Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber Begins
Designed by: Joseph Butler
Produced by: Familiar Games
Reviewed by: Jason Elliott from PaladinElliott Productions
The back story:
This is all taken from the Rulebook for the game…
“There have been whispers from the Great Evertree, of a deep magic that pulls like talons toward the darkness. It echoed in wizards dreams, as shadows rose from the nexus. Now the clocks have all but stopped ticking, broken by the ancient arcanum, and even goblins point to Ae’ruim, the sacred Sky Tower of the north. You must go! Leave all that you have learned behind and let five runes guide your path, into the forests of Grimthorn and onward toward the light of Rune City. Don’t forget to gather scrolls along the way…for this, my young mystic, is deep magic.”
The Oracle of the Purple Dawn
When the Evertree falls under a mysterious curse, the elders fear that without a rare potion it will surely die. Now an unlikely group of fledgling Mages must journey to the Sky Tower of Ae’ruim to recover the potion and heal the Evertree. In order to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, they must test their magic against four increasingly difficult locations before facing the evil that awaits within Ae’ruim’s spiraling chambers, in a final battle of arcane sorcery!
Thank you to Joseph Butler for this background.
This is my review of Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber Begins. One of the things we liked most about playing Mageling was that there is a really solid mechanism for keeping the game balanced. For example, when a player is falling behind, they can get additional bonuses for successfully clearing a location. Psionic Vines, which is at location 1, is a good example of this. It allows the player to gain one additional Mana for each location further on that has been revealed. This benefits the last player who clears the location and helps them catch up to the other players and keep the game close and competitive.
We have played the game several times, and all of them have been close, including one come-from-behind victory by one of my opponents, Kyle. All the players report that every session has felt very close and no one ever so far behind that there was no point in playing. This is a sign of a very well balanced game that will have good repeatability, as it will make it hard to predict early on who will win. Players also think this game has solid mechanics and a great theme, it is clear that it was frequently playtested and well thought out. Several of our games were so close that the players who didn’t win were one turn away, which keeps everyone engaged and invested in the game.
The game is light on offensive play, as there is not a lot of opportunity to attack other players and damage their grimoires. If you are the kind of a player who likes to undermine your opponent more than you like building up your own resources, you might find this game a little light on the opportunities to mess with your opponent. The one offensive mechanism we did really like was that when you are doing damage to another player’s grimoire, you can determine where that damage is applied, so this does bring some ability to strategize on how to undermine your opponent. However, the game is still primarily focused on determining an independent strategy for successful use of resources to achieve your goals.
There are only a few minor points of critique for this game. The playtesting copy had a few minor spelling errors that we are confident will be corrected in the final printing.There are a few places where the instructions could be clearer. There was some confusion with the cheat sheet for the Wizard and the use of the Spirit Crystal. There was also some discussion of the Doomweaver card being too easy to acquire and use. In addition, it could be made clearer that when you vanquish a spawn, you remove it from the game.
We here at PaladinElliott Productions strongly support Mageling and are excited about this game reaching its funding goal. It is definitely worth backing as it is a solid game with great mechanics and theming. The game works of combos with its spells and will remind players of games like Magic the Gathering and Ascension. If you like planning on how to be the most efficient and effective in acquiring spells and tapping resources for greatest effect, you will like this game. The mechanics are well thought out and keep the game close and competitive, keeping all players engaged until the very end. Mageling will make a great addition too many people’s existing collections as you race against the other players to be the first to beat the fifth location. You will need to use your mana and energy as efficiently as possible so as not to waste any time achieving your goals.
Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber begins! is being released by Familiar Games which can be contacted at www.familiargames.net. If you have questions or comments about the game you can reach Joseph at JosephButlerv@gmail.com.
What Comes in the Game and How to Play:
There are five, six-sided, rune dice. Five of the sides represent different schools of magic and the sixth is a focus. The five schools of magic are Hedge, Dreams, Divination, Aether and Death. The hand symbol represents Focus. You get a maximum of two dice rolls, unless you have a spell in your grimoire to override that. After you have finished rolling, you then use the dice results to assist you in performing actions. You have a variety of actions to choose from, including: gaining energy, drawing Mana, activitate spirit, convert mana into energy, buy a scroll from the Nexus, activate a scroll, heal a scroll, spend energy to defeat the current location, spend Mana to reset the fice Nexus cards, or remove a small token from your area to gain energy. When you have taken these actions as many times as you can and/or want your turn ends.
