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Messages - reddawn

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406
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: April 01, 2013, 10:39:25 AM »
Quote from: "padawanofthegames" post=10198
As a side note, it's really funny you mention summoner wars, because the people over on the plaid hat forums bash Mage Wars, calling it a more complicated version of SW. Funny, right?

Thank you for such a quick reply, and I do understand what you mean now, I just think it is important for newer players to realize that aggro is not easy, but it IS really fun. Building an aggro spellbook is really enjoyable, because your entire creature suite will be around twenty points, so what I usually do is build an aggro opener with a midrange transition. That way, if I do lose tempo in the first part of the game, I can gain it by the middle. No, that's not taking into account the Rouse the Beasts or battle furies, but with all that in there, at MOST I use 40 points. Twenty points of reaction and 60 for a midrange strategy? Count me in!


The first book I ever made was midrange-aggro.  It was fun; used the Pentagram, which I think is an underrated card and perfectly legitimate.  I find midrange-aggro to be a bit more difficult to play, for me, because I have to pick up on tempo swings.  Gotta know how to read the board to make sure you aren't going to lose too much of your position before your spawnpoint starts paying off.  Pentagram in particular leans midrange-aggro, since you pretty much already have to have a solid early board for it to work well.

407
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: April 01, 2013, 10:31:50 AM »
Quote from: "sdougla2" post=10170
Position control is strong against slow melee creatures. Sure, Teleporting your Iron Golem 2 zones doesn't prevent you from running back over to it, but hindering might. Whether that's worth the action and mana is highly board state dependent. I think you're making too many assumptions about the matchup and are undervaluing position control.

In order to get much use out of slow melee creatures, you need to use position control and/or many creatures. Otherwise your opponent can maneuver around your creatures and use position control to fight you away from them. In my games, Darkfenne Hydra, Iron Golem, and Earth Elemental have been awesome when supported by strong position control, but without that support the other mage just forces the combat to other zones or moves your slow creatures out of position.


Very much agree, especially about hindering.  Hindering is pretty integral to every book archetype and managing your creatures such that they are a position to hinder, or evade hindering, is a crucial consideration to getting better at the game.  It's a pretty ingenious mechanic if you ask me.

408
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: April 01, 2013, 06:48:37 AM »
Quote from: "Tacullu64" post=10158
As you revisit and edit your article are you going to touch upon flying? I kinda of like articles like yours that finish up by talking about how to counter the strategy. In can also be insightful for the aggro player to see what they can expect their opponents to use against them.


Yes I will touch upon flying, for sure.  Variety in fliers is kind of harder to come by in MW thus far, which is why I initially didn't give it its own section.  Aggro is really looking for cheap fliers, but the only aggressive options at the moment are Darfenne Bats and Thunderift Falcons (Moonglow Faeries might have an application for the odd aggro Wizard book, but that's not something I have experience to speak on), though they're both very good and suffice for the needs of most books.

(I like the name btw.  Summoner Wars is a good game, my favorite is Sneeks and Sunderved.)

409
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: April 01, 2013, 06:04:47 AM »
Quote from: "padawanofthegames" post=10172
I completely agree with this article with the exception of one comment made during the beginning, and that was that Aggro was a simpler deck to play, and this is simply not so (pun intended). While the actually strategy of the deck may seem simpler (smash face fast), play itself involves adding lots of stats of monsters together, along with what spells well help achieve the smash face strategy. You want to plan out your mana spending well in advance of using that mana in order to most efficiently use that mana for max amounts of damage. In an aggro deck, you need to win the game before the first action marker is flipped, and that is not an easy thing to do at all. If you look at the greatest aggro players in mtg, they will agree that aggro is a very difficult deck to play well. I am comparing archetypes in games, not the game itself.

What is the simplest deck, then? The deck that most people start off building: Mid range. Why is it easier, though? Because you don't have to plan as much. Sure you may have an opening strategy, but nothing as planned out as a good aggro deck is. You don't have to mid-range, because you are more reactive. You play the creatures that will most fit the job, instead of playing all the creatures.

But, other than that, I really enjoy this article, and I am jealous that you got this out first! I was planning a series on Deck Archetypes, but now that you have that covered, I will stick with my tempo wanderings. Thank you for contributing to this community in a great way!


Thanks very much for the kind words!  Mage Wars and its community deserve a strong competitive foundation and I'm glad to see that's what I'm providing here.  I tried to be as concrete as possible, so that people can directly take what they learn here and apply it to gameplay, though there is still a lot left to improve on what I said.  And this is by no means an exclusive pursuit; I may have wrote the article, but anyone can help with feedback.  Still, the banana stickers are solid source of motivation  :cheer: (thanks again Shadow!).

