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Alternative Play / Mage Wars Blitz - an unofficial variant of MW Arena
« on: April 09, 2022, 04:09:08 PM »
Hi everyone,

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to create a variant gameplay for Mage Wars Arena that did three things: 1) remove the enormous physical arena board, 2) retain the zones and movement mechanics (we already have Mage Wars Academy after all), and 3) increase the gameplay tempo to a target match time of 45 minutes to one hour. Bear in mind that this is a completely unofficial variant of MW Arena and has a few balancing issues. But I’ve played this variant using every mage class in MW Arena and using different spellbook builds to test the effectiveness of different strategies. So, what’s the concept of this new MW Arena variant? Mage Wars meets Warlord CCG (for those of you who remember Warlord way back in the early 2000’s).

For the sake of brevity, I call it Mage Wars Blitz. It removes the physical arena board and thus significantly reduces the required space for a game; game space requirements are like that of Mage Wars Academy. There are arena zones, but the arena has a maximum size of 1x4 zones arrayed vertically towards the players. Notice I said “maximum size” – this is where the Warlord CCG element comes into play. The game starts with a single zone, but three additional zones may be added to the arena by creatures performing a full move action to create one; however, a zone will collapse immediately if there are no creatures, conjurations, or enchantments remaining in it (akin to the rank creation and collapse mechanics of Warlord CCG).

The mages begin the game in the same zone and are prohibited from targeting each other for the first two rounds just like in Academy. To create a new zone, a creature must perform a full move action to move into a space adjacent to the zone it formerly occupied; the new zone must be in the direction facing either of the two players as the arena is a maximum 1x4 configuration. All other rules of Mage Wars Arena remain in effect.

Errata updates for Mage Wars Blitz:

  • Adjacent spacing requirements are ignored. E.g. Warlord outpost conjurations may be played in adjacent zones
  • Teleportation spells that temporarily remove creatures from the arena allow the caster to decide which zone they re-enter when they return to paly

Here's a quick reference list:
  • The game is set up like MW Academy; there is no arena board, but the tokens and mage stat boards from Arena are retained
  • At the beginning of the game, each players mage card is placed next to the other on the same line between the players for the purpose of creating the starting zone
  • Like Academy, neither player may target the other player for the first 2 rounds
  • Unlike Academy, players may perform a full round move action to create a new zone in front of, or behind them
  • Zones cannot be created with spells or abilities like Teleport, they can only be created with a move action by a creature
  • Moving through established zones uses standard move actions
  • A maximum of 4 zones in a 1x4 arrangement are permitted
  • If any zone is vacated with all creatures/conjurations/enchantments removed from it, then that zone immediately collapses
  • If a wall conjuration is attached to zone that collapses, then that wall is destroyed unless if it can attach to the passage of a zone that takes the place of the collapsed zone
  • If a spell or ability would push a creature into a different zone that has not yet been created, then that creature remains in the same zone but is considered bashed

Once again, this variant of Mage Wars is completely unofficial and lacks a suitable number of playtesting hours to draw any kind of conclusions on aggregate. But of the several dozen games I’ve played using these rules, it seems to offer some different characteristics over a standard match of Mage Wars Arena:

  • Increased lethality – shrinking the arena size to max size of 1x4, but usually 2-3 zones in practice significantly increases the amount of damage exchanged each round and results in a high turnover rate among creatures and healing spells
  • Quicker matches – typical match length seems to hover around 45 minutes to 1 hour (sometimes faster)
  • Smaller physical play area – No physical arena board gives the game footprint a similar size to Mage Wars Academy
  • Importance of conjurations – Zone conjurations and wall conjurations offer an immense amount of tactical and strategic value due to the small and dynamic arena size

If you have a local Mage Wars sparring partner that you regularly duel with, then you might try a quick match. The expanding and collapsing zones add a new dimension of strategy to the game. Want to toss in another variable? Try playing with V’Tar orbs…

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