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Subject: Is there a lot of strategic depth in Mage Knight? rss

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Kirk Andersen
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Or is it a game based primarily on luck?
 
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Tim Seitz
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munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?

No and no.

It's a tactical game where you make the most of what you have. There is some strategy to how you choose skills and what you choose to go after, but it's mostly a tactical game. But it's also not primarily based on luck.
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Martin Presley
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munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


If you're looking for depth, Mage Knight is the Marianas Trench of board games. Most of it comes in a sort of logic-puzzle each turn where you try to make the best of the cards you draw. You keep any cards you didn't play in your hard, so there's an element of planning for the next turn as well.
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hoobajoo wrote:
munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


If you're looking for depth, Mage Knight is the Marianas Trench of board games. Most of it comes in a sort of logic-puzzle each turn where you try to make the best of the cards you draw. You keep any cards you didn't play in your hard, so there's an element of planning for the next turn as well.


We were actually talking about this last night after our game. This game has many layers and lots to learn. Just look at the solo scores of players as they get better the more people play.

Whilst the card draw is random, there are so many decisions to make based on the information available. Where am I on the map? Do I play this influence card sideways for that one extra movement or should I save it to recruit later. 'Magic Talent' is in the card offer, so should I rush into a fight, take lots of wounds just to level up before the other player to grab that card.

In terms of actual strategy though, that is there too. Taking out cities is hard. If you fumble through your turns, get to a city, look at your cards in hand and then blame the game for not having the right cards at the right time, you're playing it wrong. Usually, you need to prepare from the start of the round. Turn 1, you draw a card which will help you take the city. You need to keep that card until you need it. Managing your hand of cards is a skill. This isn't Dominion, you don't ditch your cards each turn. Knowing when to play to play or keep the cards are important decisions.

Last night I called this game a masterpiece. This is an honest opinion, which I would have come to even if I did not know the designer . And, just to remind everyone (before people start questioning why I am calling a game I am involved in good), I had nothing to do with the design of this game. Everything except the rule book was finished before I saw it for the first time.
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Ove Ahlman
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Since there is carddraw involved there is a luck part of the game. But it most of all is up to you to plan ahead, and use the cards in a good way right that turn.

So to answer your question. It contains elements of luck, but isn't at all what I would call a luck based game. Its a very strategic (or tactic, however you define it), but most of it comes down to being able to go with what you hand currently is, while planing for the future.


oh.. and why did you put this in the Rules forum?
 
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hoobajoo wrote:
Mage Knight is the Marianas Trench of board games.


Excellent quote - one for the box! laugh
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munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


I see it as a game of very little luck and lots of future planning. If you discarded your hand at the end of your turn, I wouldn't have this opinion, but because of the fact that you can voluntarily discard non-wounds at the end of your turn and draw new cards makes the game about decision-making, efficient play, and hand-management.

Also, the deck you start off with is 16 cards and there are at least 3 draw effects I can think of between the deeds and tactics. Drawing 5 out of 16 is pretty good odds you'll get most of what you need to carry out a piece of your plan. That's what the game is all about- here are 5 cards, how will they fit in to my plan?

just my 2 cents.

blake.
 
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Gavan Brown
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munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


From my limited plays, this game seems to be centered around content discovery (breadth), rather than strategic depth.
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Tim Seitz
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RoosterJuice wrote:
munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


From my limited plays, this game seems to be centered around content discovery (breadth), rather than strategic depth.

Can you clarify that? Do you feel that strategic depth does not imply content discovery? Or do you mean "content" in the physical sense, as in "I've never seen that artifact card before!"?
 
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Mark Wignall
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munchkinloser7 wrote:
Or is it a game based primarily on luck?


Only in the sense of being able to find a copy
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out4blood wrote:
in the physical sense, as in "I've never seen that artifact card before!"?


Correct. While obviously there are a lot of synergies in Mage Knight's content, which in itself can create strategic depth (Agricola), my initial observations were that the fun and replay value of Mage Knight seems more centered around the actual content discovery.

Conversely, Brass is an example of a game that has a huge amount of strategic depth, and very little content.
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Jack Smith
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I think when people look at a game element such as a card draw and call it luck they are ignoring all the mitigation and control you have over it which is what really matters.

According to what I have read here there is very little luck as it can be managed with good game play. This means luck will play an important part as you are learning the game but will reduce considerably with experience. It also means any complaints about luck from a one game review have no weight.
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Tim Seitz
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RoosterJuice wrote:
out4blood wrote:
in the physical sense, as in "I've never seen that artifact card before!"?


Correct. While obviously there are a lot of synergies in Mage Knight's content, which in itself can create strategic depth (Agricola), my initial observations were that the fun and replay value of Mage Knight seems more centered around the actual content discovery.

So far...

I'd suggest that's going to be true for any game until you get past the initial content discovery phase. But because there is so much content to discover in Mage Knight, it's currently hard to tell how much strategic discovery there will be until it's all been digested.

Given how powerful certain combos can be, and given that, unlike Agricola, you are all competing for the same cards, I expect there to be rather significant room for strategic discovery, despite the heavy tactical focus of the gameplay.
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I am very far past the content discovery point at this point, and I am still finding enjoyable amounts of strategic discovery, and quite a bit of fun from the indirect competitive aspects of the game. Playing with the more experienced players in my group is particularly fun as we have started to effectively learn how to use the tools the game provides against each other.
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With easily 25+ games played now with varying player numbers i can say i feel like the game is more about maximising your turns. There is SOME luck involved with the draw but normally you should have a pretty good idea what you will be getting or what you can get to in your deck if you plan the deck being built a certain way.

