After that, we're going to go on to my final thoughts and conclusion!
First up we have the Ankylodon, another dinosaur! Hopefully this is the continuation of a trend and we continue to see more dinosaurs added to Mage Wars over time!
It costs 8 mana and is a Nature level 2 spell.
Ankylodon has 3 armor and 6 health which makes it pretty survivable in Academy because of all that armor. In Arena, he should be able to survive a few hits as well.
It has a full action melee attack of 3 dice with sweeping. This attack is great in Academy but because it is a full action, he cannot use it to counterstrike.
This guy is great for attacking multiple creatures that are guarding and removing their guard markers.
The Atticaran Porcupine is another 8 mana, Nature level 2 spell.
It has 9 health and 1 armor, making it arguably less survivable than the Ankylodon.
It has a quick action melee attack of 1 dice with Piercing +1 and the Counterstrike trait.
That means that whenever he gets melee attacked, whether guarding or not, he always makes a counterstrike.
In addition, his ability states that while he is making a counterstrike, he gains melee +2. So that 1 die attack goes up to 3 dice, which is pretty decent in Academy.
I don't think this guy will get used much in Arena either. There are simply better level 2 options in the Nature school.
Next we have yet an 8 mana creature, the Azurean Genie. He is level 1 Arcane and level 1 Air. It is nice to see another Air school creature.
The Genie has no armor, 10 health, and a quick action melee attack of 3 dice.
What is special about him is that he comes into play with 3 Wish tokens. He can remove a Wish token as his action to give a Living creature in the same zone Melee +2, heal it 2 damage, or give it a Stagger condition.
Stagger conditions are a new condition introduced in Academy. It has a different effect depending if the creature it is on is a Minor or Major creature.
If they are a Minor creature, they are incapacitated until their next activation.
So this guy is pretty good. The only problem is that using a Wish token uses his action, but Staggering a Minor creature can often be worth it, as can healing something 2 damage. Giving a creature Melee +2 doesn't seem that worth it because his own attack rolls 3 dice. I could see it being used if another one of your creatures has some piercing and you're trying to kill something with armor.
This guy is great in Academy and will be pretty good in Arena as well. There are plenty of good Minor creatures in both games and his ability to Stagger them makes him very useful.
The Darkfenne Asp is a 4 mana, level 1 Nature spell. This little guy has wreaked havoc on me when I play as the Wizard.
He has no armor and only 3 health. But he has a defense of 5+ which can be used as many times as he wants. Which makes him hard to kill without Unavoidable attacks, which there are hardly any of in this set.
The Asp has a quick action melee attack of only 1 die. But on a 7+ of the effect die, he causes a Weak token.
For those of you who do not remember, Weak is one of the best tokens in the game. For each Weak token on a creature, they roll 1 less attack die. In this set, there is no way to get rid of them, so they are devastating.
This card can be brutal in Academy especially when paired with the Beastmaster's ability to pay an extra mana and bring it into play active. He is a great target for the Badger Frenzy enchantment card. I forsee it becoming less useful in the future due to the probability of more Unavoidable attacks being added. In Arena he could be useful in swarms but his low health makes me doubt he'll see play all too often.
Jade Gremlin is one of my favorite creatures from this set. It only costs 4 mana and is a level 1 Arcane spell.
JG has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice.
He has no armor and only 5 life, so pretty fragile huh? Not so fast. His ability lets his controlling Mage pay a mana whenever he is melee attacked to have him avoid the attack.
So he basically has a infinite, always-effective defense against melee attacks, unless they are Unavoidable.
So, shoot him with something. An attack spell, ranged attack, doesn't matter. You can't hit him up close, so you will almost always have to shoot him.
This guy is great in Academy and will likely see plenty of use in Arena as well.
Lightning Raptor is easily my favorite creature from Academy. It costs 8 mana and is a level 1 Arcane and level 1 Air spell.
This bird has 1 armor and 9 life. It has a quick action, lightning melee attack of X dice, where X is the number of Charge tokens on it.
In addition, the attack is Ethereal and on a roll of 7+, inflicts the Stagger condition.
Lightning Raptor is Unique, meaning that only one can be in play under your control at a time.
This bird gets Charge tokens during the Upkeep phase, one token per turn. The maximum number it can have is 5. When it gets to 5, the attack gains the Counterstrike trait.
His only downside is his frailty. But if he gets up to those 5 tokens, he is amazing. If your opponent brings one of these out, kill it. As quickly as you can.
This is an amazing creature in Academy. It should be good in Arena too. It just needs to be supported with enchantments that boost its survivability.
Mana Worm is like the infant version of the Mana Leech from Arena.
It is a 5 cost creature and it is Arcane level 1.
It has 1 armor and 6 life so it will likely survive an attack in Academy.
The worm has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice. When it attacks and damages a creature, the controller of that creature loses a mana.
This is a pretty simple card but can be very important to the Wizard's strategy. This is another tool that pairs nicely with the Wizard's other mana denial spells.
