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Author Topic: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2  (Read 12273 times)

Sailor Vulcan

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Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« on: December 03, 2016, 06:11:55 PM »
Your playstyle is what kind of strategies you prefer.
Strategies in Mage Wars Arena are mostly defined by how offensive or defensive they are with what resources over time, as well as what sources of damage they use to kill the mage. That third defining feature of a strategy in Arena is determined by the two before it.

How "aggro" or "control" your strategy is depends on how early or late in the game you are going to kill the mage. If you kill the mage early in the game, that means that you are playing offensively earlier in the game. If you kill the mage late in the game, that means you are playing offensively later in the game.

An offensive tactic is one that lowers your opponent's resources. A defensive tactic is one that increases one's own resources. These resources are:

1) Mana
2) Options
3) Actions
4) Positioning
5) Life after Damage

1) Mana
Mana is one of the three costs for casting a spell. More powerful spells tend to cost more mana.

2) Options
Having more options gives you more freedom to respond to things your opponent does how you want to respond. It makes you more flexible and less predictable. Not to be confused with Actions. If you have a list of things you can do during each round, gaining an option is adding "OR (thing you can do)" to that list. While adding actions is adding "AND (thing you can do)" to that list.

3) Actions
Almost everything you do in the game has an action cost, including casting spells. The more actions you have, the more things you can do during the round. Not to be confused with Options. If you have a list of things you can do during each round, gaining an option is adding "OR (thing you can do)" to that list. While adding actions is adding "AND (thing you can do)" to that list. Actions are generated during the reset phase. Not to be confused with an "Action phase" which is the ability to generate actions during the reset phase, which a creature gains when it is summoned and lasts as long as that creature is in play.

4) Positioning
This is how far away things are from each other and whether they can see each other (range/los). It tends to be harder to target or affect objects in the arena if they are farther away. Most spells and attacks as well as many abilities have a maximum range of 2 or less. Some higher level spells have a range of 3. And there are also spells and abilities that target the whole arena, which tend to be things that scale in power with the quantity of a certain kind of object in play.

5) Life after Damage
If your damage becomes equal to or greater than your life, you lose the game. Having more life after damage means you have more time to do things in.

There is also a sixth resource, Spellpoints, which determines the number of copies of each of your spells that you are likely to have in your spellbook. However, this resource is even more relational/subjective than Positioning, since the number of copies of a spell that you include depends on how you want to manage the other five essential resources.

I did not include tempo, because tempo is special. Tempo, or momentum, or time, determines when you want to kill the enemy mage, when you are going to be more likely to be ahead of your opponent in resources and when your opponent is going to be ahead of you in resources. Tempo is how long you have left beore you die vs how long your opponent has left before they die, given the current board state. In other words, tempo can be described as thus: When your threat level against the enemy mage is higher and your life after damage is lower compared to your opponent's, you have more tempo. When your threat level against the enemy mage is lower and your life after damage is higher compared to your opponent's, you have less tempo.
(Mage1's life after damage) + (Mage2's threat level) - (Mage2's life after damage) + (Mage1's threat level). Threat level is the potential for damage to the enemy mage. It tends to be rather difficult to quantify precisely until the very end of the game, but it can be understood precisely enough for players to make meaningful tactical decisions about it.

Offense/defense exists on a continuum. For instance, a very offensive strategy might not use any burst healing at all, a very defensive strategy might use multiple burst healing spells, and a midgame strategy might use just one or two burst healing spells.


Early game=rounds 1-5
Late game=rounds 6-10

Early game win=~round 4 or 5
Late game win=~round 9 or 10


Offensive early game

1.) Increases own mana (discount rings tend to break even round 3)

2.) Increases own options (battle forge, familiars, mage wand/elemental wand, or a creature spawnpoint in the case of low level offensive creature swarms)

3.) Increases own actions (including pseudo-actions): cheetah speed, dancing scimitar, battle forge, ballista, wizard tower, buddy creature, etc.), a single copy of mind control.

