Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
22 Posts

Magic Realm» Forums » General

Subject: Can someone sum this game up for me? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Henry Akeley
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I know that is a tall order but this game has really caught my eye (that and I like old games). It almost (and I'm probably wrong saying this) sounds like D&D in a box. I have always been more of a board gamer than tabletop RPG guy (though I like both); this game seems just so unique.

If anyone is kind enough could they explain:

1. The feel of this game. How does it feel turn to turn?

2. The length of time required to play this game? Are we talking as long as Civ (FFG version), TI3, or more? I am not afraid of long board games (I enjoy them actually) and am a rabid Kingdom Death: Monster fan.
2A. I am a fan of Kingdom Death: Monster (probably my grail game), how would I like this? Can they even compare?

3. Can you "save" this game? As in can you stop for an evening and come back to it in a week or so with little to no hiccups?

4. Is everything just tokens and counters? Are there no minis? That is kind of disappointing.
4A. If there are indeed no minis would it be viable to use D&D minis (or whatever) as proxies? I like seeing minis on the board and would entice me.

5. So apparently this game is complex. Like more than Civ the board game (FFG edition), TI3, and Kingdom Death: Monster complex. How true is that?
5A. Piggybacking off of that; how do you draw in new players?

6. Why did it putter out/not get any more expansions?

Also just give me your opinions of the game and past experiences. Thank you!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David S.
United States
Des Moines
Iowa
flag msg tools
V1 Rotate
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1. It's a programmed DMless fantasy monster romp and treasure hunt from a war game company background's answer to DnD

2. You can vary the length, but a typical 4 player game I've played in has been 6 hours. All depends on player count and experience level. Games can take all day.
2A. I don't know about that game but my guess is they are vastly different as this one is from the 80s.

3. You can leave it on your table, but not really pack up and then put back. There is a computer version though Realmspeak.

4. It's from the 80s and from a war game company so no, not the minis like they come out today. They should be easy to proxy though, it's your typical fantasy tropes.

5. It's the highest complexity rating from a war game company known for complex war games from the 80s. It's known as one of the most complex games in existence.
5A. They have to be interested and it's best if the person teaching know the rules extremely well.

6. There were expansions planned, but none came out. It was a huge undertaking to begin with in a time where expansions weren't a typical thing. So expansions for games weren't expected back then in the way they are today. It's complexity also made its reach limited so the interest for an expansion probably wasn't there anyway.

I love it because of its complexity and tightness of rules. It simulates a fantasy book and does so well. Take away any part and it loses its charm in my opinion.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Luke
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Epidemius wrote:

1. The feel of this game. How does it feel turn to turn?

2. The length of time required to play this game?

2A. If I am a fan of Kingdom Death: Monster (probably my grail game), how would I like this? Can they even compare?

3. Can you "save" this game? As in can you stop for an evening and come back to it in a week or so with little to no hiccups?

4. Is everything just tokens and counters? Are there no minis? That is kind of disappointing.

4A. If there are indeed no minis would it be viable to use D&D minis (or whatever) as proxies? I like seeing minis on the board and would entice me.

5. So apparently this game is complex. Like more than Civ the board game (FFG edition), TI3, and Kingdom Death: Monster complex. How true is that?
5A. Piggybacking off of that; how do you draw in new players?

6. Why did it putter out/not get any more expansions?


These are a lot of good questions, I'll do my best.

1. This is a difficult thing to pin down. Each turn in MR is about deciding how you're going to fulfill your victory conditions, but it's also about planning a route, anticipating where certain monsters might be, building an army... It goes on and on. You mentioned D&D in a box. I often tell friends that MR is what happened when someone tried to make a boardgame version of Elder Scrolls games in 1978. There is a lot of freedom, a lot of presence. Each character plays differently, each game is it's own story. Check out some session reports, there's a lot going on.

2. My games take 3-4 hours.

2a. I haven't played Kingdom Death, but I have followed it. The games don't really compare.

3. Yes. So long as you have someplace you can leave it set up. It's very easy to leave it over night, or for days and pick up where you left off.

4. Lol. MR is from a time before kickstarter. There weren't many minis in boardgames then and they were made of metal.
The tokens and chits contain all the information you need to play the game. They get a lot more done with that 1 inch square than other games get out of M:tg sized cards.

