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Author Topic: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)  (Read 5387 times)

Alexander West

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The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« on: February 07, 2014, 01:12:50 PM »
In Magic, there is a concept called The Philosophy of Fire, which is the idea that if your opponent is dead, it doesn't matter how many more resources they have than you.  Also, that on any given turn, the cards you will draw will add an average of X points of damage, and therefore you will have enough cards to defeat your opponent on turn Y.

I started thinking about how this applies to Mage Wars.  Since most damage spells deal about 1 damage per mana spent, if there is a fast and efficient way to convert mana to damage, it does not take very long before a mage has aquired more mana than their opponent has life.  For example, even the 9 channeling mages have gotten 37 mana by the end of turn 3, which is more than the life totals of all but the Warlock.  (Like, if we could turn 4 Fireballs and a Fireshaper Ring into ~39 damage by the end of that turn...)

Another consideration added to the mix must be the non-Mana damage a Mage brings to the mix.  For example, the Warlock has melee skill, so once close enough can add 4 damage per turn when not being obstructed by guards or distance.

The question that must then be asked is how to best convert mana to damage?  Usually, the answer to this is "creatures".  However, we must say this with a caveat, which is that almost every mage has some tools for controlling "a few big", whether it is Sleep, Force Hold, Turn to Stone, Mind Control, Banish, whatever.  When we fight over a creature, we start trading a lot of mana and actions, which works against what we are trying to exploit: time.  This is especially an issue since summoning a creature costs a full action, (which implies not making an attack), so the cost for it is not just the mana, but also +4 damage (assuming a mage with melee skill).

If creatures are not the best thing, then we have to turn to attack spells and equipment.  Assuming we will get in 3 or more attacks using it, cards like Fireweavers Ring, Gauntlets of Strength, Lash of Flame (only because of +1 from ring and Burn effects), and Dancing Scimitar can all be worth it.  However, playing any equipment demands actions, which might require a Battleforge since otherwise we would need our actions for spellcasting.  I haven't played enough games (or done enough math) to know whether the 8 mana into the forge increases or decreases the fundamental speed you can deal 30-40 damage in, but my hunch would be a slight improvement.

Attack spells must be the bread and butter of this strategy.  The more mana that can be turned into damage at once the better.  I think Fireball and Hurl Boulder currently are tops, though Jet Stream, Acid Ball, Invisible Fist, and Fireblast all have their places.  The book would either need an elemental wand(s) or lots of copies of these spells to keep turning mana into damage.  Fireball yields an expected 8.75 damage (7 dice + fractional 1 burn) for 8 mana, which is pretty nice.

However, an opponent is not going to just sit still for this.  Issue #1 are healing spells and effects.  Unlike Magic where life gain is not very good, and thus is not played in ever deck, in Mage Wars every mage seems to find room for at least 1 heal or minor heal, and probably more.  As such, we absolutely must have a reliable source of Finite Life.  Currently this means either Deahlock or Tainted Blood.  Deathlock is far more preferable, because Tainted Blood can easily be dispelled.  Worse, it could be disspelled during a turn where the opponent is in the "going last" position, and will have initiative next turn, which could mean landing 2 healing spells after the dissolve before we would have a chance to Tainted Blood them again.  The only upside of Tanted Blood is that if we catch them by surprise, we can waste a lot of their mana and one of their (presumably not overly numberous) healing effects.

Issue #2 is armor or Defenses.  Even two points of armor effectively increases opponent's HP by 50% vs. a 4-dice melee attack and 25% vs. a Fireball.  This is unacceptable.  Part of the reason we want to avoid spending mana fighting over the freedom of a creature, is that we want to devote mana and time resources to keeping the opponent naked / defenseless.  Explode is actually awesome for our strategy, since we are fundamentally constricted on actions (only 1 QC per turn if we are using our melee attack).  We get to destroy a piece of equipment and push damage in one fell swoop.  Sometimes we'll need to disspel or dissolve things, that's just the nature of the beast.  Acid Ball is also a very efficient answer to most armor pieces.  So long as we're not staring at a - Element effect we can't tolerate, it's actually better than Explore or Dissolve for anything like Leather Gloves, Leather Boots, Bearskin, etc.  (I'd rather Explode/Dissolve a Wyvernhide Hauberk or Elemental Cloak because they mess up the burns.)  The goal is to keep the opponent with no meaningful protection against our spells.

