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Author Topic: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars  (Read 25607 times)

Alexander West

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Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« on: February 24, 2014, 12:54:26 AM »
I am going to use a 5 point scale to classify spells in Mage Wars.  Rather than try to rank them (which I think is not useful), I just want to score them as a thought exercise.  I am leaving out most specific mage only spells, since those don't feel relevant to rate.  Here is my scale:

5 - I almost always put one or more copies of this spell in my books regardless of school.
4 - I strongly consider putting this spell in my book regardless of school.
3 - I almost always put one or more copies of this spell in my book if its in my school, and rarely would splash it.
2 - I sometimes put this spell in my book if its in my school.
1 - I have trouble imagining using this spell, even if its in my school.

5s:
Teleport
Dispel
Dissolve
Eagleclaw Boots

4s:
Steelclaw Grizzly
Mana Crystal
Mana Flower
Battleforge
Dragonscale Hauberk
Veterans Belt
Regrowth Belt
Meditation Amulet
Regrowth
Rhino Hide
Harmonize
Cheetah Speed
Nullify
Sleep
Maim Wings
Acid Ball
Hurl Boulder
Heal
Minor Heal
Purify
Wand of Healing
Dispel Wand
Mage Wand

3s:
Leather Gloves (counts as being in everyone's book due to Novice)
(any armor granting equipment not listed elsewhere)
Dancing Scimitar
Suppression Robe
Lair
Gate to Voltari
Librum Mortus
Temple of Asyra
Archer's Watchtower
Grimson Deadeye
Sir Corazin, Blademaster
Goblin Slinger
Knight of Westlock
Royal Archer
Galador, Protector of Straywood
Karalathor, the Devourer
Wall of Thorns
Zombie Brute or Skeleton Warrior
Shaggoth-Zora or Mort
Undead Archer
Necropian Vampiress
Devouring Ooze
Gorgon Archer
Whirling Spirit
Iron Golem
Force Push
Force Wave
Precise Strike
Piercing Strike
Power Strike
Piercing Shot
Mind Control
Turn to Stone
Force Hold
Fortified Position
Sacred Ground
Enchantment Transfusion
Bear Strength
Bull Endurance
Eagle Wings
Mongoose Agility
Falcon Precision
Healing Charm
Block
Decoy
Purge Magic
Seeking Dispel
Ghoul Rot
Drain Life
Magebane
Poisoned Blood
Agony
Enfeeble
Idol of Pestilence
Deathlock
Suppression Orb
Mordok's Obelisk
Ring of Fire
Fireball
Fireblast
Chain Lightning
Jet Stream
Geyser
Zombie Frenzy or Reassemble

2s:
(any non-armor spell not listed elsewhere)

1s:
Stumble

Curious what other people think?  Should some spells be rated higher?  Lower?  Are the categories useful?  Have I described them well enough?

« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 01:00:07 AM by Alexander West »
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silverclawgrizzly

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2014, 01:05:03 AM »
I rank Bears Strength, Cheetah Speed, and Rhino Hide as must haves but that's just me.
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Zuberi

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2014, 02:39:58 AM »
The list is definitely subjective, and as such there will be a lot of disagreement over different spells. I would personally change many of your spell rankings by as many as 2 ranks, but that's me. I am me and you are you, and this is how you would rank them. I do think the list could be useful for building spell books, but it is going to be a personal preference no matter how you cut it. The only benefit this list would have to other people is to get a glimpse into your mindset. Which is not a minor thing. Seeing how other people think and approach the game can give a person new insights that they might never have gotten on their own. For that, I thank you.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 05:03:04 AM »
The scope is far too large
And the value of cards varies with the mages playing (cost-benefit), other cards in the book and your local meta
For example, AlexW, you posted Pushy Wizard hence Eagleclaw up there
Yet in my meta, Veteran's Belt + High Armour has nerfed Thorns Push and Wall Bash

