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Author Topic: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook  (Read 16675 times)

Hanma

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So, it took a few days but the 2015 Gencon tournament report is finally here! I had to give myself a few days of recuperation to get over the post-con exhaustion. If anyone hasn't done four days of gaming with five hours of sleep a night and tons of traveling, I would recommend it, it really pushes you mentally and physically...despite the fact you're sitting around playing games. Also, for those of you wondering what the heck my deck name is all about I'll leave you in suspense for awhile, but I promise it's there!

For anyone that hasn't met me I'm Nick Tinko or Hanma on the forums, I've done mostly lurking these past few years but that is going to change! I met Jerome(Diji) and Andy(The Dude) at Origins three years ago when I randomly saw a Mage Wars tournament being played. I thought it looked cool and decided to check it out. I was pretty much sold instantly on the game when they told me there is essentially a class system(picking your mage), deck building, and very little random elements to the game since you get to pick your spells every turn. I've dived in ever since! Two months later I got third at Gencon, followed by an unfortunate defeat at the hands of Alexander for second place the next year. So it's only fair I won it out this year, right? My best friend James(Grislewald) and I spend a lot of time playing Mage Wars, he has been my play test partner and a gigantic portion of the reason I even get to write this report. Early in the game I also played with and talked a lot to Charmyna when he was around. For this tournament report I'm going to talk about metagame evolution to give an idea of why I think the things that I do about the game to give an overall idea of what lead to the idea of Weighted Training Clothes. I'll follow it up with the deck list, card choices, the tournament report, future book changes, and some thoughts on the direction of the game.

So, to start, where did this book come from? Ever since the start of the game James and I have been playing some variation of this spell book and it has continually gotten better as the game has progressed. We tend to always eventually conclude that this book, or a close variation, is the best possible book that can be made right now. Unfortunately we always tended to find this out when I couldn't play it at Gencon. Does that mean it's invulnerable? Of course not, but I'd give it an 80% or more win ratio when the two players are of close to equal skill. The idea behind the book is that actions win the game, the more actions you have the more cards you can play out of your book every turn, and there's no better mage suited for the task than the Wizard. We have always called this book Action Wizard, due to the fact that it plays Gate to Voltari, Wizard's Tower, and Huginn. It used to run Battle Forge but it unfortunately was a bit too slow and had to be removed. As you can see, by using these cards, if they stay on the board, you are getting three actions in addition to your wizard every turn. So we have actions, what's next?

From my experience there tends to be three main ways to play the game: aggro, mid-range, and control.  Aggro strategies tend to involve a lot of smaller mana efficient creatures(Straywood Aviary) or crazy attack spell aggression(what I call Attack Wizard). Mid-range you will typically see a big creature or two with support from the mage. Control can be anything from Priestess with crazy life to Action Wizard but they all tend to involve a lot of what we call investments, such as spawn points and cards with +channeling. So with these basic concepts I'll list the book and explain what led me to my individual card choices with some insight as to how my metagame has evolved over the past year since the last Gencon.


Weighted Training Clothes!

Conjurations:
4x Mana Crystal
1x Gate to Voltari
1x Mana Prism
2x Wizard's Tower

Creatures:
4x Blue Gremlin
2x Gargoyle Sentry
1x Huginn, Raven Familiar
1x Devouring Jelly

Equipment:
2x Dragonscale Hauberk
1x Moonglow Amulet
1x Leather Boots
1x Leather Gloves
1x Regrowth Belt
1x Elemental Cloak

Enchantment:
6x Jinx
3x Nullify
1x Reverse Magic
1x Harmonize
1x Hawkeye
1x Rhino Hide
1x Brace Yourself
1x Essence Drain

Incantations:
4x Dissolve
4x Dispel
3x Seeking Dispel
2x Heal
1x Minor Heal
1x Teleport
1x Defend

Attack Spells:
6x Hurl Rock
5x Acid Ball
1x Hurl Boulder
1x Fireball
2x Flameblast
2x Surging Wave
1x Invisible Fist

Okay, okay, what is the deal with the deck name? For any of you that have ever watched a fighting anime, you know that you can never reveal your true power until a break point, when you face that opponent you have to go all out on. That's when you take off the weighted training clothes and go hard! https://33.media.tumblr.com/6995eb1c24a2d492464cf9c2f515857c/tumblr_nhf7p1WdFl1rcxbkyo1_250.gif

Haha, anyway, this book was designed for the tournament with two main openings. One is an aggro opening with double or quadruple mana crystal into Wizard's Tower to tempo them out by dropping a Jinx and two attack spells a turn so that their one action can't keep up with your three and all their extra mana doesn't matter(We will call this the Attack opening). I opted to use this opening in the swiss matches. While this opening is super effective it's actually not as strong as opening with Gate to Voltari and Mana Crystal while using Jinx to keep your opponent from overwhelming you with aggression as your Gate to Voltari generates absurd mana and actions(We will call this the Gate opening). This was taking the weighted training clothes off to show your true power in the games that really mattered! Hence I aimed to use this opening in finals only, showing every opponent until finals only a lesser version of my book. On to card explanations!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 01:46:01 AM by Hanma »

Hanma

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2015, 01:09:35 AM »
Spells:

6x Jinx: This card is absolutely absurd. While it doesn't seem like much at first, considering they get their mana back, the main use of this spell is to gain tempo. Tempo is sometimes defined as the means by which a player gains additional options or decreases the options possessed by the opponent by means not directly pertaining to respective numbers of playable cards. Jinx is pretty much the linchpin of this entire book and has a dual purpose. When James and I's metagame was evolving we had what we called Attack Wizard which was very similar to Tim's book(My finals opponent). The idea was to go as hard as you could from turn two so that despite what your opponent did, you converted so much mana to damage through the form of Hurl Rock, Hurl Boulder, and Fireball that after killing one main investment, such as battle forge, they died before anything they did became relevant. We bashed everything against this book and they just kept getting wiped out, then Jinx reared its head. Jinx has shifted our play more than any other card in the game, we play six in every book and don't believe a deck without six can beat a deck that has six consistently. We put together Weighted Training Clothes with six Jinx and just used them to keep me off him until Gate to Voltari came online and I lost the late game. The first purpose was to delay the aggressive opponent until your investments paid off. Subsequently, funny enough, this made Attack Wizard better by giving your opponent one action while you got two attack spells on them through your mage and Wizard's Tower.

