Over the last few months, I have been playing more solo card and board games. Turns out there are solo games other than Solitaire!

One of the juggernauts of the solo board gaming world is Mage Knight, where you assume the role of a Mage Knight (“equally adept with sword and spell”) and try to conquer two cities within a time limit of 3 days and 3 nights. (This is the classic scenario - there are plenty others!)

You can play the game with 1-4 players, but I assume more players would lead to a lot of waiting as I tend to spend an awful amount of time planning out my turns - and I think that is really the core gameplay of Mage Knight: you got a bunch of cards, abilities and units, and you need to come up with the optimal way of spending your resources in your turn.

Anyway, my goal is not to do a typical review or try to explain the rules in full - instead I will add comments and pictures from my most recent playthrough.

Arythea arrives

Here we see my hero, Arythea the Blood Cultist, having just arrived in the Atlantean Empire through the magic portal.

Here are my starting conditions - spells and actions you can obtain, available mana, and units on offer (these are all randomly drawn).

Spells and advanced actions Units

My starting hand

More importantly, this is my starting hand. Each hero has a 16 card deck with only two slightly different cards related to that hero’s “speciality”. You start with 5 cards in your hand, but I have chosen the Great Start tactic card which gives me a one-off addition of two cards. I like this tactic for the beginning of the game as you need to move a bit before you encounter anything interesting.

The map

Here’s the map. Each tile is drawn randomly (apart from the first). I essentially have two paths I can target: to the left of the mountain there is an “orc marauder” (in this case, a Cursed Hag) between a blue crystal mine and a monastery (where you can hire certain units and buy healing - or burn the whole thing down and grab an artifact). On the right there is a different type of orc (a Wolf Rider) just next to a red crystal mine.

This is quite a good starting setup because if you end your turn on a crystal mine, you gain a crystal, which can be used for mana at any time (basically making your actions more powerful). Since you can challenge the orcs from an adjacent hex, both paths offer that option.

After looking at my cards I realise I cannot both move far enough AND kill the enemy on the latter path - and additionally the first path has the benefit of a monastery, so that’s where I’ll go. Since you can see the stats of these enemies before you engage them, you can calculate the outcome of each battle before you commit to it.

I end up using all my 7 starting cards to move to the mine (costs 5 move points), block the orc’s attack (3 block) and do enough damaage to kill him/her/it (5 attack). I worry that I use too many cards but actually this is the only thing you have available to spend this early in the game, so I think that’s absolutely fine.

My played cards

I get 3 xp from killing the orc (and +1 reputation since I’ve rid the land of this pest), which is enough to level up! For levelling up to level 2 I get a skill and an “advanced action” (one of the cards on display). I have a choice between two skills and three action cards - I pick a skill that gives me a red crystal and a red or black mana, once per round (i.e. each day or night), and Steady Tempo - a card that gives you move points but can be discarded back to your deck (normally it goes to your discard pile, so you just use each card once per round).

Spoils of war

Moving can be painful in Mage Knight so I’m very happy to get Steady Tempo - especially since it’s so early in the game. Note that the card goes on top of my draw deck so I will get it right away. I re-roll the mana dice I used from “the source” to a gold (basically a wildcard), and draw my hand for the next turn.

Second hand

In order to prevent you from taking slow turns and thus using a lot of free mana from the source, there is a “dummy” player when you play solo. All the dummy player does, is to draw three cards, and potentially some extra cards if the third matches any of his crystals - and when he has no more cards, there is one more turn and then we change from day to night (or back to day).

The dummy player

My beautiful but incorrectly proportioned mousepad for the dummy player.

When you level up, the dummy player places one of his skills in “the common offer” which means you can select this skill later in the game if you want. I am using Goldyx as the dummy hero since he has a lot of crystal-generating skills that might come in useful. Note that I also put the skill I didn’t choose in the common offer - but I cannot take it at a later stage, it’s simply gone (in a multiplayer game this skill would be available for other players).

Dummy skills

Oh - when I picked an advanced action card, I also added a new one to the offer from the advanced action deck.

Renew the offer

I also realise that I should have added an advanced action card that can only be bought/learned from a monastery - I add it now (it lives in the unit offer to differentiate it from the others - don’t worry, it makes sense, kinda).

