Monday, March 28, 2016

Introducing Mage Wars: the Ultimate Modular Fantasy Card-Combat System

     Over a year ago I got into a really cool customizable strategy card game called Mage Wars Academy. The basic premise is that you're a mage-in-training nearing the end of your studies, and in order to graduate you have to defeat another mage in magical combat.
     The game is divided into "rounds". Every round, each mage gets a certain amount of mana to cast spells. Mages can do all sorts of magical shit, like attacking, summoning creatures, equipping themselves with things like weapons or armor, enchanting stuff and casting incantations for temporary effects.
     Each mage has its own stats and abilities. There are two different mages in the core set that you can play: the Wizard and the Beastmaster. The Wizard is a flexible researcher and a trickster who tends to have a controlling playstyle and often likes to use mana denial and metamagic (magic that affects magic, think counterspells) The Beastmaster tends to be a more aggressive mage. He likes to summon animals to fight for him and powers them up with all sorts of cool enchantments.
     Unlike other spell-slinging card games, Mage Wars Academy gives you access to all the cards in your deck for the entire game. No shuffling or luck of the draw, so games depend more on strategy and tactics and only a very small amount of luck.
     It's also very affordable. Compared to collectible card games like Magic: the Gathering in which a single tournament-viable deck almost always costs at least $300, in Mage Wars Academy you can make a lot of different viable decks with just the core set and two expansions. The core set costs only $30, while each expansion costs half that (although some of the cards you'll probably have to reuse for more than one deck).
     The game's first two expansions are for the Warlock and the Priestess, and they came out last year. The Mage Wars Academy core set came out the year before that.
     The Academy expansions after the Priestess and the Warlock are going to be the Warlord and the Forcemaster. The Forcemaster was prereleased at origins this year and is like a cross between a Jedi from Star Wars and a psionic from dungeons and dragons. She has psychic and telekinetic powers, and she tends to use fewer creatures than other mages. I really want to get the Forcemaster in Mage Wars Academy, since the Forcemaster is one of my favorite mages to play in Mage Wars Arena. The Academy warlord has not been prereleased or even previewed yet, but the Arena warlord likes to summon soldiers and buff them with command spells, while also supporting them with Earth spells too.
     Oh yes, that's right. There are two different Mage Wars games. One of them is called Mage Wars Academy, which is a smaller, faster, more portable wizard-dueling card game with less powerful cards than Arena, which was released over a year ago.
The other is Mage Wars Arena, which is also a wizard-dueling game, but it's a lot like a miniature wargame except that it uses cards instead of miniatures. Arena has a board with 12 zones, and creatures (including your mage) can move around in it. (Academy has only one zone.) Also, Mage Wars Arena has a much larger cardpool (currently over 700 cards including Academy cards) than Mage Wars Academy (114 cards in the core set and first two expansions combined). Arena was released in the summer of 2012.
I've been playing Mage Wars Arena since the summer of 2013, and I started playing Academy soon after it came out towards the end of 2015. Both Mage Wars Arena and Mage Wars Academy are amazing games.
     Well, if you want to get technical about it, Academy and Arena are not quite separate games. Academy is too different from Arena to be a variant format, but it's too similar to be a completely different and separate game.
     Mage Wars is essentially a highly modular fantasy-combat system. Many of the rules, the arena, and the cardpool can be changed in all sorts of ways to have pretty much any kind of magical duel that you want.
     Also, just in case you were wondering, Academy cards can be used in Arena, but Arena cards cannot be used in Academy.

For those of you who are interested in learning to play Mage Wars Academy, you can find out more here:

For those who are interested in learning to play Mage Wars Arena, you can find out more here: 

Expect me to talk more about Mage Wars in future posts. A lot more. :P

One more thing, before I forget: I do not own Mage Wars. Mage Wars is owned by Arcane Wonders.


Updated and reposted in 2017. So ignore the original posting date

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