This Mage Knight board game review was one of the toughest for us to do because it is one of the most complex co-op games out there. We like it a lot, though, which is why it made it onto our Top 20 Cooperative Board Games list.
What is Mage Knight?
Released in 2000 as a miniatures war game similar to WarHammer, Mage Knight has since become a massive success and spawned everything from comic books to video games. It was turned into a board game in 2011 by WizKids Games and Asmodee, and upon release it sold out in only 20 days.
Mage Knight is widely loved by many board game fans around the world. It was a nominee for Best Game of the Year at Dice Tower, and it was a finalist for General Strategy at the 2012 International Gamers Awards.
Mage Knight Gameplay
We’re not going to go over the Mage Knight rules; that would take forever and would just confuse you anyways. Instead, we’ll just talk about the game’s flow so you can get an idea of how it plays and if it’s the right game for you.
Meant for gamers aged 14 and up, Mage Knight uses a heavy amount of text to play, but it also includes miniatures to move from tile to tile. The game puts you in control of one of four creatures, called Mage Knights, who are incredibly powerful characters that travel throughout the game’s universe exploring and conquering. Your objective depends on the scenario that you choose to play.
In Mage Knight (solo and cooperative modes), you’ll be exploring, beating down the monsters in front of you, and attempting to conquer different (or all) cities. As you gain “fame,” you will move up in levels, which allows you to become more powerful by having tougher shields, more cards in your hand, and even special abilities.
As a player, you’ll be building your army and filling your deck with spells and actions as you explore everything from cities and dungeons to the dark caves of the world. Those cards you get can be used for actions such as blocking, attacking, and moving. What’s really cool about most of the cards is that you can use mana crystals to make your actions even more powerful, but there’s a limited supply of crystals. The deck building aspect of Mage Knight is very strong despite being treated at as a secondary mechanism in the game.
That was a very brief overview of a very complex game. If you want to see all of the Mage Knight rules, check out the official rulebook (PDF).
This game is set in the Mage Knight universe, so those who are familiar with it will feel right at home. People who are new to the universe may not “feel” the theme as much at first, but they should get a kick out of the sense of adventure that Mage Knight gives them.
Check out Mage Knight on Amazon
- The best thing about Mage Knight is the variety of ways that each game can play out. You’ll have random tile layouts and will random monsters, so each game will play out in different ways. This provides it with an immense replay value.
- The component quality is fantastic. The tiles, the miniatures, the dice, the tokens, the cards… everything looks and feels great.
- Each of the Mage Knights feel very different. They have their own skills from the beginning and they grow to be (and feel like) very unique and powerful characters.
- The unique world that the Mage Knight characters go through also comes through very well with the well-designed cards, tiles, and miniatures. Players who get through the early confusion will find that the design of the game makes the long play-time go by very quickly.
- This game is right up there near the top of the list when it comes to true adventure games. Again, the experience is massively enhanced once you’ve figured out how to play, so don’t give up on Mage Knight until you’ve had a confusion-less playthrough!
- It’s one of the best solo games around. If you’re a solo gamer, Mage Knight is pretty much a must-buy.
- You knew we couldn’t write this Mage Knight board game review without mentioning its complexities. There are so many rules to remember! In your first 10 or so games, you can expect to mix up at least a couple of rules. In fact, I’ve talked to multiple people who have been playing this game for a while and still forget about some rules.
- Speaking of the rulebook, while it was nice that the company covered everything when they made the Mage Knight rulebooks, it is extremely hard to use it as a reference guide. If you forget a rule or simply need help clarifying something in the game, it could take you a while to find it in the rulebooks.
- Because it is vital that you do the most that you can on each turn, some players will take a while to think about and go through all of their actions. This can both extend an already long game and can make other players around the table a bit impatient.
If you are willing to take the time to learn each of the rules of Mage Knight, chances are you will think it is an excellent solo and cooperative board game. Unfortunately, people who aren’t big fans of complex games are probably going to give up on Mage Knight very quickly. If you like adventure games with a lot of meat on the bone, or if you want a cool fusion of RPG and deck builder, then you should check this one out.
We definitely recommend taking a look at these Mage Knight expansions if you end up enjoying the base game: