April 06, 2020, 06:58:17 AM

Author Topic: Team Play  (Read 15148 times)

Zuberi

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Team Play
« on: October 19, 2013, 06:46:15 AM »
I've played several team games of Mage Wars now following the base rules, and I have found two big problems with it that I am going to set out to fix in this post. First, let me explain the issues.

Problem One: Alternating Positions
From the Mage Wars Rule Book: "Make sure to sit so that the teams are sitting in alternating positions: team A, team B, team A, team B, etc. That way each team will have a chance to react, rather than an entire team taking their Action Phases back-to-back."

This rule makes sense in theory. However, in practice, when team mates are meant to coordinate their plans and share information and discuss strategy, all without revealing too much to their opponents, having them sit on COMPLETE OPPOSITE corners of the table does NOT encourage team play.

Problem Two: Mage Elimination
Battling to the death is fun and exciting in a two player game. In a team game however, not as much. When we play team games, we usually just play till one mage is eliminated and declare that team the loser. The loss of half their team is so devestating that usually loss of the game is ensured and there's no fun dragging it out. However, with this rule in place, team games end up being about "who do we focus on" and then one opposing mage is picked on for the whole game. This doesn't feel right to me either.

Solution: Lifebonded Arena Format
To resolve these two issues, I'm thinking about borrowing ideas from my group's default team variant when we play Magic the Gathering: Two-Headed Giant. It doesn't matter if you're familiar with Magic or this specific variant, I will describe the ideas I'm borrowing and how to apply them to Mage Wars.

Spell Rules
The Unique trait and Epic trait both apply to the whole team. Thus, if your team mate has a Unique spell in play, you may not play another copy of that spell. If your team mate has an Epic spell in their spellbook, you can not also have a copy of it in your spellbook. You also can not put Mage Specific Abilities on spells that you do not control, such as making your team mate's creature into your Pet, or putting Runes on your team mate's equipment (even if you cast the equipment).

Board Setup
Using two Arena Boards create a 4x6 Zone Arena. Labeling the Rows as A through D and the Columns as 1 through 6, the top left zone would be A1 and the bottom right zone would be D6. Team 1 would then start with their mages in B1 and C1, while Team 2 would start in B6 and C6. This allows team members to start near one another, yet with enough room so that they don't compete heavily for conjuration space. They also start within 5 and 6 zones of their opponents, which is comparable to a normal match and allows rush strategies to be just as valid, if not more so, as normal.

Shared Initiative
Initiative shall be shared by team members. When it is your team's turn in initiative order, only one of your team members may act. Decide as a team which team member gets to act whenever it is your team's turn in initiative order. You may not use your Quick Cast Marker unless you are the team member currently acting.

Shared Life
Each team shall have a Life total equal to 75% of the sum of the two mages that make up the team. Any damage done to one mage is cumulative against the entire team, and any healing done to one mage removes damage from the team. Thus it is possible for Mage A to take all the damage, and Mage B to still remove it by healing himself instead of his team mate. Consider this an improved version of Life Bond. For those who don't wish to do the math of percentages, I have calculated 75% of each individual mage at the end of this article.

Mage Life Conversion Cheat Sheet
Convert each individual mage using the chart below and then add the two team mates together. Round the total to the nearest whole number.

38 = 28.5
36 = 27
34 = 25.5
33 = 24.75
32 = 24
30 = 22.5

Edit: Revised to reflect the most recent rule set that we use.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2015, 10:09:51 AM by Zuberi »

Wildhorn

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2013, 10:19:01 AM »
Problem one is not a problem. It is realistic. Once in the arena, you are not next to your team mate to whisper in its ear. You can set up a strategy before the fight, but once in the arena, no time for chit-chatting, you are fighting for your life.

Problem two, you should use a percent of the life, not just reduce it by a fixed number because that way it advantage mages with higher life. 10 life is bigger percent for a 32 life mage than a 38 hp mage. I think you should not reduce the the life. Just add the life togheter and it would work. No reason to reduce the life if there gonna be twice the firepower to shoot at it.

Shared turn is a very bad idea. First, it might make a player to not play at all which is not fun but it is also unrealistic... Why would a mage stand there whole time doing nothing.

Zuberi

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2013, 03:15:45 PM »
Quote from: Wildhorn
Problem one is not a problem. It is realistic. Once in the arena, you are not next to your team mate to whisper in its ear. You can set up a strategy before the fight, but once in the arena, no time for chit-chatting, you are fighting for your life.