The Spirit Crystal is basically your main playing area. The top half is where you keep track of how much energy you have with a token to flip if you go over 20 energy. The next section down is Mana. You must place two dice with matching magic symbols to get 1 Mana and you can do this a maximum of two times on a turn. The bottom area is for Focus. You can place as many of the hand symbols as you want in this area and you can place multiple dice of any one additional magic symbol. For example, you could place two hands and 1 spiral, one hand and three crescent moons, 5 hands, or 5 aether. You can never exceed more than 2 icons being placed in Focus, and you can never have multiple schools of magic there. Depending on what you roll, it is possible to place all 5 of the rune dice in Focus.
Because Mana and energy can be carried over from one turn to the next, the energy tracking token has a single side and a + 20 side. There is no maximum for Mana and energy. This can be important in the game as a strategy that you hold back while other people move ahead and then expend large amounts of energy to catch up. There are crystals to represent different denominations of energy and mana to help you keep track.
There are four types of cards in the game, Spirit cards, Event cards, Scroll cards, and Location cards. Spirit cards can be activated by having the correct symbol on your turn in your focus area. This is an automatic, free action and you gain whatever ability or benefit is listed on that Spirit card. Event cards go into effect as soon as they are drawn and must be resolved immediately. The only exception to this is if an Event card is drawn during the first turn of the game, at which time the card is immediately discarded. The Scroll cards match the five magical schools. Green is Hedge, blue is Dream, yellow is Divination, orange is Aether and the red is Death. The top right corner of the scroll cards is how much energy it costs to acquire the card. The top left corner indicates the type of rune die you have to assign to the spell in order to activate it. If the top left is a yellow coin, that means you need energy to activate that spell and if it is a blue coin that indicates Mana that must be spent. Keep in mind that Mana can be converted to energy at any time as a 1 for 1 trade. However, you have to be careful about trading too much Mana as there can be certain game effects that will cause you setbacks if you don’t have enough Mana. The bottom right of the Scroll card tells you what type of spell it is and this is important because there are some combos where the type of spell you cast can give you bonuses or effect your energy or Mana. The final type of card is the Location cards. These cards represent the levels and bosses you must defeat. Each location has a title and a location number. On the middle right side of the card there is the amount of energy needed to beat the level. Some cards will also have actions you must perform upon entering the location. Location cards will also have actions to be completed once you have defeated the location.
The goal of the game is to be the first one to defeat all 5 locations. The moment this happens the game is over and the person who has done this is immediately the winner; you will not resolve the round.
For game set up, shuffle all cards together except the Location cards. You will draw all five of those to the right of that deck and that will be the Nexus from which players can buy cards with energy. Once one of those cards are bought it is immediately replaced with another card from the deck. You then go to the Location deck and separate it into 5 mini decks (4 cards for each location #). Shuffle each of these mini decks and draw one card from each deck to represent your locations for each level. These will be the only locations used in your game and the rest you may put back in the game box; this is nice because it means subsequent games will be different based on possible locations. You will want to make sure your Mana crystals are nearby along with your Spawn/Damage tokens (flip to the appropriate side as needed). These tokens represent enemies that must be defeated before you can claim a location as defeated.You can spend two energy to remove one Spawn token. Damage tokens go on your grimoire when it is damaged by your opponent(s). Any spell with a damage token on it is immediately inactive until it is healed. Also, if you take damage on your turn, your turn ends immediately. Your grimoire is also limited to 8 spell cards and can never exceed that number. There are a couple of ways to heal spells. One is to assign a die with the same symbol as the spell or to use a different spell that has the ability to heal. The five locations will be above the Nexus.
The game also comes with a Cooperative mode allowing 1 to 4 players. Consult the rulebook for the changes necessary to play this mode..
The game came with the following:
- The box
- The rule book (which did a great job of explaining terms, how to play, etc.)
- 20 Location cards (4 each per level 1-5)
- 40 crystals
- 4 Spirit Crystal Cards (your “playmat”)
- 4 Energy tokens
- 5 Rune Dice
- 4 Player Markers
- 32 Damage/Spawn tokens
- 84 Nexus cards (Scrolls, Events, Spirits)
Mageling is listed as a 1 to 4 player game, at ages 12 and up, and runs from 30 to 90 minutes. We finished most of our games around 60 minutes. That takes into account that at that point all the players knew how to play the game.
You can find the kickstarter here :
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Mageling: The Journey to the Cloud Chamber begins!
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RET. SSG Jason L. Elliott (PaladinElliott)