October 17, 2017, 08:17:17 AM

Author Topic: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination  (Read 7231 times)

iNano78

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Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« on: May 06, 2016, 03:20:26 PM »
I feel like I might be in a minority here, but I love me some Domination, especially multiplayer Domination.  When our Mage Wars group first got going, we dreaded odd numbers as that meant somebody was sitting out while others played their 1-on-1 Arena matches.  Upon Domination's release at Gen Con 2015, that all changed!  I've got about a dozen plays of Domination under my belt now (mostly 3-way free-for-all, plus some 2-on-2 team play).  I'm currently 10W-12L-3D after 25 three-way free-for-all Domination matches that I've reported on BGG. Here is what I've noticed so far:

Multiplayer strategy
  • Like many non-cooperative multiplayer games (like war games, 4X games, etc), a player can benefit relative to others by avoiding conflict while others battle each other for supremacy.  For instance, if player A attacks player B, then player C indirectly benefits, since it doesn't cost player C any resources to benefit from player B's demise, and player A spends significant resources engaging player B.  Thus, if player B gets off to a strong start, and player A "takes one for the team" to knock B down a notch, player C will likely go on to win win (unless player A has enough left in the tank to challenge player C as well).
  • Likewise, and especially in a 4-player free-for-all, kingmaker scenarios often come into play. If player A challenges player B (leader) while C and D do their own thing, then once player B is no longer a threat, player A will generally be too exhausted (e.g. deprived of resources) to compete for first and will likely join forces with the weaker of C/D, and the weaker of C/D will often prevail with A becoming the effective "kingmaker." Thus, a valid Domination strategy often involves "doing your own thing (V'tar) while putting in a minimal effort to hold back the perceived leaders" and/or "trying to sustain second (of 3) or third (of 4) place and then stealing the win from the leader at the last possible moment, when it's too late for the other non-leader(s) to ignore the perceived leader."

With that in mind, let's look at cards and abilities that become far more powerful/important in Domination than they were in Arena.

Part I: The Obvious
  • A spawn point and a good number of cheap creatures is a must.  If you plan to win by V'tar, you need to hit some orbs.  And after hitting them, you'll need to defend those orbs, too.
  • If legal in your play group, Galaxxus is an auto-include: first to get an orb + Galaxxus out will generally win with rare (but possible) exception.  For our group, we've found that banning Galaxxus has improved our games.  We have less runaway leader issues, games are less predictable (more back-and-forth; more closer matches with come-from-behind wins), and removing Galaxxus opens up more spell book building options.  Banning Galaxxus is a win-win!
  • Guarding is crucial.  Altar of the Iron Guard is almost as much of an auto-include as Galaxxus (where legal); thus...
  • Fast/Elusive/Flying creatures are clutch.  In fact, these groups deserve their own bullet points:
  • Elusive is probably the most important trait of all in Domination, since it allows you to "orb-steal" - not to mention makes your creatures immune to Hinder (aside from Vine markers).  Mongoose Agility and Panther Stealth look like good choices, and might be in many cases, but they can easily be Dispeled; creatures with inherent Elusiveness are much better (e.g. Terraki, Cervere, Rajah, Slaknir), as answers aren't as abundant (e.g. they might require a Tanglevine or attack spells to neutralize).
  • Next up is Flying, since getting around the board unhindered is important, as is getting past walls and Vine markers. 
  • If you can do one of those and add Fast, you're in good shape. Thus, Thunderrift Falcon is almost certainly the best level 1 creature in the format.  Along with Cervere and Terraki (and even Tarok to counter enemy fliers), you can see that the Beastmaster is a pretty good choice for your first Domination book.  We'll come back to that later.


Part II: Perhaps slightly less Obvious (at first)
  • Action economy is really what wins in Domination.  Sure, that means you want lots of creatures.  And while getting off to a strong start by building a large army of minor creatures might be fine (and scoring the first orb + dropping Galaxxus might auto-win), it might also put a big juicy target on your chest.  Whereas finding a way to get extra actions out of your creatures, like trading your mage's quickcast for an extra attack (via Battle Fury) or a full action for two full actions (via Whirling Strike) might allow you to make a late comeback for the V'tar win, especially if your target creature can double-tap an orb, or poke a guard, then an orb, then another orb, to steal away several orbs in one round.
  • Action economy can also be interupted; e.g. by teleporting away the (potential) target of Whirling Strike / Battle Fury, or by dropping a zone attack spell that causes Daze and/or Stun on several enemy creatures (see Hail of Stones).
  • Board control can also win games.  A perfectly timed Tanglevine can pin a mage far from the action on a crucial turn.  Putting up a wall can just as easily win or lose you the game ("Be careful where you build your walls!").  Force Wave and Repulse are better bang for your buck than Force Push, since you're often dealing with hordes of enemy creatures.  And you can never go wrong with putting 4x Teleport in your spell book, even in the presence of Astral Anchor.
  • You should always have at least one back-up plan; e.g. killing the V'tar leader after he's already taken a few Zone Attacks and/or been pushed through a Wall of Thorns a couple times.  Mages don't tend to pack a lot of armor in Domination books because most of the time it's a waste of points that could be better spent elsewhere.
  • Similarly, you should pack at least a little armor, like an Elemental Cloak or Barkskin or a Hauberk, just in case your opponents turn unfriendly towards you.
  • Non-V'tar threats can be just as good as getting an orb.  For instance, my most successful matches have involved not only competing for orbs but also dropping a threat that must be dealt with.  For example, a Necromancer dropping an Altar of Skulls + Acolyte means serious business if everybody else's strategies revolve around small creatures that aren't immune to poison.  Goblins and Falcons and Foxes will suffer the same fate if the Altar activates.  Thus, all the non-Necromancers tend to drop whatever their doing to deal with the Altar, meaning the orbs are relatively uncontested for the Necromancer's horde to scoop up.  Other threats can have a similar effect.
  • "Legendary" means "There can be only one!"  This rarely comes up in Arena play (outside mirror matches), but in Domination, there are several cards that prevent the opponent from doing the same.  If a Druid sees a Beastmaster, she might want to cast her Cervere early to deny the Beastmaster a chance.  And any mage can viably drop Altar of the Iron Guard, both to benefit from it and to prevent others from doing likewise.


