This is a review of Minotaur Lords, as a stand alone game. I don't have Scarab Lords, although I am debating picking it up now after enjoying Minotaur Lords.
Minotaur Lords is a fun, quick card game. The advanced rules pad it out to a longer game, but the base game can be played in five-ten minutes easily. It's also very fast to pick up and learn, although it takes a couple of plays to understand the strengths of each deck.
The "board" is split up into two regions (Upper Cresos and Lower Cresos), each of which consists of three districts, economic, religous, and military. The game consists of playing cards on the districts, to build up a force. Whomever has cards with a higher sum value on the district, controls it, and can utilize a power that varies from district to district. The decision of which districts to fight over is very interesting, as they seem very balanced. The military districts allow you to shorten the life span of your opponent, the religious districts allow you to disable your opponent's cards in play, and the economic districts speed up your own ability to draw from your deck. If you control two of the districts in each region at the beginning of your turn, you win.
Another basic mechanic that is interesting, is that your cards are split up into phases. The phase 0 cards can be played freely on your turn, and are harder to disable since you can uncurse them as soon as it's your turn for free. Phase 1 and 2 cards tend to be more powerful, but you may only take one phase 1 and 2 action per turn, so planning what order to play them in is challenging.
The last particularly interesting mechanic of the game is the decks themselves. I was surprised in how differently they played. One of the decks is all about horde tactics, with easily played cards that increase in power as the game progresses. The other deck has many cards that are difficult to bring into play, but are very powerful. They seem to be balanced, but a lucky opening draw for either deck can end the game after two turns.
The advanced rules incorporate a sideboard of very different cards that can be secretly introduced to either deck between consecutive games, and the winner of two out of three games wins. We've only tried it once, but it seems to be a guessing game of trying to anticipate how your opponent will modify his deck, and react accordingly. It definitely expands the playing time to more than the sum of the three individual games.
Overall, I've had a great time with the game, and am eager to play it again. My wife is a little less so, but the short time it takes to play makes it easy for her to compromise on. It reminds me of Blue Moon in many ways, but is more interesting to me. This is mainly because the strategies you can adopt seem to be less subtle, and more dominant in how the game plays out.