October 15, 2019, 07:18:37 PM

Author Topic: Overused cards?  (Read 12164 times)

Koz

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Overused cards?
« on: August 27, 2013, 11:58:07 AM »
This is an old thought that I have discussed within my playgroup before and it has come back to light with some recent deck theorycrafting and build testing and I was wondering what other people's thoughts were on the subject.  The issue I am referring to is regarding "overused" cards.  In that I mean cards that go in pretty much every build, regardless of Mage or strategy. 

As an example, this is pretty much how I start every build, regardless of the Mage:

Dragonscale Hauberk x1
Elemental Cloak x1
Battle Forge x1
Agony x1
Nullify x2
Teleport x2
Force Push x2
Dispel x2
Seeking Dispel x1
Dissolve x2
Bear's Strength x1

From there I will modify those above numbers depending on Mage and strategy, such as possibly adding more Teleports or more Nullifies, or whatever.  I rarely subtract any of those cards though (with the exception of possibly removing one Dissolve for an Explode in the Warlock).  In addition to those cards, I also will use the following cards 99% of the time depending on which specific mage it is:

Gauntlets of Strength x1 (for all melee builds)
Retaliate x2 (for all melee builds)
Leather Boots and Leather Gloves x1 each (for most builds, but not all)
Eagleclaw Boots x1 (for 90% of my builds)
Regrowth Belt x1 (for most builds except Warlock which runs Colossus Belt for anti-control)
Stormdrake's Hide x1 (for back up armor)
Reverse Magic x1 (most builds)
Falcon's Precision x1 (for all melee builds)
Mage's Staff x1 (all builds not running a better weapon already, such as Lash of Hellfire)
Rhino's Hide x1 (most builds get one of these)
Cheetah's Speed x1 (all melee builds get one)
Bull's Endurance x1 (most builds get one)
Poisoned Blood x1 (most builds get one)
Purge Magic x1 (every Wizard build gets one and a lot of others if I can squeeze it in)
Purify x1 (most builds except Priestess)
Mongoose's Agility x1 (for all melee builds)

In addition, I pretty much run a lot of the mage specific spells that go with each mage every build, as follows:

Wizard: Wizard's Tower x2, Arcane Ring x1, Steal Enchantment x1 and Mana Crystal x2
Warlock: Lash of Hellfire x2, Drain Life x1, Ghoul Rot x1, Magebane x1 and Deathlink x1
Beastmaster: Ring of Beasts x1, Enchanter's Ring x1
Priestess/Priest: Staff of Asyra x2, Ring of the Dawnbreaker x1
Forcemaster: Forceblade x1, Forcefield x1, Ring of Defense x1, Forcering x1
Warlord: I don't play Warlord... but... Iron Golem?

Ok, so, after all that, what's my point?  Well, some people I've talked to about this have said that there are too many spells that are "mandatory" if you want to be competitive and that 50-70% of any given spellbook "builds itself".  The above framework doesn't even discuss the obvious includes that go along with each mage, such as Earth Mages running Iron Golems and Hurl Boulders in some quantity in every build, or Warlocks running Fireballs and Flameblasts in some quantity in every build, or Priestess/Priests running some healing in every build, or...well, you get the idea.

I'm not sure how I feel about this honestly, and I've told people who have complained about this that I don't feel its a huge deal, but I have to admit that I'm kind of getting sick of putting the same spells in every single book automatically, but they are too good NOT to include.

Now, before anyone goes off the rails with any red herrings such as "it's not so much the specific cards in the book as how you play it", or "I don't put x2 Dispels in every build, it's just you".  Yes, I know that its the actual tactics used in each game that is most important and I know that not everyone may use the same combination of "auto-includes" as I do, but I bet it will be close.  I get all that and it's not what I'm trying to discuss. 

So, my question is, how does everyone feel about this?  I used to not care about it at all, but recently I've started to not like it to a certain extent because I feel like the spell book building is being taken out of my hands by mandatory includes and obvious includes to the point where I'm not making as many decisions as I'd like to make regarding my build.  I also feel that as more expansions come out, the more mandatory and obvious includes will emerge.

