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Author Topic: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars  (Read 8740 times)

Sailor Vulcan

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How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« on: August 15, 2013, 08:50:08 PM »
So I've been wondering about ways to present Mage Wars to people so that they will be willing to try it and won't be scared away. There are several things about the game that could cause people to run away without giving Mage Wars a chance, including its complexity, steep learning curve, time investment, and the fact that the core set costs sixty dollars alone if you buy it from the main site, which makes the game as a whole appear far more expensive then it actually is.

So how do we overcome these barriers and convince our friends and neighbors to play their first game of Mage Wars? I have a few thoughts, but I haven't had the chance to test them yet.

A lot of people, at least in my culture, have a double standard when it comes to what games are "too complex". To them, "too complex" does NOT include chess, or stratego, or scrabble or anything that's either a sport or already well marketed, with the exception of CCG's, which either are "too complex" or not, depending largely on (IMO) multiple cultural factors such as age. For some reason, these complex games are accepted and don't scare people away, while newer games with the same or relatively similar levels of complexity appear overwhelming to most people.

So far I've only thought of three ways for Mage Wars to overcome this bias. Firstly, if more people try the game, they will see that it is far more intuitive and fun and far less of a chore than they thought. However, since the bias in question prevents so many people from being willing to try the game in the first place, merely saying that more people should give Mage Wars a chance doesn't solve the problem.

The second way we could overcome this bias and convince people to give Mage Wars a chance would be giving them information about the game. Providing knowledge about the game and what sets it apart from other games and makes it so great could get people to be more willing to try it.

Or they might not really listen because of a gut reaction caused by their strong bias against learning new complex games because they believe it would take too much effort and time. In which case, I think the only way would be the third option: comparing Mage Wars to another well-known/well-established/well-marketed game of equal or similar complexity.

While it's important to stress that Mage Wars is its own unique game, I think comparing it to other games gives people a better context for beginning to understand what kind of game it is before they decide to try it. However, I do not think that we should be comparing it to CCG's very much at all. The similarities between games like Magic the Gathering and Mage Wars are usually superficial in terms of game play, even though they have several significant thematic similarities.

Instead, I think we should be comparing Mage Wars to Miniatures games, Tabletop RPG's, and Deckbuilding games, in that order. Chess, Go, Stratego, Warmachine/Iron Kingdoms, Dungeons and Dragons, Dominion, Ascension, Thunderstone, etc.

Especially miniatures games. Having all your cards out in front of you and not having to depend on lucky draws might seem like a very big innovation for card games, but in miniatures games it's not so much of a big deal. For example, Chess. Out of all the pieces in your army, you can move any of them that you want. You decide which one to move, where to move it, and then do so, without having to worry about "luck of the draw". In Mage Wars, out of all the spells in your spellbook, you can choose any two of them to cast during that round. You decide which of your prepared spells to cast, plan where you're going to cast them (limited by range of course, like how chess pieces are limited by their movement abilities), and then you can cast them. Sounds very familiar, doesn't it?

While it sounds great to say that Mage Wars is half card, half miniatures game and is combining the best of both worlds, the truth is that Mage Wars plays more like a minis game then a card game. If I were to succinctly describe what kind of game Mage Wars is, I think I would say,

"Its an extremely fun miniature wargame that uses cards instead of miniatures, in which two magic users fight to the death in a gladiator style battle. It's a very unique game, but I would say it plays kind of like a mix between 'Go' and 'Dungeons and Dragons'."

In terms of price, Mage Wars also more closely resembles Minis games then CCGs. CCG's have a low cost to get into, but a very high cost to stay into. Minis games have a higher cost to get into, but a lower cost to stay into.
The Mage Wars core set costs $40-60, depending on where you buy it. Each expansion after the core set costs a lot less. In Magic the gathering, a starter kit costs around $30, while a competitive deck usually costs around $300. In Warmachine, different starter sets vary a lot, between around $50 to over $100 or so, but then individual models cost somewhere around $5-$20 each.

The Mage Wars Core set costs $40-60 depending on where you buy it, but each expansion after that costs around $20-$30. Naturally, this is far less expensive then collectible miniature games like Warmachine/Hordes. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that using cards instead of miniatures might be one of the major reasons that Mage Wars is so much less expensive then other miniatures games.