Adding a monastery advanced action offer

I process the dummy’s turn, and then it’s me again. I ended my turn on the blue crystal mine, so I have added a blue crystal to my inventory.

Blue crystal

I use one of Arythea’s special cards, Mana Pull, which means I can get two free mana from the source. I power two move cards so I get 8 move points.

Second turn played

I am only moving to the monastery - but you can also use two move points to explore new tiles - and I am on a hex where I can explore two different tiles!

Reached the monastery

Exploring

The world opens and we can see a village in front of a mage tower and also an orc marauder next to it (this one is an Orc Summoner). On the right of the mountain: a keep and a white crystal mine.

I’m still in my movement phase, and I can add more move points if I want and am able. I add another two and move to the village.

Still moving

Since I am adjacent to the mage tower, I catch a glimpse of the mages/monsters/things living inside. Some crazy Monks, basically a slightly stronger version of the Cursed Hag.

A mage tower

I’ve used four of my 5 cards, and I decide to keep the last one (you can discard them if you like). I end my turn and re-roll the appropriate mana die and return all of them to “the source”.

The source

Then I draw my next hand. Note that this happens at the end of your round, so if you’re playing a multiplayer game, you can think about your next move while other players are taking their turns.

My third hand

I’d like to recruit the Utem Guardsmen, and they are fortunately available in the village. I need 5 influence points to convince them to join me. Fortunately I saved my Promise card (2 influence) and drew Threaten (also 2 influence). I need one more, so I use a mana die to get the greater effect from Promise. Note that I could have played any card sideways to gain 1 influence (you can do the same for move, block and basic attack - obviously normally it’s preferable to use the card for its ability, but sometimes you need just a bit extra).

Recruiting Guardsmen

Recruiting and buying counts as an action, and you can only do one action per round (movement is seperate, so movement + action). Thus I end my turn, discard my used cards, re-roll the used mana die and draw new cards up to my hand limit (5).

A new hand

What’s not covered in this write-up is the internal uhm-ing and ah-ing and many different tactical options considered. This is the heart of Mage Knight - analysing your hand and resources and debating what is the “best” way to use them. In this case it wasn’t too painful - I want to assault this mage tower because it will give me a free spell, so that’s what I’ll do!

Assaulting the mage tower

Attack!

Here’s how I do it. This mage tower is in the desert (move cost 5). I power my lovely Steady Tempo card with mana from the source (normally you can only use one die from the source in one turn), and I add one card played sideways for 1 move.

The Monks attack first, and I activate my Utem Guardsmen’s blocking skill - however they only have block 4 and the Monks attack for 5. I add Determination’s two block points to make sure the block is successful. Now, it’s my turn. I play Arythea’s 2nd special card Battle Versatility for Attack 4. I need a red mana for that and I already committed my one die from the source - however I can now make use of my skill which grants me a red crystal in my inventory and a red mana which I use to power this card. However, I need 5 attack points to kill these Monks, so I play Crystallize sideways as Attack 1.

That was easy

I have now played all of the cards in my deck. However, since I played the stronger version of Steady Tempo, I can still return it to my deck. I also re-roll the mana die and get a black mana, which is unusable during the day.

Black mana

By successfully assaulting the mage tower, I can claim one of the spells in the spell offer. I guess the mages are impressed, or something? I take Snowstorm/Blizzard and put it on top of my deck - and then draw my next hand. Guess which two cards I get?

Snowstorm

By a lucky chance (for me), there’s a rampaging orc enemy next to the mage tower, and I can challenge them from an adjacent hex. Unluckily for them, I just picked up a cool spell which gives me ranged attack. Ranged attacks can be done before the enemy attacks, and so I freeze the Orc Summoner to death with my Snowstorm before he has a chance to summon one of his monsters. Note that I had to use my blue mana crystal for the spell (good thing I picked that up at the crystal mine earlier!). I get another 4 xp and am very happy with the progress I’ve made on this first day.

This is enough xp to take me to level 3 - however on odd levels the “only” thing that happens is that you can now control another unit - no skills and no advanced action cards are gained. (Don’t underestimate the power of units, though!)

Meanwhile, in dummy land

I haven’t covered what the dummy player has been doing in much detail. He has basically been moving at his slowest speed (good for me - means more turns), but he’s finally run out of cards and thus declares the end of the round. I have another turn, but my only card is Steady Tempo, and I don’t want to use it to go back to the village (and the desert costs 5 move points, which I can’t generate). I discard the card and shuffle my whole deck - and night falls.