Mage considerations:
(My play group's record for 3-way Domination for each mage, Win-Loss-Draw, in parentheses... which I'll try to keep up to date.  Keep in mind that, all else being equal, an average mage/player would expect to win 33% of his/her 3-way matches)

Beastmaster.
- Straywood: (4-9-2)
- Johktari: (0-0-0)
  • Either Beastmaster can work, but Straywood pumps out Falcons and Foxes faster than anybody else.
  • Has the best selection of Fast/Elusive/Flying creatures, and is in-school for enchantments that make more creature Fast/Elusive/Flying.
  • Has one of the best spawn points.
  • Can get in the action him/herself.
  • Packleader's Cowl is worth playing, especially if somebody else beats you to AotIG.

Druid.
(4-4-1)
  • Can beat a Beastmaster to Cervere.
  • Has some great creatures for the format in Vine Snappers, who have a nasty full-action bite that can take out Sslaks quickly, and the fact they're unmoveable (but not Anchored) means they make pretty awesome guards (although only their weaker quick-attack gets to counterstrike).
  • Alas, she'll need a lot of Teleports to make sure she can get her rooted creatures where she needs them. 
  • Has the strongest board control, through vine markers, walls, Tangle/Stranglevine, Thornlasher, even her Stuck weapon.
  • Due to treebond's lifelink and Barkskin, she's one of the tougher mages to kill if she gets a V'tar lead.
  • Hindering vines and a selection of walls can make life difficult for the opponents' premium creatures.

Necromancer.
Skeletal: (3-5-1)
Zombie: (0-1-0)
  • Zombies are crap (except perhaps the Brute as a guard or the Plagued Zombie as a Rot distributor), but Skeletons are OK for their cost.
  • Has the best spawnpoint for multiplayer Domination in Graveyard, as it gets extra mana nearly every round past round 2.
  • Has lots of asymmetric zone and arena effects, like Idol of Pestilence, Altar of Skulls, Deathlock, Poison Gas Cloud, Malacoda, Plagued, etc, that make it difficult for minor living creatures to compete.
  • Probably gets the most use out of some of the terrain and non-card objects in Domination, like the "sacrificial altar" that gives you half-mana plus a V'tar for sacrificing a creature.  You can do this with Plagues Zombie and/or your Eternal Servant and quickly ramp up your V'tar, allowing you to keep up with another mage who has an orb advantage, or allowing you to pull away into the lead.
  • Wall of Bones is one of the best walls and in-school for the Necromancer.

Warlord.
Bloodwave: (4-5-2)
Anvil Throne: (0-0-0)
  • Bloodwave in particular can command an army of cheap Goblins.
  • Good conjurations and a little extra set-up time allow the Warlord to come from behind better than most other mages.
  • He has a crazy good selection of cheap walls.  Not only can a Warlord pack a pile of Earth and Stone Walls, but Wall of Pikes can strategically prevent a passage- or LoS-blocking wall from being placed (e.g. in front of your Akiro's Hammer).
  • MANY good Domination cards are in-school for the Warlord, including Hail of Stones, Altar of the Iron Guard, Slaknir, Guard Dog, Akiro's Hammer (a must if Galaxxus is legal), Galaxxus itself, Battle Fury, Whirling Strike, Evade... - even Flank Attack can be good in this format.  Not sure if I've seen Akiro's Battle Cry yet, though.  As powerful as giving all your guys Fast might be, it's hard for a Warlord to come up with 14 mana!
  • Even Spiked Pit, Mangler Caltrops and Earthquake become useful in Domination.

Wizard.
Air Wizard: (2-5-0)
  • This one's interesting.  The Wizard has few good cheap creatures for the format.  Blue Gremlin is probably his best bet, but it's a Pest and isn't as cheap as the competition's minor creatures.  At a glance, the Wizard seems like a poor choice.
  • He could try an unorthodox "buddy" or "strong few" strategy, for instance with a Hydra wiping out Sslak's and a Gargoyle guarding his orb(s).  But I don't see how a "few creature" strategy could compete with a Druid, Beastmaster, Warlord and/or Necromancer.
  • However, he has a good spawnpoint (as good as a Lair), and Wizard's Tower seems good in any format (although has a target painted on it, which will drop quickly if focused on by the other mages)... but more importantly ...
  • He has lots of threats that say "must deal with me or else!"... which means he might be able to keep the opposing mages sufficiently distracted that they can't compete for orbs.  For instance, Wizard's Tower, Mordok's Obelisk and Mana Siphon each mess with typical Domination strategies.  And Teleport Trap supported by V'tar Sentry could provide protection that other mages can't justify spending sbp's on.
  • Many Domination-specific cards in the expansion are Arcane or Air: the V'torrak Gate is like an Arcane Garrison Post, Windstorm and Sandstorm are nifty alternatives to Force Push (especially if you're sporting a Gale Force Ring and Akiro's Favor), and the V'tarrian Energy Wave hits multiple zones like an Earthquake. And the Academy set includes even more Air spells that have Sweeping and/or cause Stagger, which can turn Guards into Pests.
  • Air/Lightning and Earth spells tend to cause Daze and/or Stun, which can prevent a creature from hitting an orb, denying your opponent actions! This could be clutch in a format that cares so much about action economy.
  • Or, the Wizard could go for a completley unorthodox strategy of trying to kill the other mages simultaneously through DoT and preventing V'tar wins using V'tar Suppression.  Not sure it can work outside 1-on-1, but if any mage can do it, the Wizard probably can (or perhaps the Necromancer, being immune to poison and all).

