This opinion might make some people mad, some might be confused and angry and some outright furious, but I won’t be silenced!
Mage Knight very well might be my favorite game ever. I don’t care how many people I offend! I know this is an incredibly divisive opinion and I’m voicing opinions about this game that no one has ever willingly stated before.
But through bravery and self-righteousness I will push onward and let my voice be heard!
What Is Mage Knight?
Mage Knight Board Game is a deck building, hand and resource management game with dice rolling, RPG, exploration and modular board mechanics set in a fantasy universe. Needless to say, it’s got a lot of elements to it.
Each player chooses a Mage Knight and takes their starting deck of cards. These cards are how the Mage Knights Move, Attack, Block, and gain allies. Each turn, the Mage Knight has a set number of cards to perform their turn. Every card has multiple ways it can be used, which gives a certain ‘puzzle’ aspect to the game. It can often take some amount of thinking to figure out the optimal way for a player to achieve everything they wish to achieve on their turn.
Each map tile has a variety of different terrain features and important locations. Each terrain has a certain movement point cost and each location has specific rules on what the players can do there and which rewards they can gain. On top of that, there are monsters which populate the map. Each monster has different attack and defense values, special abilities during combat and rewards offered if defeated.
Mage Knight comes with a variety of scenarios to play through. Each has a specialized setup and objective to achieve victory. Some scenarios are meant to be played solo, cooperatively or competitively. There are also tons of fan-made scenarios available online.
Why I like it
Mage Knight is primarily a puzzle game. Each scenario is given a specific time limit and a goal. If the player fails to achieve that goal in the listed time limit, they fail. To that end, each turn requires the player to optimize their hand to take as many steps towards achieving their goal as possible.
Is it for this reason so many people (including myself) claim Mage Knight is best as a solo game. The “best” way to play is slowly. Each turn should be methodical and calculated. In multiplayer games, that is tedious at best and frustrating at worst.
When I play Mage Knight, I play like I would a jigsaw puzzle. I set up a table in the corner of a room and set the game up. Over the course of a few days, I play the game for an hour or so at a time, then coming back a few hours later for a few more turns.
When trying to sell people on Mage Knight, I tell them it’s “Skyrim, if Skyrim was a board game”. Mage Knight does a great job of encompassing that open world role playing game feel. There are essentially no restrictions on what the players can do once they are free to explore.
On top of that, Mage Knight does have a level up mechanic which requires the players to fight monsters and enter dungeons and caves. The map has dozens of random monsters and locations for the players to pick from. This gives a huge amount of player choice on how to go about levelling up.
Mage Knight has a reputation system which can help them gain powerful allies. However, ‘evil’ mage knights can decide to do things like pillage villages or burn down monasteries. Doing these things will ruin your reputation but grant that mage knight other rewards like bonus draws or powerful artifacts.
Each Mage Knight character starts with a couple of unique cards and special talents which help focus their deck mechanically towards a certain playstyle. Each Mage Knight plays fairly differently through these cards and talents. However, even with these, the game allows a multitude of different playstyles through the advanced abilities, artifacts and spells available.
Perhaps the best example is Arythea. She has a special talent which allows her to use Wound cards in her hand to her advantage. For every other player, Wounds are only a burden which bog down your hand. However, Arythea can spin that around and make a whole playstyle around it.
Why You’re Wrong If You Don’t Like Mage Knight
Takes Too Long To Play
Like I said, Mage Knight is best played solo, as how you would ‘play’ a jigsaw puzzle. Set it up and play it over a few days. I’ve been known to sit down a play a whole marathon length game over the course of a day, but I friggin love Mage Knight.
Waiting for your turn in Mage Knight
For every else, play it solo or with a roommate or significant other over the course of a couple of days.
Too Much Looking Things Up
The game comes with handy reference cards for each location type. The first few playthroughs it can be difficult to remember how each different location operates. But trust me, after a few games you’ll know them like the back of your hand.
Requires Way Too Much Table Space
…Okay, you got me there.
If I’m being fair, I do understand why some people don’t like Mage Knight. I don’t like it (or you), but I understand it.
If you don’t like puzzles and marathon games then Mage Knight is not for you. But if you’re a quality person and like fun, then you will enjoy Mage Knight.
Thanks for reading my very unbiased article!