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Originally a tavern minigame from Might & Magic VII and VIII, Arcomage was released as a standalone game in 2000. It supports netplay but doesn't have the full set of cards or rules. In it two rival wizards vie for supremacy over an area of land, represented by players taking turns to play cards representing spells or monsters, and it has nothing to do with Magic: The Gathering.


Destruction run: 0:00:20 by Paul 'Lag.Com' Davies

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Arcomage is a cool little minigame involving a set of cards, two rival wizards and a lot of numbers. Originally it was part of the Might & Magic series, but it can also be played on its own. It's quite easy to pick up. You are a wizard in a Tower, protected by a Wall. The size of these objects varies as the game goes on. You also maintain stockpiles of resources, of which there are three types:

Bricks: Red cards; and generally revolve around building up your Wall
Gems: Blue cards; usually make your Tower bigger or theirs smaller
Recruits: Green cards; usually directly attack the other wizard's Wall or Tower

For these to accumulate you need Quarries, Magic and Dungeons respectively. There are numerous cards that deal with increasing your own numbers of these and decreasing your opponent's. There are also some cards that increase both player's counts. Balancing the need to stockpile resources to pay for more expensive cards with the ability to keep your Tower from being destroyed comprises the core gameplay. There are two main ways to win:

Destruction: this happens when your opponent's Tower reaches 0 size
Building: if you manage to reach the maximum height with your Tower (by default, 50), you achieve this victory
Wall: if both wizards 'win' at the same time, the size of their Walls is compared. I don't know what happens if they are equal too

I've done runs of the first two, though I do have a recording of the third one occurring.

The deck itself is always made of the same set of cards. Some cards have multiple copies in the deck, I refer to these as Common, and the others as Rare.

The key here is abusing the most efficient damage-dealing spells:

Lightning Shard (11g) - If your Tower is taller than the enemy Wall, 8 damage to enemy Tower, otherwise 8 damage
Shatterer (8g) - Lose 1 Magic, deal 9 damage to enemy Tower
Discord (5g) - Both players lose 1 Magic, both players take 7 damage to their Towers

As you can see, Discord affects both players, so it is ideal to have your enemy cast it, so they pay the initial cost. All of these cards are Rare.

Here's what happens in my run:

-- TURN 1
Me: Gem Spear (4g) - 5 damage to enemy Tower
Enemy: Innovations (2b) - both players gain 1 Quarry, you gain 4 Gems
Gem Spear is not the ideal opener, but it is one of the cheapest ways to deal damage directly to a Tower. Innovations doesn't matter to me; most cards that cost Bricks only build up the Wall, which I plan to bypass by doing direct damage.
-- TURN 2
Me: Orc (3r) - 5 damage
Enemy: Gemstone Flaw (2g) - 3 damage to enemy Tower
Neither of these cards have an lasting effect, but I have nothing better to play.
-- TURN 3
Me: Solar Flare (4g) - you gain 2 Tower, 2 damage to enemy Tower
Enemy: Big Wall (5b) - you gain 6 Wall
Solar Flare isn't as cost-effective as it could be, but again my options are limited. Big Wall doesn't matter at all.
-- TURN 4
Me: FocusedDesigns (15b) - you gain 8 Wall and 5 Tower
Enemy: Slasher (5r) - 6 damage
Neither of these cards are important, though I do have the vague need to have a fairly high Tower in case I draw Lightning Shard.
-- TURN 5
Me: Bag of Baubles (0) - If your Tower is shorter than the enemy Tower, you gain 2 Tower, otherwise you gain 1 Tower
Enemy: Discord
That's what I've been waiting for! My choice is inconsequential but I picked it because it doesn't cost anything. On the other hand, the enemy foolishly enters themselves into easy killing range with Shatterer, which I've had in my hand since the beginning.
-- TURN 6
Me: Shatterer
So I win.

Building run: 0:00:24 by Paul 'Lag.Com' Davies

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In opposition to the Destruction run, this time I need to efficiently gain Tower and also protect it from damage by maintaining at least a passable Wall. On the other hand, I could try to ruin my opponent's Recruit/Dungeon count so that they can't pay for the damage in the first place. Important spells:

Crystallize (8g) - gain 11 Tower, lose 6 Wall
Power Burn (3g) - gain 2 Magic, lose 5 Tower
Quarry's Help (4g) - gain 7 Tower, lose 10 Bricks

These spells are very cheap for what they do, although they come at a small hit to other resources. And of course, they are all Rare. Power Burn may seem counter-intuitive because of the loss to Tower, but it very quickly makes up for itself.

This time my opponent goes first. This isn't always a bad thing, in fact, this time it was very good!

-- TURN 1
Enemy: MadCowDisease (0) - all players lose 6 Recruits
Me: Quartz (1g) - gain 1 Tower, play again
Me: Spell Weavers (3g) - gain 1 Magic
The enemy's first play pretty much destroys their ability to use green cards for the rest of the match. Bad decision. Quartz is one of the small group of cards that has a miniscule effect then lets you take another turn. Generally these are very useful though their effects are tiny. It ended up being extremely important for me. Spell Weavers is the second cheapest way to gain Magic, so I was glad to draw it.
-- TURN 2
Enemy: Reinforced Wall (8b) - gain 8 Wall
Me: Dwarven Miners (7b) - gain 4 Wall, gain 1 Quarry
Neither of these cards has a huge impact, but that additional Quarry will help me play the few red cards that increase Tower.
-- TURN 3
Enemy: Amethyst (2g) - gain 3 Tower
Me: Spell Weavers
I don't care how tall my enemy's Tower gets as long as I outrun him. The second Spell Weavers gives me all the Magic I should need to finish quickly.
-- TURN 4
Enemy: Crumblestone (7g) - gain 5 Tower, enemy loses 6 Bricks
Me: Crystallize
Losing Bricks sucks, but I can deal with it. Crystallize makes its welcome entrance.
-- TURN 5
Enemy: Goblin Mob (3r) - 6 Damage, you also take 3 Damage
Me: Foundations (3b) - If you have no Wall, you gain 6 Wall, otherwise you gain 3 Wall
Luckily I had enough Wall left over after the Crystallize to block the Goblin Mob's attack. Foundations gives ma tiny boost to my defenses.
-- TURN 6
Enemy: Basic Wall (2b) - gain 3 Wall
Me: Quarry's Help
The other power Tower-gain card appears! Only 11 left to go now, and I have a Sapphire in my hand for that. I still have 6 Gems, so my 4 Magic will give me enough to cast it next turn, as long as my opponent doesn't play Imp, Discord or Thief.
-- TURN 7
Enemy: Minotaur (3r) - gain 1 Dungeon
Me: Sapphire (10g) - gain 11 Tower
He didn't play any of those 3 cards, so I win, hitting exactly 50 Tower.

Thank you for watching my first 'official' run on SDA! While I can't claim either of these runs are 'optimal', they are both extremely unlikely to occur. Beating them will take a lot of restarts. If you want to ask me anything else about Arcomage, feel free to message me on the forum or catch me in the IRC channel. I regularly check both.

And yes, I do plan to do other runs. :)

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