And what I meant when I said straightforward was in terms of the concept of the aggro book type (I'll edit this to be clearer when I add in all the other requested/needed edits).  My favorite book type is indeed aggro (more specifically aggro-control with the Warlock and Forcemaster) and I certainly agree that it is not simplistic or a "dumbed-down" way to play the game at all; there's a lot to manage in terms of actions especially, and knowing what to do about guards and when and how to deal what damage, how to best take advantage of initiative to deal the most damage, etc.  I merely meant that, when someone thinks about playing aggro, their foremost concern is killing the opposing mage (i.e., winning the game) as opposed to say in control where you instead need to immediately think about building up your mana (winning the game is a later concern).  

(If you're curious, I actually played lots of aggro, aggro-control, and control decks when I used to play MTG competitively, and when I joined the EDH scene that I recently left.  Mage Wars > Magic and its not even close.)

I also agree that midrange is pretty much the go-to book type for MW, as you say.  I think this is because the rulebook introduces players with very balanced, midrange-y starter books that kinda do a bit of everything.  They give each mage his/her dedicated spawnpoint, along with one or so mana crystals, which is very indicative of a midrange/midrange control book.

Overall, I think that conceptually, not gameplay-wise, aggro is the most straightforward, then control, then midrange.  It really just comes down to how immediately important winning is to each book type.

410
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: March 31, 2013, 02:30:47 PM »
Quote from: "piousflea" post=10162

1. I disagree with the statement that fire and lightning are the best attacks. Earth (Hurl Boulder) is the most mana efficient from a pure attack dice standpoint, and it cannot be resisted by Elemental Cloak.

2. Iron Golems on guard are extremely devastating vs aggro because they have so much armor and attack dice. Nonflying aggro creatures will be quickly smashed by the golem, and flying creatures cannot get around his Guard without an Elusive. If you cannot get an Elusive flyer (such as Lord of Fire with Mongoose), you need some other way to deal with the Golem.

3. Arc Lightning is insanely mana efficient against iron golems, not just for damage but for rolling stun/daze. Teleports can move the iron golem away, but are very expensive for an aggro build.

4. When running an aggro build it is 100% certain that you will put your own Mage within range of your opponents attacks. This means you have to be very careful not to let your Mage die. Running an aggro Beatdown with only offensive enchantments means that your opponent may be able to kill your Mage before you kill his. Often times, an extremely offensive aggro deck actually works better when you throw on a 6-mana armor early. (Dragonscale or storm drake)


1.  Even without a Ring, Fireball has a 75% chance to roll just as many dice as Hurl Boulder, but with a good chance to roll more, with the added caveat that each die past the first 6 rolls unavoidable critical damage.  With a Ring, Fireball is obviously the better choice, whereas Earth attacks have no such ring.  Sure you could introduce armor, but I already mentioned how armor plays into the picture.  Plus, earth attacks don't have efficient low cost attacks like Fire or Lightning does; you're committing a lot of mana when you use any Earth attack, so it really needs to pay off or you could be set back more than you'd like mana-wise.

2.  Iron Golem guards aren't too big of a deal.  Any aggro book worth its salt is going to have Mongoose Agility or Evade or some combination with Elusive creatures as you imply.  A piece of armor and an Agony is also a pretty cost-efficient way to deal with them, since they don't have any piercing and can't effectively pursue you.

3.  Yup, I mention lightning being good exactly in that situation.  And I disagree about Teleport; the lowest channeling a mage can have is 9, and if you teleport a Golem 2 zones away (6 mana), that's a good way to buy yourself 3 turns of that Golem being pretty useless, so you're at most spending one turn of mana to buy quite a long time.  Teleport is also very useful for efficiently removing conjurations that Restrain such as Tanglevine and Quicksand, which are in my opinion, much more problematic for aggro builds.

4.  Yes, it is a concern that your mage is going to take a beating, but that's why I recommend the Vampiric trait as a way to heal your damage as you apply pressure.  It ensures that you either get much more mileage than a simple healing spell, or that your opponent uses actions dispelling it.  In either case, you're going to be staying alive much easier.

I do understand your point that Aggro strategies need to provide disruption, and I agree.  I myself play the Warlock a lot, and he leans very aggro-control.  I'll be talking about aggro-combo and aggro-control very soon, and I think that will address the concerns you're having.  Aggro cannot usually be executed very effectively without some kind of disruption, like Mind Shields, Nullifies, curses, Jinxes, etc.  Some books will have more disruption, like the Warlock, and some will have less, like the Beastmaster.