4.) Getting closer to opponent: force push, lesser teleport, cheetah speed, force pull, tanglevine/force hold (so that your favorable positioning doesn't change once you have it), a single copy of enfeeble (same reason as vine/hold), teleport to get out of tanglevine quickly, etc.

5.) Life after Damage: attack spells, one-time swarm attack buffs (call of the wild, unholy blood ritual), reusable swarm attack buffs (rajan's fury, tooth and nail, marked for death, etc.)

Defensive early game

1.) Decreases opponent mana: (mana syphon, essence drain etc.)

2.) Decreases opponent options: disarm on equipments like galvitar or mage wand/elemental wand, putting a wall in front of a ballista or wizard tower, metamagic, things that prevent your opponent from making certain choices, rather than responding to whatever they choose to do after the fact. For instance, preemptively revealing poisoned blood to stop them from revealing healing charm or using hand of bim's effect to heal.

3.) Decreasing opponent actions: either by attacking and destroying creatures, or by devaluing of enemy actions, or both such as sleep, charm, multiple copies of enfeeble, lowering attack die rolls, daze/stun, etc. Mind control effectively lowers opponent's actions by at least 2 as soon as it is revealed. This is because mind control stuns the creature when it is revealed, and also when it is destroyed, costing the creature's original controller two actions.

4.) Getting farther away from opponent: force push, teleport (to get two zones away rather than just one), lesser teleport, cheetah speed+mongoose agility (helps you to run away from enemys), force wave (to push larger numbers of enemies away), repulse (same as force wave, but in multiple random directions when the enemy creatures are already in your zone), walls (to block movement and los), tanglevines to trap enemies before they get too close especially with etherian lifetree and/or astral anchor, etc.

5.) Increasing own life after damage: sunfire amulet, regrowth belt, armor, multiple healing spells.
Decreasing opponent's life after damage (slowly): ghoul rot, magebane, force crush, etc.

Defensive Late game

1.) Increasing own mana (mana crystal doesn't give you a net increase in mana until round 6.)

2.) Decreasing opponent's options: generally involves destroying spawnpoints and familiars or things with spellbind, or things that effectively increase the number of spells you can plan.

3.) Decreasing opponent actions: destroying enemy creatures, or making them more permanently unusable in some other way (i.e. arcane ward on a turn to stone, putting them to sleep and behind walls, or arcane ward on a mind control. While mind control is good in the early game by lowering the opponent's actions by at least 2, it's also good for increasing your own actions if they leave it alone. Mind control is basically a spell that scales in power over the course of the game, just like magebane. You don't necessarily care that much if they get rid of it in early game because they paid about as much mana to get rid of it as you did to cast and reveal it, and they lost two actions while it only took you one quick cast. And if they leave it alone, it will just keep generating more and more actions for you and not for them.

4.) Getting closer to opponent. Oftentimes you don't have to get as close to opponent to kill them in the late game as the early game, because range 2 attacks tend to cost more mana/actions than range 1 attacks, and by the late game you have more mana. Oftentimes a more offensive opponent will already be closer from their failed attempt to kill you in the early game, if they were trying to rush you with their mage and a buddy creature rather than standing back and supporting a swarm. In any case, a lot of the time this involves using your superior board position that you've already accumulated to make it harder for the more aggressive mage to escape, recover and then try to finish you off. Use a combination of reusable positioning spells which you cast in the early game like cheetah speed, tanglevine/stranglevine/force hold/force crush/etc+astral anchor, teleport mage wand, enfeeble, etc. You could also use divine intervention if you already have a big threat on the board which you have been building up over the course of the game and all you have to do is bring the enemy mage in range of it (i.e. Disciples of Radiance).

5.) Life after damage: The game has gone on for long enough to build enough mana, actions and board advantage that itís time for the finishers. Double fireball, Double Hurl Boulder, Double Forcehammer, drain soul, thunderbolt, Zombie Frenzy, Burst healing (if you have a lot of dot effects stacked on enemy mage), Drain Power, Teleport or Divine intervention on enemy mage (to bring them back to kill zone), wall of thorns push, etc.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 03:17:18 PM by Sailor Vulcan »
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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2016, 12:00:44 PM »
One thing to consider when talking about playstyle and strategy preference is an honest self evaluation of skill strengths and weaknesses.

