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Topics - reddawn

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Custom Cards / Card Idea
« on: April 18, 2013, 09:08:37 PM »
Moloch's Herald - Creature: Demon, Gargoyle

Cost: 14

School: Dark (Level 2), Earth (Level 1)

Armor: 4

Health: 11

Quick Action Melee Attack (Poisonous): 3 Attack Dice, Effect Die = 7+ Rot

Traits: Slow, Tough -2, Melee +1 vs Cursed Creatures

I'd be interested in seeing more support for slower Warlock  "damage over time" builds.  Gargoyles could be a good fit, since they're the kind of sturdy, lumbering, pestilent creatures those more curse-oriented warlocks would probably use.  Not sure about the balance of everything, but you get the idea.

Strategy and Tactics / Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: March 30, 2013, 11:54:51 AM »
While there has been some "in general" discussions about the different book (deck) archetypes, I'd like to delve deeper into what makes each strategy tick in MW.  This is the first of a series of articles I plan to release and refine as my experience with the game becomes stronger.  Mage Wars has a lot to offer strategically and tactically in terms of book construction and actual play, but with that kind of depth comes a steep learning curve; my goal here is to attempt to make the learning process faster and more coherent for players who want to get into the finer points of competitive play.  That being said, this is a work in progress, but my hope is by releasing it to the community, we can create the kind of strategic foundation Mage Wars deserves.

Let's start with the arguably the most straightforward archetype; Aggro.  

The goal of an aggro book is to kill the opposing mage as quickly and efficiently as possible.  In an aggro (aggressive) book, you aren't looking to build a large mana advantage that you can leverage later in the game for lots of huge creatures or other expensive spells; you want to end the game as early as you can and, when possible, prevent your opponent from building up any kind of lasting advantage.  Your goal is to keep the game in its early stages, where your book's density of efficient creatures and spells can overwhelm your opponent.

An aggro deck should empty its initial starting mana very quickly in order to put pressure on its opponent as fast as possible.  The most efficient way to do this is by initially summoning very powerful threats then supporting them over the course of the game with smaller ones; here's some typical aggro opening for each mage:


-Turn 1 Enchanter's Ring/Ring of Curses + move twice (17 mana), Turn 2 Adramelech, Lord of Fire + Nullify on the Lord (0-1 mana)

-Turn 1 Goran, Werewolf Pet (4 mana), Turn 2 Dark Pact Slayer (Bloodreaper) (0 mana)


-Turn 1 Brogan Bloodstone (5 mana), Turn 2 Highland Unicorn + Divine Protection (0 mana)  

-Turn 1 Asyran Defender + Crown of Protection (11 mana), Turn 2 Valshalla, Lightning Angel (0 mana)

-Turn 1 Hand of Bim-Shalla, move twice, Turn 2 Samandriel, Angel of Light + Crown of Protection


-Turn 1 Ring of Beasts + Thunderift Falcon (12 mana), Turn 2 Steelclaw Grizzly (Pet) (0 mana)

-Turn 1 Ring of Beasts + Redclaw Alpha Male (2 mana), Turn 2 Timber Wolf (Pet) (0 mana), Turn 3 Bitterwood Fox + Bitterwood Fox (0 mana)


-Turn 1 Sir Corazin (3 mana), Turn 2 Garrison Post + Orc Butcher (0 mana)

-Turn 1 Dwarf Kriegsbiel (8 mana), Turn 2 Thorg, Chief Bodyguard (0 mana)


-Turn 1 Force Ring +Invisible Stalker (3 mana), Turn 2 Dancing Scimitar + Psi Orb (1 mana)


-Turn 1 Darkfenne Hydra + Enchanter's Ring (2 mana), Turn 2 Cheetah Speed on Hydra + Reveal Cheetah Speed + Blue Gremlin (1 mana)

As you can tell, the goal is to get as much board presence possible within the shortest amount of actions.  This is why we use very large creatures at first; it gives us that powerful start that really defines an aggro book.

Okay, so you have some haymaker guys out!  Chances are, however, your opponent isn't just sitting there...you need ways to make sure each of your guys really hits hard and protect them as well.  Here are some keywords a good aggro book should be on the look out for in order to augment their starting forces for success:

Melee +X: The main way you'll be increasing your effectiveness in battle in aggressive books is through increasing the power of you and/or your creatures' melee attacks.  There are a lot of effects that give the Melee +X bonus and in varying ways, which are too numerous to list here, but I can suggest a general rule when it comes to buffing friendly creatures; for more expensive creatures and your own mage, use persistent effects like enchantments (Bear Strength being the "go-to" choice) and equipment (each mage has a respective weapon or two), while I suggest using temporary effects like incantations for cheaper creatures, such as the various "command" subtype of War incantation spells like Power Strike, Piercing Strike or Call of the Wild (for the Beastmaster), etc.  The reasoning behind this is simple; bigger creatures last longer, so the additional investment for the enchantments/equipments will usually pay off while smaller creatures don't survive as long, so a 2-3 mana buff for a turn will usually suffice.