You sound like you've never played a team game. Even in the rule book it points out that you HAVE to share information with your team mate. The game just does not work unless you know both what your team mate is planning to do and what they are actually doing. But this is difficult when you're as far away from them as possible with enemy player's in between you.

Quote from: Wildhorn
Problem two, you should use a percent of the life, not just reduce it by a fixed number because that way it advantage mages with higher life. 10 life is bigger percent for a 32 life mage than a 38 hp mage.

You are entirely correct on this point and I considered using a Percentage system. However, in the end I opted for simple addition and subtraction because it is easier. When we sit down for a game we don't want to break out a calculator, we want to get into the action. As mentioned, I also considered just proclaiming a fixed amount of 50 life per team for a two player team. Personally I would like to keep the variation in Life totals as a component of game play rather than chucking it out the window, but I can see the advantages of a fixed system. Would that be preferable to people?

Quote from: Wildhorn
I think you should not reduce the the life. Just add the life togheter and it would work. No reason to reduce the life if there gonna be twice the firepower to shoot at it.

Really need playtesting to determine this. Currently our team games tend to run twice as long as a normal game even with us ending the game after a single death. Sure you have twice the fire power, but having a friend available to support you and bail you out of trouble is a huge benefit as well. Most of our games sees one mage per team in an aggressive role and one mage per team in a support/defensive role and they tend to cancel out the progress made overall so that the fight is kinda drug out.

Increased life is necessary and thematic, I think, but simply combining the life totals would make the game incredibly long I fear. As I said though, the only way to know for sure is through playtesting.

Quote from: Wildhorn
Shared turn is a very bad idea. First, it might make a player to not play at all which is not fun but it is also unrealistic... Why would a mage stand there whole time doing nothing.

I don't see how it would make a player to not play at all. I do worry about the "Alpha Gamer" problem where one person tries to control his entire team, but isn't that a problem that any team game has to face? I know it has cropped up in our team games of Mage Wars already, as well as team games of Magic the Gathering, and pretty much any Cooperative game we play. In the end its kinda up to you not to let your teammate pull your strings.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2013, 03:20:49 PM by Zuberi »

Wildhorn

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2013, 07:08:03 PM »
I totally agree that you have to share information with team mate but to keep realism, you have to do it in front of opposite team. Use codes (that you setup before game) to communicate or eyes contact.

Wiz-Pig

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2013, 11:44:24 AM »
I totally agree that you have to share information with team mate but to keep realism, you have to do it in front of opposite team. Use codes (that you setup before game) to communicate or eyes contact.

I agree, this should speed up the game play as well since you won't be able to argue with your teammate or discuss details. But rather just stick to quick coded exchanges. Also I think that there is a certain amount of open communication that you can get away with without serious detriment anyway.

A possible solution for shared life totals using percentages is to pre-calculate totals. There are only a limited number of life totals so this isn't hard.

38 = 28.5
36 = 27
32 = 24
30 = 23.5

I would suggest rounding down if you end up with a fraction. The fractions are just there really to shore up a two druid team or give that extra boost to a two Warlock team. This gives combined life totals ranging from 47 to 57


Zuberi

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 12:14:33 AM »
I appreciate the feedback and attempts to improve my variant, but I do not appreciate being told there is no problem when I've experienced it in dozens of games. Thus, if you have an alternate solution that allows team mates to sit next to each other and work together, I'd love to hear it. However, don't tell me that team mates can just communicate openly in front of their opponents. That does not work.

I really like Wiz-Pig's solution to the Life Total problem. A percentage based system does seem to be the fairest way to do things, I just don't want to have to do calculations at the game table to figure it out. With this option, we'd have to either bring a list of the converted values with us or memorize them if we wanted to avoid doing the calculations on the spot, but I believe that is a workable solution and plan to adopt it for the variant. Thank you Wiz-Pig.

I think your math is a little wrong though on the druid and you left out the Priest and Johktari Beastmaster. If I am correct, the converted values should be:

38 = 28.5
36 = 27
34 = 25.5
32 = 24
30 = 22.5

That gives us a range of 45 to 57. Although technically a two druid team would both use their Treebond ability to shoot up to 53 Life.

Wiz-Pig

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2013, 09:19:56 AM »
I think your math is a little wrong though on the druid and you left out the Priest and Johktari Beastmaster. If I am correct, the converted values should be:

38 = 28.5
36 = 27
34 = 25.5
32 = 24
30 = 22.5

That gives us a range of 45 to 57. Although technically a two druid team would both use their Treebond ability to shoot up to 53 Life.

