Designer – Miles Ratcliffe
Art – Roger Barnett, David Inker and Miles Ratcliffe
UK Games Expo 2011 unearthed a number of new releases by various companies and that is great to see. Clearly the great British desire to invent and create is alive and well in the board games industry. I conducted a number of video demos for the UK Gaming Media Network and one of them was with young Miles Ratcliffe, 18, who had designed a game called Medieval Mastery and set his own company up to sell it. I was pretty impressed by this as its tough enough for us oldies to design and sell games let alone a young whippersnapper!
Well, Medieval Mastery is a for 2-6 players aged 10+ and involves players in the roles of feudal Kings warring over their lands. You will need to send your knights forth to do battle across various types of terrain , whilst managing resources that are available to you.
The game board is made up of a number of terrain tiles which are set up randomly enabling you to have a different set up each game and more tiles according to how many players are playing.You are provided with a set of cards which give you conflict and support strength as well as resources and artifacts which can further help you against the enemy. Lastly, the pips on the dice provided represent your knights. The quality of the cards and dice are fine. The artwork on the box is fine and on the cards and tiles, is effective, appearing as sketches of the relevant terrain, artefacts, etc. The tiles are rather thin though. For a starter game, this is perfectly acceptable but to compete with the large variety of games set in the same genre, the next version would need more robust tiles and probably full colour tiles.
This is a relatively simple gateway or entry level game and is centred upon conflict. The aim for the players is to be the first to conquer 13 points worth of territories (each tile has a value). The dice are used to track the number of knights placed in a territory or castle. Each player has their own set of cards and dice. During the turn they can advance knights onto adjacent tiles by placing a die from your reserve indicating the number of knights which you are advancing up to a maximum of 6. The tile entered must be able to trace a connected path of knights back to your castle. If an occupied tile is cut off (in other words, there are no adjacent tiles which are connected back to your castle) you cannot advance out of that tile until it is reconnected. Basically this is a basic supply line rule.
Battles occur when knights are advanced into an enemy occupied territory. Battles are fought by by playing Conflict cards with the highest strength played, winning. They can add modifiers from artefacts and add strength with Support cards. They also factor in terrain effects for the tile. Lastly, players may choose to play Resource cards as they deem fit which have different effects. If the attacking player wins, they conquer the territory being fought over. Casualties are taken by the losing side reducing the number on the die involved. Ties are a defender victory.
Not a complex game, pretty easy to get into. Managing your card hand is important to get the most value of your cards. The movement and capture of territory through battles works pretty well.
Did it work for me?
At first pass, this game appears to be a bit cheap and cheerful but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the mechanics held together well. All in all, this is a nice gateway game and 18 year old Miles Ratcliffe has done a credible job in his first design. The game turn moves along quickly and I like that the games scales from 2-6 by adding to and changing the layout of the map. An upgraded version with thicker tiles and full colour art would do it further justice. Medieval Mastery is a light, fun game and definitely suited to those who like straightforward and uncomplicated conflict. It is not going to set the world alight but it would be a nice addition to your game collection. I look forward to further designs from Miles.
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