Priest(ess).
Asyra Priestess: (0-0-0)
Malakai Priest: (2-1-1)
  • The Priestess of Westlock currently sucks in Domination, but hopefully Academy will change that by providing new minor creatures and enhancements for them.
  • Even then, her abilities revolve around protecting herself (through life gain) and her creatures (through condition removal) - which are far too situational and generally not aligned with what it takes to win a multiplayer Domination match.  On the bright side, she doesn't have to worry as much about opposing mages ganging up on her to kill her.
  • The Malakai Priest is somewhat less sucky.  His "Holy Avenger" might actually be useful in this format, as another creature could attack a Sslak first to intentionally absorb its counterstrike, suffering some damage and enabling the Avenger to hit harder. Then the Priest has many ways to heal the damaged creature... or it might be a Unicorn and heal itself!
  • Similarly, the Priest's "Fire" ability could be useful for adding direct damage to his arsenal - something the Priestess currently lacks.  Thus, if I had to choose a holy mage for Domination, I'd choose the Priest over the Priestess and would try to make optimal use of his Avenger and Fire.
  • Paladin vs Siren gives the Priest many strong creatures and conjurations that look good in this format, including new temples and Metatron. Crusader Griffin is also amazing!

Warlock.
Arraxian Crown: (0-2-0)
Adramelech: (0-7-0)
  • Also sucks, but it's my personal goal to win a 3-way Domination match with a Warlock sporting Pentagram (e.g. worst spawn point) and Gate to Hell (e.g. worst Garrison Post), fueled by Ring of Fire and Firestorm, with lots of teleporting imps who give the (very popular) nature mages a tough time.

Forcemaster.
(1-1-0)
  • I wouldn't even try it.  Sure, you could try to mess with opponents by Pushing creatures around, through/behind/into walls, etc, but I don't think you could do more than prolong the inevitable and/or play kingmaker.
  • *edit* Nobody was prepared when a Forcemaster showed up and used two V'tar Force Sentries, a Force-Push-spore with Mind's Eye support (mainly for Teleporting), an Invisible Stalker, and a Mind Control'd Adramelech to coast to a V'tar win.It proves it can be done, and currently gives our Forcemaster a flawless 1-0-0 record!

Siren.
(2-5-0)
  • Lots of area control - like her call ability, love/hate markers, snatch/grapple effects, hindering terrain, etc - make the Siren a strong contender in Domination.
  • Will report back after more experience with this mage.

Paladin.
(0-1-0)
  • Strong creatures including good guards, and mass buffs like his aura abilities, could be good in Domination.
  • Will report back after more experience with this mage.

How about you?  What strategies and tactics have worked for you in multiplayer Domination?  What's your favourite mage and why?  Feel free to post some of your most epic moments, like that time when two Firestorms rained down on a Skeleton horde and wiped it out in a single round!!  Or that time you deployed Slaknir, then used your Battle Fury-fueled Goblins to steal all the orbs in the final round! 8)
« Last Edit: July 14, 2017, 10:49:08 AM by iNano78 »
  • Favourite Mage: Salenia Forcemaster

iNano78

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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 03:20:45 PM »
*Reserved for links to spell books. WIP*

At risk of giving away all my secrets to my foes, here are spell lists for some of my current multiplayer Domination spell books.  Feel free to check them out and discuss them in their own threads.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2017, 09:27:03 AM by iNano78 »
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Sailor Vulcan

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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 04:43:49 PM »
I feel like I might be in a minority here, but I love me some Domination, especially multiplayer Domination.  When our group first got going, we dreaded odd numbers as that meant somebody was sitting out while others played their 1-on-1 Arena matches.  Upon Domination's release at Gen Con, that all changed!  I've got about a dozen plays of Domination under my belt now (mostly 3-way free-for-all, plus some 2-on-2 team play).  I'm currently 6W-3L-1D in 10 3-way matches that I've recorded on BGG. Here is what I've noticed so far:

Multiplayer strategy
  • Like many non-cooperative multiplayer games (like war games, 4X games, etc), a player can benefit relative to others by avoiding conflict while others battle each other for supremacy.  For instance, if player A attacks player B, then player C indirectly benefits, since it doesn't cost player C any resources to benefit from player B's demise, and player A spends significant resources engaging player B.  Thus, if player B gets off to a strong start, and player A "takes one for the team" to knock B down a notch, player C will likely go on to win win (unless player A has enough left in the tank to challenge player C as well).
  • Likewise, and especially in a 4-player free-for-all, kingmaker scenarios often come into play. If player A challenges player B (leader) while C and D do their own thing, then once player B is no longer a threat, player A will generally be too exhausted (e.g. deprived of resources) to compete for first and will likely join forces with the weaker of C/D, and the weaker of C/D will often prevail with A becoming the effective "kingmaker." Thus, a valid Domination strategy often involves "doing your own thing (V'tar) while putting in a minimal effort to hold back the perceived leaders" and/or "trying to sustain second (of 3) or third (of 4) place and then stealing the win from the leader at the last possible moment, when it's too late for the other non-leader(s) to ignore the perceived leader."

