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Drive Thru Mage Wars: Forged in Fire

Forged in fire

Mage Wars: Forged in Fire introduces two alternate Mages with unique abilities — the Adramelech Warlock and the Warlord of the Anvil Throne — to Mage Wars, and it includes multiple copies of the 41 new spells featured in this set, such as the legendary “Sersiryx” and the “Harshforge Monolith”.

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Mage Wars by Arcane Wonders Review

Mage Wars

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?

Mage Wars pits powerful Mages against each other in deadly arena combat. 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. Each Mage (player) starts in a corner of the arena, opposite his enemy.

Each player holds a spellbook, from which spell cards are pulled out as they are cast during the game. This has the feel of being a real Mage, turning the pages of your tome of magic, as you plan your strategy each turn. A point system allows you to choose spells for your spellbook, with more powerful spells and spells outside your schools of training costing more points. You have full access to cast any spell you want each turn, allowing for an unprecedented level of rich strategy and tactics. Many of these spells – such as creatures, equipment, and enchantments – are placed on the board and become objects in the game. Creatures can move around the arena, and attack each other and the enemy Mage. Attacks deal damage, as well as interesting special effects such as Burn, Corrode, Stun, Daze, Push, Cripple, Paralyze, etc. Creatures can be destroyed when they receive too much damage, or can be controlled by powerful curses and enchantments, or contained by walls and other creatures.

Every Mage comes from a different school of magic, each with unique spells and strategies:

  • The Beastmaster will try to rush and swarm the enemy with his hordes of animals, buffed by his nature enchantments.
  • The Warlock will go right for the throat, armed with his powerful Lash of Hellfire, Helm of Fear, and Demonhide Armor. Along the way to the enemy Mage he’ll use his curses and fire attacks to contain and destroy enemy creatures.
  • The Wizard is a trickster, a master of meta-magic: countering, stealing, redirecting, and destroying enemy spells and mana. He’s also a master of teleportation and portals/gates.
  • The Priestess will defend with knights and angels, and powerful healing and protection spells. She’ll wear down the enemy, then overwhelm them in the end.

The base game comes with all you need to get started: spellbooks, extra spells to customize with the spellbooks, arena game board, dice, markers, etc.

New Mages will be released every few months to add new spells, powers, and variety to the game. The game is NOT collectible, but is fully customizable!

~ Arcane Wonders

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Hanabi (2d6 Exclusive Content)

hanabi-box-1

 

 

Designer:            Antoine Bauza

Publisher:           Asmodee (2010)

 

Hanabi may be a small game that hides inconspicuously on your shelf, but its shadow of popularity and awards dwarfs that of even the largest Fantasy Flight coffin box games of yore.  This deck of 50 cards is the Spiel Des Jahres winner of 2013, a formidable award that has been given to titans such as Carcassonne and Dominion.  Does this tiny combatant stand up to its accolades?  10 years from now will everyone and their mother still be holding firework cards up against their foreheads like a drunken Japanese version of Headbandz?

There are two primary strong points in Antoine Bauza’s design, the first being it is a cooperative card game, and the second being the fact that your hand of cards is visible to everyone at the table but yourself.  The former is a less an innovation and more a cool little twist as cooperative games built on such simplicity are difficult to find.  The latter is why this game is being lauded and it absolutely is a stellar and game-changing mechanic that is difficult to fathom how it took until 2010 for someone to come up with.  It is such a simple and elegant mechanism that just works, and works well.

So you’re holding this hand of cards up so that everyone else at the table can see them so that you can give each other clues about both the number and color on the card.  The point of the game is to blindly play cards from your backwards hand, although cards can only be played if they are a 1 or they are the next consecutive number for their given color (i.e. you can play a White 3 if the White 2 is the highest played White card on the table).  You are also only able to play a 1 if the color has not yet been played on the table, this is important because there are duplicates of most cards.

 

hanabi-components

 

The deck itself functions as a timer for the game and it clocks in at roughly 15 minutes.  The pacing is excellent and it does not feel too long or too short for the weight of the decisions involved.  The difficulty of the game arises through the limited scope and quantity of clues the group may exchange.  Small clock tokens form resource and represent clues you may give to other players.  Clues consist of pointing at one or more cards in another player’s hand, and telling them that all of the cards are the same number (and what that number is) or the same color (and what that color is).  You can regain clue tokens by discarding cards, in which case the card will never re-enter the game.  The only other niggle is that you are allowed two incorrect card plays, the third meaning you all lose.

Hanabi sounds interesting, it’s perfectly paced, and it allows you to get in a cooperative game as a filler; so what’s the problem?  The problem is that no one is actually playing Hanabi.  If I was unaware of the meaning behind this game’s name, I would likely come to the conclusion that Hanabi is an ancient Chinese word for dirty cheater.  Nearly every group I have played this with gives out extra hints and clues beyond what the rules allow.  You want the Drunken Japanese Headbandz Cheat Guide for Dummies?

-Wince noticeably and sigh when a player slowly selects a card from their hand to play or discard (“Ugh, not that one!”)

-Ask the player what he knows about his cards before giving a clue (“So you know those three cards you are holding cock-eyed are red, right?”)

-Repeat clues already given to players if they look like they’ve forgotten them (“Hmm, Jeremy you do know those two cards at opposite sides of your hand are the same color don’t you?  Ben told you five minutes ago, remember?”)

