Mage Knight Board Game - Board Game Box Shot

Mage Knight Board Game

| Published: 2011
Mage Knight Wizkids Game Mage Knight Tile

The Mage Knight Board Game throws you and up to three other Mage Knights into the sprawling and ever changing world of the Atlantean Empire, a land that is but a distant memory since your transformation into a mysterious Mage Knight. Build your armies, defeat bands of marauding enemies, and eventually conquer cities in the name of the mysterious Void Council.

Mage Knight Board Game

As a Mage Knight you must control your reputation and walk the line or embrace the role of benevolent leader or brutal dictator. Accumulate Fame and experience to acquire powerful Spells and abilities, then use your power to influence units to join your ranks. Will you destroy an ancient Draconum and gain favor with the people, or burn down a monastery to steal the powerful artifact hidden there? Both paths may lead to victory, but the decision is yours to make.

Designed by renowned designer Vlaada Chvatil, Mage Knight is a game of Epic Exploration and Conquest that mixes character development, intrigue, and the clashing of swords to create a truly unique gaming experience.

mage knight tokens
images © WizKids

User Reviews (23)

Filter by: Order by:
Player Avatar
8
Norway
Plaid Hat Games fan
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
9
107 of 114 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 4
“Great solo player!”

I started to really find interest in board games not long ago. I have played RPGs (pen and paper + on computers) a few decades with Dungeons and Dragons from the first edition until 3.5, d20 modern, Pathfinder and Deadlands.
I love fantasy and badlands settings as you can see from the RPG titles I’ve played.
A lot of the board games I’ve played until recently (mostly social/party games) didn’t give me much because my many years in RPGs, which are quite complex.
Before running to the store and picking a few board games randomly I did some thorough research and was really excited to find Mage Knight; a game with a complexity by my taste.

So far I have only played Mage Knight solo and I’ve played it a lot! There is something with this game that makes me choose this over any computer game or any tv shows, and I’ll try to explain why:

In Mage Knight you play a mage knight (!) sent by the Council of the Void to invade the Atlantean Empire. You start with a deck of 16 cards (1 is specific to your chosen mage knight, 2 if you play with the expansion) which are the different actions you can take – starting hand of 5 that will increase as you gain power. And you start with a few map tiles revealed. By conquering and/or using your influence you gain levels, action cards (advanced actions, spells and artifacts) skills and followers. Al this to make you ready to invade the great cities of the Atlantean Empire.
You explore the lands to find the cities you are going to conquer and new side quests are revealed (ie dungeons, castles, mage towers, rampaging enemies, ancient ruins and so forth).
There are also other scenarios you can play with slightly different goals and rules, but I wont describe them any further here.

What I really like about this game is the mix of game types this game consist of; a bit of exploring, a bit of character building, a bit of recruiting the right followers, a bit of fighting (many of these you will also find in traditional RPGs).
There is also a bit of randomness because you your hand only can consist of 5+ cards during your current turn (1 round equals one day or night and consists of a set of turn until your or other players draw decks are empty).
You therefore have to plan not only your current, but also your next few moves to maximize the gain you’ll get before the time runs out. Most scenarios are played through 3 days and 3 night, so you have to play wisely to get the most out of every turn.

The rulebook the comes with the game describes everything in a good way but its a lot of reading because every thing you interact with, through interaction actions or attack actions, are slightly different from each other. I found some good videos on the Internet after my first play through to see if I had gotten thing the right way. This was really helping me understanding the many options you have.

The quality of the game content are quite good, maybe not the best I’ve seen, but good enough to not over shadow the mechanics of this great game.

It was quite fast clear to me that I wanted to buy the expansion to add some more options and flexibility to the game. I haven’t tried the scenarios from the expansion yet (which I feel is better with more than 1 player), but I’ll surely do that when I have introduced Mage Knight to my player group. And because of the complexity I plan to introduce it to one friend at a time.

If you like fantasy themes and like strategy games, character/deck building and a REAL fight (some of the fight are reeealy hard), I strongly recommend Mage Knight.

This is a quite expensive game, but the re-playability is just great and with all the time I’ve spent in the Atlantean Empire it’s worth every buck!

 
Player Avatar
9
Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
9
97 of 104 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“It's not for everyone, but it is definitely for me”

Do you enjoy games that generally take a minimum of 2 hours to play? Do you mind needing to use a rulebook that is 8 1/2 x 11 and 20 pages long? Are you willing to pay $70 to $90 for a board game? Do you mind clearing off the entire table to play? Do you mind spending 10 minutes setting up the cards and tokens necessary to play a game?

If the above sentences make you shudder with revilement, I would say it is safe for you to walk away right now from Mage Knight and never look back. This is about as hardcore as board games get, and there is no shame in not being interested in something if you aren’t interested in it. Mage Knight is not for everyone.

If, on the other hand, the above has not scared you off, feel free to read on.

I would classify Mage Knight as something of an adventure game. You take the role of the titular Mage Knight, and individual who has made themselves beholden to something called the Council of the Void in exchange for great power. They send you out on various missions represented by just under a dozen scenarios in the rulebook. The story isn’t important.

While there is a goal for all the players to achieve in a given scenario, for the most part the players in the game are focused on themselves and their own conquests. There is a leveling system that doubles as a scoring system to determine an overall winner of the scenario. As you level up, your characters will become noticeably stronger. The game play requires a combination of skill and luck. There is some dice-rolling that comes into play as well as deck-building as you go through the game, and a good bit of resource management There is also a PVP aspect to the game as well.

There are 4 Mage Knights to choose from. Each one varies a bit in terms of abilities available to them, but not enough to go into here. The map is represented by cardboard hexes that get added randomly as the players explore the map. Each larger cardboard hex contains 7 spaces with different terrain types and locations to explore and interact with. Each game will be different regardless of the scenario played by virtue of the fact you will have a different map to play on each game.

