Clint Boyce
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Hello! Clint and Yeji from Models-Workshop here. This is going to be be a review/first impression of Middara. We were lucky enough to get a chance to play test with some of the designers and see the models from the game Middara by Succubus Publishing. Full disclosure, we backed this originally just for the models as they are gorgeous, even if they are the 3D printed prototypes, and were thinking it is a bonus a game came along with them. After one play test though, we fell in love with the game as well!

We've been keeping up with the updates on rules and characters so we had a general idea of the gameplay but when you really get your hands on it, the rules suddenly make a lot more sense. There are many different types of gameplay, where each encounter has a different win condition. Middara doesn't have to be hack and slash your way to loot. In our playtest, the win condition of getting to a certain tile to escape, with your party was "optional".

Character creation was easy, even though we used a low level premade this time, we went over how you would create a character and it seemed very organic. Starting out you get X gold where X is listed in what adventure you're starting, then the same thing happens for experience points. Using gold to buy equipment is where the customizable part of the creation begins. Depending on what weapon you choose will determine how your character should play. Just because you took the big bruiser with the highest health doesn't exclude him from being a spell caster. The second part of the customizable characters comes from your experience points and what abilities are bought. No two characters need to be the same with over 100+ items and 100+ abilities there is something for everyone. We didn't get too into the skill trees this time but even in just the few abilities we saw, the sky's the limit.

The core concept of rolling colored dice depending on what attack or check you are using felt like we were running a normal RPG and that is not a bad thing. Figuring out what dice to use was easy as different colored dice (included in the game) are printed right on the equipment. All of the dice have numbers and special symbols that can be used to power up your roll depending on what action was chosen. The equipment or abilities state clearly what each symbol adds. Rolling the dice and adding symbols to best a certain stat lead to some awesome and hilarious results: over damaging a monster to a bloody mist, hitting the monster but not doing any damage (which is always frustrating), or just completely missing all based on two dice and symbols vs a stat and looking at the difference. The same dice mechanics are used for the enemy so a great roll against you could potentially wipe you in one attack. Middara is not afraid to kill you off in the encounter, we like that it doesn't coddle you.

Action points require a bit of strategy to use. At the start of the turn characters gain 3 AP to use how they please. You don't have to spend every action point per turn either. Whatever is left can be banked up to a maximum of 5 AP a turn. In each turn there is only one movement phase, barring any special items, once completed you are there for the turn, no half movement then attack then finish moving here. It takes 1 AP to move up to your character's move value. Attacking takes 2 AP and activating skills takes what is listed on the skill. The nice thing about skills is that unless the card specifies once per turn or "exhaust" as long as you have the AP you use it. Exhausting is using an item's special ability for the turn, some are defensive others are offensive. Once exhausted you gain the ability for the entire turn, so armor bonuses stay for each attack. It's a cool feature that adds a little survivability to your encounters if you're going in blind (which you should). An interesting mechanic is the empower dice, by spending an additional AP you gain a special black dice loaded with symbols to include in your roll. This comes with a risk though, one side of the die has a skull symbol automatically failing the roll regardless of what else was rolled.

Magic takes it even further, upon rolling the skull you become the target of the ability and take the damage. Magic works a little different as it is based off conviction listed for the spell plus the amount of book or other symbols on the dice. We found it intuitive after using it once. The only magic we saw during our run through was from abilities but that isn't to say all are.

Damage is easy to calculate, take the difference between the number required to hit and what was rolled and there is the amount of damage being dealt. Armor straight soaks damage for the value listed on the equipment as long as the attack was physical. Magic shines against heavy armor as it bypasses all armor. In Middara special conditions like poison and disease are brutal. Unlike some other games where poison just feels weak, Middara ups the ante and in its current rules as of this writing, eats half your life away per turn. No playing around with piddly damage.

During the enemy turn you may use 1 AP to dodge one attack, basically adding a dice value to your dodge ability score, thus making you harder to hit and take less damage if you are hit. Again you can only do this on one attack, your character is not in the Matrix.

