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Arcane Wonders Mage Wars Game
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- Mage Wars pits powerful Mages against each other in deadly arena combat
- Great strategy game with tons of replay value
- For 2-6 players
- Takes about 90 minutes to play
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CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
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Mage Wars is the customizable strategy game of dueling mages. Players take on the role of powerful mages, stepping into the arena to battle for supremacy. Mage Wars is a unique genre-breaking concept, combining the best elements of customizable card games and tactical miniature games. Players can play as a Wizard, Warlock, Beastmaster or Priestess; each with their own unique strategies and style of play. The game is fast-paced and exciting, with tough tactical decisions every turn. Players build their own custom spellbook, with over 300 spells to choose from! The game is not collectible – players have equal access to the same spells. There is no random card drawing – players choose exactly which spells to cast, when they want to cast them! This allows for an unprecedented level of rich strategy and tactics. Summon powerful creatures into the battle, hurl lightning bolts and fireballs, adorn yourself with mighty weapons and armor, or lay a network of hidden enchantments to take your foe by surprise. All of this and more awaits you in the arena of Mage Wars! With subtle strategies and diabolical surprises, the balance of power can shift each round, keeping the game exciting and victory unpredictable. Future expansions will offer new mages, spells, and strategies! Very important: Mage Wars is customizable, but not collectible. Everything you need to play is in the box, and players can carefully choose just the expansions they want.
From the Manufacturer
What would it be like for Mages of vastly different schools and philosophies of magic to come together in an arena and fight to the death? How would an Illusionist battle a Druid? Or a Warlock fight a Beastmaster? Or a Priestess fare against a Wizard? Each Mage uses his own fully-customizable book of spells to achieve total victory over his opponent. Summon mighty creatures to do battle in your name, cast powerful spells to attack your foe and thwart his every plan and strategy, use hidden enchantments to turn the tables and rule the day, adorn yourself with mighty weapons, armor, and arcane artifacts – all of this and more awaits you in the arena of Mage Wars. Mage Wars is a tactical board game, a combination of a card game and miniatures game, combining the best elements from each genre. The game is played on an arena game board divided into square areas called "zones", which regulate movement and the placement of objects.
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|Shipping||$13.95||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Sold By||Noble Knight Games, Inc.||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com|
|Is Assembly Required||No||No||No||No|
|Number of Pieces||1||1||550||—|
|Number of Players||2||2||8||2|
Top customer reviews
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THEN, Mage Wars came around. The best way to describe Mage Wars (for me anyway) is like this:
Magic: The Gathering + Strategic Movement - Random Hand Draws = Awesomeness Incarnate.
And there's unicorns. So it's got that going for it.
Really, I think that as a simulation of a magical duel to the death, Mage Wars is actually superior to M:TG in a lot of ways.
First, that strategic movement thing I mentioned. In Magic, I would "tap to attack with Force of Nature (8/8 Trample)" and then the defender would choose to block with one or more of his creatures, or just take the damage. In Mage Wars, I need to get my Wizard or my summoned creature right up in my opponent's face or at least in range before I can attack. That might mean that I teleport myself into his zone, or that I force-push him through his own wall of fire into range of my Hydra. The strategic element of unit placement adds a level of depth to the duel that Magic lacked.
Next, the Spellbooks! I LOVED building a deck in Magic. I frequently played Green/Black and there was always a TON of potential styles to play and more cards to add variety so that every game would be different. Mage Wars has SOME of that, but not quite as much variety yet. First, there is a soft limit as to which schools each Mage can choose from. My Wizard, for example can use spells from the Arcane school and one of the four Elemental schools for their face value. But he can also use spells from all 8 other schools as well, it will just cost him more "points" to add them to his spellbook. So there's a balancing force at work, where I could have lots of spells from every school, but they will take up more "space" in my spellbook than if I stick to my preferred schools. It is a flexible system that works well. And each Mage has their own special skills, so they play differently regardless of which schools of magic they use. I think that as the card selection is fleshed out, Mage Wars will come close to M:TG in terms of depth and variety.
Another important point about the spellbooks: you don't choose spells at random. So there is never a time when you would be able to save yourself "if only I could get THIS card" that happens to be at the bottom of the deck. At the beginning of each turn, you choose two spells to cast during your turn, so you have to plan ahead and try to consider what your opponent might be doing as well. This makes much more sense to me thematically than just choosing spells at random. It seems reasonable to me that a powerful wizard would be able to cast any of his or her spells whenever they want, not just some random collection of all the spells they have mastered. In this sense, I think Mage Wars does a great job of making the player feel like they really are the character, each turn is tense and exciting.
But it's not all Rainbow Bridges and Fairy Kisses in Mage Wars. The game is pretty hard to get into at first. The sheer number of things happening by turn 5 or 6 means that there is a multitude of creatures on the board, and they all need your attention to attend to various effects and statuses and tokens. My Flying Gorgon is on fire and has 6 damage already, so do I waste a Jet Stream spell to put out the fire or just hope that it goes out by itself? Meanwhile my Gremlin is about to get killed by a skeleton so should I heal him or have him teleport to the other side of that wall of flame? Every round has you trying to out-maneuver your opponent and keep your various pets and familiars alive long enough to kill that annoying jerk in the other corner. Upkeep can cause the game to drag a bit as you try to keep track of all the damage, mana, and status counters on the board at any given moment.