Anyways, I'm hoping to try to eventually start a Mage Wars club at my university, so I need to be able to convince people that it's worth their time, in spite of the cultural bias against learning new complex games. How have other people's experiences been in this endeavor? What's worked and what hasn't? Since school is starting in less than a week, some advice/feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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reddawn

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2013, 10:47:20 PM »
TL:DR whole thing, but I did read most, so here's my take:

The main issue here is people, as you say.  You need to improve your relationship with your friends and get to know them so that they naturally respect your input enough to trust you with their time.  After they trust you with their time, they will trust you with their money, so that getting them to make the first core set purchase will come easily.  Maybe that's a crude way of looking at it, but that's essentially what's going here.

Of course, this will take time and possibly money on your part as well.  That is, you may need to give before you can get.  Do things with them that interest them already, and they will be more willing to take part in activities that interest you.  This is, I imagine, the psychology behind why free-to-play games and demoing games actually works; offering free things and experiences greases those trust "wheels."

Demo the game for you friends.  Take a little time to consider how to give Mage Wars the best sell you can; if you know your friends like particular games, try to make them relatable to Mage Wars in some way, but emphasize that it is its own game; they'll learn this when they play a couple rounds, but they might think it's a waste of time if they convince themselves that it's just like Magic or whatever, even though it's radically different.

Different people find different reasons to like the game.  Some peope I have taught said complex reasons like how the game uses zones and space, others said they like the emphasis on theme, and still others just said they thought the spellbook binding and art is pretty neat.  Gaming is a social hobby, so find out what interests your friends, give them your time, be honest and I can see Mage Wars selling itself in no time. 
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Stormmaster

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2013, 08:38:49 AM »
Some of the intro videos that are on YouTube are pretty engaging, brief, and draw you in.  Not the ones of watching someone play (although I enjoy those) but the ones where they talk about the Mages, abilities, etc.  If you can get them to watch a couple of those for 10-15 min they do a really good job of both explaining the game but making it look cool.

Reaching a 'common ground' to help bridge them from a game they are used to is helpful, as was mentioned.  For example I have a friend of mine who plays Magic the Gathering and we also play Summoner Wars.  I love both of those games, but I love Mage Wars too (for different reasons).  But it is easy to draw some references to Magic (color vs school of magic theme) and Summoner Wars (since it is a card game on a grid type board).  And yes yes I realize Mage Wars is TOTALLY different, in so many cool ways, but my point is it makes them 'connect' to it a little easier. 

For me the biggest thing is the spell book concept, and not being bound to what card is on the top of my deck (which is the big draw back of MTG, Summoner War, and a TON of other TCG).  Plus Mage Wars is more dynamic and a living card game.

Unfortunately I think you are either into these kind of games or not.  So I have friends that play MTG that love Mage Wars, but the ones that aren't into those "type" of games won't even touch or try Mage Wars.  I guess it kind of sells itself in a way, if there into the genre it isn't a tough sell.  Once they try it they are hooked though.  Plus I have a couple friends who we have tried practically EVERY type of fantasy game, card game, board game, other games.  You name it we've tried it (been a bit of an investment and I'm sure Amazon Prime loves me) lol.  But I'd say out of all of them Mage Wars is easily in the top 1-2 games and one we keep going back to time and time again.

Shad0w

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 06:32:06 AM »
I always try to bring people into the game by giving them some background and the teaching at apprentice level. After about 2-3 I move the to a full board. by game 5-6 they should be ready for the the full books.

If the are learning very quickly I advance this time table so the are playing full games by the 3-4 game
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auronvi

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2013, 10:30:13 AM »
If you have friends that trust you and your time, there is no convincing. First off, realize the game is NOT for everyone. All of your friends won't want to play Mage Wars. Pick out a couple that you know have played TCGs in the past and just invite them over. Be excited about it, that sells things more than anything you could ever say about the game. "You need to play this with me, it's awesome." "What is it?" "It's called Mage Wars, you battle on a board with cards. It's great. Just play one game, it takes like 30 minutes." I can guess, as I have not met any Mage Wars staff, that this is how they get people to try the game at conventions. No convincing, just a lot of excitement and a promise that it will be fun. That's all anyone can ask for with a board game.

