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Topics - sdougla2

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Strategy and Tactics / Domination Strategy Speculation
« on: June 20, 2015, 04:58:16 PM »
I haven't played Domination (or with any of the new cards) yet, but I can't help trying to analyze the new format and predicting strategic trends. Let me know what you think.

Here is my thinking so far:

In Domination, cards that specifically address mana economy will not be as strong. Games won't be able to go as long, so the long term mana advantage will be less significant. Plus setting yourself up to secure orbs will accomplish much the same thing while also directly contributing to a point victory and strengthening your defensive position with a stronger board position and the option for healing if you need it. I can see a spawnpoint + Meditation Amulet strategy working, but I have trouble justifying using Mana Crystals in Domination.

It's harder to predict the effect on the viability of action economy cards like Battle Forge, Fellella, and Lair than Mana Crystal. I expect creature spawnpoints to be relatively strong. Playing one will slow down securing your first orb by about a turn, but you should be able to make up for that with a stronger position later, particularly if you can secure multiple orbs and use them to generate the mana you need to keep a steady stream of creatures coming.

Whether aggression or control will be favored will depend largely on how easy it is to get at the other mage and how easy it is to get enough points to win through orbs. In general, having neutral creatures out, gumming up the board and hindering movement will tend to slow down aggression, and focus creature rushes on flying and elusive threats. Having other obstacles start out on the board will tend to hurt aggression further. In addition, a system that encourages early creatures for economic plays puts control in a stronger position to resist a creature rush. The ability of the orbs to grant healing means that it will be harder for an aggressive player to secure a kill against an opponent that controls multiple orbs, and the control player in this circumstance doesn't need to fully stabilize to win, they just need to hold onto those orbs and delay long enough.

That said, I expect most games of Domination to start with both players trying to secure an orb advantage. I anticipate that most games will end with one player conceding the point race and going for the enemy mage when it becomes clear that they will lose the points race.

Domination will encourage builds with multiple creatures in order to remove orb guardians and secure orbs. I expect this to strengthen ranged creatures and bows, since they can weaken orb guardians (whether the original neutral ones, or the ones your opponent uses to secure their orbs) without suffering from the counter attack, and the action will tend to be more spread out. Things certainly could spread out in a standard Arena match, but there are more incentives to spread out in Domination.

Position control will have additional uses, but it's hard to tell how much more important it will be. Regardless, mobility will be more important, and slow creatures like Darkfenne Hydra, Iron Golem, and Devouring Jelly will be weaker.

In terms of specific mages, I expect the Johktari Beastmaster and Bloodwave Warlords will be significantly stronger in Domination because they will always be able to take advantage of their Wounded Prey and Veteran abilities respectively, whereas in a standard Arena match, there were matchups where those abilities were marginal or even completely useless. In particular, I want to try a Bridge Troll opening with the Bloodwave Warlord. Veteran Bridge Trolls sound amazing.

I expect the Forcemaster to struggle a bit due to the lack of a strong creature base, though I'll have to try playing a few creatures with her and see how well she can secure orbs. Force Pull should be extremely helpful in Domination, but the high cost of solid creatures could easily prove crippling.

I expect Warlocks to play more creatures than in standard Arena. Pentagram should be getting a significant boost in Domination due to the earlier combat with neutral monsters and the addition of Sslak to the creature base. One of the reasons I haven't been enamored of Pentagram builds is the lack of a solid level 2 creature with strong defensive stats for it's cost. I haven't been impressed with Infernian Scourger in that role, but I can see Sslak being a reasonable choice, particularly with how well they work as orb guardians. Costing 2 less mana for the same stats minus counterstrike and and flame -2 leaves you in a better position to do something with your mage while pumping creatures out of the Pentagram. I don't expect to see Usslak coming out of the Pentagram because Dark Pact Slayer is much more spellbook efficient, and for only 2 more mana offers better synergy for either Warlock.

Strategy and Tactics / Opening Considerations
« on: November 07, 2014, 08:24:48 PM »
There are many strong opening options, but there are even more weak ones. I often see people making mistakes within the first 2 rounds of a game, so I thought it would be useful if I talked about what I consider in an opening.