Every action you take, from movement along the map to fighting bad guys to interacting with the locals in a village will be done with the cards in your hand. Every character starts with 15 cards that are pretty much the same and one card unique to that Knight. They provide values for movement, attack, defense and influence. Some also facilitate the acquisition of mana which will be used to power your abilities. Each card has a no-cost value or ability and another stronger version that costs mana to cast. There is a shared mana pool you can draw from that depletes over time as well as mana crystals you have earned doing various things in the game that you can save and spend as needed. You also can use influence to hire units to command in villages, monasteries, cities and mage towers. You will have opportunities to purchase spells and abilities during the game as well.

As you defeat monsters and do other various things, you will gain fame. Fame ultimately determines the overall winner of the game. This also doubles as experience points. As you level up you will have ability cards randomly drawn to choose from to add to your deck. You also will get to choose from character-specific skills drawn randomly as well. This means that even though you may be using the same character as last play it can be played very differently this time. You will on alternate levels get tougher to hurt and be able to command more units.

Each scenario has X rounds, and each round consists of several turns. The round ends when one of the characters runs out of cards to draw and chooses to declare the end of round, which adds another layer of strategy. Do I end the round and wait until the next to start fresh, or do I use the cards in my hand and hope they are enough?

Complex enough? There is more! Each round is the equivalent of a half day. First round is day, second is night. Movement is easier in the forest and harder in desert during the day and vice-versa at night. The stronger version of magical spells requires black mana, which is only available at night, but during the day you have access to gold mana which can act as any color mana but black making standard actions easier to power up. Everyone picks a tactic card at the beginning of a round which grants a boon of some kind and determines turn order. The later your turn, the better the boon. There are different tactics at night and at day.

Want to storm that keep? If it is day, you can walk up to it and see what is inside. If it is night, you either take your chances and attack blindly or wait until the next round to see what is inside.

Want a couple more cards in your hand for the next turn? Ransack a village! Want a powerful artifact? You can burn down the monastary. Just keep an eye on your reputation meter which determines how easy or hard it is to hire units and buy spells.

There is definitely more to this game than I want to try and cram into this review. If I haven’t scared you off, I recommend you click on the “see official rulebook” link on the site here and read the Game Walkthrough. Not the Rulebook! The Game Walkthrough! There are two rulebooks with this game. One kind of holds your hand through a game and the other just has information that expects you to know the basics. As I said, very complex.

As far as what is in the box, I saw another review here stating that the cards were very flimsy. I assume that the game has gone through a higher quality reprint, because I found the card quality to be superior. Nothing in the box feels cheap to me. My only complaint is one of the characters has no eyes for some reason and just looks weird, but that complaint aside, I am very happy with the game’s quality.

The game has a perfectly good solo variant as well. If I need something to occupy a couple of hours, I am more than happy to break out the game and just play. It doesn’t get old for me.

In closing, as I said before, this game isn’t for everyone. It is expensive. It is complex. It has a ton of pieces to keep track of. It takes up the whole table. It takes hours to play. However, if what you read here seems interesting, I will say I am not doing the game justice. This is one of my favorite games of all time. If you are willing to put in the time this game deserves to be played properly, it may become one of your favorite games as well.

 
Player Avatar
3
USA
Eminent Domain Fan
9
110 of 118 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A Whole New Level of Adventure”

Board games are a social endeavor, whether it is sitting across from a good friend playing one on one, or hanging out with your board gaming group of 30. Many games have variants for playing solo, but rarely do they capture the essence of the game and it is far less rewarding outsmarting or outwitting the AI of a game.

Mage Knight, on the other hand, offers a very rich and rewarding solo experience, and is the focus of this review.

Out of the box, Mage Knight strives to set itself apart from the pack. 2 rule books sit atop an abundance of cards and pre-punched game pieces neatly wrapped and placed in plastic cartons built specifically to house those pieces. The painted miniatures and cities are a high enough quality and add a sense that this game is to be taken seriously.

The standard rule book is nicely written, complete with a section for scenarios and a very helpful summary page on the back. Where the rules really shine, however, is the Game Walkthrough book, which guides you through a predetermined and structured game of Mage Knight. This first walkthrough is invaluable to learning the game, and once you play through, the rules of the game become logical, fluid, and almost poetic.

Game setup takes a while, but the storage solution which Mage Knight provides makes the process go very smoothly. The scoring board is placed off to the side and then surrounded by the numerous token piles, card decks, and the tile deck. The organization of the player board and resources is laid out nicely in the rules, but you want to keep this off to the side since you want to leave ample room for the map tile placement.

I am not going to get into the details of the setup, as this is explained clearly in the rules, but once you have completed setup, you will choose one of the four characters (randomly, if you like) to play and one of the remaining 3 will be the “dummy” player, which helps pace the game.

Each character has their own deck of 16 cards in which one card is unique to that character. This may make it seem like each character is not very unique, however the skill tokens (which you gain when you level up at even levels) are quite unique and make each character stand out.

A solo game consists of 6 turns, split into 3 day and 3 night turns. A single turn is composed of actions in which you play cards from your hand to move around the board, explore new tiles, attack enemies, recruit companions, and visit various locations revealed on those tiles. These locations are wonderfully described on location cards, which illustrate how to set up the location and what actions you can do at each. Once your action is complete, you draw up to your hand size, level up if you have enough experience, and draw the “dummy” player’s cards, then begin your next set of actions. These actions repeat until either yourself or the “dummy” player runs out of cards in the respective decks, then the next day/night begins.

Your cards, or abilities, all contain a mundane ability and a second ability which can be powered by mana and tend to be much more powerful than the mundane action. Mana can be obtained from finding and gathering mana crystals, but is most commonly used from the mana dice you roll each day/night. Three mana dice are rolled and you are allowed to use one during each turn.