So, for example, I have some difficulty playing multiple long brain-burny games, one after the other. In tournaments, I prefer to play more agressive books so that my games are shorter and I have time to clear my mind inbetween.

On the other hand, I've got a good grasp of the rules and a fiendish design streak, so I'm likely to bring something unorthodox to try to catch my opponent by surprise.

When I'm practicing, I try to drill myself on memorizing proper procedure, so that it costs me less focus to play correctly and so that I can continue proper play even if I get fatigued. This means that I'm more likely to chose cards that can be learned like this, rather than cards that have many different applications and must be reevaluated continuously.

In practice, this means fewer upkeeps or complicated spells, so e.g. I rarely Forcemaster at tournaments.
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Sailor Vulcan

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Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2016, 01:15:02 PM »
One thing to consider when talking about playstyle and strategy preference is an honest self evaluation of skill strengths and weaknesses.

So, for example, I have some difficulty playing multiple long brain-burny games, one after the other. In tournaments, I prefer to play more agressive books so that my games are shorter and I have time to clear my mind inbetween.

On the other hand, I've got a good grasp of the rules and a fiendish design streak, so I'm likely to bring something unorthodox to try to catch my opponent by surprise.

When I'm practicing, I try to drill myself on memorizing proper procedure, so that it costs me less focus to play correctly and so that I can continue proper play even if I get fatigued. This means that I'm more likely to chose cards that can be learned like this, rather than cards that have many different applications and must be reevaluated continuously.

In practice, this means fewer upkeeps or complicated spells, so e.g. I rarely Forcemaster at tournaments.

I often have trouble coming up with creative rush builds that can catch opponents by surprise. I like cat and mouse strategies. Decks that want to chase the enemy or be chased by them. I first tried something like this with a forcemaster, but since then I have tried it with other mages and it works better. Namely Wizard, Druid and necromancer. I would like the forcemaster more if she wasn't so focused on attacking things most of the time.

Aside from that, I'm honestly not sure what kinds of strategies I enjoy most, and I've been playing for several years now.
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Sailor Vulcan

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2016, 03:17:55 PM »
Edited to fix some theory mistakes caused by my ignorance of aggro.


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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2016, 06:56:46 PM »
I often have trouble coming up with creative rush builds that can catch opponents by surprise.

Surprise and creativity are both good things, but are generally not worth sacrificing much in the way of raw efficiency for.

In the case of any kind of rush build they are not worth sacrificing any efficiency whatsoever - you want the most brutal efficient sledgehammer possible,  and you already plan on them playing the most effective countermeasures possible.

On the other hand, the longer and slower a book is, the more room there is for alternative strategies, things to surprise and trick an opponent, and indeed you are often trying to bait their countermeasures out with cards that are good enough to need answering, but not so good you are reliant on them.

Trying to be creative is probably where rush is not working for you.

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Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2016, 07:19:50 PM »
I often have trouble coming up with creative rush builds that can catch opponents by surprise.

Surprise and creativity are both good things, but are generally not worth sacrificing much in the way of raw efficiency for.

In the case of any kind of rush build they are not worth sacrificing any efficiency whatsoever - you want the most brutal efficient sledgehammer possible,  and you already plan on them playing the most effective countermeasures possible.

On the other hand, the longer and slower a book is, the more room there is for alternative strategies, things to surprise and trick an opponent, and indeed you are often trying to bait their countermeasures out with cards that are good enough to need answering, but not so good you are reliant on them.

Trying to be creative is probably where rush is not working for you.

In that case, how many unique rush builds is it possible to make, really?


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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2016, 01:47:51 AM »
In that case, how many unique rush builds is it possible to make, really?

Less optimal ones than mid-game or control builds certainly.

A couple of mages might have two directions, but most one, and a lot of those will be suboptimal. In most cases the variation is part of your Plan B and Plan C for if/when the rush is stopped, which is what the other 100 sbp in your book are for. It doesn't take many for whatever the most efficient Plan A is.

