Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Krosmaster Arena - A Highly Addictive Collectible Miniatures Game

I first caught Krosmaster Arena when it was on Kickstarter in March. It looked amazing, with large chibi-style painted miniatures and little cardboard paper craft-style trees and boxes. It oozed coolness, and I hope, hope, hoped it was going to be a solid game. And even more, I hope, hope, HOPED it was going to stick around. It's a collectible miniatures game with a ton of promise, and we've seen plenty of collectible games come and go.

A few weeks later, I got to check it out in person at Pax East and it looked as good, if not better, in person. I still had not gotten a chance to play, and time passed by.

Finally last week, after picking it up at a local Black Friday sale, we are able to dive into Krosmaster Arena and see what it was all about.

Before we had a chance to dive in, we had to trek through the decent sized rulebook. This can sometimes be a chore and skipping around can lead to a terrible first game experience, but the Krosmaster rulebook does it right. Each 2 page spread has a tutorial / explanation of rules on the left side, and a map that you play on top of on the right side. As you flip the page, new rules are added on the left and another (pretty solid) game is played on the right. There are 7 of these in total, giving you about 2 hours of the most fun lessons you'll ever learn without feeling like you were learning anything! It's an amazing way to teach a game, and I hope others take note.

Another interesting part of the rulebook is how they reveal the cards very slowly. At first it just shows the most important, basic details. Then by game 3 the card image has expanded to show much more. Then by game 5 or so, you are working with the full card.

As for the actual gameplay, this is a tactical battle game. Think chess with cool characters and lots of unique abilities. You play as 4 characters trying to remove all GG points from your opponent. They can be removed by defeating their characters (each has a GG value at the top), or by saving up money and buying them. There's much more to it than that, but it's all presented in a very basic and simple way where everything is super clean and makes perfect sense. I really have to hand it to them for the execution of the game production. It's also a lot of fun in that each character plays very different than each other. Some drop little Tofus that you can control as well. Others have the ability to swap places. This, mixed with the order of events (determined by each characters initiative number) makes for some really intense planning.

Recently I've heard Krosmaster Arena referred to as "the next Heroscape". Heroscape was a game that molded me into who I am today. You could buy tons of sets of characters, with tons of environment pieces and basically play a game of Lego meets Magic: The Gathering meets Dungeons and Dragons. It sadly faded away and I'm happy to say that Krosmaster does fill most of the gap. Krosmaster replaces it in the collectibility and the quality. It's a very solid battle game, where you can choose an army and play in a whole new way than you've ever played before. Where it's lacking is the creativity side. In Heroscape, you made your own maps. This was a huge part of the appeal. In Krosmaster, you have two boards to work with, but beyond that the world is pretty static. Each figure 4 pack comes with a unique small paper map, but that doesn't compare to the customization of Heroscape. I'm hoping this is introduced in the future.

The next Krosmaster set (a full big box winter themed set named Frigost) is on Kickstarter now. If you spend a few hundred dollars, you will be swimming in Krosmaster figures… which I would love to be doing. It's fun, addictive and very well done.

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