Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Marvel Heroes

MARVEL HEROES

by Fantasy Flight Games

Published in 2006

Marvel Heroes is exactly the kind of game its name suggests: A team of Marvel Heroes go toe to toe against some of the most famous Marvel villains.

The game sets in Manhattan, but that's not important; the game board is there mainly just for flavor. What is important, are the fights, where players get to use all their favorite Marvel Heroes and Hero-abilities to overcome some nasty villains.

I've had this game since the year it was published, (actually, I think that no new prints have been made, so purchasing it now may be difficult) but it was not until recently that I began to explore its solo-play capabilities. Short version: They are not good...

The real rules of Marvel Heroes make up a very competitive game, and my best efforts to create a solo variant have been adequate, at best. In fact, I'm not about to post my so-called solo variant anywhere... If someone is interested, please ask me for it and I'll mail the files to you.


The scenario for this game is the following: Red Skull is up to something bad, and the Avengers are determined to stop the evil Mastermind. Red Skull has a "Master Plan" that he is trying to complete, and if he does, then Heroes lose the game.
Now, every Mastermind has their weakness, and the Heroes must first do some field research to discover the Red Skull's weakness. Luckily there is a lot of missions - or "Headlines" - for the Heroes to resolve.

After enough Victory Points (info about the Mastermind's plans, in this case) have been gathered, the Heroes may initiate a "Showdown" against the Mastermind. To defeat the Mastermind in this showdown means a victory for the Heroes.

But all this must be done within a very limited amount of time...





THE GAME BEGINS:


At first, some information must be gathered to uncover Red Skull's plan. Iron Man and Captain America set out to investigate Central Park - people claim to have sighted zombies in there!


Abomination seems to be behind this headline! Also some Hydra agents are present to distract the Avengers.
Iron Man gets airborne and tries to outwit the dangerous villain. Neither one of the combatants manage to hurt each other, until Captain America uses his leadership abilities to help Tony to outwith the beast; the first round is for the Heroes!
The injured Abomination changes tactics, and tries to leap away, but Iron Man is faster and blasts the monster down with his Repulsor Rays.


Just as the fight ends, Red Skull himself suddenly appears! Upon learning how his associate failed to stop the Heroes, he decides to get his hands dirty and engage Iron Man in battle.


A brutal fight ensues: Iron Man uses his Uni-Beam to damage Red Skull, but this attack is not enough to defeat him. After surviving the blast, Red Skull manages to best Iron Man with his superhumanly fast reflexes, forcing the Heroes to retreat back to the base!

Red Skull also completes the first phase of his Master Plan; he now has the terrifying Dust of Death at his disposal!


The Heroes regroup and scan Manhattan for other headlines to resolve. After gathering some resources, Thor and Iron Man go to Morningside Heights to take a closer look at the mysterious energy column that is towering over the city...

Other mysterious events are also taking place, for example the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier seems to have vanished!


Upon arriving at the energy column, the Heroes meet Molecule Man! He has some innocent bystanders stationed around the area, and so the Heroes need to be extra careful when dealing with this villain.
Again, Hydra agents are also there to cause havoc.


It also seems clear that Red Skull is somewhere nearby...


Thor and Molecule Man engage in combat, Thor using a Mjolnir Whirl and Molecule Man manipulating matter to avoid taking damage. The two combatants seem evenly matched.
Thor suddenly sends mystical blasts towards his enemy. The Molecule Man is not fast enough to react, and takes damage from the attack. However, Thor's straight-forward attack allows Molecule Man to outwit him... Both of the fighters are now injured.
Molecule man begins manipulating energy instead of matter, and catches Thor off-guard. Spider-woman stops by and tries to calm the villain down with her Attraction Pheromones, but fails - Thor is injured by Molecule Man's attacks for the second time.
However, another set of mystical blasts is finally enough to defeat Molecule Man...


But as suspected, Red Skull appears again. This time he brings Maggia Enforcers and Hand Ninja with him - Red Skull seems to have control over all the major evil organizations in this city...


The badly injured Thor has no choice but to enter combat with Red Skull.


Thor taps into his godly powers, and calls a thunder bolt to strike Red Skull. One strike is not enough, but after skillfully avoiding Red Skull's counterattack, another bolt hits Red Skull and the Mastermind is forced to retreat!
The Heroes win this time, and Red Skull's Master Plan cannot advance to its next step.