1x Gate to Voltari: Gate is hands down the best creature spawn point in the game, it's the second most survivable and generates the most mana. In our metagame we ran into quite a paradox against a Wizard with Gate to Voltari. The paradox was that if you don't answer gate, you lose. This is because with such great mana generation that your opponent will eventually become so overwhelmed by creatures that they can't come back into the game. We also found out however if you focus Gate, barring god rolls, you also lose. The reason is that while you spend on average two to three turns pounding on it we have generated six-nine mana, gotten one-two creatures, and our Wizard has been able to run around doing whatever he pleases. This left the only answer to Gate to Voltari being kill the Wizard before it comes online, and you can look one card up for the solution to that problem.

2x Wizard's Tower: The third pillar of the deck, Wizard's Tower. It generates you mana, is quite survivable for seven mana, and gives you an action to dump attack spells into them. This was used as the integral part of Attack opening as well as being used in Gate opening to finish off opponents. Wizard's Tower is also a main reason why Jinx is so insane in this book. I only have to spend 3 mana on Jinx which then allows me to use Wizard's Tower to Acid Ball their armor off or Hurl Boulder followed by Hurl Rock from the Wizard. It is also THE answer to creature aggro strategies because you can double Hurl Rock every turn against creatures such as birds. I put a second copy in the book if it was destroyed during Attack opening, since in Gate opening it was likely creatures could do most of the work.

4x Mana Crystal: The main reason for four was in order to have great mana flow when using Attack opening, it allowed me to get in their face on turn three with more mana than I generally needed. I, along with most people, always call these investments because they take an initial hit to your mana pool in order to eventually pay themselves off and give you an overall net mana gain five turns after they have been put in play. The big misconception that I notice people having though is that they don't think of it as mana flow, this actually takes precedence to the investment portion of their use. Obviously it's great that they give you a net mana gain over time but playing +channeling items is more about that mana flow that you get every turn. It's also a large part of the reason James and I feel that nine channeling mages aren't tournament viable right now. Having this additional mana every turn will allow you to erk out the playing of one more spell or a one tier higher spell(Hurl Rock to Hurl Boulder) than you would have been able to play without them. We tend to notice the breakpoint takes place at 13 channeling where anything after that is awesome of course, giving you far more flexibility and usually always feeling like you have spare mana, but not necessary.

1x Harmonize, 1x Moonglow Amulet: In a perfect world you will get 16 channeling with Gate to Voltari, Wizard's Tower, and Huginn out. If the opponent ever lets you get to this point, you can pretty much assume you've won. Unfortunately this doesn't happen often, usually Harmonize and Moonglow are played when you think that the control of your starting zone is going to be threatened or even during mid game when a few crystals have fallen but you have enough breathing room to put them on. During the latter, you do this when you probably wouldn't be successful in the late game without the mana flow.

1x Huginn, Raven Familiar: James and I randomly decided to revisit Huginn in Attack Wizard after we ruled him unplayable and were pleasantly surprised with what we found out. He is mostly used in conjunction with opening A because being able to use extra actions to get rid of all their relevant defenses, meanwhile you are pounding them with attack spells off your Wizard's Tower and with the Wizard. We also used him a lot to clear Jinx. During Gate opening he tends to come out after a Gargoyle Sentry and Blue Gremlin to start dismantling your opponent. The bird was an all-star pretty much all weekend and I could tell the metagame wasn't prepared for him. He sat in play for a long time every game that I cast him with the only answer being force pushes and sleep.

2x Gargoyle Sentry: Such an amazing guard, he is used mostly during Gate opening and is generally the first creature cast. Gate, Crystal, Crystal, Crystal, Gargoyle, Wizard's Tower, Jinx leaves you with zero mana on turn three. With a guard token coming up on turn four it makes it VERY hard for your opponent to focus down your investments, and when combined with jinx and voltaric shield they also have problems dealing with the Wizard. During Attack opening I would also hard cast him when I felt my opponent starting to come back in on me in the mid game and I wanted to make sure the victory was sealed.

4x Blue Gremlin: The man, the myth, the legend. Blue Gremlin. Blue Gremlin does so much work in every match it's amazing. Along with Zombie Brute, Gargoyle Sentry, and Guardian Angel we consider him an S-tier creature. Those creatures are leaps and bounds above every other creature in the game. His defense is amazing, he even has armor if he fails, good attack dice, pierce, doesn't care about restrained, and can get fast. His primary use is to destroy their investments and then their mage. No one breaks a mana crystal faster than a Blue Gremlin. Barring investment destruction he pops guards like a champ, destroys mid-game creatures, breaks Voltaric Shield, and doesn't care about them having an armor or two.

1x Devouring Jelly: This was included mostly for mid-game creature strategies and he is the best zombie killer in the game. We found the best way to deal with mid-range creatures was just to kill them outright over the course of one turn and maybe another action and quick action. Jelly helps me do this by breaking their armor and having a big attack. He is also a pain to kill. Unfortunately every match I played he wasn't very relevant and I never cast him, in theory he's great but he might get benched for something else in the future.

1x Mana Prism: We put this in to blow out a game against a mana control Mage, which I never ran into. We wanted it particularly against Mordok's Obelisk, Cloak of Suppression, and Enchanter's Wardstone. I feel like if they don't answer it that you swing the game amazingly in your favor in those match-ups, but it almost might get cut for something more versatile.

2x Dragonscale Hauberk/1x Leather Boot/1x Leather Gloves/1x Elemental Cloak/1x Rhino Hide: Obviously you need some armor, these are in my opinion the best choices. Due to, outside of Earth, there really aren't any relevant attack spells aside from Fire. Air has some cool effect die rolls, unfortunately it's just so mana inefficient that I don't see a reason to play it. Double Hauberk was to make corrode tokens fall off by replacing my armor or in case my first one got dissolved against a fire mage.