It's not a small game either. With M:TG I could carry around a couple of decks with me at all times, but with Mage Wars you really need some dedicated fans and quite a bit of space around which to plan your play sessions. I am fortunate to have a built in group of friends and family who share my particular brand of dueling-mage nerdiness, but some folks might not be so lucky.
Overall, Mage Wars is a solid niche game. It's not for everyone, but it is unabashedly awesome at being exactly what it is: An awesome simulation of an arena-style spell-slinging duel to the death. If that is what you are looking for, then I hope that you will give Mage Wars a try - I'm confident that you will enjoy it as much as I do!
The general idea of the game is that each player is a mage, a powerful creature that casts spells in order to try to defeat the opposing mage. This is done in an arena, playing mat with 4x3 rectangles. Each mage starts in an opposite corner and then all hell breaks loose. Creatures will be summoned, attacks will be cast, curses and other enchantments will be played; all in an attempt to inflict damage to the other mage.
This game is essentially a deckbuilding, dice-rolling, strategic movement game. Each player builds a spellbook of ANY card they want. If you want a card in your deck, you can have it. You can be a Holy Priestess and have some Demons in your deck if you want. Sure, it'll cost a bit more to put them in there, but the point is, you can do it IF YOU WANT. This is FANTASTIC.
The other great thing about this game is that you can play any card whenever you want, as long as you have the mana necessary. This isn't like other deckbuilders where you are depending on drawing that ONE card that will help you win the game, but then never do. This is a game where that option is always available to you. You can choose to play any card out of your spellbook on your turn. This makes outthinking your opponent a huge aspect of this game. It's like chess, you want to try to think a few turns ahead of your opponent.
That's what is so beautiful about this game. There is so much variety. No two decks will ever be the same. There will always be something different.
Gameplay: 10/10 The gameplay is fantastic and highly enjoyable. You need to really think and strategize to win, which is a good thing. The game is very balanced and there is nothing that cannot be defeated.
Component quality- 9/10 They are awesome. The cards, spellbooks, and pieces are all beautiful and well-made.
Enjoyment- 9/10. This game is very very fun. Who doesn't like being a powerful mage who summons creatures and casts spells? Everyone likes that, duh.
Length- Games can be very long, especially when first learning how to play. The box says it takes 90 minutes to play, but when first learning, it can take as much as 3 hours to play a game. Especially if somebody is using the Priestess (she likes to turtle up and heal stuff, which means it takes longer to kill her).
Complexity- Well, that isn't the right word. The game isn't COMPLEX, however, there is a LOT of stuff. There are many attributes that creatures can have and status effects that can be inflicted. Expect to be opening up the rulebook a lot when first learning to play. Thankfully, there is a Codex in the back that has everything in alphabetical order, making it very easy to find what you are looking for.
So for those of you who are still interested, here is the longer review.
As mentioned before, this is a game where two mages are fighting in an arena to see which will come out victorious. You are armed only with your spellbook; a collection of creatures, attacks, enchantments, incantations, equipment, and conjurations that you can cast in order to help defeat the opponent. This base set comes with 322 cards from which you can build your spellbooks, so there is plenty of variety.
The Mages are all fundamentally different from one another, but each have a certain amount of health, channeling (how much mana you gain at the beginning of each round), and a point value that determines how many points you have to spend on your spellbook. As of now, all the mages have 120 points to spend on cards. All cards have a cost value which represents how many points it costs to place them in your spellbook.
Speaking of the spellbooks, they are beautifully done. Some people have reported issues with them, probably as a result of damage during shipping, but the Mage Wars team at Arcane Wonders is fantastic when it comes to Customer Service. They will express ship anything to you that is messed up. Their team is great. You will build your spellbook by selecting cards you think you might want to use during the battle, and placing them in the book.
Each game round consists of two stages, the ready stage and the action stage, each of which are then further broken down into more phases.
This is the stage that takes place before any movement and attacks actually occur. It is broken down into 6 smaller phases.
1) Initiative phase: At the beginning of the game, each player will roll the d12. The person who rolled the highest gets initiative, which allows him to act first in all events. After the first round, the initiative marker gets passed to the next player during this phase. This way the person who acts first switches every round.
2) Reset phase: This is the phase where all markers are flipped back to their active side.
3) Channel phase: During this phase, you gain mana equal to you channeling. Also, any other cards that channel mana add mana equal to their channeling to themselves as well.
4) Upkeep phase: This is the phase where you must pay upkeep costs and resolve some conditions, such as burns and regeneration. Some cards have upkeep associated with them, which is how much mana you must pay each upkeep phase to keep the spell active. If you cannot pay the cost, or choose not to, the spell is then destroyed.