The evil is constantly on the move, and there is no time to rest for the Heroes. Luckily, Thor is able to recuperate very rapidly!

Busting a network of gambling dens in the Midtown area seems like an easy job, and Thor and Iron Man continue their mission over there. This headline doesn't seem like one with Red Skull behind it, so maybe this time the Heroes manage to solve the case without much trouble.


But then they run into Juggernaut! Thor and Juggernaut start fighting, while Iron Man does the best he can to assist Thor.
After a little while both of the fighters are hurt, but Thor more so than the practically undestructible Juggernaut.
Juggernaut bull rushes, and Thor gets knocked out! Another defeat for the Heroes - Avengers are not doing so hot right now...



Juggernaut becomes the "Most Wanted Villain" of the city...

It is likely that the Avengers haven't seen the last of him.






Ancient manuscript is stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Hulk is dispatched to investigate. Captain America tags along.
An adamantium-glad Ultron is found from the site; Hulk is in for a tough fight...
Hulk gets aggressive, and starts smashing the Ultron with all his might. Ultron remains quite passive, trying to outwit the rampaging Hulk. Eventually the Ultron is defeated, but even with Hulk's strength, it wasn't an easy task...

Satisfied with his work, Hulk returns back to the base.


There is not much time left anymore, and this forces the Heroes take some offensive actions against Red Skull.

Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America begin planning the final showdown.



Iron Man and the Captain follow a lead up to Carnegie Hill. Venom confronts them there. Iron Man manages to defeat Venom with his Repulsor blasts, but he is injured in the fight. As suspected, Red Skull is also present and now Iron Man has to fight him as well.

Red Skull wins the fight with the help of his numerous henchmen.


Iron Man is taken back to recovery, and Red Skull's Master Plan reaches its second phase; the "Army of Exiles"!

The situation is getting very dangerous - time is running out, and Red Skull's plan is almost finished!




An illegal hi-tech weapons facility is discovered, and Hulk goes to check it out. Captain America moves to back him up.
Red Skull is definitely behind this operation, but Hulk's attention is drawn to Juggernaut, who is guarding the entrance of the facility.
It seems that Juggernaut was also working for Red Skull all along...


Hulk respects the threat that Juggernaut poses, and so he decides to use a different kind of a plan: He smashes the ground, causing a small earthquake. Juggernaut's bull rush hits and damages Hulk, but the earthquake causes Juggernaut to fall down, allowing Hulk to give the villain such a smash, that even the mighty Juggernaut is forced to leave the fight.

Having defeated Juggernaut, Hulk rushes into the facility. Red Skull is waiting for him there.


After a quick fight, in which both fighters avoid each other's attacks, Red Skull blows some of the dreaded Dust of Death at Hulk.
Hulk gets momentarily incapacitated, giving the Mastermind enough time to complete his Master Plan: A Cosmic Cube!

Red Skull's researches are now complete, and he is free and able to use a Cosmic Cube to enslave the whole world under his rule!


Game over! The Heroes fail in their mission.


CONCLUSION:

Wow, I lost! To be honest, I've really had hard time balancing my solo variant - up until now I had won all my test games.
But I lost this time and I think I got a pretty nice story out of it. Marvel Heroes has a fair share of luck involved - especially without another player to make decisions against me - and probably there is no other reason for my failure than a poor luck with my dice rolls. Or maybe I tuned the difficulty too high :)

Marvel Heroes is not a perfect game, it's not even a particularly memorable game, but it does have some nice ideas. The combat system (which is 90% of the whole game - naturally) is well done, and somehow seems to capture the essence of Super Hero vs. Super Villain fights...

Basically a fight goes like this:
Fight comprises of fight rounds, and each fight round has three steps. At the beginning of a fight round, each side picks one of their combat powers simultaneously, and these powers allow the fighters to roll a certain number of dice on each of the three steps.
The steps are: 1) The fighter with initiative attacks, 2) the other guy attacks, 3) the fighters go through an "outwit contest". The winner of the outwit contest damages the other fighter, but also (and sometimes more importantly) takes the initiative for the next fight round.
Add some special abilities, and we got a combat system that works really quite well.

The game components are of reasonably good quality, except for the game board: At least my board seems to have had bad gluing or something, as when I opened the game after some years of storage, the board barely held together anymore. All the other games that had been lying right next to this one in the same room were in as good of a condition as when I left them there.