So is it a non-issue to most people as it mostly is to me?  Is there anyone else out there, like my friends, who are really bothered by this?   



« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 02:46:25 PM by Koz »

sIKE

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 12:24:59 PM »
Interesting topic. At this point in the life cycle of the game many of the cards you cover are useful to all mages and therefore added into most books automatically. In the Gencon interview Bryan said there were over 900 unreleased cards they are working with. My hope is as the card pool develops and deepens, you will end up with 200 points worth of "must haves"  :) and then have to make the tough decisions. So obviously to me, the auto include cards choices are due more to a shallow set of cards available in game at this point. I am positive things will change in the future.
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Stormmaster

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 01:39:21 PM »
Variety is the spice of life (and the game too).  I totally hear what you are saying about 'similar builds' and I have felt that (although to a smaller degree that it seems you do).  The way I tackle the issue (if you can call it an issue) is do the 'auto includes' and each new build regardless of mage, add in a new strategy, new combo, new win condition, new something to make it 'new'/'different'.

That way even though I'm including most of the auto includes it doesn't make the game feel stale or the same thing over and over.  To the point I can play the same mage multiple times but take it a different way, various creatures interact with eachother, spell combos, do I go more melee this time etc.

I do understand your sentiment but I think it is managable.

Also if you really want something fun and crazy I have made some 'theme' builds and just put all angels in a deck or angels and demons or make a cat beast deck or dog or wall maze/trap build or whatever.  Ya they include most of the auto includes but there is still points available for whatever FUN game variants you can think up.  Make it fun, make it YOURS, don't copy all the cookie cutter strategies.  Some of the most fun games I've played are weird ideas I thought up and was surprised they worked.  Even with weird stuff so far I have never lost a game of Mage Wars.  I suspect some day some strategy deck build won't work out though but as long as I have fun it will be OK with me.

ringkichard

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 04:02:56 PM »
If you wanted to, you could trim that list of must haves a bit, but you're right that there's a list. I don't think anyone goes into the arena without at least a Nullify, some sort of 6 cost armor, and either Teleport or Force Push.

And with 120 points, why wouldn't you? Some basic cards are just such a handicap to play without that there'd be no better use of points. And It's not like the point budget is so tight that mages can't afford to pay to splash.

Maybe if books had to be 100 points, spellbooks would be tighter, but generally what you're describing is the benefit of experience: You've learned that these cards are better than the alternatives (or there are no alternatives) and so you use them.

But given that one of the most fun and powerful books of the recent tournament is an Earth Wizard with a Grizzly, and before that was Force master with Hand of Bim-Shalla, I don't really think we have to worry about books building themselves.
I can take the fun out of anything. It's true; here, look at this spreadsheet.

Koz

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2013, 04:43:28 PM »
If you wanted to, you could trim that list of must haves a bit, but you're right that there's a list. I don't think anyone goes into the arena without at least a Nullify, some sort of 6 cost armor, and either Teleport or Force Push.

And with 120 points, why wouldn't you? Some basic cards are just such a handicap to play without that there'd be no better use of points. And It's not like the point budget is so tight that mages can't afford to pay to splash.

Maybe if books had to be 100 points, spellbooks would be tighter, but generally what you're describing is the benefit of experience: You've learned that these cards are better than the alternatives (or there are no alternatives) and so you use them.

But given that one of the most fun and powerful books of the recent tournament is an Earth Wizard with a Grizzly, and before that was Force master with Hand of Bim-Shalla, I don't really think we have to worry about books building themselves.

Well, as I said in my post, these friends of mine say that 50 - 70% of the books build themselves, not that 100% of their content is predetermined.  And they are kind of right, because the majority of books do tend to contain a huge chunk of mandatory or obvious choices.  Sure, you can splash a Grizzly into your Earth Wizard, but that doesn't change what the thread is all about because Charmyna's build contains all the stuff that is an auto-include on my list except he only has one Force Push and no Seeking Dispel.  It kind of proves my point actually.

