10 reasons Mage Knight is the worst boardgame of all time


Concur 100%. The price MR pays is in rules complexity.


Hm, sounds like we need to get a QT3 game of Magic Realm going…


I’ve got to chime in with some love for Cosmic Encounters. It is horrible if what you want is a serious competitive game. It is unbalanced, prone to ties, and doesn’t have a lot of really interesting decisions. Yet as a silly thing to do while hanging out with friends (+beer might be optimal) its fun.


Like playing Mage Knight…once every 5 years or so.


Road to Legend is pretty good for solo Descent, I have also played a game or two of Zombicide solo and thought that went well too. I’d stay away from the D&D “Ravenloft” games though, since once you figure them out they lose any real interest.

I think if I really wanted a solo game I would look into the MoM 2e game. Not only does it have an app, but it also tells a story which for me helps keep me engaged. I’ve not played MoM 2e (I have 1e) yet though, so this is all based on second hand info.

Hope you find something fun!


I wouldn’t call for people to pull Cosmic Encounter out at a modern game night. But in the late 70s what CE had going for it was that it wasn’t Monopoly, it wasn’t Risk, and it wasn’t Panzer Blitz - those were pretty much what there was back then. CE paved the way for a lot of other stuff by just being there to be an excuse to be silly.


Thanks for your suggestions. The only thing keeping me from choosing MoM is the setting; don’t really care for it.

Just watched a video of Zombicide Black Plague after Jason suggested it… and it looked great.

Now back to our regularly scheduled debate about Mage Knight!


Right…errrrr…Mage Knight. Basically a mathematicians fantasy epic where nerds can finally slay the dragon with their abacus.

I think Tom is a bit harsher on Mage Knight than it deserves, but MK really suffers from game length issue. It just isn’t exciting enough to play to justify the massive length. If the whole experience had been streamlined to fit into a 2 hour play time I think I might like it. But, c’mon, 6 freakin’ hours of MATH!? What was Vlaada thinking?


Uh, why would I be writing about it if I just “know what’s in there”? I have the expansion. That’s what impelled me to give Mage Knight another go. McMaster was all, like, “the expansion makes it sooooo much better”, and I’m all, like, “well, okay, I’ll give it a try”. And the thing is: he was right! But Mage Knight being soooo much better didn’t make it a non-terrible game. It just made it a bit less terrible.

Star Trek Frontiers is fine! I think only half of the 10 reasons for Mage Knight apply to Star Trek: Frontiers. Of course, it helps if you know nothing about Star Trek and therefore don’t mind that Pickard is flying around in a Romulan Bird of Warprey and that Borges cubes are the equivalent of cities in Mage Knight.

Glad to see you’re not trying to put Archipelago in there!



I have no idea if that’s an original joke or not, but I really want to see what a Borges cube looks like.


I think Tom hit the nail on the head with Frontiers - the theme is pretty fucked up.


ok, I’m curious, what’s different? It looks the same to me.


Yeah, it is pretty much the same, and I’m mostly kidding. It’s still pretty bad, but there are a few things that make it more palatable to me than Mage Knight.

First is that you’re commanding a spaceship flying around exploring the galaxy instead of a fantasy RPG dude trying to walk over the next hill. It makes more thematic sense that a spaceship is a complicated thing where you don’t have enough power to fly and fight and beam dudes down to conduct diplomacy.

Second is that the theming, screwy as it is, is much more evocative. A Klingon is different from a Romulan which is different from the Borg. The idea of mana as fuel and card draws as your crew’s capabilities fits the spaceship concept, and visiting discreet nodes for mini-adventures (combat) feels Star Trekky.

Third is that sci-fi is – to me – about 15% less dopey than fantasy. For the most part, I’m not a fan of fantasy.

But, yeah, it’s still Mage Knight. I mean, what do you prefer? A pig, or a pig wearing lipstick?



Someone tell me they’ve played multiple games of Magic Realm with other human beings using different characters, because that seems like the ultimate gaming black swan.


Personally, ST:F fixed nearly every single problem I had with Mage Knight. Shields work the way you’d expect them to. The dopey day/night cycle is gone. Movement is far less of an enemy since you can attack everything adjacently. The game itself plays faster, and solo it’s WAY less adversarial to the player, I think. ST:F is kind of rooting for you, the player, whereas MK just beats you over the head with the difficulty and stubbornness and paucity of options. And the Star Trek theme fits better, with exploration and combat both. Now it just needs the Volkare equivalent to really be satisfying.


Back in the 80s I tried to play it several times, but we never really knew what we were doing. I have played a couple of online games though. It really is an amazing game. Check out RealmSpeak, a free (and now open-source) Java implementation that actually works really well.


If you could actually get a copy, the game you want is Gloomhaven. Mage Knight is really good but the length is a problem and frankly, Gloomhaven is better. Sadly, demand is way higher than anticipated so a new print run will be required just to fulfill all the existing preorders, much less new ones.


Oh, fuck yes!


Present. Circa 1983.


I don’t think so. I’m not really interested in the latest miniatures boondoggle. I would sooner track down a copy of Magic Realm than spend that kind of money on what looks like just another appeal to the Kickstarter thirst for little toys. :)