Yes, we know the game has been out for a while, but believe it or not it was on my shelf since almost 6 months. I was lucky enough to get it in a Miami shop during my honeymoon ! It was like $30 only compared to a whooping 55-60 € for the base box here in Europe. That explains also maybe why there are not that many Mage Wars players around (at least in Belgium). Finally, I got a chance to go for it with Wouter – one of the key trustees of Boardgame Monkeys – after a good burger at La Table Food & Games last Thursday.
The great thing about Arcane Wonders is that they took the time to not only publish nice explanation videos, but also guides on “how to teach the game” and other nice documents to find back on their website. It really helps to get you into the game, you feel as a gamer that you’re really being taking care of !
So back to the game itself, we decided to go for the beginners’ setup but directly jumping onto the Warlock and the Priestess. I’ve put together the recommended cards onto the spellbooks (see rules) we were off for a quick start. Surely, the first few minutes where challenging because we simply couldn’t understand what all those cards where doing; with a large variety of cards it was hard to pick any strategy at all.
We went for cards that we more or less understood for the first few rounds. We both manage to put a few creatures on the board and cast a few spells, but I quickly end up cornered (we played on the starter setup of a 2×3 board) with Wouter pushing aggressively on the attacks, destroying my creatures one after the other. On top of that, he placed a spell that obliged me to pay 1 life point every time I cast a spell. In no time I ended up below the bar of 10 points. The time to recover myself and cast some healing spells, it was already too late for me.
Few observations on the game & material:
- On the board itself, it does get packed when you lay down additional cards under/next-to your character. We’re used to figurines boardgames by know and it was a bit odd to lay down some cards on the board.
- We definitively will need to buy some extra dices for this game – just because I don’t like to share but also because it’s not practical if you have to take some dices from your opponent to play your counter attack while we’re still in the overall action phase.
- The cards quality is good, the board is sturdy and pawns are really of good quality. We cannot complain at all about the material.
We decided to give it another try next Monday night – just to confirm we like the game. Admittedly, by then we will re-read both the rulebook and watch a few extra videos, because although everything is extremely well explained in the 31 first pages of the rulebook, it’s a lot to absorb for a first game.