Forged in Fire is the 4th expansion set for the game Mage Wars. The three previous ones have been divided into two types, "Big" expansions, which introduced completely new Mages, and "Small" expansions, which have released alternate Mages. These are "new" Mages in the sense that they have new abilities and stats, but are based off of Mages that are already in the game.
Forged in Fire (FiF from here on out), is a small expansion that introduces us to both the alternate Warlock and Warlord.
We'll take a look at the new Warlock first.
The Adramelech Warlock
The new Warlock is the Adramelech Warlock, meaning that she is one of the personal servants of Lord Adramelech. Thus, she has a fixation on fire. When I say she loves it, I mean she LOVES it. Almost everything about her has to do with fire spells and Burns. She is the most fire-oriented Mage thus far. Let's take a look at her image and stats card.
Her three new abilities synergize very well with one another.
Fireweaving: The new Warlock's first ability lets her move a Burn condition from one object to another one in that same zone once per round. This is a great ability when paired with some of the cards we'll see later. It allows her to put Burns on objects that are easy to catch on fire and move them to something that isn't so easy to catch on fire. We'll see how that can be important a bit later on.
Smoldering Curses: Any enemy creature that has a curse she controls on it gains the Flame +1 trait. This makes it easier to inflict Burns on them and causes attacks that deal Fire damage to roll 1 extra die.
Demonic Reward: If a Demon she controls attacks an enemy creature with a Burn marker on it, the Demon can heal 1 damage.
As you can see, all 3 of her abilities have to do with Fire type attacks and Burn markers. Her basic attack is even the Fire type. It is only 1 die, but on a roll of 5+, inflicts a Burn. Combined with her Smoldering Curses trait, that will go up to 2 dice and 4+ is a Burn. Some other cards, including old ones like Fireshaper Ring, can help increase that even more.
The Anvil Throne Warlord
The new Warlord is from the Dwarves of the Anvil Throne Mountains, who were the first to discover Harshforge Metal. It has been a hard task, but they have managed to bend it to their will and shape it into equipment the likes of which has never been seen before in Etheria. Let's take a look.
ANYWAYS, the new Dwarf Warlord has a respectable 34 health and 9 channeling. The training is the exact same as the old Warlord but the stats and abilities are different. His/her new abilities are very fun and thematic to use.
Runesmithing: This is one of my favorite abilities of any Mage. The Anvil Throne Warlord has 5 different runes that he can pay an additional mana to assign to an equipment when it comes out. The 5 different runes all has different effects:
PRECISION: Piercing +1,
FORTIFICATION: Armor +1,
POWER: Pay -1 mana,
SHIELDING: Defense +2
Each Rune can only be assigned once per game and they make those equipments harder to destroy by forcing the opponent to pay 2 extra mana when destroying an equipment that has a rune on it. I LOVE this ability. It is SO thematic and fun. When you think of Dwarves, one thing you think of is smiths. And this ability is a great way to integrate that idea into Mage Wars.
Battle Orders: Similar to the Bloodwave Warlord, this Warlord has his own set of Battle Orders. He has three:
Take Aim! - Ranged attacks gain the Piercing +2 trait.
Quick March! - Gain the Fast trait
Hold The Line! - Gain Armor +1 and Tough -2 trait.
These Battle Orders are pretty nice as well. They can be useful in many different situations. Depending on your strategy with the Warlord, you might think the Battle Orders with the old Warlord was better, but to me, it's a toss up that depends what you are trying to do.
Battle Hardened: Finally, the Anvil Throne Warlord has the Battle Hardened ability. Instead of having the Battle Skill ability, which grants an innate Melee +1 trait, the new Warlord has an innate Tough -2 trait. That means that whenever the effect die is rolled for additional effects after an attack (Burn, Corrode, etc), you subtract 2 from whatever is rolled. This is very thematic and actually a very good ability. You might think that the Melee +1 is better just from comparing the 2 because it gives immediate payout when you attack, but the Tough -2 will be helpful in practically every match.
So here are the two Mages. Personally, I'm more excited for the Warlord (not to say I don't like the new Warlock though). I felt like the old Warlord had an ability that wasn't very useful (Vet Markers) and even though I really wanted to like him, I just couldn't at the time simply because he wasn't too good. However, this set is full of cards that help BOTH Warlords, not just the new one. The old one is getting a major upgrade too. Let's take a look at some of the new toys he is getting. We'll take a close look at a few of my favorite new cards from the War school and then I will have the rest of them in a slideshow below.
