due to time but maybe I'll be able to answer your questions in comments.
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: farkas1 on April 13, 2017, 02:13:32 PM
Love the write up Griz.
Thanks for the write up.
my number one Mage is still the Straywood and you basically nailed every aspect of each spell type.   Yea I throw tanglevines in my other builds, it's funny how surprised opponents are when I cast tanglevine while I'm playing an out of school Mage.

 I think the only thing that could be talked about is the mountain ram.  Love this conjuration killer and how cheap he is.  Throwing on piercing strike or a totem to get the piercing.  Put pet on him and this goat is a BEAST.  Talk about Cevere hate he gets focused down if he is a pet.  Love the Straywood I need to run him more. 
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on April 13, 2017, 02:16:16 PM
Love the write up Griz.
Thanks for the write up.
my number one Mage is still the Straywood and you basically nailed every aspect of each spell type.   Yea I throw tanglevines in my other builds, it's funny how surprised opponents are when I cast tanglevine while I'm playing an out of school Mage.

 I think the only thing that could be talked about is the mountain ram.  Love this conjuration killer and how cheap he is.  Throwing on piercing strike or a totem to get the piercing.  Put pet on him and this goat is a BEAST.  Talk about Cevere hate he gets focused down if he is a pet.  Love the Straywood I need to run him more.

You know I honestly should have mentioned the ram, it'd have tied in with my theme of multiple benefits from one spell. Charge AND Push you're 100% right. Long as this write up was though I guess I was bound to miss some points, thanks for bringing it up, solid creature.
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: Reddicediaries on April 13, 2017, 02:20:05 PM
Very informative!
You certainly make a good case for straywood being a top tier mage.
PS: Not sure about BM vs druid though. ;)
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: farkas1 on April 13, 2017, 02:22:06 PM
That's ok Griz, I think we both could write a 20 page thesis about the Straywood and specific
Nature school spells.  ;D

Again great job, I couldn't of said it any better.
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: iNano78 on April 13, 2017, 03:08:01 PM
Great write-up!

I think the only card that could have also been mentioned is Wychwood Faeire. She's basically both an Enchanter's Ring and Ring of Beasts on a stick, and she stacks with either ring for double the benefit. I find opponents rarely consider her worth attacking (even though a Flameblast would almost certainly take her out), and yet she almost certainly pays for herself over the course of a match (including adding a benefit on the round she is summoned), plus is able to take 1-die pot-shots at various targets. I've really found her to be an MVP in some matches, especially in Domination where she can also tag orbs for you, saving you actions as well as passively saving you mana. Much better than a Meditating Monk, for instance, who must use his (full) action to net you the mana benefit.
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on April 13, 2017, 03:16:37 PM
Yeah the fairy is another unfortunate exclusion. There's just a ton of nature creatures I couldn't add them all but it's a solid strategy.
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: RomeoXero on April 13, 2017, 03:18:52 PM
 Alright griz, you and I are gonna have to have it out. Nature vs nature, your "Straywood of many things", my "Angry dryad Druid". See what mage really does nature better ;) (im aware that i must either attend gencon or go to Charlotte to do this, winner how ill make it happen)
Title: Re: Straywood Beastmaster.
Post by: silverclawgrizzly on April 13, 2017, 03:57:12 PM
Oh somebody challenged to a match at Gen Con, today must be Thursday  ;D If you make it to Gen Con I'll buy your tournament entry. Come to a Charlotte convention in June or November and I'll arrange crash space on me.