Mage Knight is another board game that I got for Christmas but I haven’t been able to play it until fairly recently. It’s definitely the most complicated board game I’ve ever played, which admittedly isn’t a giant selection but still. I spent some time pouring over the walk-through manual and instructions but every time I went to set the game up I ran into the same problem: trying to find enough space to play.
Keen and I usually play game on a rickety old fold-out card table but that thing was not accommodating at all. I think I was able to set up most of the game’s components but then I had virtually no room for player areas and I hadn’t even laid down the game tiles which increases the game’s size over time even more. Of course I could have just gone downstairs and played at our kitchen table but that thing is ancient and covered in marks and stains of dubious origin. I’m not about to drop down all of my nice new toys on that. Plus the kitchen chairs are wobbly and leave wicker imprint burns on my thighs.
So eventually we got a longer foldout table and we were finally able to set up and play the game. I had already spent time watching a youtube play-through by this cool accented fellow named Ricky Royal so I had a decent idea of how to play the first scenario with Keen. We set up the game, which seemed to take forever, and began our recon mission to find the city–that being the primary goal of the first scenario. It’s framed pretty much a a tutorial and they tell you as much. You just advance forward and reveal new tiles until you encounter the city. Each tile reveals a new type of location or bad guy, etc. It’s pretty cool stuff.
What I like about the game is how it seems to be less reliant on luck and more based on strategy. You generate movement, influence, combat, etc with the cards in your hand rather than random dice rolls. This gives you the opportunity to plan out all the different ways and combinations you can use your cards to get the most out of your turn, etc. The unfortunate downside is that it can make your turn take forever. I think Keen averaged 10 minutes or more per turn to decide what he wanted to do and when it finally came around to my turn it only took me a few moments to complete it since I had all that time planning and then it went back to him stroking his chin over various cards in his hand.
I made a series of bad decisions through the course of the game and by the end of it I was still stuck trying to traverse over hills and through deserts while Keen had cut a swath of destruction through the countryside. Orc Khans cowered before his might, Wizard Towers were conquered and even a few dungeons and monster lairs were delved. At the end of the scenario his Mage Knight was several levels above mine and had a ton more fame, which continued to pile on as he won most of the scoring rewards at the end. But the thing to remember is that I taught him everything he knows so really I should be getting most of the credit right? Right??