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Author Topic: Bringing all mages on par!  (Read 271561 times)

lettucemode

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2014, 12:24:29 PM »
There are two ways to balance a gameplay element judged to be too strong. The first is you nerf it down to the power level of everything else. The second is you raise the power level of everything else up to it.

Would Mage Wars be better if all mages were adjusted to the strength of the Wizard as he is right now? Or would it better if all mages were adjusted to where the Druid/Necromancer are?

In other words, where do we want the target power level to be?

Charmyna

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2014, 12:29:35 PM »
There are two ways to balance a gameplay element judged to be too strong. The first is you nerf it down to the power level of everything else. The second is you raise the power level of everything else up to it.

Would Mage Wars be better if all mages were adjusted to the strength of the Wizard as he is right now? Or would it better if all mages were adjusted to where the Druid/Necromancer are?

In other words, where do we want the target power level to be?

I prefer the power level of Druid/Necro ;).

webcatcher

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2014, 12:33:04 PM »
I've said it before,  but I vote for changing the wizard's stat card.

Bluebaron

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2014, 12:50:04 PM »
Change the wizard. The other path is too risky.

I also agree with charmyna. More dissolves and more dispels will be the death for many cards / strategies.

Alexander West

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2014, 01:07:42 PM »
Thanks to Charmyna for starting this thread, and Deckbuilder for his organizational efforts.  My first contribution is on the subject of Dissolve/Dispel:

Bleeding the Color Wheel
I come from a Magic: the Gathering background, so I'm going to talk in language that is familiar with me.  Mark Rosewater (Magic's lead designer) has written some pretty good articles (https://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtgcom/daily/mr85) about the value of color identity.  The idea of an identity is pretty important to the schools of Mage Wars as well.  I think it is important to be cautious about bleeding an effect in to too many schools, lest all the schools become too similar.  (I think the folks who are angry about Damnation being color shifted into black are right to be, in changed the color balance forever.)

That said, I think part of the reason the Wizard is so good is that there is a lot of pressure to place many copies of Dissolve and Dispel in their books, as well as probably a few Teleport and a Nullify.   In particular Dissolve and Dispel are needed because there are so many cool equipment and enchantments in the game.  They are sort of so good that everyone needs to destroy them.  Right now in every book I build I place at least 3 of each of these, even if I must pay an out of school cost.  The Wizard (especially a water wizard) gets a huge savings on spell points by being able to buy both in school.  Likewise, part of the great weakness of the Warlord is that he must pay enemy school costs for Dispel!

At the very least I would like to see one non-Arcane Dispel to help the Warlord.  As I suspect some Mage in the future will have Water as an enemy school, I think by that time there should also be a non-Water Dissolve.  I don't mean some version with a twist, I want a bread and butter boring card for card equivalent.  I have made Nature mages and Fire mages, and though I often have a copy of Corrosive Orchid or Explode, I still have multiple copies of Dissolve because often I don't have the extra mana to pay for the flower or the fire.

If our goal is to specifically bring the other mages up to the Wizard's level, a novice version of Dispel and Dissolve would be an effective step.  I think these are good candidates because they represent a universal magic effect that everyone uses, and therefore it feels okay from a flavor perspective.  The functional effect is that now everyone else gets an effective +4-8 SB points because they are no longer paying double for their pile of Dissolve and Dispel effects.  This *is* power creep, in the sense that we are making access to these effects forever cheaper in terms of book points.  It would be less power creep if only one of these spells were made Novice.  I'd choose Dispel, since it could be easily powered down to range 0-1, and wouldn't help the Wizard while helping everyone else, and gives the Warlord 2x help.