There's an infinite number of books you can make in Mage Wars, but a fairly finite number of close to optimal books. That's a just a mathematical fact, and is the case in any game. It becomes very obvious in something like MtG with a userbase of millions, and collaboration on the internet. The answers are less obvious, or less quickly reached in MW (and arguably slower than the introduction of new sets), but the fundamental premise has to be the same, and is for any CCG/LCG/customisable game. It's even the same for a deckbuilder like Dominion, within any set of cards.

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2016, 01:52:30 PM »
In that case, how many unique rush builds is it possible to make, really?

Less optimal ones than mid-game or control builds certainly.

A couple of mages might have two directions, but most one, and a lot of those will be suboptimal. In most cases the variation is part of your Plan B and Plan C for if/when the rush is stopped, which is what the other 100 sbp in your book are for. It doesn't take many for whatever the most efficient Plan A is.

There's an infinite number of books you can make in Mage Wars, but a fairly finite number of close to optimal books. That's a just a mathematical fact, and is the case in any game. It becomes very obvious in something like MtG with a userbase of millions, and collaboration on the internet. The answers are less obvious, or less quickly reached in MW (and arguably slower than the introduction of new sets), but the fundamental premise has to be the same, and is for any CCG/LCG/customisable game. It's even the same for a deckbuilder like Dominion, within any set of cards.

Well yes, when there are a finite number of cards in a game then there are a finite number of possible combinations of them, and even fewer combinations which are viable.

In modern MtG, the number of possible 60-card combinations is about 1.5*(10^156).

Meanwhile, the number of possible 60-card combinations that are tournament-viable decks is probably somewhere around 10.

However, I'm quite certain I've seen more than 10 tournament-viable spellbooks in Mage Wars Arena at any given time. There are currently 14 mages in Mage Wars Arena, and I'm quite certain that every single one of them has at least one viable spellbook.

Mage Wars Arena has 761 cards now. Each mage has 120 points to spend on cards to put in their spellbook, and the lowest spell point cost is 1 spell point. The highest spell cost currently in the game would be 24 points. 5 level 8 enemy school spells make 120 points, and so do 120 novice spells. So the maximum possible number of 120 pt combinations is less than:

6.57*(10^150)
-2,154,952,559,403

The -2154952559403 is negligible though. so let's approximate that to 6.57*(10^150).

Now let's take that number and divide it by the total size of the card pool. This will give us some idea of what the total number of possible 120 pt card combinations are given a certain sized cardpool. We will do the same for modern mtg.

6.57*(10^150) 120-pt card combinations/761 cards in cardpool=8.633377*(10^147)
1.5*(10^156) 60-card combinations/9271 cards in cardpool=1.617948*(10^152)

These are the rates at which the number of possible card combinations increases with the size of the card pool in each game.

Now, compare these to the number of tournament viable decks/spellbooks. In pretty much any year the number of viable decks doesn't change all that much. It's usually somewhere around 10.

So 10 tournament-viable decks divided by 1.5*(10^156) possible card combinations in the current card pool, and you get about 6.67/(10^156). In other words, the percentage of possible 60-card combinations in modern mtg which are tournament viable decks is 6.67/(10^154)%

In mage wars arena there are probably a lot more than 10 viable spellbooks. I would say each mage probably has around 2 or 3 main viable strategies on average, plus whatever rogue strategies they might be able to use in a given meta. So let's say 1 main viable spellbook plus 1 rogue viable spellbook for each mage as an extremely conservative estimate? That still gives us 28 viable spellbooks in Mage Wars Arena. 28 viable spellbooks is a lot more than 10 viable decks. And now consider that mage wars arena has a MUCH smaller cardpool than mtg.

Simply put, Mage Wars is not MtG, and is a lot better balanced than games like MtG. And while yes there are a finite number of tournament viable spellbooks, nobody actually knows what that number is, but my guess is that it could be anywhere between 28 and 100 or so.

