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Oxfordian Mages: A Power Struggle

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Hey everyone, I'm here today to talk about one of my favorite models and one of the most powerful models in the game! Sande.. Sorry, Make that Oxfordian Mages. With the prevalence of Sandeep and Ironsides in a lot of competitive lists, as well as the ever growing list of synergistic models, one has to wonder. Is the master really the biggest problem here? I'm going to compare Ox-Mages to other models in faction at their point cost when you take 3 and the extra bonuses that they really get from just being near everyone's favorite new arcanist master. But first, We'll need to set the stage.

 

    1. Oxfordian Mages are Incredibly Point Efficient baseline with Shielding

While most people might argue that Ox-mages are under performers in their Soulstone to wound ratio, at 5-5, this is actually not the case. With Temporary Shielding, Arcane Shielding, and other defensive techs to the faction, they are at least 7 wound models, sometimes going to 8, 9 or even 10 in extreme scenarios! While it does take a card to make use of Temporary Shielding, this is more often than not, worth a card, especially when you'd use a card to try to avoid getting hit in general. Along with + Flips to WP contingent on seeing a friendly M&SU henchman, and the ability to reduce the damage they take to 0, they often will come out ahead of many other models in faction, especially when they can turn off after damaging triggers. Let's take a look at some of the other options in the faction.

  • Ice Dancer-6ss: 6 Wounds ( Not a Midrange DPS model, but a wound comparison nonetheless)

  • Willie/Miss Fire-6ss: 7 Wounds (Similar Role to mages)

  • Silent Ones-6ss: 6 Wounds (Similar role, used to provide more utility)

  • December Acolytes-7ss: 8 Wounds (Similar Role, Ranged Midfield DPS)

  • Sanctioned Spellcasters-5ss: 5 Wounds (Identical in functionality but Guild Model).

 

As you can see, the options that Arcanists have are not nearly as cost efficient as 5 point Oxfordian mages, especially when you consider that discarding a card for temporary shielding is not as card intensive as most players would have you believe. Why do I say this? Because it can often be more advantageous to simply throw away a card for two wounds instead of cheating in a card for a DF duel.

 

    2. Oxfordian Mages have every possible trigger for every situation now

Before, Oxfordian mages used to be incredibly limited by the amount of Academics and the grouping that you needed to do in order to get the most benefit out of their ability Resonance. Now, with the large influx of academics, especially with Sandeep (More on that later), Resonance essentially gives a built in trigger for either Slow, a 2 inch push, burning one (or min damage 3, if you're into the statement that everything is min damage 3 now), or the ignoring of armor. Amina, and the Shastar Vida Guard (Along with Kudra I guess) are models that sure up the weaknesses of the mages, making them more mobile, more defensive, and less likely to clump due to the sheer number of Academics that you can have on the board now. This also includes the fact that with their 2/3/4 damage track, and the ability to flurry, they often do the job better than other models in the Soulstone slot. Let's take a look at some of the other models and their need to hit the right suit for the right job.

  • Silent ones: No triggers on masks, TN of 12. :crow to block LOS, :tome to attack again, :ram to heal.

  • Willie/Miss Fire: :tome to do burning :mask to Push.

  • Gunsmiths: (Can use switch chambers) :crowFor No prevention, :mask for Bonus damage, :ram For Blasts, :tome for ignore everything else.

  • Sanctioned Spellcasters:  :mask for no charging or burning+1 :tome for no (0)s or blast damage

  • December Acolytes: Built in :crow for Discard, :ram for a 6" pull

 

Oxfordian mages offer just as much utility as all of the models listed before for Arcanists, often filling in the same role. Oxfordian mages can do all of the things that the previously listed arcanists models can, at just the same cost or even less.

 

    3. Oxfordian Mages used to be heavily hindered by Cover

When dealing with ranged crews, before there used to be a simple solution. Take cover behind a piece of terrain with the Soft or Hard cover characteristics, and laugh as your opponent

struggles to use their AP efficiently with their :ranged attacks. Now, With Sandeep giving commands in wind, Ironsides giving + to damage flips and attack flips, AND let's not forget the trigger to simply push the model to be >1" away from the terrain, one could see how the inclusion of Oxfordian mages would push many Arcanist lists over the top.