I wonder if there are more flavorful ways of giving non-Water or non-Arcane tools to destroy equipment or enchantments?
* War creatures/ equipment/ command/ attack with a new Shatter effect, which destroys equipment?  (rough for expensive equipment, though Forcemaster has lots of Defense effects to counteract it)
* An Unholy Curse/conjuration that deals damage to target/radius/entire arena for each equipment or enchantment active on it.  (Two different spells, one for enchants, one for equipment.)
* A holy enchantment (Mage only?) that gives mage armor = enemy mage's armor.  ("Share Strength")

Of all the approaches, I find these last most interesting.  I want the spell schools to each have their own distinct flavor, but they *all* need ways to deal with equipment and enchantments.  Until they have effective ones, they are going to have to keep having a SP deficit relative to the Wizard by buying the same old stuff out of school.
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IndyPendant

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #35 on: February 26, 2014, 01:11:44 PM »
Change the Wizard.  Another problem with trying to balance the wizard through other cards is that that will take -at least- a full year, even assuming it succeeds.  Wizard dominance is already getting old.

Just as a bit of a rant: the Druid gets Nature and Level 1 only in an elemental school not of her choice, and she has triple cost in two full schools.  Compare her abilities with the Wizard's, and they're roughly on par.  Compare the Druid-themed cards with the Wizard-themed cards, and the Wizard easily wins.  Yet the Druid is a perfectly viable mage.

The Wizard needs changing.  Sure, AW doesn't like Erratas, but they've already done it with three other cards.  Do it again.

Wildhorn

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #36 on: February 26, 2014, 01:20:27 PM »
Just make Nature triple cost to Wizard and you bring him on par with the rest. No need to add more cards, this simple stats change would fix him.

Alexander West

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #37 on: February 26, 2014, 01:31:53 PM »
Tools for Other Mages

Part of the problem with many existing mages is that they don't have the right cards to support their stats.

Warlord:  Seems set up to play a ranged combat game, but lacks sufficient ways to keep enemy creatures close/far from his shooters/archers.  Solution: A one-handed equipment that pushes.  More Creatures with push.  A new guard variant for creatures that allow them to "passage blocks" like a wall.  An area-effect stuck spell or creature ability.  A command that gives a ranged attack indirect fire.  Timberwolf was a better stat line than Orc Butcher.  Skeletal Sentry as a soldier.

Forcemaster:  Needs a Mindspore replacement that isn't hobbled by slow casting and poor defenses.  Something more like a Dancing Wand, so they can get a second quick cast per round.  Wizard's have a tower, Forcemaster needs an equivalent that is playable.

Priest/Priestess:  Still need a solid level 2 creature.  Knight of Westlock is amazing, but sometimes you need something *now* rather than waiting a turn for the mana.  A better holy attack spell (less daze/stun, more damage) would also be great.  Hopefully this could help with the nonliving metagame issue.  Maybe also some creatures that used a light attack with a +vs nonliving?

Johkarti: A quick attack ranged weapon seems like the thing to do.  Wizard already has Arcane Zap, which is very good, but I think illustrates that move + shoot isn't fundamentally broken.  I think with this she's pretty solid, Nature is a powerful school.

Warlock:   I feel like they want to play a game like Charmyna's Blasting Banker, but don't seem to have access to the tools to do it.  The more a blood reaper was like Invisible Stalker, the better it seems like it would be.  I love the Druid for the resilience her tree gives her, and I'd like to see the Warlock have a Blood Reaper that put him on similar footing.
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tarkin84

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2014, 01:56:41 PM »
I agree with you, Wildhorn: I'd make nature the Wizard's opposing school. Not only it would balance the game as there are many cool nature cards that Wizards use (Regrowth, Rhino hide, Steelclaw) but it also makes sense thematically: arcane creations are monstrous insults to natural creatures. Maybe another minor school nerf maybe is needed (damned tower toolbox), though.

Regarding the Dispel/Dissolve discussion, I wouldn't release those novice spells you are talking about. Instead, I'd release cards that punish mages for abusing those type of cards: a curse deal damage each time an equipment/enchantment card is casted (also by forge, which is one of the main issues), a war conjuration which blanks equipments/enchantments in an area (similar to how Gravikor works), etc. This way you don't have to fear an automatic destruction and you only have to pay a tax or play around your opponent's conjurations.
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ACG

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2014, 02:46:20 PM »
I prefer new cards as a solution rather than erratas. Also, I feel that each card should have a distinct method of accomplishing a goal; having two cards that do essentially the same thing is not interesting. For instance, Corrosive Orchid, Dissolve, and Explode are all different ways of eliminating equipment, and each has its advantages and disadvantages; none is strictly better than another (I guess I am disagreeing with Alexander West in that I do not believe there should be more "bread and butter" versions of dispel, dissolve, etc.)