Issue #3 are counter effects like Nullify, Block, Reverse Magic, and Reverse Attack.  These cards require careful play not to get destroyed by.  I very much like Dancing Scimitar because of its ability to trigger Block or Reverse Attack, as well as to deal with a creature on Guard.  Nullify and Reverse Magic require specialized answers.  Either we must give up our melee attack so we can 1-2 punch the opponent with a "fake" spell (like Decoy), or take the time to summon a Familiar so that our melee attack is free and we can still 1-2 punch opponents.  I've been thinking Sectarus is particularly interesting for this job, since it is a quick or battleforge action to summon rather than a full action like Huginn or Mindspore.  Wizard's Tower is also a solid choice, though potentially a little fragile.

I've only played a couple of games with a book like this.  So far it has seemed opponents are underprepared for the direct personal onslaught.  Like, they have a couple of defensive pieces and heals, but when my entire book is dedicated to fighting past those, they run out of tools.

I'm curious about other people's experiences.  Have you or your meta played books like this?  Are they good?  How do metas combat this strategy?  What are the minimum tools a book needs to fight off a book like this?  Etc?
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Alexander West

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2014, 01:13:31 PM »
Example Spellbook (Warlock):

Mage Wars deck (built using OCTGN deckbuilder) 2/7/2014 12:00:00 AM

Spellbook points: 120 used of 120 allowed

1 Warlock

---  Attack  ---
4 Fireball
5 Flameblast
2 Ring of Fire
3 Acid Ball

---  Conjuration  ---
1 Idol of Pestilence
1 Deathlock
1 Battle Forge

---  Creature  ---
2 Dark Pact Slayer
1 Goran, Werewolf Pet
1 Adramelech, Lord of Fire
1 Flaming Hellion

---  Enchantment  ---
2 Chains of Agony
2 Magebane
2 Poisoned Blood
1 Death Link
2 Enfeeble

---  Equipment  ---
1 Sectarus, Dark Rune Sword
1 Dancing Scimitar
2 Dragonscale Hauberk
1 Elemental Cloak
2 Fireshaper Ring
2 Lash of Hellfire
1 Leather Boots
1 Leather Gloves
1 Ring of Curses
2 Veterans Belt
1 Wand of Healing
1 Elemental Wand

---  Incantation  ---
2 Explode
2 Dissolve
3 Dispel
4 Teleport

I made the spellbook before I finished the theory and wrote the post.  I'm not sure if any creatures are right, but I thought I'd try to have a few in case things were going wrong somehow, or I thought my opponent didn't have any good answer to them.
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barriecritzer

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2014, 01:28:15 PM »
How do you plan on having enough mana to cast adramelech or the werewolf if you are planning on slinging direct damage spells almost every turn?


sIKE

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 01:34:36 PM »
In my experience, the main problem with this approach is Reverse Attack becomes very popular in your opponents decks. Plus as the number of creatures grows there is an action efficiency that curves way up, then you layer on top CoK's Interceptors (who now get the Reverse Attack bound to them) and you will quickly find that you are dead. Other people experience may vary. I can tell you at one point against Charmyna, I used a Thunderbolt (3 Zone Ranged attack) very unsuccessfully.
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silverclawgrizzly

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 01:44:06 PM »
This is a very interesting post Alexander thank you for putting it up. In my experience it's best to attack first early on before the other Mage even expects it. While they're still setting up their conjurations like Mana Crystal hit them hard. One good idea is to put something nasty down on them and then Nullify the opposing mage. Best case scenario you waste one of their heals or teleports. Worse case you make them waste a Seeking Dispel.

After you get your early hit them bring out some creatures if you like and rely on them to do the damage while you work on "damage control" getting rid of armor, Regrowth Belts, etc. This usually works pretty good for me but obviously has it's flaws.
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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 01:45:32 PM »
I think the philosophy of fire is meant to be a general average or approximation, not a rule. How you use your mana and actions is very often more important than how much mana you have compared to your opponent.
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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 01:46:23 PM »
I personally hope that Mage Wars never gets to that "Turn 4 victory" point. That's one of the reasons I quit Magic.

"Oh you just put 10 infect counters on me on turn 2......well that was such a fun "game" We should do it again sometime never"


Alexander West

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2014, 01:49:08 PM »
How do you plan on having enough mana to cast adramelech or the werewolf if you are planning on slinging direct damage spells almost every turn?

The book is not planning on casting them in 95% of games.  These cards are just there in case things go wrong.  The main plan doesn't eat up all of the book points, so there are extra book points put into various possible contingencies.
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webcatcher

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2014, 01:50:35 PM »
As a frequent forcemaster player I agree with sIKE. If you want to play aggressively you have to be able to end the game fast or else the action inefficiency gets too hard to overcome. This means that to a certain extent you'll be playing rock, paper, scissors with your opponent. If he picks a slow game book with a lot of early defense you might find it hard to cope. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, since no one's book wins every game, but you need to be aware.