RATING:  8 /10

SOLO RATING:  6 /10

A fun game, but requires some very extensive rule modifications to be playable alone.

Marvel Heroes (English version) is no longer available - apparently only one print was ever made (perhaps due to some licence-related problems). As such, purchasing this game now will probably be quite difficult and pricey.
But if the opportunity arises, Marvel Heroes might not be a bad trade. Especially for Marvel fans, this game will probably hit the spot - at least with 2+ players.


















Monday, October 22, 2012

Ninjato

NINJATO

by Z-Man Games

Published in 2011

Ninjato is a board game that captivated me - above everything else - with its theme; Ninjas! There are so few decent ninja board games around, and I (like a big percentage of you out there, I would imagine) just happen to be quite interested in ninja-related stuff.
Ninjato, set in 12th century Japan, transforms its players into ninjas, scheming behind the scenes in a power struggle between three powerful clans: Go-Shirakawa, Minamoto and Taira.





In Ninjato, the ninjas are portrayed as individuals with exceptional skill, but not unnaturally so - fortunately (I think ninjas are intriguing enough without supernatural powers). These ninjas are after Honor (which serves as Victory Points for the players), but interestingly this Honor is not gained via fighting or other typical ninja-like feats, but rather by bribing envoys from the three clans, and spreading rumors about themselves and their heroic deeds.
Of course bribing can't be done without some valuable items, and this is where your array of legendary ninja-skills come in handy...


One thing to be made perfectly clear is that Ninjato is not a solo game. Basically this game has a very little player-to-player interaction, and judging by only this Ninjato could just as well be played solo... but the game situation changes every time somebody does something, and this is why Ninjato is a poor choice for just one player; you would have an almost total control over the events in the game.

I am using a solo variant of my own design, which adds a "ghost player" in the game, attempting to give the feel of another player doing something behind the scenes. However, there is no winning or losing with my variant - I'm just trying to score as much Honor as possible.

Ninjato is a rather simple game, one of the simplest I have introduced in this blog. But from the simplicity comes some very finely refined game mechanics. The game actually uses no dice (a big plus!), but you may see a small green D4 on the table in the picture above. That one is used with my solo variant to randomize certain things.

So here is the game board.

As the game is quite abstract, the board is mainly for keeping things organized - and for building up the theme, of course.
There are few different locations for the ninjas to visit. For training, the Dojo and the Sensei's house can be found from the bottom part of the map. On the left we can see the Pavilion - this is the place where a crafty ninja may spread rumors to boost their Honor (and ego, I'm sure). On the right there is the Palace, where the envoys from the three clans like to hang out.

The middle part of the map is where the action takes place in the five clan-controlled houses. These houses have treasures in them, and these treasures are important for the ninjas... the only problem is, how to get your hands on them?

But now, let's start the game and see how I fare as a ninja!

THE GAME BEGINS:


The game was on. I knew I needed to train hard, as the Clans had a wide array of guards at their service. My ninja skills were already legendary, but the ultimate mastery was still to be achieved.


After spending some time at the Dojo, I visited my old Sensei. Being a ninja is more than just perfecting my bodily skills, so I took some time to learn the art of Pyrotechnics.
These are the kind of tricks that my enemies will not be expecting, definitely giving me the upper hand in combat situations.



My adversary bribed a man from Go-Shirakawa. I responded quickly, storming the only house controlled by Go-Shirakawa and letting Taira take control of it. The last guard inside was nothing less than a Samurai - my new skills were put into a good use.



Hungry for new skills, I saw my Sensei again. He taught me the importance of Tactics. It doesn't matter whether I choose to use stealth or strength to achieve my goals, good Tactics will always help me.


I decided to get involved with Taira even more.
I found Masako - a member of Taira - and impressed her with treasures I had found from the house I attacked earlier.







Meanwhile, my adversary tried to attack the new house of the clan Taira, but they were fought off. Then, quickly changing their tactics, they bribed an envoy from Taira like I did. However, this young woman didn't have quite the same amount of influence over her clan as my friend Masako did.

My plan was to keep Taira under my influence, and to make sure that they prospered. And so I attacked another house for Taira's benefit, this one belonging to the clan Minamoto. Once again I decided to forget about stealthy approach, and go in with strength.


Somebody managed to raise the alarm, and in the end I had to simultaneously fight two guards... But they were no match for my skills, and I cleared the house.
I even found some gold. Gold was very sought after at the Palace - all the envoys would gladly accept it as a gift.