1x Regrowth Belt: There are a few cards in the game that if played at the right point, you have to answer or you are going to lose to them. Regrowth Belt is one of those, along with Regrowth and Sunfire Amulet. We put this in for that reason, it's generally played in the mid game when you hit 15ish damage and their mage either has to stop whatever they were doing and work on getting 0-1 square to dissolve your belt or let you heal so much that it's almost impossible to recover. This on top of armor and Voltaric Shield can be the most obnoxious thing in the world when trying to finish an opponent.

1x Hawkeye: Extra dice on attack spells and arcane zap, always awesome! The main problem was finding the action where I really wanted to cast the card. I feel it's biggest strength are games in which will go for a long time and you fear you may run out of attack spells as well as against decks playing mid-game creatures. The latter due to the goal of killing the creature outright in one turn and not having to use another attack spell on them that you normally wouldn't have.

1x Brace Yourself: Due to Acid Ball's corrodes being so efficient, it's almost inevitable that you're going to be looking at a turn with no armor and a gigantic amount of dice coming at you. Brace Yourself in addition to Voltaric Shield and suddenly that turn of death becomes a turn of your opponent doing nothing. Such tempo, much wow. I also use Brace Yourself to bait opponents into thinking it may be a Nullify, making them change their play.

1x Essence Drain: Essence drain in the few games I did play it never disappointed. I always use it on an offensive small creature that is mana efficient, such a Blue Gremlin or Falcon with pet marker. Against those creatures it's pretty much a six mana kill spell if your opponent is smart. Against someone that lets it sit it tends to be a six mana game winner, even better! It's other main use is against mid-range creatures that I just don't feel like dealing with because it takes forever, Guardian Angel or Iron Golem being prime examples.

3x Nullify: To be honest, I don't cast nullify often. My Wizard doesn't have that many things that it needs to protect and in this book it's almost better to use offensively to stop a heal from getting through when a Jinx is on them. If I do use it defensively, it's generally against wall-push combo or to protect regrowth belt.

1x Reverse Magic: You never cast Nullify, what the heck is Reverse Magic doing in here then? Honestly, this was my tech against James if I played him, and on the rare chance someone else figured out how crazy Jinx is. We were playing card for card the same book in the tournament but after round two he needed to drop out of the tournament because he wasn't feeling well instead of play four more hours of games, filthy casual. Pretty much the only purpose of this card was to put it on myself turn two or three and win the Jinx battle. Being that I was the only one abusing how good Jinx is, this card rotted in my book every match unfortunately.

1x Teleport: Everyone seems to think this card is crazy, honestly, I think it's pretty average. From my experience, as long as I have control of the game I don't see a reason to teleport. I didn't even have it in my book until I had a few extra points and decided, what the heck it's two points, I have Huginn, it gets things out of Tanglevines, and there might be that one rare match where I actually want to teleport. Funny enough I actually used it in my final match and it saved me from eating two hurl boulders.

1x Defend: This was another case of having some extra points, Huginn in the book, and looking for janky cards that people don't play but might be useful. I honestly never touched the card before Gencon, but it turned out to be a true hero. The idea behind it was that having a guard token on Gargoyle Sentry with his action up could effectively give me three guards in one turn with only one creature or allow me to double move my Gargoyle Sentry and guard with him.

4x Dissolve/5x Acid Ball/4x Dispel/3x Seeking Dispel: Water Wizard having access to these spells at cost is awesome and combined with Gate to Voltari is really what lets you go into a late game without having to worry. It's pretty much the only reason to pick Water over Earth. Because Wizard gets them at cost you really never have to worry about running out of what we call meta spells. Dissolve generally only hits the must answer pieces of armor, such as Regrowth Belt, with Acid Ball doing the rest of the work. 0-2 range spells pretty much always get strapped to Huginn and Wizard's Tower, with Seeking Dispel focusing on getting off Jinx and Nullify while dispel hits big cards like Forcefield and Regrowth.

2x Heal/1x Minor Heal: Spending ten points on heals is really rough, but thankfully with everything else being so cheap it's not a huge issue. When you combine heals with armor and Voltaric Shield you have in my opinion the most game changing and most efficient use of dice in the game. Having heals with Gate to Voltari in play serves two purposes, if they decide to focus your Wizard you use heals to stabilize if Gargoyle Sentry and Jinx weren't enough. This lets your gate come fully online so you can make the transition into late game, which you will most likely always win. The second use is that if they do decide to focus your creatures, particularly Gargoyle Sentry, you can pop it back up to full and they have to go though 4 armor guards all over again.

6x Hurl Rock: Even more so than creatures, these are the primary damage dealers of the book. They defend against small swarm creatures better than almost anything, if a melee mage walks into your double Hurl Rock they are bound to eat a ton of damage on top of an average chance to daze, and they can kill mid-range creatures for almost as much mana as it cost to put them out to begin with. Combining these with Jinx and 13-14 channeling leaves you with super mana efficient damage that your opponent has an issue answering when you focus their mage.

1x Hurl Boulder/1x Fireball: These almost always get put on Wizard's Tower so that you can keep them in your book. I refer to them as get-there spells, these are the big suckers you pop out when you need to finish your opponent off nearing the end of the game. They also get used in conjunction with attack opening so that you can take advantage of the mana efficiency of Jinx/Hurl Rock/Acid Ball, using those with your mage, and then smacking them with the big spell with the extra mana. We included one of each because Fireball is much better when an opponent has 1 or two armor because the average damage per burn is amazing, while Hurl Boulder is better against people with no armor or someone attacking with their mage due to the slam chance.

2x Surging Wave: Battle Forge. Must. Die. This card is actually pretty useful aside from killing the forge in order to get off guards or a potential 6 dice attack if they are near the arena wall, but the sole purpose is to get their forge out of play as quickly as possible. Everything else is just a secondary benefit. I strapped this to Wizard's Tower in attack opening so that even if two die rolls crapped out on me, I would still have another wave for the forge but it was never really necessary. If only everything was average damage instead of dice rolls! :(

2x Flameblast: Weird spell to include. I agree. We actually put this in as an answer to familiars. As our meta evolved our games got to a point where if someone had Huginn or Fellella in play they just ran away with the game. Because I was the only weirdo playing familiars I actually used to only for getting past random defenses, but that's okay!

