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Author Topic: The Magician: a very different mage  (Read 6114 times)

DeckBuilder

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The Magician: a very different mage
« on: July 22, 2013, 04:37:06 PM »
Is the following hypothetical  mage too powerful or too weak?

The Magician
The Magician dabbles in all schools of magic. You never know what you are up against when facing the Magician.

Spell Points: 120
Life: 32
Channelling: 9
Training: the Magician is trained in the first copy only of each spell in his spell book.
Blank (no powers)


So, because of his unpredictability, the weird and wonderful different combos that he can repeatedly cast and always having just the right spell for any situation, I suspect this mage with such weak stats (no powers even) would be very playable (and great fun to play). I may even proxy him to test him. He is the ultimate Toolbox, the extreme of Versatility vs. Focus, what I believe to be the 2nd axis in this game (Aggro vs. Control is the other obvious axis).

So... would anyone else play him?
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 04:38:52 PM by DeckBuilder »
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ringkichard

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 04:56:38 PM »
Could she use one copy of Forcefield and other mage-only abilities?
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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 05:28:08 PM »
No, "Mage X only" is surely exactly that?

But she could have Lord of Fire vs. Warlock, Angel of Light vs. Holy etc. I see huge value being so utterly versatile and unpredictable. Not to mention incredible fun. In order to fully leverage the training, you find yourself tempted to not focus on particular strategies but rather react with the rock to the opponent's scissors. It promotes highly improvisational seat-of-the-pants duelling.

I actually think the concept may be deceptively too powerful. I wonder if they have play-tested a similar idea...
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ringkichard

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 08:07:05 PM »
If we're ruling out mage-only cards, the biggest strength, I think, would be the ability to run whatever creature you chose. Most spells never go past level 2, so they're already cheep enough to splash into an Agro book, or an efficient Wizard. But creatures routinely weigh in at level 4 or higher, which makes splashing them much more expensive, and you'd be able to run lots of different Legendary creatures, if that was your thing.
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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2013, 02:36:07 AM »
If we're ruling out mage-only cards, the biggest strength, I think, would be the ability to run whatever creature you chose. Most spells never go past level 2, so they're already cheep enough to splash into an Agro book, or an efficient Wizard. But creatures routinely weigh in at level 4 or higher, which makes splashing them much more expensive, and you'd be able to run lots of different Legendary creatures, if that was your thing.

The Zookeeper?     ;)

cbalian

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2013, 07:38:35 AM »
I like the concept.

What does this mean exactly?
Training: the Magician is trained in the first copy only of each spell in his spell book.

Does that mean 1 copy of each spell costs 1X, so if you had 2 copies of a spell the 2nd would cost 2X?

The reason I like it so much is because I'd LOVE to play a HOLY/DARK mage.  I keep wanting to do like an Angels and Demons theme deck or something like that.  Possibilities are endless with someone that only pays 1X for ANY spell in the game.  You can do a lot of serious deck building with those points.

The lack of ANY abilities even something basic seems a bit of a turn off, but not enough so I wouldn't at least try this mage out.  Seems a Magician should have something little,
"Pull a Rabbit out of the Hat" ability
Once per turn as a quick action you can summon a 0 armor 2 life rabbit token 'pest' creature.

I joke about this last ability lol  :P  Just had to throw that in for thematic addition to a true Magician.

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2013, 01:30:24 PM »
Thanks for feedback (and lack of derision).

@cblain. Yes, it means exactly that: the first copy costs 1x spell level. All other cards cost 2x spell level.
Your joke rabbit serves no purpose as a pest (unless buffed). Because of activation and condition markers, Mage Wars is unlikely to go down the Magic creature token route - a good thing in my book.