With that in mind, let's look at cards and abilities that become far more powerful/important in Domination than they were in Arena.

Part I: The Obvious
  • A spawn point and a good number of cheap creatures is a must.  If you plan to win by V'tar, you need to hit some orbs.  And after hitting them, you'll need to defend those orbs, too.
  • If legal in your play group, Galaxxus is an auto-include: first to get and orb + Galaxxus out will generally win with rare (but possible) exception.  For our group, we've found that banning Galaxxus has improved our games.  We have less runaway leader issues, games are less predictable (more back-and-forth; more closer matches with come-from-behind wins), and removing Galaxxus opens up more spell book building options.  Banning Galaxxus is a win-win!
  • Guarding is crucial.  Altar of the Iron Guard is almost as much of an auto-include as Galaxxus (where legal); thus...
  • Fast/Elusive/Flying creatures are clutch.  In fact, these groups deserve their own bullet points:
  • Elusive is probably the most important trait of all in Domination, since it allows you to "orb-steal" - not to mention makes your creatures immune to Hinder (aside from Vine markers).  Mongoose Agility and Panther Stealth look like good choices, and might be in many cases, but they can easily be Dispeled; creatures with inherent Elusiveness are much better (e.g. Terraki, Cervere, Rajah, Slaknir), as answers aren't as abundant (e.g. they might require a Tanglevine or attack spells to neutralize).
  • Next up is Flying, since getting around the board unhindered is important, as is getting past walls and Vine markers. 
  • If you can do one of those and add Fast, you're in good shape. Thus, Thunderrift Falcon is almost certainly the best level 1 creature in the format.  Along with Cervere and Terraki (and even Tarok to counter enemy fliers), you can see that the Beastmaster is a pretty good choice for your first Domination book.  We'll come back to that later.


Part II: Perhaps slightly less Obvious (at first)
  • Action economy is really what wins in Domination.  Sure, that means you want lots of creatures.  And while getting off to a strong start by building a large army of minor creatures might be fine (and scoring the first orb + dropping Galaxxus might auto-win), it might also put a big juicy target on your chest.  Whereas finding a way to get extra actions out of your creatures, like trading your mage's quickcast for an extra attack (via Battle Fury) or a full action for two full actions (via Whirling Strike) might allow you to make a late comeback for the V'tar win, especially if your target creature can double-tap an orb, or poke a guard, then an orb, then another orb, to steal away several orbs in one round.
  • Action economy can also be interupted; e.g. by teleporting away the (potential) target of Whirling Strike / Battle Fury, or by dropping a zone attack spell that causes Daze and/or Stun on several enemy creatures (see Hail of Stones).
  • Board control can also win games.  A perfectly timed Tanglevine can pin a mage far from the action on a crucial turn.  Putting up a wall can just as easily win or lose you the game ("Be careful where you build your walls!").  Force Wave and Repulse are better bang for your buck than Force Push, since you're often dealing with hordes of enemy creatures.  And you can never go wrong with putting 4x Teleport in your spell book, even in the presence of Astral Anchor.
  • You should always have at least one back-up plan; e.g. killing the V'tar leader after he's already taken a few Zone Attacks and/or been pushed through a Wall of Thorns a couple times.  Mages don't tend to pack a lot of armor in Domination books because most of the time it's a waste of points that could be better spent elsewhere.
  • Similarly, you should pack at least a little armor, like an Elemental Cloak or Barkskin or a Hauberk, just in case your opponents turn unfriendly towards you.
  • Non-V'tar threats can be just as good as getting an orb.  For instance, my most successful matches have involved not only competing for orbs but also dropping a threat that must be dealt with.  For example, a Necromancer dropping an Altar of Skulls + Acolyte means serious business if everybody else's strategies revovle around small creatures that aren't immune to poison.  Goblins and Falcons and Foxes will suffer the same fate if the Altar activates.  Thus, all the non-Necromancers tend to drop whatever their doing to deal with the Altar, meaning the orbs are relatively uncontested for the Necromancer's horde to scoop up.  Other threats can have a similar effect.
  • "Legendary" means "There can be only one!"  This rarely comes up in Arena play (outside mirror matches), but in Domination, there are several cards that prevent the opponent from doing the same.  If a Druid sees a Beastmaster, she might want to cast her Cervere early to deny the Beastmaster a chance.  And any mage can viably drop Altar of the Iron Guard, both to benefit from it and to prevent others from doing likewise.


Mage considerations:
(I might in the future put our play group's record with these mages in parentheses, Win-Loss-Draw... when I have time)

Beatmaster.
  • Either Beastmaster will work, but Straywood can pump out Falcons and Foxes faster than anybody else.
  • Has the best selection of Fast and Elusive and Flying creatures, and is in-school for enchantments that make more creature fast/elusive/flying.
  • Has one of the best spawn points.
  • Can get in the action him/herself.
  • Packleader's Cowl is worth playing, especially if somebody else beats you to AotIG.