Experience

Here’s where I am after the first day: 11 xp and slightly up on the reputation tracker, which is very good progress, if I may say so myself. Another 4 xp and I’ll be on level 4!

At this stage there is a bunch of admin and resetting to do: the unit offer is replaced, the spell and advanced action offer loses one card and has new ones added at the top. Each player’s deck needs to be shuffled, and the dummy gains a card and a crystal (essentially making it more likely that he will play through his deck slightly faster).

Also, your units are reset (they can only be used once per day or night).

Looks like I didn’t take a picture of my first hand of the first night - but I did take one of the cards I played; I did another move-heavy round where I moved to the end of the desert and explored two new tiles (total cost: 7 move poins). Gotta say I was very happy to draw Steady Tempo so early in the round - if I play it right I can re-use it a few times!

My first hand in the night

We explore some more of this strange land:

Exploring

Ah! We have another mage tower just behind some more rampaging orcs. And to our right there is another village and a magic glade in the forest. The glade can give you a free mana and heal one of your hero’s wounds if you end your turn there.

Since I have still not done an action (remember, movement is separate to actions like recruitment or attacking), and there is suddenly an orc straight in front, I decide to challenge it.

I can block the orc Wolf Riders with my Utem Guardsmen, and I have a Rage card to attack with - but I need a red mana to get enough attack to kill it. Aha - since it’s now a new round, my mana-generating skill has also been reset! I get a crystal to my inventory and a mana to power Rage, and the orc is dead.

The only disappointing thing is that the 3 xp is not enough to level up.

I re-roll the mana die I used and return them all to the source (the card I used means I could choose a colour for two of these dice and not roll it at the end of the turn - again some tactical options were considered before I committed to these specific two colours).

Updated source

Then I draw my next hand (note the Utem Guardsman have a token on top of them to indicate that they have been used this round).

More cards

I decide not to pursue the second mage tower - it’s a bit too isolated between the lakes. Instead, I want to explore more what’s around the keep. I use a mana from the source to power my Concentration card which gives the stronger effect +2 of another card - Steady Tempo in this case.

Concentration

That means a total of 6 move points, which I use to move next to the keep and to explore another tile.

Keeps

Another keep next to the keep! Also some ancient ruins with some kind of altar. Unfortunately I can’t see what’s inside the keep nor the ruins (if it was day I would have been able to).

I re-roll the green mana into a red…

Re-roll the used mana die

… and draw my next hand:

My next hand

In Mage Knight, there are two different types of tiles: countryside and core tiles. Some core tiles have cities in the middle - when you prepare a game you will add different quantities depending on the scenario. However, the core tiles are always at the bottom of the randomised pile - which means you will have to explore all the countryside tiles first.

I realised that I had alread explored all the countryside tiles, and I decided to try to explore one more. First, this gives you access to more powerful units when they are refreshed at the end of the round, but more importantly, if I happen to explore a city-tile, that will give me some very useful information to help prepare for the city assault!

I have enough Move points (4) to move one hex and explore, and what do I find?

Exploring

The blue city! Since it’s the first city I’ve discovered, it will be at level 5 (this is determined by the scenario) - essentially this dictates how many units (and of which types) will defend the city. Also on this tile is a monastery and a DRAGON - basically a much more challenging rampaging enemy. I like how it’s perched on top of the mountain overlooking the city!

Well, I happen to be in a village, and I have some cards that can generate influence points - let’s recruit another unit!

Recruitment

Since I’ve killed a bunch of orcs, I’ve gained enough repuation for it to have an effect - I get a free influence point each turn! That does make a difference as I don’t need to use a crystal on Improvisation. I hire the Utem Crossbowmen.

Reputation

That’s the end of my turn. New hand:

New hand

Meanwhile, the dummy player is down to a single card. That is fine - he will need to be completely empty before he will declare the end of the round.

Dummy progress

Now, in order for me to peek at the city’s defences, I need to be next to it. I really want this information, but it also seems a bit passive to not do more in my turn. I start hatching a plan. Could I … could I defeat that High Dragon? First I move closer to the city.