Step 1: Deciding on an Economic Plan

First of all, you have to decide how much and what kind of economy you want to play. Do you want to play a pair of Mana Crystals? Do you want to use a Battle Forge to play discount rings? Do you want to use Lair + Meditation Amulet? Do you want to just use discount rings? There is a limit to how much economy you can safely get away with against aggressive opponents, so if you want to do more than 2 rounds of economy, you'll need contingency plans in case you need to divert from playing economy, but the first step in coming up with an opening is deciding on which economy you want to use. You can always get away with one round of economy, and you can get away with 2 rounds of economy in most circumstances. 3 rounds of economy is not something you can do every game, and if you want to try something of this nature (such as an Anvil Throne Warlord with Barracks, Battle Forge, and Meditation Amulet), you'll have to spend more time thinking about contingencies to deal with early aggression. Teleport/Divine Intervention turbo rush, Wall of Thorns -> push spam (especially against a Wizard because of Wizard's Tower), and attack spell spam being the things to look out for. Double move -> Lair can also be pretty threatening. Look out for opponents that double move on turn 1, especially if they don't cast much. Even against most aggressive openings, you won't be under much pressure until round 3.

You generally want to get your economy down first because of the large starting distance between you and your opponent, and cards that generate mana and actions are better the earlier you play them.

Mana Crystals/Flowers are good opening plays for builds that want to play many level 3+ creatures, creature Spawnpoints are good for builds that want to play many level 1-2 creatures, and Battle Forge is good for builds that are running relatively few creatures. A few of the more efficient Spawnpoints from a mana generation perspective are good at playing higher cost creatures, such as the Gate to Voltari.

Spawnpoints are more about generating an action advantage than a mana advantage. A Mana Crystal will break even faster than most Spawnpoints from a mana perspective, but a Spawnpoint lets you get creatures down without tying down your mage.

Once you have a rough idea of what kind of economy you want to play, you should optimize it as much as possible. Don't throw down just a Garrison Post turn 1, then play a Barracks turn 2. It's much better to play Barracks and Garrison Post on the first turn than to spread it out both from a mana generation and an action efficiency perspective. How can you increase your effective channeling as fast as possible, and take advantage of any discounts as efficiently as possible?

In terms of placement, you generally want to place Mana Crystals/Flowers as far away from the enemy as possible. Creature Spawnpoint placement varies quite a bit. The Barracks and Vine Tree should be placed in your starting corner because they both have ways of extending their range, and are relatively fragile against fire attacks. The Lair should be placed in either NC (near center) or FC (far center) depending on how aggressive the opponent is being, whether you want to play another card this round, and how aggressive you want to be. The Lair is extremely durable, and placing it in one of the central zones gives better board control and allows you to apply pressure more quickly and efficiently. The Temple of Asyra is a bit more fragile, and tends to be used in less aggressive strategies, so it should usually be placed in your starting corner or one zone away from that. I generally like to play the Gate to Voltari one zone away from my starting corner to get slightly better board control while still maintaining some distance between it and my opponent. I'm not really a fan of the Graveyard, Samara Tree, or Pentagram, and I'm not sure about optimal placement for them. The Battle Forge should be placed one zone from your starting zone for defensive openings and in NC or FC for aggressive openings. You want to make sure you'll have the reach for the Battle Forge to cast equipment on your mage, so keep the range of equipment in mind when placing it (0-2).

Don't Harmonize a Battle Forge. It's not worth it. I try to avoid using Harmonize in general. I only use it if it will make the difference between being able to consistently cast creatures with the Spawnpoint and not being able to cast creatures consistently. While it makes the Spawnpoint more mana efficient, it also makes it a much more tempting target for attacks.

Step 2 for Economic Openings: Defense and Counter Pressure

The next thing to consider for economic openings is defense and counter pressure. Cards that reduce incoming damage make early aggression much weaker. It's easy to plan for these types of things if you opened with a Battle Forge, as it can be used to play equipment that give Armor. Defenses are another possibility, but they tend to be expensive enough to disrupt your opening more than the cheap Armor equipment like Leather Gloves and Leather Boots. Brace Yourself is a cheap option that can fit into many openings that makes you much more resilient against early burst damage. Remember that enchantments that give Armor can wait to be revealed until your opponent has rolled the attack dice, and you know whether the Armor will actually reduce the incoming damage.

Cheap walls, Tanglevine, Force Hold, Turn to Stone, Block and Teleport Trap are other options to consider for slowing down early aggression.

Counter pressure is the ability to threaten an opponent that threatens you. For example, zombies are bad at applying quick pressure to a passive opponent due to Lumbering, but they can tear through the forces of a quick attack by non-Flying creatures. Similarly, Iron Golems are fantastic guards that can win a straight up slug fest with anything of similar cost, but they can’t apply any early pressure against a passive opponent. Guards can both reduce the damage coming at your mage, and wear down your opponent's threats, so are usually a good option against aggression. A good guard has efficient stats, particularly health and Armor, and a reasonable counterattack. Defenses help too. Timber Wolves, Orc Butchers, Iron Golems, Dwarf Panzergaurdes, and Guardian Angels are some examples of good guards.

