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Messages - Alexander West

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League / Tournament Play / Re: WBC 2018 Mage Wars Arena Tournament Report
« on: September 25, 2018, 12:42:12 PM »
Oh, wow!  I had been considering coming to WBC, but had no idea Mage Wars was on the table!

Which two days is Mage Wars likely to be scheduled on?

Strategy and Tactics / Re: Arena Axioms 1: Opening Strategies REVISED
« on: September 15, 2014, 06:43:06 PM »

The goal when casting creatures with a spawnpoint is to summon what you need; if your opponent doesn't have much armor (or any) or bigger armored creatures, you don't need large creatures with special abilities; lots of little creatures actually give you more dice than one or two big ones, and are usually not very profitable for your opponent to kill or control outside of zone-targetting cards, or cards that affect the entire arena. To make cards like zone-attacks less attractive for your opponent, avoid clumping most of your creatures into a single zone; stagger them in different zones instead, if possible.  Doing this also ensures that if an opponent attempts to block their movement with a Wall, only a couple of your creatures will lose actions getting around it, not your entire army.

On the other hand, if you see lots of armor and/or big creatures on the other side of the arena, you need to match them with strong, higher-level creatures of your own and/or armor, a defense, or other protection cards like Divine Protection, control cards like Agony to punish high dice or special attacks, and Regrowth on your mage to survive through multiple  fights.

In general I agree that smaller creatures have better return on mana in terms of damage per turn (DPT).  However, there are a few creatures that also have excellent returns in conditional circumstances:
Whirling Spirit - 4 + 50% push = +1.5 near a wall
Goran, Werewolf Pet - 5 + 3 vs. non-moving, injured target when Warlock present
Grizzly Bear - 7 + 1 piercing vs. non-moving
Darkfenne Hydra - 3 + 3 + 3 vs. non-moving
Corrosive Ooze - 5 damage + 1 corrode vs. non-moving
Iron Golem - 6 damage vs. non-moving
Sir Corazin - 4 + 4 vs. non-moving

So, it might be more accurate to say that large creatures are better when you can control your opponent's position?  (At least until they make a large creature with a 1:2 damage to cost ratio that is not limited in this way.)

When it comes to small creatures I think the best two are:
Thunderift Falcon - 3 dice + flying, fast
Blue Gremlin - 3 dice + 1 piercing, defense of 8+, 1 armor, ability to gain fast & teleport

In part they are summonable with a spawnpoint that is not conditional, so you can spam at least one a turn.  Additionally they are very hard to kill for their cost, which lets them fight much bigger creatures without dying quickly.  The other big advantage is their mobility:  with fast and either teleport or flying they can get around the board and apply damage where it is needed.  Walls aren't effective either, which is a big plus.

I think when an opponent armors up to protect themselves from a swarm of smaller creatures it is reasonable to Dissolve or Acid Ball the armor to keep them exposed to the creatures.  When they summon a big creature, it is also possible to swarm the thing to death with small creatures.

My favorite trick lately is boring, but effective:

"Something Between Us"
When an opponent's mage or creature is causing trouble, and you want it gone for a while, how do you get rid of it?  For 8 mana I love to Force Push something, and then put up a Wall of Thorns or Wall of Earth.  The thing is now effectively 3 squares away since it will have to go around the wall.  Sometimes it's worth the extra 3 mana to put them through a Wall of Thorns.  They can walk back through such a wall, but once again it will take their whole action and it won't do anything until the next turn.

I have found it can also work very well if the square in question isn't important to just walk away and throw up a wall between your mage and the square they were just in.  This saves the Force Push and 3 mana.


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).

Spellbook Design and Construction / Re: Common Cards in Winning Spellbooks
« on: September 02, 2014, 10:21:20 PM »
Now I'm wondering what the median numbers are, instead of mean.