Many people cheat accidentally as the game requires a great deal of discipline to keep a blank face.  Worse yet, the game is less fun (although much more strategic) if you play strictly by the rules and only give clues as outlined.  The rules do offer the option to be loose with clues in the variants section but it clearly breaks down the structure of the game and makes it more of an activity (oh no, the dreaded “A” word) rather than a game of sorts.

 

pic1769961_md

The beautiful deluxe edition is quite impressive.

 

I can ultimately live with the cheating.  What is more aggravating is the fact that game does not stand up to repeated plays with the same group of people.  You will start to give clues and place cards in ways that form a pattern of sorts, a shared understanding between team members.  The game pushes you towards this learned behavior as the metagame and ability to score in high increments practically requires it.  Because of this the game loses its charm after several plays with your group and that spark begins to fade a bit.  The game still remains fun, but you find yourselves scoring higher and higher due to assumptions and shared understandings rather than actual meaningful clues.  It feels like this is baked into the game on purpose and I find it grating as it mars the reputation of an otherwise clever and concise card game.

Hanabi is absolutely worth playing a few times.  The mechanics are borderline ingenious and the package is streamlined in a way that will make even Love Letter envious.  I imagine we will be seeing an evolution of this mechanic from other designers in the future, improvements based on Bauza’s exceptional spark of creativity.  I do however caution – don’t get too attached to this one as it will burn and then fizzle out almost instantaneously akin to its explosive brethren dotting the sky.

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Starlit Citadel Reviews Mage Wars

Mage Wars

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?

Mage Wars pits powerful Mages against each other in deadly arena combat. 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. Each Mage (player) starts in a corner of the arena, opposite his enemy.

Each player holds a spellbook, from which spell cards are pulled out as they are cast during the game. This has the feel of being a real Mage, turning the pages of your tome of magic, as you plan your strategy each turn. A point system allows you to choose spells for your spellbook, with more powerful spells and spells outside your schools of training costing more points. You have full access to cast any spell you want each turn, allowing for an unprecedented level of rich strategy and tactics. Many of these spells – such as creatures, equipment, and enchantments – are placed on the board and become objects in the game. Creatures can move around the arena, and attack each other and the enemy Mage. Attacks deal damage, as well as interesting special effects such as Burn, Corrode, Stun, Daze, Push, Cripple, Paralyze, etc. Creatures can be destroyed when they receive too much damage, or can be controlled by powerful curses and enchantments, or contained by walls and other creatures.

Every Mage comes from a different school of magic, each with unique spells and strategies:

  • The Beastmaster will try to rush and swarm the enemy with his hordes of animals, buffed by his nature enchantments.
  • The Warlock will go right for the throat, armed with his powerful Lash of Hellfire, Helm of Fear, and Demonhide Armor. Along the way to the enemy Mage he’ll use his curses and fire attacks to contain and destroy enemy creatures.
  • The Wizard is a trickster, a master of meta-magic: countering, stealing, redirecting, and destroying enemy spells and mana. He’s also a master of teleportation and portals/gates.
  • The Priestess will defend with knights and angels, and powerful healing and protection spells. She’ll wear down the enemy, then overwhelm them in the end.

The base game comes with all you need to get started: spellbooks, extra spells to customize with the spellbooks, arena game board, dice, markers, etc.

New Mages will be released every few months to add new spells, powers, and variety to the game. The game is NOT collectible, but is fully customizable!

~ Arcane Wonders

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Mage Wars (Video Review)

Mage Wars

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?

Mage Wars pits powerful Mages against each other in deadly arena combat. 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. Each Mage (player) starts in a corner of the arena, opposite his enemy.

Each player holds a spellbook, from which spell cards are pulled out as they are cast during the game. This has the feel of being a real Mage, turning the pages of your tome of magic, as you plan your strategy each turn. A point system allows you to choose spells for your spellbook, with more powerful spells and spells outside your schools of training costing more points. You have full access to cast any spell you want each turn, allowing for an unprecedented level of rich strategy and tactics. Many of these spells – such as creatures, equipment, and enchantments – are placed on the board and become objects in the game. Creatures can move around the arena, and attack each other and the enemy Mage. Attacks deal damage, as well as interesting special effects such as Burn, Corrode, Stun, Daze, Push, Cripple, Paralyze, etc. Creatures can be destroyed when they receive too much damage, or can be controlled by powerful curses and enchantments, or contained by walls and other creatures.

Every Mage comes from a different school of magic, each with unique spells and strategies:

  • The Beastmaster will try to rush and swarm the enemy with his hordes of animals, buffed by his nature enchantments.
  • The Warlock will go right for the throat, armed with his powerful Lash of Hellfire, Helm of Fear, and Demonhide Armor. Along the way to the enemy Mage he’ll use his curses and fire attacks to contain and destroy enemy creatures.
  • The Wizard is a trickster, a master of meta-magic: countering, stealing, redirecting, and destroying enemy spells and mana. He’s also a master of teleportation and portals/gates.
  • The Priestess will defend with knights and angels, and powerful healing and protection spells. She’ll wear down the enemy, then overwhelm them in the end.

The base game comes with all you need to get started: spellbooks, extra spells to customize with the spellbooks, arena game board, dice, markers, etc.

New Mages will be released every few months to add new spells, powers, and variety to the game. The game is NOT collectible, but is fully customizable!

~ Arcane Wonders

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