Followers, which you hire from various locations, and skills, which you gain from levelling up, offer you actions that you can use in every turn. Think of them as cards that are always in your hand.

Combat with enemies is more puzzle-like than combat-like. Your goal is to combine ranged attack, siege attack, blocking skill, and melee attack in such away to mitigate damage and destroy your foes. While it is not the most elegant combat system, it is rather challenging and rewarding when you solve some of the more complex combats. If you are unable to block damage, you take on wounds in the form of cards that occupy free spots in your hand or can be placed on followers.

Other cards can be obtained throughout the game to enhance your deck. Advanced action cards are achieved when you level up at even levels. Spell cards are obtained from mage towers. Artifacts are rewards for conquering some of the more dangerous locales, such as ruins or dungeons.

The ultimate goal of the solo conquest game is to conquer 2 cities. These “final” fights are quite challenging, and you will need a few levels under your belt as well as a full compliment of followers.

This review was a bit difficult to write, as Mage Knight is a complex game with numerous rules, and it could have been easy and informative to focus on different facets of the game. The bottom line is that Mage Knight is a superb and rewarding solo game, and it surprises me how much fun I have playing it by myself considering how much I love the social aspect of board games. The game rules, while at first daunting, are quite fluid and every single rule contributes to the game and never detracts from it. Your first game should most certainly be the walkthrough scenario, but even that will be a lot of fun.

If you like adventure games, such as Talisman or Middle-Earth Quest, Mage Knight will take that experience to an all new level, and you may never take those other games off the shelf again. If you have been on the fence about adventure games, play Mage Knight and you won’t need any others. Solo or multiplayer, this game is fun and rewarding on so many levels, and has yet to disappoint.

 
Player Avatar
4
Gamer - Level 3
Rated 25 Games
9
95 of 102 gamers found this helpful
“AWESOME Game Mechanics... But the components...”

This is a tough game for me to rate, especially since so far I have only played the “tutorial” scenario (First Recon) four times so far. I’m still waiting to get this one to the group, but I want to be sure I have all of the rules down before I introduce it to others.

Gameplay is STELLAR. I am already head-over-heels in love with this game. Reading the “Walkthrough” book first, and then playing along to the walkthrough, is for sure the way to go for your first try. I had no issues playing along this way, and it was very fluid and solid. Dare I say, even quite exciting the first play through – although it took 3 hours (with setup and rule checking).

Getting 5 cards to your hand, and then trying to decide how to best move about the board, which direction to head off in, what you expect to do on your next few turns, is what makes this game shine. I have been lucky enough to start 3 of my 4 games with a good movement card in hand, and with a green mana die from the source, able to at least get moving across the map. This allows saving influence and attack cards, for the eventual clash with the Orc (especially, with my luck, hitting Summoners a few times in the first battle, which can be a bit tough depending on the summon).

When the tiles start coming out randomly (only played with the set order of tiles my first 2 playthroughs), things REALLY get interesting. The decisions seem endless. Do I head to the village first, and save a few influence cards to recruit a peasant for which to use as a meat shield, or possibly to gain a few more movement points from his ability? Or do I head for this mana mine, and gain a crystal first before I head on out. Is there a safe path out of this tile, by which to explore another? Or am I going to have to head into battle?

I have seen a few complaints on various forums regarding the game “forcing” you to do actions you don’t want to do. My response to that, is that I don’t want the game leading me around by my hand. I like the PUZZLE aspect, of having a hand of cards, and trying to figure out how to best use them with the END GOAL in sight. No, maybe this turn I CAN’T move up to that mage tower and assault it, BUT – if I spend these influence cards to move next to the desert tiles in my way, on the last turn of the day round, then I have a better chance of quickly moving through those tiles during night.

Decisions like that, are what make this game the best, imo. For me, it’s too simplistic to have a base movement, and just move and roll a die. Although I play Pathfinder and occasionally the D&D Adventure board games, I always find the die rolls a bit of a weak element. Especially in the beginning, I don’t feel like I can do much to mitigate the roll/randomness. Some find that realistic, but in my opinion, a HEROIC adventurer (or Mage Knight!) would have the intelligence to think of the best action before taking it, and wouldn’t just “trip” trying to swing at a lowly creature.

This game offers so many options above and beyond the other adventure games I have tried. There are a wealth of play options – co-operative, competitive, Player Vs Player, blitz, full length conquest, solo, you name it. I haven’t seen this kind of flexibility in a game yet.

THE NEGATIVE:
It has to be said though, I was a bit let down when I got the game home, and opened it up the first time. The first thing I noticed, was the tokens seemed “Damp”. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but they really felt like they would maybe dissolve in my hand, or pull apart. However, I haven’t had any issues with them yet.

Another issue upon opening the box, was the fame/reputation board and the night/day board. Both were warped pretty bad. They have mostly settled after these few weeks, but still not perfectly flat.

Miniatures also are hit and miss. Arythea has no eyes, only a large pink mouth. The other models appear fine (and are fairly nice), but the cities are VERY bland looking. Light grey (almost white), with just tips colored red, green, yellow, or blue. I would have liked a bit more detail on the cities, and a better paint job on Arythea.

The last issue, is the cards. They are THIN. The thinnest cards I have come across in any game, to date. This really bugged me, as after spending 80 bucks on the game, I had to also spend 16 bucks on sleeves. There was no way I was going to risk not sleeving these cards, and I have not sleeved a game YET. This one, there is no choice. The cards are really THAT thin.

This poses a slight problem with reviewing the game. Gameplay wise, I would easily rate this a 10. My first perfect rating for a game. But the components bring the score down, unfortunately, because for the price I honestly expected more.

Be sure, though, the tiles and artwork are of good quality otherwise (I love the artwork on the cards), and I’ll do everything I can to protect this game so that it brings years of enjoyment. But I can’t overlook the fact that I’ve bought 40-50 dollar games that have had far better card stock and many more miniatures in the box, or at the least a thicker/heavier stock to tiles and cards.