You are correct. And for the record I think either style of play is fine for communication they have there ups and downs. You can always say the Mages have a telepathic link to explain their uncanny communication.

Zuberi

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2013, 02:05:35 PM »
I have been debating when to update this thread with my findings. I have since played 8 games using these team rules and that seems like a decent trial run to me. Although 2 of those game were on OCTGN and both of them ended because a player disconnected rather than us finishing the game. The first OCTGN game ended in what was obviously the planning stage of the final round, although it could have gone either way. The second OCTGN game ended midgame. My other 6 games however were live and complete games. Here are my findings.

Game length averaged about 3 hours (probably a little less), which I believe is appropriate. It is shorter than the games where we tried killing both mages (as suggested in the rules), longer than the games where we only had to kill a single mage, and a little over twice as long as a 1v1 game. Overall, everyone has been satisfied with the game length and I have not felt the need to adjust Life Totals.

My worries about Shared Turns proved unfounded. There were no issues with Alpha Gamers in any of my games, team play felt very tight, and everyone felt involved equally with the game. We did have questions about quick cast markers, and looking in the rules it says they may be used "before or after any friendly action phase" which clearly indicates that teammates could use it during each other's turn during normal team games, even though nobody ever did so in our previous games. Therefore, we didn't actually have to change the rules for them to accomodate Shared Turns. Either or Both allied mages could use their quick cast during their team's turn regardless of which one of them decided to activate a creature. During the Quick Cast Phase, however, we ruled that only one mage per team could Quick Cast at a time. For the same reason that during the Action Phase they could only take one Creature Action at a time: fairness.

Overall, everyone in agreed that the variants improved team play and had absolutely nothing detrimental to say about them. I am going to highly recommend these variants for team play. To restate them more concisely:

1) Shared Life: Each mage converts their Life Total based upon the chart below and then adds it together with their teammates to determine their Shared Life Total. Any damage done to a mage is counted against there team's Shared Life Total, and any healing done to a mage removes damage from their team's Shared Life Total regardless of which mage on the team initially took the damage.

CONVERSION CHART
22.5 = Druid
24 = Forcemaster, Necromancer, Priestess, Wizard
25.5 = Johktari Beastmaster, Priest
27 = Beastmaster, Warlord
28.5 = Warlock

2) Shared Turns: Initiative shall pass between teams instead of individuals. When it is a Team's turn during the Quick Cast Phase, 1 of the teammates may Quick Cast a spell. Priority then passes to the next team. When it is a Team's turn during the Action Phase, 1 of the teammates may activate a creature. Priority then passes to the next team.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2013, 02:07:22 PM by Zuberi »

kiwipaul

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2013, 11:27:45 AM »
Keep up the discussion.  It is interesting as Mage wars is great one on one, but seems to fail a bit on the team or multi player variety.  Looking forward to trying some of these options.

abyssalstalker

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2013, 09:22:46 AM »
Just stumbled on this thread today and wanted to share my thoughts.

I had purchased Mage Wars to play with my friends / family 1v1 originally because most of my games were multiplayer and sometimes we just didn't have enough people. For better or worse, everyone I played with liked the aspect of 2V2. As a result, 90% of the games we play are 2v2 teams. We have played about 10 games this way so far. 

After reading the multiplayer rules I realized right off the bat that alternating seats made absolutely no sense. You need to share strategy with your partner. Look over each others books and coordinate a deadly combination. So we sit next to our team mates now.

Another thing we didn't appreciate was the size of the board. With conjurations being zone exclusive we needed more space to spread out if we were running a conjuration heavy strategy. As a result we use two boards and put them next to each other to create a 4X6 grid. We have each team opposite each other in the far corners of the boards. Essentially each full board is a respective team board. This doesn't hurt rushers either because a mage still has the same amount of spaces to reach an enemy mage.

We never combined life because we never had a problem where two mages would completely team up on one. People were too scared the untouched mage would be too powerful. Since we never had that problem we just kept their life untouched and if any mage was killed that team lost since losing an entire mages army / actions is just too devastating. That being said, I actually really like your idea of shared health. While the games we played didn't involve a ganging up on a mage, there were occasional problems. Some games would end up being two 1v1 games in the same arena and sometimes one team mate would get crushed while the other would be doing well. If one died and the other was fine it was indeed frustrating. Combining life pools is a really cool concept that will likely fix this problem. I will probably introduce in my next game and see how our group likes it.

