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Author Topic: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?  (Read 8949 times)

DeckBuilder

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What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« on: December 10, 2013, 07:33:19 PM »
This is a sequel to my "Etherian Lifetree and Corrode Meta Change" strategy thread where I argued that both mechanics should help the rarely played Beastmaster Swarm strategy become more competitively viable.

I shamefully confess I've never played Swarm strategy with Beastmaster (or any mage, my mind can't cope with too many action options). From my first ever build (posted on BGG), I have always played Battle Forge Few Big Aggro-Tempo Beastmaster (a variant posted in this section). But I really want to try something new here (for me) - hopefully without losing my almost unbeaten Straywood local meta record (I've only lost to my own Golem Pit book).

So I'm asking "The Wisdom Of The Forum" to critique the following unpolished concept...


Beastmaster Swarm

2 Ring of Beasts [2]
6 Thunderift Falcon [6]
6 Bitterwood Fox [6]
6 Feral Bobcat [6]

4 Rajanís Fury [8]
6 Marked for Death [12]
2 Call of the Wild [2]

1 Etherian Lifetree [2]
1 Renewing Spring [3]
1 Renewing Rain [4]
2 Fortified Position [8]
2 Shift Enchantment [2]

4 Dispel [8]
4 Dissolve [8]
2 Acid Ball [4]
6 Wall of Thorns [6]
4 Force Push [8]
1 Eagle Claw Boots [1]

6 Tanglevine [6]
2 Teleport [8]

1 Dragonscale Hauberk [3]
1 Elemental Cloak [2]
1 Regrowth [1]
1 Cheetah Speed [1]
1 Mongoose Agility [1]

(Edit: Aylin's Shift Zonal Enchantments trick added at cost of mage buffs; Unicorn Pet too expensive, slow, blocked by Walls of Thorns)
(Edit: Cheetah Speed and Mongoose Agility added as defence against ultra-big threats, prompted by Lettuce's thread below)

It feels odd building so counter-intuitively for the Beastmaster, with no toolbox buffs for your Few Bigs. Instead, there are global pumps like Rajan's Fury (so all Charge/Fast), Marked for Death (reveal just before hit by many, main target of enemy Dispels) and the much maligned Call of the Wild (doubles as a finisher). There are defence reducers (Dissolve, Dispel, Acid Ball) and Force Push to position Fast Charge, both synergising with Wall of Thorns (which lets level 1s through). In addition, we have Etherian Lifetree and Shifting Fortified Positions for global resilience, Renewing Rain (only full action) against burn like Ring of Fire, Renewing Spring empowers your Fast creatures to heal themselves (if you prefer to sacrifice tempo for a slower game). The strategy is very strongly based on leveraging global effects as befits a swarm build. The build is obviously played in the Mage Assassination style with movement spells to isolate enemy from multiple guards (Tanglevine against single guards) and to enable a zone that all can Charge into (Falcons often doubling back).

Epic control conjurations will cause you problems but at least Fast creatures can quickly focus on their removal, aided by Hurl Boulders which doubles as  finisher. Your main attack task force are fast falcons and foxes with bobcats serving as guards or guard distractors.

The theoretical optimal opening (never happens due to reacting to enemy) would be...
(19) Ring of Beasts (17) Falcon (12)
(21) Rajan's Fury (14) Falcon (9)
(18) Rajan's Fury (11) Falcon (6)
(15) Rajan's Fury [8] Falcon (3)
(12) Rajan's Fury (5) Falcon (0)
Falcons leaving and re-entering a stationary mage's zone to gain +4 Charge each seems strong...
The intention is to most definitely fast cast a creature each turn (usually in Final QC to avoid enemy attacks).
Hence having a spare Ring of Beasts is important as this is your only (very cost-efficient) mana augmenter.

The theory is that, as long as level 1s survive one attack (Lifetree), they are better value than a buff on a Big as level 1s only cost a quick action like a buff with Quick Summoning. Whether this theory holds water, however, is entirely another matter...

So is this a viable strategy? I'm rather apprehensive as it's very different to my usual Straywood build. But I just want to play him differently. Has Etherian Lifetree, Acid Ball and Renewing Rain made weenies more viable? What says "The Wisdom Of The Forum"?
« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 05:09:24 PM by DeckBuilder »
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ACG

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 08:05:52 PM »
If you're going for a swarm of level 1 creatures, you should consider including meditation amulet and lair in this build; they are perfect for it. The beastmaster can meditate and summon a creature with quick action, and have the lair summon another creature. Because level 1 creatures are so cheap, the lair will not slow down the strategy too much. With ring of beasts and lair's channeling, you might even get to a point at which you can stop meditating and just summon 3 creatures per round (though that is likely unnecessary).

