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Author Topic: Thoughts after my first game of Academy  (Read 2200 times)

Sailor Vulcan

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Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« on: January 31, 2016, 11:36:03 AM »
It's official. Mage Wars Academy has lived up to its hype. It is pretty much exactly what it promises to be.

Affordability
Only costs 20-30 US dollars for the core set. 10/10

Portability
Very portable. All you need to play the game are the cards, the dice and the tokens. 10/10

Game Length
10-30 minutes.

Pretty much the only thing about Arena that disappointed me was the game length, because it meant that I couldn't play it as often as I wanted. With Arena I would only be able to play maybe about one or two games in a day on one or two days a week and it would consume several hours when I did. Academy is much shorter, but the quality of the gameplay does not decrease as a result.
10/10

Strategy (deckbuilding) and tactics (gameplay)
I'm not gonna lie, Academy is less deep and complex in its strategies and tactics than Arena. But don't let that fool you. Academy is about as tactically deep as Apprentice Mode (Mage Wars Arena's tutorial format) if not more so, and it's definitely more strategic. There are plenty of possible strategies you can use. While the key cards for each of these strategies are usually very easy to spot within just five to ten minutes of looking at the card pool, the devil is in the details. Some of the most difficult decisions in deck building are deciding the cards that aren't your key cards.

Furthermore, coming up with fairly unique, interesting and fun ideas for spellbooks in Academy is possible even in the core set only meta. Once you stop thinking so much like an Arena player and stop desperately looking for super secret strategies that are very difficult to come up with, you start noticing the strategies that are easier to spot and the strategies that are slightly more difficult to come up with. There's nowhere near as many options as arena yet, but that's most likely a simple result of the current card pool being so small.

The gameplay is challenging and very engaging. And it doesn't play like Arena. While it's not a completely different game from Arena, it's definitely NOT just Arena-lite. My first game my opponent and I used custom decks that I had come up with. I played a wizard that tanked using armor and a guarding redcrested cockatrice, with some mana denial. My opponent used a beastmaster that uses a HUGE level 1 animal toolbox, and when they die he just summons more of them. Naturally it includes Steelclaw Matriarch and Slavorg as finishers. It was a lot of fun.

Compared to other more typical card-battling games, such as Magic the Gathering, Yugioh, etc. Mage Wars Academy offers more tactical depth, albeit a smaller space of possible strategies so far.

Strategy (deckbuilding) 7/10 (will likely improve as card pool grows)
Tactics (gameplay) 9/10


Components

-Status Dials 4/10 7/10
The status dials are a gimick. They seem all nice and convenient at first, until you realize that they only go up to 20 damage, and the mages both have more than 20 life. Furthermore You're meant to use the 20-damage markers for the mages, not the non-mage creatures. When you reach 20 damage on your mage, reset the status dial on your mage to 0 and put a 20-damage marker on your mage card. However, it's difficult to read the status dials at a distance. If you use them you'll probably find yourself asking to see your opponent's status dial multiple times.

-Cards and Markers
The damage markers and guard markers are bigger in Academy than in arena, which is refreshing and easier on the eyes. In fact, damage markers that have higher numbers have a larger size which makes it much easier to sort them. Condition markers are still double-sided with different things on one side than the other. Fortunately it's still a lot more sensible and easier to sort than in Arena (at least before 4th ed). Guard markers will always be guard markers on both sides. Dissipate tokens are always either charges or wishes on the other side, and charges and wishes are always dissipate tokens on the other side. Staggers are always weaks on the other side and vice versa. The tokens seem quite durable. So do the cards. They were all in quite good condition. I think there might have been some sawdust when I first opened it, but that went away pretty quickly.
9/10

Attack Dice
One of the attack dice that came with my copy of the core set had a normal 1 face which was nearly impossible to see because it hadn't been painted white. I thought I had gotten a replacement set of dice in the mail, but I can't find it now and I'm not sure why since I thought I had received it already and that I had put it in my academy core set box. I hope I find them eventually, but if not I'll just have to buy another set. I don't recommend using the bigger attack dice from Arena. They're too big and heavy and they might displace tokens and stuff when they land on the table. The smaller attack dice are lighter and less likely to go all over the place or knock anything around. I really like the smaller dice, but I'm a bit worried about losing them. I wish there were smaller dice towers to go with them.
5/10


Overall Mage Wars Academy is a really great and amazing game, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to play customizable strategy games, especially if they want something that's deeply tactical, can be played in about twenty minutes on average, is affordable and doesn't have the luck of the draw issues that virtually all CCGs have.