Particularly when your opponent is being more aggressive than you are, always think about how much pressure you are under, and what you can do about that. Project forward a turn, and think about how much pressure your opponent can apply next turn. Use hindering to your advantage to limit the number of attacks your opponent can get against you.

Step 2 for Aggressive Openings: Pressure

If you want to put your opponent under a lot of pressure early, think about how you want to put them under pressure, and how you can follow up with even more pressure if they can withstand your initial attack. I tend to think that Divine Intervention/Teleport turbo rush plays that attack on turn 2 are weak because they put some pressure on their opponent on turn 2, but their ability to apply pressure going forward is drastically reduced. Plus they are pretty telegraphed if you know what to look for. If you can take out their initial threat, they are usually in a lot of trouble.

Battle Forge rushes are a popular choice for aggressive play. You sprint to NC in the first round, then play a Battle Forge in far center. Round two is often playing a big creature, an Enchanter’s Ring, and a face down enchantment. There are many variations that can work. One of the reasons it’s so good is that the Battle Forge can be used to boost offense or defense as required, which makes a rush less vulnerable to counter pressure. In addition, the Battle Forge gives enough economy that you won’t fall behind an economic opponent nearly as quickly if they manage to draw out the game.

You generally want to get a creature within the first 2-3 rounds. For aggressive builds, you generally want to get a creature round 2. Round 1 is often used to play a cheap economy card like a Mana Crystal, discount ring, or Battle Forge and to get closer to the opponent.

When evaluating an aggressive opening, it’s important to think about how resilient your threats are. Grimson Deadeye Sniper can give you full board coverage turn 2 with Rouse the Beast, but he’s also vulnerable, and can be killed very easily. A Steelclaw Grizzly is much tougher, but has to get closer to the enemy mage to do anything.

General Considerations

Don’t send in creatures unsupported. I’ve seen it happen with creatures ranging from Goblin Grunts, Feral Bobcats, and Bitterwood Foxes to Steelclaw Grizzlies. A lone creature without support can often be killed or disabled before accomplishing anything, particularly if you make mistakes in your sequencing. If you activate a Steelclaw Grizzly to double move into the zone with my mage and 2 Knights of Westlock before any of my creatures activate, it’s entirely possible I could kill the Steelclaw before it ever gets an attack in.

In terms of the execution of your opening, unless there is an advantage to using your quickcast early, save it until later. The less information you give your opponent, the better. Playing a discount ring right before casting a spell that will benefit makes sense, but playing a Battle Forge at the start of a round does not. Using your quickcast early on is often of great value once you've actually engaged, but when neither player is applying direct pressure, it's more of an information game.

When playing against a holy mage, particularly the Priestess, keep in mind the possibility of your opponent using Divine Intervention to counter one of your spells. If they counter a turn 2 Lord of Fire, you've basically already lost. I'll consider switching a Battle Forge rush around in this matchup in order to get the creature first and the Battle Forge second so that I can get my essential cards up without interference.

There are some other types of long term investments like Altar of Skulls that do nothing for you early, but can have devastating effects in the late game. If you want to focus on one of those types of investments, consider what the optimal time to play the card is. In the case of Altar of Skulls, there is no way for it to make any progress round 1, so consider playing an Acolyte round 1 and Altar of Skulls round 2.

-edit: Added section headings

Spellbook Design and Construction / Rajan's Falcons
« on: June 05, 2014, 02:37:50 AM »
I've liked the idea of stacking Rajan's Furies and Marked for Death and making powerful falcon attacks since I saw the swarm build posted by DeckBuilder, but I was never satisfied with that build. It has enormous redundancy, but no contingency for dealing with someone with strong counters to swarm play.

Here is my current iteration of trying a build that can make the same kinds of plays, but with more diverse strategic options. In matchups where I don't see a Thunderdrift Falcon swarm performing well, I can use some combination of Valshalla, Cervere, Emerald Tegu, and Highland Unicorn, and support them with nature enchantments and Wand of Healing. I need to refine this build a bit more, but I wanted to post it's current state.