 

Normally, models with :ranged are heavily punished by cover and cover generation effects. But, the natural trigger of Oxfordian mages removes most of the counterplay to them, only allowing fast engagement to be a solution. Because of their immobility, it is difficult for enemy crews to efficiently engage due to being in the backline.

 

     4. Is this a Problem? Should anything be done?

Currently, as a long standing Arcanist player, I'm of the opinion that we're not in a great state right now. Many of these points were exasperated by Sandeep but I'm of the opinion that he's* not the primary issue. If in the future the choice is made to nerf Sandeep, this still leaves Oxfordian Mages in a spot that leaves them as a must take or a heavy consideration. With many previous nerfs affecting arcanist "Must Takes", it follows that these models might be next on the chopping block.  With that being said, I think that the best thing to do would be To reduce the prevention of Temporary shielding to 1, and/or to lower the range of Resonance to 2". This still makes the trio a fantastic choice in terms of Ranged damage per action point, but causes them to be more fragile and gives more room to natural counters to deal with them by making them weaker to area damage like blasts and pulses. Without these changes, we seriously limit the design space of the Arcanist faction by locking us to these powerhouses.

Edit: A word

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Do you know, this is a funny post to come up, as I was going to post about these models to try to figure out what all the fuss is about with these models.

Personally I find they just never pull their weight for having to take 3 of the them as they are to easy to kill and I find there are better damage dealers to have.

I will keep trying them on the board to see if I can get them to work but at the moment they just don't do it for me.

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Perhaps I'm odd but I don't own sandeep and rarely take oxfordian mages with my other masters 

I agree with balgor that they tend to die too easily as well even with all the "defensive options" (wait until they activate, pressure the master so he uses his cards earlier then they are an easy df5 no defensive tech kill)

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1 minute ago, katadder said:

Perhaps I'm odd but I don't own sandeep and rarely take oxfordian mages with my other masters 

The thing with Sandeep is he just makes models better by giving them so much utility that it makes the mages stay in the box for me.

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Don't forget they can also act as supportive models by pushing friendly models up to 8" per action. 2 damages is not that a big deal (especialy with Ironsides). 1 if the model you want to push has armor. And you should always talk about that insane warding rune while talking about Oxfordian mages. It's the best item a faction could ever dream of, if you manage to stay within 10" of the mages.

When i want to come close to the mages, i try to hide, but if one of them focus + attack, he just push me out of the cover for the 2nd/3rd mage to flurry my model to death. Also the "just engage them" argument is quite irrelevant, since the one with the melee ability will push  the annoyance out before his friends just take care of the threat.

I understand in bombing heavy metagames, they could underperform but I've still not found a reliable way to deal with them.

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17 minutes ago, bedjy said:

Don't forget they can also act as supportive models by pushing friendly models up to 8" per action. 2 damages is not that a big deal (especialy with Ironsides). 1 if the model you want to push has armor. And you should always talk about that insane warding rune while talking about Oxfordian mages. It's the best item a faction could ever dream of, if you manage to stay within 10" of the mages.

When i want to come close to the mages, i try to hide, but if one of them focus + attack, he just push me out of the cover for the 2nd/3rd mage to flurry my model to death. Also the "just engage them" argument is quite irrelevant, since the one with the melee ability will push  the annoyance out before his friends just take care of the threat.

I understand in bombing heavy metagames, they could underperform but I've still not found a reliable way to deal with them.

This was sort of implicit in the mention of the other model's triggers, but yeah, you hit the points that I was making as well.

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The best thing to do IMO would be to make Temporary Shielding Rare 1.  So you'd only get the -1 cost once so it's 17ss for 3 good models and the damage prevention would only occur once (but make it so any friendly Oxfordian can discard it so you can still choose who gets those extra 2 wounds).  The Mages themselves are pretty decent for their cost pre-Sandeep, and with more Academics around they're only looking better.  Temporary Shielding as the "fixer" upgrade seems like the best target for nerfs to me.

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Eyo Dray, I should've proofread the text when I had the chance. Only found one apparent misspelling, it's Shore up Weaknesses, not Sure up. 😁 

I think OxBlox may actually be in a similar spot to Katanaka Snipers, which outshine the rest of the factions ranged models to the extent where one of them recently got a points reduction (and you're still more likely to take a Sniper). 

