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Subject: Compare Mage Knight to Thunderstone? rss

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Hi all, I'm relatively new to board gaming, and I was looking for something dungeon crawling-ish that could be played solo, which is likely going to account for most of the play. I used to have warhammer quest as a kid, but that got sold after moving out.

Anyways, the two that I've come upon that seem most viable are Thunderstone (one of the variants at least), and mage knight. I can't really tell the differences between them, and nothing that I've seen really compared them. Can somebody weigh in on the advantages/disadvantages of the two? How are they different/similar. Or if there's something else I might enjoy feel free to suggest it.

I'm looking for something with some depth rather than just "X is better" or "get Y/both".
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Wil
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themadcow wrote:
Hi all, I'm relatively new to board gaming, and I was looking for something dungeon crawling-ish that could be played solo, which is likely going to account for most of the play. I used to have warhammer quest as a kid, but that got sold after moving out.

Anyways, the two that I've come upon that seem most viable are Thunderstone (one of the variants at least), and mage knight. I can't really tell the differences between them, and nothing that I've seen really compared them. Can somebody weigh in on the advantages/disadvantages of the two? How are they different/similar. Or if there's something else I might enjoy feel free to suggest it.

I'm looking for something with some depth rather than just "X is better" or "get Y/both".



As a fan of both, I can say that Thunderstone and Mage Knight are two of my favorite solo games. That said, Thunderstone gets to the table far more often.

This isn't an X is better than Y comment. The difference is length and energy of game. Thunderstone is a lighter game, easier to set up, and much shorter, likely somewhere between 1/4 to 1/3 of the total setup/playtime of Mage Knight. I can set up two rounds of solo Thunderstone Advance in epic mode and play them in just a bit over an hour.

As for which game is better, well Mage Knight is arguably a better game, and since you posted this in the Mage Knight forum, everyone will likely tell you that and I would tend to agree. However, I play Thunderstone easily 10 times to 1 of what I play Mage Knight and when you factor that in, my decision would be:

* If I could take one or the other to a deserted island, it would be Mage Knight in a heartbeat as on the deserted island, I'd presumably have all of the time in the world (let's assume I have food, shelter, and a game table as well).

* However if I would need to pick one or the other in the busy existence of life AND for both solo and group play, Thunderstone Advance in a heartbeat. It's going to simply see the table more often.

Also in closing, the games do have some similarities, not a lot but some. There are at least a few rounds in Thunderstone where I play cards that draw up more cards and then combine heroes, weapons, lights, and such in a unique way that I get that same puzzle glee that I get from Mage Knight. Sure, Mage Knight does it better but Thunderstone can really shine as well.

Both fun games, both with unique pros and cons. Personally, I think you should get them both, but based on your "new to board gaming" comment, I think Thunderstone Advance is the logical next purchase.

My solo cents.




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Thanks, and I don't mind saying that one is better so long as why is included as well.

I was more meaning a post that just says one is better and leaves it at that is less than helpful.
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Michael J
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Mage Knight is an excellent solo experience. It's engaging, epic, brain-burning, and thematic. HOWEVER, as pointed out above, it does take a long time to play. My best time is about 2 hours when playing the solo game. I've gotten really efficient at setup, and reduced numerous steps that aren't needed (such as combining card piles, not separating encounter tokens, etc...). But like Wil said, it requires somewhat of a committment to play, partly because of the time it takes but also partly because of the mental focus required to play it. Mage Knight is a great game, though! There are tough choices every turn. Drawing cards is always entertaining as you never know what you are going to get.

I've only played Thunderstone twice, and neither time was solo, so I don't want to comment too much here. If deck-building is the mechanic that drew you to both of these games, Thunderstone has it way more than Mage Knight. In Mage Knight, you will see cards only 3-5 times, although some of the cards you "buy" go face up on the table and are always available to use. For the most part, the deck you start with is the deck you finish with.

Wil's comments were quite fair. Mage Knight is probably the better game, but that doesn't mean it will see the table often at your house, nor whether it is worth purchasing over Thunderstone.

Good luck figuring it all out! cool
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Drake Coker
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These two games are quite different. Be warned that neither will give you that dungeon-crawler feel anything like Warhammer Quest. Both games are quite good, however.

Thunderstone Advanced is something of a dungeon crawler, if you can imagine one without a map (well, a highly abstracted map). It is a pure card game where you try to build a deck of cards to defeat a set of advancing monsters. The construction of the deck *is* the primary gameplay mechanic (one of a set of games generally called "deck building" games). Each turn, you draw a hand of cards and use that hand to either "buy" more cards for your deck or use the hand to defeat one of the monsters. Monsters keep advancing and it is a race for points when played solo. The mix of monsters and cards available to buy is what gives the game its variety.

Mage Knight is more traditional in that there is a map, but one that is revealed as you proceed through it. The map itself is random-ish. In Mage Knight, you control a hero that explores the map and deals with the dangers uncovered. This is more like a dungeon crawler, except that the map is an overland map on a much bigger scale. Primary gameplay is managing your hero through using a set of actions drawn from a deck of cards.

Mage Knight is much longer than Thunderstone and much, much more complex. If you are rusty with gaming, you might want to start with Thunderstone simply for the complexity reason. However, Mage Knight is also a deeper intellectual challenge and is very rewarding to play.

I have no problems recommending either game in general. Both are great designs and very fun to play.

