Medieval Mastery is a game by Miles Ratcliffe, published by Chaos Publishing. It is for 2-6 players. In this game of tactical conquest, players will be rulers or medieval kingdoms. They will send out their bravest of knights to conquer surrounding lands in a bid to become the ruler of the entire kingdom. The player who is best able to do this will be the winner.
To start, each player will choose one of the six castles, taking the corresponding cards and dice for that particular castle. The map is then constructed of various tiles. Each map is designed differently based on the number of players. Next the artefacts are dealt out, one of each type, crown, sceptre and orb. Cards are shuffled and six knights are placed on their castle or distributed between it and their homeland if that particular tile was used. Players then draw five cards from their deck. Play now begins.
There are 9 steps to each turn. The first step is placing knights. The starting player places three knights on their castle. The second and seventh step is playing resources. A player may play one of four different types of resource cards from their hand. Each card provides different benefits, from adding extra knights to destroying artefacts. The third and eighth step is to use their crown's ability. This is optional as a player does not have to use it if they don't want to. Each crown provides different abilities. The fourth step is the redistribution of knights. A player may move knights from different areas to provide a better advantage for themselves somewhere else. The fifth step is to make and advance. This basically means to move knights from one land they control to either one that is vacant or to one controlled by their opponent, thus beginning an attack. That takes us to the sixth step, battle. This is the real heart and soul of the game.
Battle has 9 steps of it's own. First, you apply any applicable territory abilities. Next, draw up to five cards. Third, you apply any sceptre abilities from your sceptre card. Fracture cards can be played at this time to destroy the other kingdoms sceptre. Fourth, you will each play a conflict card. That number is added to the battle score which is the number of knights either attacking or defending. Fifth, players can then play support cards to again raise their battle score. Next you compare the results of the battle with a winner and a loser. A tie results in a defending player's win. Step seven, you apply orb abilities, again fracture cards may be played. The eighth step means a loss of knights equal to the difference in battle scores and retreat from the area for the loser of the battle. Finally, you apply any territory abilities, but only if the attacker wins.
The ninth and final step of the turn is to restore artefacts. Any destroyed artefacts are now restored and able to be used on the next players turn. Each territory has a point value of either 1, 2 or 3. The first player to control 13 or more points worth of territories will be the winner.
There are many different pieces and bits for this game. The territory, castle and lake tiles are very thick and look beautiful. The design on these is fantastic. There are 60 small dice that are used to represent your knights, 10 for each of 6 colors. What can I say, the dice are really nice even though they're a little smaller than normal dice. They are functional and look nice. Finally we come to the cards, 126 of them to be exact. These are the conflict, support, resource and artefacts. Each card is made very nice with a good feel and thickness to them. The artefacts look especially nice with the artwork on each. These are some very nice components in what could have very easily been a mediocre component game.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is extremely well done. There are lots of pictures and everything is explained in great detail. Nothing is difficult to understand. There are lots of examples of gameplay as well as set up instructions. All the iconography is explained perfectly. There's even a handy quick reference guide that contains game setup, turn overview, order of battle and iconography on the back cover. SUPER!! No flipping of pages to find an obscure text or rule. There's even optional rules for shorter, more brutal and even team play. I'm overcome with the sheer awesomeness of this rulebook. It's Amazing!
10 out of 10
Basically this is a war game with a few added bonuses to it. Think Risk made better. The modular setup of the playing area makes it where every game that you play is different, thus no game burnout from repeated play. There's enough variation with cards and artefacts that it will interest even the most novice of war gamers. Everything about this game is smooth and combat is a breeze. After a few rounds there's not a need to reference the back of the rulebook anymore. I have to say this is one of the most simple of war games that I've ever played and easy enough that my son could catch on. Very nice.
9 out of 10
Medieval Mastery is a medium weight game of modular war, area control and hand management. It's a lot of fun. Coming from me, that's a compliment. I'm not a big war gamer. Most of the time I hate playing them as they take too long and bore me to tears. Not this one. Maybe it's the cards and the artefacts, I don't know. Whatever it is, this looks like a war game that will definitely see more table time. I recommend this game for novice or even beginning war gamers, however veterans will love it too. There's everything to love about this one and nothing to hate. It's easy enough to learn and fun enough to play. Simply put this is a really good game.
9 out of 10