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Author Topic: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?  (Read 6030 times)

Koz

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Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« on: October 23, 2012, 11:23:29 AM »
I've come to believe that the Warlock is the weakest Mage and I was wondering what everyone elses thoughts were on this.  I think that the Beastmaster, Wizard and Priestess are all pretty close to being equal, with the Wizard having a possible edge, but the Warlock seems behind the curve.  Below I will list out why I think this is.

The Warlock's abilities

1. Bloodreaper: In my opinion, this is a weaker version of the Beastmaster's Pet.  Bloodthirsty is good, but requires a wounded opponent to function and also can force the Bloodreaper to not have a choice in what it attacks.  The Beastmaster's Pet get's flat bonuses that are always "on" and always effective.  In addition, paying life to summon the Bloodreaper (which you do not get back if it dies) is a much steeper cost than what the Beastmaster pays in mana for its Pet (IMO).  Yes, saving mana is good, but the loss of life is very costly as it is helping your opponent win the game.  I've seen a Beastmaster make multiple creatures his Pet in the course of a single game, but making more than one Bloodreaper is very painful (excuse the pun).

2. Curseweaving: This is a decent ability, but I think it compares poorly to the other Mage's core abilities.  The other mages tend to use their abilities very often and they seem to have a much larger impact on the game.  The Priestess's ability to gain life and remove status conditions is very good and will be used often.  The Wizard's Voltaric Sheild is very good and will save you a ton of grief if used correctly.  The Beastmaster's ability to quick summon level 1 animals is really, really good.  

Curseweaving on the other hand is only ok.  It probably won't be used every turn, or even every other turn and is dependent on your opponents build.  If your opponent is playing a self-buffing beat-down style build that either doesn't run creatures, or very few of them, Curseweaving is essentially useless.  No other Mage has an ability that can be basically neutralized like that.  While putting curses back into your book allows you to run less curses (giving you freedom to run other stuff), it just doesn't seem to hold up to the other Mage's abilities.

Battle Skill: +1 to melee is a solid ability and is used often, no real complaints on this one.

Other factors: One thing the Warlock has that is a clear advantage is being trained in two schools.  That can't be overlooked.  Only the Wizard has something similar (although the Wizard's is better).  However, I think that this bonus is counteracted by two other drawbacks.  The first is only have 9 channeling.  That hurts.  The second is paying triple for Holy spells.  While most of the other mages have a similar drawback, the penalty against Holy spells is especially painful due to the fact that it costs a lot to include any Healing spells.  Lastly, the Warlock does have one of the higher starting Life totals, which is nice, but if he uses his Bloodreaper ability that kind of counteracts that benefit.

The Warlock's Support Cards

Lash of Hellfire:  This is a great card, no complaints.

Ring of Curses: Standard cost reduction ring that each Mage has.  Solid card, but I don't think it's as versatile as the Wizard's ring or the Priestess's.

Moloch's Torment: This is a good card and can be very effective, especially when combined with something like Ghoul Rot.

Helm of Fear: Decent card...if you roll well.  The last time I played this card I failed 9 out of 9 rolls...ugh.  Basically this card is hit or miss.  When it works, it's great, when it doesn't, it's a huge mana sink.

Demonhide Armor: Don't like this card much.  You're much better off with one of the armors that have some sort of elemental protection.  The damage barrier on this is pretty weak, and you'd be better served with a Circle of Lightning if that's what your looking for.

Pentagram: Worst spawnpoint IMO.  The requirement that it only gains extra mana from damaging opposing creatures is much worse than the Priestess's temple and (especially) the Wizard's Gate to Voltari (which is the best spawnpoint).  Once again, this ability is dependent on your opponent's build.  If your opponent is playing few, or no, creatures, gaining extra mana is going to be difficult.  It's Ethereal trait is not enough of a benefit to justify the harsher requirements of mana generation.  

Gate to Hell: I really want to like this card...but I'm struggling.  It's soooo expensive for what it does.  Yes, the +1 to melee for all demons is nice and adds up, but 12 mana is an awful lot to pay to get it (compare it with the Beastmaster's conjurations that buff animals).  The ability to open the gate seems so good, but is also very expensive (another 12 mana).  It can hit a lot of stuff, but it also hits your stuff (obviously you can build in fire protection/immunity to hurt yourself less).  I dislike that it doesn't hit objects (just creatures) and that it doesn't hit fliers.  Fliers are very big in our games, so that means a lot of stuff is going to not get hit by this.  The one time I opened the Gate, it wasn't worth the massive amount of mana I spent to do it.  