I gave the Magician the worst possible stats as a start point. I take your point that this feels too generic, that a mage needs a distinct flavour. So if he was to have a special ability, it will be something to promote his special benefit and play style, something like:

"Versatile: during Planning, your mage chooses 3 spells instead of 2"

1 more spell than you can cast. This would be an ability that promotes reactive play rather than proactive play. But I think that may be pushing the concept over the edge. I was trying to find out how much other players will value pure versatility. That is why I chose lower channel plus lower life plus no powers as this is the base case.

His main advantage may seem like diverse creature Toolbox but actually you just can't predict what he/she will have in his/her spell book. You're pretty safe to stack enchantments vs. non-wizards but not him. The opponent can't suit up against a particular damage type. Each of the Epic control conjurations are available at lesser cost, as well as damage barriers, Vampirism, Battle Forge, Teleport, Enfeeble, Wands (for that perfect single copy incantation / attack), all those level 2+ spells that eat into your book when you are paying double.

But it comes at a price: by fully leveraging his sole benefit to grab a full Toolbox of spells (1 copy of each except utilities Dispel/Dissolve etc), you lack focus. The skill will be to adapt your play to beat your opponent's strategy. But you lack depth in a particular strategy so no strategy you adopt will survive determined attrition. He's just a box of tricks, unpredictable but also unfocused.

The idea of piloting such a mage, pure seat-of-the-pants reactive on-the-fly play, thrills me.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2013, 05:29:39 PM by DeckBuilder »
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baronzaltor

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2013, 12:28:37 PM »
No, "Mage X only" is surely exactly that?

Depends on if its mage only, or school only.

Lash of Hellfire is Warlock only, so regardless of training you have to be a Warlock.
Fellalia, Pixie Familiar on the other hand is "Nature Mage Only", so as long as the mage in question is trained in the Nature school it can be used regardless of archetype.

So, theoretically, a mage who is trained in all schools can use every school restricted spell but no archetype restricted spell.

ringkichard

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2013, 04:15:41 PM »
Man, that'd be a lot more interesting from a competitive perspective. I'd have to look carefully, but that could easily be hugely powerful. Maybe too powerful. Probably better to make some "Magician Only" cards and deny access to the others. Give the Magician no schools of training, but give him a special ability instead.
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reddawn

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2013, 04:21:47 PM »
A mage that can do everything, kind of? I wouldn't find that terribly compelling.  The opposition of schools is what makes the mages distinctive.  Sure, the Wizard has flexibility in terms of elemental school, but so far that doesn't mean much in terms of Fire and Water.  And even then, I think all Earth and Arcane creatures are slow, so there's some continuity between the elements and his main school.  We'll see what happens when water and fire creatures are released (Adramelech is fire school, and the demons have synergy with Fire spells, but at that point you should probably just play the Warlock).  The Air school is kind of funky; Whirling Spirits, Screeching Harpies, and Galador (kind of Air) all do different things aside from having some ability to Daze. 

And with no abilities, the idea is basically just an empty canvas for spellbook building.  Which is fine, if that's what you're going for, but I can't see it fitting into a game that actually enforces theme. 
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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2013, 06:33:25 PM »
Hi reddawn

I totally understand where you are coming from. The Magician is currently like the 3 generic character concepts in D&D/D20 system (warrior/adept/specialist); he is just too flexible and has no distinctive feel to him (easily corrected with his unusual Versatile power that makes him far too good).

I think I was trying to evaluate a simple part of the game very few players acknowledge: access to spells. Because there is a simple truth to the game: not all schools are made equal. Give me a mage with training in Arcane and Mind and I couldn't care less what's on his card (slight exaggeration).

When I started playing this awesome game (later than my local meta, still unbeaten), I thoroughly researched the game, reading articles, basing my views by modifying my confident understanding of Magic (sadly the card game, not the art) and realising the important areas where they diverged: I'm sadly OCD analytical and far too competitive for my own good.

