Preview Review of Madstone

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Recently I was given the opportunity to play test an upcoming new game that will be available on Kickstarter very soon. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Madstone is a game by Mark Hanny, published by Joe Magic Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of wandering wizards trying to rid themselves of some unruly magical creatures. Of course, they’ll have to capture some of these creatures to help them get rid of the others. The player that collects the most creature heads as trophies will be declared the winner and will be given the grand trophy known as the Madstone.

To begin, all of the cards should be shuffled together. Three cards are then dealt face up in the center of the play area. Each player is then dealt 5 cards. They must then choose 2 cards to place back in the deck, which is then reshuffled. Players are given 2 crystals each. The remaining crystals are placed within reach of all players. Players are also given a player mat and 2 wizard figures of their chosen color. The player places a wizard on the 2 of the wizard’s power and on the 1 of the action section. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they may take one of four actions; gain crystals, attack a creature, draw cards or attack another player’s creature. Player’s can gain more actions later on as they build their army of creatures. A player can gain crystals by taking a card from their hand and placing it in the center of the play area. The number of crystals on the bottom of the creature card is the number of crystals that the player takes from the supply.

Another action that a player can take is to attack a creature. Players begin with an attack power of 2. The player chooses one of the creatures in the center of the play area and places that many crystals into the center supply to damage the creature. If the number of crystals matches the first number next to the red shield on the card, the creature is killed. The player takes the card and places it face down in front of themself. If the number of crystals is equal to the second number, the creature is captured and is now part of the wizard’s army. The player places the card face up in front of themself. The number next to the creature’s green shield is added to the wizard’s power and the number is adjusted on the player mat. Players are allowed to attack creatures that have a higher number, however the cost in crystals is double for the number higher than their power. If a player gains matching creatures in their army, they can increase their number of actions. The player is allowed as many actions as the largest number of matching creatures that they control. This number can also be increased by enlisting one of the 2 Killer Kiwi cards into their army.

The next action that a player can take is to draw cards. To begin with a player is only allowed to hold 3 cards in their hand at a time. If a player has less than that number in their hand they can use this action to draw enough cards to replenish their hand back to their hand size. Bob, the Green Goopy Blob allows a player to increase the number of cards they are allowed to have in their hand by capturing him.

The last action that is available for players to take is to attack another player’s creatures. This is only available if a Darkness Falls card has been placed in the center of the table. Just like creature cards, the player that places this card gains crystals using the gain crystals action. This card causes all creatures in the center of the play area to increase their kill and capture costs by 2. Once it’s on the table, a player can then attack another player using the numbers by the blue shield on the creature card in the same way as if they were attacking or capturing them from the center of the play area. The player then adds the creature card to the appropriate place in front of themself. The player with the lowest power is allowed to remove the Darkness Falls card anytime they want during their turn without using an action.

The game continues with players killing and capturing creatures. Once the last card is drawn the current player finishes their turn and each player is allowed one more turn. Once this has been completed, players add up the gold victory points next to the red shield on the creature cards they killed. The player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game has some nice pieces to it. It comes with cards, green crystals, wizard figures and player mats. The player mats are quite nice and are thick sturdy cardboard. They are brightly colored and are great for keeping track of power and actions. The little plastic wizard figures that are used with the player mats are also quite nice and are also brightly colored. I love that instead of just using colored cubes, the designer went with wizard meeples instead. It just makes for a better looking game. The green crystals are plastic as well and are comparable to those used in games like Spyrium. They are really bright neon green and just add to the game as well. Now we come to the cards. On these, I have mixed feelings about. First off, I really like the light hearted wizard design on the back. It’s the same design that’s on the cover of the box. It really gives me a fun sense of the game. I like the thickness and design of the cards. They’re really nice and are the same type of cards as those used in other Joe Magic games. What I don’t like is the goofy names and creature images. I get that this is a silly and light card game but I felt like these images could have been more in line with the card back and looked a little better. It’s not a major deal, just a minor gripe for me. Of course the images and names don’t affect the gameplay in any way. It just feels a bit less thematic as a whole for me.
7 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebooks for this game is a single double-sided sheet of paper. It’s got plenty of pictures and examples included. There’s a really nice glossy finish to it that makes it nice in case I accidentally spill something on it. Everything is explained really well and there’s nothing to difficult to understand. There’s a nice section included that breaks down the anatomy of the cards which is great if you need to look back for reference. I like the look and feel of the rules sheet and can’t find anything wrong with it.
8 out of 10

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GAMEPLAY
This is a very simple and fun game. It’s really easy to learn. You simply try to kill as many creatures as you can by building your army up strong enough to do so. In the meantime, you’re trying to make sure that your opponents don’t steal or destroy your creatures, but you can always get back at them by doing the same thing to their creatures as well. The game is really light with a fair amount of player interaction. Of course if players choose to only go for the creatures in the middle of the table, there is basically no interaction whatsoever. It really depends on what type of game that you’re looking to play. Do you want more of a take that feel or simply an engine building game, or something somewhere in between. Whatever your choice, this game works for all play styles. I like that the weaker player has the choice on how long other players can attack their creatures. This helps if one player is being ganged up on. Simply shut it down and work on building your army up so that you’re the one in charge now. Getting multiple creatures of one type and getting those specialty monsters will help bump up your actions and your hand size. Players will be fighting for those as soon as they become available due to the huge benefits that those specialty creatures add. This game doesn’t take a very long time to play. Most of the games we played lasted about an hour long, give or take a few minutes. For me, the game is a fun filler quality game that works best as a warm up for some heavier game play. I really enjoyed this one.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Madstone is a very light weight card game of wizardly combat with a mild take that feel. At it’s core it’s an engine builder that works best with 2 or 3 players. The game has an average play time of around an hour. The pieces look nice and are good quality. The artwork on the cards is a bit too goofy looking for me but this doesn’t take away from the quality of gameplay. Other than that, I don’t really have a problem with the game. There is a fair amount of player interaction through the use of the Darkness Falls cards. I like that the weaker player determines how long this interaction can occur. The game is super simple and fun. It’s easy enough for younger players to pick up and play with only a small amount of help the first couple of times you play. Fans of games like Munchkin should enjoy this one. This is a game that I enjoyed playing. I recommend giving it a try and backing it when it becomes available on Kickstarter in a month or two.
8 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out Joe Magic Games at their site.

http://www.joemagicgames.com/

Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter link coming in the next few months.

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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