The AI built into the enemies makes it so anyone can jump into an adventure and have it play out the way intended. No need for that one special person who is singled out to take the responsibility of DM-ing. There are a few grey areas on some effects, like do you get pushed straight back or are you OK just moving any space as long as you went the correct amount of spaces. Some text tweaks are already in the works we are told.

We like how they decided to handle initiative. It's nice and fuss free. Gather all the characters little portraits, including the baddies, shuffle them and deal them out in a line. Boom! done for the whole encounter.

Now on to the models, the reason we first even looked at Middara. They are gorgeous! Finely detailed already with just the prototypes we are really looking forward to the production pieces. Right now there is still some debate about what medium to use but regardless of what is chosen we can't wait to get a hold of them.

The art is also amazing and very polished. Characters seem to come to life on the splash art and the tiles used for the game are outstanding, very easy to read and know what your character is about to step in.

On a side note, for the Kickstarter itself, I would highly recommend the add on for the character mats as it makes organizing all the abilities, items, character cards, and action points very easy and it looks nice to boot. If the mats we played on are even close to the final product I think the extra $20 for a set of four is a steal.

To wrap this up, we loved the game and the models. The game itself is easy to learn while showing that it can get challenging really fast. There are so many routes each encounter can go that it seems you would be able to play through many times and still get a different result every time. Again, the models are gorgeous in all their prototype glory and are so close to their concept arts. It almost feels like they are going to come alive on the board and have little miniature fights. This game can't come out fast enough for us...we want to play more NOW and corrupt our friends with what Succubus Publishing is offering up to us.
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Steven Gong
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Sounds pretty good. If i didn't already obliterate my KS budget for 2015/2016, I would have backed this. Hopefully, it makes it to retail at some point.
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Michele Esmanech
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Interesting, thanks.
Any pointers as to how the adventure works and its evolution is depending on the decisions made by the player(s)?: Is it something like: you win/lose the encounter, your next encounter is this/that,or is there something more to it?

Thanks
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Clint Boyce
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We asked if there are plans to have changes to future encounters based upon not only if you win/lose previous encounters but also if certain conditions were met/unmet during the encounter that could potentially make the next encounter harder or easier. The designers confirmed that there would be such a mechanic.

As for how the adventure works, there is reportedly 20+ game play hours in the adventure book, included in the game, that has scenarios and maps for a structured narrative. We didn't get too into the actual narrative since we only did one encounter for the play test but from everything mentioned by the design crew we played with, the adventure mode sounds awesome and very expandable in the future.
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Michele Esmanech
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snickernack wrote:
We asked if there are plans to have changes to future encounters based upon not only if you win/lose previous encounters but also if certain conditions were met/unmet during the encounter that could potentially make the next encounter harder or easier. The designers confirmed that there would be such a mechanic.

As for how the adventure works, there is reportedly 20+ game play hours in the adventure book, included in the game, that has scenarios and maps for a structured narrative. We didn't get too into the actual narrative since we only did one encounter for the play test but from everything mentioned by the design crew we played with, the adventure mode sounds awesome and very expandable in the future.


Awsome news, thanks
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D. Lund
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Can someone clarify on the 100+abilities and 100+items?

This is a 4 player game right (+1 if DM is used)? So are we talking about there are actually 100+ unique abilities/items for EACH player? Or are we talking about the TOTAL cards for all players, so in reality there are actually 25 abilities/items so all 4 players can have one of each?

And are these number differentiating between upgraded abilities, or are things like Magic Missile 1, and upgraded Magic Missiles 2 counted as 2 abilities, when i fact its' just an upgrade of the same ability? In my opinion it's still just 1 ability...


I feel developers often oversell things like this and like to create higher numbers.
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Bum Kim
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snickernack wrote:
There are many different types of gameplay, where each encounter has a different win condition. Middara doesn't have to be hack and slash your way to loot. In our playtest, the win condition of getting to a certain tile to escape, with your party was "optional".