Interesting though this discussion will be, it falls prey to the same assumptions fas723 made with "most efficient creatures"
The reality is you would need to map out a Kohonen Network of card interactions
Then apply it to a changing meta propensity to encounter opponent cards to evlaute this

For example, in a meta of Buffed Forcemasters, Curse Stacking and Buffed Elites, Purge Magic immediately becomes a valuable threat.
There are just so many dimensions that I think the thread's subject should be de-scoped to just one aspect

Broadly your 5 categories are:
(A) Always Golden (e.g. Teleport)
(B) Toolbox Golden (e.g. Purge Magic) - reacting to opponent's strategy
(C) Workhorse - the majority - just don't talk about these and cloud the issue
(D) Niche Strategy (e.g. Rajan's Fury) - useful only for certain own strategies
(E) Waste of Trees (e.g. Destroy Magic)

I think the most fun to be had is a thread dedicated to Category (E) = laminate as a coaster
And then others can defend why those crads deserve to be in Category (D) = niche strategy
For example, if they release cheap mobile Demons, Gate to Hell is borderline Niche Strategy
But spending 4+SPs on reactive opponent's build-reliant spell like full action Destroy Magic is never going to happen

Another example: you hate Stumble
But actually it's Niche suitable for at least these strategies
Teleport to Monster Pit + Transfusion Jinx Nullify Force Hold Stumble
(Could be played in-school with Forcemaster Force Pull into Teleport Trap into Pit of 4 Psyloks if only better)
It could also help Warlord Ranged Strategy against Melee Units (e.g. 6 Falcons + 4 Rajan's Fury BM Swarm)
Aniother edge case: playing against Golem Warlord with a Helm of Charge
The problem is the mandatory reveal which I so hate in this game
We have this awesome mechanic where we bank actions as enchantments with instant speed surprise reveals
And then they nerf the most enchanting aspect of the game with dumb down mandatory reveal
In the case of Stumble, there is only a tiny window before it has to be revealed
What is the point of an enchantment you can't bank for surprise reveal as moving is such a common action?
To add insult to injury, Force Hold is non-mandatory, provokes Dispel for cost 3 and only costs 1 more mana
So Stumble becomes an incredibly situational "poor man's Force Hold" for those who can't afford 4SPs
I think they put it in DvN because thematically it fits with Horror Movies etc (theme plays a very high priority)
When really they are never going to catch-up on their promo card backlog so might as well forget failures

You've got me ranting again! :)
But mandatory reveal so annoys me because its a great game needlessly shooting itself in the foot again.
Just imagine what a high skill finesse spell Stumble could have been if it was not a mandatory reveal...?
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 05:26:06 AM by DeckBuilder »
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jacksmack

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 05:25:51 AM »
Stumble is not mandatory reveal.


*boom* (head explodes)

DeckBuilder

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2014, 05:27:48 AM »
Stumble is not mandatory reveal.


*boom* (head explodes)

Your usual inimicable style, jack.
At work here, doesn't it say "the next time this creature would move2 in its text?
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jacksmack

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2014, 05:31:58 AM »
The Promo:
You may reveal Stumble when this creature is activated. It stumbles and may not take a move action during its action phase. Then, destroy Stumble. Has no effect on creatures with the Unmovable trait.

The DvsN:
When this creature is activated, you may reveal Stumble. If you do, the creature can't take a move action until the end of its Action Phase. Then, destroy Stumble. Has no effect on creatures with the Unmovable or Uncontainable trait.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2014, 05:53:35 AM »
How wrong I am - I must have misread it.
Serves me right for carrying forward my venting steam on Mandatory Reveal (another thread elsewhere).

Stumble is a pretty good trap then. A definite upgrade iin my eyes,
I wonder why AlexW put it lowest category (probably misread it like me).
His low ranking certainly assured me my false memory of it was correct.
Will have to giye it a try, seems perfect for some of my builds - thanks.