I think that some people, like a couple of guys in my play group, don't like that so much of the spellbooks are "samey".  That's a valid criticism.  It doesn't bother me as much as it does them, however, what really got me thinking about this recently is the auto-include of Battleforge in every single competitive build I see.  I'm actually kind of getting sick of seeing everybody drop this, and I'm kind of getting sick of playing it to be honest.  But it's too good NOT to play.

So, I was just wondering what other people thought about that issue.  Maybe it's not an issue at all.  Maybe I'm just sick of seeing Battleforge :P

Memnaelar

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2013, 06:13:35 PM »
I do have similar feelings on Battle Forge, based on my own, admittedly limited, observations.  I suspect that Battle Forge would become at least a question if there was a "Purge Magic" equivalent for equipment or if there was some other counter for its cost-benefit ratio of effectiveness currently. 

Who knows?  Dissolve is a Water spell and there appear to be a few Water-based mages on the horizon.  Perhaps that's where our equipment purge might lie?

sIKE

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2013, 07:39:43 PM »
I hate to say it, but there is a Water Wizard out there already kicking arse and taking names.
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reddawn

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2013, 07:56:55 PM »
Well, Battleforge is going to be a competitive auto-include because at the moment, its action advantage is more difficult to attack than those of enchantments.  I suspect this will change come NvD.

I would argue that Lash is not an auto-include for the same reason Dragonscale Hauberk, is.  Lash is unfortunately a pretty poor weapon right now, because there's no other elemental-based weapon to threaten the cardpool with.  Staff of Asyra, Galvitar, and to a lesser extent War Sledge are the best weapons because they can't be resisted and have good effects.  Hauberk is just too safe of a play for someone not to have at least 1 in their spellbook, because it totally counters the best damaging spells in the game, and the Warlock's elemental school.  It's why I have severely cut down on using flame-based spells in my Warlock book...it's better to just load up on curses and other direct damage effects, which Dark magic and the Warlock are the best at.

Overall, I don't have a problem with some cards being auto-includes.  The cardpool is still pretty small to be making that kind of list anyway, and if anything that it's good that people recognize staple cards now instead of putting a random book together and hoping it wins.
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aquestrion

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2013, 10:23:17 PM »
I try to not run any counter cards. I instead choose to use all my actions to kill the enemy mage. Countering their moves is just a way to prolong an already long game. If you have a problem with them using a battle forge drop a wall or 2 by it. this is normally enough to stop them for a turn or two if they have to reposition themselves to use it. Fog bank is awesome!

reddawn

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2013, 10:42:08 PM »
I try to not run any counter cards. I instead choose to use all my actions to kill the enemy mage. Countering their moves is just a way to prolong an already long game. If you have a problem with them using a battle forge drop a wall or 2 by it. this is normally enough to stop them for a turn or two if they have to reposition themselves to use it. Fog bank is awesome!

That sounds good in theory, but against a good opponent you're going to have to adapt or you run the risk of your actions becoming borderline worthless.  If someone stacks armor, for example, you're gonna need Piercing Strike if you expect your attacks to remain worth the actions they require.

Piercing Strike is also conviently good against the Forge.  Or at least more effective and much less expensive than attack spell alternatives.
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aquestrion

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2013, 11:00:50 PM »
In practice (not theory) I have used a FM to success fully stop an opponent mage from using his battle forge 60% of the rounds we played...I will say I love piercing strike as it is an excellent solution to almost all armor problems. But the battle forge is a card like any other and it can be ignored and or bypassed. If a enemy mage keeps stacking armor I pray I roll crits. And if not then I use creatures with Pierceing trait. I understand not every book is compleatly  rounded against all eventuality s but I try my best to use my actions to kill the enemy mage....right now I favor FM and she is pretty good at handling armor. But so is dark pact, and grizzly

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2013, 11:56:25 PM »
The issues with Battleforge are that it's cheap enough to fit into pretty much any build, it's the safest/strongest action advantage option at the moment, it doesn't constrain your actions particularly to take advantage of due to all of the cheap equipment cards available, and there is not an action efficient way to deal with equipment spam.