Apart from the high-theory low-detail very thought-provoking but also abstract articles by The Dude (who has helped this hobby most by his incredible friendliness IMO), the 2 articles that resonated the most with me were:

(a) Piousflea's thread on persistent benefits vs. burst benefits, truly the crux of the game

(b) Koz's discussion with Piousflea (on BGG) about Warlock being inferior to Beastmaster comparative to another Dark Mage

What I could appreciate from just Core set cards was that a Warlock is indeed inferior to Beastmaster based on abilities and access to mage-specific cards (not school-specific). However what Koz was not counting was the synergetic value of Dark + Fire (opposed Holy) vs. Nature (opposed Fire).

I confess what I was slyly trying to do with my Magician post is to focus players on a 2nd game axis (Versatility vs. Focus) that nobody (not even The Dude) has mentioned yet, apart from Piousflea arguing with Koz that the Warlock's 2 schools Training was the balancing factor between the 2 mages. To demonstrate the brokenness of full versatility, I hypothetised this mage with the worst possible stats except for his access to dabble (not focus) in any spell.

I guess what I was trying to demonstrate is the bleeding obvious: access (and opposition) to schools is a major part of a mage's stats, maybe the most important element. Because some schools are more equal than others. This is why access to Arcane and Mind are so highly valued (and Warlord's opposition to Arcane is so crippling).

I'm most cautious and wary facing a wizard book. This is because of his versatility: Purge Magic, Destroy Magic, swarm over-commitment. champion (aka few big) over-commitment etc. The pensioner has an answer to them all.

His damage soak, rarely used zap. even his 10 channel, they aren't why I feel tense when playing a wizard. It's because he is so damn unpredictable! Will he jet stream/force push me through conjurations like the Push-Rush/ Fentum build? Or blue gremlin attack? Or gorgon-basilisk control? Or wand of charging on those walking walls called golems? Maybe he is a route 1 elemental wand build and I have misread his strategy all along!

Think about it, guys. Good players only lose to either (a) horrendous dice rolls (try 9 blanks, though still won via a same round Battle Fury) or (b) being totally blindsided by unexpected play. If you play against a non-wizard, you are playing against variants of expected builds. Oh, he's a curse-control slow poison warlock but that other warlock is a fire wizard with a Blood Reaper, the third summons Lord of Fire etc.

Recognising what you are up against and playing optimally knowing this is crucial IMO. I remember my first ever build (Beastmaster) had Idol of Pestilence. My thinking was thus: it's there for the mirror, I go Champion and he goes Swam which normally beats Champion - except I got Pestilence Idol (also Sleep defence) to mess up this presumption. I still contend that spending 6 spell points for Purge Magic is worth it - because nobody expects it outside of Wizard so they over-stack buffs/curses. It is a game-winning surprise.

That sense of surprise is what The Magician is trying to re-create. To discuss a part of the game that I've yet to see discussed: how much is unpredictability worth?

I contend the OP no-powers poor stats mage is grossly overpowered in any meta of good players. In a meta of less skilled players. he is not. Because you can't bluff a player who can't appreciate the threat he poses. Those players are playing a far more tunnel-vision game, a mono strategy that does not readily react and adapt to the opponent's expected capabilities.

I don't want to take any credit in The Magician concept. The same named magic-dabbling character existed in an ancient Avalon Hill game called Magic Realm. And the training mechanic is shamelessly stolen from the new Professor identity in Netrunner. I just used it to as a mechanic to discuss a dimension rarely discussed: how much do you value access to a versatile spell list that can react and counter opposing strategies?

This reply has (as usual) become far longer than I planned. But think about it please. I think I may be making a valuable point here (it happens occasionally). If so, someone (Dude?) please write an article on this rarely discussed aspect of the game: unpredictability,
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 07:04:10 PM by DeckBuilder »
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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2013, 07:01:16 PM »
Interesting bit of supposition. Not saying you are off base here either. I would say that you would need to have a linear progression to keep things balanced. 3rd and more of the same spell costs three book points would probably do it.

I assume you mean the multiplier of 1 * the spell level is the book cost correct?