My Honor was rising fast. So far I had played my cards right... Taira was by far the most influential clan at the moment, and they favored me.


More training with my Sensei; this time I focused on my Sword Fighting abilities. I became confident in my abilities to take down any opponent who would dare to raise their weapon against me.


With my new treasures I was also able to find another Taira to support me.
This old man - Tadagane - was a very powerful figure, and he would probably be enough to keep Taira as my ally for now.




My adversary was gaining influence within clan Minamoto.


A big part of ninja's influence comes from the whispers and rumors that make them seem like beings of supernatural power.
Knowing this, I discreetly visited the Pavilion. A valuable jade statuette placed in the right hands was enough to initiate a rumor that made me "The Master of the Secret Art".
Fear can be used as a weapon.


Another attack was made against the house of Taira which I conquered for them. Has my adversary sided with clan Minamoto for good?


Inspired by the rumor that was spread earlier, I desired to really become a Master of the Secret Arts. And so I visited the Sensei once again, and this time he taught me something quite different: The art of disguising myself as somebody else. This craft would allow me to trick and manipulate the clans into taking my side, if ever a need for such means should arise.
My skills were very well diversified, though the "Snake Style" was still unknown to me...


Another one of Taira's envoys has been bribed by my adversary. Their strategy baffles me... why fight them, and befriend them at the same time?


Anyway, I decided to keep supporting Taira myself. Only one of the houses was not under Taira's control, and I wanted to convert that one as well. Approaching the house, I saw a skilled Samurai who had been posted as a sentry guard. He was obviously there to discourage anyone from attack the house.
And true enough, he made me think of another way in. I would have been able to defeat the Samurai, but it wouldn't have been an easy fight... and there was a better way. I sneaked in, all the way to the inner sanctum, and took the house from inside.
I found some valuable vases for myself, and Taira rushed in to seize control of the house.


However, at the same time, Go-Shirakawa appeared again. The strongest of all the houses under Taira's control - the one I had given them in the beginning - was taken over by Go-Shirakawa, and I was certain that my adversary had helped them.
I felt that while I definitely was the Master of the Secret Arts, my adversary was a master in deception, skillfully keeping all the three clans within their reach.


I retreated to my Dojo to train and meditate. I was going to strike again, and for the second time liberate the house from under Go-Shirakawa's control.


My adversary managed to bribe their third envoy from Taira. The contest for Taira's favor was going to be very tough in the end...
But now I had to concentrate on my next house raid.


I went into the house, fighting like never before. An alarm was sound, and a Tsuba appeared! These legendary warriors are even more dangerous than the Samurai. Even my formidable Sword Fighting skills weren't enough to get the best of him, so I played dirty and used my Pyrotechnics to finish him off.


After completing the house raid, I headed to the Palace again. No more Taira people could be found, so I tried to get friends from the other clans.


Yoshisada, a young boy from clan Go-Shirakawa was highly impressed by my collection of rare fans. Every envoy is good news, but this boy's influence in his ancient clan is low, and I would need at least one other envoy from Go-Shirakawa to gain their trust.



I almost finally met my adversary! It seems we were inside the Palace at the same time...
But they outwitted me. While I bribed a Minamoto girl called Shikibu, my adversary managed to find yet another Taira. They now had four envoys from the mighty Taira, while I only had two...

But the time was up, and there was nothing I could do to win Taira over anymore.


Frustrated, I went to the Pavilion to spread another rumor... A ninja who is the "Greatest Warrior" as well as the "Master of the Secret Art" is something to be...

However, the game had ended. Taira forgot about me and the other clans had never paid much attention to me, and so in the final count I was left without Honor.



After adding up my Honor from the rumors and from some other sources, my total score became 86.
A low score!

CONCLUSION:

Well, before the game I wrote that there is no winning or losing with this rule variant - it seems I was wrong! At least that's how I feel about this run... a fun game, but I can't believe how low I scored. This was the lowest score I've ever got with these variant rules. As a point of reference, my previous lowest score was 88, but in about 70% of my games I've scored over a hundred points of Honor.

And so it can almost be said that the "ghost player" tricked me! I held Taira up until the very end, using most of my energy into keeping as many houses under Taira control as possible... then when the last round comes, I suddenly learn that I no longer have Taira. Maybe I should have paid more attention to what the "ghost" was up to!