1x Invisible Fist: Mana Siphon. Must. Die. I saw a few Mana Siphons last year, myself included, so this was included pretty much just for how effective Mana Siphon is. We figured it's a 1 turn faster kill of it on average since you need two zaps and an Invisible Fist instead of three zaps. A side use is to deal with annoying stuff like Invisible Stalker.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 01:46:44 AM by Hanma »

Hanma

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2015, 01:09:58 AM »
On to the report! Sorry that took so long, I do tend to be a bit wordy. But I honestly feel like the concepts of why a card is picked and how it is used will actually benefit someone reading this even more than just reading what happened to me at the tournament. If this doesn't seem perfect, I'm doing this from memory instead of taking notes so I'm sure some of it is pretty shaky. If my opponents are on here, please correct me and give me your real/forum names!

I'm going to steal Alexander's board naming system by calling the rows A, B, and C, and the columns 1, 2, 3, and 4. For the purposes of this tournament, I always start in C4 (the corner near me), while the enemy’s gate is down A1. I will also use T as shorthand for “turn”. Thus T4 means turn 4. However, while reading this, I also want you to picture the board as a cone. I feel this adds a LARGE understanding to the game, the reason being James and I always call the B2 and B3 the top of the hill. The reason it helps to think of it this way, is that these are the high up vantage points that gain you control of the battlefield and force your opponent to work upwards to conquer. Picture an army charging a fort on top of a hill.

The Rounds:

Round 1: Weighted Training Clothes vs. DaveW's Straywood Beastmaster

So round one I sit down across from my opponent with James next to me, and Tim(2nd place) playing James. I find out that my opponent is a friend of Tim's and they play together frequently. I think to myself “Oh good, a skilled opponent round one and a Straywood Beastmaster at that.” While I think my book pretty much can't lose to Straywood, I just hate playing against it, no particular reason. I just hate the match-up. I'm expecting a similar deck to Alexander's last year and mentally prep myself for birds galore. I do the attack opening with Mana Crystal in B4 and C4 while moving to C3. He lays a Mana Flower on A1 and Enchanter's Ring while moving to A2. T2 and not 100% sure what's going on I cast Mana Crystal in C3 and Harmonize on myself since birds are great at destroying Mana Crystals while moving to B3(the top of my hill) getting ready to open up on him next turn. His action, out comes Steelclaw Grizzly with an enchantment. Oh joy. T3 after flipping Harmonize I Jinx him in quick cast followed by casting Wizard's Tower(making him choose between attacking me and tower) in B3 followed by Acid Ball on the Steelclaw(-2 armor, 1 damage), getting ready to kill it next turn. He moves to B2, an enchantment gets Jinx'd and another enchantment that I don't remember gets played while his Steelclaw double moves to my Wizard's Tower. T4 Steelclaw dies to triple Hurl Rock after getting an attack off on me which doesn't do much through Voltaric. He then casts a Cervere, the Forest Shadow with an enchantment. I figure if he's playing a lot of big creatures, I'm better off at this point just focusing him down so I don't have to go through that annoying dodge on Cervere. The rest of the game consists of him flipping Lion Savagery on Cervere and him attacking me through Voltaric Shield and some armor. Luckily at one point my opponent forgot to back out and charge so that saved me some dice coming in. Unfortunately for him with the combination of Jinx and tons of damage from attack spells there wasn't much he was able to do and my mage and Wizard's Tower finished him in the next three or four turns while he dealt about ten damage to me.

Record: 4/4 points.

Round 2: Weighted Training Clothes vs. TrentMagus' Forcemaster

Once again I used the attack opening of 4x Mana Crystal(B3, B4, C3, C4) and Wizard's Tower while my opponent used Enchanter's Wardstone and Invisible Stalker. My Wizard's Tower was positioned at the top of my hill(B3). This was the game where I made misplays all over the place, I prepped a lot of cards that weren't very useful and wasted a lot of quick casts. Jinx also didn't have as much of an impact on this game as it normally does due to Forcemaster melee attacks. I spent a constant battle through the game of never wanting to use my quick cast so that I could kill his Invisible Stalker with Arcane Zap, which I hit once and did 4 damage. Because of this he spent a lot of time wasting his Invisible Stalker action or attacking Mana Crystals. I was pretty lucky in terms of my opponents die rolls for damage because he never managed to finish off a mana crystal despite two attacks but his rolls on my Wizard were pretty average. However, that deflect die was a god in this game. Overall he dodged a Fireball, Hurl Boulder, and I think three Hurl Rocks. It was a rough life. The real star in this match though was Huginn, like I said I didn't want to open Gate in swiss rounds but I knew that Huginn destroys Forcemaster if he isn't answered and I needed the extra actions to deal with him. Through my Wizard and Huginn I dispelled a force hold, two force fields, Mind Control, dissolved Galvitar, and hit a few things with Seeking Dispel. The only answer he had to Huginn was Mind Control and Sleep, which I got off with dispel and arcane zap respectively. He managed to finally kill him with a force bash against the wall. I generally try to keep Huginn at the top of the hills but didn't want him to take another sleep into an Invisible Stalker or Forcemaster attack. The biggest slop in this match though was I had him at eight damage from death and he put Regrowth on himself. I had 1 dispel left but for some stupid reason decided that I would ignore Regrowth, dispel force hold, and just try to kill him. Never again. This was when he started deflecting my Hurl Rocks and life got painful. I got to a point where I started using Flameblast just because that ability was wrecking me so hard. Because I opted not to answer the regrowth, he gained like 10 more life through the course of the match which eventually led to us going to time. Despite him getting me away from my tower and Force Crushing me in C2 for three turns I was able to survive and win by having more life than him.