Finding that balance of grabbing the right cards when they come up while also keeping your level moving forward. This is one game where AP can really grip and inexperienced player. It's also one where allowing players to rethink and replay their turns in the first few games is a good idea. Once you get the hang of how things flow and what you might be facing the decisions get much easier to make each turn.

In the end it's not nearly as random as you might expect.

 
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
I am very far past the content discovery point at this point, and I am still finding enjoyable amounts of strategic discovery, and quite a bit of fun from the indirect competitive aspects of the game. Playing with the more experienced players in my group is particularly fun as we have started to effectively learn how to use the tools the game provides against each other.


That's excellent news!

Thanx Tim & Jesse... I've wondered about the answer to that question before actually committing to looking for a copy. Games that are strictly about content exploration just end up sitting on my shelf after I've seen it all. Personal example: Yomi.
 
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Well, before you run out and get it I should point out that I do not think Yomi is about content exploration either, so I might not be the most reliable barometer in this regard.
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Comparing Yomi to Mage Knight is like comparing rock-paper-scissors to chess.
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Moved Thread
Moved this thread from the Rules forum to the General forum.
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I imagine there is more strategy in solo play, because you can plan in advance how you're going to deal with all the different landmarks with no chance of interference from other players.
 
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johncraven wrote:
I imagine there is more strategy in solo play, because you can plan in advance how you're going to deal with all the different landmarks with no chance of interference from other players.


I ran into this, as well as a a fair amount of the "luck" component in my first full solo game (though there were a few rules I got wrong here and there that both helped and hindered me throughout the game, so hard to say exactly where I would've been if I'd played it exactly right). Basically, I ran into my second city sometime in the 3rd day, but it was basically blocked by a somewhat difficult rampaging dragon and mountains, making a "safe" trip to the city somewhat difficult. I resolved to pick up some more spells/artifacts from nearby mage towers and ruins to power myself up a bit before making my way back to the city for the final night of the game. I ended up with basically a series of cards that would pretty much just let me demolish the city if I could just make it over to it... with an Underground assault/attack card in my deck as well as a Magic Talent (with a Wings of Wind in the offer), I figured getting back to the city shouldn't be a big deal.

At the beginning of the 3rd night I drew my powerful artifacts (one that let me basically ignore all enemy attacks and another that provided unlimited white and black mana for the turn) as well as a key spell (Mass Expose-all enemies lose resistances or fortifications), the Magic Talent and then... no movement. I really needed the artifacts for my city attack and really wanted the Magic Talent (so I could move with Wings of Wind if I needed to when I drew some "Move" cards), so that pretty much just left me with 2 cards to "cycle" through each turn. I ended up spending the next few turns basically just gathering up my mana inventory while the dummy deck whipped through its cards quickly. With only a few turns left, I "wasted" my magic talent just to move a few spaces, finally got some move points after that, and on my last turn of the game was able to assault the city (from an an unexpected angle as to avoid triggering the rampaging Dragon before I could even get to the city). I used up my artifacts, also cast "Mass Expose" to make the enemies lose all resistances, used up all my units and any other attack cards I had and came up 1 or 2 attack points short of being able to beat all of the city's defenders. The Tremor/Earthquake spell I picked up in preparation for the attack (can reduce all fortified enemies armor by 4) was just a few cards down in the deck, which would've been more than enough to mop up everyone in the city (and thus "win" the game).

Despite "losing", the game was still a lot of fun, and as frustrating as it was to not get the "movement" I needed from my deck (either via spell or actions), it was still pretty exhilarating going through each turn trying to figure out exactly how I was going to make it back to the City both without triggering a costly Dragon fight and with the cards I needed in hand to defeat its defenders, all before the "dummy" deck ran out. It's likely there was a more optimal way to play my last night than what I was doing, but it was my first game. =)
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Bryan F
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leshrac55 wrote:

I ended up spending the next few turns basically just gathering up my mana inventory while the dummy deck whipped through its cards quickly. With only a few turns left, I "wasted" my magic talent just to move a few spaces, finally got some move points after that, and on my last turn of the game was able to assault the city...


I find this situation is easy to run into. Most games where I end up stalled out or wasting time hoping for the right card combination comes down to this.

You have the right cards in hand for an assault on a draconum or city or perhaps a powerful ruin token, but lack the movement to get there. Or you have the movement to make your assault but are a few points shy of the damage you need to win.

Situations like this are usually the most frequent catalyst for my analysis paralysis. Do I burn through "good" cards just to move? Do I save them, using other less important cards in hand to cycle a few cards? Balancing the need to move somewhere with having the right cards in hand to win your next battle can be tricky when luck is against you.

I find also that what comes up on map tiles you explore can make or break a game. Lots of swamps, wastelands and deserts? Lakes in your way? Not enough "easy" enemies?

It's easy to take a few turns to build up your power and then all of a sudden you realize the dummy deck is going to give you two more turns and you've not even gone half way through your deck.

I'd say the strategic depth and tactical choice in this game is as deep as anything I've ever played and the margins for error range from wide to narrow from game to game.
 
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Paul Beakley
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Honestly I think this is impossible to answer without hearing the OP's definition of "strategic" and "depth."
 
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Tim Seitz
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PBeakley wrote:
Honestly I think this is impossible to answer without hearing the OP's definition of "strategic" and "depth."

You could answer while including your own explanation for those terms.
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FWIW, I would advise you to try it before buying it, especially at inflated OOP prices.

While I wouldn't say after four plays that it's "primarily luck-driven", I would say that it's a frustrating and dreary game (with dreariness increasing with each player added) that is almost completely devoid of theme. It's unlikely that anyone reading this forum will agree, but I am not the only person who was disappointed by it. So you may find that there is strategic depth, but you may also find, as I have, that you'd rather work on your taxes than play it long enough to discover its charms.
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