In this mini-series of reviews of board games, we’ve been mostly describing games intended for casual players or, better yet, games that can be played by hardcore gamers, but not necessarily. However, this time around, we’ve got one game that is actually made for players who like hardcore competition and almost intended for powerplayers. The game we’re talking about, of course, is Mage Wars and its Core Set.
Spells, Spells, Spells
The game was created by Bryan Pope and published by Arcane Wonders. The game is usually played by two players in a duel, but can be expanded to six. Play time is estimated to about 90 minutes. Mage Wars is a game not unlike Magic the Gathering, but also borrows elements of D&D, as in, it uses dice to determine attack and defence of various creatures you summon to fight of you. The game also features a spellbooks for each player, where they store their spells (spell cards) which they will use later.
When playing Mage Wars, the players take turns slinging spells at each other and attacking one another with creatures. The game features two stages, the Ready Stage and the Action stage, and the point of the game is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero. The players must take care to cultivate mana in order to cast their spells, and can cast two spells per turn. Normally, spells take one action point, but your mage can use certain quickcast spells that take up half an action point, allowing for another half-action to be taken (like moving). There are six types of spells in the game: Conjuration, Creature, Attack, Incantation, Equipment and Enchantment. Creature spells summon monsters, Conjuraction spells summon constructs, Attack spells can attack the player directly and so on and so forth. The game also features a 12-square grid board that acts as a battlefield, with the grinds being used for movement and range. The game makes use of dice, as we’ve said, to determine the attack and defence value of creatures and games fighting. Mage Wars also has a Mage Status Board that lets you track your mage’s health, mana, damage and channelling. The game also features markers that let you keep track of various conditions and events.
As usual with these games, you have several classes to choose from. In the core set, you can play as the Beastmaster of Straywood, Priestess of Asyra, Warlock of Arraxian Crown or the Wizard of Sortilege. The expansions include a Forcemaster, Warlord, alternate Beastmaster and Priest, Necromancer, Druid and alternate Warlock and Warlord, as well as Paladin and Siren. Mage Wars also features six magic schools: Nature, Holy, Mind, Arcane, Dark and War with four sub-schools being the four elements (Earth, Fire, Water and Air).
If you’re interested in highly competitive card/board games, then you need to play Mage Wars. It is very dynamic, and focuses more on strategy rather than pure luck. There is a small RNG factor due to the dice, but you’ll be mistaken if you think you can win with Lady Luck’s help only.