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.
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. Featuring a variety of campaign options allowing you to play both competitively or cooperatively.
8 Intricately Painted Miniatures
20 Map Tiles
54 Mana Crystals
7 Mana Dice
2 Game Mats
User Ratings & Reviews
Top Forum Posts
"Soloing a board game? Why.....?" you might ask. At least, that was me when I first heard of this form of entertainment. Fast forward 1.5 years, I have Too Many Bones and Nemo's War proudly sitting at the top of my wishlist. And now I'm talking with Liz, one of the biggest proponents of solo gaming in the industry.
Hey Liz, thank you for making your time! First up, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I review solo board games for my own site, Beyond Solitaire, and for The Dice Tower. I also create solo tutorials on my YouTube channel, as well as interview interesting people about board game history and culture on my podcast. Both are, shockingly, called Beyond Solitaire. In regular life, I am a high school Latin teacher.
Teachers are awesome (in hindsight). How has that experience been for you and if you were to go back, would you still choose to teach high school students? (I teach high school students too by the way!)
I will admit that COVID has me feeling a little less enthusiastic about my job at the moment—I am currently doing “concurrent” teaching, which means I have some students physically in the room with me while others are online. I teach both groups simultaneously. It’s not a sustainable way to teach. But in a normal year? Being a teacher is awesome, and I particularly love to teach high schoolers. They are great because they are starting to develop more “adult” opinions and perspectives, but also have a lot of growing to do. Plus, teenagers are hilarious.
How aware are your students about your love for board games? (Have they subscribed to your YouTube channel?!) Also, have you ever tried using board games (or its concepts) as an example when teaching?
In a normal year, students know I love board games because I play with them all the time! (Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now.) I’m actually pretty open about the fact that I have a YouTube channel because once the kids know about it, it’s not interesting to them at all anymore, and they leave me be. I have no interest in interacting online with students who have not graduated yet. I haven’t fully had the opportunity, but I want to play more games with the kids in Latin. I’ve made a Latin UNO deck before, but I have a draft translation of “Love Letter” that I’m dying to test out.
What is your "teaching philosophy" and do you find that it carries over into how you approach the "how-to" videos on your channel?
My teaching philosophy is that every student can learn Latin, if they are supported and allowed to learn at their own pace. I also believe that learning should be enjoyable. I try to break games down into digestible chunks on my YouTube channel, just as I would any concept for class. My gaming and teaching philosophies also line up in the sense that I believe that everyone can learn games and enjoy gaming. But my “real life” classes are a lot more interactive than my YouTube channel.
What has been the most rewarding part of running your YouTube channel and what is your vision for the channel?
Just having a channel and watching it grow is tremendously rewarding. I think I get more enjoyment out of my games by communing with them and then interacting with others about them. But my vision for my channel is constantly in flux. At first I thought I just wanted to do tutorials, but I’ve really started to enjoy interviewing people, and my interest in historical games is evolving in some unknown direction. My podcast is my favorite project I have done to date, because I’m having so much fun looking at and thinking about games on a deeper level and with such great conversation partners.
My solo transition isn’t all that exciting. I may cover only solo games, but I play both alone and in groups. The simplest version of the story is that I really loved to play Magic: The Gathering, but it was too expensive and annoying to keep collecting all of the cards. I switched to the Lord of the RIngs LCG to scratch that deck construction itch, discovered I could play it by myself, and boom, I was a solo gamer.
What do you think are some of the biggest barriers to solo gaming? (whether for people not yet into solo gaming or for solo gamers)
I think there are two main barriers. The first is that it’s a pain in the butt to learn a bunch of games all by yourself. It is far easier to have someone teach you a game. I personally like to be taught by others whenever possible. The second is that I think people still struggle with the idea of doing most things by themselves. I value my alone time, and I was willing to go to the movies or eat in restaurants by myself before I discovered solo gaming. I think that made it easier for me to give it a shot.
The "soloness" of Liz's gaming is debatable :)
Despite the "barriers," solo gaming has gained a lot of traction over the years, where it now seems almost criminal for a game to not have a solo mode. What do you think are the main reasons behind this trend?
People like to pretend that solo gaming is some weird niche activity, but in reality, it is hugely popular. The solo community is huge and vibrant—just take a look at the 1 Player Guild on BGG, or the Solo Board Gamers group on Facebook. We solo players are enthusiastic about games, we play a lot of them, we gather to discuss them online. There is no online gaming community I’d rather be a part of. To me, it makes perfect sense that a publisher would want to capture a little of that magic.
There are all sorts of different solo modes these days. What's your favorite and why? Actually, do you happen to have a favorite designer whose ideas always seem to resonate with you?
Overall, Mage Knight is my most beloved solo board game and I don’t see any other game unseating it. That said, I particularly like board games that are truly designed for solo players, and I like to play against some kind of game system. I don’t necessarily have a favorite designer, but I do love Chip Theory Games. I also adore solo war games designed by David Thompson (Pavlov’s House, Castle Itter) and Robert Deleskie (Wars of Marcus Aurelius).
