Although it hardly needs to be said, I’ll say it anyway. Mage Knight is an amazing game. But then here comes this new expansion adding a few elements and a new villain to fight. Is the Lost Legion a worthy addition to the world of Mage Knight, or should it remain lost?
The Basics. Lost Legion adds new monster tokens for all monster types as well as new city and countryside tiles. The new tiles include new elements such as refugee camps, walls, and labyrinths. Refugee camps allow the recruitment of any unit – but at an additional cost of influence.
Some of the new monsters have interesting abilities. The Assassinate ability means that the damage it deals cannot be assigned to units. Cumbersome monsters allow you to use move points to reduce their attack. And some heroic new units double the bonus (or penalty) you get when recruiting, while others would rather work for a Mage Knight known to sack monasteries.
Lost Legion also provides a new Mage Knight – Wolfhawk. Wolfhawk is an interesting blend of abilities, including some versatile skills that provide movement or reduce enemy attacks. Compared to the original four Mage Knights, she is a little swingy. She has a few abilities that, if obtained early, make her extremely competitive. But others that are weaker. Get the weaker ones in your first few levels and you can have more of a challenge. The other mage knights also get a mild upgrade in the form of one additional unique card, as well as a new cooperative skill.
But the main addition is Volkare and his eponymous Lost Legion. Volkare is a pre-painted figure on a Clix dial. Like the cities, you can set him to whatever level you want and he will bring a legion of green and gray tokens along with a compliment of red and white villains at higher levels. And, in some scenarios, he can actually continue to recruit to his legion by snapping up units.
Sometimes, you have to race Volkare to conquer the city. Other times, you must work to infiltrate his camp. The expansion has four interesting scenarios. Though all are cooperative or solo.
The Feel. In many ways, Lost Legion completes the Mage Knight experience. The wider variety of monsters is a welcome addition. The base game had only five types of brown monsters, for example. So, when invading an adventure site, you had a pretty good idea of what you’d need to achieve victory. But now, with a total of eight enemies, and with a wider array of potential abilities, going into an adventure site is much more uncertain.
Plus, Lost Legion makes much more use of move. In the base game, it was the least interesting attribute. It was used only in the movement phase and was basically just a threshold you had to surpass to get to the interesting parts of the game. But now, there are a number of abilities that utilize it. Mazes and Labyrinths require you to use move just to enter them. And move cards are great against Cumbersome monsters.
The other big makeover is Block. There are a few rule tweaks to it, but blocking becomes more important. Paralyze, Poison, and Brutal are all still present. But Lost Legion introduces assassinate (which, when paired with one of the other three, is particularly galling). Blocking the attack becomes a bit more important when you can’t shed the wounds onto your Units.
All of these are great additions and work well with the base game. Alone, and with the added map tiles, Lost Legion would be a solid addition to the base game. But it is Volkare who takes center stage.
Volkare provides an entirely new Solo or Co-op experience. If you play in those modes primarily, you mostly just kill cities in the base game. And, while there is plenty of excitement and variety in the city’s defenders, you’re still just exploring and finding the same tiles again and again. Volkare changes that up dramatically.
He gets his own deck and acts as the dummy player. Scenarios differ, but Volkare might await your attack or may be mobile on the map.. On Volkare’s turn, he may move depending on what comes out of the dummy draw. If he’s near a player, he’ll attack that player in combat. Bad news. Volkare brings his entire army and in a co-op, it might be outlandishly huge.
My favorite scenario is the race to the city. Both the players and Volkare are trying to find the city and conquer it. If you take the city, Volkare marches toward you in a final, epic confrontation to see who will retain control. If Volkare finds it first, you have only one turn before he decimates it, or converts them all to his Legion, or whatever other sinister/benevolent plan he has.
In fact, Volkare’s motives are left somewhat vague. After all, the people of this world aren’t too thrilled with mage knights, either. The mage knights sack their villages, destroy keeps and towers, and even decimate cities. Volkare … well, maybe he just wants to defend them from mage knights? Or maybe he has something far worse planned.
The one big negative is that there are zero new scenarios for competitive PvP or PvE play. This isn’t a huge issue for me as I typically play cooperative. That way, it’s easy to help players through the rules. But if you’re looking for new and interesting ways to pummel one another, you’re going to be out of luck.