Sacrificial Altar:  This card isn't terrible, but it's not really good either, and it has it's uses at certain times.  You're killing off your own creatures for only a moderate bonus.  If you kill off a Firebrand Imp (which cost you 5 mana to play) you gain a measly +1 bonus.  Sure, you can kill off something like a Darkpact Slayer for a +3, but those are expensive.  Obviously the best use is right when the creature is on the verge of death, but that can be difficult to time.  Overall, it's a situational card that can be expensive to use.  I don't think it's a terrible card, just not great.  Compare this to the Hand of Bim-Shalla which does what it does for free and is much more flexible.

Goran (the Lycanthrope):  I haven't gotten this creature into play yet, but it seems decent.  Solid overall stats.  I wish it had Regenerate though (because it's, you know, a werewolf...).  Seems like a good creature, but I need to get it into play to test it.

So, overall, I think the Warlock's core abilities and support cards (barring a few exceptions as noted above) are weaker than the other mages.  Warlock was going to be my "main" mage, because I loved the theme and flavor, but after playing a few games, I think the Wizard is probably the one I will play the most.

Thoughts?

Rumsey

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 05:18:46 PM »
Solo equip build Warlock can smoke any Mage right now. We have yet to see the Warlock lose a game. I played a game rolling 9 dice on melee with Vampirism. Fire support is crazy good also. Its pretty easy to get the Warlock up to 6 armor which helps.

Upgrayedd

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 08:34:56 PM »
I play in Rumsey's group.  It's true, the Warlock has never lost.  He is a beast in melee.  He has many good equipment options and the Lash of Hellfire just might be the best weapon in the game.  Never under estimate Burn conditions.  
  Fireshaper ring just makes it more potent and buffs all those lovely fire attack spells.  MMM, fireballs...
  Battle Forge is a warlocks best friend.  For zone conjurations try Idol of Pestilence and Deathlock.  Deathlock cripples the Priestess, it prevents healing...  Idol of Pestilence hurts any mob utilizing mage.
   My last Warlock spellbook had zero creatures.  I used Mordok's Obelisk, Deatlock, Idol of Pestilence & Suppression Orb.  I had no heals in my book.  My opponent had usless heals in his.  His creatures became liabilities instead of assetts.  
  Curses are nastier than they seem at first glance.  Especially when they start piling up.
  There are some things that I agree are weak.  Like the demon armor and the sacrificial altar.
  Most important thing to remember:  Do NOT limit yourself to warlock spells.  Mix in other complimentary spells and surprises.

Koz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 10:18:27 PM »
I don't mean to be out of line, but I don't think you guys got the point of the post at all.  I don't mean to sound rude, but I'm a bit exasperated by the responses.  I wasn't asking "how do you make a good Warlock build".  I'm fully aware of how good cards like Idol of Pestilence and Suppression Orb are.  I'm fully aware that you need to include non-Warlock spells in a build.  Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, but I feel like I'm being talked down to here, like I "don't get it".  I know how to play, and I know how to build spellbooks and I know which cards to use in which situation (yes, dropping a Deathlock is a priority against the Priestess, I know).  I will also say that I immediately question the validity of your comments when you claim that the Warlock "never" loses.  I can only see that being possible if the all of the players who play against the Warlock aren't as good as the Warlock player.  I'm not saying they are bad, but if he is winning that much, it must be because he is simply the better player.  I guarantee that if he played in our group, he wouldn't win every match.  Promise.  I'd bet my collection on it.

I understand that the Warlock beat-down is very good, but how is it better than the Beastmaster doing the same thing?  What unique abilities makes the Warlock better at it?  The Beastmaster, IMO, can do the beat-down better, because while they are hitting hard in melee, they can also quickcast out an animal creature to keep adding to the number of attacks that are being sent out, turn after turn, or cast an attack spell, or Battle Fury, or whatever.  The Beastmaster also has a familiar that can fly around behind him dropping enchantments on him turn after turn.  

Also, saying things like "it's pretty easy to get the Warlock up to 6 armor, which helps" is a strange comment to me.  It's easy to get ANY mage up to 6 armor.  What unique cards/abilities does the Warlock have that makes him get armor faster than anyone else?  Answer: none.  So how is the ability to get up to 6 armor an advantage specific to the Warlock?

The point of this thread, was that when you compare each Warlock ability and each Warlock specific (or dark mage specific) card, most of the time the other mages have a better alternative.  Can the Warlock win?  Of course!  But I fail to see what he can do that another mage can't do better, except reuse curses.   Fire spells?  The Wizard can do it just as well.  Equipment/Battleforge build?  Any mage can do that.  Vampirisim?  Any mage can cast that (although it's expensive for the Priestess, but she doesn't need it anyway with all of her healing).  