War & Earth schools
This is a pretty cool card. A common trait in many games is LOTS of stacking enchantments, whether it is things like Bear Strength and Rhino Hide that improve creatures, or curses to hurt the opponent.
Well, this card is a way to reduce that enchantment stacking. Every enchantment within 1 zone of this conjuration gain the Upkeep +1 trait, meaning that the owner has to pay 1 mana per enchantment, otherwise they get destroyed.
So, if your opponent stacks a bunch of curses on you, you just throw down this card and drain their mana. It's got 4 armor and 7 life, so it can take a few hits, but won't last forever. And because it's Epic, you can only have one in your spellbook. So you'll want to protect it with something that has the Intercept trait if you want it to last.
This is one of my favorites. Basically, if you have a soldier creature in a zone that an opponent's conjuration is in, and they don't have a creature in it, you can cast this card and automatically destroy that conjuration by paying the conjuration's casting cost. That is AMAZING! Then after that, you can re-cast that conjuration (assuming it isn't "Arcane Mage Only" or anything like that) or cast a new one from your spellbook by paying its casting cost as well.
Enemies will now have to guard their Conjurations carefully when playing against Warlord spellbooks. I think this card will mostly be used to take out conjurations like Wizard's Tower and Battleforge, but it can be used on any corporeal conjuration that isn't attached to anything (no targeting Tanglevines).
On a side note, that art is AWESOME!
Another great card for the Warlord. Typical armor in the sense that it gives Armor +2, but that is where the typicality stops. Its effect states that when wearing this, when an enemy targets you with an enchantment or incantation, they must pay an additional 2 mana to cast that spell.
That's an awesome effect. They now have to pay more to curse you, teleport you, dissolve your equipment, pretty much do anything to you except simply attack you. I think that when I play this card, I'll add the rune of Reforging to it so it gains the cantrip trait. Or maybe the rune of Fortification so it gains another Armor +1. Either way would be a good way to go. At that point, it would cost 12 mana to Dissolve and you could play an Armor Ward to increase that cost even more.
Now for one of the crown jewels of this set, the Altar of Domination (AoD). This is a Warlord only Epic conjuration.
Basically, if you have 3 or more outpost conjurations in the Arena, along with this card, then each Upkeep phase, you place a token on this. Then, when there are 4 tokens on this card, you grab Talos from your spellbook and summon him to the zone with the AoD in it for free. Then the Altar is destroyed.
We'll get to Talos in a moment. But this card only has 3 armor and 8 health. & when it comes out, your opponent is going to try destroying it as hard as they can. You'll understand why when we look at Talos. But the point is that you're going to want to protect it for 4 rounds. There are a couple of ways you could do that.
- Summon something with the Intercept trait (Dwarf Panzergarde for a War School creature) to defend against melee and ranged attacks.
- Use Rolling Fog, a new Air school card that we'll be talking about later.
- Wall it up using one of the many walls the Warlord has access to.
Now let's see Talos.
What a powerful creature. He has as much armor as an Iron Golem, one of the hardest-to-kill creatures in the game (5), has more health (16), and most importantly ISN'T SLOW! That means he can move AND attack every turn.
& he has a great attack. One of the best attacks in the game. 6 dice, Reach (meaning it can hit Flying creatures), and Piercing +2. Talos is Burnproof, has Psychic Immunity, is Nonliving and Epic. Talos also has a new trait: Unstoppable.
Unstoppable: This creature is exceptionally large, heavy, and/or strong, possibly animated by powerful magics. It is virtually impossible to hold or push. This creature cannot be hindered. It also has both the Unmovable and Uncontainable traits.
Being Unstoppable means that many cards designed to slow creatures down won't work on him. Cards like Tanglevine, Force Crush, Force Hold, etc. The only cards that will work are Banish and Turn to Stone. Later on we'll take a look at another card that's Unstoppable. It's the other crown jewel from the set ;)
Talos also has one more special thing about him. He is the only creature in the game currently that comes into play with his action marker flipped to the READY side. That means he can move and attack on his first turn on the board.
With that much armor and that powerful attack, along with his traits Talos is without a doubt the best creature in the game, if you can get him out.
