Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Game Overview: Magnifico

I mentioned previously that there were three new games sprung on us at GenCon - I already discussed Dice Town. The second of these games was Magnifico.

On Wednesday evening, my wife and I borrowed this game (and the third one), and took them back to the hotel room to learn the rules so that we could demo them effectively on Thursday.

This one was mine to learn. I read through the rules, but was too tired to make sense of it.

Too tired? Before GenCon even started?

Yes. You see, on Tuesday evening, the Asmodee team went out for dinner together. As we do every year. We had a great time, but we didn't get back to the hotel room until after midnight. Then we spent Wednesday setting the booth up, which is where the new games appeared. The dealer's room during setup is hot. Very hot - as in "they don't bother with air conditioning" hot. And setup is a lot of physical labor.

So after that, we were exhausted. And I couldn't make sense of the Magnifico rules. So they had to wait. After I played it, I regretted having waited.

On the face of it, Magnifico resembles Risk - moreso than any game I've played in the last few years. How does it resemble Risk? Plastic armies conquering territory. Six-sided dice for combat resolution. A colorful map. Yep, that's it.

How is it different?
1) Auction Phase. Players bid on blueprints for tanks and airplanes that they can build. Players also bid on art and unit upgrades.

2) Income. In Risk, you gain income based solely on how much territory you control, and that income is all new armies. In Magnifico, your income is based on territory held and your castles, and that income is money. Army growth is simple: Do you hold a territory? Place an additional unit there.

3) Expansion. In Magnifico, you spend money to build Tanks and Airplanes, you spend your money to develop upgrades for your units, you spend money to upgrade your fortification, and you spend money to attack.

... wait. What? You spend money to attack?

That's right. You can't just attack anyone you want to attack. You have to spend 10 Ducats to attack an unoccupied territory, and you have to spend 30 Ducats to attack an opponent.

4) Multiple unit types. There are infantry, tanks, and aircraft. Each uses their own set of rules when attacking, as well. Infantry is straightforward - each hit rolled on the die inflicts one hit on the enemy. These hits are then reduced by the fortification level of the defender, and casualties are removed. Each tank rolls multiple dice and does a certain number of hits (reduced by fortification, of course). Aircraft work similarly to tanks, but they can ignore fortification when they attack.

Didn't I mention the fortifications?

Your castles serve as factories (each castle and build one Tank or Airplane per turn), but also help protect your infantry when you are attacked. Since all casualties are taken out of the infantry, this is potentially huge. And you can upgrade your castles. Every tower increases the number of hits your castle absorbs by one.

Oh - and since the Tanks and Airplanes can be captured, they are cast in a neutral color. If I attack with three infantry and two tanks, and you kill my infantry, my tanks become your tanks.

5) Victory Conditions. Risk plays until there is a sole survivor. Magnifico plays until someone has 30 Victory Points. Victory points are scored by winning the auction at the beginning, having the most territory, having the most castles, having the most DaVinci cards in play, and so on. In practice, the game plays in about an hour.

The game has a surprising amount of depth - the unit upgrades can swing a game, and knowing what upgrades you want can make a huge difference in the auction. Aggressive players need to bid enough to get what they want, but can't bid too much or else they won't be able to afford their attacks.

This is a good game - it's a solid game, and I liked it very much - but it wasn't the best new game in the booth.

No comments:

Post a Comment