Glad to hear this. I thought that scenarios would be varied according to each mission but glad to hear that players have more than one option in each scenario. That makes for a lot of replayability.

snickernack wrote:
No two characters need to be the same with over 100+ items and 100+ abilities there is something for everyone. We didn't get too into the skill trees this time but even in just the few abilities we saw, the sky's the limit.

This reminds me of the various upgrade trees in Final Fantasy video games. I like the variety, even if it is "only" 25 options per player. Invariably, you end up getting "broken" combos that might have to be house-ruled or optimizations that are must-haves. But that's something I'm willing to work with as a price for choosing unique paths.

snickernack wrote:
The same dice mechanics are used for the enemy so a great roll against you could potentially wipe you in one attack. Middara is not afraid to kill you off in the encounter, we like that it doesn't coddle you.

Yes! I was looking into another KS game called Kingdom Death: Monster which is brutal. I like games that are hard because it makes it more interesting. So this aspect interests me more. You can always adjust difficulty down easier than the other way around, I feel. (Check out this post where I ask whether I should get KDM or Middara.)

snickernack wrote:
Action points require a bit of strategy to use.

I love this mechanic! Fatigue in Descent, stress in Star Wars: IA and grit in Shadows of Brimstone allow you to do extra things or roll more dice. This simple idea provides a lot of strategy options so I'm glad to see it here.

snickernack wrote:
Magic shines against heavy armor as it bypasses all armor.

Awesome to see mages have more punch!

snickernack wrote:
We like how they decided to handle initiative. It's nice and fuss free.

Thumbs up for this too!

snickernack wrote:
Now on to the models, the reason we first even looked at Middara. They are gorgeous! Finely detailed already with just the prototypes we are really looking forward to the production pieces. Right now there is still some debate about what medium to use but regardless of what is chosen we can't wait to get a hold of them.

Me too. I've been waiting for a great game with an anime theme and cool minis. I didn't like the gameplay for Anima Tactics enough to buy in (nor the price point for the models). I love my chibi minis from Super Dungeon Explore and Arcadia Quest but wanted regular sized minis. So this game fits the bill!

snickernack wrote:
On a side note, for the Kickstarter itself, I would highly recommend the add on for the character mats as it makes organizing all the abilities, items, character cards, and action points very easy and it looks nice to boot. If the mats we played on are even close to the final product I think the extra $20 for a set of four is a steal.

Yup, just added $20 to my pledge to get those mats after seeing the rework. Also, they said they were going to retail for $16 EACH later! I'm on the fence about the custom dice though. As pretty as they are, I would rather have another set of the regular dice because I think they are easier to read. After playing the game, would you suggest getting another set? I've always bought extra sets for Descent and Star Wars: IA cause I hate needing to pass a lot of dice back and forth. Down time from analysis paralysis drives me nuts as it is and having enough dice helps a little. cry

snickernack wrote:
To wrap this up, we loved the game and the models. The game itself is easy to learn while showing that it can get challenging really fast. There are so many routes each encounter can go that it seems you would be able to play through many times and still get a different result every time. Again, the models are gorgeous in all their prototype glory and are so close to their concept arts. It almost feels like they are going to come alive on the board and have little miniature fights. This game can't come out fast enough for us...we want to play more NOW and corrupt our friends with what Succubus Publishing is offering up to us.

Thanks so much for the review! The more I hear about the gameplay, the better I feel about my KS support coming here rather than with KD:M. Hope they post the professional video soon!
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Clayton Helme
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BasenjiMaster wrote:
Can someone clarify on the 100+abilities and 100+items?

This is a 4 player game right (+1 if DM is used)? So are we talking about there are actually 100+ unique abilities/items for EACH player? Or are we talking about the TOTAL cards for all players, so in reality there are actually 25 abilities/items so all 4 players can have one of each?

And are these number differentiating between upgraded abilities, or are things like Magic Missile 1, and upgraded Magic Missiles 2 counted as 2 abilities, when i fact its' just an upgrade of the same ability? In my opinion it's still just 1 ability...