Ninjato is a relatively simple game, with easily memorizable rules and a game time usually shorter than an hour. I tagged this game as a "strategy" game, but it must be said that luck also plays a big part with the most important aspect in Ninjato - the house raids.
The mechanic for resolving these house raids is very simple and straightforward, but for one reason or another, I find it strangely thrilling to reveal the next guard in a house, and then to determine if I can defeat it... and if I can, then what are my options to do so.

The overall feeling of game seems right to me. The game board is absolutely beautiful, and the skills are portrayed very nicely in their tiles. Quality of the components is high, for example the large wooden Shuriken that are used to mark the actions a player takes are very showy... if not even too big, as they make the nice details in the game board seem insignificant.

RATING:  8 /10

SOLO RATING:  6 /10

As stated before, Ninjato is not very well suited for solo gaming.
For 2+ players the situation is a whole lot different: While Ninjato may not offer anything groundbreaking, it still is a very well designed, easy-to-learn strategy game with a cool ninja-theme!

In case you're interested, here is a link for the additional solo rules that were used in this game:
http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/70917/solo-variant

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mage Knight: Board Game

MAGE KNIGHT: BOARD GAME

by Wizkids 

Published in 2011

Mage Knight is a miniature wargame that I know absolutely nothing about. I had heard the name sometimes, but before stumbling across this board game version of it, my knowledge about the whole game world, its story and its mechanics had been non-existent.



And as I'm not so much into miniatures gaming, I began concentrating solely on this product; Mage Knight: Board Game.

So I found this game while browsing through some boardgamegeek.com rankings - this game was the third highest when viewing the solo-playable games. And after carefully reading through the very long rulebooks, I was immediately ready to go and purchase this game!

What I got was a great, strategic, deck-building, monster-fighting, cooperative or competitive board game that will go down in history as one of the best games ever! (well ok, I can't know that, but for me it will!)


So what are the Mage Knights? They are agents of something called the Council of the Void, individuals who have traded their independence for unimaginable powers - powers that allow them to fight against entire armies and single-handedly conquer great cities.
As their name suggests, they are masters of both magic and physical combat.

The game sets in a land populated by a once mighty Atlantean Empire. However, 32 years ago some horrible and devastating events occurred, leaving the country in chaos. Now the Empire struggles to maintain control, while Orc Khans rampage through the countryside, terrorizing the populace. To make matters worse, Draconum have begun to emerge from their underground tombs, ready to cause destruction upon the Atlanteans.

But this is not a story about the struggling Empire, or about the people who are trying to survive in this dangerous world...

This is the story of Goldyx, Mightiest of the Draconum, now a Mage Knight who is sent by the Council of the Void to take control over the two great Atlantean cities in this area. He was given only three days to accomplish this...
The Atlantean people have never seen a Mage Knight before, and it is up to Goldyx to be remembered either as a hero who saved the people from the invading Orcs and the feral Draconum, or as a savage beast who invaded their homeland...

In order to use magic, one must learn to use Mana. Mana exists in different colors, and a Mage Knight can channel a small amount of it from the surrounding world. However, Mana can also be crystallized to make a physical form out of it and keep it in reserves.
Goldyx's talents include several forms of Crystal Craft, but he must first evolve to gain these skills... Also, as a Dragon, Goldyx can learn to tap into his Draconum powers of magical breath and flight.

THE STORY BEGINS:

The Magic Portal stands on a rocky peninsula, and from this portal the mighty Goldyx will soon appear... He's got three days and nights to advance through the countryside, find the two great cities and conquer them.
A Mage Tower can be seen a little distance to east, and a sound of noisy Orc Diggers comes from somewhere behind the small forest to northeast. These lands are soon to experience the unstoppable power that is a Mage Knight!
The Portal crackles, and the form of a Dragon steps into this world.

The 1st day:

Goldyx advances through the forest and into the hills. A quick gaze to the Mage Tower reveals a group of Fire Mages garrisoned inside - perhaps a slightly too powerful foe to be taken on at this early point of Goldyx's evolution.
The hills have a mine from which Goldyx finds a blue Mana crystal. Hoarding crystals is a good idea, as magic will definitely be needed when matters get serious.

Goldyx attacks the nearby Orcs. These Diggers had entrenched themselves to make a ranged strike impossible, but Goldyx isn't shy on getting personal with his enemies...
The Orcs are slain with ease.




