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Zachary Bear
United States
Virginia
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I'm going to divide this up into three sections: what I was looking for, what I found, and final impressions. This should put my review in context, and hopefully help explain any bias.

What I was Looking For

Lately I've had a mighty need to play an epic adventure. An adventure large enough to dedicate a night to but not too much larger than that, and because of wonky scheduling in college I needed something I could play by myself but I didn't want to be required to pay by myself. I wanted a board with classic RPG elements of exploration, player progression, and some sort of variable player power mechanic so when you play with other people it makes it interesting. Basically, I wanted The 7th Continent six months early.

What I Found

Through forums and reviews and Amazon sales I settled on Mage Knight as my next board game investment, and after two plays in one night (no pun intended) I could not be happier with this desicion. There are a lot of rules mind you, but coming from a background of 40k and Pathfinder this wasn't a large detracting factor in my experience. The rules actually boil down to pretty intuitive mechanics, and even after the short play throughs I've done I would feel comfortable teaching someone else the game. The play itself is amazingly immersive, from the heavily thematic actions and spells, to the mana generation, to the day/night cycles it feels as though you complete control over your hero and his choices. The hero's themselves are very unique, mainly through the skills that are obtained by leveling up. The other portion of the character advancement is building your deck to get stronger actions, or actions with more utility, and even though third deck building mechanic is not anything new it doesn't feel like deck building to me. It's exciting, interactive, I have leveled up a total of 6 times and not even begun to hint at scratching the surface of a hero's full potential.
The games I played lasted about 2 hours each, with an hour on top of that for initial unboxing and reading the rules walkthrough, and that's about the length i expected for the intro scenario.

So that's the good parts, but there are a couple negatives to mention. For one, I know that the feeling of exploration and wonder will eventually dissipate into something more ordinary. The pile of unknown spells, artifacts, and advanced actions is not unending, and will the cards I draw will eventually become recognizable by name. But when this happens it won't necessarily be a bad thing, because at its heart of hearts this is a strategy game. When the mystery is all gone you can still play this game competitively, seeing who has the best strategy or just perfecting your own.
Because of the deckbuilding mechanic I have faced situations where only have move cards and i can't do any actions, or only action cards cards and I can't move. This may be an artefact of inexperience (no pun intended) but it truely is frustrating to have these seemingly infinite possibilities and be hamstrung like that.

Final Thoughts

This game, is awesome in every sense of the word. Truly epic in scale but with a plethora of beautiful minute details and intricate mechanics. The game is not for the light-hearted, but if you can brave its two rulebooks you will have an experience like no other.
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Paul Schoonakker
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Great to see new players catching the Mage Knight bug. Also, looking at the amount of upvotes to your post, lots of experienced players who look for validation on their passion for this game visiting this site regularly for new content (like myself). Feels good knowing others have the virus as well.

On the issue of hand management, this should improve when playing more. Good tip I read over and over on this website; look at your hand, think of what you can achieve, then look at the board. Not the other way around.

Yes, you'll be able to dream all the cards and grow to love or hate some of them. Especially with the lost legion added, there are lots of cards. You will never get the same AA's, spells, units and artefacts as your previous game. Eventhough you know the cards by heart eventually, depending on the game they can be great, situational or garbage.

Good game man, good game.
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Mouldy Banana
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Fondueman wrote:
Because of the deckbuilding mechanic I have faced situations where only have move cards and i can't do any actions, or only action cards cards and I can't move. This may be an artefact of inexperience (no pun intended) but it truely is frustrating to have these seemingly infinite possibilities and be hamstrung like that.

If eg you don't have any movement cards you can instead play any number of other card "sideways", each card played in this manner represents 1 movement. Ditto for any other actions you want to perform. See Game Walkthrough manual, top of page 8.
 
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