Record: 7/8 points.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2015, 08:54:50 PM by Hanma »

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2015, 01:10:11 AM »
Round 3: Weighted Training Clothes vs. Sharkbait's Adramelech Warlock

My opponent was a great player and he plays an awesome Adramelech Warlock, who is a very straight forward mage and is in my opinion best played by dropping a curse on them followed by over 9000 Fireballs. This is exactly how Sharkbait played her and I see why he had so much success in the tournament. Unfortunately, Wizard pretty much does all the things that Adramelech Warlock does but better. I knew that with him going aggressive it would end up being a match of a slower version of James and I's Attack Wizard with no Jinx vs. my book. He opened with double Enchanter's Wardstone in A1 and B1 and moving to A2 with me opening double Mana Crystal in C4 and B4 while moving to C3. I did this so he could either attack mana crystals or myself, but I figured he would focus me. T2 he put a Magebane on me while I jinx'd and Wizard's Tower on B2, moving to B3. This would give him the choice of moving into my mana crystals to run from my tower in which case I would go destroy his Enchanter's Wardstones or he could focus myself or my Wizard's Tower. T3 I popped on Voltaric Shield, led with Jinx in the quick cast followed by Hurl Boulder on Wizard's Tower and Hurl Rock on my Wizard moving to A3. At this point he was playing against Jinx and Wizard's Tower. My three actions to his 1. The game was pretty much over from there with me ending up at around 10 damage.

Record: 11/12 points.

Round 4: Weighted Training Clothes vs. Tim McCurry's Wizard(Earth)

Because I sat next to him and he played James, who lost a close match due to a few misplays by 1 damage, I had a general idea what I was walking into. Last year he played a very similar book which I was also able to beat. He typically opens fast on B3 in turn two with a Wizard's Tower, lots of Hurl Boulders, Force Push through Wall of Thorns, and Jet Stream also on tower. Before the tournament James and I decided that if anything was able to beat us when using the attack opening it was Wizard and almost a guaranteed loss to a good Priestess.

Because Tim had played against the book already I decided to bite the bullet and take off the weighted training clothes, using the gate opening. After having such a close game against James, Tim opted for a different strategy, using a slower opening against me. As soon as this happened I pretty much knew I had won, even though Tim is a great player, you aren't going to beat Gate to Voltari if you let me sit around for the first four turns. Tim opened up with a T1 Iron Golem and Mana Crystal while I used Gate to Voltari and all my +channeling gear to reach 16 channeling. As Iron Golem was moving in I also used Essence Drain on it. So it was his eight channeling vs. my 17-19 channeling, as well as him not running Jinx. Nothing much exciting happened during this match because I just got so far ahead in channeling. I Jinx'd him out of the game with a Gargoyle Sentry for guards. I didn't take any damage this match.

Record: 15/16 points.

Round 5: Weighted Training Clothes vs. Gregg Dieckhaus'(Gdieckhaus) Priestess

Going into round 5 I knew that the Priestess in the tournament was playing with Guardian Angel, Bear Strength, Lion Savagery, and Enchantment Transfusion so I had a general idea on what to expect. The one thing I didn't expect was that he was running FOUR Guardian Angels. Unfortunately I only found out about this once it was too late, and if I had known my strategy would have been far different. I knew my opponent was a good player, his record was good, and in my opinion Priestess is one of the more viable tournament books. This is especially true when time limits are taken into account. However I also knew that him and I were the only undefeated players and I had already played against the person I felt would be the hardest match-up(Tim). Taking this into account, despite already concluding it's very likely I will lose to Priestess without opening the gate opening, I decided to try the attack strategy since I was in top four even with a loss. I also did this so that if I played him in the finals, he wouldn't be expecting me to open Gate to Voltari.

So the game starts out and I do the usual attack opening with four crystals. In hindsight I should have gotten Harmonize and Moonglow Amulet on myself too because his pressure wasn't very high. However he also opened with T1 Battle Forge in A1 and T2 Guardian Angel. So after getting my Mana Crystals down I wanted to get in his face, light up and kill a few angels and then kill his Priestess. We had some good exchanges and I had a slight advantage because my opponent mostly plays online which caused him to miss a few opportunities to put armor on himself though Battle Forge because he forgot. The problem was that I wasn't able to get through two Guardian Angels, let alone a Battle Forge and another Guardian Angel. At one point he had double Guardian Angel guarding in A2 along with his mage and I fired in attack spells to kill the one with two enchantments on it. It was at this time that I learned that double intercept supersedes allowing the attacker to pick their target with attack spells, good to know for later! After about eight damage on one angel and five on the other I figured that he was going to grab a heal and put his angel back up to full, that would have pretty much ended the game right there. Thankfully that never happened which I was quite surprised by. I think he was saving heals for his Priestess, which is also a good strategy. After killing two Guardian Angels and the third hit the field late into the game(10-15 minutes remaining), my opponent had taken minuscule amounts of damage, gained max life through the casting of Holy spells, STILL had Battle Forge, and was able to drop my corrodes if I focused him. I figured that it was probably game at this point, but that I might be able to erk out some damage by just unloading on him before time and winning by having the most life remaining. It didn't go this way however and Gregg was declared the winner. Good to know that our theory of use the gate opening proved true at least. We don't test against Priestess often and probably should.

Record: 15/20 points. Skating in at third seed.

(To those of you that read this already, I realized my memory derped with round order. So feel free to reread a bit)
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 01:15:47 AM by Hanma »

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2015, 01:10:23 AM »
DAY 2!

I got up early, had good food, got there early. I was feeling great.

Semifinals: Weighted Training Clothes vs. TrentMagus' Forcemaster, part 2.

Yay! I dodged the Priestess! I really wasn't looking forward to playing two long and grueling matches.

Time to take off the weighted training clothes! Out comes Gate to Voltari! I opened Mana Crystal in C4 and Gate to Voltari in C3 while moving to B4 because I figured my opponent was going to play aggressive again. Make him choose between myself and Gate. I could tell as soon as I dropped the Gate on the field he wasn't sure what was going on, and it seemed to force him to change plans. He opened Mana Crystal in A1 with Enchanter's Wardstone in B1 while also moving to B1. T2 Gargoyle Sentry comes out of the gate along with a Mana Crystal in B4. He moves to C1 and Force Hammer's my Gate to Voltari. As soon as I see this I'm excited, if someone focuses Gate to Voltari I generally have the game barring god rolls. I move to B2 and Jinx him. T3, my initiative with a Jinx already on him. I pass quick, my Jinx pops something that I don't remember, I jinx him again and guard with Gargoyle Sentry. He moves and pops another Jinx. I move to B3 and cast Wizard's Tower in B3. The rest of the game goes quick, he ends up killing Gate to Voltari with another Force Hammer and a Galvitar swing but not before I also get Huginn, Raven Familiar out to deal with all that annoying Forcemaster stuff. This game his deflection marker was in my favor and I don't think he hit a single one, so that really helped. I guess it evened out in the end. I also got a timely daze that he failed while trying to sweeping my Gargoyle Sentry and Gate to Voltari. I then proceed to out action him and Jinx him out of the game. He later told me that using the Gate opening really threw him off because he didn't see it during swiss, mission accomplished.