They're in that boat where you could remove one of their excellent rules and they'd still be a great pick. I'd think what could be interesting would be lowering their range to 10" to make their immobility a bit more of an issue. 

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15 minutes ago, DonCheadle said:

Eyo Dray, I should've proofread the text when I had the chance. Only found one apparent misspelling, it's Shore up Weaknesses, not Sure up. 😁 

I think OxBlox may actually be in a similar spot to Katanaka Snipers, which outshine the rest of the factions ranged models to the extent where one of them recently got a points reduction (and you're still more likely to take a Sniper). 

They're in that boat where you could remove one of their excellent rules and they'd still be a great pick. I'd think what could be interesting would be lowering their range to 10" to make their immobility a bit more of an issue. 

They're already range 10 friend :P Did you mean range 8?

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9 hours ago, DonCheadle said:

Eyo Dray, I should've proofread the text when I had the chance. Only found one apparent misspelling, it's Shore up Weaknesses, not Sure up. 😁 

I think OxBlox may actually be in a similar spot to Katanaka Snipers, which outshine the rest of the factions ranged models to the extent where one of them recently got a points reduction (and you're still more likely to take a Sniper). 

They're in that boat where you could remove one of their excellent rules and they'd still be a great pick. I'd think what could be interesting would be lowering their range to 10" to make their immobility a bit more of an issue. 

I still take acolytes over the mages, imo they are the best range model we have.

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3 hours ago, balgor said:

I still take acolytes over the mages, imo they are the best range model we have.

Why's that? Their shoot value isn't better. Acolytes aren't faster Wk. they both give out slow. and it's a 2" range difference and the acolyte is a pure independent while Mages boost each other and Warding Runes and are 5stone cheaper. I don't know the english ideology of Malifaux so I'm curious about this. 

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2 hours ago, Kihraxz said:

Why's that? Their shoot value isn't better. Acolytes aren't faster Wk. they both give out slow. and it's a 2" range difference and the acolyte is a pure independent while Mages boost each other and Warding Runes and are 5stone cheaper. I don't know the english ideology of Malifaux so I'm curious about this. 

Mages only give out slow on an after damaging trigger.  Henchman and Masters can stone to prevent gaining slow.  Acolytes give out slow more consistently as the slow effect is built into the attack.  Acolytes can also deploy just about anywhere on the table and they're immune to horror duels and paralyze which is good against ressurs and neverborn.

I think they both have their uses, so I wouldn't say one is inherently better than the other.  Outside of Sandeep or Ironsides crews, I lean towards December Acolytes more than Oxfordian Mages though.

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1 hour ago, skoatz said:

Mages only give out slow on an after damaging trigger.  Henchman and Masters can stone to prevent gaining slow.  Acolytes give out slow more consistently as the slow effect is built into the attack.  Acolytes can also deploy just about anywhere on the table and they're immune to horror duels and paralyze which is good against ressurs and neverborn.

I think they both have their uses, so I wouldn't say one is inherently better than the other.  Outside of Sandeep or Ironsides crews, I lean towards December Acolytes more than Oxfordian Mages though.

So to my understanding you're saying that the two models who are functionally 1.5 stone apart can fill the same slot have similar if not the same functions and one will work even better with 2 masters vs 1. Not accounting for the fact that mages get better with all M&SU SS users AND have have greater Close-Combat presence if only marginally, while Acolytes have the advantage in only specific situations.

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37 minutes ago, Kihraxz said:

So to my understanding you're saying that the two models who are functionally 1.5 stone apart can fill the same slot have similar if not the same functions and one will work even better with 2 masters vs 1. Not accounting for the fact that mages get better with all M&SU SS users AND have have greater Close-Combat presence if only marginally, while Acolytes have the advantage in only specific situations.

If I’m only going to hire a single model, I think I’d almost always take an Acolyte over a Mage. Once I start looking at hiring more than that it’s gets hard to justify 2 Acolytes and a Soulstone over a trio of Mages even though I think I like the Acolytes better.

