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Master of the Amulets is Metagaming MicroQuests series 7 in the series from Metagaming. The game was published in 1981.
It is not a stand-alone game and requires either Melee and Wizard or The Fantasy Trip (a roleplaying game based on Melee and Wizard) to play.
The game is designed to be played solo or multiplayer with several different options. The most common multiplayer option is to have up to 4 players each control an adventurer and the team then attempts to overcome the conditions of the scenario. In some ways, this could be seen as a very early cooperative boardgame.
The game comes with a 4” x 7” rulebook of about 32 pages, a sheet of counters, a single 6-sided die and a 12” x 9” 4-color map showing the valley where the Orbs are to be found.
The rulebook is staplebound and is printed on relatively heavy paper throughout, including the cover. It is single color and very dense with text. Most of the illustrations are of maps for encounters.
The counter sheet is single color on cardboard and the counters must be cut out to use them. In this game, most of the counters are actually used to account for the various amulets which can be found in the game.
The components are not bad for a game that retailed for about $5.00.
The whole comes in a pocket box which has a nice color illustration on the front and gives way to black and white elsewhere.
In this scenario, you find yourself trapped in the fabled Lost Valley, once the home of the blackest of wizards, the long-dead Dirringar the Black. It is said that the only way into his valley is through one of his trap gates and the only way out is to find an amulet and the exit from the valley.
The difficulty is that there are 24 amulets with a variety of different powers, some beneficial and some not. You must find the amulets you need to help you succeed including the return amulet, the only one that will let you exit the Lost Valley.
The setup for this one is pretty good, even if the whole master of amulets riffs a bit off Tolkien’s One Ring. The theme is decent and pretty well incorporated n the rules.
Like the other microquests, this one is designed to be played in one of three ways: you can play solo, with one player controlling up to 6 adventurers as they brave the hazards of the Lost Valley, you can go head-to-head with one player running the adventurers and the other running the bad guys, or you can play it in multiplayer mode, with a number of players (up to 6) each playing one character. With more than 6, one could control the bad guys and an eighth player could serve as the referee for encounters.
This microquest is different from most of the others because there are no numbered paragraphs to follow. Unless you play the variant rules (suggested for experienced players and adventurers), there are essentially no fixed encounters. Players move from location to location and find random monsters there guarding random amulets. Some of the amulets are beneficial, a few are worthless and some are harmful.
The game begins by randomly placing 24 markers on the map to correspond with 24 amulets and 24 encounter areas. Players are then free to move from hex-to-hex, rolling for encounters as they go. If they enter a hex with an amulet, they may attempt to find it, doing so on a roll of 1-3 on a d6. If they don’t find it on the first turn, they may search again, but each turn takes a full turn and requires an encounter check.
With luck, the players will eventually uncover the Return amulet. From there they can move to the exit and end the scenario. Moving to the exit without the correct amulet will not work and may prove fatal as some amulets will explode if taken to the exit.
The rules are very thorough covering encounters in various terrain and adjusting the number of monsters based on the number of heroes in the party. The basic rules allow for avoiding or fighting encounters and an optional rule allows for negotiation with those encountered (if possible).
There are even rules for wizards or fighters you might encounter in the valley or as the result of using one of the amulets. The amulets are laid out in a table and are determined randomly. There are rules for finding, identifying and using amulets.
This is a good scenario and well-thought out. It suffers a bit from having too much randomness and the encounters can prove very difficult if you hit some tough monsters early and can’t avoid them.
This is a game that if it was made today would have a larger board, numerous player aids, and actual tokens for the different amulets. I’d love to see a version of this developed by Fantasy Flight or some other company known for their “overproduction” of games.
It definitely is one of the fiddlier microquests with nearly everything handled by rolling dice. This one, perhaps more than any of the others I’ve played, could benefit by having a game master player who developed the map and encounters in advance.
There is one glitch with the map. The game starts with the “party” marker placed on the entrance hex on the southern edge of the map. Although the exit is clearly marked with the word “Exit”, the entrance is not so clear. In our games we typically started with either 2221 in the rough middle of the map or 2122 or 2320. This isn’t a huge deal but it is an annoying oversight.
Like the other microquests, this one has not aged well. There are better dungeon crawl/exploration games today that would probably be easier and more streamlined. Generating encounters on the fly and some of the record-keeping can really be a big source of downtime.
That said, this would make a fine addition to a collection of Metagaming products.
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Yes, I really am that awesome.
Thanks for reviewing all these, Steve! Impressive work!
I had Death Test 1 and ran through it a few times, always wondered how the others were.
Destiny's got her hand way, way up in their puppets! It's an unpleasant tingling! The deepest of wriggles!
But my greatest power is this: When Destiny speaks, she speaks to me. She says hi, by the way.
Oh! And I've been killing the bees!
Another good job--and with pictures, too!--earning you a fourth Cordwainer Bird Award and another 5 GG for reviewing this OOP game. Bonus 1 GG award for taking the pictures.
For more information about how you can ease the pain and loneliness of unreviewed games, see the Cordwainer Bird Award GeekList.
- Last edited Tue Oct 2, 2007 6:38 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Oct 2, 2007 6:10 am