I will say, however, that so far nothing has appeared to wear or damage, and it’s been moved around from table to table, packed up, set back up, etc. This game takes approximately 15-20 minutes to set up, and about 10-15 minutes to pack back up (especially if you keep everything separated/organized in baggies). After that, it’s about an hour per player, give or take an hour…lol.

Be sure to explain the basic rules first, though, when introducing new players, show them the cards in their hand and how they work, and show a few monster/keep tiles first so they have an idea of what they are in for. OTherwise, it can be a slaughter for new players and a real struggle. Learn the rules first, be comfortable with the game, THEN introduce it for a few “Trial” runs with your friends.

 
Player Avatar
7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
8
94 of 101 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“A little of everything all rolled into one”

I had heard of Mage Knight in some circles before I actually played the game, so I wasn’t totally clueless about the game, but I was the first one to purchase it at my local game store. I was also the first one to see the components of the game, and the first one to read the instruction booklet. And what an instruction booklet it is.

The game with all of its ins and outs can be a little daunting, but the makers of the game realized this, and they also realized that one of the best ways to learn is to do. So they included a rules booklet and a walkthrough booklet. The rules book explains the game in detail, and the walkthrough guides you through a demo scenario designed to show you how the game works. WizKids actually recommends that you play the walkthrough first BEFORE reading the rulebook, and after playing the game, I have to say that it was a wise decision. There are a lot of gameplay elements to this game, and playing the walkthrough shows you where and when those elements are applicable.

To start off, Mage Knight uses a lot of different game mechanics that have been introduced in other games, and ties them together in a format that works surprisingly well. It uses an initiative mechanic similar to Citadels, includes an exploration mechanic similar to Civilization, has deck-building and card-playing elements that can be found in a number of games, and even uses dice to manage mana to use for additional effects. The game even includes a level and experience system, as well as a means for interacting with villages and the like. It’s a vast game, and it may take a few playthroughs before you feel comfortable with the steps.

There’s way too much for me to explain about the game, so let me cover the basics. Everything your character can do in the game is influenced by your characters deck. Each character (4 in all) has the same cards in his or her deck, with the exception of one specialty card that is unique to each character. That card helps define the character’s main strength; one character is good at influencing units, another is good at being versatile in battle, one comes with a specialty attack, and the last is good at harnessing magic. The players select a character to begin the game, and depending upon the scenario you play, the win condition can change with each playthrough.

Players start out with a hand size of five cards, and use those cards to do everything in the game. Each of the base cards in the deck grants a use such as movement, influence, attack, block, or a specialty use of some sort such as healing wounds or using more than one mana per turn. Aside from the use printed on the card, players can play cards sideways (instead of placing them down on the table as you normally would, place them 90 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise) to use the card as a wildcard which can be move, influence, attack, or block. Playing a card sideways only gives a point of one to any of those statistics, where as a card that is normally used for a specific attribute yields 2 or more. In that regard, a player can always use their hand of cards to achieve something during a turn, no matter what cards they have been dealt for that turn.

In addition, each card has a normal effect and an enhanced effect. Players get the normal effect when they play a card down (but not sideways). But if players want the enhanced effect of a card, they need to spend mana according to the color of the card. That’s what the mana dice are used for. At the start of a round (one full day or one full night), the mana dice are rolled to determine what mana is available for use by anyone. There are four basic colors: white, green. blue, and red. There are also two variant colors: gold and black. During the day, gold mana is wild and can be used for any basic color, but during the night it is powerless. During the night, the black mana is wild, and during the day, the black mana is powerless. If a player uses a mana die to power a card, they place the die on the card to show it’s being used, then after the turn, it is rolled and shows what new mana the die now represents. Only one mana die can be used per turn, however. Players can also collect mana crystals to power their cards when no appropriate die is available, or if more than one card needs to be enhanced. Any number of crystals can be used, but they go away after they are used.

Combat is done via four phases: The ranged attack step, the enemy unit attack step, damage assignment, then the player’s attack step. Explanation is as follows:

Ranged attack step: A character can attempt to kill a monster before it can attack. If the player has enough ranged or siege attack to defeat an opposing unit’s total health, the unit is defeated and the rest of the steps can be skipped. Cards played sideways do not count for this step; sideways cards count for one point of basic damage only. If an enemy unit is fortified, only siege attacks count for this step; ranged attacks will not count.

Enemy unit attack step: The player has failed to kill the monster before now, so the monster attacks. To block the attack, the player must play block cards equal or greater to the enemy unit’s attack (if an enemy unit has the swiftness ability, double the normal amount of block must be played). If the player plays enough block, the attack will inflict no damage (it is stopped) and combat skips to the player attack step. If not, then proceed to the damage assignment step; any played block cards don’t count beyond this point.

Damage assignment step: The player could not stop the attack, and so damage is now dealt. If the player has a unit that he or she recruited in down, they can assign the damage to that unit, or else the character will take the damage instead. Damage is assigned in the form of Wound cards, which go straight to the character’s hand (if the unit is wounded, it gets one Wound card and cannot be used again until it is healed). A Wound card is assigned for the initial hit, and one additional Wound card is assigned for every point of damage greater than the character’s armor value. For instance, if a monster had a total of 5 attack and a character had a value of 2 armor, the player gets 1 Wound for the initial hit, another Wound for going over the armor value (5 – 2 = 3), ANOTHER Wound card for going over the value again (3 – 2 = 1), but the last point of damage is soaked up by the armor, leaving the player with three Wound cards in their hand. After damage has been assigned, the character gets to counterattack. (Beware of enemy units with the Brutal quality: they deal twice their normal attack value if they hit!)

