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Hurl Lightning Bolts! Summon Mythical Creatures! Cast Sinister Curses! In Mage Wars, players take on the role of powerful mages, stepping into an arena to battle for supremacy. Choose between a Wizard, Warlock, Beastmaster, or Priestess, each with their own unique strategies and style of play; conjure your custom spellbook from over 300 spells; and let the battle ignite!
Feel Like a Mage1 out of 1 found the following review helpfulThis game is very clever. It starts out with an intuitive leap. In other games where you play as a mage and your cards represent spells (one in particular that we all know) those cards are randomized, and you only get to choose from a small selection of them at a time. This is great for balance reasons and for delivering tension, but this doesn't make sense. Shouldn't a powerful wizard be able to pick out anything to cast at any time. Mage Wars says, "Forget that, you can cast whatever spell you want, just when you need it!"
Another part of this game that takes getting used to is that it isn't really a card game. I know, all your spells are cards, your character is a card, all your minions are cards... but they move around a 5 x 5 grid of squares. They could have just as easily been miniatures (perhaps with reference cards). I think the only reason they aren't is for cost reasons (and good thing, because the game has a pretty large price tag on it already).
The game is also very deep. I've played about a dozen games of Mage Wars and I still don't feel like I really "get" it. Unlike most board games, where an obvious strategy emerges after two or three plays, this game continues to stump me. I think it might be because it's so well-balanced. None of the cards seem vastly overpowered, but none of the cards seem vastly underpowered, either. This is good, because it allows you to try out all the cards, but it makes "deckbuilding" decisions really hard. Unlike games such as Magic or Netrunner, where you can rule out half the cards very quickly as not worth playing, you have to consider every card in Mage Wars. How do you decide how many of a certain card to put in your spellbook? I have no idea.
All in all, the thing this game succeeds most at is making you feel like a wizard. From the tactile experience of flipping through your spellbook to pick out the perfect spell, to the strategic decision whether to build your forces or strike quickly, no game has ever captured the experience better than this one. The price tag is high, but if you have at least one friend who you think would enjoy fighting you in wizardly duels, it's worth every penny.
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