Mechs vs. Minions
What happens when the creators of one of the most successful video games decide to turn their sights to the world of tabletop gaming? It turns out, a beautifully written love letter to a hobby they care about as much as we do. Riot Games didn't create this game to make money, they did because they have a passion for board gaming they wanted to share, and it shows in every aspect of Mechs vs. Minions.
Mechs vs. Minions is a co-op game that centers around programming you programming your Mech to stomp on minions and complete an objective based on which of the 10 scenarios you are playing. Each round begins with a timed draft where players will grab a card to either place in their command line or discard to gain a one time benefit. The timer gives you enough time to figure out which card will benefit you most without have to stress too much, while also adding a sense of urgency and preventing your more analysis paralysis prone friends from slowing the game down. If the timer runs out, the remaining players must take cards randomly. To program your mech, you'll place the card you draft into the top spot in one of the slots in your command line. There are for colors of command card, and if you place the card on an empty slot or on a slot with a card of different color, you'll replace the slot with your chosen action. If, however, you place the card on a slot with one or two matching cards, your new card will have a powered up action, often giving you a stronger attack or more control over movement. After everyone has set up their command line, in turn order you execute your command lines in turn order, taking action while you stomp, slice, and eviscerate minions. The minions are plentiful and easy to kill, but they aren't completely helpless. If you cannot kill them quick enough they can overrun you, and if you are next to any minions at the end of a round they will damage you. When you get damaged you will draw a card from the damage deck, which will either add a one time negative effect or get added to a random spot to your command line. There's a lot more in the game, but I don't want to get into it too much and ruin surprises and twists the game will throw at you as you go through the campaign.
Programing has always been a mechanic that I like in theory, but rarely in practice. Thankfully, in Mechs vs. Minions it works fantastically. The co-op nature of the game makes it a great collaborative puzzle, with the timer during the draft keeping any one player from taking over. The gameplay is simple enough that the game could easily be used as a gateway game, but engaging enough for more hard core gammers to get into. The scenarios are varied and all fun, and give the game a ton of replayability. Each scenario also adds just a little bit of complexity to the game, adding more cards and rules each time, bit by bit, giving the game something of a campaign. The game also has a great tutorial that allows you to learn the game while playing it.
The real reason this game got so much attention was the components and price point. Beautiful, big miniatures, one hundred minion minis with a nice wash, very high quality boards and cards, great metal and plastic counters, and custom molded plastic game trays to hold it all, contained in a massive box. I would expect a game that looks like this to easily cost $150-200 or more, but Riot is letting it go for only $75. The beautiful components make the characters and theme shine, and make this game one of the best values on the market right now. The cards also have fantastic art of minions getting maimed in humorous ways and give the game another level of charm.
Mechs vs. Minions is a fantastic game, and the amount of dedication and love the team at Riot put into this game oozes out. From the art, to the components, to the gameplay; it's evident that Riot made every effort to make this game the best they possibly could. Riot has said this will most likly be their only forary into the world of board gaming, but I think I speak for many board gamers when I say I hope they reconsider.