Mage Wars: Forcemaster vs. Warlord Game Expansion Review

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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 masters of magic have entered the arena to pit their spells against any foolish enough to challenge them!

Endorsements:

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

Overview

The schools of magic have long attempted to outdo one another, thus the war between the Mages. The arena has been the proving ground of many a young Mage and the end of countless fools. The arena floor is stained by blood, blackened by scorch marks, and littered with the bones of those who were not strong or quick enough to best their foe. It is here that two new Mages have come to prove their might and the strength of their magic, or die trying.

Mage Wars: Forcemaster vs. Warlord, by Arcane Wonders, is comprised of 216 Spell cards, 2 Spellbooks (that contains and organizes the Spell cards), 2 Mage cards (representing the Forcemaster and Warlord), 2 Mage Ability cards, 1 Taunt token, 1 Visible/Invisible token, 1 Initiative token, 1 Deflect token, 1 Compass Ross token, 8 Slam/Daze tokens, 4 Sleep/Daze tokens, 4 Burn/Stun tokens, and 10 Vet tokens. The level of quality presented in the expansion is the same as the core game, Mage Wars, which is required to play. Unless the owner of the game has purchased Mage Wars Core Spell Tome 1 and Spell Tome 2, this expansion should fit easily in the core game’s box. This is the core game’s first “Mage expansion”.

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.

Of Might and Magic

This expansion includes two new Mages the players can use to wage epic magical battles in the arena. Like all the Mages in Mage Wars, they are students of specific schools of magic and have Mage Ability cards that lists their life, armor, class, abilities, and other information. Each of the new Mages are summarized here.

Forcemaster

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A student of the school of Mind Magic, the Forcemaster is a one man army that uses the power of their mind to overcome one or more foes. The Forcemaster lacks creatures to support them in the arena, but they are more than capable of simply charming and taking creatures that their opponents were kind enough to summon for them. The Forcemaster’s tactics and strategy are all about divide and conquer, control and contain. Special abilities and spells of note include:

  • Deflect: using telekinesis, the Forcemaster can use this ability once per round to deflect incoming attacks. By default, the attack provides a defense that requires an attack roll of 7+ to break through and the Forcemaster can increase the deflection strength by simply adding mana.
  • Force Pull: Once per round, the Forcemaster can cast a quick force spell that targets one creature and pushes them 1 zone towards the Forcemaster’s location.
  • Forcefield: An enchantment that casts a field of mental energy that protects the Forcemaster.
  • Invisible Stalker: An epic creature that can be summoned that remains invisible until it attacks its target.
  • Galvitar (Force Blade): A magical weapon that is formed by the power of the Forcemaster’s mind.
  • Force Ring: A magical ring that allows the Forcemaster to pay 1 less mana when casting a force spell.

Warlord

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A student of the school of Earth and War Magic, the Warlord is an arcane tactician that is able to summon armies and war machines. Despite the Warlord’s strength of body and mind, their magic is focused more on supporting their troops with augmentations and various bonuses that are used in the arena’s battlefield. The Warlord prefers to fight their duels from afar, commanding their soldiers to whittle down the opposition stroke by stroke. Then, when their enemy is at their weakest, they move in for the killing blow! Special abilities and spells of note include:

  • Veterans: Through the leadership and spells of the Warlord, their troops become stronger when victorious in battle, receiving a +1 to melee combat and +1 to armor.
  • Battle Order: Once per round, the Warlord can cast a quick spell to provide their troops a +1 to charge, a +1 to ranged combat, or a +1 to melee and a +1 to armor while guarding.
  • War Sledge: A magical weapon that sweeps the battlefield, causing damage and dazing those who were unlucky enough to be in the weapon’s path.
  • Ring of Command: A magical ring that allows the Warlord to pay 1 less manna when casting a command spell.
  • Thorg, Chief Bodyguard: A summoned powerful warrior who lives to serve, protect, and taunt the enemy.
  • Akiro’s Hammer: A summoned warmachine  that is used to hurl boulders or bring down a steady downpour of heavy rocks on the Warlord’s enemies.

Of course, players are welcome to use the new spells provided in the expansion to create their own custom Spellbooks. The expansion not only includes spells for the new Mages, but these spells can be used by the original four Mages introduced in the core set, as well! The rules for customized Spellbook building are the same and all the standard restrictions apply. The expansion rules include the starting Spell cards for the Forcemaster and Warlord’s Spellbooks.

New Tokens

The expansion comes with a few new tokens that are worth noting.

Compass Ross

This token is meant to provide the players the ability to randomly determine the direction of a spell effect. The Compass Ross token is aligned with the different sides of the zones and then a twelve-sided die is rolled. The rolled die result corresponds to a Compass Rose direction.

Deflect

The Forcemaster has a “built-in” mental field that protects them from incoming attacks. The Deflect token is used to represent the current status of the Deflection ability. The token is double-sided with one side signifying the Deflection is “on” and the other side of the token signifying it is “off” (or used).