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On 3/12/2018 at 4:33 AM, retnab said:

The best thing to do IMO would be to make Temporary Shielding Rare 1.  So you'd only get the -1 cost once so it's 17ss for 3 good models and the damage prevention would only occur once (but make it so any friendly Oxfordian can discard it so you can still choose who gets those extra 2 wounds).  The Mages themselves are pretty decent for their cost pre-Sandeep, and with more Academics around they're only looking better.  Temporary Shielding as the "fixer" upgrade seems like the best target for nerfs to me.

I think the biggest problem that both Sandeep and the Mages have is one of internal faction balance. Neither really break the game or make the Arcanist faction overpowered. They are good enough models that they are frequently the best option to take. 

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12 hours ago, Kihraxz said:

Why's that? Their shoot value isn't better. Acolytes aren't faster Wk. they both give out slow. and it's a 2" range difference and the acolyte is a pure independent while Mages boost each other and Warding Runes and are 5stone cheaper. I don't know the english ideology of Malifaux so I'm curious about this. 

The reason I take acolytes over mages is I will always get work out of him over the mages.  I just don't find mages that good all of the time.

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9 hours ago, Kihraxz said:

So to my understanding you're saying that the two models who are functionally 1.5 stone apart can fill the same slot have similar if not the same functions and one will work even better with 2 masters vs 1. Not accounting for the fact that mages get better with all M&SU SS users AND have have greater Close-Combat presence if only marginally, while Acolytes have the advantage in only specific situations.

Mages have a much worse close combat presence than acolytes on average, although if you really want close combat presence in 1 mage it can be ok.  Acolytes will always apply the slow, and can also cause card discard. The Mage can cause slow but is then not using the other trigger options. 1 on 1 the Acolyte is well worth the extra stone over the mage. If you are hiring 3 mages, and so getting them cheaper, then they are better, but you are having to dedicate 1/3rd of your crew to 1 type of model, which is its own risk. One of the biggest downsides to the mage is its slower speed. It can take several AP before it starts affecting the board, the from the shadows on the acolyte means that it can be having an affect right away. 

The fact the acolyte can opperate a lone is a strength in many situations, where as the mages want to be in a large block of them and at l.east 1 other model to feel you are getting full value of of them, which can be fine in  hold the middle games, but is less use in spreading out games. Before temporary shielding existed you never saw mages being hired. and even now mages seem to only exist in hires of 3. This suggests to me people don't value them at 6 stones, but they are a very good 5 stone model, suggesting they are probably worth slightly over 5.5 stones in power levels. 

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On 3/14/2018 at 5:23 AM, Adran said:

Mages have a much worse close combat presence than acolytes on average, although if you really want close combat presence in 1 mage it can be ok.  Acolytes will always apply the slow, and can also cause card discard. The Mage can cause slow but is then not using the other trigger options. 1 on 1 the Acolyte is well worth the extra stone over the mage. If you are hiring 3 mages, and so getting them cheaper, then they are better, but you are having to dedicate 1/3rd of your crew to 1 type of model, which is its own risk. One of the biggest downsides to the mage is its slower speed. It can take several AP before it starts affecting the board, the from the shadows on the acolyte means that it can be having an affect right away. 

The fact the acolyte can operate a lone is a strength in many situations, where as the mages want to be in a large block of them and at l.east 1 other model to feel you are getting full value of of them, which can be fine in  hold the middle games, but is less use in spreading out games. Before temporary shielding existed you never saw mages being hired. and even now mages seem to only exist in hires of 3. This suggests to me people don't value them at 6 stones, but they are a very good 5 stone model, suggesting they are probably worth slightly over 5.5 stones in power levels. 

 (0) Ca 6 1/2/3 that gives SS or 2/4/5 dmg or assassinate vs (1) Ml 5 1/4/6+ Slow. with possible hide in shadow  and as you said Mages will travel in groups so i'm getting at least 1 tome probably 2 tomes. The higher SS model is less accurate lower/same min dmg, same average damage and less options. In terms of speed; sandeep and collette and Kaeris and ironside all have movement tricks and their both ranged unit's its a moot point.

The reason people take 3 is to min-max It is literally because they are powerful that they aren't taken only one at a time. As was discussed they are powerful together and have a multitude options and support play (which hasn't even been discussed).

Worse still is that they are so comparable. A 7SS model should crush a 5(.5) SS model every time. And as has been noted. That is not what is happening here and this is compounded by looking at either subject in a group. And if mathematical fact isn't good enough for you then I guess we're done here.