Druid. 
  • Can beat a Beastmaster to Cervere.
  • Has some great creatures for the format in Vine Snappers, who have a nasty full-action bite that can take out Sslaks quickly, and the fact they're unmoveable (but not Achnored) means they make pretty awesome guards (although only their weaker quick-attack gets to counterstrike).
  • Alas, she'll need a lot of Teleports to make sure she can get her rooted creatures where she needs them. 
  • Has the strongest board control, through vine markers, walls, Tangle/Stranglevine, Thornlasher, even her Stuck weapon.
  • Due to treebond's lifelink and Barkskin, she's one of the tougher mages to kill if she gets a V'tar lead.
  • Hindering vines and a selection of walls can make life difficult for the opponents' premium creatures.

Necromancer.
  • Zombies are crap (except perhaps the Brute as a guard or the Plaged Zombie as a Rot distributor), but Skeletons are OK for their cost.
  • Has the best spawnpoint for multiplayer Domination in Graveyard, as it gets extra mana nearly every round past round 2.
  • Has lots of asymmetric zone and arena effects, like Idol of Pestilence, Altar of Skulls, Deathlock, Poison Gas Cloud, Malacoda, Plagued, etc, that make it difficult for minor living creatures to compete.
  • Probably gets the most use out of some of the terrain and non-card objects in Domination, like the "sacrificial altar" that gives you half-mana plus a V'tar for sacrificing a creature.  You can do this with Plagues Zombie and/or your Eternal Servant and quickly ramp up your V'tar, allowing you to keep up with another mage who has an orb advantage, or allowing you to pull away into the lead.
  • Wall of Bones is one of the best walls and in-school for the Necromancer.

Warlord.
  • Bloodwave in particular can command an army of cheap Goblins.
  • Good conjurations and a little extra set-up time allow the Warlord to come from behind better than most other mages.
  • He has a crazy good selection of cheap walls.  Not only can a Warlord pack a pile of Earth and Stone Walls, but Wall of Pikes can strategically prevent a passage- or LoS-blocking wall from being placed (e.g. in front of your Akiro's Hammer).
  • MANY good Domination cards are in-school for the Warlord, including Hail of Stones, Altar of the Iron Guard, Slaknir, Guard Dog, Akiro's Hammer (a must if Galaxxus is legal), Galaxxus itself, Battle Fury, Whirling Strike, Evade... - even Flank Attack can be good in this format.  Not sure if I've seen Akiro's Battle Cry yet, though.  As powerful as giving all your guys Fast might be, it's hard for a Warlord to come up with 14 mana!
  • Even Spike Pit and Earthquake become useful in Domination.

Priestess.
  • Currently sucks, but hopefully Academy will change that by providing new minor creatures and enhancements for them.

Warlock.
  • Also sucks, but it's my personal goal to win a 3-way Domination match with a Warlock sporting Pentagram and Gate to Hell, fueled by Ring of Fire and Firestorm, with lots of teleporting imps who give the nature mages a tough time.

Wizard.
  • This one's interesting.  The Wizard has few good cheap creatures for the format.  Blue Gremlin is probably his best bet, but it isn't as cheap as the competition.  So at a glance, he seems like a poor choice.
  • He could try an unorthodox "buddy" or "strong few" strategy with a Hydra wiping out Sslak's and a Gargoyle guarding his orb(s).  But I don't see how this alone could compete with a Druid or Beastmaster or Warlord.
  • However, he has a good spawnpoint, and Wizard's Tower seems good in any format (although has a target painted on it, which will drop quickly if focused on by the other mages)... but more importantly ...
  • He has lots of threats that say "must deal with me or else"... which means he might be able to keep the opposing mages sufficiently distracted that they can't compete for orbs.  For instance, Wizard's Tower, Mordok's Obelisk and Mana Siphon each mess with the typical Domination strategies.  And Teleport Trap supported by V'tar Sentry could provide protection that other mages can't justify.
  • Many Domination-specific cards in the expansion are Arcane or Air: the Gate is like an Arcane Garrison Post, Windstorm and Sandstorm are nifty alternatives to Force Push (especially if you're sporting a Gale Force Ring and Akiro's Favor), and the V'tarrian Energy Wave hits multiple zones like an Earthquake.
  • Or, the Wizard could go for a completley unorthodox strategy of trying to kill the other mages simultaneously through DoT and preventing V'tar wins using V'tar Suppression.  Not sure it can work outside 1-on-1, but if any mage can do it, the Wizard probably can (or perhaps the Necromancer, being immune to poison and all).

How about you?  What strategies and tactics have worked for you in multiplayer Domination?  What's your favourite mage and why?  Feel free to post some of your most epic moments, like that time when two Firestorms rained down on a Skeleton horde and wiped it out in one round!!  Or that time you deployed Slaknir, then used your Battle Fury-fueled Goblins to steal all the orbs in the final round! 8)

Banning galaxxus isn't necessary if you play on a smaller board. I've tried to point out many times that you don't need that many orbs to win, you just need to have more orbs than your opponent for long enough that they can't catch up. This means that getting one orb and a galaxxus and then stalling the opponent from gaining access to the remaining orbs is a possible strategy. Unfortunately, the only way to do this viably (at least that I know of) is to protect the sslaks with enchantments like turn to stone, bull endurance, gator toughness, giant size, etc. This strategy won't work if there are too many sslaks/orbs.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2016, 09:40:00 AM »
Banning galaxxus isn't necessary if you play on a smaller board. I've tried to point out many times that you don't need that many orbs to win, you just need to have more orbs than your opponent for long enough that they can't catch up. This means that getting one orb and a galaxxus and then stalling the opponent from gaining access to the remaining orbs is a possible strategy. Unfortunately, the only way to do this viably (at least that I know of) is to protect the sslaks with enchantments like turn to stone, bull endurance, gator toughness, giant size, etc. This strategy won't work if there are too many sslaks/orbs.

