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    Have you played it? And what’s your opinion on it?

    I’ve got the core game and the first expansion (Forcemaster vs. Warlord) and i’ve played it quite a bit. Lately we even got to play our first four player 2vs2 match and it was a lot of fun. But you really have to know each other and what you’ve got to make all those nasty combos which are not possible when you are playing a 1vs1.

    So after hours with this game and having a lot of chaotic and strategic fun i still can’t decide how this game would hold up in a real competitive environment. On one side you obviously have to outwit your opponent with your spells and trick him into doing things you want him to do. And this feels really balanced. But on the other side once every so often a frustratingly bad dice roll came about which just totally set the game into stone. That could be an 8 dice healing spell healing 2 health or a 9 dice attack hitting for no damage.
    Most of the time the dice rolls feel average (5 dice do 5 damage and so on) but sometimes these really powerfull rolls happen. Practically always when the other mage rolls really bad.

    This mix of deep strategy, reading your opponent and absolutely luck based combat and healing gives me those weird feelings of i really like the game but can’t play seriously because it would end in rage. You know what i’m talking about once you had your whole strategy set up and everything going to plan but then this one dice roll destroys everything.

    Your experience?


    I’ve not played it, but it does look very cool.

    Sounds similar to my experience with Summoner Wars, but on a much bigger scale. Always going to happen when you throw random chance into a strategy game.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

    Universal Head

    I haven’t played it, though I did have a good look at it at one stage. I think I was turned off by the fact that it was one of those games that the players really have to get to know in great detail before getting the most of it. Since I flit from game to game so much, I could see it not getting the dedication it required.

    I usually don’t mind a lucky die roll changing everything, as I’m such a crap strategist as a rule anyway!




    I. Love. This. Game.


    It’s in my top “Games I Play” category. To me it’s a blend of Magic: TG, Miniatures combat, and D&D.

    It’s Magic in that you’re building a spellbook and deciding what tools are at your disposal. BUT unlike Magic you can bring them out any turn you want – no luck of the draw.

    More than Magic though it is mostly a minis combat game (in my opinion). You’re building your army (spellbook) and bringing them onto the table. They may be creatures, conjurations/structures, or spells.

    It’s D&D in feel (to a slight degree) – you’re mages beating each other up.

    I love the mechanics – it has a very simple system (but it does appear complex at first glance). But once you get the turn order and steps down it flows well. The complexity is in figuring out the traits/keywords. Most are straightforward and any that aren’t you simply look up in the codex.

    It’s a favorite at our shop. We’ve grown from one player (me) in January to about 18 in the shop. I run weekly events and we consistently have 6-8 people showing up. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

    I love that you can do what you want with it. That includes building out the starter books in the core set and just keep playing those as a static game. There are enough options in there so the games don’t (or shouldn’t) get boring. Or you can go crazy and build them up from scratch.

    Did I mention I love this game? 🙂

    Universal Head

    Well, you certainly make it sound worth looking into! Don’t you need to invest quite a bit of time into it to get the most out of it? I mean, it’s not really a casual ‘let’s have a game we haven’t played this for a while’ kind of game is it? You have to know your spell decks pretty well – or are there recommended decks you can start with?

    I aslo got the impression there’s lots of ‘flipping through your binder to find the right card’ going on. How many cards are in a game deck?


    I do think that it is a game both of you (Universal Head and Wonder Slug) would enjoy.

    And to answer your questions:
    Yes, there are pre-made spellbooks for each of the mages included. There are also “apprentice” spellbooks which are used in your first or some plays and have less cards in them (this is also played on just half the board). It’s fun to learn the game that way. You don’t have too many cards (and none of the more complex ones) and a small arena to make a quick battle. One spellbook consists of about 55 cards. But once you start creating your own that number can change quite a bit.
    You can of course sort the spells in your book by type, which will have you flipping through it less to find something you want (a creature for example). Also you have to choose two spells at the beginning of each turn and take them out of your book. These two are the only spells you can use during that turn. So you wont be flipping through your book the whole time, only in the planning phase.

    Still in your first play (or even more) you will do a lot of flipping and reading the cards because you have no idea what you can do, what a good decision is and what not. The rules and overall mechanic are very intuitive though. Everything works the way you think it should. Turns are interesting because players switch after each action. So it’s a lot of quick reacting (which is of course limited by having to choose two spells for each turn. You’ll have to predict and plan ahead a lot)

    Overall i’d say it has a very steep learning curve. Hitting you with all those things you first have to know. But once you played it and read everything you already reached the plateau of that curve. So even when you only play it once every few months, you still know what things you are able to do.

    Universal Head

    I must admit there are still some aspects to that that don’t grab me (I’m a bit burnt out on games with lots of cards with different abilities on them at the moment—the miniature tabletop battles world is a prime offender), but your enthusiasm is convincing, so I’ll check it out!


    It does actually feel like a minis game to a great part, just that the minis are represented by cards.

    No matter how you see it; there is no other game which makes you feel like a real wizard as Mage Wars does.


    The game scales to what you want to do with it. With just the core set you can build four complete spellbooks – one for each mage. Until I feel like customizing I leave those intact to teach people. You can also go with the apprentice books which are just smaller versions of the starters.

    The apprentice books are well balanced and fun. They promote more of an aggressive style as they’re played on half the board.

    But, you UH’s point, yes there is a time investment. Like any army or deck you build you have to understand what it does and how it works. Mage Wars consists of the following spell types:

    Creatures – pretty straight forward.

    Conjurations – stuff that stays on the battlefield that’s not a creature. Walls, towers, barracks, magical artifacts, and creatures. Yes there are some creature conjurations. Right now I think they’re mostly plants though.

    Enchantments – As in Magic, these are “permanent” spells that stay on an object. All things in Mage Wars is an object – creature, conjuration, the mage. Unlike magic the enchantments have multiple functions – buff, debuff, and counter spells. Yes, your counterspells need to be pre-planned and placed on objects. The surprise is the reveal. All enchantments cost 2 to cast and go on an object face down. The cost to reveal depends on the enchantment itself. Reveals can happen in between any step. This goes back to the mechanics of the game and understanding that all turns are just a series of steps.

    Attacks – Straightforward attack spells. Cast them and they’re gone (unless bound to an object).

    Equipment – Stuff for the mage to wear. It’s important to look your best.

    Incantations – These would be the equivalent of a sorcery in Magic. Spells that you cast and then they’re gone (unless bound to an object). They do all kinds of things.

    Figuring out what these do and how they interact is the time investment. The apprentice books are a good way to get a feel for the game. They have everything except conjurations, one mage has conjurations in their apprentice book. Then you add spells to the apprentice book and you have the pre-made starter.

    The nice thing about Mage Wars is that the core set is only about $45 US. That’s a ton of game in the that box. If you bought 2 core sets (for a lot of spellbook building) and every expansion it’s around $200 US. That’s not bad.

    Also, coming out (hopefully) early next year will be Mage Wars Academy. They take the four core set mages back to their younger days. Simpler spells and spellbooks. The arena board is only slated to be 3 squares and it’s designed to be a fast play, simple version (think magic). Supposedly all academy spells will be compatible with mage wars and most mage wars spells will be compatible with academy. So you can customize but you don’t have to.

    They also have a modular board coming out with alternate scenarios and win conditions. Really looking forward to that.

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