Paralyzing Basilisk is yet another 8 mana creature. He's a really good one.
He's Arcane Level 2 and has 2 armor and 7 health. So he'll last through a few hits on average.
He has a full action ranged attack of 0-1 zones. The zone distance doesn't matter in Academy but does in Arena. It rolls 2 dice and has a chance for a Stagger if it rolls 7+ on the effect die.
This guy is really good in Academy. His attack is ranged which lets him ignore guards. It also has a chance to Stagger which is awesome.
He isn't a great guard because he doesn't have a quick melee attack to counterstrike with.
Pellian Lynx pretty simple.
It is a 4 cost Nature level 1 spell. It has no armor and only 5 life so it will die quickly.
It has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice with 1 piercing.
It is an Animal spell, meaning that the Beastmaster can use his ability with this card, which I would almost always recommend doing.
The 5 life puts it just above the threshold of being likely to be killed in one hit, but it is possible.
That is why I recommend bringing him out active so he can get at least 1 hit off.
Rajah, Jungle's Talon
Now this is one of the Beastmaster's best creatures in Academy.
Rajah is an 11 mana, Nature level 3 creature and man is he awesome.
He has 1 armor and 11 health. He won't go down easily.
He has a quick action melee attack of 4 dice with Piercing +1.
He is Legendary, which means that only one of him can be in play at a time and he is also Elusive, which means he doesn't get hindered in Arena and that he can ignore guards when attacking.
This guy is amazing in Academy and will be amazing in Arena as well.
I think they are both viable options in Arena play.
This is the 6th creature that costs 8 mana and there are still more to come.
The Razortusk is a Nature level 2 spell. It has 2 armor and 7 health.
It has a quick action melee attack of 4 dice.
Pound for pound, this is one of the best creatures in Academy. It will survive a few hits and has a significant attack all for 8 mana.
In Arena, it won't see as much play. For one more mana, you can get a Timber Wolf with the same attack and armor, but with 3 more life.
This is the 2nd to last creature that costs 8 mana, I promise!
The Redcrested Cockatrice is an Arcane Level 2 spell.
It has 1 armor and 9 health.
Its attack is a quick action melee of 2 dice that inflicts the Weak condition on a 7+ effect die roll.
Its ability gives it Melee +1 and Piercing +1 whenever making a counterstrike.
That makes this bird a great choice to guard with.
In Academy, as I already discussed with the Darkfenne Asp, Weak tokens are devastating. Any card that can inflict them is very useful.
Ridgeback Skunk is a 7 cost Nature level 2 creature.
It has 1 armor and 7 health. It has a quick action melee attack of 2 dice.
What makes this creature unique is it's ability; one that is very thematic.
When a living creature hits this guy with a melee attack, they get a Stagger marker put on them at the end of the attack, during the Counterstrike Step.
This ability makes Ridgeback Skunk an excellent guard in Academy.
However, if he attacks a guarding creature and that creature then counterstrikes him, that creature does not receive a Stagger marker.
Time for the Wizard's big bad creature! The little cousin of the Darkfenne Hydra, this is the Sailfin Hydra! It costs 12 mana and is an Arcane level 3 spell.
It has one armor and 13 life. In addition, it has the Regenerate 1 trait, so it won't be dying easily. Its attack is a full action melee attack of 3 dice.
What's nice about the attack is that it has the doublestrike trait, meaning that it makes that attack twice in a row.
The issue with it being a full action attack means that he cannot use it to counterstrike while guarding.
Here is the final 8 mana creature, the Satyr Gruff. It is a level 2 Arcane spell.
It has 1 armor and 10 health with a quick action melee attack of 3 dice.
In addition, when he does 4+ damage to an opposing creature, they get a Stagger marker.
With his base attack of 3 dice, that will sometimes happen. However, if he gets buffed up, that could happen all the time.
He is a good creature in Academy. But I think he might be even better in Arena, simply because there are more buffs to give him, such as Bear Strength and Lion Savagery.
Interestingly, he is a soldier, so there are plenty of war cards that can help him out.
Slavorg, Fang of the First Moon
This is the most expensive card in this set at 15 mana. Slavorg is a level 4 Nature creature with a quick action melee attack of 4 dice with Piercing +2.
He has 2 armor and 13 health. He is Legendary, meaning only one of him can be in play at a time, Epic, meaning that you can only have one in your spellbook, and Beastmaster only.
He seems expensive, but that isn't really true. He actually costs 2 less mana for every animal creature in your discard pile. This makes him a potent mid or late-game creature after some of your beasts have been destroyed.
On top of all that, at the end of Slavorg's action, the Beastmaster can pay 2 mana to place a Guard marker on him. This doesn't require an action by the Mage, which is great.
He could be good for swarm books in Arena as well. Not really sure honestly. Cervere costs the same amount and has Fast, Elusive and a defense. Slavorg has piercing +2 and 2 more health, but the defense of Cervere actually makes him more likely to survive. My estimated guess is that Cervere is better in Arena but Slavorg could end up being much cheaper. If you can get him for 9 or less mana, then he's easily worth it.
