Hero Spotlight: Maginos, the Mystic
A close look at everybody's favourite mouse magician
”You shall not pounce!” – Maginos. Illustration: John Ariosa
About this article
Hero Spotlight is a series of strategy articles, which will focus on our brave heroes of Mice & Mystics. Each article will discuss a hero’s strengths, weaknesses and potential party roles. In addition, I share my thoughts on abilities, equipment items and synergies with other heroes.
I focus on game mechanics and do not discuss story elements, particular chapters or character development from a narrative point-of-view. Just for fun (and hopefully discussions) I use a rating system. Our second mouse in the spotlight: Maginos, the mystic.
All ratings are based on the hero in spotlight, only. One mouse’s garbage is another mouse’s treasure!
Simply cheese-tastic! A hero ability never to forget; a specific character strength; an ability card you will be able to use frequently and to great effect or an item of great value, which supports the strengths of your hero and greatly benefits the mice.
Tasty! A hero commonly useful ability; an ability card, which can be a great addition after selecting primary ability cards; or an item, which can be utilised to good effect.
Mediocre! A situationally useful hero ability, a rarely useable ability card or an item for the backpack.
Rotten! A poor hero ability, an ability card hardly worth six cheese tokens or an item to be traded for cheese immediately.
Illustration: John Ariosa
Combat takes up a solid amount of time in Mice & Mystics, which turns Maginos’ low battle and defense values into serious weaknesses. Defensively, you are unlikely to even block a roach or lowly rat warrior and can expect to go down quickly if you become isolated and run out of cheese for your spells. This naturally suggests attacking minions from behind a wall of protective mice warriors. However, the mystic’s attack value is poor for a ranged attacker (one in three chance to hit). Clearly, Maginos is no warrior, and you might become frustrated if you keep rushing into the thick of battle, only to find yourself captured quickly. To make matters worse, Maginos’ solid speed is rarely essential to him, since your spells can reach targets across most rooms.
The old mystic’s strongest attribute is Lore, and it has many uses! For once, Maginos is one of only two mice able to use all scrolls. This limits the amount of useless search cards your party can find and will make you a natural recipient of scrolls found by your friends. Furthermore, a high Lore value is important during certain chapters. Arguable most notably, some of Maginos’ ability cards utilise Lore to improve their effectiveness, which can turn the old mouse into a formidable foe of Vanestra’s minions. Accordingly, Maginos’ effectiveness strongly depends on specific items and access to multiple ability cards.
Draw Power is a potentially powerful but commonly unreliable ability, which can fuel your cheese stash or make you curse the dice. A solid cheese token supply is essential for Maginos to cast his most powerful spells. If your dice fall the way you like, you can use powerful ability cards every round and might even have some spare cheese. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to add cheese via defense rolls: Maginos’ defense value is poor, Draw Power only triggers on melee and ranged attack rolls; and the mystic’s role as frail ranged attacker encourages avoiding the attention of multiple minions. As such, your best bet to generate a nice amount of cheese is to improve your battle or lore value – depending on your preferred style of play.
Without any other equipment, Maginos is actually more likely to score a hit in melee (chance to score one hit: 75%) compared with ranged (57%). A single item providing a +1 to the mouse’s battle value for ranged and melee attacks is considerable and, due to this versatility, I rarely find myself stuffing the staff into Maginos’ backpack.
Illustration: Riccardo Corsa
I find versatility to be Maginos’ greatest assets. The mystic has access to single-target spells, multiple-target attacks, defensive options, evasion of obstacles and party support. More than any other hero, my enjoyment of playing Maginos, as well as his value for the party is much greater when having multiple ability cards. If possible without risking dooming all mice, I recommend to level up as quickly as possible – even at the cost of limited combat productiveness in early chapters.
Bark Fur (Heart of Glorm expansion), cost to play: one
A defensive ability, which potentially lasts for multiple turns! Its value ultimately depends on your available equipment, cheese stash and ability cards. For instance, if you possess the Scorching Wand and you either have no need to cast multiple-target spells or you want to save cheese, Bark Fur can provide a long-lasting armour bonus. I particularly love Bark Fur when I get to turn Maginos into a cheddar golem (see equipment). It turns the old mystic into a melee combatant, attacking and defending with four dice, and allows collecting enormous amounts of cheese during an encounter – which you can share or save for your post-golem spell needs.