Taunt

Thorg, the Chief Bodyguard, has the ability to taunt other creatures in the arena. If a creature is unable to avoid Thorg’s taunts, they must move into Thorg’s zone or make a ranged attack if movement is impossible. While the creature is under the influence of Thorg’s taunt, the Taunt token is placed on the creature and removed during the creature’s Action Phase or when Thorg is activated.

Slam

This token is placed on a creature to indicate they are incapacitated. When the creature is activated, the Slam token is flipped to reveal the other side that shows that the creatures is now Dazed.

Visible/Invisible

This token is used to represent the current visible state of a creature. When invisible, the creature cannot be targeted, but is still affected by any zone attacks or any attack that does not specifically target the creature. While invisible, the creature gains the Pest and Elusive traits. When the creature attacks, it becomes visible. At which time, the token is flipped to reveal the other side.

Vet

This token is placed on creatures that are controlled by the Warlord if the creature engages in and survives an attack. When placed, the token gives the creature a +1 to melee attacks and +1 to their armor. Only one Vet token can be placed on a creature. If the Warlord is crafty and leads his troops well, he will soon have a standing army of well-trained and eager to serve warriors to command.

To learn more about Mage Wars: Forcemaster vs. Warlord, visit the game’s web page.

Prediction

Until now, all that has been available to me (and all the other players in the world)  is the core game and the Spell Tomes 1 & 2 that increase the number of cards that can be used. Believe me when I say this is enough for the game. There are an exorbitant number of options available to the players and near limitless replayability thanks to the game being customizable. For a new player being introduced to the game, it can be a lot to take in until you realize that all you ever need to worry about is what is in your own Spellbook. But for those players who are always looking to tweak, twist, and improve their overall dominance in the arena, more options are always sought after. That is why I think the new game expansion will do exceedingly well with those who already enjoy the game. The fact that those individuals might or might not like the Forcemaster or the Warlord is actually terribly unimportant. These are just predefined Mages based on the cards and the schools they follow. What is important is the cards that the expansion provides and the new strategies and tactics they will introduce.

For those who do not enjoy Mage Wars, this expansion does nothing to help address anything they might see as faults. To a very small degree, the expansion is just adding “more of the same” from the perspective of the casual player who sees nothing but a bunch of cards. And, oh yes, there are many cards to this expansion. So many, in fact, that it is very overwhelming at first to get your head around what is being offered. The rule book does provide a pre-made Spellbook for each new Mage, which is a brilliant move on Arcane Wonder’s part. This allows the newbie player and the veteran to immediately start using the new Mages and their cards in the arena. In essence, a wonderfully crafted test drive. With the two new Spellbooks that are included in the expansion, players can build the Forcemaster and the Warlord without altering their current Mages and their Spellbooks.

When I showed the expansion to my oldest little geek who is getting much better at playing the game on his own, he said:

“Why on earth would anyone not want this expansion if they already love Mage Wars?” ~ Liam (age 8)

Let’s see if his words are full of wisdom or just the stuff of geeky fandom.

Final Word

As predicted, this expansion did two things.

First, it highly pleased those who already enjoyed Mage Wars. The new Mages add interesting and unique dynamics to the arena that are not only fun to play with, but a blast to put into a customized Spellbook. They are powerful, too, but not to a point where they out power or outshine any of the other Spell cards or Mages in the core game. In fact, when put side-by-side, the expansion cards blend in seamlessly and work effortlessly with the core game’s system. It is balanced, through and through. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t ever think it was an expansion. So did it expand the game? Oh, yes. The new cards add much more to think about and to use. Now players can summon siege weapons into the arena, as well manipulate and control other Mages and their minions like never before.

That, in itself, is enough for most Mage Wars enthusiasts to jump up and down excitedly.

Second, the expansion did nothing to lure in new game players. The flip side to being seamlessly integrated into the core system is that it doesn’t jump out to a player as anything new or unique unless you are very familiar with the core game. While this should not be misconstrued as a negative in any shape or form, the expansion is not going to be the bridge that finally allows players on the sidelines to cross over. But the possibility of it doing so is there. Some individuals might be interested in playing the core game based on what the new Mages represent and how they operate. For example, when I explained the core game to my brother, he had little interest in it, but when I shared with him the expansion and what the Forcemaster and Warlord were all about, it piqued his interest. Now that I see how Arcane Wonders is further developing the game, I am more excited about it than before. With each new Spell and Mage, a different way to play the game is introduced, which will make the game more interesting to a wider and more diverse group of players.

Clearly, I’ve “drank the Kool-Aid” when it comes to Mage Wars. It’s a great game and just continues to get better. It is most certainly not a game for the casual player or anyone who is not a Gamer Geek or working to become one. Mage Wars is deep, complex, and brilliant. It challenges you to be the best strategist you can while manipulating the arena with subtle tactics through the use of Spells and summoned minions. With the expansion, the combat in the arena has become all the more interesting and challenging as new possibilities are opened up, new strategies come to light, different tactics begin to emerge, and the ability to reorganize and adjust to any attack becomes all the more possible. For a game expansion, Mage Wars: Forcemaster vs. Warlord has done everything right. It’s added to the game experience, increased the game’s depth, and reignites my excitement for the core game.

If you have enjoyed Mage Wars in the past, this expansion is a no brainer.

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.

About 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....
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