4a. Absolutely. Just keep the tokens handy for the stats, or write out a quick chart. I would note however that it isn't uncommon to have as many as 6 units on a space at once. The tokens makes this easier by having a stack of 6 goblins, near your player marker and stack of hired rogues for instance.
So it might be easier to put a goblin on the map to represent that stack of counters.
It can be done, you might just need to get creative about placement.

5. It is easily the most complex boardgame I have ever encountered. Nothing has so far come close. It's deep. There's a lot going on in MR, and I don't think anything since has come close to achieving the amount of depth and sense of an actual living realm.

5a. Learn it very well, then teach your friends. There's a thread here about teaching new players.

6. I don't know the exact reasons, but MR takes some investment to learn. The early editions of the rules didn't make it any easier to do so. And, this was put near the end of the Bookshelf Game/tokens and chits wargames era.
Also, games didn't have expansions as often back then. And I don't know if Avalon Hill ever did expansions, for anything.

That's about the best I can do in a few minutes.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm still a newbie at this--only 3 physical plays in plus a dozen or so on RealmSpeak, but I'll take a stab.

1. Yes, it feels like D&D in a box. The pre-plotting of the day's moves give a bit of a war game feel, but overall to me it still has the fantasy RPG vibe with exploring the world. I played a lot of D&D and other FRPGs in my younger days, and this is scratching that itch enough for me right now.

2. It's long if you play an entire game. My 2p sessions with my son were along hte lines of 4-5 hours. The 8p game at the convention (see recent threads) was 5 hours in on day 17 and we had to call it because our table time was up.
2A. No idea, I'm not familiar with those.

3. I would expect so if you could leave it set up. The pre-plotting of the moves kind of gives a game log.

4. Yes, counters only. Remember--this was published in 1979 so there was not the vast number of games with minis. It was pretty much boards & counters or full-blown miniature war games. To me this is part of the charm & attraction of this game. There's really no need for minis & the game would end up being HUGE if you had them (imagine trying to stick 18 goblins plus your character, plus who knows how many more in one spot).
4a. See the images for the game. It's been done, and note how huge--though epic--those games got.

5. Yes, it is complex.It's a monster. The fan rewrites of the rules, the tutorial document, and RealmSpeak help immensely with learning the game. Once you get over the learning curve it isn't so bad, there's just a number of unique mechanics to absorb.
5a. New myself, so I'm not a good judge of that. I think it takes someone with the right mindset & the willingness to invest the time required to really get it.

6. From what I understand mainly the complexity and very opaque original rulebooks. I would venture to guess also that AH handcuffed Hamblen in what he wanted to to. Some poor editing, requiring removing some desired pieces. All that resulted in a somewhat toxic reputation as an unlearn-able game. Thus, AH wouldn't be too excited to invest more money in expansions for a very limited audience. More's the pity--there seems to be a lot more that can be done (witness the fan expansions).

I've only been participating in the forum for a couple of months now--basically since I discovered it & found the PnP. But, there seems to be a lot more activity lately.

If you are willing to make the time & effort investment to get this game on the table, go for it! I am certainly enjoying playing it. Now that I'm on top of the learning curve, the rules don't seem all that difficult. Just require attention to detail and taking things step-by-step. Really, I'm only having to really watch the magic process and multiple-combatant battles.

I'd start with grabbing one of the v3 rule PDFs & RealmSpeak and give it a try.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Ramos
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
badge
Sing, o muse, of the wrath of Achilles...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
David S has it right. To put the same answers differently:

1. The feel of this game. How does it feel turn to turn?
You're in a jet plane crashing into an island with a live volcano inhabited by vicious animals and humans with questionable taste in protein. Basically, how do you want to die today? Or will time run out again?

2. The length of time required to play this game? Are we talking as long as Civ (FFG version), TI3, or more? I am not afraid of long board games (I enjoy them actually) and am a rabid Kingdom Death: Monster fan.
The game takes several hours play. Realmspeak, the JAVA-based version of the game, boils it down to about an hour, but the board game itself takes an hour to set up and at least an hour per player.