And that is that hard part, getting him out. He can ONLY come into play through the Altar of Domination. If the enemy Mage destroys the Altar, he can't come into play. If they destroy your outpost cards, the Altar won't get the tokens it needs. The nice thing is that even though he's Level 7, he costs no spellbook points to put in your Warlord spellbook. And although his mana cost is 28, it doesn't actually cost anything when you summon him. These will only come into play when another card that targets Talos says something like "Casting cost is X, where X = Level of creature".
Fire & Dark Schools
First off, I love this artwork. Gorgeous, like always.
The card itself is very unique in it's own right. It is the first attack spell that can only target creatures!
Why? Well, because the attack has Piercing +2. That's awesome, but would be a little too powerful in killing Conjurations. It's only 7 mana, so it's cheap to cast, and only costs 2 to put in a Warlock's spellbook.
The attack it makes is awesome. It inflicts Fire damage, rolls 4 dice, and has an awesome d12 roll. On 3-5, it Cripples the creature, meaning they have to roll the d12 to move, on 6-8 it Cripples and Burns and on 9+ it just does a Burn. So 6-8 is the sweet spot that you really want to hit, but all the effects are good. And as I mentioned before, it has Piercing +2, helping it get through armor.
A great new equipment piece for the Warlock, this helmet gives all friendly Demons Melee +1 when attacking an object with a Burn condition.
This builds even more on the new Warlock's obsession with fire. Her Demons already heal 1 damage when attacking an enemy creature with a Burn and this will make them stronger when attacking as well.
You'll get the most out of this helmet if you have multiple Demon creatures out. The core set only came with a few Demons but this set adds 5 more new ones.
Let's look at one of my favorites.
That artwork is evil looking! I love it :D
This new Demon is amazing. He costs 1 less than the Dark Pact Slayer, has a little bit less health and armor, but will probably survive much longer.
His attack is only 3 dice but is Vampiric, meaning that he will heal himself when damaging other Living creatures.
Oh, did I mention that he's flying? That makes most creatures unable to even hit him. He also has Bloodthirsty +1, which can be both a good & bad thing. It'll give him Melee +1 when attacking a damaged creature but it means he HAS to attack a creature that is damaged. So even if you want to attack their Mage, if it isn't damaged and there is a creature in the same zone that IS damaged, the Blood Demon has to attack it.
Behold, Sardonyx! The Bog Queen herself has sent Sardonyx, Blight of the Living, an undead dragon from another age, to do her bidding. Living creatures... beware.
Sardonyx is the other crown jewel from this set. People have been wanting Dragons in this game ever since it was released, and the first one has arrived. & he does not disappoint...
Sardonyx is insanely powerful and expensive. He is a level 8 Dark creature. Level 8!!! And he costs 24 mana to summon, tying him as the most expensive creature in the game, mana wise, to bring out (Adramelech being the other).
But that buys you one of the best creatures this game has to offer. He has no armor, because it would be unfair if he did. Instead, he has 31 health! That's the 2nd most in the game (Earth Elemental). He can gain armor from Fortified Position anyway, but you don't want Sardonyx sitting in one place.
No, no, you want him chasing the other Mage around the Arena until they are trapped in a corner. Then he can unleash his undead fury upon them.
Sardonyx has 3 attacks. A quick melee attack of 5 dice with Piercing +2. A full melee attack of 5 dice with Sweeping. And a full ranged zone attack of 0-1 zones that inflicts Poison damage of 2 dice, and has an effect roll. On a roll of 8+, creatures gain a Rot marker. The attack is also Unavoidable.
Sardonyx has the typical traits of a Skeleton type, Psychic Immunity & Nonliving. He is also Legendary. Along with that, he is the 2nd creature that is Unstoppable.
The loyalty of Sardonyx comes at a price though. Each Upkeep phase, the Mage who controls him loses 2 life. Not Health. Life. Life is much harder to get back. The best ways to do it are with the Sunfire Amulet and Drain Soul. So while Sardonyx is a beast on the battlefield, do not field him without caution otherwise he will hurt more than he helps. On top of everything else, Sardonyx causes all Living creatures in his zone to gain the Finite Life trait, meaning that they cannot heal when he is in their zone. This card is a beast and will definitely be going into my Skeletal Necromancer spellbook.
We mentioned this card before when talking about the Altar of Domination and how to protect it while it is generating Domination Tokens. Now we'll see why this card can be used for that.
