A Year in Board Gaming – Mage Knight, 2013.1

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So, I’m going to attempt something ambitious this year. I will write a session report of all our board game plays that we have this year. I normally don’t write these or log my plays on boardgamegeek.com which has an extensive database of just that from thousands of people. I will cross post these there, but my main motivation will simply be to keep track of everything we play.

I know this won’t be of much value to anyone who visits our blog, and that’s ok. Our blog is just as much a historical record of our family as much as an information portal for others to the goings-on of the Jeppson clan. Board games have become very important for Jessica and I as a couple. They have moved on from simply a means of entertainment and a way to pass to time. Now, we learn about each other through them. We work together on common goals in some games. We learn how to better engage in conflict with each other. And we simply, well, learn together. Well-designed games will teach you something. Whether it be math, economics, game-theory, or whatever, we are learning together, and that is wonderful.

Ok, so our first game of the year was Mage Knight on Jan. 4.

In Mage Knight, each player plays a Mage Knight going around the countryside and civilized areas of the land. You engage in all sorts of adventuring with the overarching purpose of increasing your Fame throughout the land. You find yourself battling rampaging orcs and dragons, raiding dungeons and tombs, interacting with locals in villages, cities, keeps, mage towers, monasteries and cities, burning down and plundering those places, ransacking ruins for artifacts or glory, etc., etc., etc. and on. Whether you are an evil or good Mage Knight is up to you.

Since this was our first play, we did the introductory/tutorial scenario. It has a very simple objective (find the first city) with no extra rules. I had read the rules twice and taken some notes as I knew this would be a bit hard to play for our first time. Even the most concise rules reference sheet I had seen was 5 pages long. Jessica picked her tactics and played first during the first day round. During that first day, she took out some marauding orcs and conquered her first Keep. The locals liked that she took down bad guys but weren’t a big fan of the Keep-crashing. But Mage Knight don’t care, Mage Knight don’t give a carp. She just waltzed in and owned that place. During my first day, I recruited a healer in the local village, took down some orcs, and took control of a Mage Tower. They were so impressed, they gave me a spell. I even got a kick-butt movement card that let me fly around the plains to my hearts content. We both leveled up once.

During the night time, I wandered in the desert. I literally, not metaphorically, wandered in the desert. Due to some unfortunate movement choices and tile revealing I got hemmed in by the forests and just wandered around for a while. It was very demoralizing. I think I somehow managed to level up. Jessica strutted around the plains after spending a turn or two in her keep gloating over her awesomeness and recruiting a forester to help her move around in the darkness. Shortly before daybreak she visited a monastery. It seemed like a cool place to visit. Unfortunately, she realized she didn’t have enough influence to do anything there, so she BURNED IT TO THE GROUND. That’s right, Mage Knight don’t care. She probably leveled up too.

During the next day, I geared up for a fight with a fire sorcerer at a distant Mage Tower. I was ready for it. But alas! No movement! So, what did I do? Not to be outdone by Jessica’s Mage Knight, I went to a close monastery and BURNED IT TO THE GROUND. Good for nothing monasteries. Leveled up. Jessica revealed most of the tiles in the game and in the second-to-last one she revealed our first (and only) ruins. It had a magic altar on it. She raced there, dispatching orcs on the way, and offered up some mana crystals at the altar for uber-fame. Can you just imagine some Mage Knight on some old altar on a hill throwing down some magic crystals?!? Oh yeah, they’d be famous. The last tile she revealed held the first city, and that signaled the end of the scenario.

In the end, we were pretty much tied in every single way. We had taken over the same number of keeps/towers, killed the same number of enemies, etc. We were tied going into the last scoring mechanism: wounds. We had both taken two wounds throughout the game, but I had managed to heal both of them, and Jessica had only healed one. This gave me the slight edge to be THE ULTIMATE MAGE KNIGHT!

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This is a fantastic game. It is incredibly complex and fiddly, but it manages to be pretty intuitive at the same time. The puzzle/math problem aspect of the card playing actually appealed to the both of us quite a bit. Despite it being one big puzzle, the theme manages to add a lot to the experience, and we felt like we were adventurers moving throughout the land. Of course, BURNING MONASTERIES TO THE GROUND always helps immerse you in a game. We can’t wait to play again. Our first play of the introductory scenario took us four hours! We will play the same scenario again and are confident we can get it to under three hours.

Play Rating: Good Times!

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