I'd hardly call it a "boom (head explodes)" moment, jacksmack
But then I've got used to your style which is certainly one of a kind on this forum :)

Thanks for the correct and the trouble you took typing both version texts
It certainly improved my MW and for that I am grateful
(The gloating public humiliation less so...)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 05:57:09 AM by DeckBuilder »
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webcatcher

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2014, 05:55:59 AM »
I'd put stumble in rank three at worst, it's one of my favorite spells. It's cheap, it'll hold a creature or mage up for one turn (often a critical turn), it's not mandatory reveal (as others have pointed out), and while it's not as permanent as tanglevine, a tanglevine can theoretically be killed the turn it comes out. Unless the opposing mage happens to be holding a teleport, there's no way out of stumble. When I'm playing forcemaster I'll often use it to pull nullifies since it's only one book point and if the thing I was worried about wasn't a nullify, I still have a very useful card on the creature. I put at least two in every FM book I play and will include it in other books if movement control is important.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2014, 06:42:06 AM »
So folks, this unintentionally demonsrates what I said

I think the most fun to be had is a thread dedicated to Category (E) = laminate as a coaster
And then others can defend why those crads deserve to be in Category (D) = niche strategy

People should post what they think are stinker cards
And others can come to its defence and prove them wrong
The poster and those who agreed with him learn something
The rest of us are entertained

Now even as a mandatory, I thought Stumble was Niche
Now I know it's non-mandatory. I would rank it as Workhorse (rejected in most builds because of its 2SPs)

However my personal bete noir which I just can't understand how it ever passed Quality Control is...

4 Destroy Magiic? - er, no thanks (0 would have been a nice number until we get more zone/conjuration enchants)

Cards that rely on opponent's build are Toolbox
(Cards that rely on your own niche build are Strategic)

So here we have a Toolbox Level 4 Arcane FULL ACTION spell
Costs Wizard 4 and others 8 (let's not talk about the Warlord...)

What possible use has this spell got in the current meta (let alone when it appeared)?
Yes a Beastmaster may buff himself and his Grizzly with Bear Strength, Vampirism, Regowth, Rhino Hide
But you also lose own enchants which therefore requires positioning (full action) and not mixing own on targets
As for trap builds, they rely on Transfuison which can save the stack of cheaply cast hidden enchants anyway!

Surely the point about Toolbox cards which are based on opponent's build is you need them to be low SP cost
So that they get included in builds as "Golden Toolbox" for those what-if matches - and certainly not level 4

Spell level is surely an indication of that school's exclusivity?
If it's above level 2, it is almost "Trained Only" in our ever-growing bulging 120 budget books
A spell which fits with your strategy should have different levels to one based on a possible opposing build
Because your build is 100% certain so it's relevant - the opposing build is a % chance based on changing meta

I'm bringing this up specifically because I'm interested in the public view on this (being discussed elsewhere)
And because it's relevant to the categorisation of spells (Rise Again is level 3 but costs 2+0)

Anyone else willing to point the finger at a card that baffles them?
I'm not trying to be nasty but constructive as mistakes are simply opportunities to learn and not repeat.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 06:52:00 AM by DeckBuilder »
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webcatcher

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2014, 09:11:27 AM »
I don't use destroy magic myself, but I could see it's usefulness in an equipment-dependent wizard build. Since it targets a zone instread of a creature it bypasses nullify enchantment stack protection.

And I think of rise again as costing 2 + X where X is the level of the creature (I think, I'm not at home). You just don't pay X until the creature dies. Essentially, rise again has the same cost as animate dead, but you pay 2 extra mana in order to bank the action.

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2014, 09:46:26 AM »
Destroy magic can also bypass enchantment transfusion protection if all valid targets are in one zone together. Its not even very nitch since enchantments are in almost every book. The problem is its most useful in an enchantmentless book which is probably swarm/equipment based so mostly warlord and some Beastmasters.

How about stranglevine. When is it worth while to spend extra mana and so? Only if they are out of teleports...