[spellbookname]Rajan's Falcons[/spellbookname]
[mwcard=mw1a08]1 x  Geyser[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNA01]3 x  Acid Ball[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWA02]1 x  Force Hammer[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j22]3 x  Tanglevine[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNJ03]1 x  Etherian Lifetree[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1w04]2 x  Wall of Thorns[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j13]2 x  Mana Flower[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MW1J01]2 x  Rajan's Fury[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c12]2 x  Emerald Tegu[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c14]1 x  Feral Bobcat[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c37]6 x  Thunderift Falcon[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c07]1 x  Cervere, The Forest Shadow[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c20]1 x  Highland Unicorn[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c39]1 x  Valshalla, Lightning Angel[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e09]1 x  Agony[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e40]1 x  Vampirism[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e28]1 x  Mongoose Agility[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e05]2 x  Cheetah Speed[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e32]1 x  Regrowth[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e10]1 x  Decoy[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e27]3 x  Marked for Death[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWE03]1 x  Falcon Precision[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e07]1 x  Cobra Reflexes[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e01]3 x  Bear Strength[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e36]2 x  Rhino Hide[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e13]2 x  Eagle Wings[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNQ09]1 x  Wand of Healing[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q23]1 x  Regrowth Belt[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q25]1 x  Ring of Beasts[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q06]1 x  Dragonscale Hauberk[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q07]1 x  Elemental Cloak[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKQ06]1 x  Eagleclaw Boots[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q09]1 x  Enchanter's Ring[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q16]1 x  Leather Gloves[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i23]1 x  Rouse the Beast[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i06]3 x  Dispel[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i12]3 x  Force Push[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i28]1 x  Teleport[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i07]3 x  Dissolve[/mwcard]
[cost]Total cost: 120 pts[/cost]

I'm planning on replacing the Decoy with Lion's Savagery when FiF hits. I would like to replace Geyser with Surging Wave, but all of my Surging Waves are tied up in Blood Wolves at the moment.

I have 3 Acid Balls, 3 Marked for Death, and 2 Rajan's Furies to support the damage output of a swarm, and I have Highland Unicorn to heal them. I toyed with using Shift Enchantment + Fortified Position, as was used in DeckBuilder's build, but ultimately decided that including that was too big of an investment to justify, particularly with the cost in game to make proper use of it.

I use Emerald Tegu because I'm trying to have as little creature overlap as possible in my 3 BM builds, and my other Straywood build runs Timber Wolf. In particular, I'm going to want to swarm against the Necromancer, who tends to be weak to flyers, so I'll probably be using either a Falcon or Unicorn Pet in the matchup where Emerald Tegu is weak.

The matchups where I would be hesitant to swarm Falcons are Bloodwave Warlord (Veteran gives him a strong late game against swarm, whereas he might never benefit from it if you play only a few creatures), Wizard (Arcane Zap and Wizard's Tower spamming Jet Stream will shred Falcons, plus Suppression Cloak will slow you right down), and the Druid (Kralathor becomes an absolute monster after eating a swarm). Beastmaster's can run Kralathor, but it's less common. If only fire spells didn't cost triple I would consider running a couple of Fireballs or Flameblasts to take out Kralathor.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Blood Wolves
« on: May 17, 2014, 04:29:28 AM »
Here is a Beastmaster build I've been working on.

[spellbookname]Blood Wolves[/spellbookname]
[mwcard=mw1a06]1 x  Flameblast[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNA01]2 x  Acid Ball[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKA01]1 x  Surging Wave[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWA04]3 x  Hurl Boulder[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j10]1 x  Lair[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j13]2 x  Mana Flower[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j22]3 x  Tanglevine[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j19]1 x  Deathlock[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKC02]4 x  Dire Wolf[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c04]6 x  Bitterwood Fox[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c29]1 x  Redclaw, Alpha Male[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c38]4 x  Timber Wolf[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e20]1 x  Harmonize[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e09]1 x  Agony[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWE03]1 x  Falcon Precision[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e28]1 x  Mongoose Agility[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e27]3 x  Marked for Death[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e05]1 x  Cheetah Speed[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e21]1 x  Hawkeye[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e36]1 x  Rhino Hide[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e32]1 x  Regrowth[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e01]2 x  Bear Strength[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e31]1 x  Poisoned Blood[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNQ09]1 x  Wand of Healing[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q23]1 x  Regrowth Belt[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q15]1 x  Leather Boots[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q16]1 x  Leather Gloves[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q25]1 x  Ring of Beasts[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q07]1 x  Elemental Cloak[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q09]1 x  Enchanter's Ring[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q06]1 x  Dragonscale Hauberk[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i06]3 x  Dispel[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i23]2 x  Rouse the Beast[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i20]1 x  Purify[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i28]2 x  Teleport[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i07]3 x  Dissolve[/mwcard]
[cost]Total cost: 120 pts[/cost]

I've been wanting a build that makes good use of Dire Wolves and a build that makes good use of the Lair. This seemed like a good way to do both.