Player attack step: The player can now play any cards they have remaining to try and defeat the enemy unit. Unlike the Ranged attack step, normal attack cards can be used here. Just like with the Ranged attack step, if a player meets or beats the unit’s health, the unit is defeated. If the player fails to beat the unit, the unit will remain on the board, and the unit will be at full health at the start of the next combat.

Just knowing the above details can get you through the basics of the game, but there is so much more. Through defeating Mage Towers, your character can gain spells to use with great effect. By defeating Keeps, you can recruit Keep units and get one additional card added to your hand size for that turn in which you start near a keep you’ve conquered. Exploring altars can yield a chance for extra experience or powerful artifacts. And leveling up can give you an advanced action card to add to your deck, plus a special skill unique to your character, or allow you to command more units in battle.

Despite how complicated the game SEEMS, once you actually understand the mechanics, Mage Knight plays very fluidly and contains enough challenge to make every playthrough interesting. However, let me share something of my personal experience with the game: Explaining the rules to someone who has never played before takes a LOT of time. It was my misfortune to have to explain this game in detail almost every single time I played, because I wasn’t smart enough to get a group together to play at once. Once you see the game in action, you’ll pick it up fairly quickly, but trust me, get something to drink while you explain the game, or else your mouth will get very dry, very fast.

 
Player Avatar
6
Norway
Novice Reviewer
I play red
9
97 of 105 gamers found this helpful
“The best solo game”

Writing about Mage Knight is a classical “where to begin” problem, the game is in many ways a huge and complicated beast that will scare off most beginners of board gaming and yet having played it this notion strangely disappears, or it does at least a little bit. So lets try to describe Mage Knight The Board Game and why it is so incredible in many ways.

In Mage Knight the player(s) (I will get back to that) control powerful warrior mages called Mage Knights and with them traverse a land filled to the brim with stuff like rampaging orcs, mage towers, fortified castles, dragons, dungeons and much much more. You battle enemies, conquer mage towers and visit villages to recruit units for your own personal army, or maybe you burn the villages if you’re that kind of hero. For each game you pick a scenario from the rulebook so the specific goals will differ, but getting fame (the XP like system in the game) and creating a mighty mage knight will almost certainly be important for any quest. You can play solo, coop or competitive with 1-4 players (1-5 with expansions). So that is the main idea or theme of Mage Knight and that theme is strong and excellently portrayed within the games mechanics and inner workings.

The mechanics and inner workings of the game are pretty substantial and for me Mage Knight was a real challenge to just get up and running, more so than any other game I have played or learned from scratch. The game actually layed on my shelf for many months before I finally took the plunge and spent a day to learn the game and played through the intro mission. Watching a youtube series that played through this intro mission and went through most of the rules was really helpful and made it a lot easier, not easy, but it helped a lot. I put the link at the bottom and I highly recommend watching these videos for both learning the game and also to check out the game thoroughly to see if it is something for you or not. Off course the best thing would be to learn from someone who already knows the game, in fact the manual itself states that “you should learn it yourself before inviting others to play”. So consider this a fair warning, the game is not to be considered easy or simple to learn, not by my definitions anyway. That being said lets move on.

The game itself is not easy to explain in one central word, this is not Agricola where the words “worker placement” more or less encapsulates the whole experience. If I were to pick one central mechanic it would perhaps be “deck builder”. Deck building and card utilization are the central mechanics of the game and the activities you will be performing the most, but there are plenty of other aspects of the game to master as well. You are a mighty mage knight traveling a dangerous land of monsters, villains and foes and you fight them with a wide array of moves and spells. These are represented by cards in your own deck, each of the four mage knights have their own decks, and as you learn new skills, spells and take wounds your deck grows. But the game itself feels much larger, grander even, then a mere deck builder.

You move your hero on hexagon divided tiles with mage towers, dungeons, villages and more. Movement is a key part of the game as different landscape has different movement costs and since you are always racing against time in MK you should make the most of your movement cards. To defeat foes you can also (and should) recruit units to support you in combat or maybe just act as shields as you assign them damage instead of yourself. Victory in combat will give you fame (or XP as it is known in other games) and sometimes rewards like artifacts, skills or spells. Leveling up gives you abilities, more armour, larger hand size (for drawing cards) and command tokens making you able to control more units at the same time, letting you create an almost army like following. There are plenty of options and opportunities in Mage Knight and the decision trees feel endless, which is a good thing.

There are other aspects as well like reputation, mana dice, mana crystals, the wound card mechanic and more but I’m leaving this for further exploration, the youtube videos are excellent for this. The point is that the game has plenty to offer and what makes it so great, the game is great by the way, is how well all these elements and mechanics fit together. Nothing feels really out of place or tacked on, it all feels strangely cohesive and meaningful, there are central ideas and game design philosophies in Mage Knight that when you start to notice them really shine through in all the big and small elements that creates a larger than the sum of it parts game. This takes some time to realize and understand, especially with the daunting amount of game that is fitted into the pretty hefty box and two (!) substantially large manuals with a lot of text and detail. That it all fits and works so well together is a design feat to be sure, great respect and appreciation goes to Vlaada Chvatil for designing this beast.

So I love this game a lot and I highly recommend you either try it or watch the youtube videos, but I will add a couple of caveats and potentially negative notes first. One is that I have only played this game solo. I have played trough solo campaigns five times now at about 3 hours average for each play, longer for the first ones where I was learning the game. That is a long while for a solo game. I have yet to play it with any friends and I’m planning on trying it carefully with only one other player at first. This is not a game for anyone in my opinion so I have to invite very specific friends to come play this. I’m also very curious on how this plays with another person, the solo game feels great, but how does it fit in with other heroes wandering around? You can play coop, competetive or really competetive (thats with player versus player combat) and I’m not quite sure what will be most fun. Second is that the game is hard to learn and you do have to lookup many rules again and again and even then I never quite feel that I have a 100% grasp on the whole thing, fortunately that is not something that is required for this game, especially in the solo variant, just having fun and having it feel challenging and rewarding is the most important part.