Meanwhile Tim went super aggro against the Priestess and managed to finish his game faster than I did mine. Overall, round 1 was done in 25 minutes.

FINALS! Weighted Training Clothes vs. Tim McCurry's Wizard(Earth), part 2.

I'm really glad that last round went quick, because this match was INSANE. I knew that after playing Tim on round three that there was almost a 100% chance that he was going to go aggro on me. Make sure to watch the video from Arcane Duels, they recorded the entire match!

His opening was a move to A2 with an enchantment on himself(I figured it was a Nullify, Tim learned how crazy Jinx is) and Storm Drake Hide on himself. I moved to C3 with Mana Crystal in C4 with harmonize on myself, which I flipped during channeling. I knew at this point he was most likely going to open Wizard's Tower in B3 but there was also a chance that he might do it in B2. Because he played James, I knew that he was playing three Wizard's Towers so going the route of destroying investments and dealing with him just wasn't going to work. I opted to just run away from the tower and let it sit there all game. I turned on Voltaric Shield and I decided to sit in C3 and cast an enchantment on myself(Rhino hide). He moved to B2, placed Wizard's Tower in B3, as expected, and put an enchantment on me. I was lucky because Tim did it in the wrong order, using the enchantment first, which left him unable to activate Wizard's Tower. This was because there was a ruling during the tournament that Wizard's Tower had to be used IMMEDIATELY after a creatures action. Silverclawgrizzly will chime in about this ruling in a later post, I feel like it was a good ruling in a very gray area. I then cast Moonglow Amulet in final quick cast to make sure my investments stayed ahead of him.

I wanted to get away from the tower, but because he had initiative I was unable to double move away. After picking cards Tim flipped Rust on me, and I jumped for joy, I was hoping that it wasn't a Jinx or Nullify. Mostly Jinx. He passed his quick and I proceeded to Teleport to C1 while he cast an enchantment on himself and moved to C2, hitting me with Arcane Zap. For my action I held position equipped Dragonscale Hauberk. I had the choice between Gargoyle Sentry, Gate to Voltari, and Wizard's Tower. Looking back at it, I picked hands down the worst of the three options. Wizard's Tower. Gargoyle Sentry would have left him having to deal with guard tokens while being Jinx'd, but I was worried about Force Push combo being able to ignore Gargoyle Sentry's guards. Gate to Voltari would have meant that I could just keep him off me long enough and win the game. My logic was that he wouldn't be able to battle through Jinx and Wizard's Tower while I was out of range of his Wizard's Tower, and if I cast Wizard's Tower in B1 that would put it in range of his Wizard's Tower and he might focus that instead of my Wizard. I also thought that I could just damage race him even if I stayed out of range of his Wizard's Tower. I turned on Voltaric Shield yet again and cast Jinx on him during my quick cast to pop his Nullify, which I should have used a seeking dispel in order to have another Jinx in my book for later. I cast Wizard's Tower in B1 followed by Fireball for seven damage and a burn. He then Force Pushed me through Wall of Thorns between B1 and C1 followed by Hurl Boulder on his Wizard's Tower for a total of eight damage. The big one though, he rolled a god tier timed slam on the Hurl Boulder which almost ended the game. I had initiative but was unable to Flameblast the Wall of Thorns because of slam. Acid Ball comes off his tower to knock my armor to zero AND break Voltaric Shield. He pushes me through the wall and rolls above average dealing 15 and putting me to 23 followed by an enchantment on himself. I attempt to Jinx him to get my slam/daze off and hit a Nullify again. I then Flameblast the Wall of Thorns, killing it in one hit.

So, I'm sitting at 23 damage with my initiative. Time to heal! We trade back and forth for awhile, unfortunately my heals are a bit below average with the first one healing for five and the second for seven while his Hurl Boulders are average at about seven damage. Thankfully this leaves me at one life before the second heal and I am able to recover from there with a combination of Minor Heal, Regrowth Belt, and Gargoyle Sentry. I would like to thank Trentmagus for reminding me how stupid Regrowth effects are if they go unanswered. I would also like to point out that at one point Tim asked to see my discard pile, I look up at him and go “I used all my Jinxs.” He then elects not to look at it and says “Oh good, now I get to play the game!” Thanks to Regrowth Belt and my last Heal I am able to worm my way back up from 31 to eight damage while Tim is at 17.

At the home stretch! I have Gargoyle Sentry and Huginn on the field and am feeling pretty good about my chances at this point. Tim then throws down a Minor Heal on a Mage Wand. NOOOOO! Thankfully, Huginn is a champion and wades into the dangers of a Wizard and Wizard's Tower just to dissolve that. I have about a five life advantage on Tim and he's out of healing effects while I still have a minor heal. The final last clutch move of the game, I have a Nullify on myself in C1 while Tim is C3. Time in the round is called. At the very end of the turn as the last creature activation my Wizard double moves from C1 to A1 and it's my initiative for the last turn of the game! I pass my quick, as does he. Gargoyle Sentry double moves to  A1 and I use my quick cast to Guard him in my square. At this point Tim says that the double move won the game and he doesn't think there's anything that he can do, I'm inclined to agree. He shows me his cards left, it's a teleport and Hurl Boulder. Nullify and Gargoyle Sentry deal with those, I use my final Minor Heal to go back up to 1 damage and the game is done. PRAISE CTHULHU I FINALLY WON GENCON! There was much rejoicing. Overall this game was a crazy back and forth all game long and was one of the best but most stressful games of Mage Wars I've ever played. I feel if I would have played better that it wouldn't have been nearly as close but Tim played an excellent game with a very powerful aggro book. I also feel that if either persons rolls would have been bumped up a notch, mine to average and his to above average, that it would have swung the match in that persons favor.

