By Aaron Borsman,
Community Manager and Designer
Weapons presented an interesting hurdle when designing Academy. Did we want them to be balanced only for the lower level Academy Mages? Did we want their usefulness to be completely tied up in their special abilities? Were we okay printing a card that would probably not see play in Arena because it was poorly balanced for the larger game. Those of us on the design team wrestled with these questions over the course of the set’s design. We knew that if at all possible, we wanted to ensure that all of the cards we printed could be valuable and useful in Academy first, but then also in Arena.
The main issue for weapons was the difference in the basic attacks between Academy and Arena. In Arena everyone is use to the standard 3 die attack. Even though some Mages have other attacks instead of the standard 3 die, they’re all approximately equal. In Academy these rookie Mages only have a 2 die attack standard. A standard weapon in Arena rolls 4 dice, so for a weapon to be useful in Arena it needs to roll that many dice. Now in Arena you’re paying for an attack increase of 1 die, but in Academy you’d be paying for an attack increase of 2 dice. We wanted the weapons to be balanced for both systems and so the issue was cost, we couldn’t appropriately cost them for both systems.
That’s when there was a giant light bulb. We needed a way to make the weapons vary their dice depending on which Mage was wielding them. We tried several different mechanics to approximate this, but in the end we went with a simple mechanic. The melee weapons in Academy all roll an extra die on attacks if the Mage they’re on is level 5 or higher, which as many Arena player’s know, their Arena Mages are higher than that!
With that, we give you the first weapon spoiler from Academy, the Johktari Hunting Knife!
THIS is a knife! This weapon is all designed around “leading the attack” with its ability. By swinging the knife first you can empower an animal you control to fight harder. This is a simple, strong, and offensive ability that will be welcomed in the spellbooks of Beastmasters of all kinds! Notwithstanding that though, it is only a level 1 spell, so if you have a sneaky plan to use an animal in a non-beastmaster book, this is easily slotted in to your spellbook, depending on your chosen mage!
So sharpen your blade, and let loose the hounds, as you Test your Skills, with the Johktari Hunting Knife!
Don’t forget, you can pre-order the Mage Wars Academy Core Set for special early Pre-Release at Gen Con 2015 online here!