Mage Knight is, as many others have also said, the best solo board game I have ever played. It feels strangely like playing a manual computer game only it’s actually fun and almost reminds me of Might & Magic which is also fantasy themed adventuring across a hostile land and the game really has a “just one more turn” hook to it. I love this game and highly recommend it to anyone not put off by the complexity and demanding nature of this amazing game.

Mage Knight tutorial videos: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB7C824980F797C4A

 
Player Avatar
8
Canada
El Dorado
Professional Advisor
Senior
9
58 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Best solo game”

It’s harder and harder to find a group of people willing to play board games on a regular basis. For the past year my interest for solo games just begun an addiction so I bought many games that can be played solo.

Most of these games were:
– coop games that you can play solo and you have to manage many hero/player at the same time
– games that you have to beat your own score from game to game
– abstract games / card games
Dont get me wrong I love all these solo games populating my shelves but they never give me a sens of accomplishement . I was looking for a true solo adventure games, a game were I can explore and fight my way through victory all by myself…and I finally got the game I was looking for…Mage Knight.

In Mage Knight you can play 1 Hero (the dummy player is only for initiative order and for end of round trigger) exploringand fighthing monster for treasures and fame.

Its true that the game is a bit hard at first but each game is a total blast

Component : amazing, colorfull design and the painted miniature are just awsome
Rule book : could be better…I will have to make my own resume sheet
Set up: takes a good 15min. to set up and almost all the table space
Play time: 2h to 3h
Difficulty: not that difficult after a few games, the mechanics are simple but there is a lot going on
Replayability: Although the scenarios have roughly the same objectives each game is different du to the exploration tiles that gives random locations like ruins, temple, city and encounters.

For me Mage Knight is the best solo games….contenders to the title Robinson Crusoé and Fortune and glory

 
Player Avatar
6
PC Game Fan
Indie Board & Cards fan
9
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Carpe Mage Towers”

Much has already been said about the positives of Mage Knights, and my “con” list is very short, so this review will not be long.

I recently relocated, so I don’t have a community of fellow board gamers yet, besides my son, so I play many games solo whether they were intended to be played that way or not.

I absolutely love the solo playability of Mage Knights, yet I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed playing it with two and three others as well. Most compelling for me are the varied and random map tiles, and the beefing up of cities and the Volkare bad guy with the ease of a few clicks of their base dials. I highly recommend getting The Lost Legion expansion that includes this Voltare character. The encroachment of Volkare figurine upon the portal versus my need to level up, find crystals and companions creates a wonderful tension and effective game timer (much better than a regular dummy player timer). I hope there will be future expansions that will continue, if not improve the element of cranking up the difficulty of enemies and cities. The 3D minis help immerse me into the game. I also like the day to night shifts and the differences it makes with using certain crystals or source die, as well as its effects of one’s movement through certain terrain. The cards are rather thin but I simply sleeved them all.

My cons…or con centers on the many small tiles that represent different monsters or enemies and locations that my avatar encounters. Perhaps it would reduce the immersiveness and randomness but I wonder if there could be a chart to refer to (dare I suggest, after a dice roll) once we come upon a group of goblins, a mage tower, monastery or cave, etc. I think that would eliminate the need for the dozens or so little tiles we have to stack at the beginning of the game.

In all, Mage Knights is one of the most complete games I’ve encountered. Enjoy.

 
Player Avatar
2
10
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Best Solo Experience Ever!”

There are several reviews on here that discuss pros and cons already, and my review will be no different. However, I would like to use some analogies to give prospective buyers a little more perspective and clarity. I want to concisely break this game down into sections for easier reading. Here I go!

Packaging: The box is thick and sturdy and was nowhere near as big as I thought it would be (for storage purposes) when it arrived. The inserts are not nearly the quality of the box, but they do the job. You could very easily replace the inserts with some deck boxes and small containers or baggies for all different types of game pieces. That would actually speed up your game set up as well.

Pieces: The hero and city figures are very nice. The game counters, used for the random areas on the game tiles, are perfect for what they are – randomly placed tokens to count as locations or enemies. They are not as pretty as miniature figures would be, but they don’t need to be. They do their job perfectly. The mana crystals are pretty cool and very durable. The dice are the only weakness but, again, they do their job. The cards are fantastic and are different from any other card I have experienced. I can’t speak as to whether they are more or less durable, because I haven’t played enough games yet. They are very nice, though. The card art is not that impressive, but you really don’t focus on the look of cards, only the game mechanic text.

Rules: This is an area that I see many mixed reviews about, so let me be clear. This is not the game you bring home to the family, with age ranges of 8-14 plus spouse, bust out of the box and expect to sit down and play this game right then and there. If you can’t handle a boardgame ruleset that exceeds 8 pages and has no real depth, this game is not for you. It doesn’t make it a bad game. It simply is not a game for you.

With that said, it is nowhere near the comprehensive task some make it out to be. I have played RPG and miniatures games that require 200-400 pages of reading, prior to playing your first game. This game is NOWHERE near that type of complexity. The game walkthrough manual is brilliant and laid out in a manner that flows properly with the game sequence. It basically is explaining what things are as you are setting them up for your very first game.

After the setup, there is no possible way to perfectly lay out the walkthrough, because the enemies, locations and interactions with terrain tiles are random and were designed that way. You will have to decide what to do next, and then seek the rules out for your next action. It is not hard at all, though, as several pages are waiting there for you to look up the rule. For example, if the first thing you wanted to do was fight an orc enemy, you could search the 4-5 pages of following instructions until you find the section about combat. The sections are clearly marked and easy to reference. I don’t blame the game designer for this. Unless he scripted your every move in the walkthrough, there would be no way to do it linearly for you. As I said, the game isn’t designed to do that, and it would take the enjoyment out of the random experience. I played two walkthrough games, had to reference rules about 10 times, and I feel like I am ready to play the game confidently. The rules manual is only like 20 pages, with very clear section headers, so it is very easy to look something up.