Deathlock is a key card against the Druid, Warlock, Priestess, and Priest, particularly with Dire Wolves to inflict Bleeds. In matchups where that doesn't work, I can play a few Timber Wolves and resort to using my mage as mobile artillery.


Spellbook Design and Construction / Armored Trolls
« on: May 08, 2014, 02:13:57 PM »
I've been wanting to use a variety of different things for a while, but they just didn't gel together the way that I wanted. I really like Bridge Trolls, but Beastmasters are better off sticking to animals, or, failing that, going with Kralathor. Druids shouldn't run Bridge Trolls as they're too expensive to include for a creature that doesn't help with the Druid's vulnerability to fire. I may use a Bridge Troll in a Warlord build once FiF comes out, but I don't want to play a Warlord in the current card pool.

I've wanted to put together a Priestess again for a while, but something always felt just a little off with the builds I came up with. Crown of Protection can make angels incredibly tough, but Knight of Westlock and Brogan already have enough armor. In addition, while both Knight of Westlock and Brogan are good, tough creatures, they have low enough health that direct healing spells are less efficient than I would like.

So when thinking about putting together a build that uses Crown of Protection, Bridge Trolls are a great choice. This will be especially nice once FiF comes out, as you can support your Bridge Trolls without using enchantments.

Veteran's Belt is an awesome tool for making your mage incredibly tough, but Corrode and Dissolve reduce it's viability. For most mages, Veteran's Belt will get Dissolved or they'll get all of their armor removed. The Priestess has a slightly easier time of it with Armor Ward being better for her than for other mages and Restore curtailing the threat of Corrode. In the current card pool, I think the Priestess makes the best use of Veteran's Belt.

In addition, I've been thinking about how to make use of Divine Intervention. Using it to drop a creature in your opponent's face on turn 2 seems like an inefficient use. I prefer to use it for the thing that it uniquely offers in the current card pool: a way to counter a creature spell. So many aggressive builds move to NC on turn 1 and play a big creature on turn 2. If I use Divine Intervention to move my opponent back into their starting square and counter a Lord of Fire on turn 2, I've basically just won. Even if my opponent tries to play a Dark Pact Slayer or a Steelclaw Grizzly, countering it and moving my opponent back to their starting zone will put me significantly ahead.

With these ideas in mind, I came up with this build. I played a variation on it once without Bridge Trolls (though it was against a Warlock, so I probably wouldn't have played them anyway). It worked extremely well, but I need to think more about other matchups.

[spellbookname]Armored Trolls[/spellbookname]
[mwcard=mw1a04]1 x  Fireball[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKA01]1 x  Surging Wave[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNA01]1 x  Acid Ball[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1a06]2 x  Flameblast[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j04]1 x  Battle Forge[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j12]1 x  Mana Crystal[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1j22]1 x  Tanglevine[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKC01]2 x  Bridge Troll[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c06]1 x  Brogan Bloodstone[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c22]1 x  Knight of Westlock[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1c31]1 x  Samandriel, Angel of Light[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e32]2 x  Regrowth[/mwcard]
[mwcard=MWSTX1CKE01]1 x  Armor Ward[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e09]1 x  Agony[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e28]1 x  Mongoose Agility[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e05]1 x  Cheetah Speed[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWE03]1 x  Falcon Precision[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e11]1 x  Divine Intervention[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e12]2 x  Divine Protection[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1e01]2 x  Bear Strength[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q06]1 x  Dragonscale Hauberk[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q16]2 x  Leather Gloves[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q03]1 x  Crown of Protection[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q22]1 x  Moonglow Amulet[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q09]1 x  Enchanter's Ring[/mwcard]
[mwcard=DNQ07]2 x  Veteran's Belt[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q29]2 x  Staff of Asyra[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q15]2 x  Leather Boots[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1q07]1 x  Elemental Cloak[/mwcard]
[mwcard=FWQ10]1 x  Storm Drake Hide[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i16]1 x  Lay Hands[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i17]3 x  Minor Heal[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i07]3 x  Dissolve[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i06]3 x  Dispel[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i28]2 x  Teleport[/mwcard]
[mwcard=mw1i24]1 x  Seeking Dispel[/mwcard]
[cost]Total cost: 120 pts[/cost]


Spellbook Design and Construction / Battleforge Druid
« on: December 19, 2013, 07:09:43 PM »
I've only gotten to play 2 games with the Druid so far:

The first game I used a Vine Tree for action advantage against a Priest. I won largely by using 2 Thornlashers, 1 in each of the center zones, supported by Vine Snappers. After the first game I wasn't as interested in the Druid as I hoped. She seemed good, but I thought I would just rather play the Beastmaster, and I was uncertain about a number of vulnerabilities (Deathlock, Lord of Fire, strong position control...).