Alexander West

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2014, 02:16:42 PM »
In my experience, the main problem with this approach is Reverse Attack becomes very popular in your opponents decks. Plus as the number of creatures grows there is an action efficiency that curves way up, then you layer on top CoK's Interceptors (who now get the Reverse Attack bound to them) and you will quickly find that you are dead. Other people experience may vary. I can tell you at one point against Charmyna, I used a Thunderbolt (3 Zone Ranged attack) very unsuccessfully.

Thanks for this post sIKE!

I had completely overlooked Intercept as an issue for this deck.  For the moment, all creatures with Intercept are living, so that makes Sleep an interesting option beyond the other straightforward options (Teleport, Force Push, Knockdown, etc.)  In general, though, either a Familiar or a Dancing Scimitar seems like it can stop a lot of those sort of protections?

I agree with the sentiment that this sort of book needs to get its business done quickly.  This is both due to mana issues, and action inequality issues.  Unless you can KO the opponent with your superior aggression, their better resource development will get you every time.  (Unless they burned resources inefficiently to survive, and you are now somehow ahead.)
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sIKE

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 03:06:11 PM »
(Unless they burned resources inefficiently to survive, and you are now somehow ahead.)
Truth! It does happen...
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BoomFrog

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2014, 09:28:02 PM »
First, I'd like to point out that dancing scimitar does not take away a guard's token when it attacks.

However if you are keeping your opponent at 0 armor an extremely efficient maneuver is to cast wall of thorns and push them through it.  It separates them from their guards, it cost 11 mana and does 10 dice of damage, and if you are not next to the wall yourself then a reverse magic has no significant effect.

I almost shouldn't post this since I'm one of your main opponents. :p

Alexander West

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2014, 10:33:02 PM »
I personally hope that Mage Wars never gets to that "Turn 4 victory" point. That's one of the reasons I quit Magic.

"Oh you just put 10 infect counters on me on turn 2......well that was such a fun "game" We should do it again sometime never"

Don't worry Sylex, I did some calculations and an opponent doing literally nothing but standing in the corner and casting irrelevant spells can not be killed until turn 4.  And, if they do pretty much *anything* to protect themselves (run evasively, summon a creature to guard), they can't be killed before turn 5.  The game is pretty well designed to give you time to use the tools in your deck to play the game.

The key is showing up at the table with the right spread of tools.
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Alexander West

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2014, 10:37:05 PM »
First, I'd like to point out that dancing scimitar does not take away a guard's token when it attacks.

However if you are keeping your opponent at 0 armor an extremely efficient maneuver is to cast wall of thorns and push them through it.  It separates them from their guards, it cost 11 mana and does 10 dice of damage, and if you are not next to the wall yourself then a reverse magic has no significant effect.

I almost shouldn't post this since I'm one of your main opponents. :p

Interesting.  I thought Scimitar counted as an attack from your Mage, and as such would draw a counterattack.

Wall of Thorns + Push doesn't become efficient until the 2nd push.  Otherwise it's worse than Fireball or Fireblast.  However, it does get very efficient from the 2nd push...  And they can run away from the wall.  It's interesting, but I think you need to be set up in just the right timing position to exploit it.  Still... good thought.

^^

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sIKE

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Re: The Philosophy of Fire (Discussion and Example Spellbook)
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2014, 11:58:34 PM »
First, I'd like to point out that dancing scimitar does not take away a guard's token when it attacks.

However if you are keeping your opponent at 0 armor an extremely efficient maneuver is to cast wall of thorns and push them through it.  It separates them from their guards, it cost 11 mana and does 10 dice of damage, and if you are not next to the wall yourself then a reverse magic has no significant effect.

I almost shouldn't post this since I'm one of your main opponents. :p
If you have an unarmored mage with proper planning and execution you can suffer three pushes back to back to back without much recourse,  I have gone from zero damage to dead in two rounds as a result. It is much like the bishops opening gambit in chess, once you know what to look for it is avoidable though.
Interesting.  I thought Scimitar counted as an attack from your Mage, and as such would draw a counterattack.

Wall of Thorns + Push doesn't become efficient until the 2nd push.  Otherwise it's worse than Fireball or Fireblast.  However, it does get very efficient from the 2nd push...  And they can run away from the wall.  It's interesting, but I think you need to be set up in just the right timing position to exploit it.  Still... good thought.

^^
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