Gameplay: You start the game as a basic hero with 0 fame and 0 reputation. Fame allows you to level up your hero, while reputation allows you to gain bonuses when interacting with terrain features like monastaries and villages. The interactions include things like recruiting units to join you, purchasing spells and advanced actions, and healing. You can also land on tiles that provide mana crystals (for using powerful actions or casting spells) or healing effects. Your initial action card hand is only 5, which limits the things you can do. In fact, I would say your card draw dictates what the best course of action would be for a particular turn. The great thing is that you can always play action cards on their sides for 1 basic action (i.e., move, attack, influence, and block). That means that there are no useless cards in your hand, ever. You can always find a way to play your cards.

As you level up, your card draw increases, which gives you more options each turn. You also add cards that you earn or purchase (with influence), which usually remain in your deed deck for the rest of the game. In essence, your deck is increasing, which is making you stronger all the time.

Combat takes a little getting used to, but once you get down the three phases (i.e., ranged/siege attack, block/damage, and attack), it is so simple after that. Some overland enemies are automatically revealed, so you know what you are up against. However, most are not. Combat is an easy, yet challenging mechanic in that you must develop a strategy to be successful. The damage effects to your hero is brilliant in that you don’t play for 2 hours and suddenly die…game over. No, you add Wound cards to your hand, that clutter your card’s max draw and limits your actions until you heal the wounds. It’s a great mechanic!

You explore new terrain tiles by using 2 movement, while on an appropriate tile edge. When the new tile is placed, a random new area opens up to you each time, with plenty of locations to explore and enemies to defeat for rewards. It’s all random and brilliantly done. Once you know how to play, you honestly could toss the scenarios and just keep adventuring until your little heart was content.

Cons: There is definitely an up-front time investment in order to play this game correctly, but it is not painstaking. Truthfully, that has been pretty consistent for most of my favorite games. So, no different here. The only other knock I can give this game is I do believe there would be too much downtime if you had 3-5 players at one time, especially if some of them were new. There are ways to speed things up in between turns, but new players or players with “analysis paralysis” will definitely add an uncertain amount of time to the game and probably make it unbearable for everyone else.

Overall: This is one of the best games I have ever played. Personally, I think the game shines more in a solo game version. It is fantastic, either way, but solo is very cool. I can play a scenario in 1-2 hours. The fact that you can sit down alone, and feel so immersed in a board game, is uniquely gratifying. I love playing it with my 13 y/o son too, but if he isn’t available, I am just as satisfied playing by myself. It is perfect for being in the same room with my wife for multiple hours while she is watching reality shows that I could care less about. LOL

 
Player Avatar
1
9
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“AN AMAZING GAME!”

Don’t let my low rating of the Components and Ease of Learning scare you away from this game, it is amazing. Let me quickly discuss the negative features of the game, followed with a glowing review of what makes this game amazing.

The cards that come with the game are (mostly) of adequate quality. The artwork is fine, the design is adequate, but nothing is too breathtaking. The tokens and map tiles, however, are substantially worse. They look like extremely dated fantasy art, the details are not great, and the designs are quite lame.

Finally, to cap off my whining about the components, are the very poor quality of the miniatures. They are almost pathetic. Their detail is terrible, with no additional painting than a few base color. The design of the models is abysmal. The dragon’s snout is insanely long, and he looks like some strange mix of a crocodile, snake, and dragon. The male warriors are slightly better, but the elf’s hair is cheesy and the knight’s topper on his helm is laughably outsized. The female mage is no better.

These complaints are generalizable against most Wizkids games. Their components are just not the quality of Fantasy Flight, or Cool Mini or Not.

Even though its components are not the highest quality, I cannot recommend Mage Knight enough for those looking for an incredible adventure experience. You take a hero over several rounds, fighting monsters, mages, and other enemies as you level up in the hopes of becoming powerful enough to accomplish a particular objective. No two games are the same because you will be leveling up differently, fighting a different combination of monsters, and hopefully trying out new scenarios.

Depending on your particular style of gameplay, you can either focus on gaining a powerful army of units, or you can instead just beef yourself up and be an unstoppable one-mage hurricane of destruction. The variety and diversity of possible gameplay experiences makes each game unique, and rewards different strategies if well-planned.

While the rules are tough to get your head around initially, they are intuitive and fit together well.

I would not recommend playing with more than 3 players, and really think this is best with 1-2 players. Turns can take a long time, and you really want to minimize the down time in order to keep the sense of adventure going.

 
Player Avatar
4
Book Lover
5
61 of 69 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A little bit of everything - but way too much hype”

I was very excited to try this game – on paper, it seemed to be everything I wanted a board game to be, and then some. However, after the first game, my opinion of the game was not particularly positive. And subsequent plays only confirmed that.

“Mage Knight” tries to be a bit of everything – but ends up being too many things at once. It feels like some of the mechanics and ideas are present simply for the sake of them being in the game. If they were left out, the game would loose nothing, except one layer of complexity (that was not necessary in the first place): there are two different mana resources, day/night cycle is clunky, initiative cards are hit and miss in terms of usability. Character leveling is strange and “sort of” works. Scenarios are strange – players are not very motivated to explore the world. That creates a paradox – the game tries to be open-ended and reward people for exploration, but players lack motivation to really do so. The main reason for this are clunky mechanics and game length – sometimes, it simply lasts too long. However, the aspects I really liked were action cards and followers – that was really well done.