Even if most mages only have 1 tournament viable spellbook, how can you know that if tournament viable spellbooks are discovered/created at a slower rate than new sets are introduced?

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2016, 02:17:41 PM »
Meanwhile, the number of possible 60-card combinations that are tournament-viable decks is probably somewhere around 10.

However, I'm quite certain I've seen more than 10 tournament-viable spellbooks in Mage Wars Arena at any given time. There are currently 14 mages in Mage Wars Arena, and I'm quite certain that every single one of them has at least one viable spellbook.

Between players of equal skill, I'm quite sure you are wrong, and that number is around 4-6... And I'm 100% certain that half of those mages are incapable of being at the the top tier in the current cardpool.

I'm afraid those numbers are meaningless statistically, and actually the design of Mage Wars with picking your cards means the optimal builds differ LESS than MtG not more, because every book has a full clip of silver bullets to deploy at will.

Also you seem to switch between viable and competitive. There are reasonable books of all mages, that a skilled player can beat a less skilled one with the majority of the time. That's an order of magnitude or two broader than what top competitive players (if we had a playerbase and metagame to support them) would consider competitive. It's very rare for their to be more than 3 best builds out there, and maybe 6-8 in with a reasonable chance (the latter  not being competitive enough) in any game.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 02:23:08 PM by Kelanen »

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2016, 02:44:49 PM »
ב"ה
In that case, how many unique rush builds is it possible to make, really?

Less optimal ones than mid-game or control builds certainly.

A couple of mages might have two directions, but most one, and a lot of those will be suboptimal. In most cases the variation is part of your Plan B and Plan C for if/when the rush is stopped, which is what the other 100 sbp in your book are for. It doesn't take many for whatever the most efficient Plan A is.

I strongly disagree. Even similar strategies could be both efficient but one is a little faster and the other build a little more economy. I'll try to explain with 2 famous rush builds, the Johktari Rushmaster and the Straywood Aviary:

1) Rushmaster-
The standard Rushmaster start with hawkeye and akiro's favor on the first round (his damage economy), then double hurl boulder on the second round and hurl rock+hurl boulder on the third round.
The faster version is lesser teleport+fireball on the first round (for the burn), double hurl boulder on the second round and double hurl rock on the third round.
Both of these options are optimal, it is just than one is a little faster than the other but less economical.

2) Straywood Aviary-
There are players that start with ring of beasts + falcon on the first turn, and those who move two zones and bring a falcon. The former strategy is bringing a bit of economy by making the Falcons cheaper, and the later strategy get closer to the opponent sooner.
Again, both of these options are optimal, it is just than one is a little faster than the other but less economical.

Many rush strategies still have several actions spent on economy, and modifying that amount of actions is just deciding whether to go a little faster giving opponent less space or to be in a better position in case the rush fails.

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2016, 02:54:57 PM »
1) Rushmaster-
The standard Rushmaster start with hawkeye and akiro's favor on the first round (his damage economy), then double hurl boulder on the second round and hurl rock+hurl boulder on the third round.
The faster version is lesser teleport+fireball on the first round (for the burn), double hurl boulder on the second round and double hurl rock on the third round.
Both of these options are optimal, it is just than one is a little faster than the other but less economical.

If one is faster and you have the resources to do it, then it's better. The other being 'good' doesn't matter - it's not best.

2) Straywood Aviary-
There are players that start with ring of beasts + falcon on the first turn, and those who move two zones and bring a falcon. The former strategy is bringing a bit of economy by making the Falcons cheaper, and the later strategy get closer to the opponent sooner.
Again, both of these options are optimal, it is just than one is a little faster than the other but less economical.

Many rush strategies still have several actions spent on economy, and modifying that amount of actions is just deciding whether to go a little faster giving opponent less space or to be in a better position in case the rush fails.

Spending time on economy (certainly more than one action) would rule it out of being a rush book in my view. It's slowed down needlessly. Barring a 2pt ring, no economy can show a profit over the timescale a rush book is looking to win.

Note Straywood Aviary is not an all out rush book. It's a Kiting book.