If you want to rebut my post, then you need to do things like tell me how Bloodreaper is better than the Beastmaster's Pet.  Or tell me how Curseweaving is better than Voltaric Shield or the Beastmaster's quick animal summon.  How is Pentagram better than any of the other spawnpoints?  Besides a couple of cards, like Lash of Hellfire and Moloch's Torment for example, what can the Warlock do that another mage can't do at least as well, or possibly even better?  They have a few benefits, as I outlined, but I still feel they are on the weaker side of the scale.  

Sorry if I'm coming off as harsh, but I feel like the point flew right past you guys.  If you have specific examples of things that the Warlock does better than any other mage I'm all ears.  But from what I've seen, the few good things they have that no one else can do (Curseweaving, Lash of Hellfire, Moloch's Torment, etc), aren't enough to make the Warlock be better than the alternative mages.  He's good, but a bit behind the curve.  IMO.

Hedge

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 10:27:29 PM »
Quote from: "Koz" post=2521
The Truth

Gewar

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 03:02:28 AM »
How Warlock is any good:
- he has most life
- he has two schools, that are very offensive - Fire is direct damage heavy and Dark is debuff heavy, which makes good combo
- Wizard can have Fire speciality, better channeling and cheeper Holly school, but he has much less life and no Warlock-speciffic offensive spells.
- Beastmaster have almost same life, better pet, but do not have ree acces to fire spells, which are the best offesively (Battle Forge, Fireballs, Burn Effect) and again, no Warlock-speciffick spells

I don't think that you can compare one school to another out of context - they do combo one with another and with other perks - much life + fire + dark + Warlock only spells make him competetive.
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jhsjhs

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 05:40:43 AM »
Right, it is a question of balance--WL may be weakest in some ways, as you detail, but there are offsetting advantages. It is hard to call it weak if it dominates games when built well.

mitkosim

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 08:09:15 AM »
Here's a more direct way that the Blood Reaper is better than the Beastmaster's Pet - it doesn't cost you extra mana. I didn't think it was worth it in the cost in life but boy was I wrong. Both the beastmaster and the warlock are strapped for mana at channeling 9 and being forced to pay an extra 3 (Timber Wolf) or 5 (Grizzly) mana for your pet can make it impossible to cast on a turn that you need it. On the other hand, the warlock needs the bloodreaper to heal him twice to pay for the cost in lost life if it is a Slayer or Hellion (4 life down, 4 dmg healed makes it even, I would say). Incidentally, I do not think that either of those two special creatures should be put out just because you can so my argument above is centered on this premise.

Also regarding the sacrificial altar - it doesn't just give you +1 melee - it also gives you piercing +1 so that's kind of like +2 overall in most situations (let's call it a +1.5). The Hand doesn't do that for free. And you know, for that last desperate attack against the opposing mage with your buffed and equipped Warlock who is to say that attacking with Adramelech and then sacrificing him for +6 melee, +6 piercing on your own mage is not worth it ;)

Koz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 09:21:10 AM »
Quote from: "Gewar" post=2525
How Warlock is any good:
- he has most life
- he has two schools, that are very offensive - Fire is direct damage heavy and Dark is debuff heavy, which makes good combo
- Wizard can have Fire speciality, better channeling and cheeper Holly school, but he has much less life and no Warlock-speciffic offensive spells.
- Beastmaster have almost same life, better pet, but do not have ree acces to fire spells, which are the best offesively (Battle Forge, Fireballs, Burn Effect) and again, no Warlock-speciffick spells

I don't think that you can compare one school to another out of context - they do combo one with another and with other perks - much life + fire + dark + Warlock only spells make him competetive.


This is the kind of discussion I was looking to have.  Yes, the dual schools are significant and I pointed that out in my OP.  I think that is one of his strengths that is very good.  However (there's always a however  :P ), the Wizard also has two schools, one of which can be Fire.  In addition to that, I think that the Arcane school is better than the Dark school overall.  While I LOVE the flavor of the Dark school and think it has many good spells (Ghoul Rot, Drain Life, Maim Wings, etc), Arcane is a staple school for pretty much every build.  Mana Crystal, Dispel, Seeking Dispel, Teleport, Harmonize, Jinx, Nullify, etc.  Those are all big cards used in A LOT of builds.  Dark spells aren't nearly the staples that Arcanes are.  So, IMO, the Fire Wizard is superior to the Warlock as far as schools go.

