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Middara: Unintentional Malum – Act 1» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Some Post-Chapter 1 Impressions (No Spoilers) rss

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Juan Romero
United States
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After just getting done with Chapter 1 solo with 4 characters and not seeing too many people do anything in the way of review content besides commenting on the difficulty (which I will get to), I thought I might finally post some thoughts of my own since I've been having such an amazing time with it (conclusion spoilers). Note that I don't post on here much so apologies if this comes off as terribly formatted/uninformed etc.

Components

Just getting my copy in I was baffled by the great component quality. The box itself is large and accommodating, sturdy with the beautiful spot UV treatment also present on the tiles and some tokens. All of the cards feel solid and both the rule book and story book being spiral bound makes them feel like they'll hold up for a long time as well. The figures aren't the most detailed but the sculpts are awesome-looking, albeit a little unwieldy in play sometimes. After one chapter of play with entirely sleeved cards, all of the components are holding up alright. Some of the tiles are seeing a little wear on the sides from repeated use. This is probably inevitable.

Gameplay

Middara, from what I understand, plays like a pretty typical dungeon crawl in most respects. You move your party around the board, chuck some dice to kill monsters, and get loot and experience points to enhance your characters with skills and equipment. The equipment and ability cards used to both mitigate luck and create your class roles feel genuinely unique. Middara is definitely a rules heavy game but a lot of it feels intuitive and the adventure mode does a good job of easing you into its mechanics. There are absolutely times when a couple of bad dice rolls can have devastating and swingy effects, but it is typically possible to come back from these circumstances. Playing solo is helping to alleviate some of that frustration, but I imagine having a character defeated in the first round while playing with 4 people could be enough to turn some off of the game entirely. Gameplay objectives feel varied and there are often options for achieving success, leaving a lot of how much you do in a scenario up to a push-your-luck style. There presentation of these objectives through hidden text makes the game feel alive and interesting, with surprises around every corner.

Art and Design

I've been incredibly impressed with how good this game looks in the board game world. Most everything is presented in a way that is very readable and visually distinct, leaving little room for misunderstanding. The art is definitely going to be hit or miss for some people, but I'm personally a huge fan. Regardless of whether or not the style is something that suits you, the sheer amount of art in the game deserves recognition. The adventure book has a good amount of half and full-page spreads that illustrate all of the interesting-looking characters and scenes you'll encounter.

Story

I will preface this by saying that story is probably the main reason I purchased Middara. Hearing that the game was Narrative-Driven with a nearly 500 page story book, I expected at least a LOT of story. What I got is just that, but thankfully it's also at least decent story. There are times when it feels like a little too much, and while I enjoy reading for extended periods of time, I can see it becoming tired for a gaming group just wanting to play the game. I appreciate that spark notes are available on the website for this specific case, but from what I've read, they also miss a lot of what's special in taking the time to dig into the dialogue. The main party all feel well characterized so far, and the side characters that have been introduced don't feel any less well-realized. I'm interested in how the story has developed since the start, but hoping that the pace picks up from the second chapter onward.

Difficulty

And now to address the elephant in the room: So far, I have felt Middara's difficulty to be fair. I've lost a single scenario throughout all of the first chapter, but this hasn't proven to be damning in any way so far. I appreciate that the game doesn't ask you to replay a scenario and allows you to continue to progress given how large the game is. I think the higher chance of victory in this game actually works in its favor. Given the size of the game and how long the campaign is, I think leaning in the players favor is much preferable to something more punishing. It's common for co-op games to be difficult to force players to learn, but that comes with the precedent of getting better at it as you REPLAY that game. Because scenarios will by and large only be played once in Middara during a single campaign playthrough, which can last up to 100 hours, I would much rather see victory as something easily achievable without the need to go back and play another 100 hours to see a good ending. As mentioned previously, I haven't seen my single loss as something detrimental to the future of my experience with the game, but I can foresee a string of losses potentially being punishing in the long run. I can understand the desire for a more challenging experience, and I think the game would do well to provide the options, but I've also felt the default experience as entirely enjoyable so far, and wouldn't personally ask for a harder experience.

Conclusion

If it wasn't already apparent, I've been having an absolute blast with the game. I think Gloomhaven, Kingdom Death Monster, and Middara have become something of a Holy Trinity of cooperative, story-driven, figures-fighting-monsters style games for me, and I'm really looking forward to the future of the franchise. If the first chapter is indicative of what the rest of the game is going to be like, I will be more than excited to play through the remaining 80+ hours of the campaign.
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Thomas M
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Ventas Fulmino!
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Zetasaurus wrote:

Conclusion
If it wasn't already apparent, I've been having an absolute blast with the game. I think Gloomhaven, Kingdom Death Monster, and Middara have become something of a Holy Trinity of cooperative, story-driven, figures-fighting-monsters style games for me, and I'm really looking forward to the future of the franchise. If the first chapter is indicative of what the rest of the game is going to be like, I will be more than excited to play through the remaining 80+ hours of the campaign.

100% agree
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Richard Mitchell
United States
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New York
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I agree as well, I have not looked forward to playing the next session of a game as much as I have with Middara for quite some time. Great stuff.
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Justin Moll
United States
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California
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That excitement anticipation carries through chapter 5 and the end of Act1. Gloomhaven lost its luster mid to late campaign, KDM had its boring parts late campaign until the addition of expansions renewed that excitement. This game kept it all the way for me. I don’t want to say any spoilers so I’ll just say Chapter 5 is probably my favorite chapter so far.

Good impressions!
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chang chang

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bigvolfan82bg wrote:
Zetasaurus wrote:

Conclusion
If it wasn't already apparent, I've been having an absolute blast with the game. I think Gloomhaven, Kingdom Death Monster, and Middara have become something of a Holy Trinity of cooperative, story-driven, figures-fighting-monsters style games for me, and I'm really looking forward to the future of the franchise. If the first chapter is indicative of what the rest of the game is going to be like, I will be more than excited to play through the remaining 80+ hours of the campaign.

100% agree

I feel exactly the same.

for me these 3 games would take turn to dominate my table. finish 1 campaign, brake play the other, brake the other and so on.
 
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