In general, however, I expect to cast a spell nearly every turn, which makes Bark Fur a far inferior defensive option to Invisibility (see below). In short: a situationally useful ability card, which can be great if your play style does not require permanent spell casting.
At its best, chain lightning is THE best multiple target ability card in Mice & Mystics. At its worst, chain lightning is a waste of three cheese tokens with nothing to show for. Few ability cards are as dependent on the roll of your dice. If you are lucky enough to roll three hits, you can win a whole encounter for your group. If you miss on all three rolls, you wish you had done something differently with your cheese.
How likely is any event to occur? On average, Chain Lightning results in one hit and the statistical probability is as follows: three hits = 4%, at least two hits = 26%, at least one hit = 70%, three misses = 30%. With these numbers in mind, I never hesitate to attack roaches and commonly obtain the Roachmaster achievement. Given its tremendous benefits for the party and the frequency of roach occurrence, Chain Lightning is worth to include in Maginos’ spellbook for this purpose alone. Rats are a different foe, entirely, and I rarely defeated more than one of three targeted by this powerful spell – something I could have achieved more efficiently by using a cheaper ability card or a melee attack, and without multiple defensive rolls adding cheese to the minion cheese wheel.
Chain Lightning can be improved by increasing Maginos’ Lore value via Lucky Skullcap, allowing to target an additional minion. By itself, however, Chain Lightning is not very reliable. I therefore recommend to use it wisely and recognise situations in which your cheese might be more beneficial to other mice or when leveling up.
Due to Draw Power, Maginos commonly produces a large amount of cheese. Healing a single wound would use your only ability card for this turn and require two cheese tokens. I would rather tackle the source and attack a minion, turn myself invisible or unleash my fierce coleopteran friend.
Fly (Heart of Glorm)
Fly is representative of my general thoughts on the mystic: the more abilities, the more fun he is to play! I would not recommend Fly as one of Maginos’ early abilities. The proportional time spend in battle clearly outweighs the passing of obstacles, after all. However, Fly provides some very useful benefits in specific situations, such as safely passing mousetraps and currents. Potentially, Maginos could pass through spaces occupied by minions, as well. More commonly, the mystic might benefit from reaching a high area (red lines) quickly, and fly allows just that. A great utility power, which really distinguishes the mystic from other classes!
Flying over moustraps and exploring on behalf of the party could prevent wounds and save time.
If you read my first Hero Spotlight, you might remember how highly I regard the scamp’s defensive Dodge ability card. In my experience, Invisibility is an even superior defensive option and the first ability card I select when playing Maginos. The big downside of invisibility first: Maginos uses it on his turn, which prevents the use of other abilities. Also keep in mind that the mystic will not be invincible. For instance, the spell’s effect ends at the start of Maginos’ turn, so you will not be protected from the keen eyes of the evil crow. Other dangers the mystic will not be protected from include treachery search card and mousetraps. Invisibility does, however, offer Maginos complete protection from any minion attacks for one round. This includes Brodie’s pounce, since Maginos cannot be attacked (regardless whether the mystic happens to be in the space on which the cat’s paw comes crashing down). Being able to completely ignore two of the cat’s attacks in one round is simply tremendous!
In addition to its protective benefits, Invisibility promotes a style of play, which may not necessarily be the first thing coming to mind when thinking “Maginos”: melee assassin. His starting item offers the same to-hit chance in melee as designated melee combatants, such as Filch and Tilda. Once you find battle-value boosting equipment, you can attack with three dice each round. This, in turn, generates one cheese token per turn, on average. As such, you could spend entire combats blinking into view, attacking a foe and disappearing in a flash. An important benefit of this ability card is its timing. Played at the end of Maginos’ turn, you can await the outcome of your attack before playing Invisibility. Accordingly, you might defeat a foe or find yourself in a position shielded by your friends – which means you will not need to become invisible and save cheese. If you like this style of play, Maginos’ speed of 2 is actually very useful. However, I would not recommend to dash into melee combat with the frail mystic while you do not possess any cheese. The risk is simply too high! There is one exception, which I will summarise in three words: invisible cheddar golem.
First on the initiative track, three cheese tokens, a single ability card and one extra item: Brodie and the rats will stand no chance.
The bad news first: Sending Meeps after a minion prevents Maginos from using another ability card to attack. The good news: your whole party benefits from having your beetle familiar around. Fewer defense dice decrease a minion’s life expectancy and, in turn, its ability to inflict damage and adding cheese to the cheese wheel.