411
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: March 31, 2013, 04:01:37 AM »
Quote from: "sdougla2" post=10144
Back on topic. I'm still not completely happy with the section on buffing big vs small creatures, so I thought I'd elaborate on my position:

It's not clear to me that it's better in general to use Power Strike on a small creature than on a big one, and I'd rather use Charge on a big creature than a small one (although not Earth Elemental, since it doesn't have any quick attacks).

Small creatures benefit more from AoE buffs like Tooth and Nail or Fortified Position (since you can have more small creatures), and long term single target buffs are less efficient on small creatures. That doesn't mean that one shot bonuses like Power Strike become more efficient for them, but if you're going to buff them, it makes sense to use one shots, since it's cheaper, and you probably wouldn't get many uses out of the enchantment on a small creature. This means enchantments buffs are less efficient on small creatures, but not that orders are more efficient.

If you have both large and small creatures, it makes more sense to buff the larger creatures than the smaller creatures, since they're harder to destroy and a bigger investment.

Playing a Bear Strength on a Necropian Vampiress makes her a powerful and resilient threat. Playing Bear Strength on a Bitterwood Fox doubles your investment. It makes the Fox a bit scarier, but it's still 1-2 attacks from being dead, so it would have been better to just play another Fox in most circumstances. Is it worth it to buff the Fox with Power Strike? It's more efficient than Bear Strength on the Fox, but that doesn't necessarily make it any more efficient than using Power Strike on a Steelclaw Grizzly or Necropian Vampiress. It's certainly less efficient than a Bear Strength on a Necropian Vampiress.

What I'd generally say is that the bigger an investment a creature is, the more it makes sense to buff and support them, particularly if they're resilient. Buffing individual members of a swarm is weak, but buffing the swarm as a whole (Rajan's Fury or Tooth and Nail) is strong. It might make sense to buff an individual small creature in individual cases, but that's my general rule of thumb.

As for the Warlord, it still costs actions and mana to cast the order from his Helm of Command, so you still need to consider the efficiency. You don't lose the card, but that's less of a concern in a sense (assuming you made your book optimally so that you had the exact 120 points of cards you wanted within a given game) than the action/mana cost.

That's actually a big part of my problem with the Warlord. Orders just aren't as efficient as enchantments on big creatures, and orders on small creatures aren't any more efficient than orders on big creatures. He has AoE buffs, but they're transitory. I'd much rather play a pair of Tooth and Nails at some point and have all of my creatures be better for the rest of the game than spend an action and 3 mana to give all of my creatures a one shot bonus every turn. I'm hoping when you write about the Warlord I can get a better sense of how he's supposed to operate, but so far I'd just rather play the Beastmaster for creature heavy plays or the Wizard for earth spells.


While I understand your concerns about the Warlord, the article at this moment is meant to be a foundation for getting into how exactly an aggro book works at a fundamental, general level, with an attempt to be as concise as possible.  The Warlord is admittedly more complicated to play than say the Beastmaster due to how each plays, so he brings in more exceptions that deserve individual attention.  This will be addressed in time, once I get enough experience on if and how each mage can execute an aggro strategy and what exactly that would look like.  Currently, I'm pretty experienced with the Warlock, Forcemaster, and Beastmaster so I'm still working at the Warlord, Priestess, and Wizard.  Once I have those down, I'll write individual segments on what an aggro book looks like for each mage.

Suffice to say that I suspect the primary difference between how Beastmaster aggro differs from Warlord aggro comes down to how easy it is to interact with each of their books.  The Beastmaster relies very heavily on permanents (a term I'm borrowing from MTG that means cards that stay on the board, such as enchantments, creatures and conjurations) that provide his opponent an easier time to interact with and stop his strategy, while the Warlord is more difficult to interact with due to his reliance on non-permanent buffing with command-subtype incantations.  Conjurations like Rajan's Fury and Tooth and Nail are pretty excellent, but they are rather expensive compared to incantations that do similar, if weaker things, and may at times require you to either spend resources defending those conjurations or spending lots of mana to re-cast them when they get destroyed.

I'll also try to reword the section on buffing to better reflect what I mean.  I think the general idea is there, I just need to be clearer.  Thanks for the input though, I'll be sure to address your points in more detail soon.