BTW, comparing these games is actually kind of hard. It's like comparing graham crackers to bourbon. You can put both in your mouth, but otherwise they are entirely different

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Ahh, I was under the impression that cards and deciding what to get play a crucial role in both games - which is why I thought they were comparable.
 
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Peter Kossits
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A better question would probably be to compare Thunderstone to the Lord Of The Rings Living Card Game - which may be your best bet for scratching the DnD itch with cards. They have some very nice one off scenarios in that one - what's missing is a good campaign system, where you can tie them all together with a bit of continuity.

I don't know - I don't quite get everyone saying Mage Knight is a long game. I guess the key is to not play it in one sitting and to leave it setup. I've played Mage Knight for the past two weeks exclusively (have now moved on to something else) and have yet to play a game that took more than two evenings. I actually wish it didn't get to the endgame so damn quickly.

 
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themadcow wrote:
Ahh, I was under the impression that cards and deciding what to get play a crucial role in both games - which is why I thought they were comparable.


I'd say deciding what cards to get are more important in Thunderstone than in Mage Knight. In Mage Knight, the focus is how to play the cards you are given. You do acquire new cards, and you do buy cards at towns, but for the most part, the tough decisions occur when you draw your cards and have to figure out how to use them most effectively.
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Kirk Bauer
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Would Castle Ravenloft be a good option for OP?
 
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Dave Horn
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If solo dungeon crawler is your first requirement I'd say neither of these are a good fit.

For pure solo thematic experience pretty much nothing beats Mage Knight. But I would not consider it a dungeon crawler at all.

I'm a fan of deck builders and Thunderstone is certainly a good one. While technically Thunderstone is implementing a dungeon crawl it doesn't "feel" like it at all when playing. Matter of fact, when you can go to the dungeon in Thunderstone to simply lose to a monster so you can eject him from the dungeon and get him out of your way with really no bad repercussions except a spent turn its kind of a slap in the face to dungeon crawlers.

The best solo dungeon crawler I've played is Gears of War: The Board Game.

The D&D games like Ravenloft are decent, but I think Gears is better. I like playing Runebound (Second Edition) solo more than the D&D games, and while D&D is a better true dungeon crawler, Runebound does feel like one to some degree and more enjoyable for me.

As a straight up card game, I do agree The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game offers a thematic solo experience with a dungeon crawling feel. But its also not a true dungeon crawler.
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Selurevad wrote:
The best solo dungeon crawler I've played is Gears of War: The Board Game.


For what it's worth, I fully agree with this. As someone who often plays solo, Gears of War is a fantastic solo game and a great dungeon crawler experience.

I also fully agree that Gears of War nails dungeon crawler much more than Mage Knight or Thunderstone.

And last, but not least, I agree that Gears of War is better than the D&D games. The D&D games are ok with a group of people but as a solo experience, they get boring, mechanical, and dry quite fast. That's why my copy of Wrath of Ashardalon is up for trade. Gears of War (and even Zombicide) are far more enjoyable to me.

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kirkbauer wrote:
Would Castle Ravenloft be a good option for OP?


I didn't suggest this because the OP seemed like he had already narrowed the field down to deck-builders after already having done research. But I agree, neither of these games feel much like a dungeon-crawl.
 
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If your going for Thunder Stone Advanced (TSA) vs Mage Knight (MK), it all depends on whether you have a space to leave board games out on. If you don't mind leaving the game out between rounds, MK would have my vote. With a 5 dollar walmart tackle box I can be playing MK in 10-15 minutes (if you just use the box it comes with you will setting up for a half hour). If you want to take your game some where occasionally and play a reasonably length game, I would go with TSA.
 
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Thanks for all the input here. Mage Knight sounds like it might be more appealing gameplay-wise. So I picked it up and played solo last night, it was quite fun - so fun that I delved into the solo campaign right after finishing the intro campaign Though I must complain that the cards had a somewhat cheap feel to them in my opinion.


As for dungeon crawling games, I had looked into those originally but none of the current ones really matched what I was after. The closest was probably Descent 2.0, but the lack of any solo mode is a dealbreaker there, which led me to looking into mage knight/TSA. The strict dungeoning itch I mostly scratch from rogue-likes these days - which I'm surprised nobody has translated into a board game.

Gears of War never even hit my radar, I figured it was a bad knockoff. If its not only a decent dungeoner, but one of the best for solo I'll have to check it out too.
 
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Dave Horn
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If you want a roguelike have you checked out DungeonQuest (third edition)?

I don't recommend it as a dungeon crawl it lacks most tactical or stategy decisions I would want in a dungeon crawl. But for a roguelike,there may be none closer.

Its a lot of fun to pull out when I feel like dying... a lot... miserably... through no fault of my own... but boy sure it worth it when I can make it to the dragon and actually get out alive!

 
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The D&D Adventure System games are AWESOME!!!!!!!!! Highly recommended for solo play.
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Selurevad wrote:
If you want a roguelike have you checked out DungeonQuest (third edition)?

I don't recommend it as a dungeon crawl it lacks most tactical or stategy decisions I would want in a dungeon crawl. But for a roguelike,there may be none closer.

Its a lot of fun to pull out when I feel like dying... a lot... miserably... through no fault of my own... but boy sure it worth it when I can make it to the dragon and actually get out alive!


Seconded. It's really really lightweight, totally random and not much fun solo... wait, I was intending to support the roguelike comparison, er... But seriously, yes, despite the above it is the only boardgame I've ever played that felt vaguely roguelike.
 
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