Even if Maginos attacks alone, I consider Meeps superior to Mystic Bolt - at least prior to increasing Maginos’ Lore value. To elaborate, assume a ranged attack against a rat (roach). Using Mystic Bolt, you would roll three attack dice vs. two (one) defense dice, resulting, on average, in one hit and one (0.5) shield(s). Using Meeps, your average outcome is 0.6 hits and 0.5 (0) shields. The numerical difference is almost negligible, but a reduction in potential cheese wheel growth tips the scale in the insect’s favour.
I highly recommend Meeps in the following situations: (i) Against rats when Filch is in the party. This will allow you to potentially cancel all defense dice and greatly improve Filch’s ability to steal cheese from the cheese wheel. (ii) Against boss enemies. These guys will be around for a while, and all your fellow mice are likely to profit from Meeps. You do not need to worry about moving bosses and the associated longevity of Meeps’ ability, since the ladybird will [Quote Jerry Hawthorne) "follow the minion around, buzzing in his face, nibbling his ears etc". Finally, and in spite of the Hero Spotlight series focusing on game mechanics, Meeps is symbolic for the cuteness of M&M and simply too flavourful to ignore.
Illustration: Riccardo Crosa
Mystic Blast addresses a similar situation as Chain Lightning: dealing with multiple minions. Mystic Blast also suffers from a similar problem: limited reliability. However, this is where similarities end. Chain Lightning offers two significant benefits: higher accuracy and greater flexibility in targeting minions. Mystic Blast generates, on average, only 0.6 bow symbols, plus a 28% chance of rolling a double hit, per attack. Worse yet, you can expect not to see a single hit on 45% of your uses of this spell. Moreover, the spell only targets minions within a single space on your tile, thus making it virtually redundant if minions are spread out.
Nevertheless, Mystic Blast might deserve a place in Maginos’ spell book for specific purposes alone: large minion accumulations in special areas. Specific chapters feature spaces, which can (and will) contain more than four minions. Similarly, ranged minions tend to cluster together – particularly in special areas, which are difficult to reach for most mice. If the mystic is high on the initiative track, there is a decent chance to blast through a significant challenge of an encounter by using Mystic Blast once. As such, Mystic Blast is a spell, which will collect dust for most of the game, can frustrate when used too commonly but will provide the occasional “wow!” moment.
The mystic’s bread and butter! Usually my second ability card selection, Mystic Bolt utilizes Maginos’ high lore value and provides a frequently useable attack option at range. Mystic Bolt is likely to generate cheese via Draw Power, can target minions out of melee reach and can be improved via equipment.
However, your odds are greater to find equipment bolstering your battle value than your lore value (see ‘equipment’). As such, Mystic Bolt can become redundant early – in which case you can simply safe all your cheese to learn more spells. A solid choice as Maginos’ starting ability card!
Strangle Vines (Heart of Glorm) , or
Strangle Vines has multiple benefits: range, cheese-wheel control, efficiency and versatility. The spell can target up to three minions anywhere on Maginos’ tile. As such, you can effectively take out ranged minions. In addition, you can choose priority targets, such as minions bound to take a turn right after Maginos and before another mouse could attack them.
Against any minion with a life value of one, Strangle Vines has a 50% chance to defeat that minion. Pretty good odds! Better yet, the ability denies any defense rolls, which is great news for limiting surges.
Finally, the ability’s cost is variable. Accordingly, you can carefully choose how many minions Maginos will target and can even use the spell if the mystic does not possess three cheese token. There are some situations in which targeting less than three minions (and saving the cheese) might be advantageous. I list some situations, although this list is certainly not conclusive: (a) if the rats are low on the initiative board and other mice have turns before them, you might allow Filch to take out one of the rats, which provides cheese or even cheese-wheel control; (b) if you are last on the initiative track and another mouse is first, it might not be the best idea to take out all minions, since cheese would be added to the wheel at the end of the round; (c) if a fellow mouse has already defeated three roaches during this combat, it would be beneficial to leave one more for him/ her to obtain the Roachmaster achievement; (d) if a melee minion is more than three spaces away from the party and has no way to attack on its turn, saving cheese for a particular reason, such as leveling or sharing, might present a superior option.