I don't actually want a Purge Equipment spell introduced. I think that would push things too far in the other direction. Purge Magic works well within the game because it punishes overcommitment to enchanting a single creature, but you can spread enchantments around. You can't spread equipment around, you can only equip your mage. I think we need a more action efficient way of dealing with equipment, but I'm a bit concerned that a straightup Purge would make equipment too weak (or force Armor Ward on all equipment builds, which may or may not work out well in practice). The other thing that I think we need, which should be released in the next few sets hopefully, is better access to piercing. That will make getting damage through to high armor targets more manageable, and make stacking equipment somewhat less of an issue.

I'd like to see more competition between Battleforge and other action advantage cards so that there would be more variety in builds and matchups. I like Battleforge, I just feel like it's too much the default way to play. Right now I feel like you need a reason not to include Battleforge rather than a reason to justify running it.

It doesn't really bother me that there are cards that are staples, I just don't think any single action advantage card should be a staple for all classes.
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jacksmack

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 03:37:41 AM »
One of the current promos is:

Critical strike:
Lvl 1 war school
Enchantment
Command

Targets living creature (as usual)
2 + 3 cost
gives piercing +3 for the first attack each round.

I also believe this 1 should be released asap, and preferably as lvl 2.
Make other schools pay for it, unless they wanna use the novice incantation


This is gonna sound crazy. But i would actually like to see a non-mage enchantment that each attack can reduce 1 critical damage and another if you pay 2 mana.
Holy incantation cost 2-2.

In my last few games Thorg was almost killed by the lvl 1 flying pet bird, and Brogan was killed by 2 gremlins and a jet stream.
One would think thorg was a decent counter to the pet bird... take it down in 2 rounds get a veteran token and move on. But nooo. Thorg was badly injured after this.
Brogan should be good vs gremlins right? They cant use defense vs him, and their piercing +1 shouldnt matter much when they roll 3 dice vs 4 armor. Again. Not the case.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2013, 06:35:00 AM »
I am very happy the subject of this thread has come up. I totally agree with the opening post, even to the point of his specific cards named. The fact that players independently come up with the same mandatory list is an issue.

I appreciate the card pool is in its infancy and, with a greater card pool, there will be more variety. However, my experience from Netrunner (which uses a same "players can include all cards but within a budget and some are at a premium" mechanic that is Mage Wars training) is that the new cards are often just replacement upgrades to an evolving mandatory list.

There are 2 issues here.

1. Some cards conduct a specific function and there are few alternatives (Dissolve, Dispel, Seeking Dispel etc)

The solution here is more variant cards with the same function but with different parameters.
Eg. "Sunder" range 2 War command level 1, next attack by target creature this turn also destroys 1 equipment on the defender of cost X or less where X = damage rolled, actioned in the Roll Dice step, spell cost ?
This is Dissolve with far longer range but unreliable, War 1 not Water 1, an alternative (currently Fire 2 Explode, Mind 3 Steal Equipment).

2. Undercosted cards

This is a bigger issue. We have undercosted cards. Iron Golem is one. Ballista as it stands is another. The fact persistent enchantment buffs (non-exclusive Ring) are not much more than one-shot commands (Warlord exclusive Ring) is another undercosting.

We also have overcosted cards that will never be played. There is no limited pool "draft/sealed" in Mage Wars unlike in Magic or HeroClix (when these overcosted cards get played). With overcosted cards, we just have to accept they are obsolete, extraneous. This is fine in a starter box but very annoying in expansions (Dispel Wand is my major issue here).

AW should pitch future cards at the same cost:benefit ratio as current undercosted cards to give us genuine choice when building books. So that there is a genuine trade-off between Iron Golem and any future Stone Golem. The current "good cards" is the power level all future cards will have to stabilise at if we are to create variety.