Aylin

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 08:40:58 PM »
Consider casting Etherian Lifetree around turn 3, when your opponent will probably start trying to bring your falcons down.

You could also use Shift Enchantment + Sacred Ground to give your creatures some more survivability.

One mistake though; Renewing Rain is 1 Holy and 1 Water. For Beastmasters the cost to take this spell is 4.

DeckBuilder

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 02:31:28 AM »
@ACG
I appreciate the Lair + Meditation synergy you suggest but I think it would be wasted producing quick cast level 1s. It would be how I would go if I was going Dog Swarm, with Lair generating Wolves (-8) while I meditate (+3) and produce Foxes (-4 with Ring) each turn, with RedClaw somewhere in that sequence. That is a different build. This build tries to leverage Wall of Thorns + Force Push + Fast + Charge at its core.

@Aylin
Thanks for the spot on Renewing Rain, now reduced to just 1 as it is full action. I like your Sacred Ground and Shift Enchantment trick, especially as his Dispels should be focused on removing Marked for Deaths. Because they are unarmoured, I think Fortified Position is better (armour worth more the less you have). Thank you for the idea, nice one!
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Aylin

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 02:50:23 AM »

@Aylin
Thanks for the spot on Renewing Rain, now reduced to just 1 as it is full action. I like your Sacred Ground and Shift Enchantment trick, especially as his Dispels should be focused on removing Marked for Deaths. Because they are unarmoured, I think Fortified Position is better (armour worth more the less you have). Thank you for the idea, nice one!

Every so often I have a good idea.  8)

DeckBuilder

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 08:03:20 AM »
It's a really neat idea I'd never thought of. I think you need 2 of them to cover both departure and destination zones for your swarm, then you start shifting the unused 1 to the enemy''s new location. It works here as the enemy will focus his Dispels quota on (opportunely revealed) Marked For Death (treat as 1 round global buffs, like Call of Wild that needs equal mana spent to Dispel, also helps mage/range attacks).

This also made me think about the Regrowth vs. Belt choice. Because of vine range Orchid, it's less clear cut now but I'm a firm believer in overloading either enchantments or equipment to run out of Dispel or Dissolve so here I chose enchantments (despite Dispel's range 2 almost uncounterable), especially as you may end up with unused Shift Enchantments. Thus all equipment used are only what cannot be duplicated by enchantments, a toolbox (although Boots are crucial to stop Thorns backfiring). It's weird to build a book without Enchanter's Ring or Battle Forge!

This may seem new to Johnny Come Lately players like me but I recall seeing a Valshalla Beastmaster swarm build by sdougla2 (props) from last year. This disagrees at having such a high investment and tries to leverage the Wall of Thorns + Force Push trick highlighted by Charmyna (props), Force Push + Charge and Beastmaster's best ability to fast cast level 1 animals that ignore Thorns. I think this build evolves this archetype (or at least the purist weenie variant) but it's far from polished and so I would very much welcome more feedback (all ideas credited). It's just refreshingly different to the same old "buffing Few Bigs" approach, built from the swarm victim's point of view.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 08:32:39 AM by DeckBuilder »
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ringkichard

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 08:58:26 AM »
The big advantage of Swarm is that the  mana cost per attack die is so low on things like foxes and falcons. The disadvantage is that the action cost per attack die is higher, and it's so much easier to kill the products of those actions.

The traditional situational problems have been Armor's increased effectiveness against multiple attacks, and the Delivery Problem. Getting your swarm to the target quickly and without dying is not simple, and swarm has difficulty against ranged, let alone AOE.

If I were considering some experimental swarm books (and who says I'm not?) I'd be tempted to swap the thornpush package for a teleport pit strategy. Rather than bring the swarm to the target, I'd want to bring the target to the swarm.

Thornpush is really only ready scarry with Wizard's Tower or Hugin anyway.
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lettucemode

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 09:07:09 AM »
Nice book, I really like how focused it is. Never even considered 4 Rajan's Fury in a build before...I have got to get myself a spell tome or two.

Any reason you're not bringing a Mage Wand? Binding Shift Enchantment to it could be really useful.

What's your plan against big flyers, like Adramelech or an Angel? Just win first? I don't see much in your book to deal with them except the 4 falcons and the attack spells. If the Lord of Fire is in your face on turn 3 you'll only have 2 falcons out. And I doubt you can Teleport him away forever...

I think you should consider trading one or two of the Rajan's Fury for Tooth and Nail in case the other mage starts stacking armor like crazy. Though maybe you are counting on your Dispels + Dissolves to take care of that.

And perhaps the most important question of all: Gate to Hell, "The Terror of the Meta", stomps this build flat! Whatever is your strategy against such might???

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 09:13:41 AM »
Thanks for the input. I like the nomenclature - "thornpush" and "telepit" (after all, you did name Golem Pit, Kich).