The Dragon then moves forward to explore the next area. A Keep is found, and a squad of Utem Crossbowmen can be seen patrolling its walls. Circling the Keep, Goldyx moves ahead and stops by a Monastery that is neighboring the Keep.

After considering his chances, Goldyx suddenly attacks the Keep. Having no way of avoiding the incoming volley of crossbow bolts, Goldyx is wounded in the attack... But upon reaching the walls, the defenders quickly fall before the rage of Goldyx.

And through combat, the Draconum evolve: A second level is reached and Goldyx learns new abilities. He gains his innate freezing breath, and learns a Crushing Bolt -action.


The dusk is quickly arriving. The wounded Dragon stumbles down from his new Keep and seeks aid from the Monastery.
With some well placed promises, he convinces the monks to heal his wounds...

The 1st night:

As the night falls, completely healed Goldyx scouts ahead. A pack of Orc Wolf Riders almost manages to ambush him! The riders attack, but Goldyx knows exactly how to fight against them. He quickly uses Crystallization to transform his blue Mana crystal into a white one.. then with this white Mana he launches a ranged attack against the fast moving enemies. His own freezing breath does the rest, and the Orcs never reach their prey...

Goldyx gains his third level and his scales thicken to offer better protection against attacks.

Exploring further, Goldyx finds a swampy area with a small village and some Cursed Hags. These female Orcs are known for the dangerous poisons they apply to their weapons.

While exploring the hillside, Goldyx comes across a cave. Without hesitating, he enters this Monster Den... and a fearsome Medusa attacks him!

These creatures are extremely dangerous with their petrifying gaze, but Goldyx is not worried. Another Mana crystal is spent, and soon a Crushing Bolt rushes towards the monster. And while this is not quite enough to kill the creature, Goldyx's own freezing breath once again finishes the job.


A green Mana crystal is found from the cave, but more importantly Goldyx gains his fourth level!
A Path Finding -action is learned, as well as a skill of Red Crystal Craft.

While pushing forward seems like a good option, the Dragon decides to double back to his Keep. There he uses his considerable influence to hire a group of sturdy Guardian Golems to fight by his side.

These constructs are good at soaking physical damage, and Goldyx can also use Mana on them to make them able to block elemental attacks...




Goldyx doesn't want to go back north and walk through the swamp, so he heads east, finding plains and another Keep towering in the distance. Some Ancient Ruins are also nearby... These places usually have wonderful things to be found, but Goldyx's acute hearing picks the sounds of Orcs from inside. Orcs, and something else too... Another member of the Draconum race must be inside!

Feeling brave, Goldyx decides to check the Ruins anyway...

A group of Orc Summoners and a mighty Ice Dragon are found from inside. The Orcs summon a Gargoyle to attack Goldyx, but the real trouble is the Dragon, for its freezing breath - much more powerful than Goldyx's - is quite fatal. Empowering the Guardian Golems with red Mana, and with Goldyx's considerable personal effort, the Ice Dragon's attack is blocked. The Gargoyle injures Goldyx, but in a furious counter-attack the Orcs, who summoned the Gargoyle, are killed.
Goldyx is forced to retreat from the Ruins, but now he knows exactly what is guarding the treasures inside... Next time he will be prepared to fight an Ice Dragon!

The sun rises, as Goldyx heals his wounds with Mage Knight's Tranquility.

The 2nd day:


As the day dawns, Goldyx and his Golems march eastward over the plains and attack the Keep there.

The defending Utem Guardsmen pose little threat; their weak attack is completely useless against the Golems' thick armor.
Goldyx's highly focused counter-attack slays the enemies, and another Keep has been taken over.

Conquered Keeps are important, as Goldyx can refresh his supplies from them.

Through promises and threatening, Goldyx hires a group of Utem Swordsmen from the Keep. His private army grows larger...
Then he quickly leaves the Keep to head north, effectively avoiding the swamp. Some armored Orc Ironclads are met in the hills... After a surprisingly exhausting combat, the Orcs are defeated.

Goldyx reaches the fifth level!

The hills continue to north as a huge bridge, and Goldyx gets a glimpse of a desert plateau opening to east. A Monastery is spotted, and a threatening Draconum Tomb looms in the distance...


Sun sets, and Goldyx uses Crystal Craft, Crystallization and all other similar skills he has to build up his reserves.