Edited by Kihraxz
grammatical clarification

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I agree with the OP. This needs to be said.

I have had huge success with Oxfordian Mages in various lists in the U.K. meta, particularly Sandeep, and am of the opinion they are just too good for 15 stones. Combined with commands upgrade they have the answer to just about any problem your opponent throws at you. Sure, they do die, but what 5 stone model ranged model doesn't drop? They are ranged models so there is no reason for them to be in a position of danger, play it smart and they're safe. It's also worth mentioning that if they're killing your mages, they sure as hell aren't also taking your beatstick, support pieces or master with them. Also Arcanists have access to some of the easiest healing in the game AND they have inate protection from their arcane shield and upgrade.

Heck even in close combat they have a use - you can double focus and use the (0) to almost guarentee yourself a free soulstone, and in an academic crew, possibly a decapitate! On a pseudo 5 stone model.

It is a shame, because mages were probably ok pre-errata, just they weren't seen very often because there was limited synergy. The addition of wave 4 models and then errata upgrades has pushed them over the edge imo.

As a side, I also think any aspiring Arcanist player should put Sandeep back in their case and leave him there. I'm a little hypocritical here because I did run him at masters, but this is because he's the obvious choice for every scenario. It also opened my eyes up to how dull and disappointing it is that much of our faction is now neglected. It's such a rich and diverse faction with so many options which are GOOD but never get a look in because of the current autotake toolbox meta. Marcus, Ironsides, Rasputina, Ramos, Kaeris can all do a GOOD job. But why would you take them when Sandeep can do everything they do and more. It saddens me.

I would also like to disagree with the OPs opinion that Sandeep is not the big problem. There are plenty of players dominating with Sandeep who don't use the oxfordian mages. I think both are in need of errata and I would be very surprised, and disappointed, if the mages or Sandeep don't get a look in.

#nerfsandeep //rant over

Edited by Hollingydale
Grammar & proof reading
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26 minutes ago, Hollingydale said:

As a side, I also think any aspiring Arcanist player should put Sandeep back in their case and leave him there. I'm a little hypocritical here because I did run him at masters, but this is because he's the obvious choice for every scenario. It also opened my eyes up to how dull and disappointing it is that much of our faction is now neglected. It's such a rich and diverse faction with so many options which are GOOD but never get a look in because of the current autotake toolbox meta. Marcus, Ironsides, Rasputina, Ramos, Kaeris can all do a GOOD job. But why would you take them when Sandeep can do everything they do and more. It saddens me.

Arcanist players asking for nerfs to Sandeep because they'd rather play other masters kills me. Sandeep is good, flexible, and doesn't have glaring weaknesses but he doesn't do anything so well that it's broken. Maybe I'm missing something but Sandeep players aren't riding roughshod over the other factions and winning all of the big tournaments. I don't see people ranting about broken combos or NPE with Sandeep. The gripes I read are mostly people complaining about losing to Sandeep, or always seeing Sandeep when they play against Arcanists, or Sandeep being too flexible.

It seems like any nerf to Sandeep that is significant enough to get him played less is probably also a big enough nerf to make him subpar. If you want to see less of Sandeep, push Wyrd to fix the internal balance issues in the faction. I'd much rather see Kaeris and Colette get some help to address some of their issues before nerfing Sandeep. 

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25 minutes ago, WWHSD said:

Arcanist players asking for nerfs to Sandeep because they'd rather play other masters kills me. Sandeep is good, flexible, and doesn't have glaring weaknesses but he doesn't do anything so well that it's broken. Maybe I'm missing something but Sandeep players aren't riding roughshod over the other factions and winning all of the big tournaments. I don't see people ranting about broken combos or NPE with Sandeep.

If I take the events I have run solo sandeep at, the placings are:

1st/40 players 

5th/32 (drew with UK #1 and made silly error to cost 1st)

7th/110 (lost to Varney's Nico)

1st/40

3rd at at UK masters (lost to Varney's Nico)

No other event have I tried to run solo Sandeep, because it's dull

The other events I have won are with: Kaeris 1st/26,

Colette 1st/26

A mixture of Kaeris, Raspy & Sandeep 1st/48 

and then I've attended about 20 other events where I've finished in the top 10 using a variety of masters, solo or otherwise, other than sandeep 

Please don't think I'm trying a dick measuring contest here, I'm just trying to back my facts up with figures. The fact is that when I run Sandeep solo I have a clear power advantage.