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reddawn

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2013, 08:18:32 PM »
I wasn't terribly interested in a theorycraft discussion, but... 

I will say that you're totally overvaluing Arcane and the Wizard though.  Unpredictability sounds totally cool in theorycraft, but in an actual game, most plays are pretty obvious and rarely are you rewarded for doing something off the wall.  And, if you take too long to actually do something, chances are you're well on you're way to losing.  And sorry, I don't buy the viability of the "Push-Rush" strategy or most other fringe strategies.  If your opponent is letting you Force Push him round after round, there's something seriously wrong with that player's understanding of the game.

The wizard and all this unpredictability talk sounded crazy amazing when I first started playing, but the Wizard isn't that unpredictable, and Arcane and Mind aren't the best schools.  Purge Magic is way, way down on the list of spells that actually matter in a regular game.  There are plenty of Dark, Holy, Nature, and War school spells I'd much rather cast than Arcane and Mind ones, especially considering that most of the best Mind school spells are Mind Mage Only anyway.

That and the fact that you just throw some random opinions out there, like how the Warlock is somehow inferior to the Beastmaster in the core set, or the Warlord is just so crippled by lack of easy access to arcane, etc. 

Idk, I guess I just don't buy it.
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cbalian

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2013, 08:31:26 PM »
I do agree there are SO MANY fun combos, but no matter which mage I pick I feel somewhat constrained and limited by spell book points to go too far outside of my school(s) of training (esp for lvl 3-4 cards) that I rarely put them in.  What does that do?  It does just like you said makes people build "semi" predictable spell books relying heavily on their school with dabbling in the other schools (mainly for utility).

I can't tell you how many times I played a Preist but wished I could add a Gorgon Archer in my deck.  Can I?  SURE, but is it worth the spell book points when I can have TWO holy creatures for the price of ONE good other creature?  Debatable.

The thing with a "anything goes" type of thing is it reminds me of a 5 color deck in Magic the Gathering.  You play against that and you have no idea what is coming at you.

The temptation I'd have with this is to just toss a pile of all my favorite cards from each school, which wouldn't necessarily have any cohesive theme to it.  But you could thematically build too.

With no concern for paying double spell book points outside your school I would mind toss stuff like Gorgon Archer, Basilisk, a unicorn, couple angels, adremalich, I am a familiar junky (so 1 of each non class spec familiar) toss some spells in I wouldn't otherwise use, it would also lower the cost for decking yourself out in equip, enchants, etc you could really beef yourself up.

Anyways I'm kind of rambling, but it sounds cool!

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Re: The Magician: a very different mage
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2013, 08:44:11 PM »
Oh dear... (ninja'd - this is addressed at Reddawn)

I did not say the Warlock is inferior to Beastmaster. I brought this discussion up (which was between Koz and Piousflea on BGG) because it opened my mind to a factor that the protagonist of that opinion did not include in his evalaution of the  2 mages: the synergies in the school training and opposition.

Yes, I do believe the Warlord's Arcane school weakness makes him more predictable. I don't believe this is an original view. If required, I will source others who share this view. How well is the Warlord doing in results? He may be undeservingly maligned.

I'm a bit flabbergasted at this response when I have only shown due deference to your opinions, as shown by my prior post addressed to you.

If I recall right, you were the poster who was so dismissive of Charmyna's Push-Rush post. It is so very easy to be dismissive of other people's ideas, to pooh-pooh and destroy. Try to create. Maybe even foster good will?

I find it difficult to understand why someone like you, who is so disinterested in "theorycrafting", would be at all interested in reading posts in this section! This is the CREATIVE CUSTOM CARDS section. And you have a go at me for theorycrafting. you are truly a shameless misanthrope. What a bundle of fun you are!


(I am going to be offline on holiday abroad for a bit so do not take my silence to your post as me being a wilting flower: be assured that any further replies to match your charming reply above will be responded in kind.)
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