I cannot help but think of “World of Warcraft” board game from FFG that is out of print now. It was a monster of a game (when it comes to size and components) but it had a big flaw – you could completely avoid character interaction, so players would end up playing for themselves. However, the mechanics in WoW were complex but really well executed, and very few of them seemed out of place. Leveling was cool, characters were different and rewards were great. There definitely was motivation to explore the game world. However, in “Mage Knight”, it is the completely opposite thing – the mechanics are not interesting, some of them are not really needed and players simply go through the motions. I know that some people like to play “Mage Knight” in solo mode – however, I would never rate this as a positive thing. I do not like playing games this way – for me, playing games is a social activity.

I simply cannot see why would anyone choose to play this game over D&D or any other RPG. “Mage Knight” needs focus more then anything else – the game is all over the place, trying to give you something close to RPG experience in an adventure board game. It’s also too expensive for what it offers and expansion packs do nothing to improve the game in any way. This is a great example of game that is too complex for its own good – there is no shame in simplifying and streamlining.

 
Player Avatar
1
I'm a Real Person
10
58 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“LONG but AWESOME games”

Target audience: avid/hardcore gamers. Definitely not suitable for children/casuals/parties

Game mechanics: card drafting, dice rolling, modular board. Each turn you take is sort of a mathematical puzzle in how to most efficiently do something.

Game play: competitive or cooperative play through generic scenarios (e.g. “conquer 3 cities”) where players achieve victory points through many different feats. Be careful of game length – the 60 minutes quoted here is for the most basic and boring scenario. Generally speaking even a 2 player game takes 2~3 hours long, and you can linearly increase game length with player number.

Components: mostly cards, a modular board and plenty of tokens.

Players start with a nearly identical starting deck. Each card performs an action, such as “move”, “attack”, and “block”. However, they can be played inefficiently to perform any other basic action.

Each turn you play any number of cards in your hand to achieve something, whether it be something as simple as move and explore, or conquer a city.

Your deck grows in size and power as you “level up” and obtain stronger cards, but you can also accumulate injuries (in the form of cards) that slow you down.

The 4 characters in the game all have a different style of play, but in all honesty because the bulk of the level ups are from a shared pool, it tends to play out quite similarly.

Whilst the bulk of the game is monster slaying, there’s even a PvP mechanic to further increase the competitiveness of the game.

 
Player Avatar
6
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Greater Than Games fan
The Gold Heart
10
57 of 65 gamers found this helpful
“Worth the time”

Mage Knight took awhile to learn. Both the rulebook and the walkthrough are quite lengthy and detailed. There are a lot of rules and a lot of exceptions to rules.

The good news is all of these rules serve a purpose and all of them make the game more thematic. The result is one of the most masterful pieces of game design I have ever played.

The game also takes awhile to play. A solo game can take 2 hours and adding more players adds to the length of the game. Setting the game up and putting it away can also take quite some time.

Yet I cannot recommend a game highly enough. It is my favorite solo game. It provides a rich and engaging experience. It is highly thematic and offers a great challenge. There is some luck in your card draw and some dice rolling (for mana), but it is very much a game of skill. You must learn how to win. Even after you learn how to win, it is still a challenge to do so and is never a guarantee.

Each game feels very different and offers distinctly different challenges. Additionally, there are several different scenarios to play (and even more in the expansion) adding to the variety and replayability of the game.

There is no game I would rather play solo. This masterpiece is worth your time.

 
Player Avatar
2
Sweden
9
65 of 80 gamers found this helpful
“A full-fledged RPG-experience in an open-ended world”

Wow, this is one of the best RPG experiences I’ve had with a board game. The open-ended world and its almost endless possibilities feels like something out of Heroes of Might & Magic and I just love the way movement and combat works. A game that is not only extremely well designed with an amazing look, but also rich on cool game mechanics which offers the players plenty of fun not only as a group but even as a solitaire game.

But casual players beware: though the rules booklet has been written in a pretty pedagogical way, there’s still a whole lot of stuff to keep track of and just as many situations that could arise. Depending on how much previous experience you have with RPGs in general (not only in the shape of a board game), I’d rather recommend that you try out Runebound first – just to get a small feeling of what an RPG board game plays like.

Still, if you’re willing to invest “a few” hours into learning the game then rest assured that you will be rewarded for it – with an awesome gaming experience where you level up your “hero”, gain new abilities, recruit soldiers to form your own personal army, raid castles and keeps and even cities! There’s a lot going on in Mage Knight: The Board Game and it plays brilliant. I love how your personal deck of cards is gradually expanded by putting spells, abilities, artifacts and whatnot into it, and then all these cards are used for everything from movement to combat and even diplomacy – persuading recruits to join you, either by good will or through force. Because you don’t need to act as a hero who’s saving the lands from evil while asking nothing in return but possibly even paying for such services as healing. Instead you could simply plunder the villages and burning the monasteries in order to lay your hands on valuable artifacts and such.

I’m also quite fond of the magic system with it’s “mana source” that is constantly changing so that one turn you may be able to power up your spells and abilities using blue mana, but then during the next turn – there’s no blue mana left but red or green or something else. Hence the need for Crystallizing mana, which can then be carried around and used whenever needed.

An all-around excellent and most joyful roleplaying-like experience and a true adventure.

 
Player Avatar
1
Rated My First Game
8
57 of 80 gamers found this helpful
“Complex until you play”

I read the rule book. I watched videos. I just couldn’t wrap my head around this game. I don’t know why. My GF and I sat down and decided to play step by step. This is my least favorite way to learn rule btw. Wouldn’t you know it the game just fell together. I understood it. **** I have played every “scenario” in the books. I have 5-8 games solo under my belt with this one. That being said It’s an okay game. I enjoy it, but if I wanted to get my dungeon dive on. I would probably bust out good ol’ Descent 2.0.

 

Add a Review for "Mage Knight Board Game"

You must be to add a review.

× Visit Your Profile