This week’s game in The Robot Plays is Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia, by Cool Mini Or Not.
Now, I’m a sucker for games that weigh as much as a refrigerator and have so many fiddly miniatures and cards and dice that they take almost as long to set up as they do to play. (I can’t help it… Hero Quest was my life during the summer of 1990!) Masmorra definitely scratches that itch.
One of the neat (and fiendishly clever) things about it is you can use the miniatures as cross-over characters in Cool Mini Or Not’s other dungeon-y game, Arcadia Quest, and vice versa. The cross-over appeal is obviously a way to sell more games to people with the same addiction that I have. But it’s also a cool way to open up the games’ worlds and make them bigger than just a single game.
Now, I also love Arcadia Quest, and there’s a special place in my heart for the stoically badass knight, Diva. But I decided to play as a different character in Masmorra… an all new one! Yes, I chose Blossom, the beautiful elf sharpshooter.
I have to say, I’m impressed with the mechanics of Masmorra. As you can see from the picture above, it’s a dice-heavy game. I don’t have any problems with that, but for the more dice-averse out there, there’s more to it than just “chuck the dice and hope for the best.”
The game has a somewhat Yahtzee-like feature, where you start with six dice to throw on your turn, and then you get to pick the ones you like and re-roll the ones you don’t like. You then use the dice in different combinations to either kill the bad guys (represented themselves by cute colorful dice on the board!), move around, defend yourself, heal yourself, or use on your character’s abilities. It’s not just as simple as “swords mean I do damage to the bad guy” either. Some of the character abilities actually let you convert one symbol into other symbols, so the game becomes more of a math problem where you’re trying to find the optimal combination of symbols to roll… and even if Lady Lucky isn’t in your favor, you can still find interesting and clever ways to combine your dice results.
In addition to the puzzle-like dice mechanic, another big feature of Masmorra is the Treasure Cards. You get these for killing monsters, and you can use them to do a broad range of things from adding free dice results to your roll for the turn tostealing stuff from the other players.
Which leads me to the next thing I really love about the game: the player interaction. We played the Epic mode for the game, which is essentially competitive. Each player is trying to race the other player’s to the end of the dungeon and kill the big boss at the end. However, you can’t directly attack the other players – you can only cause minor nuisances like stealing coins from them (which are used to purchase Treasure Cards) or mess with their dice results a bit. I liked the way it felt, because I was trying to win the game, but I found myself rooting for the other players as well. The game also has a wholly co-operative mode, so if you’re 100% opposed to player-vs-player, then you can still enjoy the game.
I’m curious to see what expansions come out for this game. Because–let’s face it–I’m a sucker for lots and lots of miniatures. Especially if they’re chibis.
Be sure to check in every Wednesday to see what the robot’s playing! Maybe next week, I’ll bust out something a little more Euro-friendly… something with meeples ‘n’ victory points. 😉
Until next time. Keep it plucky,