Finally, keep in mind that Strangle Vines has the same relative chance to generate cheese for Maginos as Chain Lightning (three attack dice on both spells). I think there is only one reason not to select this ability card: leaving it for another mystic.
Illustration: Riccardo Crosa
Maginos is not often attacked. I recommend giving the item to one of your warrior friends.
Ring of Cat Strength
The best item if you like to play Maginos as invisible melee combatant. If Nez is in your group, he can help to obtain the ring very early via Tinkerer’s Treasure.
2. One-paw items
In theory, this could work well in conjunction with Maginos’ Draw Power ability and would suit the play style of an invisible melee mystic. Costly, but with a decent chance to get some cheese back, Clawbiter could be worthwhile. In practice, however, I found this item far too cheese-hungry. I would still pick it up instead of trading it for cheese, since its situational use against tough minions (attacking with four melee dice) can be useful.
There are ways in which this item could be useful, but they are highly situational, require the use of ability cards and are less efficient than other methods.
This item provides the benefits of the mystic’s Mystic Bolt ability – minus the cost of cheese. In addition, it can be wielded in one paw. If you could keep two items between chapters, Scorching Wand and Lucky Skullcap would be a fantastic combination. On the flipside, Scorching Wand only allows one additional die during ranged attacks. It does not improve Maginos’ Battle Value and accordingly not any of his spells.
No attack boost means that the dagger’s benefit would trigger once every six attacks.
Voodoo Doll (Heart of Glorm)
While clearly designed for another mystic mouse, Voodoo Doll can be fantastic against low-defense minions. Defeating one roach and watching it nibble on its companion is not the worst use of an action.
3. Two-paw items
The bow does not improve upon Maginos’ battle value compared with his starting weapon. A 30% chance to trigger the bow’s bonus is solid but hardly efficient when rolling only two attack dice with a ranged weapon.
This staff does not function with ranged attacks. Nevertheless, it provides an opportunity to re-roll a die after a melee attack, which can be very useful when making the most of Invisibility – particularly if the mystic can combine it with the Ring of Cat Strength. One melee re-roll has a four-in-six chance of seeing something useful, after all. Not bad for a secondary weapon in the mystic’s pack!
A great looking item with a promising name! Its effectiveness is related to its wielder’s battle value. In Maginos’ case, the sword might provide one extra hit once every three attacks.
No attack bonus, two paws required and low defense value. There are more suitable items for Maginos.
A permanent boost to Maginos’ defense value is difficult to obtain. In my experience, defending with Maginos most commonly occurs during the first round. As such, equipping the mystic with this weapon prior to exploring might be beneficial. Having said that, Maginos is not meant to be a frontline defender and has more useful items to find.
4. Head gear
Boosting your lore currently benefits two ability cards: Chain Lightning and Mystic Bolt. Attacking another minion with Chain Lightning will often make short work of roach-heavy encounters, whereas a powered-up Mystic Bolt constitutes one of the most potent ranged attacks in the game. Simple, effective and absolutely worth to keep!
5. Body gear
This item could get you out of dangerous situations and provides a rare opportunity to boost the mystic’s defense value. It could save Maginos’ fur in situations, in which he is exposed to multiple attacks – particularly in early rounds. However, careful positioning and use of Invisibility often negate the need for additional defense. Note also that Maginos’ Draw Power does not function on defense rolls. Accordingly, I rather recommend boosting your attack, when possible. In the meantime, Shifting Cloak is a useful item to have.
Tattered Threads of Reason (Promo card)
This item is only as good as the ability card granted by it. I only list those I consider to synergise with the particular hero in spotlight. The rating after each ability card name reflects my rating of the Threads of Reason with the chosen ability card in mind.
If there is no scamp in your group, Dodge is certainly worth selecting. Maginos’ biggest weakness, in my experience, is the opening round on small tiles, when the mystic is lower on the initiative track than minions, but higher than his fellow mice. Exposed to multiple attacks and unable to vanish via Invisibility, Maginos can go down quickly. Having a combination of Dodge and Invisibility might prove the strongest defensive combo in the game. Keep in mind, however, that it comes at the expense of your attack efficiency, since you will be unable to keep items between chapters that improve your Lore or Battle value.
This ability does not count as an action, which leaves you free to attack. However, you cannot use another ability, which is why I can only recommend this to melee-heavy mystics.
With this ability, your basic ranged attack limits cheese-wheel filling and has a solid chance of defeating rats. Much better for archer characters, however, since Maginos has few means to increase his ranged battle value.