 

I disagree with you. The faction is GOOD, and even without sandeep it is easily a top 3 tier faction. Sandeep is just too good. There is no synergy or broken combo because HE is the broken combo by himself. He gives the actions to the models that need it exactly when they need it. It is so reactive it's near impossible to outplay as an opponent. 

I think the internal balance of the faction is fine. We are easily still a top 3 (or higher) faction. Though I would agree Mei, Colette and possibly Kaeris could use a slight boost (cache perhaps for Colette and Mei, and a new lampad-esque model to synergise with Kaeris?)

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19 minutes ago, Hollingydale said:

If I take the events I have run solo sandeep at, the placings are:

1st/40 players 

5th/32 (drew with UK #1 and made silly error to cost 1st)

7th/110 (lost to Varney's Nico)

1st/40

3rd at at UK masters (lost to Varney's Nico)

No other event have I tried to run solo Sandeep, because it's dull

The other events I have won are with: Kaeris 1st/26,

Colette 1st/26

A mixture of Kaeris, Raspy & Sandeep 1st/48 

and then I've attended about 20 other events where I've finished in the top 10 using a variety of masters, solo or otherwise, other than sandeep 

Please don't think I'm trying a dick measuring contest here, I'm just trying to back my facts up with figures. The fact is that when I run Sandeep solo I have a clear power advantage.

 

Maybe I'm misreading something but those stats don't seem to be saying that Sandeep is broken or OP. Looking at what you posted you won a couple of tournaments with solo Sandeep and placed relatively highly in some others. Then you won some tournaments with other masters.  I'm not seeing that you are crushing the field with Sandeep and then getting your ass handed to you when you play other masters.

I think the only thing those stats seem to target for a nerfing is you. 

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8 minutes ago, WWHSD said:

Maybe I'm misreading something but those stats don't seem to be saying that Sandeep is broken or OP. Looking at what you posted you won a couple of tournaments with solo Sandeep and placed relatively highly in some others. Then you won some tournaments with other masters.  I'm not seeing that you are crushing the field with Sandeep and then getting your ass handed to you when you play other masters.

I think the only thing those stats seem to target for a nerfing is you. 

:P I can take that.

 

I think the main point I was trying to make is that: of the 4 events I have run solo Sandeep, I have done exceptionally well at all of them.

 

I have played over 20 other events which I brought other Arcanist maters to the table and I have only been equally successful in about 4 or 5 of them.

The ratio of success is significantly higher with solo Sandeep.

 

 

I would also encourage you to look at Ben Sime (of Arcane Reservoir) Arcanist results since Sandeep was released. They have significantly improved, and with no disrespect to Ben, I'm sure he would openly admit Sandeep has been a big factor contributing to his success. 

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20 minutes ago, Hollingydale said:

I think the internal balance of the faction is fine. We are easily still a top 3 (or higher) faction. Though I would agree Mei, Colette and possibly Kaeris could use a slight boost (cache perhaps for Colette and Mei, and a new lampad-esque model to synergise with Kaeris?)

That cache would help out Colette but I think that tweaking the triggers she depends on to survive would be a bigger deal. I think that making Death Defying an ability instead of a Df/Wp trigger would shore up some of her durability problems.  Enemies that ignore triggers or hit against a Stat other than Df or Wp still negate a lot of her defenses, they just don't negate them all. A couple of minor tweaks to her upgrades would be a big help as well. 

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1 minute ago, WWHSD said:

That cache would help out Colette but I think that tweaking the triggers she depends on to survive would be a bigger deal. I think that making Death Defying an ability instead of a Df/Wp trigger would shore up some of her durability problems.  Enemies that ignore triggers or hit against a Stat other than Df or Wp still negate a lot of her defenses, they just don't negate them all. A couple of minor tweaks to her upgrades would be a big help as well. 

Actually I think that tweak to death defying would go a long way to fixing her. I wish something similar could be done to Now You See Me... so it can't be ignored. Perhaps change to an ability where you discard a mask or stone?

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