Sep 052013
 

magwars_kuman_top

The Basics:

  • For ages 13 and up
  • For 2 players
  • Approximately 60 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Bluffing and Misdirection
  • Resource management and area control

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Hard
  • Adult – Moderate

Theme & Narrative:

  • Two new Mages enter the arena! One fights for his beliefs while the other fights for her people’s way of life!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek rejected!
  • Child Geek rejected!

Overview

Kumanjaro is a place of endless savannahs and ancient jungles. The Johktari people have called this vast wilderness home since the beginning of time. When the strangers came to their shores, they were at first welcomed as friends. It later became clear that the friendly visitors were selfish invaders, determined to strip the land of its gifts. Now the Johktari fight for their home and to preserve their way of life against an empire set on colonization and control.

Mage Wars: Conquest of Kumanjaro, by Arcane Wonders, is comprised of 106 Spell cards, 2 Mage cards (representing the Priest and the Beastmaster), 2 Mage Ability cards, 1 Holy Avenger token, 1 Wounded Prey token, 4 Stuck/Bleed tokens, 1 Stuck/Slam token, 4 Tainted/Bleed tokens, 1 Tainted/Slam token, 4 Melee +1/Armor +1 tokens, 2 Melee +1/Ranged +1 tokens, and 3 Armor +1/Ranged +1 tokens. The level of quality presented in the expansion is the same as the core game, Mage Wars, which is required to play.

Note: We will not be covering how to play the game in this article. If you are not familiar with Mage Wars or want to learn more about how the game is set up and played, please read the Mage Wars game review.

New Mages

This expansion provides 2 new alternate Mages the players can use to build their Spellbooks around. They are labeled as “alternate” because the Beastmaster and the Priestess (same as the Priest) Mage classes were originally introduced in the Mage Wars core game. Alternate they might be, but they are not similar enough to even remotely suggest that the players are getting duplicates of what they already were provided. This is a very important distinction to make for two reasons. First, the expansion’s new Mages bring new abilities to the gaming table with a style that is distinctly their own. Second, the two new Mages introduced in this expansion will require any player who built a Spellbook around the core game’s Priestess and Beastmaster Mage classes to reevaluate their Spellbook if they decide to use them.

Priest Malakai
magwars_kuman_priest
Malakai is a High Elf Priest of Asyra from the Holy school of magic. When players build their Spellbooks, Malakai can use spells that are listed as usable only by a Priestess. Dark spells can be used by Malakai, but will cost triple their normal cost when adding them to the Priest’s Spellbook – a sure indication that Malakai is not meant to dip his toes in darkness. Although Malakai is a Priest that tends to focus on healing, he is much more aggressive than his female counterpart when it comes to battle in the arena.

Malakai has two unique abilities:

  • Holy Avenger: This special ability allows the player to bequeath the title of “Holy Avenger” on any non-Legendary Holy creature that comes into play at the cost of 1 mana per creature’s level +1. The creature gains +5 Life and the Holy Avenger token. The Holy Avenger, as the name would suggest, is meant to strike righteous retribution against those who do the player harm. Each round, the Holy Avenger’s first attack will gain Melee +2 and Piercing +1 bonuses against any foe that previously attacked and damaged another Holy creature or conjuration. If the Holy Avenger is ever destroyed, the token and title can be given to another creature.
  • Malakai’s Fire: This special ability allows the player to summon a holy flame once per round that scorches the Priest’s foes. If the Priest attacks and damages any enemy creature with an attack that deals Light based damage, the player can pay 1 mana to place a Burn token on the damaged creature.

The Johktari Beastmaster
magwars_kuman_beastmaster
The Johktari are a human race that inhabit the land known as Kumanjaro. Theirs is a life of peace and harmony with nature which is reflected by the Beastmaster’s affinity to the Nature school of magic. When players build their Spellbooks, the Johktari Beastmaster can use spells that are listed as usable only by a Beastmaster. Fire spells can be used by the Johktari Beastmaster, but will cost triple their normal cost when adding them to the Beastmaster’s Spellbook. While the core game’s Beastmaster focused on quick summoning, melee combat, and use of a special pet, the Johktari Beastmaster is more at home with bow and arrow rather than sword and shield. They focus on speed and striking quickly at a distance, using all of nature as their ally.

The Johktari Beastmaster has three unique abilities:

  • Wounded Prey: This special ability allows the player to single out an opponent’s wounded non-Mage creature. Once marked, any of the player’s creatures gain a Melee +1 bonus when attacking the marked for death wounded creature. Once the marked wounded creature is removed from the game or fully healed, the Wounded Prey token is removed and can be placed on another non-Mage wounded creature.
  •  Sprinting: This special ability allows the player to make use of the Fast trait with the Johktari Beastmaster.
  • Archery Skill: This special ability gives any non-spell ranged attacks a Ranged +1 bonus.

New Conditions

The expansion introduces three new conditions that can be brought into play to plague the player’s opponent.

  • Bleed: This condition only affects living non-plant creatures and is meant to represent a very serious wound. During the Upkeep phase, 1 damage is assigned the creature automatically.
  • Stuck: This condition restrains a target creature and makes it so they can no longer move. A stuck creature can attempt to remove the condition by rolling a 7 or higher at the end of its Action phase.
  • Tainted: This condition is applied after a curse-based or venom-based attack. The tainted creature cannot heal or regenerate the 3 wounds inflicted by the tainted condition.