A High Dragon

I gather the very useful details about the city’s defences:

The Blue City

The city is defended by some Gunners, some Fire Mages and some Monks. It looks like a challenge I am not yet ready for.

Now… the dragon has a cold fire attack of 6 which is doubled if not blocked (brutal!). He’s got armour of 9 and he is resistant to any other attack than good old physical attacks (resistant means that other attacks, like fire and ice, are halved).

I’ve already used my Utem Guardsmen, and I don’t have blue mana for the Snowstorm spell. Hmmm. I tally the numbers and decide to go for it. Here’s what I play:

Attack!

Here’s the result:

The result

Annoyingly, I cannot generate more than 8 Ranged Attack, and so I have to endure the Dragon’s attack before I can attack back with “standard” attacks (combined with Ranged Attacks).

I decide not to block the dragon, and just take the damage to my hero.

Yikes. I take four wound cards from the High Dragon’s cold/hot breath. Wound cards clog your hand and makes it harder to get stuff done (and you can’t choose to discard them for free). However - I did have enough attack to kill the dragon and I get 9 xp, which takes me up a level and very close to an additional level-up!

Levelling up

For killing the dragon I also get two increases in reputation! I now get two free influence points per round when interacting with locals!

I also pick a new skill - a +2 physical or fire attack which is usable every turn.

New skill

And I pick an advanced action - the recently added Blood Rage. Thus my next hand looks like:

Late night hand

I need to get rid of some of these wounds. There is a special action you can do called a “rest turn”. That enables you to discard any number of wounds as long as you also discard one non-wound card. Note that these cards are still part of your deck - they’re just not in your hand.

I discard two wounds along with Blood Rage. I keep two because I know I haven’t yet drawn my healing card this round…

My last hand this night

And sure enough, there it is! Meanwhile, dummy declares end of the round. I have one more turn to get rid of some wounds.

I can use Tranquility to heal one wound (e.g. throw it away from my hand). I don’t have a green mana so I can’t boost it to get rid of two. However! I can use my move card to move to the village, and in the village I can buy one healing for three influence. I can generate one influence from playing my other move card sideways… and my reputation gives me two! Score!

Note that I still have two wounds in my discard pile, and these will be shuffled into my deck for the next round - but two wounds are a lot more manageable than four…

Healing in village

And here is the explored map after one day and one night:

Updated map

I reset the various offers again. Updated view (note there are two advanced actions cards in the unit offers as I’ve discovered another monastery - and also observe that we now have some level three units in the unit offer since I have explored a core tile):

New spell and advanced action offer New unit offer

Re-rolling the source - one of the mana dice comes out as black - which is unusable during the day (boo).

New source

An updated look at the dummy player - he’s got three green and two blue crystals in his inventory. It basically means a 50/50 chance of him doing fast or slow turns since cards have four different colours. Also note that I have picked the Planning tactic card for this round, which means I can have one more card in my hand as long as I have at least two cards in my hand when I draw.

An updated look at the dummy

I decide to assault the nearby keep. Since it’s day again, the defender will be revealed when I am standing next to it, so I can calculate the battle before committing to it. With my newly readied units, I’ll probably be OK.

Peek at the keep

Here’s how I do it: I block the Crossbowmen’s attack with my Utem Guardsmen, and kill them with Blood rage (2) and my attack skill (2). Also the keep is on a hill which costs 3 move points, and there is a plains I have to cross first (2) so I play a mana-powered March (4) and regular Swiftness (2) to get there. In my hand I keep a wound and Stamina, which means I can draw one additional card for my next turn.

Assaulting the keep

Success! I also gain a level, which means I can command yet another unit. My hand size also increases by one with this level-up!

Success

Unfortunately my mana die re-roll results in another black mana (boo)!

Another black mana in the source

I draw my hand for the next turn. I can draw one more card since I now own one keep and am standing in (or adjacent to) it (looks like I missed this during the play, though).

My second hand

I am next to another keep, and I can peek at their defenses: some Guardsmen. I decide to assault this keep as well!

I keep assaulting

I use my crossbowmen to block, and then I kill the Guardsmen with my attack skill and a boosted Improvisation - I choose to discard my Snowstorm to play Improv because I don’t have blue mana anyway. I do need red mana to boost Improv though - but fortunately I have a skill for that! I also gain a red crystal for my inventory - I now have three!

