When Ace of Wands popped up in my list of “upgradable” troops the other day, I started thinking … were we maybe too hard on Ace of Wands?
It’s super obvious that a fixed +1 Magic to a troop of your choice is categorically the weakest possible Magic buff in the game, BUT – it’s something you can cast for just 6 Mana, which (with the right combination of Banners and passive Traits) can theoretically be charged in a single turn even without a Mana Surge. And such low Mana costs are always tied to relatively weak effects…
- Teamwide Armor buff? True Damage. Mang/Rope Dart.
- Create ONE Gargoyle Gem? Eternal Sentinel/Tears of the Sisters get to create three and their Extra Turn is guaranteed.
- Curse 2 enemies? Curse does literally nothing when not combined with other status ailments/buffs.
- Jumble the board? Without a guaranteed extra turn?
And because the Ace of Wands provides a buff to a troop of your choice, it seems like nobody asked the obvious question of: What happens if Ace of Wands buffs itself?
If Ace of Wands granted, say, (1+Magic) Magic buff to a selected ally, then in theory you can:
armchair analysis and math
- Cast on itself (with 0 Magic) = +1 buff
- Cast on itself (with 1 Magic) = +2 buff
- Cast on itself (with 3 Magic) = +4 buff
- Cast on itself (with 7 Magic) = +8 buff
- Cast on itself (with 15 Magic) = +16 buff
- Cast on itself (with 31 Magic) = +32 buff
- Cast on itself (with 63 Magic) = +64 buff
- Cast on itself (with 127 Magic) = +128 buff
- Cast on itself (with 255 Magic) = +256 buff
- Cast on itself (with 511 Magic) = +512 buff
- Cast on itself (with 1000+ Magic) = +1000 buff
Total: 11 casts or less until max Magic
Then cast on your favorite ally = +1000 Magic buff
Imagine buffing The Archduke by even +30 Magic (let alone 1000!) - truly a “discount Zuul” or your Mana back, right?
So, suddenly the worst Magic buff in the game can be exploited into the BEST Magic buff in the game … for just 6 Red Mana (to say nothing of its occasional Extra Turn).
And don’t forget that a higher-level Player has as global Magic bonus which would quicken the cycle accordingly – for example, I have a global buff of about +10 Magic which ALONE would make it the single strongest Magic buff in the game (again, and for just 6 Red Mana), to say nothing of how it could still exponentially loop by casting on itself (i.e. max Magic in 7 casts or less)
What if Ace of Wands was limited to an “other” Ally?
Sorry, that doesn’t address the underlying problem – a player could simply utilize an ancient magic called “having two of them”. Yes, this would slow the loop down by half and probably nobody wants a duplicate Troop on their team ever, but it would still be the single most potentially exploitable Magic buff in the game.
What if Ace of Wands scaled by less than 1:1 of its Magic stat?
That’s a nice thought (and this is common in many Troops already), but again it doesn’t actually change the underlying problem, it only slows it down:
If the buff was (1 + Magic/2)
- Cast on self with 0 Magic = +1 buff
- Cast on self with 1 Magic = +1 buff
- Cast on self with 2 Magic = +2 buff
- Cast on self with 4 Magic = +3 buff
- Cast on self with 7 Magic = +4 buff
- Cast on self with 11 Magic = +6 buff
- Cast on self with 17 Magic = +9 buff
- Cast on self with 36 Magic = +19 buff
- Cast on self with 55 Magic = +28 buff
- Cast on self with 83 Magic = +42 buff
- Cast on self with 125 Magic = +63 buff
- Cast on self with 188 Magic = +95 buff
- Cast on self with 283 Magic = +142 buff
- Cast on self with 425 Magic = +213 buff
- Cast on self with 638 Magic = +320 buff
- Cast on self with 1000 Magic = +500 buff
Total: 16 casts or less until max Magic
Then why does The Emperor get a scalable buff to ALL STATS, when Ace of Wands does not?
Maybe because The Emperor only buffs a fixed target? If the Emperor is in last position then obviously it can buff itself (by 1 + Magic/2) but its other stats (Armor, Life, and especially Attack) are all but useless while in last position. And yes, while it can somewhat synergize with Troops such as Gargoyle (Attack), Tesla (Armor), or Sehkma (Magic) that’s hardly a noteworthy combo on its own. You’d have to shuffle The Emperor out of last position before it can buff something other than itself, and most shuffling options apply to the enemy team, not yours.
Then why does The Star get a scalable MAGIC buff when Ace of Wands does not?
Probably because The Star buffs a RANDOM target? (Compare Fallen Hero, Princess Fizzbang, etc) With a full team of 4 Troops, there’s only a 25% chance of The Star buffing itself, where on the other end, if The Star is by itself then yes it is guaranteed to buff itself but it has literally NO other use for its Magic stat. If the Ace of Wands had a scalable buff then The Star would be entirely obsolete.
So what’s the verdict? Obviously we all agree that the effect is super weak, but I actually have to agree that the alternative (a buff scaled by Magic stat) is actually worse design. (Not that it would be the first example of such … but still) Maybe it could instead have a useful Boost Ratio (e.g. “+1 for each Tarot ally”), but that’s just me spitballing random ideas. Yeah, Tarot troops are mostly vanity Troops, but at least they’re not Treasure Troops (or Hoard Mimic).