Afterwards, I got a sweet print of a Wizard card that I hope never sees print because it's amazing, haha. But the art is awesome! I also got tons of Mage Wars swag in the form of Academy, Domination, and a gorgeous wooden Mage Wars dice tower. I'm still harassing them about a trophy because the ones from last year were beautiful and I want a first place one to go with the second place one so badly I can't describe it, so here's to hoping someone important reads this! :)
 
That concludes my tournament report, I'll talk a bit more about the direction of the game and my book in some later posts. I would like to thank James first and foremost, I wouldn't be here without him. The amazing Arcane Wonders staff for putting on the tournament, having stellar judges, and creating my favorite game ever made. Arcane Duels (https://www.facebook.com/arcaneduels?fref=ts and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJlTpUZS02GTO9rWXbR-jow) for all their cool interviews, recording the matches, and helping the game grow and thrive. Finally, the community for being the reason my favorite game is successful and still being made! I hope to see everyone in the future and encourage you to come have a war of mages at Gencon 2016 against me!

P.S. I'd love to hear feedback and questions to create a great discourse! So shoot them out there and I'll answer in as timely a manner as possible!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 03:30:57 PM by Hanma »

Hanma

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2015, 01:20:31 AM »
Reserved. Also, this post is designed as a rough draft and was only edited by myself for errors, so feel free to call me dumb and correct things.

silverclawgrizzly

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2015, 01:27:49 AM »
I would like to thank Hanma for this write up. I know you've been working hard at it man and I think we can all appreciate the effort! I saw this book in action, it needs to be added to the White Spires as a legendary book. When I first recorded it I knew it was going to be a pain in the butt to deal with. I'd never met Hanma before so I was curious about his play style. He handled this book like an old guitarist plays a beloved instrument. I again congratulate Hanma on his victory over some tough opponents in the tournament.

Now I'm going to discuss a proverbial elephant in the room before it gets asked. You'll see it in the video of the tournament. Yes I made the questionable ruling involving Wizard Towers and when they can cast. This issue to me has always been a bit murky. As a Gen Con judge you spend weeks pouring over the rule books, codex, and forums trying to be as prepared as you possibly can. I called Laddinface at random hours asking him the most inane and obscure stuff I and my fellow judges could think of. I knew however nothing was going to prepare me for all questions that would get raised. Fortunately Laddinface was doing his "Fight the Developer" events right next to us so I could ask him the harder stuff. Also JasonBourneZombie has all the documents on his phone. Laddinface told me, and I quote directly, "It's as clear as mud." So yes I ruled that Wizard Towers can not act after a Quick Cast following a creatures action. I stand by my logic behind it, but I can honestly see the other side of it too. It being a murky gray area I went on the side of caution. I'm not ashamed of the ruling, I stand by it in fact. However I'm told a new codex is coming out and the ruling will be made quite clear that I erred in this respect. Fair enough, I look forward to the clarification.

Finally I would like to personally thank not only Hanma but any other Wizard player I effected with this ruling at the tournament. Nobody got upset or angry with me for the ruling(as I was holding everyone to the same ruling) and even though they clearly disagreed with me I could not ask for more gracious players.

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jhaelen

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2015, 02:56:49 AM »
Wow, now that's an epic report! Congratulations & thanks for posting!

Being a very casual player, all I can say is that Jinx is also one of my favorite spells. In my last game I jinxed the hell out of my (granted, inexperienced) opponent, resulting in my fastest game (and win) ever.

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2015, 03:02:54 AM »
Thanks very much for this, and congrats on the win! That spellbook is a thing of spare beauty and deadly grace.

Did you ever test against Meditation Amulet/Graveyard Necro? Which opening would you recommend?
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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2015, 08:10:51 AM »
Congrats on your win! Great write up!

Few things I noticed.

First of all, why would you use four mana crystals in a super aggressive attack spell strategy? You could just save the mana. This whole concept of "mana flow" that you're talking about seems rather iffy and murky, and looks more like a psychological trick to make you think you have more mana advantage in the early game than you actually do. You actually DO have less mana to spend in the early game if you cast crystals than if you don't. That is a mathematical fact. I'm guessing it only feels like more because people don't save their mana as much when they have less in the first place. Probably since they don't want to waste actions. The mana crystals are not useful if the game ends before they pay themselves back. If you win before the crystals pay themselves back, then that means you could have just not cast anything the first two rounds and you would have 20 more mana by round 5 then you would have with the crystals, and 10 more mana by round 6 than you would have with the crystals. Which means any games that you won before round 7 using your super aggressive attack opening would have won even more easily if you had not cast anything at all for the first two rounds, unless you take into account the psychological factor of tricking your opponents into thinking you're going long game.

How many of your opponents played a super-aggressive early game strategy? From the looks of the write up the answer is 0. Every single one of your opponents seems to have either played for the mid game or the late game. Did any of your opponents even try using a battle forge? A wizard spellbook entirely devoted to super aggro attack spells using wizard's tower, huginn and no mana crystals would have been able to get an action advantage against you earlier. Jinx only helps you if you already have an action advantage, since it costs you 1 quick action and causes the opponent to lose 1 quick action. Jinxing an opponent who already has an action advantage over you actually can hurt you more than them (although it might depend on exactly what spell was countered.)

9 channeling mages not viable? This again? And the reasoning you give seems to be...because they don't have enough actions.

...

I think I should point out that a lot of the reason that the forcemaster has 10 channeling instead of 9 is probably because of the upkeep costs that a lot of mind spells have.

Also, there are ways to deal with enemy action advantage.

For instance, the Warlock uses enfeeble and agony to great effect. Sure you can dispel them, but that costs you a quick action, and meanwhile he can smash your face in. Sure if the game goes long enough you'll have enough action advantage that he won't be able to do that, but in the meantime he is rolling more dice against you per round than you are, and it could take at least a couple rounds if not several rounds for you to gain the upper hand.