Still, the new units and basic action cards, along with new map tiles, basically make this a required expansion for Mage Knight fans.
Components: 3 of 5. Lost Legion has stellar pieces. Volkare and Wolfhawk are both large, prepainted miniatures. The cards are on similar stock. The expansion does have some coloring issues when compared to the base game, though. Some of the tokens are a slightly different hue. While annoying, it really isn’t dramatic enough to alter gameplay. The crystals are a good shade different though. But again, that matters little for gameplay.
Strategy/Luck Balance: 4 of 5. Lost Legion does not upset the balance maintained by the base game. In many ways, it enhances it. The wider variety of monsters is a good way to increase suspense. Meanwhile, making move and block more important gives rise to new and interesting strategic decisions.
Mechanics: 5 of 5. This adds a lot to the base game, but in a way that connects intuitively with what came before. The introduction of mazes and labyrinths feels organic and the renewed emphasis on block and move is very welcome. Plus, the Volkare scenarios work surprisingly well and provide fantastic new content to the game. Refugee camps are a great way to make units more available and even walls provide neat little challenges.
Replayability: 4 of 5. Replay value is certainly enhanced by Lost Legion. New mage knight, new tiles, new scenarios. Of course, if you don’t typically play co-op or solo, then the scenarios will be of minor relevance to you. But there is still good stuff to add to any Mage Knight game.
Spite: 0 of 5. This doesn’t decrease the spite level in Mage Knight at all. But it also adds nothing new in the spite category. In fact, it adds cooperative scenarios, a big bad boss, and cooperative skills to replace the hostile skills when doing a cooperative scenario.
Overall: 4.5 of 5. Lost Legion is a fantastic expansion to a fantastic game. With its addition, Mage Knight feels completed. Not that I ever would have found the base game incomplete on its own. But Lost Legion strikes just the right note between adding more to the base game and limiting the number of new rules to be learned. If you like Mage Knight, Lost Legion is a must have.
(Originally posted, with pictures, at the Giant Fire Breathing Robot. Check out and subscribe to my Geeklist of reviews, updated weekly)
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- Thanks for the great review!! I was wondering what's the game length of the new scenarios (with 2 players)?
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Learning how to move Volkare makes them a little tricky your first few times. Especially since he acts slightly differently in a few.
But once you have it down, I don't think the playtime is changed all that appreciably.
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- I am apologizing for not be clear. I do not have the base game, but I am thinking to buy it with the expansion to play it only as 2 player co-op and I am not sure what game length I should expect, because if I have understood correct, each scenario have different length. So about much time takes to play each of those scenarios in the expansion (with 2 players of course)?
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Play time in Mage Knight can vary pretty wildly. Blitz scenarios will be shorter than full ones.
I'm not sure I can give you a time frame any better than the outside of the box would. Is there an upper threshold beyond which you wouldn't want to play?
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- 2 hours (2 hours and half max) after have experience with the game. Thank you for the immediate responses!
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- George I.(Picon)Switzerland
S0laris wrote:Thanks for the great review!! I was wondering what's the game length of the new scenarios (with 2 players)?Not from this expansion, but I tried out the Lost Relic scenario from Mage Knight Board Game: Shades of Tezla Expansion. No expansion tokens are necessary. It's a two-round scenario, where you basically have to quickly find the destroyed cities, each guarded by a single draconum, and defeat it. No rampaging draconum is present (replaced by orcs) to make it a bit easier, as it's already tough. Blitz rules are used and you gain fame for exploring.
In this scenario you begin at level 3! Here's how it works. Get two crystals of the colors shown. Draw 2 skills, choose one. Then you have 18 influence to spend by taking:
- Advanced Actions: draw 5. Get one for free. Each subsequent costs 6 influence points.
- Regular Units: draw 4. Cost = Influence cost.
- Spells: draw 3. Cost = 9 influence points, or 7 influence points + crystal of that color.
- Artifacts: draw 2. Cost = 12 influence points.
- Crystals: 3 influence points.
If you have any remaining influence after that, no matter how much, you gain exactly 1 fame.
I found this very different from other scenarios. Obviously, setup takes much more, as you start at a higher level, but that's very compelling! So, I played a 2-player cooperative scenario in about 1.5 hours, which is very quick, as you go basically only through 2 rounds.
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