But the nuances you are talking about (whilst definitely still able to be called good and better in any given circumstance) were not what I was talking about by a Plan A, B and C. That was a reference to  say Sailor's recent blaster, that runs creatures as well, or a book that wants to be aggro and DOT, etc.

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2016, 12:09:09 PM »
ב"ה
If one is faster and you have the resources to do it, then it's better. The other being 'good' doesn't matter - it's not best.
The faster one has a better chance to catch opponent unprepared, and the slower one has a better chance to handle an opponent prepared for the rush.
Since one strategy will do better against some opponent and the other against other opponent, neither could be named "best" out of these two.

Spending time on economy (certainly more than one action) would rule it out of being a rush book in my view. It's slowed down needlessly. Barring a 2pt ring, no economy can show a profit over the timescale a rush book is looking to win.
Usually I use the term "rush strategy" to describe any strategy that would destroy a training dummy with 40 life and no armor standing on the opponent starting zone by turn 6 with average rolls. Perhaps you use that term to describe a narrower set of strategies.
I have one rush book that use mana crystal+battleforge for round 1, and both times I played it the enemy mage was dead by turn 6. In both games the mana crystal was useless eventually, but just because a book bring a little economy doesn't prevent it from being a rush, and preparing for mid game in case the rush fails isn't necessarily "non-optimal".

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2016, 02:06:47 PM »

The faster one has a better chance to catch opponent unprepared, and the slower one has a better chance to handle an opponent prepared for the rush.
Since one strategy will do better against some opponent and the other against other opponent, neither could be named "best" out of these two.


In my experience often new players are the ones unprepared, and the books you describe for rush are great for training so that you can become those that can handle the rush.

Good notes!
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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2016, 03:39:20 AM »
Usually I use the term "rush strategy" to describe any strategy that would destroy a training dummy with 40 life and no armor standing on the opponent starting zone by turn 6 with average rolls. Perhaps you use that term to describe a narrower set of strategies.

That's a reasonable definition, although it's worth noting that every mage can kill on Turn 5 in a Goldfish test, and many earlier. Some just do it for less spell points than others. Turn 6 is still reasonably fast (especially T6 Upkeep), but it's slowest you could possibly call a rush.

I have one rush book that use mana crystal+battleforge for round 1, and both times I played it the enemy mage was dead by turn 6. In both games the mana crystal was useless eventually, but just because a book bring a little economy doesn't prevent it from being a rush, and preparing for mid game in case the rush fails isn't necessarily "non-optimal".

Then we disagree on terms. The Battleforge might be a requirement (but I strongly suspect not, and it doesn't recoup necessary actions), but the mana crystal can't be optimal for rushing. In playing that and not an extra Flameblast, Acid Ball or Rust or similar you are reducing your chances of a quick kill, and increasing your chances of  a mid-term win.

The faster one has a better chance to catch opponent unprepared, and the slower one has a better chance to handle an opponent prepared for the rush.
Since one strategy will do better against some opponent and the other against other opponent, neither could be named "best" out of these two.

Of course it can. You have probability A against one opponent, and B against the other. 1st opponent appears in the metagame with X probability, and the 2nd with Y. The chances of AX and BY being the same down to decimal places is infintessimally small, ergo one is better.

The same magnified up is what you do (whether by gut instinct or spreadsheet) when evaluating a whole metagame at Nationals/ProTour level, and working out the correct deck to play, and answers to put in it. No deck can do everything, but you are trying to make a judgement of doing the things that matter most to the opponents you are most likely to play.

Now is it difficult to evaluate this - of course it is. This is the entire skill of metagame evaluation. Just because it's difficult, doesn't mean it's not possible, and even if it's not possible to determine, one option will be better than another. It's an exercise in crystal balls and probability.

In Mage Wars, the difficulty (and also the reason the impact is much less) is that there is very little mature metagame existing, and the sample sizes are much too small. You can get a reasonable estimation within your own local metagame though.

In my experience often new players are the ones unprepared, and the books you describe for rush are great for training so that you can become those that can handle the rush.