Have you ever had a designer approach you and ask for feedback on their solo mode? What do you think are your personal criteria in judging whether a solo mode is good or bad?
I’ve been approached to playtest but I hate doing it. I prefer to review a finished product. For me, a solo mode is good if it is engaging and full of interesting choices, and I like it even better if it plays very smoothly. A solo mode is bad if it’s needlessly complicated, unclear, clunky, or an underdeveloped tack-on to a multiplayer game.
Let's say I had a friend who is new to board games but enjoys a puzzly kind of experience. Which game(s) would you recommend? How about for a friend who is a polar opposite of that and wants an epic experience under 2 hours?
These are really questions for 1PG or the Solo Board Gamers Facebook group. But if you want a puzzle, go for a Euro. If you want a thematic experience, go for a fantasy adventure or a wargame.
You've been a Dice Tower contributor for a while, but it was my first time seeing you featured on one of their Top 10 videos (which I loved by the way!) How was the experience and if you were to go back, would you do anything differently?
I loved doing those Top 10 videos for Dice Tower! The entire Dice Tower crew is friendly, relaxed, and fun to be around, and it’s been really nice to get to know them better over the last year or two. I don’t think I would do anything differently—it was a blast!
If you could do another Top "X" video on The Dice Tower, what would you love to talk about and who would you like to have join you?
I actually am not a great person to ask about this because I am not actually a big fan of Top 10 lists. (Heresy!) They are just arbitrary fun, and my rankings change all the time. It might be fun to do a Top 10 of games set in the ancient world, with Morgane Gouyon-Rety (Pendragon), Robert DeLeskie (Wars of Marcus Aurelius, Stilicho), and Tom Russell (Agricola, Master of Britain and much more).
If you could change anything about your favorite solo game (Mage Knight), what would it be and why?
I would not change Mage Knight. I would change my schedule so that I had more time to play Mage Knight.
I love that answer.
Which game has been on your radar for 2021, and what makes you excited about it? Also, which game do you think has the highest potential to make big leaps in rankings on the Solo Guild's Top 100 games for 2021?
My big game for 2021, barring a huge surprise, is going to be Hoplomachus: Victorum from Chip Theory Games. I am a huge Hoplo fan, and I absolutely cannot wait to see how they renew/rework the game system I know and love. Honestly, whatever makes a surprise leap onto the Solo Guild’s Top 100 will be a game that gets a lot of press, and I’m terrible at predicting that. My feeling is that the upper end of that list is fairly static, and as you get further down, you see more games that rise and fall dramatically due to reprints, representation on Facebook or BGG, etc.
Is there a super underappreciated game that deserves more attention? If so, please make your case on why we should try it out!
Everyone acts like war games are so brutal and scary, and they have been falling off of the People’s Choice Top 100 at an alarming rate. I say go ahead and try one—Thunderbolt: Apache Leader gets less love these days than I think it deserves, as do many DVG games (Cards of Cthulhu, David Thompson’s Valiant Defense Series…) Also, if you haven’t tried something from Hollandspiele yet, do it. Don’t expect luxury components. Do expect a thought-provoking experience and a sassy rulebook.
Lastly, are there any exciting developments in the works you would like to share with us? What would be your dream project? (Please let us know how we can stay up to date with you too)
I’m working on Season 2 of my podcast right now, and it’s going to be awesome! I’m reworking how I want to approach my YouTube channel, but definitely expect more tutorials, and maybe more deep dives into the history behind some of my favorite games. Also, I read as much as I game, and I finally started a BookTube channel so I could talk about books. You can find me pretty much anywhere as Beyond Solitaire (and as Beyond Solitaire Books if reading is your thing).
Thanks again Liz! Loved hearing your thoughts when I watched you on Dice Tower's Top 10 and I knew I had to reach out. And I'm grateful for your tutorial on soloing Pax Pamir (Second Edition), it came in very handy and you were absolutely right—it was a real treat :)
Thanks for the read everyone and here are some links for you to stay up to date with Liz:
For those who are new, you can find the rest of my interviews here: https://www.boardgameatlas.com/topic/fFPci5qT1d/bga-interviews
I won Star Trek: Frontiers in a GAW on this site about a month ago. I have now played this game 5 times and I have some further thoughts about it.
Firstly I have some disclaimers.
- I am not writing from a position of mastery. I am feeling a lot more comfortable with the game, but they're is a lot of depth I have not touched.
- All of my games have been solo. I have not explored any multiplayer facets of this game.
- This is not a proper review. It is some thoughts after I feel comfortable enough to now where I would put this in a ranking.
- Lastly. This is a retheme of Mage Knight, which I have not played. So I will not offer any commentary on which is the better game in any way.
