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Monday, September 24, 2012

Mage Wars: A Quick Review

Mage Wars released last week. I picked up a copy out of curiosity as I hadn't heard a lot about it. It's a pretty fun game. Plays a lot like Summoner Wars or Warhammer Invasion without card drawing. It reminds me a lot of MTG from the 90's. It also includes lists for sample starter decks that I currently have built for demo purposes, but I think the game really unlocks once people can customize their stuff.

The basic premise of the game is that it's a card game, and plays a lot like MTG. However, cards take positions on a simple 4x3 layout battlefield, and have ranges and line of sight like a tactical miniatures game.

This is the board used. As you can see, it's quite large.

Unlike most other games in this genre, you don't shuffle up and draw cards. You have access to your entire deck, and you pick which spells you want each turn. Each turn, you secretly select two spells to have access to that turn. You can cast one or both of them. If unused, they go back into you're spellbook. If you cast them, they are spent for the rest of the game.

Spellbook in action. Note that the card pockets fit sleeved cards!

 There's six different types of cards. You have creatures that you summon to the battlefield to fight for you. Conjurations are like structures that you build/summon. Anything from magical power sources to stone walls. Equipment lets your mage get into the fight himself. Enhancements either buff your allies or debuff your opponent. You pay half their cost upfront, placing them facedown on the target, and pay the rest when you reveal the spell. Incantations are general utility spells...from heals to teleports. And direct damage is pretty self explanatory...

From top left to bottom right, you have creatures,conjurations, equipment, enchantments, incantations, and direct damage spells. 
Combat uses a dice system. Attacks generally roll from 2-6 red combat dice, which can either miss, do damage, or do critical damage. Critical damage cannot be avoided with armor. Some attacks also roll the yellow D12 to see if they proc a secondary effect - a fireball causing long-term burning for example. 

The dice rolled. The damage dice is a d6 with two blanks, 1 damage, 2 damage, 1 critical damage, and two critical damage (not pictured)
Like all good Euro games, you get a nice like board with cubes to keep track of the vitals.

Board used to keep track of your current mana (resource to cast spells), channeling (how much mana you get a turn), and your max health/damage taken.

Hugely important to me, everything fits back in the box, included sleeved cards!

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