5) Planning: This is one of the most important phases of the game. During this phase, each mage selects up to two cards from their spellbook and places them face down in front of them. These are the only two cards the mage will be able to use that turn. If, for some reason, you do not cast both (or any) spells that round, do not worry. They aren't destroyed, they are simply returned to your spellbook and can be used on another turn. Some spells are called spawnpoints, and have the ability to summon creatures during the deployment phase. For each of these spawnpoints, ONE spell may be placed face down next to the spawnpoint.
6) Deployment: This is the phase where spawnpoints are able to summon creatures. The player with initiative goes first, and may cast the spell assigned to the chosen spawnpoint.
This is the stage where most of the Mage Wars game takes place. It is during this phase that your Mage may cast and resolve the two spells chosen for him/her that turn, or move around the board, and is also the phase where creatures on the board get to move around and attack.There are 3 phases within this stage.
1) First quickcast phase: Each creature on the board (including the Mage) has an action marker. However, along with that, each Mage has a quickcast marker. Each spell in this game is either a fullcast spell or a quickcast spell, which will be indicated on the card. During this quickcast phase, each Mage, starting with the one who has initiative, may choose to cast one quickcast spell if they desire. This is done before any other creatures make any actions.
2) Action phase: As always, the player with initiative goes first. During this phase, the person with initiative will activate one creature and either move, attack, or do something else with it. Then their opponent will do the same thing with one creature. It will keep going back and forth like this until there are no more actions that can be done by either player.
3) Final quickcast phase: After all creatures have done their action phases, Mages have one last opportunity to quickcast a spell if they did not do so in the first quickcast phase.
This is the basis of how each round works. There are a few details that I left our, but this is the general idea.
Possibly the most important aspect of the game, the spells you choose to place in your spellbook are essential to defeating your opponent. There are 6 different types of spells. Choose what to put in your spellbook wisely my friends. Each spell has a different cost associated with it that deals with how many points it takes to place it into your spellbook, and each also has a mana cost that determines how much mana must be paid to cast it.
1) Creatures: These spells bring a creature into the arena to defend and fight for you. When a creature is summoned, it receives an action marker which is flipped upside down. This means it cannot do anything until the following round. Each creature will have a specified amount of armor and health and will have an attack or two. If a creature takes as much, or more, damage compared to how much life it has, then the creature is destroyed.
2) Conjurations: These spells creature an object in the arena, such as a wall or spawnpoint. Spawnpoints can be used to summon additional creatures. Walls are placed in the border between two zones instead of just completely in one zone. These can be used to block passage between the two zones, or possibly make an attack on a creature that passes through it.
3) Enchantments: Enchantments are the only cards in the game that are played face down. When played, the Mage casting it must pay a casting cost of 2 mana. Then, when the enchantment is revealed, they must pay an additional cost. Enchantments can be cast on a creature, or in a zone, depending on the card. They can do many different things, give armor, increase life, do one damage each turn to host, etc.
4) Equipment: Equipment spells can only be cast on a mage. They can do many things as well. Some will increase armor, while others will give special abilities that can be used each turn.
5) Incantations: Incantation spells are one-time use spells that are discarded after being used. They can do many things as well.
6) Attacks: These spells let the caster attack an object with that has a life amount. The spell will specify how many attack dice to roll and any special effects that may occur.
During combat, you are attempting to destroy an object on the playing field that has an amount of life. Each creature has an attack bar that will specify how strong the attack is and any special effects that are associated with the attack. To make an attack, dice are rolled. The amount of dice depends on the strength of the attack.
The attack dice has 5 different outcomes. 2 sides have a blank. This means that no damage was done for this die. One side has a normal 1 value, and one has a normal 2 value. This means that 1 or 2 normal damage was done, respectively. On the other two sides are either a "starburst" 1 or 2. This means that either 1 or 2 critical damage was done, respectively. Critical damage is good because it bypasses armor. Normal damage gets reduced by armor.
Let's say you rolled 3 normal damage and 1 critical damage, and that the creature you were attacking has two armor. The one critical damage bypasses all the armor, but the armor cancels out two normal damage. This means that two damage was done to the creature.
This is the basis of how combat works. It is a bit more complicated that this, but you'll have to buy the game and play it to figure that out.
There are four different mages in this base set.
Beastmaster- Specializes in nature spells and creatures like foxes and bobcats. The main strategy with the Beastmaster is to swarm your opponent. He has many low-cost creatures that are easy to get out. His abilities also lend themselves to this strategy very much, but I won't spoil them.
Wizard- Specializes in arcane spells. Can employ a variety of strategies, but one common one is to use his mana drain spells and creatures to steal mana from the opposing mage and prevent them from summoning any powerful creatures.
Warlock- Specializes in dark and fire spells. Kinda a "burn deck" that focuses on the burn status effect, which can inflict damage each upkeep phase. Also commands demons meant to incinerate your opponents.
Priestess- Kinda the opposite of the Warlock, she is trained in the Holy school and focuses on healing herself and her creatures. She can also summon angels that smite their enemies with their holy power.
This game is fantastic, it does everything right. The only thing that I could see turning people away from this game is the length to play and the amount of attributes and characteristics involved in the game. However, despite this, Mage Wars is an extremely enjoyable, infinitely replayable game, well worth every dollar spent on it.
12/10. Beyond perfect.