You've partially proved my point. "Get 1 orb, drop Galaxxus, protect other orbs and/or your own. Win." ... is a valid strategy when Galaxxus is legal. And that's how most of our matches used to go. And it got old fast.

Case 1: with Galaxxus
- one player manages to acquire an orb and get a Galaxxus in play a round before everybody else - let's say round 3. Now this player has a 2+ V'tar lead (might be 3 if orb was acquired in round 2 and Galaxxus added round 3) and merely needs to protect that lead. Galaxxus itself is tough to destroy (there are ways: Akiro's Hammer, a couple of Force Hammers, etc) but it can't simply change hands (barring Conquer) like an orb can. More often than not, that player will go on to win, which means 8-10 more rounds playing out the inevitable, after 2-3 rounds that were "interesting."  That might not be fun for everyone.

Case 2: no Galaxxus
- it's difficult (But possible) to score a second orb before everybody has 1. And it's relatively easy for players to take away an orb than to take out Galaxxus AND take away an orb. Thus, it's a lot more likely that non- early game leaders can come back in the late game. This means everybody has a chance, giving some hope to everyone, and making it more fun.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2016, 12:56:21 PM »
I think the problem is more likely to be your metagame, not galaxxus. A mage that tries to protect the sslaks and use only one orb is susceptible to swarms. If  you destroy his galaxxus and get out enough creatures to overwhem the enemy who is using galaxxus, you should be fine.

One thing you can do is nullify the sslaks that your buddy build opponent wants to protect. also, warlord can use harsforge monolith to great effect. turn to stone has upkeep +4. That's really expensive to maintain. If you put enough pressure on them and force them to use their mana in other ways, the turn to stone will come off and you can have an easier time attacking the ssllaks. Deathlock will counter all bull endurances on sslaks simultaneously because it's life gain is not innate. You could also use rusts on the sslaks, or acid balls. or just dispel the turn to stones. or you can curse the sslaks and use DOT to kill them. it's not that difficult to destroy galaxxus, and it, unlike the wizard tower, is actually costed right.

Although I haven't played domination much lately, so I haven't tried all these things myself.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2016, 07:53:25 AM »
I think the problem is more likely to be your metagame, not galaxxus. A mage that tries to protect the sslaks and use only one orb is susceptible to swarms. If  you destroy his galaxxus and get out enough creatures to overwhem the enemy who is using galaxxus, you should be fine.

I've read and reread your post a few times, and I can't really get my head around this.  The early metagame is mainly shaped by the rules and card pool.  Perhaps it might evolve with many plays within the same group, but it will start by perception of card strength and what cards best contribute to your strategy.  Assuming Galaxxus is legal, if you want any hope of winning by V'tar (and in multiplayer, you have a much greater chance of winning by V'tar than by eliminating all other mages), then you must run Galaxxus.  And if you are first to get Galaxxus in play, your primary strategy is going to be to protect your Galaxxus and/or the orb(s) you control that allowed you to cast Galaxxus. Your back-up plan (e.g. if your opponents make a tremendous effort to take out your Galaxxus) might be to take additional uncontested orbs... but only in extreme cases where your opponents put a considerable amount of resources into taking out your Galaxxus. 

The "cause" is the existence of Galaxxus; the metagame is the "effect."  It isn't the other way around.  We don't use Galaxxus because of the metagame.  The metagame exists because Galaxxus exists.

I'm not a Mage Wars playtester so I have no idea if this is true, but I suspect that Galaxxus was originally "Warlord (or War mage) only" - partly because the Warlord is thought to be under-powered in Arena, and partly because it makes sense thematically (the orcs and/or dwarves found a way to replicate the power of the orbs, as per the flavour text).  Then the playtesters/designers realized that the Warlord kicked butt at Domination if he was the only mage who could use Galaxxus, and that the Warlord was actually pretty good at Domination even without Galaxxus, so rather than scrap Galaxxus entirely, they opened up Galaxxus to every mage (but kept it War school both for theme and because "hey, it's got to belong to some school so might as well be War and benefit the Warlord slightly more than other mages").  But it's so overpowered and, after a few matches, everybody discovers that it's absolutely crucial to a successful V'tar strategy (seriously, try winning without Galaxxus against somebody that has Galaxxus and let me know how that goes for you), and it will shape the meta all on its own.  Even a Druid will gladly pay triple for Galaxxus, partly because she is among the best at protecting it.

Net result: Either (1) get used to the fact that everybody has a Galaxxus in their book and the first person to play theirs will generally win (unless s/he gets killed), making outcomes of matches predictable beyond round 3, or (2) ban Galaxxus and make your multiplayer Domination matches more unpredictable and fun for all players.  If your experience is different, then I congratulate you... but I don't see how this could possibly be limited to - or due to - our local meta.  It's pretty much ingrained in the Galaxxus card text and rules of Domination.

One thing you can do is nullify the sslaks that your buddy build opponent wants to protect. also, warlord can use harsforge monolith to great effect. turn to stone has upkeep +4. That's really expensive to maintain. If you put enough pressure on them and force them to use their mana in other ways, the turn to stone will come off and you can have an easier time attacking the ssllaks. Deathlock will counter all bull endurances on sslaks simultaneously because it's life gain is not innate. You could also use rusts on the sslaks, or acid balls. or just dispel the turn to stones. or you can curse the sslaks and use DOT to kill them. it's not that difficult to destroy galaxxus, and it, unlike the wizard tower, is actually costed right.

Although I haven't played domination much lately, so I haven't tried all these things myself.

