10 reasons Mage Knight is the worst boardgame of all time


I can only think of nine reasons Monopoly is terrible. But I can think of at least ten reasons Mage Knight is terrible, so it takes the prize as worst boardgame of all time.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2017/02/14/10-reasons-mage-knight-worst-boardgame-time/


I feel like you’ve written this article before? Or perhaps you just hate Mage Knight so much it seeps into every other article? Hopefully this will exorcise that deep seated hatred and keep future articles free of Mage Knight hatred?


I thought it had lost the Patreon request vote :O


Nice. A Valentine’s Day love letter to Vlaada Chvátil.


I can’t decide if Tom want’s a point by point rebuttal of this.

It wasn’t clear from the text if you have played the expansion or just know what’s in it? Oh and I agree with point 4, Mage Knight it an embarrassing rules disaster.

But regardless, by suggesting basically any game is worse than Monopoly, you’ve crossed a line. I’m putting you on notice Chick.


How do you feel about Star Trek Frontiers?

-Tom Mc


Also you need huge table space for the game…


Mage Knight is the way it is because that just how things happened back then. You can’t just go and change “Volkare,” because that was his name and what he did. You might as well try and change the Battle of Midway: I hate how the Japanese didn’t have the Shokaku and Zuikaku available - Imma just put them in!


I’ve never played Mage Knight, but it can’t possibly be worse than The Witcher Adventure game.

Imagine Eldritch Horror, only…

  1. It’s competitive instead of cooperative. That would be fine, except it is competitive solitaire. You’re not even competing for limited resources like other instances of competitive “solitaire”. Everyone just wanders around the map rolling dice until one person wins. There is zero interaction or conflict between players aside from rarely getting to place a monster card on another player.

  2. No theme. You get quests that give victory points. To solve quests, you must gather the necessary number and color of clues by moving to the correct colored spaces. 5 blue clues, 3 red clues, 2 green clues. This quest is different because it requires 60% blue clues and 40% green clues instead of 40% blue clues and 60% green clues. THEME!

  3. The god…awful…wound system. You get a choice of actions and can perform 2 each turn, exactly like Eldritch Horror. The problem is that instead of health, when you’re wounded you put a wound marker over one of the actions and can no longer perform that action until you heal. Wound over movement? You cannot move. Over investigate? You cannot gather clues. You also have “foul fate” tokens placed there which means you must draw a foul fate card when you perform that action. Foul fate cards are bad that lead to placing more wound and foul fate tokens on your action sheet. It is VERY easily to be hopelessly crippled with no way to recover. Stuck on a tough monster space, become wounded so you can’t move away, spend your turn resting to remove the wound token, get wounded by monster again, spend another resting but not moving away, repeat. There are no safe havens from monsters and you cannot simply die and respawn with a penalty to start over. You’re just stuck and crippled until you luck out.

My group tried 3 times to play this and never finished a single game, choosing to abort each one because people were crippled and not having any fun. The only reason we kept trying was thinking that we were just missing something. At no point were we actually having any sort of fun.

There’s a PC game version. As a port goes it is fantastic and super polished and gorgeous. The problem is the mechanics are utterly horrid.

Runner ups:

Twilight Imperium: A game that isn’t even close to fun or balanced without one major expansion and 3 different variant rules in play. 90% of games can be called immediately after the setup, as games usually boil down to who drew the easier secret objectives, the better starting position, and the more overpowered race.

Cosmic Encounter: An inexplicably popular game that I dread every time it comes to the table. Another instance where you can call the game right at the start based on who drew better cards and has the most overpowered race. Breaks the 9th commandment (no ties) big time every…single…game.

Small World: Any interesting mechanics are completely buried by the horrendous downtime. You spend most of the time waiting for your turn with nothing to do, then you end up passing half your turns!

Betrayal at House on the Hill: The first half is as interactive as Candyland. The 2nd half dictates which character stat will matter that game, and anyone who doesn’t have a high rating on that stat is useless. Fun! It is a game that appeals to casual players, but a casual player will always screw up the rules when they become the haunt and the secretive nature of the haunt means they cannot confer about the rules and none of the other players will know if they messed up the rules until after. There is never any reason to play this over Mansions of Madness (which is just as casual friendly as long as you have one person who can handle the rules and play DM).


The funniest thing to me is how my innocent love of Mage Knight has caused Tom so much turmoil.


Yes, yes!

You’re bang on here! Keep going!

What… You take that back now!


The race/trait combos in Small World are interesting, but I just cannot get past the down time. It’s a total deal breaker for me.

This wouldn’t normally make it a runner for “worst boardgame ever” except there was one guy in my group who ALWAYS wanted to play it every time and it killed me. I now have PTSD whenever I think about it, waiting 20 minutes until my turn just so I could say, “Decline” and pass half the time.