This guy is amazing. The Steelclaw Cub is a 4 mana creature from the Nature school. It is level 1.
It has 2 armor and 5 health, so it won't likely die in one hit by a creature in Arena.
The armor makes it pretty survivable unless it is getting hit by a Piercing attack.
It has a melee attack of 2 dice which is a quick action, and it's a pest.
Again, this creature is pretty awesome. For 4 mana, it is extraordinarily worth it. But it gets even better with the next card.
Behold the final member (maybe?) of the Steelclaw family, the Steelclaw Matriarch!
This mother bear is very protective of her children, which we'll see in just a second.
She costs 11 mana and is a Level 3 Nature spell.
She has 3 armor and 11 health so she has amazing livability in Academy. It'll take alot to bring her down.
Her attack is a quick melee strike for 3 dice.
But what makes her great is that she gains Melee +1 for each Steelclaw Cub you control in her zone. In Academy, you can have up to 3 level 1 spells in your book, meaning that her attack can get up to 6 dice.
Tarraki, Thousand Bites
Tarraki reminds me of Sosruko, the ferret from Arena. They're quite similar stat wise except for one big thing which I'll get to.
This little guy costs 5 mana and is a level 1 Nature spell.
He has no armor and 4 health but like the Darkfenne Asp, has an infinite use defense of 5+. This makes him hard to kill without Unavoidable attacks.
His attack is a quick action melee strike of 2 dice. It is also Unavoidable, which is great in Academy.
He also happens to be Elusive which is great because like Rajah, he can ignore guards.
The other traits have been covered multiple times already so I won't repeat them.
Guarding with creatures is arguably more important in Academy. This makes Elusive arguably more important as well. Any creature with the Elusive trait is very valuable in this format. In Arena, I don't see him being used.
Wychwood Faerie is a creature every Beastmaster should bring out during one of their setup rounds.
She costs 4 mana and is level 1. Like Tarraki, she has that same defense. She only has 3 mana so if she does get hit, she's likely to die.
Her attack is one 1 die but that's not really why she's important.
Once per round, if in the same zone as her controlling Beastmaster, the Beastmaster pays 1 less mana when casting an animal creature spell or enchantment.
So this is basically an investment card. She breaks even in 4 turns but that doesn't take into account her attacking things.
She is cheap enough to where I see her being experimented with in Arena too. I don't know how effective she will be. It's possible that she dies very quickly in matches.
The last creature in Academy is the Wychwood Hound. It is a level 1 creature that costs 5 mana.
It has 0 armor and 7 health.
Its attack is a quick action melee of 2 dice, which isn't that great.
However, when in the same zone as another Wychwood Hound, it gains Armor +1 and Melee +1. So they get better when two or more are in the same zone.
It's important to not that these effects are not for EACH other Hound in the zone.
But still, 2 of them together in the same zone can be dangerous for their enemies.
So those are all of the cards from Academy. As you can see, we have all new cards and many of them will really change how Arena is played. Arcane Duels has done a video of the creatures as well as their awards from Academy, which I will post below! I highly recommend watching it and letting them know if you agreed with the awards they handed out or what cards you think should have gotten them instead!
Man, was I wrong.
Everything about Academy has blown me away. I didn't think that the epic feeling of Mage Wars could be taken and made into a 30 minute game. But it has been. Academy is easier to teach, MUCH easier to learn, and possibly most importantly, MUCH faster.
As always, the first couple of matches tend to run long because of all this new information. But once we got it down, it really took like 20-30 minutes to play each game. There is no bad card in Academy for Academy. There are cards that wouldn't be good in Arena but every card works well in Academy. It is incredibly well balanced, just like Arena.
I don't like Academy MORE than Arena, but I will honestly probably play it more often. I can get more people to play this. If anybody reading this knows somebody who looked at Mage Wars and thought it was too complex, buy Academy and teach them that instead. I'm sure they'll have a different reaction. & after a while, if they want to try Arena, that's great. But if not, Academy is a fantastic game in its own right.
- 56 new cards, all of which are brand new.
- Simpler way to play
- Faster way to play
- More portable
- Well balanced
- Lower cost
- Card distribution. It is fine for spellbook building in Academy but there aren't enough copies of some cards for Arena. For example, there is only 1 Lightning Raptor, which is disappointing.
- New players will still have to check the codex in the back. There are still plenty of keywords like Elusive, Guard, Counterstrike, etc. The easiest way for someone to learn this will still be to have somebody who already knows how to play teach it to them.
It has accomplished everything is was designed and intended to do. It is a simpler and faster way to play Mage Wars. Every card in here is good and they are all usable in Arena as well. If you heard of Academy and thought you wouldn't like it, I implore you, reconsider! It really is great and I look forward to future expansions.
So I hope you all enjoyed this review! Let me know what you think of Academy in the comments below and until next time, I'll see you in the Arena! (Or is it the Academy this time?)