Recommend
31 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Mage Knight Board Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Eleven mechanics I find interesting in MK rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Klaude Thomas
New Zealand
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
This is kind of a review, or perhaps a counter-review. We'll see.

Mechanic 1 - first-strike
Vlaada must play MtG because he's picked up on a very basic mechanic that offers significant play. From what I understand of the designer it seems inevitable that he added both first-strike and no-really-first-strike. Still, they do work and perhaps the latter arose from playtesting. So Ranged and Siege exist and as in Magic they do the important work of creating attacks that happen before the other guy can hit back.

Mechanic 2 - a card is worth a point
Doesn't that make sense? 1 draw is worth 1 attack/block/move/influence. Then if it is specific to purpose it's worth 2. Pay a resource and it's worth 4. Pay two resources and it's worth 8. That gives the game a cohering system of valuation.

Mechanic 3 - artifacts
These are a very nice piece of subtle design, and complete a larger scheme. That scheme is outlined above. But what is a game without limits? You could even say that what a game is, is limits. So first there are vanilla action cards, that you can optionally pay to boost. Then there are spells that you have no option but pay to boost, and then sometimes can be double boosted. Then there are artifacts that... wait a minute. They're at the top of the power curve and free. Or you can remove them from the game to do something even more OTT. How does that even make sense? The answer is not entirely simple. First of course they are chase items. Their existence creates objective points on the map. Secondly one has to reflect on the flow of mana resource into the game. Through being free artifacts extend deck power out beyond the mana flow. That is very neat design.

Mechanic 4 - the BIG turn
MtG games can often be described as being all about the one big turn. Your resources are stacked up, the necessary cards are in your hand, and bam: you put out some ungodly number of units of power (attack/block/etc). That allows the map to have focal points that are above the power-plateau; and you can feel it in the game.

Mechanic 5 - night and day
Isn't it interesting that games start on day and end on night. Why is that? Hey, doesn't night let me double-power spells? Could that have anything to do with producing the BIG turn? The night/day mechanic is exceptional and quite neatly implemented (except I wish I didn't have to turn the board over).

Mechanic 6 - movement
Much of this is pretty standard design. Parts of the map are barriers (lakes and mountains). Other parts are more-or-less costly to reach. This all produces corridors, and the walls of these corridors are porous. I think it could have been done with 1-2 fewer terrain types. Desert and Forest serve their purpose (the corridor shifts at night). Plains are basic. But hills and rough I'm dubious about. Still, the parts are there. Movement imposes a cost that gets in the way of your big turns. I'm still reflecting on that and I feel like Vlaada did not quite solve movement. Producing corridors is correct. Tasking players to pay out some resources to access what they want to access is also correct. Still, it's not all they way there.

Mechanic 7 - the deck
Contrast 4th edition D&D with 3rd edition. A key difference were effects that could be cast without replacement in a frame of contest. Going on then to a deck we reach a situation where our effects are cast without replacement and we don't completely control which ones we'll have. We do have some control - over what we add to it - but more importantly we know what our deck contains, and it is quite short. This is occasionally mentioned in comment on the game, but more often overlooked (especially by detractors). If I see my Tranquility card, then I will not draw it again this round. Or put another way, if I will draw through my whole deck, then I will at some point see my Tranquility and be able to heal 1.

Mechanic 8 - feats
I suppose every RPG game uses these now, from WoW to LoL to D&D. Did they come from D&D first, or maybe GURPS or somewhere else? It doesn't matter. Skills bestow small boosts that you combo into your power ramp. That is very important in making the tailoring interesting and determining what general policies will work for you. It's kind of standard, but it should be here and is.

Mechanic 9 - resistances
Again, a standard element. Roshambo should be employed and voila, it is. Here Vlaada has gone for just about the minimum - just 3 (or is that 4?) flavours. Hot, cold, hot-and-cold, and crunchy. Resistances mean a hand that would be great against X might be not quite so hot against Y. It's dressing, really, and not super-important in MK. Or so I think at this time anyway.

Mechanic 10 - curses
It's always annoying to have a negative victory point that also gums up your hand. And that's just in Dominion. Wounds are an ideal way to punish players in a game that uses a deck. The only issue I see with them is that they can't kill you. Surely if you are holding your hand limit in cuts, bruises, broken bones, and sucking chest wounds, you should be pushing up daisies? Oh right, RPGs stopped killing players way back, when they realised people hate to lose their invested time. Seriously?

Mechanic 11 - development and objective ramps put in parallel
Starcraft and League of Legends exemplify this, but it is old school strategy design. Compressing the job of building power into the game purpose of control of objectives produces a pleasingly challenging mix that strategy gamers have shown love for. One without the other feels much poorer. Again, standard design that one would expect to be here, but well crafted and important to MK's interest.