The second game I played, I used a Battleforge and a Vine Tree, and I much preferred the way that played out. My opponent conceded when they realized that I as so far ahead that there was no way he could catch up. There were some clear lessons from this game, such as run more than 2 Rouse the Beast, and I've made some changes to the build based on those lessons.

Here is the current iteration of the build.

Druid [68]

Creatures (34) [12]

1 Galador, Protector of Straywood (5)
1 Tarok, the Skyhunter (3)
1 Kralathor, the Devourer (4)
4 Raptor Vine (12)
4 Thornlasher (8 )
1 Vine Snapper (2)

Equipment (21) [11]

1 Druid’s Leaf Ring (1)
1 Enchanter’s Ring (1)
1 Dragonscale Hauberk (3)
1 Bearskin (1)
1 Elemental Cloak (2)
1 Leather Boots (1)
1 Leather Gloves (1)
1 Veteran’s Belt (3)
1 Moonglow Amulet (2)
1 Wand of Healing (2)
1 Mage Wand (4)

Conjurations (21) [13]

1 Vine Tree (2)
1 Battleforge (6)
6 Tanglevine (6)
3 Mana Flower (3)
2 Corrosive Orchid (4)

Enchantments (14) [12]

1 Harmonize (2)
1 Barkskin (2)
3 Rhino Hide (3)
2 Bear Strength (2)
1 Hawkeye (1)
1 Regrowth (1)
1 Falcon Precision (1)
1 Cheetah Speed (1)
1 Mongoose Agility (1)

Incantations (26) [16]

2 Teleport (8 )
4 Dispel (8 )
4 Dissolve (4)
4 Rouse the Beast (4)
2 Burst of Thorns (2)

Attacks (4) [4]

2 Acid Ball (2)
2 Surging Wave (2)

The plan for turn 1 is:

Turn 1 (19): Vine Tree (Tree Bond) -> Battleforge (2)

After that, things will depend on how aggressive my opponent is. If I can get away with powering for 3 turns, turns 2 and 3 would go something like this:

Turn 2 (12): Druid's Leaf Ring -> Mana Flower -> Mana Flower -> FD Harmonize on Vine Tree (1)
Turn 3 (13): Moonglow Amulet -> Mana Flower -> Reveal Harmonize -> FD Barkskin (no Vine Tree cast) (0)

At that point I'm generating 17 mana per turn with 4 spell actions per turn. I can put Thornlashers in NC and FC and start playing Raptor Vines for offense while my Battleforge plays armor. With Veteran's Belt, all of the armor I can play, and effectively Regenerate 4, the Druid can tank incredibly well. This is approximately how my second game with the Druid went, although there wasn't much need to tank.

If my opponent is rushing me, I can use Battleforge to play armor earlier, and I can start playing creatures earlier. A Vine Snapper guard can help, as can Tanglevine on a creature to prevent early attacks. I'll have to see how well that works out.

Tarok and Galador are there to help with specific problems that plants are not good at dealing with. They gives me a way to deal with Incorporeal objects, creatures that are not vulnerable to Deathlock and fire, creatures with better mobility, an answer to Iron Golems and other heavily armored creatures, answers to flyers, and ways of dealing with Lord of Fire. I still haven't played the Druid against Lord of Fire, so I'll need to see how well that works out in practice. The 2 main cards I need to test this build against are Lord of Fire and Deathlock.

Vine markers are very nice for position control. Placing Vine markers everywhere drastically limits the mobility options of enemy creatures, particularly Fast creatures without Elusive or Flying. I managed to avoid taking an attack from a Ravenous Ghoul in my last game by placing Vine markers in either zone he could travel through to get to me. Plus you can get full board coverage on Tanglevine and vine creatures.