The way I will do this is I will list a number of parts of the game and the experience and rank it on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being low and 10 being high. At the end I will give my own personal score. This is going to be how I feel about the game. This will not be an average of the three scores of the constituent parts. It could be greater, or less, than the sum of its parts.
I really feel like theme and it's integration is pretty good. I like Star trek but I wouldn't call myself a really committed trekkie. For those who are committed trekkie there are moments of thematic disconnect where Picard sees fit to ravage a inhabited planet for the rewards of offers. I personally don't really have a problem with things like that. But, they're are those who will find that jarring. Also it is important to note that this does not offer a grand overarching story line. Rather, each turn offers compelling story beats that could seamlessly for in almost any episode. This is the more impressive because of.....
I believe that the average component produced in the hobby market today is considerably more than adequate. But, these are below average. I would classify them as adequate, but not much more than that. The cards are decent, but that is it. The minis are OK, unpainted, not super detailed, profoundly OK. The cardboard chits are uninspiring, the data crystals feel cheap. This is all worsened by....
Artwork/graphic design 3/10:
There is virtually no artwork. There are stills from the movies, which are universally grainy and a bit muddy looking. But there is no real artwork. Also, the whole tone is very dated and dark looking. I realize it is set in space, which is dark. But every since I have seen Black Angel I have been impatient with dark space. AlsoThe graphic design is a bit of a mess. I am a person that had no problem Race for the Galaxy. I have always thought that the iconography found in rftg is exceptionally clear and easy to parse. This is not the case here. First of all you have to learn what the icons mean, and there are a lot of them. Then you have to see them across the table. And, consider you may have read 6-8 icons on a quarter sized piece of cardboard. It is not easy. I really have struggled some with that.
Everything you need is in the rulebooks. That is right there are two rulebooks. There is a walk through rulebook that walks you through your first game explaining things as they come up. Then there is another rulebook that is called "the full rulebook" it should have been called "all the rules that didn't fit in the walk through book." that is one of the problems. The cardinal sin is that there is no index or anything like that. So if you have a question during a game you are left frantically flipping through two 24ish page rulebooks scanning small text trying to find an answer. But, it is all in the rulebooks. They are mostly well organized. And you can learn the game from reading them. It is just difficult to use them for reference afterwards.
The heart of STF is a deckbuilding with multi-use cards. But it is unlike any other deckbuilders I have played. Many /most deckbuilders focus on high deck turn. The faster you can run through your deck the more efficient you can make your deck. Your final deck in most deckbuilders usually bear no similarities to the starting deck. But in STF you start as a rookie captain struggling to knock out a Romulan Warbird. By the end of the game you are tackling a Borg cube and its allies, all this with a deck that is mostly comprised of the same cards with which you started. The way you can use your deck, and the way your cards interact with each other is a fascinating machine to manage. And the way the deck turns so slowly is a fascinating thing to manage. In the average game you will go through your deck only 6 times in the whole game. The heart is STF is a deck builder. But there are so many levers to touch and wheels to turn. But, it all feels like it was actually well designed.
This is sort of hard to say. I find the puzzle deeply deeply engrossing. I lose complete track of time each time I play. But, I never want to play two games back to back, and I never think, oh... That was fun.... But, a few days later, on itching to play it again. I would say not so much that it is fun as it is deeply satisfying.
Some other considerations.
Setup time. Takes me 10-15 minutes.
Teardown, 10 minutes or maybe a touch less.
Play time. 90-120 minutes for me playing solo.
Complexity. BGG rates this a 4.28 complexity. That comes from two things.
Rules complexity. There are a lot of rules to remember. And, even worse, a lot of exceptions to the rules that you also need to remember.
But there is also gameplay complexity. There is a lot of room for careful nuanced skilful play. Play that you can't make by just knowing the rules.
Where does it fit in my life?
My life is fairly varied. There are days and weeks when my whole week is spent in meetings with various medical or legal or pastoral types. These meetings are typically in Spanish. I'm pretty comfortable in Spanish. But, it is still more tiring to participate in a meeting that is not in your first language. There are other weeks where most of my week is good hard work. If I have had the first type of day or week. One where my mind has been working extra hard, I am not going to want to play this. I am going to want something more relaxed. If I have had the service sort of day/week. There are few fans that I have played that will scratch my gaming itch like STF.
personal score: 9/10
I love this game. I can't really recommend it because of some of the issues I mentioned. I never want to have to teach or to somebody. But the gameplay is so so good it is worth learning to play, the theme is so good that it makes me see past the artwork and graphic design choices that it made. I thing this game is top five, maybe top 3 material for me. Now I only need to win the ongoing contest, get Spirit Island, and see if that is better.
Do cities ever sleep?
[Star Trek: Frontiers, Mage Knight]
[Eclipse Board Game, Mage Knight Board Game: The Lost Legion Expansion, King of Tokyo: Power Up, Eclipse: Rise of the Ancients Expansion, King of Tokyo...]