Regarding specific solutions to problems, here are some of my previous proposals:

Re: The Teleport Problem (1a):


Re: Anti-Enchantment Options for the Warlord


Re: Options vs. Poison Immune (2a)


Re: Johktari Weapon (4a)


I have some other ideas, but sadly no time to post them right now...

In general, I think things can be solved with new (by which I mean also novel) cards, without the risk of power creep.

Regarding immunity, I think negating a creature's immunity is a very bad idea (as I have stated elsewhere), not for balance reasons, but for theme. Different creatures are immune to things for very different reasons, and it is impossible to make a card that makes sense thematically for all the reasons. For instance, incorporeal creatures are poison immune for the simple reason that they have no corporeal body through which the poison may flow, whereas a golem is poison immune because it's basically a magic robot. A spider is psychic immune (presumably) because its brain is too foreign for a mammalian to comprehend, whereas zombies are psychic immune because they are mindless, and a golem is psychic immune because it is controlled directly by the mind of its master (at least, this is how I thematically interpret these creatures). Any spell that removes immunity will generate complaints along the same lines as "why can't I water my plants". While strategy is important in Mage Wars, we can't lose sight of one of the game's greater assets - its theme.

Edit: Also, in making cards to address problems it is always important to remember the rule of twos. A card that only operates as a counter to a specific card is boring and doesn't enhance the game much, aside from correcting an imbalance. All counter cards should be useful even in the absence of the card they were designed to counter.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:54:20 PM by ACG »

Zuberi

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2014, 02:56:55 PM »
I would not completely oppose a change to the Wizard to give him a weakness in a magical school. I think he should have been designed with one. I just hate card errata. I agree that such errata would be the simplest solution though and probably the best one in the long term. However I don't believe it is impossible to balance him without errata either if Arcane Wonders wants that headache.

I do not like the idea of making Novice versions of "bread and butter spells" but do think there should be multiple viable options for such spells. Not everyone needs to be able to get them at face value, but you should never have to pay triple cost for something that fills a necessary niche.

Also, alternatives do not necessarily have to do the exact same thing. They just have to fill the same niche. For instance, teleport and push work differently but both accomplish control of board position. We need a non-arcane alternative for Dispel, filling the function of enchantment removal. However it doesn't necessarily have to function like Dispel. How about some kind of anti-magic field that prevents enchantments from functioning? It doesn't destroy them, but simply suppresses their effects. Or maybe a spell that bounces enchantments back to it's owners spellbook. Not nearly as powerful as destroying it, but not as expensive as destroying it either. They come out behind you in mana whether or not they reapply it.

We might also look into alternatives for the various counterspells (nullify, block, jinx, etc) and *better* alternatives for Dissolve. I think the current options for Dissolve alternatives are okay, and if a mage was weak in water magic they would be able to compensate adequately, so it's not a pressing concern but it could be improved I think.

Zuberi

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2014, 03:04:27 PM »
Once again I admire your card suggestions, ACG. Does your creativity know no bounds? I especially appreciate your anti-enchantment suggestions, and the racial restriction as opposed to class or training restriction is a neat concept.

baronzaltor

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2014, 03:33:26 PM »
The Wizard has always bugged me since I first began to really understand the game. He is just fundamentally better, in a way that cannot be danced around without changing how certain core things work or changing his actual ability card. 