This isn't to say it's necessarily a bad idea to give a big creature a temporary buff; a Whirling Strike at the right moment, for example, can be extremely powerful when used on something like a Steelclaw Grizzly or Dark Pact Slayer, or even your mage.  In general, however, you want to save your long-lasting or more powerful effects for your larger creatures, and support your smaller ones with shorter effects.

Piercing +X: Armor is one of the main enemies of an aggro book; understandably, it's a very straightforward way of mitigating damage, since it requires the attacker to roll critical damage to be effective.  The best way for aggro to approach dealing with armor is to use creatures that naturally have piercing, such as a Dark Pact Slayer or Malacoda (Warlock), Blue Gremlin (Wizard), Brogan Bloodstone (Priestess), Steelclaw Grizzly (Beastmaster), etc.  Alternatively, if your book has the correct support, your mage can use other spelltypes; conjurations like Tooth and Nail (Beastmaster), Sacrificial Altar (Warlock), equipment like Sectarus, Dark Rune Sword (Warlock), or incantations like Piercing Strike and Vampiric Strike in particular all help towards getting around armor and remaining aggressive.

Unavoidable: Defenses are a good way to make aggro books lose actions; put frankly, you don't want to have to deal with a ~50% chance to miss every round.  If you suspect enchantments like Block or Reverse Attack or Cobra Reflexes, or you're simply battling defensive powerhouses like Knight of Westlock and others that have a natural defense, back up your attacks with cards like Falcon Precision, Perfect Strike, or Sniper Shot.  This way, even if the hidden enchantment on your target is a Decoy, you're not losing potential attacks and attack spells and at worst, your opponent spent an action and a card to make you spend an action and a card (Decoy for Falcon Precision, etc).  There are very few spells that can stop an unavoidable attack cold (Helm of Fear and Forcefield are the only two I believe), so they're usually a safe bet is you suspect Arcane or Mind school trickery.

Elusive: Now we come to an aggro book's other main concern; guards.  Guards prevent you from getting to key conjurations or creatures you need to destroy in a zone, most prominently the opposing mage.  Elusive creatures or spells that give the Elusive trait, such as Mongoose Agility or Evade are great ways to ignore guards and get your actions and attacks where they need to be.  Elusive also prevents hindering, so you're much freer to move around the board as you choose.  I personally like Cervere, Forest Shadow when playing Beastmaster, since he is Elusive, has a nice defense, and is Fast, which leads us to our next keyword.

Fast: A creature with the Fast trait has the ability to take two move actions then take another non-move quick action.  Most of the time, you'll use this quick action as a quick attack.  What this means is that your Fast creature will be able to move two zones and attack, making it very difficult to escape from it due to how hindering works (when applicable).  Now, fast creatures themselves can still be hindered as normal (unless they're Elusive, like Cervere), which could very well end a creature's movement prematurely, so you'll still have to be wary of opposing creatures or conjurations like Mangler Caltrops that are tactically placed...but overall, the Fast trait is a great boon.

Flying: Dedicated aggro books should try to compliment their ground forces with a couple cheap flying options, like the Darkfenne Bat or Thunderift Falcon.  While they aren't pound-for-pound as cost effective as say a Firebrand Imp, Goblin Grunt, or Feral Bobcat in terms of dice and/or health, they're difficult to profitably interact with.  Used correctly, your opponent will have to spend more mana than he or she would like summoning creatures with ranged attacks, casting equipment with reach or range, or their own flying creatures.  This is important because it helps you force your opponent to play on your terms and keep them from casting things that they could need to help further their own strategy, like mana conjurations and such.

Summoning a flier or two also helps "test the waters" against a book you don't really know much about.  If you cast a flier and your opponent doesn't respond soon with something that addresses it, like a Goblin Slinger or other relatively expensive commitment, that could be a good sign his or her book is not prepared for a flying rush, and thus a good opportunity for you to press the advantage with more fliers, and possibly earn you an earlier win or concession.

Multiple Strikes: Creatures with Doublestrike or Triplestrike not only roll a lot of dice on a target, but with how combat works, can ensure that those creatures get damage on something even if it has a defense.  This is due to the fact that only a single defense can be used per strike, but multiple strikes can still occur.  What this means is that creatures like Goran, Werewolf Pet, Darkfenne Hydra, Ludwig Boltstorm, and other with multiple strikes don't have to worry about their entire attack getting avoided, even  without making that attack unavoidable.    

