Geek: Interesting take on combat card games; engrossing; fun to play; free!
Weak: Average graphics; not for everyone; not as good as some
Price: Free to play, optional in-game purchases
Fans of tabletop strategy games have an appetite that can never be sated so Minion Master, billed as a digital board game, will no doubt find plenty of fans.
Minion Master is combat card game, in the same vein as MTG, but the difference is that you’re not just playing with cards, you’re playing with creatures that interact on the playing field, making it more exciting and involving. Like most combat card games and RPGs, Minion Master is too complicated to try and explain and even watching videos will have you scratching your head so the best way to learn how to play the game is to actually play it, and the easy to follow, narrated tutorials make picking up the basics a breeze. Once you get the hang of it, the game is actually very easy to play. Each round you receive a hand of five random cards, each of which have a play and discard value – you need to build up points in order to be able to play certain cards, so you discard the ones you don’t want to build up sufficient points to play the ones you do. Once summonsed, creatures (called minions here) are autonomous and approach the enemy and attack by themselves, and you can also play cards that have will increase movement range, strength, defence and so on. There are over 30 different types of minion and over 100 modifier cards so there are countless combinations available to you when it comes to deck building and each minion has different strengths and weaknesses plus the terrain varies and affects the minion standing on it.
Another interesting twist is that when a minion dies, you take damage directly. Adding more minions to the playing field doesn’t add to your life total but it does make it much easier to die and that adds an extra element of strategy. In a game like MTG, decks that favour summoning a large number of cheap creatures can quickly overwhelm your opponent; in Minion Master, having a large number of weak minions on the playing field will more often than not mean that you will be at a disadvantage. Bear in mind that summoning a minion is not instant as such – it appears on the playing field during the action phase of the turn, but it has to travel to your opponent’s side of the playing area first, so it will take time before your horde will get there and if your opponent has a few strong minions or ones with ranged spells, you could be in trouble. The other interesting element of the game mechanics is that all players decide on what cards they want to play simultaneously, in secret, and during the action phase the game puts all your choices into play. This way you have no idea what your opponent is going to summon and what strategy they are going to take and it really keeps you on your toes.
The graphics are average and the sound effects and music are ok but the lack of flair in terms of presentation doesn’t detract from the gameplay and you will find yourself quickly absorbed in the finer points of Minion Master strategy. The 12 single player missions won’t take long to complete but it’s the online multiplayer mode, where up to six players can battle at once, is the real meat of the game and is certain to keep you playing. With the added depth of the deck builder and the ability to buy additional cards, Minion Master offers a lot of depth and you can spend a long time building your perfect deck and trying it out in battle. There are numerous combat card games out there and while Minion Master is not the best, it puts and interesting spin on the traditional format and fantasy combat card game enthusiasts would do well to give it a go.
Verdict: While not the best combat card game, Minion Master is different and fun to play plus it’s free to get started, which makes it hard to complain