A free out of turn attack, which can reduce an encounter’s difficulty or set Maginos up to acquire the Roachmaster achievement on his turn.
6. Single use items
A great item, which can help you or another mouse out of a tight spot and potentially turn a battle in your favour.
Arrow of Truth (Heart of Glorm)
If you have the Enchanted Bow, the arrow is an excellent item to weaken a boss or defeat tough minion. However, other party members can use this arrow even more effectively.
Fungus Bits (Heart of Glorm)
Unfortunately, Fungus Bits increase a mouse’s battle value, rather than the battle value of an attack. This minor distinction renders the item incompatible with Chain Lightning or Mystic Blast. Still, Fungus Bits can augment a ranged or melee attack when you need it.
Lore Rune (Heart of Glorm)
No reason to trade this for cheese unless every mouse in your group has obtained all available ability cards.
Fantastic mechanics and flavourful! Maginos does not need to use the effect on this card immediately and can keep it in his pack until the need for a particular scroll arises. Possibly my favourite single-use item in the entire game!
The tome grants access to numerous scrolls.
Invoke Cheddar Golem
I could simply write: “awesome”, but I like to provide some perspective. Normally, i.e. by using Mystic Bolt, increasing a single attack requires the use of an ability card and costs one cheese token. Using this scroll costs a free action, doubles Maginos’ starting battle value, triples his defense and lasts for one entire encounter.
Better yet, the mystic is unlikely to require any cheese for using ability cards, since attacking with four dice (and defending with three) is difficult to improve upon. It is worth noting that you can use ability cards when in golem form. This might be useful when stuck in a web or otherwise unable to reach your next victim. Chances to find this scroll by luck are slim, but thanks to special searches, obtaining it is not that rare. Oh, and if you see a fellow player’s mouse finding this scroll and considering to trade it for cheese, threaten to turn her/ him into a roach.
Custom cheddar golem by BGG member Roolz
An excellent scroll to have, particularly if Tilda is not in your party!
Fourteen of the 16 tiles in Mice & Mystics contain yellow/ red lines, possible mousetraps or water spaces. The mystic is guaranteed to find a good use for this scroll.
In encounters with a single type of minion, this scroll effectively grants one entire free turn to every hero in the party. Simply superb!
Brodie can quickly take out all mice if the dice fall badly. Nevertheless, there are opportunities to use this scroll to great effect, such as to quickly take out a group of ranged minions. Since Brodie does not contribute to the cheese-wheel, summoning him might safe you from a surge and advancement of the hourglass. On the other paw, the risk of creating the same effect via captures is high, so ensure that your party is equipped and positioned to deal with Brodie quickly. I am always very reluctant to play this card unless I have Catnip in the party stash.
This scroll provides a similar benefit to Levitate but without requiring a move action from each mouse and the associated limitations (e.g. minions, limited movement value, conditions). For the cost of a free action, your party could traverse obstacles, escape melee minions or reach an important story point. Excellent!
Synergies with Maginos’ companions
The tinkerer could craft a Lucky Skullcap in the very first tile of your campaign. While all mice can benefit from certain items, I think that no other mouse improves as much as the mystic by receiving just one item. Nez can also create Catnip, which could make summoning Brodie a viable option.
Maginos can potentially defeat a large number of minions at once but has a high risk of missing entirely. Battle Leader could give Maginos an extra turn and another attempt.
Filch and Lily
While Meeps helps out the whole party, Filch and Lily benefit in particular. Lily’s low attack value (ranged no less) does not generate many hits. Since her accurate shot ability is costly, Meeps can provide a wonderful alternative to boost the archer’s combat effectiveness. Filch’s usually low melee attack value greatly benefits from lowered minion defenses, particularly of rats – something he cannot achieve by himself if his turn occurs low on the initiative track.
Whenever the two mystics are on top of the initiative track (and have access to some cheese), chances are that multiple-target spells will make short work of an encounter.
Tilda’s battle value can benefit from sharing a space with wounded mice. An injured Maginos can join the healer on the frontline of battle, thus providing Tilda a boost to her attack, and still be completely safe if the mystic casts Invisibility.
This article was cross-posted on Board Game Geek. If you enjoyed reading about Maginos, please go to the poll on BGG and cast your vote for the next mouse to feature in a Hero Spotlight article: http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14828128#14828128