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2014, 10:24:27 AM »
Destroy Magic is useful the turn after your mage is Teleported and Enchantment Transfusioned - 16 mana is a lot but you just gained 4-6 actions. I imagine it would also be pretty good against a turtling Holy Mage.

One card I don't see mentioned much around here is Armor Ward. If you combine that with a Battle Forge your opponent is putting himself further and further behind every time he Dissolves something.

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2014, 10:40:14 AM »
Both good points, webcatcher

DESTROY MAGIC

I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of Destroy Magic, full action range 0-1 like Firestorm etc.
The point I'm trying to make is this.

Spells which are reliant on opponent's build need to be cheap in levels
Else they won't be put into books on the off chance when there is so many others competing
The Opportunity Cost is simply too high just for an off-chance

I have nothing against the in-game cost
Purge Magic - 12 mana, range 1, quick spell (QC flexibility), can be Nullified
Destroy Magic - 16 mana, range 1, full action (mage stationary)
That seems imminently fair
What I have trouble is the spell points cost

4SP toolbox will never get into a book
Toolbox spells that rely on opponent's build have to be low level for game variety

I tell you what Destroy Magic should have been. Level 4 War with an exclamation mark.
It's just like a brainless Orc Barbarian to destroy magic and not care who controls it.
Then it stops being a sledgehammer Toolbox and becomes a Strategy piece for Warlord.
Opponents know they can't over commit to enchantments with this.
(16 mana is just 3-4 enchantments and you get action advantage)
This would also explain why Warlord is better off with Commands.
Who needs Dispels when you have a deterrent to avoid over-use?

RISE AGAIN

At Level 3 Dark Mage Only, this was obviously for the Warlock who can recast his only copy
I don't know what its interaction with Sectarus is but I'm hoping it's what I think it is do you time its use
Though if you lose Sectarus with it, that 6SPs lost

I won't go into the ins and outs of why it doesn't work
(Mainly because I don't want this to be any more negative)

But the point is this - it is incredibly situational
It does not work on the Nonliving
It assumes I want to kill the only huge buffed Elite that you use rather than just kill you
Even if I reanimate it, adding slow makes it situationally useful
It's great for Grimson but rubbish for Necropian Vampiress (who loses her teeth, a Slow short-hop flyer)
And then there is the tempo cost of always having the mana spare to reanimate

Also Zombies is best if you play Zombie support (Frenzy, Shaggoth etc)
Which means you might as well be playing Necromancer Zombies with level 2 Ziggurat
Though again that suffers from the same situational issues as Rise Again which is why it fails the cut

Time and time again we see this lack of understanding with situational cards
Steal Enchantment is level 3 (rationale must have been: you gain 1 quick action advantage)
Steal Equipment is level 3 (again same rationale)
Mind Control is level 6 (er, anyone who reads the forum what I think of it with the nerf)
But like Rise Again, Ziggurat and Animate Dead, all of them suffer from this issue:

"What makes you think that I want any cards of yours?"

This "situational" issue is why REACTIVE cards have to be lower spell level than PROACTIVE cards.
Otherwise the spell will just never get into books.

You have no idea how relevant this discussion is and why I jumped on this thread to explore issues.
Else we will just have same over-costed (in spell points) reactive spells that we have seen so far.


So, surely everybody must have a few "WTF?" cards they are willing to share?
I know AlexW will have to explain his hatred of Stumble (which I've discovered is actually nifty for FM).

Everyone makes mistakes (I certainly stumbled in this thread).
But not everyone realises they have made mistakes and why they have made it unless it's spelt out.
Sometimes I feel like a Lone Voice fighting my corner in vain so I came to the public forum for your help.

If nobody is willing to finger-point specific cards, does anybody agree or disagree with me?
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Alexander West

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Re: Categorizing Power Levels of Spells in Mage Wars
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2014, 10:41:15 AM »
I rank Bears Strength, Cheetah Speed, and Rhino Hide as must haves but that's just me.