Spells O’Plenty

This expansion comes with lots of Spell cards, 106 to be exact, that can be used with the new Mages or any other previously available Mage. Included with the expansion is a list that identifies what spells can be used to create a quick Spellbook for both the Priest and Beastmaster if the players want to start using them right away. The Spell cards provided in the expansion cover the various schools of magic and enchanted items of power found in the world of Mage Wars.

Spells card in this expansion include:

  • Dispel Wand (equipment)
  • Colossus Belt (equipment)
  • Eagleclaw Boots (equipment)
  • Hunting Bow (equipment)
  • Enchanter’s Wardstone (conjuration)
  • Wizard’s Tower (conjuration)
  • Wall of Steel (conjuration)
  • Spiked Pit (enchantment)
  • Armor Ward (enchantment)
  • Divine Might (enchantment)
  • Enchantment Transfusion (enchantment)
  • Healing Charm (enchantment)
  • Surging Wave (attack)
  • Bridge Troll (creature)
  • Dire Wolf (creature)
  • Dwarf Panzergarde (creature)
  • Galdor (legendary creature)
  • Gargoyle Sentry (creature)
  • Giant Wolf Spider (creature)
  • Guardian Angel (creature)
  • Makunda (legendary creature, affectionately referred to as “Simba” in our house)
  • Screech Harpy (creature)
  • Akiro’s Battle Cry (incantation)
  • Drain Soul (incantation)
  • Reflex Boots (equipment)
  • Sunfire Amulet (equipment)

To learn more about Mage Wars: Conquest of Kumanjaro, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

Thematically speaking, this expansion begins a new chapter in the Mage Wars saga and enriches the game’s narrative. The Priest represents the foreign invaders and the Johktari Beastmaster represents the native population that is fighting them. Sound familiar? None of this has any bearing on the game play, but it does demonstrate that the creative team behind Mage Wars is expanding the game based on a new storyline, opening the door for even more unique cards and personalities in the future. Those players who like to create themed Spellbooks will have a lot of fun designing a Mage that either represents the invading Asyrans or the Johktari people who are defending their way of life.

The expansion brings to the table new cards, new conditions, and new possibilities, but nothing overly new in the way of game play. The real strength of Mage Wars is its customization. With an additional 106 Spell cards and 2 new Mages to build Spellbooks around, Mage Wars: Conquest of Kumanjaro is simply more frosting on an already very delicious cake. I predict it will be well received by all our group members who have been enjoying the game so far, but no shift in the group endorsements. The Gamer Geeks will still approve Mage Wars and the Child and Parent Geeks will still reject it.

When I showed the expansion to my three little geeks, they opened up the box and dumped out the cards to see what was included. My oldest little geek, who can play the game, was immediately interested in the Johktari Beastmaster, as his current Spellbook focuses on summoning and controlling creatures. My two other little geeks just liked looking at the outstanding artwork on the cards that captured their eye and stimulated their imagination. When my 9-year-old was done looking at the cards, I asked him his thoughts on the game expansion so far.

“Some really neat cards included in this set. I’m going to go update my Spellbook with a few of them to see how good they are.” ~ Liam (age 9)

I’m excited to see how he uses them! I prefer the dark arts myself, but the new Priest with his more “in your face” approach has me interested. I might spend some time tinkering with a Holy Spellbook simply because it’s more aggressive with the Priest, but then again, maybe not. The dark arts are powerful and a lot of fun to play with. Let’s see if the expansion increases our fun or just adds more cardboard.

Final Word

As expected, the expansion did little to change the group endorsements, but pleased all those who were already fans of the game. New spells and new Mages allow for further customization and creative tactics in the battle arena. Nothing really stands out in this expansion, despite the new cards being a lot of fun to play with. I liken it to getting a new hammer for my already very full toolbox. Alone, the hammer represents a very useful tool, but when placed with the rest of the tools in the toolbox, it no longer standouts. I don’t believe this is a negative by any means, however, as the new expansion fits seamlessly in with the core game and becomes immediately useful. And like all tools, the cards are only as useful as the player makes them.

My oldest looks through the cards he pulled out to see if he wants them in his Spellbook

My oldest looks at his new Spell cards while eating breakfast – Not happy about the crumbs on his hands…

Mage Wars is not a collectible card game. Individuals do not need to buy more than one copy of the core set or the expansions to be competitive and play the game fully. There are simply too many cards to use all of them, which begs the question: Is this expansion necessary? No, it doesn’t bring much in the way that is new or shift the balance of power among the schools of magic. Is it useful? Without a doubt! More cards, I say! Every time I play this game I always want to go back and tweak my Spellbook to address some fault I might have uncovered. A limited amount of cards would reduce the game’s flexibility and customization. More cards give the players more choices, more freedom, and best of all, more ways to create one or more perfect Mages.

I continue to be a BIG fan of Mage Wars and enjoy playing the game with casual players and hardcore gamers. I have played the game for over a year now and I have yet to come anywhere near exploring it all. This game has true staying power and the expansion ensures it will remain at the gaming table for years to come. If you are a fan of Mage Wars, this expansion should be at the top of your list. While it won’t blow your mind, it will most certainly have you eagerly going back to your Spellbook and retooling it.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

  One Response to “Mage Wars: Conquest of Kumanjaro Game Expansion Review”

  1. […] expansion”, the first being Mage Wars: Forcemaster vs. Warlord. Although, I personally think Mage Wars: Conquest of Kumanjaro should also be […]

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