The 2nd night:

As the sun sets and the temperature drops, Goldyx heads to the desert. He visits the Monastery and recruits a team of powerful Fire Mages. These magic users would be exceptionally good against the Ice Dragon that was left into the Ruins, but that place is so far away from here, and the time is running out...

Spawning Grounds! Goldyx enters a network of caves and finds a monster Spawning Grounds. A furious battle ensues as a Crypt Worm and a Minotaur attack Goldyx and his army.
A focused Crushing Bolt destroys the burrowing Crypt Worm easily enough, but the Minotaur offers more trouble...
The Utem Swordsmen and Goldyx himself block the Minotaur's savage attack, while the Fire Mages send their fire magic to burn the beast to death.

Goldyx gains a level, learning an Ambush -action, and a Universal Power -skill. He also finds an assortment of Mana crystals from the caves, as well as an artifact known as the Banner of Fear. This powerful item is said to be able to incapacitate enemies with sheer fright!


Reaching the end of the range of hills, Goldyx finally sees the first of the great Cities!

A White City is standing next to a small lake, behind a patch of forest.
A dangerous Swamp Dragon is flying over the lake, effectively blocking Goldyx from approaching the City...

As there is no time to waste, Goldyx moves forward to the forest knowing that the Swamp Dragon will try to intercept him.

The beast swoops down from the sky and a battle begins between these two Draconum...
Or it would have begun if not for the Guardian Golems carrying the fabled Banner of Fear! The Swamp Dragon hesitates, giving Goldyx enough time to launch a powerful ambush from the forest. Before the green beast has a chance to snap out of its terror, Goldyx's savage attacks kill it...

Sun is rising again, and Goldyx takes a good look at the defenders of the White City. There are Guardian Golems like his, but they are the least dangerous of the defenders - vastly powerful Altem Mages are also present, backed up by a group of deadly Amotep Freezers!

Frantically exploring the surrounding area, Goldyx finds the second City - a Red City located in the middle of some very challenging terrain, and two more Draconum... Reaching this city would be very exhausting, so Goldyx turns his eyes to the east. There he finally spots another Mage Tower. Visiting the tower would be a very good idea, since Goldyx is yet to know any of the devastating spells that could be learned from these towers...

And the concept of attacking a city would seem a lot more promising with some Real Magic up in reserves!

The 3rd day:

Forgetting about both the Red city and the Mage Tower, Goldyx starts making plans for taking over the White City that is now right next to him. Without spells it is nearly impossible to conquer the city with just one single attack, but Goldyx and his army attack the city anyway:
As the Altem Mages are the most significant threat inside the White City, the Banner of Fear is used to keep them at bay... Even these fearsome mages are affected by the artifact's strange powers!
The Amotep Freezers attack, but Goldyx's Fire Mage allies block the Freezing attack with their fiery spells. The Guardian Golems are not much of attackers and pose no threat.
As a counter-attack, Goldyx's Utem Swordsmen attack the Freezers, while Goldyx takes care of the defending Golems.

The Golems are destroyed and the Freezers killed, but the Altem Mages remain untouched and Goldyx is forced to retreat from the city. However, now the Mages are the only defenders still left, and no matter how powerful they are, they cannot resist Goldyx for very long all by themselves.
The Utem Swordsmen are injured in the battle.

Still outside the gates of the White City, Goldyx suddenly comes up with a plan for a lightning fast surprise attack on the Mage Tower that can be seen at east.
Path Finding and Ambush takes him through the rough terrain and allows him to reach the tower, while a Will Focused Crushing Bolt decimates the defending Ice Mages.

Goldyx learns a spell called Burning Shield from the conquered Mage Tower. Fully understanding how essential spells are in attacks against the cities, he decides to spend some more time in the tower to learn another spell. Through threatening, promises, and Goldyx's Universal Power, the Dragon gains another spell, this one called Call to Arms.

Goldyx starts walking back towards the White City, this time making the distance considerably slower... He finds a mine from the hills and extracts a white Mana crystal from it.
Sun is setting again - Goldyx's time is getting short.

The demanding terrain and 60 hours of non-stop rampaging through the country slows Goldyx down and he is unable to defeat the Altem Mages still lurking inside the White City, as the sun sets.

The last night has arrived, and there is still so much to do...



The 3rd night:

And so the White City falls! The night invigorates Goldyx and his allies, and they overwhelm the powerful Altem Mages.
The Banner of Fear is used once again, and the Fire Mages' magic plays a key part is overcoming the defending Mages' strong defenses.