I see where you're coming from. I just love the multiple synergies here as it's so different. I suspect that telepit is just too strong.

Druid with her swarm of cheap offensive creatures is surely far better suited to Telepit? In my Druid book clinic thread, I'm vainly trying to avoid this archetype (I think I may be punched in my local meta if I played telepit again!). But just like my attempts at Warlord that always ended back to Earth Wizard, I suspect Vine Pit will be dominant competitive build. Which is a shame as the mechanics promise so much more (I far prefer Bloodspines + Lashers + Raptors + Galador in a focus ranged firepower board control concept). Teleport is the C# of Mage Wars, a brutally overly powerful sledgehammer that breaks too many interesting builds.

In fact, I contend that Golem Pit, replacing living creatures with Jelly, is still the strongest archetype out there (because no other mage  can beat a Wizard in Teleport Wars with wands, nullifies and transfusions). It's just too "cheesy" as jacksmack called it recently. They really should consider nerfing telepit as it's just so artless...
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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 09:18:00 AM »
And perhaps the most important question of all: Gate to Hell, "The Terror of the Meta", stomps this build flat! Whatever is your strategy against such might???

Not ignoring this thread, just suddenly busy at work. Good points, Lettuce. Let me consider and come back to you.

As for Gate To Hell, is this your Quest (or Imaginator's) to make it viable? Nobody expects Gate To Hell... Finally, a use for it!
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Laddinfance

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 10:02:34 AM »
Gate to Hell is the "Spanish Inquisition" of Mage Wars.

ringkichard

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 12:24:09 PM »
If you're running Falcons and Foxes maybe you don't need the pit portion of the book, just the Teleports, and maybe Forcewave for backup? Bobcats actually want your opponent to try to flee, so that's fine, too. To my way of thinking, the pit part was only required because Iron Golems are so slow, but if you run from Falcons you'll just die tired.

Calling it now, when (when!) Gate to Hell is tier one, we're using Laddin's name and calling it The Spanish Inquisition.
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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 03:59:33 PM »
Thanks for the input. I like the nomenclature - "thornpush" and "telepit" (after all, you did name Golem Pit, Kich).

I see where you're coming from. I just love the multiple synergies here as it's so different. I suspect that telepit is just too strong.

Druid with her swarm of cheap offensive creatures is surely far better suited to Telepit? In my Druid book clinic thread, I'm vainly trying to avoid this archetype (I think I may be punched in my local meta if I played telepit again!). But just like my attempts at Warlord that always ended back to Earth Wizard, I suspect Vine Pit will be dominant competitive build. Which is a shame as the mechanics promise so much more (I far prefer Bloodspines + Lashers + Raptors + Galador in a focus ranged firepower board control concept). Teleport is the C# of Mage Wars, a brutally overly powerful sledgehammer that breaks too many interesting builds.

In fact, I contend that Golem Pit, replacing living creatures with Jelly, is still the strongest archetype out there (because no other mage  can beat a Wizard in Teleport Wars with wands, nullifies and transfusions). It's just too "cheesy" as jacksmack called it recently. They really should consider nerfing telepit as it's just so artless...

I so much agree with you about Teleport. It should only allow to teleport friendly creature.

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 07:43:45 PM »
I've finally got a spare moment to answer responses...

Nice book, I really like how focused it is. Never even considered 4 Rajan's Fury in a build before...I have got to get myself a spell tome or two.

Spell Tomes are very expensive for what you get here in the UK. My local meta finally broke from its "equal pool" restraint (which kept me limited to just 1 Core) so I got another Core and we lend cards to each other. OCTGN (I've yet to take the interface plunge) obviously gets round component limitations. It's really liberating conceptualising books when you are no longer limited by cards you've got.

Any reason you're not bringing a Mage Wand? Binding Shift Enchantment to it could be really useful.

Too slow. Shift Enchantment too niche! A Mage Wand reads "Teleport" in my eyes due to its spell points cost.

What's your plan against big flyers, like Adramelech or an Angel? Just win first? I don't see much in your book to deal with them except the 4 falcons and the attack spells. If the Lord of Fire is in your face on turn 3 you'll only have 2 falcons out. And I doubt you can Teleport him away forever...

Ok, this is a good point. You have used my own Resources Strategy & Tactics article against me!

Casting Lord of Fire if surrounded by 6 Foxes with 18 life left and no armour is poor as opponent has tempo. Casting Lord of Fire in turn 4 after Beastmaster has cast 6 Foxes is good as it culls his tempo action advantage.

So what defences does this build have against Big Flyers?
 