412
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: March 30, 2013, 08:33:31 PM »
The most stand-out combo cards to me at least are Call of the Wild and Gate to Hell.  They bear a strikingly resemblance to old-school tribal combo like elves, though I like the theme and execution immeasurably more in MW.  I don't think MW is the type of game that really facilitates instant-kills to be honest, but Call of the Wild is definitely an Overrun type of effect and produces a similar result, though perhaps not as lethal.  Still, I will be covering a segment on the subsets of aggro books, such as aggro-control and aggro-combo.

The main thing I see getting in the way of true combo is how the game severely restricts the number of spells you can cast in a single turn.  It's a pretty elegant way of promoting thoughtful tactics while at the same time preventing someone from "combo-ing out."  The fact that the game is also semi-simultaneous play in rounds also helps.  Lock-down combo could be possible if they print too many mana-drain kind of effects, but even still those are extremely expensive in this game, and they have already printed a conjuration that hard-counters draining strategies in the WvF expansion (some kind of obelisk for 7 mana, can't recall the name at the moment).  Overall, Arcane Wonders seems to be REALLY on top of regulating the metagame fairly, so I don't predict issues as long as they keep up the good work.

413
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Book Archetype Primer: Aggro
« on: March 30, 2013, 07:33:55 PM »
Quote from: "Tacullu64" post=10123
Good job, easy to read despite its length.

You mention that you are starting with the most straight forward archetype aggro but don't mention the others. What are they?


They are control and midrange.  I was thinking about an article for combo, but I don't think that archetype really exists in a strict sense in MW (which is probably a good thing since I was never a fan of that archetype in other games).  Control is going to be the next one I do, followed by midrange.  

@ sdougla2: If you read the paragraph after when I explain buffs, I believe I address exactly your concern.  You are, of course, correct; powerful effects for powerful creatures is a good plan (I think I actually use Whirling Strike as my example for an incantation better used on powerful creatures).  I meant more that low-cost incantations like Charge or Power Strike are better (in general) when used on cheaper creatures whereas enchantment equivalents, Cheetah Speed and Bear Strength, are best used on expensive already-powerful creatures.  

I was going to point out an exception for the Warlord with his Helmet of Command since you can technically not lose card advantage via spellbinding incantations, but the article was already dragging in length and the applications of spellbinding could deserve their own mini-article.  I will add the exception about the Warlord soon though.  

I was on the fence about discussing Earth attack spells.  I did very generally mention that all elements have uses for attacking as a kind of peripheral catch-all for stuff I didn't mention.  And while it's true that Hurl Boulder rolls more dice at first compared to Fireball, a cheap ring can increase the damage of ALL your fire attacks (barring zone attacks) unlike with Earth.  Burns are also superior to dazes or slams for the purposes of dealing damage, strictly speaking.  The main reason I did not choose to talk about Earth attacks is that, in aggro books, I value cheap ways of applying pressure, like Flameblast and Arc Lightning, in addition to the fact that unavoidable attacks are so important to aggro books (Hurl Boulder is understandably avoidable; you can dodge a rock, unless someone has Sniper Shot senses  :) ).  Lightning attacks also offer a combination of aggression and ethereal damage, which other than a Mage Staff, is very difficult to come by and can snag up an aggro book's plans if you aren't ready.    

Put simply, I'll reintroduce Earth spells, both attack and incantations, when I talk about the Beastmaster and Warlord in particular when I later update this article, because I believe they're at their most useful with those mages.

@Darth: You're definitely right about conditions.  I was considering mentioning it in this article's first iteration, but decided it's a topic that requires more mental unpacking and thus more time and individual attention as I explain each condition and its affect on an aggro book.  I will be sure to mention it, especially as I incorporate all the other things.  

Thanks each of you for the feedback, it was exactly what I was looking for.  I'll be sure to address all of your concerns as I refine the article, with a nod to being explicitly clear as Darth and SD pointed out.

414
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:

Warlock:

-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)

Priestess:

-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

Beastmaster:

-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)

Warlord:

-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)

Forcemaster:

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

Wizard:

-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

415
General Discussion / Re: List Your Favorite Mages
« on: March 29, 2013, 05:18:45 AM »
1. Warlock
2. Forcemaster
3. Beastmaster
4. Warlord
5. Priestess
6. Wizard

I like mages that can be self-reliant when they need to be, as you can tell from my preference list.  That said, I pretty much always have an escorting Thoughtspore or Dark Pact Slayer.

416
Rules Discussion / Re: Thorg, Chief Bodyguard
« on: March 27, 2013, 08:20:17 PM »
He's used to deal with extremely powerful flying threats like the angel legends and Adramelech (his ability doesn't care about their flying), or some other very powerful singular beast.  He may not have the optimal life for his cost, but his massive 4 armor stops most threats cold, especially considering that very few big bads actually have piercing (Selesius has piercing +1 on her quick attack, I'll have to check the others).  And if you use his taunt ability correctly, he can swing for ten dice when you need him to.  