I've considered Turn to Stone and other "protect Sslaks that enemies attack" types of strategies and they're very hard to pull off since they take so many resources that could otherwise be spent trying to secure your own orbs.  It falls into one of two categories: either (1) player(s) C (and D) benefits when player A spends resources preventing player B from acquiring an orb, or (2) it's a "win more" situation where you're so far ahead already that you can afford to waste resources stopping your opponent while also acquiring orbs on demand.

I'm not sure what you mean about Harshforge Monolith being something worth playing in Domination.  In my experience, Enchantments don't see nearly as much play in multiplayer Domination as in Arena, so either I'm missing something or you meant another card.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 08:02:44 AM by iNano78 »
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2016, 08:14:54 AM »
I think the problem is more likely to be your metagame, not galaxxus. A mage that tries to protect the sslaks and use only one orb is susceptible to swarms. If  you destroy his galaxxus and get out enough creatures to overwhem the enemy who is using galaxxus, you should be fine.

I've read and reread your post a few times, and I can't really get my head around this.  The early metagame is mainly shaped by the rules and card pool.  Perhaps it might evolve with many plays within the same group, but it will start by perception of card strength and what cards best contribute to your strategy.  Assuming Galaxxus is legal, if you want any hope of winning by V'tar (and in multiplayer, you have a much greater chance of winning by V'tar than by eliminating all other mages), then you must run Galaxxus.  And if you are first to get Galaxxus in play, your primary strategy is going to be to protect your Galaxxus and/or the orb(s) you control that allowed you to cast Galaxxus. Your back-up plan (e.g. if your opponents make a tremendous effort to take out your Galaxxus) might be to take additional uncontested orbs... but only in extreme cases where your opponents put a considerable amount of resources into taking out your Galaxxus. 

The "cause" is the existence of Galaxxus; the metagame is the "effect."  It isn't the other way around.  We don't use Galaxxus because of the metagame.  The metagame exists because Galaxxus exists.

I'm not a Mage Wars playtester so I have no idea if this is true, but I suspect that Galaxxus was originally "Warlord (or War mage) only" - partly because the Warlord is thought to be under-powered in Arena, and partly because it makes sense thematically (the orcs and/or dwarves found a way to replicate the power of the orbs, as per the flavour text).  Then the playtesters/designers realized that the Warlord kicked butt at Domination if he was the only mage who could use Galaxxus, and that the Warlord was actually pretty good at Domination even without Galaxxus, so rather than scrap Galaxxus entirely, they opened up Galaxxus to every mage (but kept it War school both for theme and because "hey, it's got to belong to some school so might as well be War and benefit the Warlord slightly more than other mages").  But it's so overpowered and, after a few matches, everybody discovers that it's absolutely crucial to a successful V'tar strategy (seriously, try winning without Galaxxus against somebody that has Galaxxus and let me know how that goes for you), and it will shape the meta all on its own.  Even a Druid will gladly pay triple for Galaxxus, partly because she is among the best at protecting it.

Net result: Either (1) get used to the fact that everybody has a Galaxxus in their book and the first person to play theirs will generally win (unless s/he gets killed), making outcomes of matches predictable beyond round 3, or (2) ban Galaxxus and make your multiplayer Domination matches more unpredictable and fun for all players.  If your experience is different, then I congratulate you... but I don't see how this could possibly be limited to - or due to - our local meta.  It's pretty much ingrained in the Galaxxus card text and rules of Domination.

One thing you can do is nullify the sslaks that your buddy build opponent wants to protect. also, warlord can use harsforge monolith to great effect. turn to stone has upkeep +4. That's really expensive to maintain. If you put enough pressure on them and force them to use their mana in other ways, the turn to stone will come off and you can have an easier time attacking the ssllaks. Deathlock will counter all bull endurances on sslaks simultaneously because it's life gain is not innate. You could also use rusts on the sslaks, or acid balls. or just dispel the turn to stones. or you can curse the sslaks and use DOT to kill them. it's not that difficult to destroy galaxxus, and it, unlike the wizard tower, is actually costed right.

Although I haven't played domination much lately, so I haven't tried all these things myself.

I've considered Turn to Stone and other "protect Sslaks that enemies attack" types of strategies and they're very hard to pull off since they take so many resources that could otherwise be spent trying to secure your own orbs.  It falls into one of two categories: either (1) player(s) C (and D) benefits when player A spends resources preventing player B from acquiring an orb, or (2) it's a "win more" situation where you're so far ahead already that you can afford to waste resources stopping your opponent while also acquiring orbs on demand.

I'm not sure what you mean about Harshforge Monolith being something worth playing in Domination.  In my experience, Enchantments don't see nearly as much play in multiplayer Domination as in Arena, so either I'm missing something or you meant another card.

I'm more familiar with 1v1 Domination tbh, and the only official map that really is balanced on is Path of War. How big are your maps for multiplayer domination? How many orbs/sslaks, and how many players? My current guess is that 2 sslaks/orbs per player  in the game is optimal for balance, but I'm not entirely certain.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2016, 08:22:36 AM »
I'm more familiar with 1v1 Domination tbh, and the only official map that really is balanced on is Path of War. How big are your maps for multiplayer domination? How many orbs/sslaks, and how many players? My current guess is that 2 sslaks/orbs per player  in the game is optimal for balance, but I'm not entirely certain.

See the Domination rule book.  We've tried all the 3-player maps at least a couple times each (although we try to stay away from the one with 2 unprotected orbs near the player starting on the north side) and a couple of the 4-player maps.  We tend to play the smaller maps with lower V'tar goal when we are more pressed for time, and the larger maps with higher V'tar goal when we have oodles of time.  We haven't tried any custom maps (yet).