Agreed. In a perfect world with a mature competitive metagame Rush should rarely work - there is no chance that you don't draw your Ring of Fire when you need it, only unprepared books and players. Because of the predictability of having cards when you want them, a Rush that dependably wins early into countermeasures would so most times against most books, which is a situation we'd hopefully not let happen.

That said, some Rush books can easily be held off their Turn 3-4 wins by the correct response, but having you fighting for life from such an early stage, and not developing your own game, often leads to them trading card for card, and winning on turn 6-9, being relatively untouched themselves. I never under estimate Adramelech Warlock especially - it's brutal.

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Re: Strategy/Playstyle chart for Mage Wars Arena attempt 2
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2016, 08:11:11 AM »
Usually I use the term "rush strategy" to describe any strategy that would destroy a training dummy with 40 life and no armor standing on the opponent starting zone by turn 6 with average rolls. Perhaps you use that term to describe a narrower set of strategies.

That's a reasonable definition, although it's worth noting that every mage can kill on Turn 5 in a Goldfish test, and many earlier. Some just do it for less spell points than others. Turn 6 is still reasonably fast (especially T6 Upkeep), but it's slowest you could possibly call a rush.

I have one rush book that use mana crystal+battleforge for round 1, and both times I played it the enemy mage was dead by turn 6. In both games the mana crystal was useless eventually, but just because a book bring a little economy doesn't prevent it from being a rush, and preparing for mid game in case the rush fails isn't necessarily "non-optimal".

Then we disagree on terms. The Battleforge might be a requirement (but I strongly suspect not, and it doesn't recoup necessary actions), but the mana crystal can't be optimal for rushing. In playing that and not an extra Flameblast, Acid Ball or Rust or similar you are reducing your chances of a quick kill, and increasing your chances of  a mid-term win.

The faster one has a better chance to catch opponent unprepared, and the slower one has a better chance to handle an opponent prepared for the rush.
Since one strategy will do better against some opponent and the other against other opponent, neither could be named "best" out of these two.

Of course it can. You have probability A against one opponent, and B against the other. 1st opponent appears in the metagame with X probability, and the 2nd with Y. The chances of AX and BY being the same down to decimal places is infintessimally small, ergo one is better.

The same magnified up is what you do (whether by gut instinct or spreadsheet) when evaluating a whole metagame at Nationals/ProTour level, and working out the correct deck to play, and answers to put in it. No deck can do everything, but you are trying to make a judgement of doing the things that matter most to the opponents you are most likely to play.

Now is it difficult to evaluate this - of course it is. This is the entire skill of metagame evaluation. Just because it's difficult, doesn't mean it's not possible, and even if it's not possible to determine, one option will be better than another. It's an exercise in crystal balls and probability.

In Mage Wars, the difficulty (and also the reason the impact is much less) is that there is very little mature metagame existing, and the sample sizes are much too small. You can get a reasonable estimation within your own local metagame though.

In my experience often new players are the ones unprepared, and the books you describe for rush are great for training so that you can become those that can handle the rush.

Agreed. In a perfect world with a mature competitive metagame Rush should rarely work - there is no chance that you don't draw your Ring of Fire when you need it, only unprepared books and players. Because of the predictability of having cards when you want them, a Rush that dependably wins early into countermeasures would so most times against most books, which is a situation we'd hopefully not let happen.

That said, some Rush books can easily be held off their Turn 3-4 wins by the correct response, but having you fighting for life from such an early stage, and not developing your own game, often leads to them trading card for card, and winning on turn 6-9, being relatively untouched themselves. I never under estimate Adramelech Warlock especially - it's brutal.

I'm not sure I'm following your logic. If being able to have access to all the cards in your deck each round made control more powerful than aggro, wouldn't it do that regardless? The sample size of competitive Mage Wars play is not that big, but it's not so tiny as to be completely insignificant. Sure, there's no chance that you don't draw your ring of fire when you need it. There's also no chance you don't draw Etherian lifetree or Slavorg when you need it. And as it was said earlier, straywood aviary is not really a rush deck. It's an aggressive swarm deck, which is not as aggro as rushing.
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