Each time you assault a fortified location, you lose one reputation, which means I no longer have the +2 influence bonus. I’m steadily gaining xp, though!

More xp

Suddenly my hand size has grown really large: I have a base hand size of 6, +1 for the Planning tactic and +2 for owning two keeps (and being near one). 9 cards!

This day's third hand

I decide to explore a new tile.

Exploring another tile

…and then I use my action to recruit a unit from the keep I now own. I use Stamina (hidden under Threaten) to get the move points for the exploration, and regular Threaten (2), boosted Promise (4), a sideways Stamina (1) and my +1 reputation to recruit the Ice Golems.

Recruiting Ice Golems

Then I re-roll the mana die. Better not be black…

Re-rolling mana die

My next hand is again a nine-card beast, although I do draw my 2nd wound.

Another big hand

First, let’s move! I boost March and play regular Steady Tempo for a total of 6 move. I spend them moving to the Ancient Ruins (next to the keep - see the map from earlier which costs 3 Move due to them being on a hill.

Moving to the Ancient Ruins

And then I pay 2 move to explore another tile.

Exploring again

And it’s the 2nd city! This one is level 8 which means it will be quite challenging to assault… There is also a keep right in front of the city.

Now, the Ancient Ruins I’m on offers an optional side-quest: I may enter the Ruins and fight two monsters (one white, one grey). If I win, I will get a Spell from the spell offer and also an Artifact! That sounds like a great opportunity to me, although I will not know which creatures I will fight before the fight starts… let’s take our chances!

Entering the Ancient Ruins

Flip them to see what we are facing:

Encountering the guardians of the Ancient Ruins

Wow! Some Freezers (a warrior with a freezing attack that can outright kill units by paralyzing them), and some traditional Guardsmen. Now, let’s fight the two of them simultaneously!

Facing two units

Hmm… I can’t kill ‘em both in one turn. Fortunately I don’t have to - they will remain on this hex until someone kills ‘em and claims the prize.

First, I quickly kill the Freezers with ranged attack. I use a crystal to power Battle Versatility to get Ranged Attack 3. Then I use Mana Pull to be able to use a black mana as any colour (green) and use that mana to power Concentration, which is an excellent card that gives +2 to whatever the strongest effect of another card is. In this case I play Swiftness which gives my Ranged Attack 3 - with the +2 that’s Ranged Attack 5. In total we get Ranged Attack 8 which is more than enough to kill the Freezers before they can attack!

I choose not to block the Guardsmen and instead let the Ice Golems take the damage since they are resistant to physical attacks. Since the attack (3) is not higher than their armour (4), they aren’t damaged and they don’t even have to activate to do this. Excellent trait!

Ignore the stuff at the top of the picture - I did not use my Ice Golems, my attack skill and Crystallize.

Re-roll the mana … oh no.

Black mana again

In better news, the 7 xp from the Freezers is enough to level up! Another skill and advanced action, here we go!

Levelling up again!

I pick a skill that lets you discard a wound or action card and gain a certain types of mana, once per turn. My other choice was a skill that lets you play a wound sideways for 2 points, once per turn. Arythea has a few skills that lets her make her wounds useful.

New skill

I also take Mana Storm from the advanced action offer, and draw my new hand. My deck is all out of cards, so I “only” get a hand of 8 cards, including my new Mana Storm (there are still two wounds in there).

Drawing another hand

How is the dummy player going?

Dummy status

Down to his last card! That means I have another three turns before night falls.

Mana Storm lets you re-roll all the dice in the source and use three extra dice this turn. That’s perfect, but I need a white crystal. Let’s get one by using my new skill! I choose to sacrifice Transquility even though that could help me heal my wounds…

Mana Storm

I have unfinished business. I attack the remaining Guardsmen. I again let them attack without blocking, and use my Ice Golem’s resistance to avoid wounds. Then I kill them with my attack skill (2), a mana-die boosted Rage (4) and Determination (2).

Cleaning up the Ancient Ruins

Yey, that’s another 3 xp, but more importantly: a spell and an artifact!

My first artifact

When you get an artifact as a reward, you actually draw two and choose one. Which one do I want - the Book of Wisdom or the Amulet of Darkness?

New hand with artifact

The rewards go on top of my deck and thus straight into my next hand!

I also re-roll the used mana dice.