2A. If I am a fan of Kingdom Death: Monster (probably my grail game), how would I like this? Can they even compare?
Kingdom Death relies on amazing artwork and a massive pile of cards to give it atmosphere and theme. Magic Realm is a product of the late 70s, so the graphic design is spartan, and there is no flavor text. Will you like Magic Realm? Yes, probably, but it has almost nothing in common with KD:M's gameplay.

3. Can you "save" this game? As in can you stop for an evening and come back to it in a week or so with little to no hiccups?
Not really. Lots and lots of chits piled up on each other. Bump the table and you might as well pack up.

4. Is everything just tokens and counters? Are there no minis? That is kind of disappointing.
The board gets SO tight, there's no room for mini's. Still, the graphic design makes it easy to spot players, so it never even occurred to me to use minis.

4A. If there are indeed no minis would it be viable to use D&D minis (or whatever) as proxies? I like seeing minis on the board and would entice me.
Sure, the characters are standard fantasy fare.

5. So apparently this game is complex. Like more than Civ the board game (FFG edition), TI3, and Kingdom Death: Monster complex. How true is that?
More so than any of those games. The mechanics of Magic Realm are completely unique. If you play TI, you can learn Civ relatively quickly. KD:M is not particularly complex. Magic Realm take a massive effort to learn, and an even greater effort to get good at.

5A. Piggybacking off of that; how do you draw in new players?
I don't. I play alone. *sob*

6. Why did it putter out/not get any more expansions?
Each character is a challenge to play, and they all play differently. The game basically has 15 expansions, there being 16 characters to play. I've had the game for decades and haven't played every character yet.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drake Coker
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
badge
This is my tank for Combat Commander
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As a player and fan of both KD:M and Magic Realm, they feel almost nothing alike.

Both are fun, but Kingdom Death is definitely more atmospheric and dark while Magic Realm is more like what you might imagine if you had a wargame designer create a classic fantasy adventure: some pretty convoluted systems and very old-school presentation.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henry Akeley
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great responses everyone! Thank you. Keep em coming .

Another question I had; it sounds like your actions can be written out? So, you don't just roll a die. You can write out that you want to sneak behind an ogre and slide your blade into his spine. How would that even begin to be executed in game?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henry Akeley
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Olvenskol wrote:
As a player and fan of both KD:M and Magic Realm, they feel almost nothing alike.

Both are fun, but Kingdom Death is definitely more atmospheric and dark while Magic Realm is more like what you might imagine if you had a wargame designer create a classic fantasy adventure: some pretty convoluted systems and very old-school presentation.


If only you were located nearby . Your gaming tastes sound fairly in line with mine (I also recognize you from the KD:M threads on BGG).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Epidemius wrote:
Great responses everyone! Thank you. Keep em coming .

Another question I had; it sounds like your actions can be written out? So, you don't just roll a die. You can write out that you want to sneak behind an ogre and slide your blade into his spine. How would that even begin to be executed in game?

Nope, it's not like that. You have 4 actions per day (this changes based on characters, locations, special abilities). You must log what those four actions are at the beginning of the day (or round). Then characters are randomly selected to execute their orders for the day; this is the war game influence--the logging reminds me a lot of Wooden Ships & Iron Men.

If, at the end of the day, you end up in a clearing with monsters you conduct combat. This system has often been called complicated rock-scissors-paper; there is some truth to that, but it feels a lot more complex.

Again, I'll say grab the rules and RealmSpeak to get started.

BTW, regarding the miniatures. I'll use the end of the last game I was in as an example of why they may not be the best for this game. Two characters are at one of the buildings. Also there are the Lancers and the Company native groups. There are 4 Lancers and 7 Company. The Lancers are all mounted. So that is 13 people and 4 horses in one space. This is not even close to the biggest pile that could end up in one area. The counter stack was pretty tall as it was (we split it into two stacks). Minis would not work well.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Schacher

Spring
Texas
msg tools
mbmbmb
Epidemius wrote:
Great responses everyone! Thank you. Keep em coming .

Another question I had; it sounds like your actions can be written out? So, you don't just roll a die. You can write out that you want to sneak behind an ogre and slide your blade into his spine. How would that even begin to be executed in game?