Well, the Beastmaster will never willing stay still so Lord of Fire's Sweeping will never trigger unless hovering over enemy mage. When you have Force Push to change things. Racing the Beastmaster is an option but I have picked Dragonscale, Cloak and Renewing Rain specifically to mitigate this. The advantage of only weenies is your mage can always double move last action (assuming only Big Flyer engaging) then Final QC a Falcon. Even if immobilised with the demon lord above, your mage can off initiative Final QC Fox to first turn move unhindered away.

As for Samandriel, a Bobcat guard is a 4-cost Block that survives to Block again on a roll of 8+.

However, you make a very good point, Lettuce, that I need answers. Refusing to spend 4+ spellpoints on Sleep (creature light Warlock plays Pestilence), Enfeeble, Force Hold or similar control solutions against a big threat investment, I decided to add Cheetah Speed (perfect against Big Flyers) and Mongoose Agility (perfect against Grizzly etc) to the book. It seems so obvious as the book leverages Quick Summoning which means Beastmaster is moving every round (none of this static meditation nonsense). So why not just move 2 unhindered and cast (a shame not an animal for Charge synergy). These 2 buffs are synergetic with each other and the build concept.

If I was only worried about Lord of Fire, I would consider 2 Firebrand Imps (they make very good guards against him) as they fit with the weenie theme, but I prefer a solution that is more versatile against a variety of threats.

Props to you, Lettuce, for making me evolve the build. Thanks for highlighting this vulnerability.

I think you should consider trading one or two of the Rajan's Fury for Tooth and Nail in case the other mage starts stacking armor like crazy. Though maybe you are counting on your Dispels + Dissolves to take care of that.

This is Mage Assassination style (4 Force Pull, 2 Teleport, 4 Tanglevine for guards). Dispel, Dissolve and Acid Ball are there to target the enemy mage. Kich details the pros and cons of Swarm admirably above. Reducing Armour is key. Wall of Thorns is a Swarm wall. Hence why both Lifetree and Corrode are needed to bring weenie swarm to competitive (as detailed in the similarly named Strategy thread).

I can't ever justify more than 6 zone exclusives (unless playing Wizard or Control with toolbox of Epics). Charge +1 is better than Piercing +1 assuming you can trigger it (Falcons and Force Push help). Tooth & Nail is useless against plants and zombies (and skeletons have low armour). I chose to focus on Charge and enabling bonus.

And perhaps the most important question of all: Gate to Hell, "The Terror of the Meta", stomps this build flat! Whatever is your strategy against such might???

Now that I have the card in front of me, Gate to Hell does not harm Falcons or Conjurations (6 Falcons and 4 Fury's is death). It's a 6 spell points, 2 full actions and 24 mana investment for meagre benefit (what were they thinking?). It does however serve a very useful purpose. Laminated, it makes a conversation piece coaster.

If you're running Falcons and Foxes maybe you don't need the pit portion of the book, just the Teleports, and maybe Forcewave for backup? Bobcats actually want your opponent to try to flee, so that's fine, too. To my way of thinking, the pit part was only required because Iron Golems are so slow, but if you run from Falcons you'll just die tired.

Yes, I did consider Force Wave, especially as it works nice with Wall of Thorns and level 1s (and is great against Lumbering). But I have been playing Forcemaster recently and I am really appreciating the Isolating Avenger aspect of her Force Pull. You want to trigger Charge +X once engaged while moving the enemy mage away from guards and Force Wave doesn't help here, Force Push does. Force Wave is also quite hard to trigger on a friendly horde with its 1-1 push away only effect (my Force Wave Wand + 4 Oozes idea has problems when in contact with any arena wall).

However, I can see the value of Force Wave when enemy mage is Tangled! So maybe a single copy won't hurt, a very Mountain Comes to Muhammed reversal that appeals to me.

Every book can benefit with 4 Teleports, a testament that it is broken (here, I'd jettison Fortified Positions, changing Shift Enchantments into Force Wave). However, I really want to play something different to the same old broken strategy. I really liked Aylin's Shift Zone idea so I want to try it out. It may be weaker than 4 Teleports but it has more finesse than the artless brutality of Teleport your mage to my horde.

I so much agree with you about Teleport. It should only allow to teleport friendly creature.

I only advocate Teleport (the spell only, not the trap) not being able to target an enemy Mage. Wizards need Teleport to bring opponent's threats to a Hydra etc. To be "friendly creatures only" would be too big a nerf for Teleport but they need to remove the threat of Teleport short-cutting all your mage defences. What is the point in playing a Fortress Strategy if Teleport simply extracts you out of your defences?

Teleporting enemy mages is the single destroyer of creative Mage Wars builds, a spell points tax that is harming the game.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2013, 08:04:59 PM by DeckBuilder »
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Aylin

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Re: What does Beastmaster Swarm look like?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2013, 08:33:01 PM »
Whenever I can't fit at least two Teleports into my books, I feel like I have to go back and start over (and ideally I try to fit in 4). It's so annoying. =\