Friday, February 21, 2014

Birth of a Knight (Magic Realm with the Kids)

I busted out my physical copy of Magic Realm last night and while my 10 year old was buried in a video game, I asked my 7 year old, Dan, if he would help me set the game up. He had seen the game before and knew that it had cool tiles, tons of neat character pictures and three trays full of pieces, so he was intrigued. We cleared off the dining room table and went to work.

First thing was to choose what 3 characters would venture into the Realm. While I started organizing chits, Dan spread the character cards out across the table and contemplated each champion's picture. Ultimately, he picked three of the toughest, most iconic characters in the game, the White Knight, the Sorcerer, and the Berzerker.

Next came building the board. I explained to Dan how each piece needed to touch at least two others, have all the roads connecting, and be able to trace a path back to the Borderland. He is good at puzzles and so he picked this up pretty quickly and we had a legal board in about 10 minutes.

I handled the rest of the board setup while Dan got the pieces for our three heroes... a task made easy by the distinctive symbols on the back of each character's chits. A few minutes and he was ready, and a few minutes after that, the board was complete and we ventured into the Realm.

The Berzerker spent a day trading and hiring at the Inn and managed to get a hireling. He then headed off to the nearest possible treasure sites in search of fortune and glory. The Ruins contained the Statue, but the prospect of battling the slimy imp over a few meager treasures and a couple of spells did not interest our Viking Steamroller.

Instead, he crawled cautiously into the Crag and managed to find the Lost Castle!! Unfortunately, instead of rich treasure sites filled with slow, tremendous monsters, the Berzerker saw only red... chits that is. The Lost Castle tile had 5 red sound chits and no treasure sites. Fortunately, the monster roll called for a couple of giants to appear, and only one in the clearing of the hidden Berzerk.

So Dan and I set up our first combat and we talked about intersecting and undercutting. I am almost certain that he found combat confusing. I am guessing that it didn't help that a hidden Berzerker is a guaranteed kill of a giant. Still, he sort of hung with it -- after all, the monster and weapon counters are awesome!!! And the Berzerker was first to score fame and notoriety.

The Sorcerer also managed to hire one Rogue from the Inn and headed out in search of adventure. After a few days, he found himself in the Borderland, searching for the Cairn. Unfortunately, before the treasure site could be located and looted, a war band of axe-wielding goblins appeared and made camp in the clearing.

The Sorcerer managed to escape into a nearby valley. From there, he formulated a risky plan to destroy the goblins and reclaim the Cairn. He alerted his Fiery Blast spell, hid a couple of times, and reentered the clearing without the foolish goblins noticing him.

Our second battle was a little more interesting. The hidden Sorcerer would take a free shot with his alerted spell. The spell would hit all of the goblins, but each attack would be subject to the dreaded missile roll -- 2d6 and on a "6" (on either die), the missile's damage would not kill the target. I told Dan about the missile table, and our chances, and the fact that if too many goblins lived, the Sorcerer might have a hard time. However, luck was with us! 4 of the 6 goblins died in the conflagration, leaving only 2 for the Sorcerer and his rogue accomplice to finish off.

The White Knight was the most interesting for Dan because he was the one making all the final decisions, writing the moves and making the rolls. We talked a bit about the common opening move of trading the Knight's great sword for a morning star, and Dan thought that was a good idea. Unfortunately, the dice were not with him and so, after a day of failed trades, he decided to head to the nearby Deep Woods to find his fortune.

And fortune was there to find! He reveals the Pool in the Deep Woods. The Pool is very dangerous for the White Knight because the Tremendous Octopus that lives there is very hard to hit and tiring to dodge. He could slay the octopus, but could also end up fatiguing and being drowned in the pool. Dan decided to risk it, but to hide twice a day, just to be sure.

To his delight, he managed to locate the Pool, and draw out several treasures without seeing the dreaded Octopus. Each draw was tiring the Knight, but his Health advantage kept him in fighting shape. Four days later, he decided to take his loot back to the Order, sell it, and buy that cool morning star and the 7 League Boots!!

The White Knight then made the long trek in search of his next adventure... which unfortunately, was bedtime.

Overall, I think it went pretty well. Dan understood the basics of moving, trading, hiding and searching. I know combat was befuddling for him... but he is seven; I know 45 year-olds for which combat is impossible to understand. Not sure how a battle would go, but we will certainly have a chance to find out because today Dan came up to me and announced that he liked Magic Realm and we should do it again.