Regarding turn order, we would have all four players roll and whoever won initiation received the token. We would then pass it back and forth to the other team, essentially taking turns by team mates. We did this because having two people on one side go at the same time is just too powerful. Throwing out two huge nukes on a legendary creature before the other team has a chance to react, for example. I personally never liked this method because having three other people have initiation over you could be aggravating. I had tried to think of a solution but nothing came to fruition. I absolutely love your implementation of having it pass between teams and they decide their turn order. This actually adds another layer of strategy and fluidity in a team game. If there's something crucial that's going to happen one side can choose that mage to go first to react. I am absolutely implementing this in our future games as it is the perfect solution.

Finally, for any conjurations that have a ready marker we generally allow people to use as many as they want as long as one of that teams members has an action. For example, a priestess and a warlock are on the same team. If it was the warlocks turn to take an action and they wanted to move and attack, we would allow a priestess to shoot with her temple, if she wanted, and buff with a hand of bim. We found this worked pretty well. It was indeed a bit strong sometimes but the cards were already on the board and players would know if a combo like that was coming and could at least somewhat react with positioning and card choice. Do you also play this way?

We never used the quick cast marker on other team mates turns but that proposes another interesting layer to a team game. I agree, during the initial quick cast it should only be back and forth but during the action stages I think it could work pretty well. I'll have to test it out.

I wanted to say thanks for your ideas. We love Mage Wars and since we only play team games implementing your ideas can drastically improve the game for us.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 09:31:26 AM by abyssalstalker »

Zuberi

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 04:17:11 PM »
Thank you for your thoughts, abyssalstalker. I hope that these variants work as well for you as they have for me.

Regarding board size, it does get a little crowded on a single board, but none of my friends play conjuration heavy builds. That's probably going to change with the introduction of the Druid, but up till now we've managed to make due with a single board mostly because of space limits on the table. I could definitely understand the desire for more space though. Personally, I would still put both team mates in the same starting zone even in a larger arena. It is nice to start as a team working together from the beginning. Starting spread out in different corners kind of puts you by yourself in your own world.

I would start both team mates in the same zone, with teams in opposite corners still. This would separate opponents a bit more than in a 1v1 game (8 zones away from their opponent instead of 5) which could hurt Rush strategies, but I don't think it will hurt much because of the team's ability to sling shot one another with teleports.

Currently a popular rush strategy in my group is for one team member to move 1 or 2 spaces, teleport their team mate as far as they can, and then their team mate summons a big bad critter. Occasionally they'll throw in a Rouse the Beast to get an attack off on round 1, so slowing down such a rush would actually rebalance the cosmos methinks.

I have been giving serious thought to creating a custom 5x5 board for the game. I think that would be a great size and layout for both team and FFA games. It could support up to 4 mages in a FFA game with each mage starting in the central zone along one of the 4 edges of the board. This would make you equidistant to ALL of your opponents (4 zones away from each of them) and give you 25 zones total to play with. Compare that to a 1v1 match on a single board in which you start 5 zones apart and have 12 zones to play with.

Regarding Shared Life, feel free to adjust the values. The values we use are the only ones I've tested. Because people in my group are happy with the results, I saw no need to experiment and tweak them. However, if your group prefers a longer or shorter game, adjusting the Life Values is an easy way to accomplish that.

Regarding the Quick Cast marker, we had never used it during a teammates turn either before implementing this variant. However, when introduced with the idea of Shared Turns, the question of the Quick Cast marker came up. I'm not sure why, but before making a decision on the subject, I looked it up in the Codex and it has pretty much the same wording as the Temple of Light and other such conjurations: "can be used before or after any friendly Action Phase"

If there is one thing I am considering changing about our team games still, it is the Quick Cast rules, as being able to use both Quick Casts in a row allows for some extremely powerful combos. However, based on the wording in the codex, any change to fix this would be implementing yet another variant as currently it is in the rules to be able to do such combos. Thus far it hasn't been taken advantage of often (most of the players tend to forget about it), so further testing is definitely needed.

I hope that you'll post your findings and opinions on things after you've had a chance to try them. I'd really enjoy hearing from others.

LokiDFC

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2013, 09:45:17 PM »
Glad to see such a thread. I've played around 15 team games, mostly thru octgn. We used a 4x4 board... Basically went into paint and copy/pasted one of the columns to make it an even 16 zones. You have to do a bit of setup on everyone's machine by changing the background image to accomplish this, but its not too difficult once you find the file. We actually made about 5-6 differently themed maps to try out, but we've only done two.

At first we would have both mages start in same zone, but we've found it more challenging to have them start in opposite corners and NOT speak/plan attacks. What made us do this wasnt that one guy would be Alpha player, it would be more that one guy would be weaker(minute difference, but there is one) and it became that the weaker teammate would just ask what he should do.