Mechanic 12 - shops, staging posts, and hoards [Sorry, I forgot to count this one in earlier, but it is important]
On first encountering MK it is far from clear how carefully thought out the locations on the board are. Shops (e.g. villages) are places you can safely buy things with the coin of the realm (i.e. influence). Staging-posts (e.g. mines) reliably offer small resource boosts. Hoards of course (e.g. ancient ruins) pay-out cards and XP against risk. All such offerings are bought in part through tactical engagement (spending influence or attack, etc), yet as spatial locations their real value to the game is how they interact with your movement. In conjunction with it they overtly deliver a strategic dimension - as you attempt to line up a series of solvable tactical problems with a view to feeding your power ramp (the other overt strategic dimension ofc). All without spending so much movement that you cannot reach the core tiles in time.

That will do for now. I'm still pondering on units and influence, and somewhat on movement which I see as a not-quite-solved problem. And yes, a catch-up mechanic would be kind of good (or is MK really best solo?); and yes, there could be some rules rationalisations and simple additions like a mulligan rule (why not adopt one?). But this is all nitpicking: Vlaada exercised his craft with considerable competence showing broad and deep knowledge of RPGs, strategy games, and CCGs. What do you want? A floral dress?
38 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin Lim
Singapore
Cambridge
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmb
vonklaude wrote:


Mechanic 10 - curses
It's always annoying to have a negative victory point that also gums up your hand. And that's just in Dominion. Wounds are an ideal way to punish players in a game that uses a deck. The only issue I see with them is that they can't kill you. Surely if you are holding your hand limit in cuts, bruises, broken bones, and sucking chest wounds, you should be pushing up daisies? Oh right, RPGs stopped killing players way back, when they realised people hate to lose their invested time. Seriously?



If you take your hand limit in wounds, you get knocked out, lose all your non-wound cards, and it basically takes 2 turns to recover.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nimeroni Deva
msg tools
mb
Or more if you draw more wounds. yuk
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
I didn't know what to do with my UberBadge, so I left it as a GeekBadge.
badge
Planning...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
vonklaude wrote:
Mechanic 3 - artifactsThen there are artifacts that... wait a minute. They're at the top of the power curve and free. Or you can remove them from the game to do something even more OTT.


I think the power of artifacts is in the fact that they're free. Their abilities aren't generally outstanding, more helpful but because you don't have to spend any mana to use them, they become better. Obviously something like Horn of Wrath is incredible, but there have been plenty of times where the Banners or Amulets have underperformed (and the less said about Sword of Justice the better).

Quote:
Mechanic 4 - the BIG turn
MtG games can often be described as being all about the one big turn.


Only if you're playing a combo deck. In my experience, most games of Magic are about chipping away at your opponent when you can. If you fill the board with powerful creatures, you're asking to lose them to a board sweeping effect.

Quote:
Mechanic 5 - night and day
Isn't it interesting that games start on day and end on night. Why is that? Hey, doesn't night let me double-power spells? Could that have anything to do with producing the BIG turn? The night/day mechanic is exceptional and quite neatly implemented (except I wish I didn't have to turn the board over).


I agree it works well for the game, but it doesn't make much sense to me thematically. These Mage Knights get an awful lot done in one day or night. They conquer a city in a couple of hours and then shortly afterwards its inhabitants are quite happy to accompany their attacker on his future journeys! I'd prefer if each Round represented several days or weeks, but in pure game terms the Night/Day split allows for some nice variable effects from spells and terrain.

Quote:
Mechanic 7 - the deck
Contrast 4th edition with 3rd edition. A key difference were effects that could be cast without replacement in a frame of contest. Going on then to a deck we reach a situation where our effects are cast without replacement and we don't completely control which ones we'll have.


I don't understand this part. 3rd and 4th editions of what?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I love "the big turn." The last MP game I played I had accumulated a ton of spells and artifacts. The last few hands I played I conquered a city and killed two dragons in a glorious series of "big turns."

Felt awesome.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lukáš Rinka
Czech Republic
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Mechanic 2 - a card is worth a point
Doesn't that make sense? 1 draw is worth 1 attack/block/move/influence. Then if it is specific to purpose it's worth 2. Pay a resource and it's worth 4. Pay two resources and it's worth 8. This gives the game a cohering system of valuation.


I think you can´t pay two resources for doubling stronger effect of one card. Or am I missing something?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris J Davis
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Overtext pending moderation...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cup of Coffee wrote:
Quote:
Mechanic 2 - a card is worth a point
Doesn't that make sense? 1 draw is worth 1 attack/block/move/influence. Then if it is specific to purpose it's worth 2. Pay a resource and it's worth 4. Pay two resources and it's worth 8. This gives the game a cohering system of valuation.


I think you can´t pay two resources for doubling stronger effect of one card. Or am I missing something?