Yeah, that's interesting too.  Clearly, some cards are important to a specific play style, so the mean is thrown off by high counts from some constituency or other.  Obviously, at some level every card choice is contextual, but still the median might be very revealing.  I'm not going to go back and do it, but based on my notes can make a close approximation.  (When the median is 0 or 1, I "round" up):
1 Geyser
3 level 1 attack spells
2 level 2 attack spells

1 Battle Forge
1 Mana Crystal
1 Mordiok's Obelisk

1 Devouring Jelly

1 Enfeeble
1 Jinx
1 Magebane
2 Nullify

2 torso armor
1 Elemental Cloak
1 Leather Boots
1 Leather Gloves
1 Regrowth Belt

3 Dispel
3 Dissolve
1 Force Push
1 Purge Magic
1 Purify
1 Seeking Dispel
2 Teleport

Wow.  Of all the methodologies, this definitely produces the list that most captures the "consensus" good cards.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Re: Common Cards in Winning Spellbooks
« on: September 02, 2014, 08:02:28 PM »
I am editing the original post to include the Top 8.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Common Cards in Winning Spellbooks
« on: September 02, 2014, 06:08:17 PM »
Since Shad0w has helpfully posted the top books from GenCon 2014, I thought it would be interesting to look at the spells the top 4 books had in common.  (I remember way back there was a topic of common spells that all books should have, and I thought this was an interesting way of examining the question.)

The following are spells found in all 4 books:
1x Geyser
1x big attack (Hurl Boulder/Fireball)
1x spawnpoint (Lair/ Battle Forge/ Wizard's Tower/ Gate to Voltari)
1x torso armor (Bearskin/ Dragonscale Hauberk/ Stormdrake Hide)
1x Leather Boots
2x Dispel
1x Seeking Dispel
2x Dissolve (& +1 Dissolve or Acid Ball)
2x Teleport
2x healing sources

I think it's safe to say every book should 100% have those.  (Though possibly Teleports could be Force Pushes?)  It seemed to me a few cards that are very good got skipped because one person did something unusual.  So, I tallied all copies between the spellbooks to find a ratio per book:

1.75 Acid Ball
1.25 Geyser
3.50 level 1 attack spell (Arc Lightning / Jet Stream / Hurl Rock / Flameblast / Surging Wave)
2.75 level 2 attack spell (Fireball / Hurl Boulder / Lightning Bolt / Thunder Bolt)

1.25 Mana Crystal
0.75 Mordiok's Obelisk
2.50 spawnpoint
1.25 wall

2.25 level 1 creature
1.00 level 2 creature
1.25 level 3 creature

0.75 Harmonize
0.75 Hawkeye
2.00 Nullify
1.00 Rhino Hide

2.00 torso armor
1.00 Elemental Cloak
1.25 Elemental Wand
1.00 Leather Boots
0.75 Leather Gloves
1.25 Mage Wand
1.25 Suppression Cloak

3.75 Dispel
3.75 Dissolve
1.25 Force Push
0.75 Minor Heal
0.75 Purge Magic
0.75 Purify
2.00 Seeking Dispel
2.25 Teleport

1.75 passive healing (Renewing Spring / Regrowth / Regrowth Belt / Sunfire Amulet / Wand of Healing)

I think some of the counts are skewed heavily by having 3 Wizards in the top 4 (attack spells, conjurations, and enchantments), but that in other areas the card counts seem like a very good general rule of thumb (equipment, incantations).

I hope this was interesting for everyone!


Some people asked for a report on the Top 8, so I'm adding it below.

Spells appearing in 100% of top 8 spellbooks:

1x big attack (Hurl Boulder/Fireball/Force Hammer)
1x spawnpoint
1x torso armor
2x Dispel
2x Dissolve
1x Teleport
2x healing sources

Ratios of popular spells to Top 8 books:
1.25 Acid Ball
2.37 level 1 attack (not including acid ball)
2.00 level 2 attack

1.25 Battle Forge
2.37 mana manipulation (5 Mana Crystal, 1 Mana Siphon, 5 Mordiok's Obelisk, 3 Harmonize, 6 rings, 1 Psi-Orb)
1.00 spawnpoint (1 Gate to Voltari , 1 Lair, 1 Libro Morous, 5 Wizard's Tower)
1.25 wall

1.12 level 1 creature
1.62 level 2 creature
1.37 level 3 creature

1.87 Nullify

0.87 Leather Boots
1.75 torso armor
2.25 sources of healing (Drain Life, Healing Spring, Wand of Healing, Regrowth, Regrowth Belt, Minor Heal, Sunfire Amulet)

3.25 Dispel
3.37 Dissolve + Explode (25 Dissolve, 2 Explode)
1.50 Force Push
1.62 Seeking Dispel
2.12 Teleport

Hmm, pretty interesting!  Good idea Wildhorn.