I feel developers often oversell things like this and like to create higher numbers.
In Middara there are 5 different ability trees with 7 level one abilities (2 copies each), 7 level two abilities (2 copies each), 5 level three abilities, and 3 level four abilities. So that is 22 abilities in each tree, or 110 abilities total.

As far as the magic missile 1, magic missile 2 problem, we have worked extensively to design and re-design abilities across all trees so that no ability is just an upgrade of another ability. This is especially important because of the point buy design of ability system in general. Any character can purchase any ability, assuming they have the experience points to do so. Higher level abilities within a tree require a lower level ability to be acquired before purchasing it (level 2 requires level 1, level 3 requires level 2, etc.). Players are limited by the number of ability cards in the game, so no two players would be able to have the same level 3 or 4 ability at the same time. However, there are two copies of the level 1 and 2 abilities within each tree, so those abilities could be used by up to two players at a time.

I hope that answers your question regarding abilities. If you have any further questions ask away.
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Clint Boyce
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bumyong wrote:

Yup, just added $20 to my pledge to get those mats after seeing the rework. Also, they said they were going to retail for $16 EACH later! I'm on the fence about the custom dice though. As pretty as they are, I would rather have another set of the regular dice because I think they are easier to read. After playing the game, would you suggest getting another set? I've always bought extra sets for Descent and Star Wars: IA cause I hate needing to pass a lot of dice back and forth. Downtown from analysis paralysis drives me nuts as it is and having enough dice helps a little. cry


The most dice one person ever rolled was 3, had to try the enpower up after all, so you won't need to pass a ton of dice around. We are debating about getting the second set as having your "own" dice while playing is nice but not 100% necessary.


Edit from Yeji: The fancier dice do look really nice and those are the ones we played with. The etching doesn't make it harder to see or anything like that. In fact, it has kind of a steampunk feel to it and looks pretty cool.
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Larry Killian
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We will have the Lead Designer of Succubus Publishing on the Models Workshop After Hours podcast this weekend (should be up on Monday) so if you have questions for him this is a good place to ask. Clint, Yeji and I will try to field as many questions to him as we can.

We also talk about Middara on episode 2 of the podcast as well if you'd like a listen. You can find it on www.models-workshop.com or on your favorite podcatcher. It is rated TV-MA for language.
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Jerry Ruesch
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snickernack wrote:
Edit from Yeji: The fancier dice do look really nice and those are the ones we played with. The etching doesn't make it harder to see or anything like that. In fact, it has kind of a steampunk feel to it and looks pretty cool.


Speak for yourself. I found it a little difficult to match the colors on the premium dice to the colors on the items. White was especially difficult for me because they are ALL white dice (and I kept getting the silver and white mixed up as well), but the real "white" dice had black engraving. Kept throwing me off. Blue was easy to tell, as was red, but I still think the metallic colors are going to be an issue in matching up with the printed material. Hopefully I'm proven wrong. I like the concept of metallic colored dice, but I personally would want easy, non-complicated colors when using this many. Plus, it would be helpful for some of those color-blind people that have been voicing their opinions lately.
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Clint Boyce
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It's true the bronze die needed to be more different in color and that was already brought up to the design crew in a previous play test. The designers stated they are working on making it a lot easier to identify.
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brooklynn lundberg
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Hopefully Britt Duenyas can solve these problems for us before we send the final dice out. We also might end up changing some of the colors for the final product to accommodate a wider range of customers.
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Larry Killian
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Join Ben, Yeji, Clint, Joe and I as we talk with Succubus Publishing's Lead Designer Brooklynn about their amazing new board game with incredible miniatures as well.

We talk about game design, miniatures, modeling and Kickstarter while cutting loose and having fun. If you haven't yet, look up Middara on Kickstarter today.

http://www.models-workshop.com/2015/episode-4-meet-in-middar...

You can also find this and ourour previous podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, or another podcatcher by simply searching Models Workshop After Hours.
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