This is an Epic conjuration from the Air school. It costs 7 mana and introduces a new keyword to Mage Wars- Dissipate Tokens.
Cards with the Dissipate X keyword are only in play for X amount of turns. They are then destroyed. For Rolling Fog, it remains in play for 3 turns. It cannot be destroyed or removed for those 3 turns.
So this card gives all Objects and Zones in the ENTIRE Arena the Obscured trait. If you remember from DvN, something that is Obscured means that it can only be targeted from 1 zone away. Many cards and attacks in Mage Wars are range 0-2, so this means that the gap between objects will have to be closer in order to cast those spells or make those attacks.
If you play this with the Altar of Domination, it means the enemy Mage can't cast attack spells from 2 zones away to try to damage it. They'll have to get closer, which they might not want to do because that means it will be easier for you to attack them with your own creatures and damage them. But if they don't come closer, your AoD will have 3 turns to get tokens on it.
This is a very cheap spell that introduces a new type of marker to Mage Wars, Disable markers.
This card is from the Mind School, is Level 1, and is Novice, meaning that any Mage can put it in their spellbook for 1 spellbook point.
When you cast it on a Mage, you target one of their equipment cards and place a Disable marker on it.
Disable: Disable is a condition marker that temporarily prevents an object from functioning. If an object has one or more Disable markers on it, it is Disabled. Disabled objects lose all attack bars, action bars, and non-trait abilities. It does not lose any of its attributes or subtypes. Each Reset Phase, remove one Disable marker from each object, unless that Disable marker was placed during that Ready Phase. For objects with multiple Disable markers on them, remove only one each Reset Phase. Disable does not have a removal cost and cannot be removed by spells or abilities which remove condition markers.
So this card is basically useful for making a piece of equipment not work for a turn, which could be handy in some situations. You can get rid of armor for a turn, get rid of a weapon, a wand, etc.
There are 4 other cards that are all pretty good shown below.
The Warlord is indeed getting a much needed upgrade. I suspect he'll be one of the better Mages after this set. I am, however, a little disappointed that there was not any alternative to Teleport. I know that a card that so many people have been asking for would require serious playtesting though, so I can accept it. I'm less excited about the new Warlock, but that's only because I am so excited for the new Warlord. I will have loads of fun playing as both Mages.
Out of the 41 cards from this set, 22 cards, more than half, are from the War and Earth schools. This is because Arcane Wonders knows that the War school needed some serious help to be playable.
13 cards are for the Fire and Dark schools and 6 are from other schools of magic.
How will this set affect the other Mages? Well, the Druid is probably the first one to come to mind. With such a Fire-intensive Mage joining the party, she could perhaps see a decrease in strength/play since almost everything she has is weak to fire. Expect to see her (and all other Mages, but her especially) carry more cards around that get rid of Burns (Geyser, Renewing Rain). Rolling Fog has a huge effect on her as well. Because it obscures zones, she cannot cast spells through her vine markers that are more than 1 zone away.
I don't see Wizards losing their spot as the "best" Mage. Their cheap access to Arcane staples like Teleport and Dispel, along with the powerful Wizard Tower still give them an advantage over the rest of the competition, and they've gained access to a couple new toys from the fire school like Ignite and Combustion. It will be interesting to see, however, if the Warlord ends up turning into a bad matchup for the Wizard. I think he could. If left unguarded, Conquer is the best way to get rid of the Wizard's Tower, by far. And the Harshforge Plate will make it harder for the Wizard to cast spells (like Teleport and Dissolve) targeting the Warlord.
Expect to also see an increase in the amount of Force Hammer and Fire-type attack spells that see play. Fire spells will help destroy the new Outpost cards that the Warlord has and the Force Hammer will be the best way to destroy the Altar of Domination.
Overall, I think this is a great set for fans of Mage Wars. It introduces two alternate Mages that are very fun to play and has lots of cards that will be useful in many Mages' spellbooks, not just the two offered. As a "small" expansion, this is a HUGE improvement over Conquest of Kumanjaro. Go out and get this! You won't regret it!
-New Mages are very fun to play.
-On that note, the War school got a much needed upgrade
-Some VERY fun new spells
-Artwork is top-quality as always
-Slight balance issues that were present before this expansion's release are likely to persist after this set comes out.
-Not very many spells from other schools
Until next time, my name is Lord0fWinter, and I hope to see you in the Arena!