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The Master of Magic Board game Dilema

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

As some of you probably know, I have a master of magic board game in design and I now reached a point where I have a dilema between 2 game vision and I want to get player's opinion to know what they would really want.

The objectives of what I have currently beign working on is a game that allow the management of world wide empire, that include all possible features and that is flexible enought to be infinitely expanded to allow the incorporation of new concepts not previously tought.

After many years of work, I think I would have designed a working game core consisting of 5 different aspects which each has a victory condition of their own.

Civilization, Military, Empire, Sorcery and Diplomacy.

This system could easily be transposed as a Civilization or Master of Orion theme by simply changing the concepts but keeping the same rule system:

Civ: Civilization, Militaty, Culture, Technology, Diplomacy
MOO: Colonies, Military, Government, Technology, Diplomacy

Everything is good so far.


Now, I have taken a step back and what makes master of magic interesting is the fact of beign a powerful wizard capable of influencing the world. In the design above, magic is much more limited due to the hight level of abstraction. For example, you do not cast spells. Spells are all like permanent enchantment that affect all the world like the rest of the buildings and assets. So it somewhat lose it's charm of greatness and superiority MOM had.

Also sorcery occupy 1/5 th of the game's concept while in MOM, it could be considered as a 2 concept game: Civ vs Magic. So to get the feeling of beign a wizard, I should strengten up the importance of magic. While the 5 concepts above would work well for a civ or MOO game because you want to offer multiple path to victory. In master of magic, there are multiple ways to victory, but magic is some sort of trumph suit that is not present in the other 2 game design. Magic is often compared to technology, but tech does not have that "use on demand" feeling, but rather an "Permanent upgrade" feeling. Magic is more an impulsive use (You piss me off ... Fireball!) than an upgrade.


So another approach is to use a smaller scale game that does not cover the whole world to reduce the abstraction level and make it more personnal. This is a method used by some recent civilization game like the one from fantasy flight games and clash of culture board game. Age of wonders video game also used this method.

The idea would be to have some sort of local map with various locations connected by roads where cities can be built or that can be occupied by wilderness. Each additional player would increase the size of the map. I might not be able to use mirror world, but I still think it could be possible to connect 2 world part together (for example: there are a limited nb of towers: 1-3)

I'll will probably be using a deck building game for the spell mechanics where spells are cast by playing cards from your hand. I would try to make all special powers and abilities as spell, while civ management will use only values and common abilities. So magic will add the flavor and uniqueness to the game.

It might also be easier to include more storytelling element to the game since each location is more detailed and could hold some special events to resolve. Could end up with something similar to RuneBound or Arkham Horror regarding adventuring.

The design might not be infinitely expandable, it depends on how I will develop it, but you'll have the feeling of beign a powerfull wizard capable of influencing ... your local part of the world.


So my question is, what do you prefer?

Method A:

Pro: Cover the whole world, Infinite expanbility, can include any fantasy thematic concept
Con: Magic does not really trumph the game but is just another way to upgrade your civilization.

Method B:
Pro: More personal empire managment, research and spell casting possible.
Con: Less expandable, include less features and only affect a local area of the world

For what I understand, master of magic video game allows to make it possible to have a contrast between details and abstraction since you can manage individual cities in a world wide empire, but we all know that a civ video game has much less cities than what a real world would have. There is also much more buildings in a real city than what a city have in game. But this contrast makes it harder to transpose as board games.

Corsaire's picture
Joined: 06/27/2013
Know little of your design

I am not familiar with your overall design; so, am responding just to the content here.

I would think designing your MoM game with victory point based victory conditions would significantly enhance your options. I'm not even following the sorcery balance issue. I'd assume magic is the tool I use to achieve my other objectives. Maybe I could get some bonus points for securing some magical artifact or another, but personally I'd rather have magic subservient to the means of winning.

To go small and add storytelling defies that sense of replayability, exploration, and world conquest that are the bread and butter appeal of these games.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
The idea of victory point

The idea of victory point system was integrated in case the game could not be finished, you take the player with most points so far. But in method "A" design, there are 5 ways to win the game and one of thme must be completely achieved to win and end the game.

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