Mage Knight: the board game – The Lost Legion Review

Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher: WizKids Games
Number of Players: 1-5
Playtime: long, 2-3 hours
Price (approx.): 40 euro
General Volkare is back with his Lost Legion on his side. Nobody knows what he wants. The only thing we do know is that he hates the Mage Knights. He finds them, chases them and kills them if he can. Does he do it without any self-interest or does he want something in return from the people of the Atlantean kingdom? 

Overview

What you get for your money

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One Volkare miniature and one new Mage Knight (Wolfhawk) with their tokens and cards. A bunch of new unit, spell, artefact and action cards and a couple of fixed old ones. Some new map tiles and brand new enemy and skill tokens. Lastly more crystals, a die and one rulebook. 

How do you play the game

Essentially this game plays the same as the base game, but it does add some extra unit, enemy and map features with corresponding rules. Plus, it adds a new hero, so you can play the game with 5 players (don’t).
You have hero and thug units now. You can recruit thugs more easily when you have a bad reputation and hero’s when you are a saint. Another new type of unit is the magic familiar. You must ‘feed’ him mana to keep his loyalty.
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A couple of new enemy features. Enemies can attack you multiple times in one attack face. Sometimes you are able to block attacks with movement points. Assassins go directly for the Mage Knights and don’t care for their army. Elusive enemies can avoid your attack quite easily unless you block them first and other enemies are able to resist special card effects, like ‘this enemy does not attack this turn’.
Sometimes, when you defeated an enemy, you’ll get, in addition to a fame bonus, a reputation bonus or penalty.
There are new locations to explore, like mazes, deep mines and refugee camps.
The most important addition, of course, is General Volkare. He is described as a moving city. Joined by a large army, his Lost Legion, he will track you down and attack your Mage Knight if he can. He will stir up the locals and sometimes recruit new units.

Review

This review is (mostly) from a solo players perspective. I’ve played the game multiplayer, but most of my Mage Knight games were played solo.

Gameplay

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This expansion adds a whole new layer to the base game. The dummy player in the base game was a game timer, now you have Volkare. He and his legion are a whole new force to be reckoned with.  He may move and he may attack you if you come too close. You have to watch him constantly and it adds a ‘push your luck’ element to the game.
And if he attacks, you need to roll a die to determine how he attacks. He is unpredictable. You can plan an attack on his legion, but you can’t prepare for the generals attack.
Like a city, Volkares level is adjustable. His Lost Legion can be as big as ELEVEN units or as tiny as four. But not only is the size of his army adjustable, also his deck of cards. This deck determines Volkares movement and aggressiveness. You can add more wounds to his deck if you want him to be more docile.
Another new element in this game are indecisive units. These units, specified by a random mana crystal on them, do not know if they want to be in Volkares army or in yours. If you reveal a wound card from Volkares deck, he does not move, but you have to roll a die.  If the die has the same colour as the mana crystal of the indecisive unit, he joins Volkare.
Some other ‘thing’ Volkare does, is re-roll the mana dice in the Source of the same colour as the action or spell cards you have drawn from his deck.
General Volkare is another player in the (solo) game. He really feels like a worthy opponent. You are not really playing a solo game, it feels more like a two player game. And now you will fight against a boxer, not the punching bag a city sometimes felt like.
The other additions are mostly about choices. You can choose to recruit a new unit or attack or defend a certain way, but there is always a price to be paid. You can choose not to block an elusive orcs attack, but attacking him becomes much harder. You can choose to recruit a familiar, but you have to pay mana very turn.
This expansion also adds another unique card to every heroes deck, every hero has two, so the five heroes each play differently. Which hero you choose at the start of the game does matter now more than before.
Cooperative skill token are added. These skills you can use its primary effect and your team-mate can use its secondary effect.
The Lost Legion expansion adds more and more different  units. More is not always good, but in this case everything is so well thought of that the game play is almost perfect. Mage Knight, the base game, already is a game about exploration. Now the game is even less predictable and you have to become as versatile as the enemies you will encounter.

Theme

General Volkare adds more flavour to this game. The mechanics fit his character as a scaremonger. The addition of the thug and hero units and the reputation bonus or rewards, goes together with the story of this world where no one knows who to trust. People are on the run, either because of the General of the Mage Knights with the refugee camps as a result.

Looks

Similar to the base game

Quality of the components

Similar to the base game

Fun

General Volkare is exactly that moving part, that screw factor, that ‘unpredictable’ force Mage Knight solo game play needed to become a less puzzle like game.
Mage Knight solo play was fun before, but now the game is awesome. The Lost Legion expansion adds more choices, more interaction, more variability. You’re playing a solo game with the sense of a real opponent. The game becomes a more intense (solo) experience.
I will not play a solo game without this expansion anymore.
Mage Knight: the Board Game is one of the best designed games I’ve ever played, but with the Lost Legion expansion, the game is even better. It is polished and shines as bright as a star.

AsaBoardGamerEssExp

 

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