@Silverclawgrizzly:  Yes, interesting.  Those spells all offer a unique and powerful effect.  I can see why you would put them in every book.  How many Bear Strength do you like, and how do you like to use it?

The list is definitely subjective, and as such there will be a lot of disagreement over different spells. I would personally change many of your spell rankings by as many as 2 ranks, but that's me. I am me and you are you, and this is how you would rank them. I do think the list could be useful for building spell books, but it is going to be a personal preference no matter how you cut it. The only benefit this list would have to other people is to get a glimpse into your mindset. Which is not a minor thing. Seeing how other people think and approach the game can give a person new insights that they might never have gotten on their own. For that, I thank you.

@Zuberi:  I agree that this is a somewhat subjective exercise.  (Though I suspect that's because we each have a partial picture and and imperfect assessment of how to deal with the objective truth.)  I am incredibly curious to "get a glimpse into your mindset", and that of anyone else who is willing to share.

The scope is far too large
And the value of cards varies with the mages playing (cost-benefit), other cards in the book and your local meta
For example, AlexW, you posted Pushy Wizard hence Eagleclaw up there
Yet in my meta, Veteran's Belt + High Armour has nerfed Thorns Push and Wall Bash

Interesting though this discussion will be, it falls prey to the same assumptions fas723 made with "most efficient creatures"
The reality is you would need to map out a Kohonen Network of card interactions
Then apply it to a changing meta propensity to encounter opponent cards to evlaute this

For example, in a meta of Buffed Forcemasters, Curse Stacking and Buffed Elites, Purge Magic immediately becomes a valuable threat.
There are just so many dimensions that I think the thread's subject should be de-scoped to just one aspect

Broadly your 5 categories are:
(A) Always Golden (e.g. Teleport)
(B) Toolbox Golden (e.g. Purge Magic) - reacting to opponent's strategy
(C) Workhorse - the majority - just don't talk about these and cloud the issue
(D) Niche Strategy (e.g. Rajan's Fury) - useful only for certain own strategies
(E) Waste of Trees (e.g. Destroy Magic)

@DeckBuilder: First, I apologize.  I put Stumble at 1 as sort of a joke because I have seen the community complain more about it than any other card.  I agree that it's actually a roleplayer in some strategies, and should be a 2.

I agree that the scope is large, but I'm not certain that the scope is too large.  I think we each have some pieces of whatever the "true" metagame is, and as such consider each spell in a certain light.  I guess my goal is to expose how we are each thinking about spells both so that we all gain by gaining insight into other player's evaluations, but also might have a greater understanding of the metagame by doing so.

I thought the flaw of "best" creatures is that it tried to a) objectively quantify each creature and b) failed to recognize that a large cadre of creatures can each be the best simultaneously.  (This can be true because they are the best AT something, where that something is a thing a player wants to accomplish.)  Certainly this list will be a moving target.  As new spells are printed, or changes in the metagame happen, cards change in value.  However, I do think some spells will have a somewhat constant value due to their general utility.

I think your A-E are substantially different from my 1-5.  Namely, I don't think you have an equivalent to 3, and I think it's the most interesting distinction.  Which spells are exactly good enough that you're almost never willing to pay out of school for them, but it's a snap deal when they are in school?  I also think if something is "Toolbox Gold" it should probably be a 5.  Most of the 4s I thought were pretty strategy dependent.  Like, if you want a big, you probably think very hard about Grizzly Bear regardless of your book.  However, not *every* book wants a big, and therefore Grizzly is not a 5.  Does that make sense?

As far as Eagleclaw Boots go, sure, they are good against wall-push combo.  However, they also offer a unique ability to a Mage (climbing), and there are a lot of mages who want to push/pull you: Plant Pit, Golem Pit, Forcemaster w/Bears, etc.  Almost every opponent I've ever played, every book I've seen online, and every book I build seems to have 1+ pairs.  Has your group eschewed them?
« Last Edit: February 24, 2014, 10:47:55 AM by Alexander West »
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