Re-rolled source

I only have three non-wound cards in my hand, but I will try to make the most out of them. I decide to assault the next keep, and choose to play both my new cards sideways to get 2 move points. That way I don’t need to use my Steady Tempo, and I can use that in my final turn instead.

I use my Ice Golem to absorb the unblocked attack from the Golems, and then use a mana die from the source to boost my Ice Golem’s attack. The defender is resistant to physical attacks, but my Ice Golem has Ice Attack 6 which the defender was not prepared for at all.

Assault again

I do get a bit more xp and now own another keep! I am now adjacent to the white city and thus I can have a look at their defences.

The White City

Alright, we have two Freezers, some Altem Guardsmen and a Golem. Looks like a challenge!

With only one action card and two wounds, I decide to make the most of it and power Steady Tempo with a mana die from the source.

Steady Tempo

I use two move points to move to the plains and another two to explore the final tile. There is a mage tower next to me, and thus I get to peek at what’s inside:

Mage tower defenders

Ice Mages!

And thus ends the second day. I reset all the offers, and my units who are ready for battle again.

New spell and advanced action offers New unit offer

Finally I draw a new hand. I’m next to one of my keeps and I therefore draw 9 cards.

New hand

As you might have spotted, I have decided to assault the mage tower. It sits in a swamp which has move cost of 5, so I need both a boosted Stamina (4) and March (2) to get there.

I decide to not block the Ice Mages’ attack, and just let the poor Utem Guardsman take the damage. Their armour is 5, equal to the Ice Mages’ attack, which means no damage remains for myself. This renders the Utem Guardsmen useless until healed, but don’t worry - I have a plan!

I use my new skill to discard a wound to get a red mana, which I then use to boost Blood Rage, giving me attack 4. Added to my attack skill (2) this is enough to defeat the Ice Mages.

Since I have successfully assaulted a mage tower, I get a spell! Arythea looks… happy?

Happy

I choose a spell called Call to Arms/Call to Glory which I immediately draw to my next hand (note I am no longer next to a keep so my hand limit is now only 6 cards!).

Second hand this day

I’m at a mage tower and I want to recruit one of their units: some Ice Mages just like the ones I just defeated in battle. I need 9 influence, so I use my mana-generating skills, discarding Tranquility yet again.

Recruiting Ice Mages

Then I draw another hand.

Another hand

As mentioned before, a lot of planning happens that isn’t explicitly called out in this writeup. This is one of those occations, although I just explicitly called it out so I guess it isn’t.

Anyway, what I mean is I spent an age debating what to do next. And what I came up with, was this:

First I cast Call to Glory, which enables me to recruit one unit for free! I disband the wounded Utem Guardsmen, and recruit the Altem Guardians in their place.

Then I generate 6 move via a boosted Concentration played with Stamina:

On the move

The move takes me … back to the recently visited keep?

Back to the keep

Arythea is looking menacingly at the white city. That’s right, I’ve decided to jump in and deal with the greatest challenge right away!

I draw my keep-expanded hand and calculate my options. I already know which units are defending the city, so now it’s just a puzzle waiting to be solved (although I might not have enough attack to take out all the units in a single assault).

After an incredible amount of planning, here’s what I play:

City assault

First I use my artifact to exchange March with Ambush. I then play my new spell, Demolish, which means site fortifications are ignored this turn - and all enemies lose 1 armour (which cancels out the city’s bonus of +1 armour).

Ambush gives +1 to the first attack or block card of the turn, which happens to be Snowstorm - a +1 bonus I didn’t actually need, as the 5 Ranged Ice Attack is enough to bring down the Golem anyway.

My Ice Golems will use their ice resistance to avoid the damage from the first Freezer, and the Ice Mages will similarly resist the second Freezer. This is great because that means they can still use their skills later in the attack (if they were wounded they could not).

The last unit, the Altem Guardsmen, I don’t block at all - which means I take two wounds to my hand.

Then my units and I attack back:

City assault continued

I bundle the two Freezers and use my Utem Crossbowmen (3), my attack skill (2), crystal-boosted Improvisation (5) and crystal-boosted Rage (4) for a total of 14, killing them both.

The Altem Guardsmen are resistant to all types of attack, so I need 14 attack just to kill them. I throw all my remaining units at them, along with Determination (2): Altem Guardians (5), Ice Golems (3) and Ice Mages (4) for a total of 14!