I much prefer Tanglevine to Stranglevine. Stranglevine costs more than Tanglevine, doesn't start out any tougher, and is immediately destroyed by Teleport. Losing a Tanglevine to Teleport is acceptable, but the greater cost of Stranglevine makes this exchange much worse. I'm also not a big fan of the upkeep. Sure, you're paying extra mana to deal direct damage, but I would rather play Ghoul Rot or Magebane for a DoT, as they don't require continued investment.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Beastmaster
« on: May 11, 2013, 05:53:05 AM »
People haven't been posting many builds lately, so I thought I'd post something. Here's the Beastmaster list I'm currently running. I keep tweaking things, but this is what it looks like after the last round of tweaks:

Creatures (23)

Bitterwood Fox x6
Thunderdrift Falcon x6
Feral Bobcat
Steelclaw Grizzly
Redclaw, Alpha Male
Timber Wolf

Equipment (13)

Mage Staff
Ring of Beasts
Enchanter’s Ring
Elemental Cloak
Gauntlets of Strength
Leather Boots
Regrowth Belt
Wand of Healing

Conjurations (21)

Mana Flower x2
Tooth and Nail
Rajan’s Fury x2
Tanglevine x6
Wall of Thorns x2

Enchantments (32)

Nullify x2
Marked for Death
Ghoul Rot
Bear Strength x2
Vampirism x2
Falcon Precision
Mongoose Agility
Cheetah Speed
Rhino Hide
Reverse Attack

Incantations (27)

Dispel x3
Dissolve x2
Teleport x2
Force Push
Battle Fury x2
Rouse the Beast

Attacks (4)

Hurl Boulder

I like to open with a pair of Mana Flowers on turn 1. That gives me the channeling I need to support a strong mid game swarm play. On turn 2 I typically play a Ring of Beasts and either Steelclaw or Redclaw. Steelclaw is better against an early Idol of Pestilence, Mordok's Obelisk, or Suppression Orb, but Redclaw does a better job of supporting a swarm.

Here's my thinking on the card selection:

I need a good number of Thunderdrift Falcons and Bitterwood Foxes in order to be able to keep swarming if my creatures are getting killed regularly. They benefit more from Rajan's Fury than Feral Bobcats since they have Fast, and I'd rather use nature creatures than Darkfenne Bats since I want a bunch of them. Darkfenne Bats are expensive to include in decent numbers. I have the Feral Bobcat in there as a cheap guard. If the defense works, it ends up being an incredibly efficient defensive play. Even if he gets one shotted, that works out to the equivalent of a Block, which is fine. Redclaw, Alpha Male is there to support a Bitterwood Fox swarm and potentially a Timber Wolf Pet. Steelclaw is there is the best 1 big option available so far, and because he's great against many of the things swarms struggle against. I have the one Timber Wolf as a Pet option. I often end up using a Bitterwood Fox or Thunderdrift Falcon Pet, but it gives me some options for 2 big strategies with either a Steelclaw or Redclaw and a Timber Wolf Pet.

I don't always end up using most of my equipment, but it's there for long games and whenever my opponent does something to shut down swarms hard. I like to include an equipment option so that I can play without swarming, de-emphasize swarming, or choose to focus completely on swarming. It opens up options so that I can do whatever makes sense in a particular game. I know that it makes more sense to run Dragonscale Hauberk or Storm Drake Hide at the moment, but I felt like using the Beastmaster's actual armor. Eventually there will be something that it helps against...

Tanglevine is one of the most efficient answers to big guarding creatures. It has some added utility to allow kiting or prevent kiting, but mostly I run a bunch because they're cheap and I need a way to get past guards without bleeding little creatures constantly. At some point I'll probably drop down to 4 or so, but I ran out last game, so I figured I'd trying running 6. It's not like they cost many spell points. I don't have quite enough channeling without the Mana Flowers to support some of the swarm plays I prefer, which is why I tend to open with 2 Mana Flowers. Wall of Thorns is included in order to control positioning, and because it has nice synergy with swarms of level 1 creatures. It's also nice to have the option to Force Push someone through it if I want to beat my way through a Forcefield or they don't have any armor. Rajan's Fury and Tooth and Nail are there to make my swarm stronger. Getting extra attack dice is stronger in general than +Piercing, but +Charge is somewhat situational. I like the split of 1 Tooth and Nail and 2 Rajan's Furies because it gives me some advantage even if my opponent locks down movement, but it really discourages kiting my swarm, and Thunderdrift Falcons benefit significantly against grounded creatures. Battleforge is there to support an equipment play should one be required.

I have a good distribution of enchantments. Marked for Death is ideal for supporting swarms. Ghoul Rot is a nice way to increase the pressure on my opponent when I'm in their face with a swarm or a few big creatures and an equipped mage. Agony is a nice way to shut down multistrike creatures and make the Forcemaster less scary. Reverse Attack is there as a great answer to damage races and generally help against beatdown. The rest are there to let me buff myself and my creatures. I particularly like to play Vampirism on my Steelclaw Grizzly.