Sure, you could play on a really small custom map and/or with a higher V'tar goal, or use house rules (e.g. like you need to control the zone with the orb/Galaxxus in order to gain V'tar, etc), and generally tweak the rules to make mage killing more viable and orbs less tempting... or you could just ban Galaxxus.  We just banned Galaxxus.  It worked for us.  We're unlikely to tweak the maps, rules, etc, just to try to come up with another solution when removing the problem card is a much easier solution.  Ymmv.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 08:25:01 AM by iNano78 »
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2016, 09:44:04 PM »
Some strategies we use to handle Galaxxus.

Brogan with +3 Piercing
Any level 4 or higher creature with Piercing Strike Incantation
Casting Zone Exclusive conjurations that benefit you into zones that your opponent must use to place a Galaxxus. As Domination is a race game it can really help to force opponents to use actions that delay progress toward the finish such as destroying walls or taking down powerful conjurations. While they do that you focus on the nearest orbs.
Priestess using Heal spells to keep opponent Guardians alive to delay or prevent the trigger for Galaxxus.
Akiros' Hammer with Wall of Pikes to guarantee LOS for at least one shot.

Your mileage may vary.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2016, 03:13:33 PM »
FWIW, we allow Glaxxus in free-for-all games of 3+ players, but ban it from 2v2 games. 

Haven't tried a larger team game yet, so I can't comment.

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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2016, 08:45:10 AM »
Bump.  Added links to books for a Wizard and a Warlock - two of the more challenging mages in Domination.  See the 2nd post.

I also corrected some typos in the OP, made some edits to some of the "mage considerations" based on my experience, and added the Malakai Priest and Forcemaster to the considerations, and rearranged the mages from strong/intuitive to weak/unintuitive/difficult-to-build.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 10:07:36 AM by iNano78 »
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 02:30:13 PM »
cool tread.

However, you seem to forget 1 crucial strategy: killing the opponent. This might be too hard for 3 or 4 player games. But many domination players forget armor in domination and can be killed in two turns. I've won games like this before as a forcemaster. Mind control also helps a lot for the action efficiency.
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2016, 03:53:38 PM »
Has anyone tried a deck where killing the Mage was their primary strategy and getting vtar was secondary?


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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2016, 04:00:53 PM »
cool tread.

However, you seem to forget 1 crucial strategy: killing the opponent. This might be too hard for 3 or 4 player games. But many domination players forget armor in domination and can be killed in two turns. I've won games like this before as a forcemaster. Mind control also helps a lot for the action efficiency.

It can certainly happen.  One time, my Necromancer was 1 V'tar away from victory when a Warlock and a Beastmaster teamed up to Firestorm and Falcon-peck him to death.  And in another, a Straywood Beastmaster just had to hold on to 1 of 3 orbs AND survive in order to win, but the other two mages (a Necromancer and a Bloodwave Warlord) teamed up to wipe out his army and bring him to the verge of death... and then the Warlord used Slaknir to make all Goblins Elusive and he stole the win (the Beastmaster technically survived, but was hiding in a corner with 2 or 3 hit points remaining and was stripped of all his orbs).

While mage death can occur in multiplayer, there's also the possibility that the attacking mages come up just a little bit short, allowing the leader to hold an orb or two while running away to hide/turtle while cruising to victory. Going for the kill is risky, even in 1-on-1, since you might not be able to make the kill in time.  But it's also risky to completely omit any armor in your spell book!  A little armor goes a long way in Domination, as you're unlikely to see a whole lot of Dissolve/Crumble/Acid Ball/Rust in multiplayer Domination.  A single chest piece or an Elemental Cloak or Rhino Hide might be enough to keep you alive while the V'tar count continues to tick towards the scenario goal.  I generally pack at least 1 piece of (in-school) armor or Brace Yourself or Rhino Hide or something (Barkskin in the Druid's case) - just to provide some late-game protection in situations where your opponents are running out of options and/or think they might be able to take you out with little resistance.  When this happens, you generally only need to survive a round or two.

As for building a book that specifically seeks to win by killing the other mages in a multiplayer match... I tried it once (with a DoT Necromancer and V'tar Suppression), and it seemed to be a losing strategy.  I didn't execute it well, but I felt that even if I'd played better and even if I'd had other more aggressive spells, I don't think I could have won.  There are a lot of things the other mages can do to slow you down - from armor to healing to a well-timed/placed wall or by teleporting you away or Tanglevine/Force Hold/Spiked Pit/Astral Anchor, etc.  Getting slowed down even for just a round or two could make a match unwinnable (e.g. they'll win on V'tar before you finish them).  And in multiplayer, there are a lot more variables, so many things changing every round, that it's difficult to plan far ahead and plan for everything that your 2 or 3 opponents could do.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 04:06:46 PM by iNano78 »
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Re: Let's talk Multiplayer Domination
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2016, 02:21:19 PM »
Hi iNano,

This is really a great resource!
Did you get to build/playtest some more?

Last week I finally got the Battlegrounds Set, a player in our boardgame group is willing to give it a try, _and_ I actually found a new Mage Wars player, so I'd really like to play it next month.

I hope I can use your spellbooks at least as a starting point (I noticed some Academy cards that I will have to replace with something else).
I'm still unsure what to do about Galaxxus, especially because there's only two copies of it in the box. It's pretty obvious that if I'm going to allow it in games, every mage (or side) will want one...