I think he's referring to cards such as Improvisation and Willpower that allow you to add to the strength of another card. I don't think his numbers were meant to be accurate, just illustrations.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Carroll
United States
Urbana
Illinois
flag msg tools
Soli Deo Gloria!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Cup of Coffee wrote:
Quote:
Mechanic 2 - a card is worth a point
Doesn't that make sense? 1 draw is worth 1 attack/block/move/influence. Then if it is specific to purpose it's worth 2. Pay a resource and it's worth 4. Pay two resources and it's worth 8. This gives the game a cohering system of valuation.


I think you can´t pay two resources for doubling stronger effect of one card. Or am I missing something?


Here I think he's talking about the strong effect of spells.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris J Davis
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Overtext pending moderation...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
spartax wrote:
Cup of Coffee wrote:
Quote:
Mechanic 2 - a card is worth a point
Doesn't that make sense? 1 draw is worth 1 attack/block/move/influence. Then if it is specific to purpose it's worth 2. Pay a resource and it's worth 4. Pay two resources and it's worth 8. This gives the game a cohering system of valuation.


I think you can´t pay two resources for doubling stronger effect of one card. Or am I missing something?


Here I think he's talking about the strong effect of spells.


Good point!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
woodnoggin wrote:

Quote:
Mechanic 5 - night and day
Isn't it interesting that games start on day and end on night. Why is that? Hey, doesn't night let me double-power spells? Could that have anything to do with producing the BIG turn? The night/day mechanic is exceptional and quite neatly implemented (except I wish I didn't have to turn the board over).


I agree it works well for the game, but it doesn't make much sense to me thematically. These Mage Knights get an awful lot done in one day or night. They conquer a city in a couple of hours and then shortly afterwards its inhabitants are quite happy to accompany their attacker on his future journeys! I'd prefer if each Round represented several days or weeks, but in pure game terms the Night/Day split allows for some nice variable effects from spells and terrain.


Fantasy worlds don't have to have a day/knight cycle that lasts as long as our own.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sam Carroll
United States
Urbana
Illinois
flag msg tools
Soli Deo Gloria!
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
alfonzo54 wrote:
Fantasy worlds don't have to have a day/knight cycle that lasts as long as our own.


For that matter, the mage-nights do an awful lot more than normal creatures. Even the Altem Mages can only do something once per day/night.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marc Mistiaen
Belgium
Brussels
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's specifically addressed in the rulebook, even. Now, you buy the fluff or you don't, but that's your problem.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
spartax wrote:
alfonzo54 wrote:
Fantasy worlds don't have to have a day/knight cycle that lasts as long as our own.


For that matter, the mage-nights do an awful lot more than normal creatures. Even the Altem Mages can only do something once per day/night.
Haha, I can't believe I did that.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mikko Kaskela
Finland
flag msg tools
mb
vonklaude wrote:

Mechanic 6 - movement
Much of this is pretty standard design. Parts of the map are barriers (lakes and mountains). Other parts are more-or-less costly to reach. This all produces corridors, and the walls of these corridors are porous. I think it could have been done with 1-2 fewer terrain types. Desert and Forest serve their purpose (the corridor shifts at night). Plains are basic. But hills and rough I'm dubious about. Still, the parts are there. Movement imposes a cost that gets in the way of your big turns. I'm still reflecting on that and I feel like Vlaada did not quite solve movement. Producing corridors is correct. Tasking players to pay out some resources to access what they want to access is also correct. Still, it's not all they way there.

I think the rough terrains are essential to make the movement requirements scale with the deck power towards the end. It seems a bit much but I think this mechanic also plays well.

One thing I'd like to add to this nice list is the turn pacing mechanic. In multiplayer you can opt to power through the deck and hope to catch others short of using all of their cards, or play more cautiously to maximize the number of turns you'll get. The dummy player in solo is a bit fiddly but in the end it is a neat way to simulate variable round time in a way you can roughly predict.

I agree that the game is a combination of great mechanics and it is hard to think what could have been done otherwise. The luck element is quite high for a game this long, but something would likely be lost trying to make it less so...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jerred Ramey
Canada
flag msg tools
Pacing as a Weapon
Rounds can be declared over when one players deck is empty.
Playing lots of cards during your turn will bring the end of round sooner.
Anyone with cards left in their deck at the end of round will have lost the opportunity to use them.
Lost opportunities = bad.
This puts pressure on opponents to decide whether to play their cards sooner for lesser outcomes, or to risk getting the rug pulled out from under them while trying to save the right cards for a chance to play a big hand for better outcomes.

Mage Knight is a game of optimization. The pacing mechanic helps you wreck your opponents plans to optimize their turns. It may also however wreck your plans to optimize your turns.

Oh the dichotomy!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.