I've also seen a lot of people mentioning how Fire is the best damage school, but I'm not sure I agree and I think that's worth discussing too.  Our group is leaning towards Lightning as being the better school as far as offense goes.  Stun and Daze are HUGE.  Yes, Burn is very good, and it can really add up, but Burn is very dice dependant while Stun is ALWAYS good.  Honestly, if you have the choice, would you rather put a Burn token on the opposing mage, or a Stun token?  It's a no brainer for me.  Unless the mage is on the verge of death and might die to the Burn during upkeep, I'd go with Stun.  I'm thinking that those players who are "never losing" with an in your face build aren't getting hit with enough Stun, Daze and Push effects.  If they were, they wouldn't be winning every game.  

So, Gewar, we agree on the Warlock's strong points, but I'm not sure it places him equal, or better, than the other mages.  Don't get me wrong, and I think some people are reading my OP wrong, I don't think the Warlock is bad, or "can't win".  I think the Warlock is good but falls just a bit short on the scale.  No game like this can really achieve perfect balance, but AW came pretty close with this game.  But, IMO, the Warlock is slightly on the lower end of the power curve.

Koz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 09:34:05 AM »
Quote from: "mitkosim" post=2532
Here's a more direct way that the Blood Reaper is better than the Beastmaster's Pet - it doesn't cost you extra mana. I didn't think it was worth it in the cost in life but boy was I wrong. Both the beastmaster and the warlock are strapped for mana at channeling 9 and being forced to pay an extra 3 (Timber Wolf) or 5 (Grizzly) mana for your pet can make it impossible to cast on a turn that you need it. On the other hand, the warlock needs the bloodreaper to heal him twice to pay for the cost in lost life if it is a Slayer or Hellion (4 life down, 4 dmg healed makes it even, I would say). Incidentally, I do not think that either of those two special creatures should be put out just because you can so my argument above is centered on this premise.


Yep, I agree that saving mana is nice.  In my OP, under Bloodreaper, I put: "Yes, saving mana is good, but the loss of life is very costly as it is helping your opponent win the game", so I did acknowledge this.  The healing you get from the Bloodreaper is nice, to be sure, but you never get that loss of life back, while the Beastmaster gets his mana back from creating a Pet.  Personally, as a side note, I think the best use of the Pet marker is not big animals like the Grizzly, but rather the cheaper creatures like Foxes or Falcons.  The mana cost is cheaper and the extra stats make the weenie creature a bigger threat.  But that's another topic.

Quote
Also regarding the sacrificial altar - it doesn't just give you +1 melee - it also gives you piercing +1 so that's kind of like +2 overall in most situations (let's call it a +1.5). The Hand doesn't do that for free. And you know, for that last desperate attack against the opposing mage with your buffed and equipped Warlock who is to say that attacking with Adramelech and then sacrificing him for +6 melee, +6 piercing on your own mage is not worth it ;)


Sure, if you set up some perfect combo, Sacrifical Altar can win you a game.  I acknowledged that the card has its uses.  In my OP, under Sacrificial Altar, I said: "This card isn't terrible, but it's not really good either, and it has it's uses at certain times' and "I don't think it's a terrible card, just not great".  So, you and I are in agreement on the card it seems, but it's not the kind of card that really gives the Warlock much of an edge.  You're probably better off spending that mana and that action doing something more reliable.  And Hand of Bim-Shalla blows this card away, hands down....for only one more mana.

Koz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2012, 09:44:49 AM »
Quote from: "jhsjhs" post=2528
Right, it is a question of balance--WL may be weakest in some ways, as you detail, but there are offsetting advantages. It is hard to call it weak if it dominates games when built well.


Well, any mage can dominate if well built though, especially if playing against inferior builds.  Again, I will reiterate that I don't think the Warlock is bad, just slightly less good than the other mages.

No one here has really been able to point out something that the Warlock can do that another mage can't do at least as good, if not better.  The majority of the things that are unique to the Warlock (Curesweaving, Bloodreaper, Sacrifical Altar, etc) seem slightly inferior to the other mages options.

Only Gewar has really made a good argument here when he said that Dark and Fire schools are really good together (something no other mage can do at this point).  That's something to explore and I'm hoping Gewar will continue with that line of conversation.

Nihilistiskism

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2012, 09:59:15 AM »
Koz more or less has the right of this discussion, as it was originally presented. Everyone immediately took a rabbit hole to discuss how the Warlock is good, but that was not what this thread is about.