It's a bit more abstracted than that.

If you hide during the day and swing your blade faster than the Ogre can move, you can ambush him without being counter-attacked. But you will have to verbalize the story of how the attack was heroically carried out.

Steve
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John James
United States
Waterbury
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Here is how a typical move might play out;

Record actions: Hide/Move/Search/Move

Play actions: Hide-Failure/Move/Search-for hidden path-failure/Move-invalid move (path not found in previous step).

Now the monster die summons 6 goblins to your clearing and you die after a few rounds of battle unless you are fast enough to run or are badass enough to take out 6 goblins alone. Should have tried to hide twice.

10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Powers
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Adding important bits that weren't covered above, and that I never "got" until I actually played the game:

* It captures the feel of 1st Ed D&D's Player's Handbook: form a party, kill monsters, find treasure and magic items, and argue over how they get divided, then go find the next dungeon and repeat.

The game absolutely comes alive with multiple players. You decide whether to join together, or hire henchmen, or go it alone, or skulk about and pick off the others. My favorite moments have been tense standoffs over a lucrative treasure find with multiple teams sizing each other up and attempting to negotiate an equitable settlement to avoid bloodshed.

* The combat system is complex and fantastic, even without the optional rules. Importantly, the same system works for player-vs-monster AND for player-vs-player.

With player-vs-player, the combat is completely deterministic: you pick an attack card and a defense card (and place each one in one of three directions). Each card has a strength and a speed.

Reveal simultaneously: if an attack is faster than the defense, it hits. Otherwise, if the attack is the same direction as the defense, it hits.

Weapon length determines which attack hits first, then attack speed. If the strength of the attack exceeds the fortitude of your character, your armor takes the damage, otherwise you die. That's it. There's bluffing and second-guessing, but it's *not* rock-paper-scissors.

With player vs. monster, the monsters pick their attack and defense and maneuvers semi-randomly, which is where the dice come in.

* Because if you are slow and/or your enemy is fast, you end up with a 1-in-3 chance of guessing the maneuver, so teaming with other players or hiring henchmen is essential to winning combats and staying alive.

* All the characters play completely uniquely and discovering how they work is like a mini-game unto itself.

* Each character's attributes and mechanics lend themselves to their own thematic epic narrative that is expressed in the game mechanics, not in the flavor text. For example: the Pilgrim wants to hire an army of knights and seek out the lost temple and banish the demon, but none of that is mentioned on the card. This to me is the triumph of the game design.

Alright, enough gushing.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Black Bart
Australia
Sydney
NSW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Doomsword wrote:
Here is how a typical move might play out;

Record actions: Hide/Move/Search/Move

Play actions: Hide-Failure/Move/Search-for hidden path-failure/Move-invalid move (path not found in previous step).

Now the monster die summons 6 goblins to your clearing and you die after a few rounds of battle unless you are fast enough to run or are badass enough to take out 6 goblins alone. Should have tried to hide twice.

Funny but true, this is how a beginner might get frustrated. With a little experience or thought however, the player could have known that the chance of failure to hide was 30.6% and the chance of not finding the hidden path was 75% (assuming no special abilities are at work). He could even have had an idea of the chance to encounter goblins in that clearing, or other monsters he would be unable or unlikely to survive.

This is not a typical fantasy adventure game where your character runs around and you flip some cards and roll some dice to see what happens (you could but it won't be very satisfying that way). To play well there are strategies to consider (and it takes time and practice to learn these), though it also has an adventure vibe as you need to take calculated risks if you are to win the game.

With respect to expansions:

Richard Hamblen wrote:
Magic Realm was originally designed to be a game system with roughly 40 hex tiles, to consist of a starter game (with 15 tiles, 8 characters, etc.) and five expansion kits (each adding 5 tiles, 3 or 4 characters, etc.). Upper management decided to publish it in flatbox format, allowing 20 tiles in the starter game, but expressed disinterest in any expansion kits. In order to include as many aspects of fantasy literature as possible, I promptly cannibalized the expansion kits in order to turn the starter game into a complete game. Certain opportunities were left open in the game to plug in expansion kits, if I could change management's mind later. The trouble with the rules prevented me from going back to work on the expansion kits.

