Mage Wars demo night

So it has been a bit quiet on this blog recently. I haven’t had anything of real interest to share as of late hence the lack of activity. I’ve been working on transitioning from primarily miniature based gaming to more card and board games and so what gaming I have done has had a slight hint of melancholy about it.

One game that I recently picked up that I have been quite happy to find is Mage Wars by Arcane Wonders. The game is a hybrid board/card game where you take control of a spellcaster in an arena fighting to the death against an opposing mage using your spells to summon creatures, equipment, enchantments and attacks spells to overcome your foe and the creatures they summon. The game is like a fantasy skirmish miniature game but you use the stat cards for your miniatures. It has the same feel as a skirmish miniature game but with a focus on spellcasting and spell effects instead of movement, morale and command.

The Crits Happen site has a great four-part gameplay video and the Mage Wars site has some introductory videos as well. Even better, you can download the rulebook for free and check it out while you watch the videos.

Tonight Rob and I met up at Myth Games to have a demo using the Apprentice spellbooks from the game and we both had a fabulous time. Rob played the Warlock and I played the Beastmaster and the game ended with Rob succumbing to a Rot effect that was placed on him by an Emerald Tegu creature that I summoned. Rob walked out with a copy of his own and both of us were really impressed by the flexibility of the game.

Some of the high points of the system

1) Alternating activations. I am always a fan of AA games and this is no exception. You never know what your opponent is going to activate first and what they are going to do and your plan for the turn can fall apart based on their actions. This becomes even more tactical as the number of creatures on the board goes up. In our game tonight I cast Tanglevines on Rob’s Warlock and he kept ignoring it and attacking my creatures. I expected him to destroy it and come after my Beastmaster but he continued to not do the expected thing and I kept having to react to him each turn

2) Multiple options for games. The game has 300+ spells so it is easy to change the way your mage plays each time you go out. You and your opponent have an incredible number of options when it comes to building the spellbook for your mage and so every game can be dramatically different. Even if you have the same spell book from one game to the next the way the game plays out each time is going to vary greatly and so the same core spells can be played in different orders reacting to different conditions.

3) Simple yet flexible rules. The core rules are quite simple. The detail comes in the spell cards, how they interact with the creatures and other spells and how they create opportunities.

All during the course of the game tonight I had plans foiled, opportunities present themselves with new spells. Rob cast a Bat creature and then used the Guard ability to make it so my creatures would have to attack the puny Bat instead of the Warlock. Rob had done this previously to ensure that my highly enchanted Timber Wolf wasn’t able to charge him immediately but this time I was able to cast an attack spell that, as an effect, pushed the Bat out of the zone the Warlock was in and made it possible for all of my creatures to put the bite on Rob’s Warlock.

Despite the back and forth of the game I never felt as if I was stuck or in an untenable position. Even with the smaller spell books we used there were always options, always plans and sadly my opponent had the same options and plans available as well :-)

I knew that I was going to like the game but I was really surprised by just how much fun I had playing it and I suspect that it is going to become a mainstay of my gaming for some time.