Most of the incantations are pretty standard utility or attack options. I like to have 2 Teleports so that I have good mobility options. Battle Fury is mostly for use with my Steelclaw, my Timber Wolf Pet, or my mage. Dissolve is mostly for Wands with Sleep, Chain Lighting, or zone attacks and Suppression Cloaks. Rouse the Beast is primarily there for Timber Wolf.

Hurl Boulder is a nice attack spell that's good at finishing things off. I'll probably add a Hurl Rock when that spell comes out so that I have a cheaper option, and so that I have 2 attack spells. One doesn't seem like quite enough, but I'm not sure that I want 2 Hurl Boulder, and I'm using the rest of my copies of that spell in my Earth Wizard build anyway.

I don't include Lair or Fellella. Lair is too expensive, and really slows down aggression. I can either have a big creature like Steelclaw or Redclaw, or I can have the Lair. I much prefer the big creature. Fellella was a much harder cut. I really like her, but she's quite weak to Idol of Pestilence, and I just don't have the mana to support Fellella, build a powerful swarm, and get a big creature out early. As I've been moving towards these powerful mid game swarm plays, I've been moving away from using Fellella. Fellella is also quite fragile, being vulnerable to both unavoidable attacks and direct damage.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Player Feedback and Suggestions / Mage War News
« on: May 06, 2013, 01:47:23 AM »
There is all kinds of information that gets released about upcoming Mage Wars products to various sources. I wish that information was in the news section of the website. I look over there, and there's no news since the Warlord vs Forcemaster expansion was released, but a bunch of random places have images of previews of the next spell tome or information about the Druid vs Necromancer expansion. I end up finding out about them once someone posts a link to them in the forums, usually on BGG. It would be nice if all of the previews were also on the website in an easy to identify place. That's the kind of stuff you can put in the news section so that it isn't so dead over there.

Spellbook Design and Construction / Fire Wizard
« on: March 01, 2013, 07:11:12 PM »
I just started putting together a fire Wizard build that focuses on direct attacks. Here's the list I've come up with so far, although my physical version is slightly different since I don't have enough Fireblasts yet.

Creatures (3)


Equipment (19)

Dragonscale Hauberk
Elemental Cloak
Leather Gloves
Leather Boots
Suppression Cloak
Mage Wand x2
Elemental Wand x2
Regrowth Belt
Mage Staff
Moonglow Amulet
Fireshaper Ring

Conjurations (23)

Mana Crystal x4
Wall of Fire x3
Mordok’s Obelisk
Suppression Orb
Tanglevine x2

Enchantments (18)

Bear Strength
Mongoose Agility
Cheetah Speed
Nullify x3
Force Hold
Poison Blood

Incantations (34)

Teleport x3
Force Push x5
Dispel x3
Seeking Dispel x2
Purge Magic
Dissolve x2
Explode x3

Attacks (23)

Fireblast x6
Fireball x4
Hurl Boulder
Ring of Fire

I'm not sure that the melee plan is a good idea for this type of build, but it offers some flexibility, so I haven't removed it yet. Similarly, I'm not sure of the best way to take advantage of Huginn for this type of list. I don't have the mana generation to take advantage of his spellcasting as well as Battleforge and all of my mage's actions on the same turn, but dropping him after I've played most of my equipment could continue my action advantage. If I suspect my opponent will make an equipment or 1-2 big play he might be a worthwhile alternative to Battleforge. Any thoughts on Huginn in this type of build?

My planned opening is Battleforge -> Harmonize -> Moonglow Amulet -> Mana Crystal -> Mana Crystal. At that point I have enough mana generation (15 including my forge) to build up while attacking and activating my shield regularly. I'd like to come up with an opening where I use Huginn instead of Battleforge, but I'm not sure if the control advantage would be worth the lack of buildup. Battleforge should be the better opening against swarms, since my mana denial will limit his usefulness somewhat, and his control advantage is most effective against powerful individual creatures anyway.

I can use Force Push against people that try to daze/stun lock me. Tossing someone through a Wall of Fire doesn't count as an attack, and seems like a reasonable alternative.

Against swarms I can use mana denial and zone attacks. Against melee and 1-2 big creatures I can kite, and my Voltaric Shield will help in those kinds of damage races. Mana Denial shouldn't be a big deal, since I don't really use creatures and I can kite Mana Leeches.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I appreciate any feedback.

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