There is plenty there to keep you occupied for many, many plays. Lots of optional rules to try out (e.g., if you want more dice in combat use the optional combat rules). And there are some fan-made expansions if you really want more stuff.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
that Matt
United States
Ann Arbor
Michigan
flag msg tools
I'm a quitter. I come from a long line of quitters. It's amazing I'm here at all.
badge
I can feel bits of my brain falling away like wet cake.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
- It's the kind of game that garners a following so enthusiastic, they respond to a lengthy series of questions (some easily obtained with the tiniest amount of effort) with earnest goodwill instead of sarcastic dismissal.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Cote
United States
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Though I've hardly played at all, part of the appeal to me is that the game shows that fantasy RPG's do not have to be hit points, rolling for damage, archetypal classes, etc. All the common tropes and systems are shattered.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Henry Akeley
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
tumorous wrote:
- It's the kind of game that garners a following so enthusiastic, they respond to a lengthy series of questions (some easily obtained with the tiniest amount of effort) with earnest goodwill instead of sarcastic dismissal.


Except for you .
4 
 Thumb up
30.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
George Haberberger
United States
Rochester
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Epidemius wrote:

Another question I had; it sounds like your actions can be written out? So, you don't just roll a die. You can write out that you want to sneak behind an ogre and slide your blade into his spine. How would that even begin to be executed in game?


To add to the other posts, without the optional rules and without using missile weapons, you would know ahead of time if you can kill the Ogre.

Your end attack value (L, M, H, T) would have to be equal to or greater than the Ogre's vulnerability. The Ogre's vulnerability is M (for Medium) and he's unarmored.

A L (for Light) weapon with a sharpness star would deliver a lethal attack. Armor reduces a the number of sharpness stars on a weapon by one.

A L weapon without a sharpness star would require a poison potion (to increased the lethality one level), or a poison spell (ditto), or an attack chit with a strength of Medium or higher.

The Ogre's movement speed is 4 or 5. If you have an attack with a speed of 3 or lower (based on your attack chit and the speed of the weapon, if it has one), you automatically hit the Ogre.

If you've hid successfully during the day, you can attack the Ogre without facing a counterattack. If you choose the right weapon and attack chit, you can guarantee a kill.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
aurelian
United Kingdom
Dorset
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I'd recommend you download the Magic Realm Book of Learning tutorial document - even if you only read chapter 1 about the White Knight it'll convey a good feel of what the game's like.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Donovan
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think Merlin sums up Magic Realm pretty well here...

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Quantum Jack
United States
Kentucky
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
"a dream to some, a nightmare to others"

I like it.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Simon Lindén
Sweden
Lund
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I just want to add that if you do find the rules too complicated or game play too demanding for your group there is an excellent application called Realmspeak which you can use to play it. It's a great tool for learning the game and also enjoyable because MR plays well as a solo game. There are also plenty of walkthroughs which you can watch to learn about the game.

I haven't seen any game packed with as much theme and great mechanics as Magic Realm has. The problem for me is that its too time-consuming to setup and play – and Realmspeak solves that for me.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Hope
United States
Woodside
California
flag msg tools
badge
Likes: Mountains, Tundra Turn-offs: Serpents, Marsh
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mpowers wrote:
* Each character's attributes and mechanics lend themselves to their own thematic epic narrative that is expressed in the game mechanics, not in the flavor text. For example: the Pilgrim wants to hire an army of knights and seek out the lost temple and banish the demon, but none of that is mentioned on the card. This to me is the triumph of the game design.


This is the part of MR (and I played it a lot at the time, but not in the last 25 years or so) that I found most impressive/fascinating--each character is really good at very certain things, and interacts with that part of the Realm in an advantaged way. But you don't really come into the game KNOWING that, even though the information is all there in front of you to be figured out. It takes playing the game a few times to figure out what your character is really good at and how to maximize those strengths (and minimize weaknesses).

It's really not like any other fantasy adventure game--the texture of combat around that "complicated rock-scissors-paper" model is so rich and feels so natural, yet creates an environment where each character can do certain things in battle particularly well.

And it's extremely unforgiving and sometimes capricious, as the goblin example makes clear.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.