Sweeping: While not very common, the Sweeping trait is yet another ability that lets you get around guards--this time, by removing them through attacking.  This is because (for those unaware) a creature loses its guard marker after it is attacked.  While often a good defensive trait as well since it addresses multiple attackers, sweeping also works as an offensive trait if you're dealing with multiple guards, since it gives you two attacks for the price of one (usually, as a full action) which translates into removing two guard markers.  This frees up your other creatures or mage to strike at vulnerable creatures or objects.  Creatures with attacks that have the Sweeping trait include Adramelech, Lord of Fire, Dwarf Kriegsbiel, Selesius, the East Wind, etc.  There are also other cards like the Warlord's hammer that give Sweeping to his attack, as well as Whirling Strike, which is kind of like an even better version of sweeping for a price.

As a side note, be sure to support your creature or creatures with Sweeping attacks.  Creatures with this trait are generally very expensive and while they usually have lots of armor and health, if you plan on using Sweeping aggressively against guards and not just conjurations, you should make sure to heal them liberally, or perhaps give them their melee attacks the Vampiric trait so they can heal while they do their job, leading us to...

Vampiric:  The Vampiric trait ties in most of what we discussed previously, because its effectiveness, how much you heal, is based on how much damage your mage and/or creatures are dealing and thus how aggressive you are.  Spells like Vampirism, Vampiric Strike, and the Warlock's Bloodreaper ability depend on you being very dedicated to dealing a lot of damage to your opponent in melee each round, as you only heal 1 point of damage per 2 points of melee damage, though dice results are rounded up.  Whereas most middle-of-the-road or control books will rely on straightforward healing spells that heal for a set amount per card, truly aggressive books that invest heavily into increasing their dice count are rewarded with the ability to continually heal off of a single Vampiric effect rather than need multiple healing cards over the course of the game.  The Vampiric trait also allows aggressive books to keep momentum, making it difficult to remove their threats as they heal over and over, all while attacking.

Elemental Attacks/Spells: Though each elemental school has its uses for attacking in general (not so much water at the moment, that will come in the next expansion), the main elements you will be looking to include in an aggro book are Fire and the Lightning subclass of Air attack spells.  First, Fire provides you with pure damage; Fire spells roll the most dice for their cost and have a chance to roll even more damage later through burns.  Fire attacks should be your go-to against vulnerable targets and your preferred way of dealing as much damage as possible to the enemy mage.  Lightning attacks serve a separate purpose; unlike fire spells, they allow you to interact with ethereal things, which are often problematic for the focused goal of the aggro book.  Lightning attacks also tend to have bonuses against heavily armored creatures like knights or dwarves or the Iron Golem.  Lightning can also inflict Daze, making later Fire or melee attacks have a higher chance to hit against a defense.  Finally, this combination of schools gives an aggro book the highest density of efficient, unavoidable attack spells; you won't have to invest nearly as much time or resources making sure your attacks actually go through defenses, because most of the time it's guaranteed.

Counterspells: Competent opponents will know how to defend against an aggro book and with how focused aggro books are on the early game, losing any momentum at all can prevent you from finishing off the opposing mage when you really need to.  Spells like Nullify, Jinx, Block and Mind Shield can be integral to preserving your early game dominance, preventing the opposing mage from destroying key equipment, enchantments, mortally wounding important creatures, or using powerful psychic spells like Sleep, Mind Control or Charm to make you waste actions or worse, render your mage or key creatures ineffective.  They're very cost-effective ways to ensure you start the game strong and I recommend that you cast one or two during the very beginning rounds of the game when you're summoning your initial retinue of creatures, equipment, and enchantments.      

Other Considerations:

Rings: Every mage needs a way to cast their spells easier, but aggro decks can't really afford to be dropping Mana Crystals and Mana Flowers at expensive prices, or potentially waste time and resources protecting the zones they're cast in.  These conjurations provide a general boost in channeling, which is not something a very focused book-type like Aggro really needs.  Rings are much more preferable; while narrower in the scope of what they help you cast, they are far cheaper and get the job done just as well for the purposes of aggression.  Examples include Ring of Beasts, Ring of Curses, Force Ring, Ring of Command, etc.

On this same note, it is very important that for your aggro books, you are keeping the mana cost of your spells as low as possible because of how fast you burn through your initial mana.  In general, very expensive spells are the meant more for control books, wherein it makes sense to use a more expensive spell that might have more range, maybe an extra interesting effect, something that affects an entire zone, etc because you are not burning through your initial extra mana nearly as quickly.  As a rule, I heavily restrict the amount of spells I put into my aggro books that have a mana cost that exceeds my mage's initial channeling.  Aggro books simply cannot afford to keep casting successive expensive spells.  

For example, if you have a choice between including in your book a Ring of Fire (9 mana) versus a Firestorm (11 mana) in a Warlock aggro book, go with the Ring of Fire.  You are reliably going to be in melee for a good portion of the game, so the range isn't an issue, and they both roll the same number of dice.

 I'd appreciate any feedback, thoughts, and criticisms  I hope this helps people get a better take on aggro books!

Content Edits:

-Added two sections, one on counterspells and the other on flying

-Added a section on aggro openings for each mage

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