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 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?

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.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Re: Blood Demon Aggro
« on: August 31, 2014, 01:01:13 PM »
I chose the Warlock since, as I believe and you describe, he has the best base resilience out of all the mages, which obviously suits him to the role.  I did actually heavily consider a Battleforge for most iterations of the build, but at the last moment I took it out to focus more on curses and buffs, as most equipment is efficient in terms of armor and defense, but not in terms of more dice and attack.

The Warlock starts as the second most resilient mage (34 health with Blood Reaper providing regen), and as such is both well suited to very aggressive play where he tries to trade life as quickly as possible, or a very long game where he tries to leverage his reaper/lifegain over as many turns as possible.  The choices a player makes with his mana investment changes what kind of game it is best to play for with the mage.

By spending 36 mana on 3 Blood Demons, we're choosing to give this book a very powerful long game, at the cost of losing out on the ability to be maximally aggressive.  Provided they survive (and they usually should, between Flying and Vampirism they are very very hard to put down), they should deal with most threats eventually.  To me, this means that preserving your mage will often become the crux of a match. 

Imagine this book was playing against a super-aggressive spellbook like Andrew/Boomfrog's Forcemaster from GenCon.  By turn 3 the Forcemaster is in your Warlock's face double-striking with Galvitar, chopping with a Dancing Scimitar, and powered up by Gauntlets of Strength and Bear Strength.  The Warlock is going to need some armor, walls, guards to stop this 14 dice/round onslaught.  (There are other aggressive variants, but the common theme is that they can kill you by turn 4 or 5 if you don't start getting defenses together.)  Having a chest piece is good (I'm not sure if it's good, but the damage barrier is certainly a cool interaction with bloodthirst), but I think you really need the other pieces of armor (boots, gloves, rhino hide) to soak heavy hits.  Your ability to heal 2 off your blood reaper is also much stronger with more armor, since each health point is effectively multiplied by how hard it is to lose them.

I guess what I'm saying is that though you're looking to maximize damage dice for your demons (both to kill faster and keep them topped off on life), you might be more in the market to maximize defense on your mage.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Re: Blood Demon Aggro
« on: August 30, 2014, 09:11:27 PM »
I really like the first Blood Demon as a Blood Reaper.  12 mana and 4 life to get a 6 dice attack (with Bloodthirsty) on a mobile and difficult to kill mid creature is nice.  The 2 life gain each time it deals damage puts your Warlock in a nice position to race vs. other aggressive plans.

 The subsequent copies of Blood Demon are a bit inefficient, they take a longer time for their mana cost to be paid off in damage.  If your book is going to go this long, you're going to need a Battleforge and defenses for your mage to turn it into more of a survival game.

I personally would want to go in on curses and fire spells after the first demon, and mostly make it a race that you should win due to your effective +2 life regen over your opponent?

Events / Re: Mage Wars Tournament @ GenCon Indy 2014
« on: August 29, 2014, 12:08:22 AM »
Can anyone provide some insight as to why these books have multiple Battleforges?  I have long been under the impression that the action advantage is very useful early game when equipping up, but the later in the game the less equipment you have left to put on, and the fewer turns there will be for the forge to repay the mana you've invested.

Also, Shad0w, thanks for putting these up and I hope you feel better soon!

Events / Re: Mage Wars Tournament @ GenCon Indy 2014
« on: August 27, 2014, 09:03:59 AM »
So... um... is Shad0w like ... dead?   :'(

Spellbook Design and Construction / Re: Tool Shed Air Wizard
« on: August 27, 2014, 12:30:34 AM »
Thanks for sharing your book and tactics, it was an interesting read!

I really like that you have a flexible plan supported by not just a toolbox of spells, but also a toolbox of creatures.  Blue Gremlins are excellent, and I am glad to see you've found good uses for them.  :)

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