Don't destroy them, use the apprentice rules and play slow. No rushing into the corner and beating them down 2nd turn, they have no idea what they are doing. I believe there is a PDF that has a guide to how to run an apprentice game demo. Do this. You ARE pretty much trying to sell the game for Arcane Wonder, so you might as well do it the best way the owners of the game figured out how.
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Sailor Vulcan

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2013, 06:29:37 PM »
So I brought my mage wars set to the board game club on its first meeting of the year. It was a much bigger success than I thought it would be, and it happened far more easily than I thought it would. There was already someone there who played the game (he didn't bring his mage wars though, and didn't play mage wars that night.) Only a few minutes after the meeting began, I got to run a demo with four players, two per mage. It was awesome!

I'm glad I switched to a MUCH bigger school. You were right stormmaster, I was mostly surrounded by the wrong demographic. Now that I think about it, I think most of my friends from my last school are a lot more into video games than board/card games. I don't know why I never noticed that before.

So basically I had nothing to worry about. We had a great time!
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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2013, 10:57:59 PM »
A lot of people see a big, expensive game with a lot of rules and don't want to dive in and just buy it. Demo'ing is the way to go, preferably two new players against each other so they don't feel overmatched. Walk them through the basics and only bring in the special rules (such as the myriad creature abilties) as they come up.

DarthDadaD20

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2013, 09:49:38 PM »
Yeah- I would just tell people its a game and run apprentice mode- If they play anything tabletop already, show some comparisons.

I told my friends it was like a cross between MtG and D&D minis- and they knew what to expect.

Or if they like Video games- compare it to Final Fantasy Tactics- Its really nothing like FFT, but they will get the idea of moving around a board and attacking/casting spells.

Fantasy heroclix with cards- IDK, I find that when I tell someone a comparison to a game they already know- they let their guard down.
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Shad0w

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2013, 10:48:27 AM »
Demos Demos Demos
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Nihilistiskism

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2013, 03:05:04 PM »
Step 1: Don't mention the website or forums, otherwise they will no doubt discover that there is no official visual spoiler or card database for the game.

Step 2: Don't encourage them to play in tournaments, otherwise they will no doubt discover that the tournament format is a shambles, and rulings are made on perceived "intent."

Step 3: Don't expose them to the game under the guise of customization, otherwise they might question your integrity upon discovering that something like 10-15% of the cardpool is mage-specific.

Step 4: Don't represent this game as anything more than "a bit of casual fun," because until Steps 1-3 are addressed that is all it will ever be.

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2013, 04:34:36 PM »
Is that axe sharp yet?
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Nihilistiskism

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2013, 01:07:41 AM »
Is that axe sharp yet?

Even the sharpest blade dulls with disuse.

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2013, 02:30:50 AM »
Or over use!
Is that axe sharp yet?

Even the sharpest blade dulls with disuse.

-nihil

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2013, 11:43:08 AM »

Step 1: Don't mention the website or forums, otherwise they will get sucked into the games meta and realize that this game is just as fun to talk about as it is to play- You are basically selling their soul if you do.

Step 2: Don't encourage them to play in tournaments- otherwise they might realize that outside of CCG's, very few games even have tournaments, and those that do, don't often care,publicise,recognize,have prizes or send representatives to show up.- You will lose them to the tournament scene, they will get better, then they will beat you at every game you play.
 
Step 3: Don't expose them to the game under the guise of customization, otherwise they might realize that this game is extremely customizable, then they will stay up at night thinking about new builds and never get to sleep! They might even realize that you can build Aggro Melee Wizards, and Archers Tower builds, A Beastmaster using Darkfenne Bats for Rot condition control, or even holy unicorns with Bitterwood foxes and make incredible fast charge builds.

Step 4: Don't represent this game as anything more than "a bit of casual fun".- Because they will realise that once you get sucked in, nothing is casual about it. And they will call you a liar! Its a duel to the death, and if you are not spending your time improving your game- You are going to lose!

(I am just having a bit of fun here- I respect your opinion, you have a right to it, and I have the right to say mine, sorry but this was open to my interpretation as soon as it was posted.)
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
It has been around since the dawn of time,
it follows your loved ones as well as mine,
takes the form of a mountain as well as a flower,
it cannot be outrun by the greatest of power.
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
Within Shad0w.

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Re: How NOT to scare your friends away from trying Mage Wars
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2013, 12:11:21 PM »
@DD
These are the things that you should not tell your friends SO about....
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