-He is trained in Arcane.  That alone is enough to make a strong mage, also its worth noting Arcane contains all of its own counters.  Its magic AND metamagic.  Its mana AND mana denial.  As such, he monopolizes his own counter measures.  A good chunk of this schools themes should have been distributed over other schools.   So its very hard to build against an Arcane mage without being an Arcane mage (this issue isn't just an Arcane one, but is relevant here)

-Add to that, he not only gets a second elemental training.. he gets to choose that training.  This enables Wizard to grow with each set in a way that no other mage can.  He can cherry pick the meta whenever it changes.   This is demonstrated when we see the most powerful mage to come from Forcemaster vs Warlord was the Earth Wizard.   The Warlock is benefitting form all the fire vulnerability out there… So the Wizard can choose to as well.  But when that phases out to something else and if the Siren brings all kinds of new Water spells or anti-fire spells, the Wizard can just migrate over and favor that instead.  The Wizard is unique in that flexibility and is in no way given a trade off for that flexibility.

-He has no triple cost school.  I have no idea why… he should be paying triple cost for Nature (Voltari Magic vs Nature is supported in the setting) or SOMEthing.  Heck, Arcane training and selective secondary realistically warrants having multiple triple cost schools like the Druid or global card type triple cost like Forcemaster.   

What will the Siren have to be in order to not have the same issue Warlord had?  If she is Water +(insert school) with a 3x school,  Wizard will be a better Siren, because he is Arcane+Water with no penalized training.  Any elementally trained mage has to be filled with "Siren only" cards to artificially separate themselves because he is designed without a penalty for having the best school and no worst school.

At that point you don't have to even go into voltaic shield being such a great ability, or how Arcane Zap means he always effectively has a prepared Attack spell/Etherial option.  Those are secondary to the main point.   Just his trainings (and lack of x3 school) make him outright better, and enable him to always be able to build a more efficient spell book.

So, was the trade off that the Wizard has low channel?  Nope, 10.
So, was he given a lower Health?  nope!  32, same as a Forcemaster, Necromancer or Priestess… all of whom only have 1 school training and a triple cost School/spell type.  Heck, the Druid only has 30 health and 9 channel without her Treebond and she has two triple cost schools.

So, he is just so overloaded with advantages, and has no identifiable tradeoff.  I feel like making cards to adjust the situation at the moment only goes so far when the real issue is that the Wizard is designed at the core to be better and has too much spell book flexibility.   

webcatcher

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2014, 03:33:35 PM »
While we're on the subject of changing or not changing the wizard's stat card, there's another angle I think we should look at. The folks at AW want their game to stay accessible to new players, and with good reason. They rightly conclude that having a bunch of card erratas running around makes the game less accessible for new players who can become frustrated when they learn that the cards in their new game don't do what they say they do. However, the wizard is broken and needs fixing. Right now it looks like there are two options for fixing it.

1) Errata a mage card
2) Release cards in future expansions (hopefully beginning with FiF) to bring the wizard into check.

So what's easier for a new player to swallow? In scenario 1, the new player gets the frustration of having a major modification to their base game. In scenario 2, the base game works as advertised (except for the 3 erratas already in place, but they're minor). However, when they start buying expansions the power level of the different mages gets all out of whack until they've collected them all (and until all the major wizard fixes get implemented, which I expect to take 2 expansions, it just won't get fixed).

So which of these options will serve the game better by being the most accessible to new players?
For new players who just want the base game and aren't going to make a hobby out of it, option 2 is better, but I honestly don't think it matters because I don't think that sort of player will pay any attention to the errata (just as there are base-game only players out there somewhere right now applying Bear Strength to both attacks after casting Battle Fury). Option 1 is much better for players who are going to make a hobby out of the game, not only because it allows them to maintain approximate parity with their friend who already owns all of the expansions while they take 6 months to a year to get caught up, but also because most people who are used to hobby games take a little errata in stride (and at this point MW has a very minimal amount of errata).

For this out-of-game reason, as well as for in-game reasons (which I also think favor an errata to the wizard, although I know others disagree) I think an errata to the wizard card would be a vast improvement over the alternative.

Zuberi

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Re: Bringing all mages on par!
« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2014, 04:29:42 PM »
I agree with all of baronzaltor's points. As much as I hate errata, I think I'm going to have to change my position from being okay with a Wizard errata, to actively requesting it. The more I think about it the less viable any alternative option seems.