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Mage Tower: A Tower Defense Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First Impressions and Review - Worthy of a Chance rss

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Gerald Robinson
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I've got a bit of a shaky relationship with the "tower defense" genre. I have trouble playing games to better my abilities or achieve a higher score. I'm more competitive or I want a meaningful story to finish and enjoy. This is why the idea of a competitive tower defense card game appealed to me.

The aspect of building a defense to protect myself, upgrading my abilities, and simultaneously smash my opponent sounds like a winning combination. Mage Tower brings a competitive or co-operative aspect to the tower defense genre in an easy to understand and play card game.

Box
I love it. I absolutely love that this small and well designed box is just big enough to fit all of the cards, counters, dice, and rules and that their choice of advertising was showing off a bunch of cards. The front and sides of the box are a series of random cards from the game overlaying a generic fantasy landscape. I find something innately appealing about a collection of cards with lots of words and functions. It immediately caught the attention of myself and a few of my friends.

Components
The rulebook is a small glossy, full color book that is laid out fairly well with a concise step by step walk through of the game phases along with a disembodied demon head from one of the cards offering "tips and advice" throughout the manual. We only had one interaction question during our play time that we could not answer with a quick reference to the book.

The dice are standard d6's with nothing flashy but the gold plastic pieces were nice shaped and had more personality than paper coins or flat discs.

The cards on the other hand sucked much of my interest out of the game. While I didn't find the slightly low res pictures of the cards on the box offensive, I was greatly disappointed with the art quality and style of the game. The entirety of the game's art is made with public domain and clip art pictures from around the internet. Some from famous older paintings and a lot from the fire and brimstone times of the past. Expect to see many depictions of the dark ages in one fashion or another.

Gameplay

The game itself is fairly simple:

Players take turns one at a time completing all phases before passing the turn. Each player has a personal Monster deck and a Player deck. This changes for the Co-Op game.
1. Draw two cards from your personal deck and gain one gold.
2. Monsters in play that are angry attack the player and reduce their life total from the beginning twenty points.
3. Monsters in play that are not angry become angry and are flipped 180 degrees to represent this.
4. Players expend energy, gold, and the cards in their hand to fight off the monsters, use various effects on their opponent, and to purchase a few reward cards.


While I would recommend following the game's instruction of using a randomly set up deck for the first game, I urge people to not judge the game based on this random assortment of cards. You must play at least one game using the draft mechanics to have a real sense of how the game is played.

The starting deck of each player consists of five basic cards that are the same for everyone and eight cards taken from a pool of over 150 different cards that will be combined to create each player's thirteen card starting deck. Since it is unlikely anyone will have a grasp of how the game flows before they play, the recommended set up is to randomly distribute eight of these 150+ cards to each player to construct their starting deck. The downside to this method is that it is quite possible to receive a terrible combination of cards including, at times, a card that is completely unplayable.

Rather, it is a much, much better game when the players get to draft from the 150+ card pool for their eight cards to add to the deck. We ignored the method listed in the book, which suggests laying out eight cards at a time and drafting all of the cards. Instead, we laid out four cards, each drafted one, and discarded the remaining two. We repeated this process until we each had eight cards. This let us see a wider array of cards for more options and a potentially better deck design.

I should also make a point that while you are drafting cards for a deck in the beginning of the game, this is in no way a deck building game. Players are unlikely to add more than five or so cards to their deck throughout the game.

Overall

I feel this game is a 6 out of 10. Although I try not to let art and layout influence my rating of a game the art and layout completely turned me off. Very little of the art was comparable to other cards and it made for a very chaotic image. I believe the game could have been a 7 or 7.5 if it had it's own themed artwork and if the card layout had been better designed and more original.

Still, this is a game I really hope doesn't get passed over. It was a smaller Kickstarter project and it was made by a very small company. It's a great idea with tons of options and I believe that for the right price it is worth picking up.
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Brett Austin
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How was the game interaction between players?

What game would you rate as a 9 or 10?
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Brian Winkleblech
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Perryopolis
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I agree with alot of the points in the original post. The art does detract from the game. Also, this is a game that HAS to be drafted. Randomly setting up decks just does not allow for enough choice in how the game will play out. I also like the idea of expanding the draft so more cards are seen. I may try that for my next game.
 
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Gerald Robinson
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Gr1mAce wrote:
How was the game interaction between players?

What game would you rate as a 9 or 10?
The interaction between players is only as strong as the cards that were drafted. It is possible to have a game with zero interaction and a game where every other card played has an effect on your opponent/s. I imagine for some people this will cause an issue but is easily rectified by splitting the draft pool between interactive cards and non-interactive cards. This way you can include or exclude them as you wish.

I have some games, like Magic the Gathering, Dominion, and Game of Thrones 2nd Edition that I feel are a 9 or higher game, but I cannot think of a great comparison to this game that I would rate that well. In fact, I find it difficult to compare many games to Mage Tower. Base comparisons could be drawn to Magic as the monsters and defenders in the game are listed as having stats like magic with x/x, energy is used to summon cards, and player's life totals begin at 20 and end when they are reduced to zero. Beyond these similarities though, the game isn't anything like Magic.
 
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Sir LiveAlot
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I think there a quite a few comparisons to Magic the Gathering if you have played draft. The basic skills of managing health, playing cards efficiently, and synergy recognition are there.

This game played well with those who are burnt out on Magic the Gathering for various reasons and dislike the beat on the leader effect of group magic games.
 
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Panda Bear
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I can't say I agree with your conclusion / rating, as I think the art critique is a bit much. The layout of the cards is your standard MTG style and this was an insanely small project (1 person & friend testers) with a low budget, public domain isn't out the realm of acceptance. I'd say this art is better than even some larger games w/ full time artists (like Ascension).

Also it is good to note there was a 2nd kickstarter campaign for the game to get art assets for the expansion.

 
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