It didn’t help that the guy who always wanted to play was had a major case of AP (analysis paralysis, a dreaded boardgame syndrome that causes a player to take forever analyzing every possible action, often to very little benefit over a player who doesn’t take forever), taking 15 minutes or more for his turns.


Okay, since this tread has turned into ‘worst board games’ or ‘terrible games everyone likes’, its my turn!

It’s a tie:

The Manhattan Project - In a world with a million worker placement games (some of them actually not terrible!) why is this one people seem to hold in high regard. It’s just a miserable mechanical experience that outlives it’s welcome on the first turn. And you thought it was tedious initially, just wait until someone in your playgroup discovers how broken the espionage mechanic is!

Cosmic Encounter - This one really boggles my mind. It is, however, no surprise to discover this game design is from 1982 or something. Archaic is definitely the word. The biggest problem is that it’s just random nonsense constantly, that’s the extent of this games ‘design’. You get a more strategic experience playing Jenga.

Runners up:

Caylus - The board game form of filling out your tax returns.
Dominion - Some games have theme. Dominion has anti-theme.
Twilight Imperium - Maybe this game is good, but how would a new player ever discover that at this point?
Ticket to Ride - Okay, this one’s a stretch. But have you read the first page of the rule book? What the hell is this game about?
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - A co-op CCG. You read that right: A co-op CCG.
Robinson Crusoe - Too many fiddly components that look identical, too many rules exceptions.


I’m curious about this, too.

I was never interested in Mage Knight, but love Star Trek: Frontiers, which is essentially the same game except with a different theme and a few – but important (so I’ve been told) – rules modifications. It does still take a long time to play, though, so that point of criticism will probably remain.


Rich, I am all on board with your picks!

[quote=“Richard_Holt, post:13, topic:128485, full:true”]

The Manhattan Project - In a world with a million worker placement games (some of them actually not terrible!) why is this one people seem to hold in high regard. It’s just a miserable mechanical experience that outlives it’s welcome on the first turn. And you thought it was tedious initially, just wait until someone in your playgroup discovers how broken the espionage mechanic is![/quote]

Oh god yes. I tried this once at a convention and felt like I had wasted the whole day. Boring boring boring and takes way too long.

Yeah, from the very first time I’ve always thought, “This feels like a late 70s Steve Jackson game.” It’s like you’re playing Munchkin or Awful Green Things with none of the art or humor. I have yet to experience a single game that wasn’t a 2-3 way tie. My old game group LOVED this game and squeezed it in almost every session. Fuck Cosmic Encounter!

Runners up:

I enjoyed the iPad version. Maybe human players being more competitive makes in unbearable?

I feel about Powergrid how you feel about Caylus.

Dominion feels like I’m trying to play Bridge with my grandmother’s group: an impenetrable game that appeals to people I cannot possibly understand. It’s the game equivalent of a magic eye painting: you spend 5 minutes staring at your hand until you either declare, “I see it!” or you don’t.

Every time we’ve tried it’s been “Maybe THIS combination of variants will make it good?” I’ve been witness to over a dozen online games where I predict the winner at setup and I’ve been 90% right. It’s such a waste investing that time, money, and space to the luck of the draw and bad balance.

Another “call the winner at setup” game based on who gets the superior west/east coast routes, at least with the base U.S. map.

I really tried to like Arkham Horror: the card game. $15 per hour long scenario with little replay value? Pass!

Another popular game that stinks:

Diplomacy- This one is always fun in theory as you organize the game and every has fun roleplaying during the first half hour.

Then the slog sets in and everyone stops having fun. After 6 hours everyone just wants it to end and agrees to let one player win just to make the pain stop. I’ve never seen a game of Diplomacy where anyone was actually having fun beyond the 60 minute mark, or one that didn’t end with half the players passed out groaning in misery. Also doesn’t help how imbalanced the nations are (pity the poor fool who draws Italy or Austria).


Never understood why people dislike Dominion so much. I like it quite a bit. I dislike Ascension a lot, so to each their own I guess.


Magic Eye painting. It’s enjoyable to people who can stare at the cards for 5 minutes and declare, “I see the dolphin optimal victory point engine!”

If you’re not the kind of person who can spot that sort of thing (or gets excited thinking about it) it’s the driest game ever.


I think you’re probably right. The way you framed it reminds me of why I don’t really like Settlers of Catan, good or not, because I get sick of the positioning.


D’oh. I got this for my son for Christmas this year so he had a solo game to play. Perhaps I should check if he has played it and apologize :).


No, you made the right choice. Mage Knight is a hugely popular, successful and lauded game. Tom’s just a fuddy duddy