A Closer Look At Minion Master For PC
When it comes to the world of tabletop and card games, prospects for new players can seem bleak. Warhammer and Magic: The Gathering are hobbies that can cost hundreds of dollars for a new player to start; nearly every card or board game on the market comes with a price tag of at least $50. These games can take hours to play – most of which is spent shuffling through pages of rules to see who is in the right. When the game is finally done, pieces and accessories must be painstakingly sorted into the right containers, packages and boxes. On top of all this, it often seems as though there is an impassable barricade between card games and board games, and never the twain shall meet.
Bitflip Games has come out with Minion Master, which seeks to challenge all of these problems inherent to the genres of board games and card games. Minion Master is, by far, the game that took me the longest to take from downloading to examining, because it is such a complex piece of work – it is impossible to sum up quickly. So, does Minion Master succeed at its goals? Are there any weaknesses to this new hybrid? And, most importantly, is it fun to play?
Minion Master seems intimidating at first, especially when you see the multiple tutorial videos on the website. However, the core mechanic is very simple. You and your opponent each have a deck of cards. You are distributed cards in your deck five at a time, and you sacrifice some cards in your deck in order to use others. The first thing a player generally wants to do is summon soldiers to the battlefield. Then they can heal or buff their units, or invoke special unit properties such as a knight calling reinforcements. This is a great gameplay hook that is easy to comprehend; I was able to get my friends into the online portion of the game with only a couple of sentences of explanation.
As with many other successful concepts, Bitflip Studios takes the core gameplay in Minion Master a step further. While there is a wide variety of pre-made cards, players are encouraged to make their own decks by mixing and matching the cards in the game. The developers are keenly aware of the possibility of broken combos, cheesy tactics, or weak decks due to underpowered cards. Bitflip Studios regards the game as a living, breathing organism to be nurtured, patched, and updated. This is a fortunate attitude for the indie studio to take: There are countless combinations of cards and combos that could potentially wreck the game if left untouched.
Bitflip maintains this care and confidence in its game across the board. The main concept of the game is set in stone, and it’s unlikely you’ll see any massive changes. The core mechanics and the way they play out in Minion Master are here to stay; don’t expect this beta to follow the path of, say, Minecraft, where huge updates change the way significant portions of the game play out. Despite this steady commitment to the core of the game, the Minion Master developers intend to add new game modes, new decks, new cards, and potentially new expansions to keep the game fresh and exciting, even to long-time veterans.
Bitflip is aware of the weaknesses and flaws in its game. Minion Master is in a very early beta, and can be acquired for the price tag of $20. The game is, in some ways, in very rough shape. There are no menus for graphics or audio, and there is no camera control over the map. This means coordinating a game with friends can be trickier than anticipated, as you have to talk over the blisteringly loud menu music. Actually viewing the battlefield takes some work. That being said, players will be glad to know that the developers have been active in the community, even hosting nights where players can play games of Minion Master with the people of Bitflip. The communication between developer and player is nearly unmatched by the competition. Bitflip is also committed to keeping the player base from imploding inwards on itself to create a toxic community, or an elitist white tower where weary veterans chase out confused newbies.
With all of this meta-discussion aside, when it comes down to it, Minion Master is some good, clean fun. The game has a distinct art style, which is an unusual achievement for a fantasy game existing in the same sphere as Warhammer, Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering, League of Legends, Dragonlance, and countless other fantasy properties. The Bitflip team worked to make sure every character or monster in this game could work as a plush doll. Minion Master’s art style benefits from this design decision; this game is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise grim, dark genre.
The gameplay leans much more heavily toward the card-game aspect than the board-game. This has strengths and weaknesses. Each unit has AI conditions they will follow. For instance, knights will move toward the longest lines of enemies to perform their lance attacks, sorceresses will attack the strongest enemy on the field, and so on. Players will be pleased by the fact that the AI never backfires on the player or ruins a game; each unit has been cleverly coded to avoid unintentionally sabotaging their masters’ success. Players who come from a background of grid-based board game combat may find themselves wishing for more tactical options on the battlefield, such as flanking, navigating through beneficial terrain, or positioning. However, these options are not present. Bitflip defends this decision as intentional, and they make a compelling argument: Removing this aspect of the board game means that games are quick, efficient and easy. Anyone who’s been on his or her feet for four hours while playing a Warhammer game can sympathize with this gameplay decision.
With the art style and gameplay combined, Minion Master looks to be a fantastic game for new players. Children and adults alike will find a love of card games and board games through its fun gameplay and quirky characters. Even the most battle-scarred veteran of the game table will be able to sink a week or two into Minion Master to explore the deck combinations in this game. However, if you’re looking for tactical control or an online substitute to your favourite war game, you might want to temper your expectations.
Minion Master is an example of a game that had clear, defined goals in both gameplay and audience and is set to meet and exceed those goals. While the $20 price tag might prove as a barrier to the uninitiated, this game will be a fantastic starting point to gamers looking to get their loved ones into these deeply nerdy genres of board/card games. The simple-to-learn, difficult-to-master games are often the ones that prove the most popular, and I look forward to seeing how Bitflip Games continues to develop Minion Master.
About This Post