Goldyx gains his eight level, and learns a Green Crystal Craft and Crystal Mastery.

First part of Goldyx's mission is now complete, but there is only a few hours left...
The Dragon has to accept that the Red City is out of his reach for now - the city's defenders will most definitely be extremely powerful, and a hostile High Dragon is blocking the way to the city.
High Dragons are the mightiest of foes imaginable...


Desperately trying to accomplish something great, Goldyx finds his way into a nearby Draconum Tomb. These underground locations have young, but very powerful Draconum inside them. Allies refuse to enter these places, but Goldyx has a plan - however this plan won't work against certain types of Draconum... 
Goldyx takes his chances and enters the tomb, keeping his Burning Shield -spell at the ready. The plan is to use the ultimate form of this spell, the "Exploding Shield", that can only be used when the elusive black Mana is available. When casted successfully, this spell could literally explode the enemy to pieces, no matter how strong it is.

However, what is found from the tomb thwarts Goldyx's plan; another High Dragon! These infinitely powerful Draconum are resistant to fire, and a fire-based explosion attack won't work...

A moment later, badly wounded Goldyx stumbles out of the tomb.



But Goldyx knows these tombs and he knows another way in...

Without bothering to tend to his wounds, he enters the tomb again, this time running into an Ice Dragon. This Dragon, while still very powerful, doesn't resist fire...
Goldyx casts his Exploding Shield and uses his Universal Power to complete the block - and when the Ice Dragon touches the Shield, it explodes!

From this tomb, Goldyx learns a Restoration -spell, and finds another artifact, the Horn of Wrath! This wicked item can cause incredible destruction, but its user must be careful not to injure themselves in process...

The night is ending.
While it's still dark, Goldyx casts the Restoration -spell in its more effective form, as a Rebirth -spell. His wounds are healed and the banner bearing Guardian Golems are activated again.

As his last action, Goldyx vents his frustration by attacking the High Dragon that had blocked his way to the Red City. The Banner of Fear is once again used, as is the newly acquired Horn of Wrath.

The Dragon dies, and Goldyx - once again having killed a member of his own race - has done his last deed in this world....




Such was the rampage of Goldyx, Mightiest of the Draconum. His ultimate goal was not met, but the people of this land will never forget the things he did... the good things as well as the bad.

And after everything that happened, Goldyx actually does enjoy positive reputation amongst the Atlantean people.

The acts of slaying Draconum and Orcs outweighs the evil things he did, and while not necessarily a hero, Goldyx leaves with the acceptance of the Atlantean people with him.




Goldyx's Fame:

Base Fame: 87
+10 for knowledge
+5 for loot
+7 for leadership
+6 for conquering
+6 for adventuring
and +10 for the White City
totals to 131 Fame.

CONCLUSION:

A failure. I must say that I played poorly this time; 131 Fame is not a very good score. Every game in which the second city is not conquered is a failure, and even without the second city, this score seems quite low.
But I had fun, which - of course - is the most important thing! Mage Knight: Board Game is an exhausting, but highly entertaining experience... always.

What went wrong here was two or three bad decisions on my behalf, and the fact that Mage Towers were so rare! Usually Mage Towers are about as common as Keeps are, and as mentioned above, spells are crucial in fighting the cities.
I could have lingered on the first few map tiles, where the first Mage Tower was, but at the time that didn't seem like the correct strategy - it may be that I was wrong.

This is a difficult game... first it will be quite difficult to master its rules and get a grasp on how the game flows, and then it will be difficult to learn to play it well.
But challenge is always good, isn't it? At least for me, the first time I managed to capture a city with a single, devastating attack was a memorable moment! And all the times I found out a combo of actions and spells that made me almost feel like I just typed in a cheat code, gives off strange satisfaction.

The playing time is on the longer side... usually a solo game takes more than 2 hours, and setting the game up isn't a very fast process either. But those 2,5 hours are just about the best time one can spend with board games!

RATING:  10 /10

SOLO RATING:  10 /10

Mage Knight: Board Game could very well be the greatest of solo board games the scene has to offer right now! This game has it all:
Very deep strategic value, tough decisions to be made, strong theme, nice artwork and a high replayability.

I enjoy the game every time I play it, and if you are not repelled by its high complexity and long playing time, I'd say there is a very good chance you will enjoy it too.