However, this is unrealistic. I hope AW release cards that have a power-level distribution that is narrower than the current pool. And that the mean of this distribution curve is aligned with current competitive cards (no more Dispel Wands please).

There is an alternative, the method used by FFG in their oldest LCG, Game of Thrones. In that game, there is a list of "Restricted cards", their incredibly strong cards released, and players may only play the legal number of copies of 1 of those cards. This method conceded that super-cards had been created but normal power level is lower than them and players can only have 1 of those cards (allowing for strategy and variety). However, I am unsure this approach works with Mage War's game-defining mechanic of "pick" rather than "draw". This mechanic is why I am most concerned about the growing variance in power levels between cards.

LCGs (even slow ones like MW) have a trade-off they must balance. The more they release, the greater short-term profit (repeat purchase from current low penetration) but the greater the barrier to entry (so they will be stuck with current niche penetration). However too few releases which do not inject (ideally minimal) power creep and the game stagnates, losing the enthusiasm of its current base. Magic solved this with the Standard rotations. How AW approach this is crucial to how they approach "shaking up" the current mandatory list.

It seems a shame that a Director in AW chided Shad0w for suggesting promo cards provide a great opportunity to beta test. I have worked for big companies that leverage free insight available by crowd sourcing. Market research, qualitative (focus groups etc) and quantitative (surveys) is very expensive. To not leverage free resource feedback on promo cards seems wasteful as the active fan base enthusiasm is one of the greatest strengths a small company has. After that intervention, it has made me far less enthusiastic to offer any advice.

So whilst I applaud this topic being broached, it seems quite pointless. That Director insisted all promo cards will eventually be released as is, that they are previews to reward activists. Including Ballista and Altar of Peace. So whatever we discuss here, I have very low hopes that they will be listened to.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2013, 07:53:45 AM by DeckBuilder »
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Re: Overused cards?
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 07:42:35 AM »
1. Some cards conduct a specific function and there are few alternatives (Dissolve, Dispel, Seeking Dispel etc)

The solution here is more variant cards with the same function but with different parameters.
Eg. "Sunder" range 2 War command level 1, next attack by target creature this turn also destroys 1 equipment on the defender of cost X or less where X = damage rolled, actioned in the Roll Dice step, spell cost ?
This is Dissolve with far longer range but unreliable, War 1 not Water 2, an alternative (currently Fire 2 Explode, Mind 3 Steal Equipment).

Fantastic Idea for a card! I really like the idea of Sunder especially since it helps to address a War School weakness in a thematic way.

We also have overcosted cards that will never be played. There is no limited pool "draft/sealed" in Mage Wars unlike in Magic or HeroClix (when these overcosted cards get played). With overcosted cards, we just have to accept they are obsolete, extraneous. This is fine in a starter box but very annoying in expansions (Dispel Wand is my major issue here).

Generally agreed though you can be certain of future synergies in any specific case.

It seems a shame that a Director in AW chided Shad0w for suggesting promo cards provide a great opportunity to beta test. I have worked for big companies that leverage free insight available from crowd sourcing. Market research, both qualitative (focus groups etc) and quantitative (surveys) is expensive. To not leverage feedback on promo cards seems wasteful as the active fan base enthusiasm is one of the greatest strengths that a small company will have. So, after that intervention, it has made me far less enthusiastic to offer any advice.

So whilst I applaud this topic being broached, it seems quite pointless. That Director insisted all promo cards will eventually be released as is, that they are previews to reward activists. Including Ballista and Altar of Peace. So whatever we discuss here, I have very low hopes that they will be listened to.

I'm not sure that is the case. He did imply it and then did not respond to my direction questioning to ascertain whether that was actually his position. They may be walking a fine line or be debating the merits of the issue. Hopefully their opinions are evolving on the subject and they will leverage that opportunity in the future. I think if nothing else there are some people such as Shad0w who are involved in the playtesting and on the forums who will be influenced in their thinking by posters and lobby for card refinements that are sensible.

I do agree it was disheartening to all outward appearances.