Not being able to speak to partner does make the game take a lot longer but it has definitely stepped everyone's game up. So much more challenging to have to try to anticipate what your partner AND opponents will do. We are all friends so we basically roll dice at start of game and the best roll pairs with third, and 2nd pairs with 4th. That's also the order of initiative that we use, and we don't share HP between partners. It's much more independent and as I said, games can take a while, but we enjoy the challenge of it. Anyone who likes this game isn't really going to be shying away from challenges...

Longest game was near 6 hours, and one of the mages on winning team was dead two hours before the end. The winner happened to be a beastmaster with a lair that basically made sure to bring out two creatures every turn while his partner kept the opposing mages busy in first few rounds. Some mistakes were made by both sides but nothing so major that you could say the losing team was clearly less skilled. A lot of it boils down to both mages having same cards in hand to do the same thing in a round when you only needed one.

I do like your proposed method... Should definitely speed up games. I'll bring it up to the guys. Here's hoping we get a DvN update sometime soon for octgn.

Zuberi

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 12:00:32 AM »
Quote from: LokiDFC
wasnt that one guy would be Alpha player, it would be more that one guy would be weaker(minute difference, but there is one) and it became that the weaker teammate would just ask what he should do.

I agree, that is an important difference. I personally have no problem with a player asking for help or advice. One of the best ways to improve your game is to seek advice. As long as it is a dialogue between them and not simply one person bullying the other into playing his way, I don't see an issue.

I do not think I would like playing in team games with you though. Being completely unable to talk during the game would not only ruin the feeling of being on a team, but it would ruin the social aspect of playing a game together. It would also make it harder to follow the rules regarding duplicating spells. I prefer my challenge to come from my opponents, not from being unable to work with my team mate.

dfcdaryth

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 10:20:43 AM »
Taken a bit too literally...   We abide by the ol Spades rule, "No talking across the board."

Oooh but quite a bit of trash talk gets slung in all directions, and the ruling debates are certainly epic.  The social interaction that we love out of those types of games is still very muchprevalent.

Quote
Being completely unable to talk during the game would not only ruin the feeling of being on a team, but it would ruin the social aspect of playing a game together. It would also make it harder to follow the rules regarding duplicating spells. 

And, I will add, when a move is made by two players on the same team, completely in synch, with zero communication other than the circumstances on the board...    It makes it that much sweeter.  Aaand the other side of that sword hurts quite a bit, too..  Like Yosemite Sam trying to keep the expletives at bay.  Oooooggghhh!!!

abyssalstalker

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Re: Team Play
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2013, 01:08:14 PM »
Zuberi,

a 5 X 5 board would be very interesting. I've always wanted to try a balanced FFA match. I have read somewhere that Arcane Wonders is looking to develop more rules / pieces for mutliplayer / team games. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

When my group has the two boards set up in a 2V2 game we are only 3 spaces away from each other. We could move and cast a spell on them if needed turn one. We don't consider the mages to be in "their own world" since team mates are this close. Almost all of us are conservative and economic players which leads to an investment in conjurations. With a 4X6 grid each player has six zones dedicated to conjurations which is the same in a 1v1 4X3 board. We found this to be the best balance since of having all the slots you would in a 1v1 game but also not crippling rush strategies. Having mages in the same zone would make it hard to establish conjurations early since zones and movement is limited. This is just what we prefer, however.

I had never thought about the strategy of teleporting a mage early to summon a large creature. That's a pretty fun idea and I will have to try that sometime. The only issue I see with this is that since (in our game) both mages are pretty close they can focus fire the big creature down. I guess this can be countered having the large creatures owners use block and counterspells, though.

My group generally enjoys longer games so I'll keep the health at face value for each mage. Games took around four hours without shared health so we'll adjust as necessary. The 100% or 75% value doesn't have to be hard, either. It can be agreed upon by everyone at the start of the game to determine game length which adds a nice fluidity.

I definitely see the quick cast being an issue. I'll initially leave it that you can't use both quick cast during the initial quick cast phase. I had originally thought to leave it that both mages can quick cast in a row if they decide to (similar to temple of light ready markers). However, I foresee this being too strong so what I think we will probably end up with is that a mage can use one quick cast per creature action even if it is your team mates. This will allow more options but also be balanced. Only time will tell what works, though!

I just received DvN today and plan on playing a lot of team games in about two weeks since a few of us are taking simultaneous vacations. I'll definitely report how these mechanics work out.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 01:13:28 PM by abyssalstalker »