The Warlock has a weaker inbuilt support system, by far. His spawnpoint is terrible. His Bloodreaper ability is more dangerous for him than useful.

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Shad0w

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2012, 10:33:21 AM »
Curse Weaving will come into play more in future sets. Blood Reaper is risky because the life comes off your max total. so your max health is lower now. Unless he is completely overpowering the other mage it is hard to justify making a 2nd Blood Reaper. The BM can make a pet as often as he needs. Yes you could be strapped for mana mid to late game but if you plan correctly a pet is easy to make within 2 rounds. But if you make a Blood Reaper whenever you one dies it will eventually kill you.

While the Lock currently has some of the best equips in the game his powers do not contribute to a win nearly as much as some of the other mage power sets.
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Koz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2012, 11:08:32 AM »
Thank you Hedge, Nihil and Shadow.  I'm glad to see that my analysis wasn't completely off base.  Both Hedge and Nihil I know from another game and both are very competent players who were real threats in the tournament scene.  I value both of their imputs since I know they are both good players (even if we don't always agree  ;) ).  Shadow has said he is also a well experienced tournament player so I value that kind of input as well.  

I really like the Warlock and will continue to play him and I'm glad to hear that there are some cards coming that will work well with his abilities.  As things stand right now though I would probably pick the Wizard or the Beastmaster for a tournament.  The Priestess is really good too, but, like Nihil, I'm concerned with the time limt and tie-breaker system.  If a good Priestess build comes up that can win in around an hour I'd consider her for tournament play as well (because her Temples are crazy good).

Nitz

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Re: Is the Warlock the weakest Mage?
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2012, 11:29:51 AM »
I think the issue with the Warlock is when you compare him to the three mages at the same time, he seems inferior.  Everyone does something he does better, or at least more effeciently.  As you've said, his spell list of dark and fire is really good, but not as good as the Wizard who can take Fire and Arcane, or Lightning and Arcane (if you believe that is better).  He can buff a pet, but not as well as the Beastmaster, who can buff and get pets out faster.  He has a high starting life and some ability to do damage for heal, but nowhere near as effeciently as the priestess can heal.  These are all true, and certainly make him feel a little under loved at first blush.  However, if you compare him to each mage individually, in my mind you start to see where he shines.

For example, the beastmaster does some really nice stuff with his creatures, but the Warlock can buff a creature too, just not as well.  On the other hand, his ability to take fire spells for 1/3 of the cost of a beastmaster is huge, and goes a long way towards dealing with the beastmasters weenie rush as well.  Against the mage, Arcane may be more useful than Dark, but I would suggest he get's more use out of arcane spells too.  I'd rather teleport my 9 dice rolling Warlock into combat with your mage than my slow hydra who cost me a full cast and 16 mana, at that point paying 4 to put it in my deck holds a value at least equal to the mages deck cost of 2.  Same could be said for a spell like nullify that can protect the Lash of Hellfire, which to me is way more valuable than any Wizard equipment i put out, even the elemental wand.  Further, volteric shield and +1 mana channel are really nice, but I really enjoy +1 innate melee die as well and think it is on par with the shield when you consider the wizard is trying to move around and not get hit and the warlock is usually trying to get in people's faces.  Plus, the shield is 3 mana and can be avoided, or even under utilized if he's plinked by a small attack.  It's great, but I don't think it's leagues above the innate _+1 melee dice.  Versus the priestess, the warlock has mulitiple ways to shut down her healing, which can negate one of her best assets.  She has no way to reciprecate and shut down his primary asset of damage dealt, other than to cast healing, which as I've said, can be shut down.  He has the extra life (equal to a minor heal +) so he can shut down healing early and win an attrition battle, or heal right before shutting heals off for the game as a late game move.  Could a priestess also shut off healing, yes, would that be stupid on her part, unless it was the extreme end game, yes.  

So from my limited perspective, what i see is this.  the Warlock when compared to the rest of the game seems to be second fiddle to other mages, however, I would suggest he is the second best at what the other mages are best at.  Therefore, while his innate abilities might be lacking when you look at certain aspects across the whole game, when you compare mages one to one, he is very strong becuase he's good at that mages strength, but also better than them at those other areas to.  Also, I would suggest this is true without having to change his build up much.  

on a quick aside, I love the imagery of lighting, and I think your point to the effects is a good one.  however, I would point out it's a lot easier to get  a burn effect to go off than it is stun, and in my mind the effects would rank thus  daze < Burn 1 < burn 2 < Stun.  So for me, that balances out, but if you put daze above burn 1, then fair enough.