Again, I don't think the Warlord should just be throwing out threats randomly.  Everything he has is meant to counter what your opponent does; the key is knowing which threats are appropriate when.

417
General Discussion / Re: No Armour in War School
« on: March 26, 2013, 06:15:53 PM »
I don't see what the big deal is when there is plenty of other armors to choose from, and you can round out things with the novice armors.  Honestly, though, you shouldn't be casting much individual armor anyway.  Fortified Position and Stormdrake Plate or whatever already give you 4 armor.  Add in a creature to guard and that's more than enough.

418
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Warlord vs. Flying
« on: March 26, 2013, 05:01:56 PM »
The most efficient and I would argue best way for the Warlord to deal with fliers is a combination of Ivarium Longbow and some Hurl Bolder, with a Goblin Slinger or two.  There's really no reason he needs the Mage Staff when he has better in-school solutions, especially when it would cost him a massive 6 spellbook points.  If you're having trouble with incorporeal things, just use Lightning spells.  There's a reason the expansion came with 5 Arc Lightnings.  Elemental Wand is even in-school for the Warlord, so you can pretty effectively deal with a bunch of them if you really need to without losing card advantage.

After having a bunch of games against the Warlord, I don't think it's a good move to try to do your own thing when playing as him.  The Warlord should be reacting to whatever mage he's up against, thinking about the best way to deal with that specific mage.  And I especially do not think it's a good idea to mass creatures against the Forcemaster all game or in particular any other mage unless you have very good reason to; start with an Iron Golem with buffs, Helm of Command with Sniper Shot, and throw Hurl Boulders and use the Ivarium Longbow (Sniper Shot each time if you expect Block or Deflect).  The only thing the Forcemaster can really do after that is use her Forcefield, which is very powerful yet very expensive.  At this point, the Warlord can now summon a bunch of creatures for a final push to wear down the Forcefield and attempt to finish off the Forcemaster.  

The Warlord is really not a "do your own thing" kind of mage.  He can technically channel a lot of mana via his Barracks and other outposts, but a competent opponent won't let you do that.  Force Hammers and any kind of flame attack make very short work of his conjurations.  Everything the Warlord has is a specific tool for a particular kind of battlefield situation; your goal should be to try to punish a your opponent's strategy, not build your own.

419
Strategy and Tactics / Re: Warlord vs. Flying
« on: March 25, 2013, 06:18:45 PM »
The Warlord's base play style appears to be (I've only played Forcemaster so far, brother as Warlord) rushing out bunches of small soldiers like Grunts and a couple/few Slingers to soak any initial onslaught from the opposing mage and provide early pressure, and then select a legendary fatty that counters how your opponent reacts.  I don't think casting one very large creature with him at the very start of the game is a good idea...it locks you into a very particular way of playing, when I think the Warlord should try with flexibility until he knows what he's up against.  Starting out with bunches of small, cheap, and very efficient guys like grunts and slingers and butchers forces your opponent to react, and from that, you can then judge how to react.  It also creates a large action advantage in a hurry, which pressures the opposing mage to react, which is exactly the game you want to play.

Examples: Lots of fliers or ranged?  Get the legendary sniper.  Lots of conjurations?  Akiro's Hammer.  An enemy swarm? Get the other dwarves which specialize in zone and sweeping attacks.  A powerful flier like Adramelech or Valshalla?  Use Thorg to pull them down to earth and away from your mage.

At least in my opinion, the Warlord starts the game by testing the waters with very low-commitment units like goblins and then transitions into a particular specialist that suits his opponents.

420
General Discussion / Re: Spellbook and Counters
« on: March 25, 2013, 05:48:28 PM »
At first, I thought the spellbooks were great.  Then I went through a short phase of finding them kinda clunky and slow.  Now I'm back to thinking they're great again and I think my mindset will stay that way.

In short, the organization the books provide speeds up play for me.  They let me look at 4 spells per page (or 8, if you use their fronts and backs), which was daunting at first, but after you familiarize yourself with your book and get a general feel for the spell-types, it becomes more efficient.  I also like the feeling of knowing exactly where to turn to in my book to deal with a particular situation.  

I guess how I feel about the book style came in 3 phases; exploration, as I learned the game; a kind of "study" period where I tried to digest all the different spell-types; finally, I feel like I "get" the intended feel of the book, the purpose of which is to let you feel like a mage.

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