I manage to take the whole city in a single turn, albeit at the cost of two wounds and three red crystals. I used all my units and almost all my cards - I have a single Swiftness left in my hand. Epic stuff!

A city conquered

I get an additional 26 xp(!) to add to my existing 48, which means I level up again.

Lots of xp

I take Ice Bolt as my advanced action card, and a skill that lets me use opposite mana as a substitute (red to blue etc). Might come in handy.

I draw a new hand - I’m still next to a keep so I can draw up to 9. It’s my last turn this round.

Yet another hand

(not pictured: two wounds)

I look at the map and realise I can take on the nearby Swamp Dragon!

Another dragon!

I move with Steady Tempo and shoot down the Swamp Dragon before he can attack with two mana-powered Swiftness (I get the mana from Mana Pull) and one mana-powered Battle Versatility (I get the mana from discarding a wound via my skill). The dragon never saw what was coming and I get another 7 xp and two more reputation!

Attacking a dragon

At this point I’ve done the hard bit; all that remains is to dance to the blue city and kick down its walls. But remember, that’s “only” a level 5 city, and I have a full day and night to do it.

I reset all the offers etc and draw a new hand (I missed the rule that you can also draw extra cards when next to a city where you are the leader).

First hand of the final day

It’s a bit of a walk so I better get going.

Walking

This only takes me next to the mage tower, but at least we’re on the way.

The map

However I am also next to one of my keeps, so I get +3 hand limit!

Big hand energy

I play two boosted move cards and play Tranquility sideways (yet again!). 9 move is all I need to get next to the city.

More walking

Back to the Blue City

I play another move card (Ambush) and assault the city. Each city gives its defenders a special bonus - the blue one gives any units with fire/ice/cold fire attacks a stronger attack. Of course my luck is such that two of the three units come with fire attacks…

Final city assault

Regardless, I’m pretty confident as I have all my units ready, and I also drew Demolish which means I can remove the city’s fortification before attacking, which enables me to use Ranged Attacks.

Here’s how I play:

How to attack a city

First, I cast Demolish, which gives all the enemies -1 armour and removes the fortification status.

I use Ice Bolt with the +1 bonus to kill the Fire Mages before they can light a match.

The Utem Crossbowmen and Ranged Attack from Battle Versatility takes down the Gunners before they can pull the trigger.

The Altem Guardians use their blocking skill to block the Monks, which are then destroyed by my Ice Mages (looks like I forgot about the -1 armour and thus also played Crystallize sideways for 1 Attack).

I use all my mana-boosting skills and also the new polarisation skill which means I can use a red mana to boost Ice Bolt. Yey, utilisation!

With victory assured, I have one more turn to try and improve my total score for this game. With two wounds in my hand, I might try to get rid of them. Or maybe hire a final unit?

I draw these cards:

Final hand

Behind the city there is a monastery, which offers both healing and unit recruitment! I go there and spend all my cards on influence, for a total of 10. I spend 6 of them on an advanced action card (Song of Wind) and 4 points to buy 2 Healing points which means I can get rid of my two wounds!

That’s it, the game is over and I have successfully taken down the two cities. Final score is calculated according to the rules of the scenario. It doesn’t matter that much, but for reference my total was 210, which is a new personal record! Woop!

On reflection, I think the crucial moments of the game were:

  • getting Steady Tempo so early. I used that card 11 times!
  • deciding to kill that first dragon. Sure, I took four wounds, but it gave me lots of xp and I was able to manage the wounds.
  • assaulting and conquering the white city when I did. It looked too hard but with four units you have a lot of options to play with!
  • Demolish was another important card as I was lucky enough to have available for both my city assaults, and it made a difference! I wanted to use its stronger version to kill the Altem Guardsmen, but in the end I had enough to hack through their resistances.

Note that every game will have a few “vital” cards that you picked up at the right time. This time it was Steady Tempo and Demolish, but next time it will likely be something else. And that’s why Mage Knight is extremely replayable!

Thanks for reading, I hope it sounded as fun and exciting as it was to play!

update: I was reading through the official FAQ and released I made a mistake: the Demolish spell’s -1 Armour does NOT apply to monsters with Fire Resistance. That would have made a difference and maybe I would have needed another turn to take down the first city. Oh well, you live and learn!