I think I heard somewhere that about half of the participants this year played wizards. This is starting to look like a ridiculous self fulfilling prophecy. "Oh look! Wizard won a tournament! Wizard is overpowered! Half of the players bring a wizard because he is so powerful! Oh look! Wizard won a tournament! Wizard is overpowered! Even MORE players bring wizards next year. And the more times he wins, the more convinced people become that wizard is overpowered and the more people who decide to play the wizard, so the more chances wizard has to win. Even if he is slightly overpowered, people really need to stop making it look worse than it actually is. If a Mage is overpowered in Mage wars that doesn't mean they can't be beaten, it means that they over-centralize the metagame due to their own power (and NOT merely because of the perception that they're overpowered.)

You're probably a more talented Mage wars player than I am, but I think you could benefit from some more exposure to the global metagame to improve your theoretical understanding, particularly when it comes to aggro mages. You've recently started playing on OCTGN, right? I think I played a game against you at some point, but I'm not sure. I might be confusing you with Halewjin. Not sure I spelled that right...

Anyways, I want to say again, congratulations for winning the tournament!
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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2015, 08:58:26 AM »
I think I heard somewhere that about half of the participants this year played wizards. This is starting to look like a ridiculous self fulfilling prophecy. "Oh look! Wizard won a tournament! Wizard is overpowered! Half of the players bring a wizard because he is so powerful! Oh look! Wizard won a tournament! Wizard is overpowered! Even MORE players bring wizards next year. And the more times he wins, the more convinced people become that wizard is overpowered and the more people who decide to play the wizard, so the more chances wizard has to win. Even if he is slightly overpowered, people really need to stop making it look worse than it actually is. If a Mage is overpowered in Mage wars that doesn't mean they can't be beaten, it means that they over-centralize the metagame due to their own power (and NOT merely because of the perception that they're overpowered.)

Vulcan, it goes both ways. Yes, you can say that the tournament is a self-fufilling prophecy because there were a bunch of Wizards, so of course several make top four and odds are good one can win at that point. However, the argument can be made that we end up with this because of a vicious cycle, players feel the Wizard is their best bet to go on, and so Wizards are entered into the competition in large numbers.

Regardless of anything else, the Wizard is always a mage that I try to watch closely. These are all good points about the Wizard. Lets try to keep things all in the proper perspective, and that means looking at all the facts. As we go forward our picture is always getting clearer.

Hanma, congratulations sir. You played several excellent opponents. I even watched a few of your games, well done. I know Tim is a MONSTROUS competitor, so congratulations their as well. It's great to see another mage win at Gencon. I'm already looking forward to next year as there will be a ton of new cards to spice up the environment.

Thank you everyone involved. The tournament was fantastic. You all make this game fantastic.

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2015, 09:09:27 AM »
Similar to Ringkichard, I'm curious on what you would do against a skeleton necro who turtled with wall of bone and cloak of shadows.  It looks like the most trouble you had was against a mage who could block attack spells, and walls of bone do just that.  A huginn might be able to fly over, but a skeleton archer could shoot it down.  Congrats on your excellent performance in the tournament.

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2015, 09:13:15 AM »
Congrats, Nick!

Seriously, It was fun playing against you and I learned quite a bit from our match. So for that, I thank you. If you're ever on OCTGN and up for a game, let me know!
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Hanma

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2015, 10:27:07 AM »
Thanks very much for this, and congrats on the win! That spellbook is a thing of spare beauty and deadly grace.

Did you ever test against Meditation Amulet/Graveyard Necro? Which opening would you recommend?
Thanks! We did test against Meditation Amulet Straywood Beastmaster because his creatures, minus Zombie Brute, tend to pack more of a punch than Necromancer. I did play against Stephen(Gencon 2013 winner) last year and he was playing a book similar to this.

That being said, I think either opening would win. Using the attack opening and assuming they don't play Jinx, there is no way that they are going to come online before your Wizard's Tower and Wizard outright kill them. Assuming that they do, it's going to be a closer than a total blowout. However by using Huginn before you walk up to them and use him to get Jinx off you while they have no way of doing so, you're also going to win. The other option is to use Gate to Voltari and generate 16 channeling+Gate+Huginn+Wizard's Tower for effectively 20-21 channeling. Being that Gate+16 channeling+Wizard's Tower or Huginn comes online during T4 there is really nothing that they could do to get ahead enough to make up for your channeling and action advantage once you start getting in their face from there. Also, because Jinx exists, once you get in their face they won't want to Med Amulet because suddenly all their actions are gone every turn while you have 4.

To conclude, both would work. But I always feel that Gate to Voltari is the safer option.

Similar to Ringkichard, I'm curious on what you would do against a skeleton necro who turtled with wall of bone and cloak of shadows.  It looks like the most trouble you had was against a mage who could block attack spells, and walls of bone do just that.  A huginn might be able to fly over, but a skeleton archer could shoot it down.  Congrats on your excellent performance in the tournament.

Thanks! The real issue wasn't so much that they could block attack spells(I assume you mean the Priestess) it was that she did it with crazy survivable creatures but more importantly gained max life while doing so, allowing her to win via time. Walls are another thing that I LOVE in theory but outside of the rare few just aren't playable because they are to mana inefficient and have to little effect on the board state. Even if they did Wall of Bones, it takes them 14 mana to wall themselves off while I pay 8 mana with a Hawkeye to kill it on average rolls. That doesn't even count Wizard's Tower. I'll take that trade all day long. While I don't think using the attack opening would be optimal against this kind of build, outside of them having Battle Forge on top of GY(Which I would just kill) I don't think they could survive long enough for their game plan to come online. Necro also doesn't have any good in-school interceptors. Lets not forget that Skeletons are pretty bad, Zombies are hands down the way to go.

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Re: Weighted Training Clothes - Gencon 2015 Championship Spellbook
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2015, 11:28:53 AM »
Nick,
Congrats on the win.  I really liked your comments about action economy, and feel that is something my book lacked.  Sadly your Jinx spells caught up with me in round 6 against Tim, when I planned on a jinx, but instead was the Rust / force push / Wall of thorns combos

Gregg
« Last Edit: August 07, 2015, 12:10:03 PM by gdieckhaus »
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