I had my doubts at first, and was worried that it would not be as good as Apprentice Mode Arena. Boy was I wrong. I love Mage Wars Academy!
« Last Edit: February 02, 2016, 02:11:40 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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jhaelen

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Re: Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2016, 03:40:35 AM »
Compared to other more typical card-battling games, such as Magic the Gathering, Yugioh, etc. Mage Wars Academy offers more tactical depth, albeit a smaller space of possible strategies so far.
Interesting. How does it achieve more tactical depth?

Sailor Vulcan

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Re: Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2016, 06:29:15 AM »
Part of it is that in typical card battling games you only have a hand of about 5-7 cards and in Mage Wars Academy you have a hand of maybe about 30 cards typically.
There are more meaningful decisions that you can make in-game.

Player skill is relatively much more important compared to other factors in Mage Wars Academy than in typical CCGs. For instance, in MtG, generally the biggest factors in game outcomes are, in order, how well-built your deck is, followed by how expensive your deck is (card access), and then player skill and luck

In Mage Wars Academy it seems to be first player skill, then how well-built your deck is, followed by card access and then luck, just like it is for Arena.
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jhaelen

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Re: Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2016, 02:27:54 AM »
Part of it is that in typical card battling games you only have a hand of about 5-7 cards and in Mage Wars Academy you have a hand of maybe about 30 cards typically.
Granted. Unfortunately, Mage Wars introduces dice, countering the advantage of always having access to all cards to a degree. I'm not sure if the end-result is more tactical depth.
In Mage Wars Academy it seems to be first player skill, then how well-built your deck is, followed by card access and then luck, just like it is for Arena.
I'm not an experienced MtG player, but I've read about how the 'deck plays you' rather than the other way around. However, I've played all of FFGs LCGs, especially Call of Cthulhu. I daresay for these games, player skill is definitely more important than the deck-building, too.

I think, I'll need to see more ratings/reviews, especially from players who played more than a single game to decide if Academy really has any advantage over a 'good' LCG.

Sailor Vulcan

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Re: Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2016, 03:59:55 AM »

Part of it is that in typical card battling games you only have a hand of about 5-7 cards and in Mage Wars Academy you have a hand of maybe about 30 cards typically.
Granted. Unfortunately, Mage Wars introduces dice, countering the advantage of always having access to all cards to a degree. I'm not sure if the end-result is more tactical depth.
In Mage Wars Academy it seems to be first player skill, then how well-built your deck is, followed by card access and then luck, just like it is for Arena.
I'm not an experienced MtG player, but I've read about how the 'deck plays you' rather than the other way around. However, I've played all of FFGs LCGs, especially Call of Cthulhu. I daresay for these games, player skill is definitely more important than the deck-building, too.

I think, I'll need to see more ratings/reviews, especially from players who played more than a single game to decide if Academy really has any advantage over a 'good' LCG.

That's fair. However considering that the dice in Arena don't seem to diminish its tactical depth if at all, I don't see how they would do that in Academy either.

I didn't compare it to other LCG and "LCG-like" games besides Arena because I haven't gotten into any much. I've dabbled a bit in BattleCon, Hearthstone and Summoner Wars. Summoner Wars is a good game but from what I've read it basically has little to no competitive scene. Hearthstone can be pretty strategic but it has pretty much zero tactics; the decks basically play themselves. BattleCon is a pretty good game, but it doesn't seem to have the same amount of tactical depth available in Mage Wars Academy. I also tried a demo of Netrunner once. That's also a pretty good game. It still requires drawing from a deck though. Not quite  certain whether it has more or less tactical depth than Academy since I haven't played it much, but a suspect it has less because of the drawing and the smaller hand, although I could be wrong.
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Mystery

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Re: Thoughts after my first game of Academy
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2016, 06:47:03 AM »
from a real perspective i like dice more than luck draw, as even in reallity you can't guarantee that your infantry/Bomb hits perfectly always for same damage, while card draw would mean you don't know if and when you have your infantry/marine/airforce available at all, etc.

In a game perspective both matters.

What makes a difference arena vs academy is the amount of dice. The expectation value is always the same more less with 1dmg (0.5crit,0.5 normal) per dice (of course more complex), but the relative standard deviation is different.
For 1 die its as likely to do 2dmg as do the mean of 1dmg or do 0dmg, while on more dice the mean and close to the mean gets more likely while outliers get less, that might change from a luck perspective and defenitly for abilities that trigger on dmg, like bloodreaper, demonic link etc.