Tabletop games Wargaming

Mage Knight

The Mage Knight Logo.

Mage Knight is a miniatures wargame using collectible figures, created by WizKids, Inc, and is the earliest example of what is now known as a Collectible Miniatures Game. The game was designed by founder Jordan Weisman along with Kevin Barrett. The game is the first to use WizKids' Clix system, combining roleplaying and wargaming elements with aspects of collectible card games. Mage Knight achieved success after it was introduced in 2000. WizKids announced in October 2010 that Mage Knight was being relaunched with a board game, card game, and role-playing game.

In February 2013, WizKids announced that it would release Mage Knight: Resurrection, which will utilize its SwitchClix bases to be compatible with both Mage Knight 2.0 and HeroClix rules. The release date was Fall 2013

Design

Unlike many other miniatures war-games, Mage Knight eliminates the need for reference to rule books and tables by integrating a dial into each figure that contains its current combat statistics - movement rate, attack and defense values, combat damage, and special abilities. While this system lacks the versatility of other miniatures games, mainly because players cannot customize their figures, it makes up for this by facilitating rapid gameplay and by having a large number of distinctive figures. The system, called the combat dial, has proved to be highly popular and is used in WizKids's other games, including HeroClix and MechWarrior. The dial allows a figure's displayed statistics to change as it takes damage.

All miniatures, called warriors, come pre-painted and are pre-assigned point costs based on their abilities. These costs range from 3 points (only the limited edition goblin volunteer Podo has achieved a point value this low) to over 500 points (for the tanks and the Apocalypse Dragon). To play a game, players will generally agree upon a point cost total, and then design their armies to maximize their strategic capabilities within the specified point cost total. Each player is allowed to take a number of actions per turn equal to the point cost total divided by 100. These actions include movement, combat, or the use of special abilities such as Regeneration and Necromancy. Game play is typically rapid, but often highly strategic, both in terms of traditional maneuvering and combat common to miniatures games and because of the unusual combinations of unit special abilities that make every army unique.

Each Mage Knight figure belongs to a specific faction. The factions in the initial release included the Atlantis Guild, the Elemental League, the Black Powder Rebels, the Draconum, The Knights Immortal, the Orc Raiders, and the Necropolis Sect. Other factions were added later. Each faction had its own strengths and weaknesses; for example the Atlantis Guild had many figures with powerful ranged attacks, but it lacked healers. A player could combine figures of different factions in their army at will, but only figures of the same faction could move in a formation together. Using formation rules, a player could move three to five adjacent figures while using only one action. A formation combat action could also be taken, in which multiple adjacent figures of the same faction attack and increase the chances of successfully hitting the target. Since the limited number of actions per turn is one of the most important strategic considerations in the game, a player making his army would have to balance the advantages of formation movement and formation combat against the desire to have the versatility of figures from different factions.

Awards

Origins Awards

Year Award
2005 Hall of Fame - Mage Knight
2004 Best Game Aid or Accessory - Mage Knight 3D Dungeon Tiles
2002 Best Game-Related Fiction, Short Form - Enemy Healer (from The Official Mage Knight Collectors' Guide 1& 2)
2002 Best Graphic Presentation Of A Board Game Product - Mage Knight Dungeons
2001 Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniature - Mage Knight Great Fire Dragon
2001 Best Vehicular Miniature - Mage Knight Atlantis War Machine: The Fist of Tezla
2000 Best Science-Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures Rules - Mage Knight: Rebellion

Hobby Outlook Awards

Year Award
2004 Best Game of 2004 - Mage Knight
2003 Best Game of 2003 - Mage Knight
2000 Games Award of Merit 2000 - Mage Knight: Rebellion

GEM Awards

Year Award
2000 Best Game Product - Mage Knight: Rebellion

Inquest Gamer Fan Awards

Year Award
2004 Best Miniatures Product - Mage Knight Lancers

Distribution

Mage Knight figures were sold in Starter Packs (which historically contained eight or nine figures along with rules and dice) and Booster Packs (four or five figures). Figures were sold in base sets, as well as expansion sets, and distributed with seven rarity levels. Levels 1 through 5 were assigned to the standard "infantry" figures, each of which was available in 3 power levels: Weak, Standard and Tough. Low power and cost figure were of 1-2-3 rarity, middle range figures were 2-3-4, and stronger army figures were 3-4-5. Level 6 figures were Uniques, which carried the stipulation that only one of any individual Unique could appear in a player's army. In addition, WizKids gave away limited edition, Unique versions of the non-Unique figures in the sets as prizes for tournaments in comic and game shops. These figures are not generally available for retail sale, and have different statistics and point costs than the regular figures. This novel prize policy was in part responsible for Mage Knight's success. Some expansions had ultra-rare "chase" figures, listed as rarity level 7, which were produced in limited quantities and found randomly in boosters, such as the Apocalypse Horsemen in Sinister or the glow-in-the-dark variants from Minions. Finally, Wiz Kids also sold larger figures individually. The figures, which included dragons, chariots, war machines and giants, had multiple combat dials that applied to each side of the figure to make them harder to kill and allow them multiple attacks. Some of these larger, individual figures cost so many points that they could be utilized only in large armies.

In 2002, the Dungeons expansion was released in starters and boosters, which featured a new type of gameplay more akin to traditional RPG "dungeon-crawl" adventures. Instead of players each amassing armies to go head-to-head, Dungeons had players select a team of Hero characters, and enter a dungeon map filled with wandering monsters and treasure chests. During each player's turn, the opponent controlled any monsters encountered, and the goal was to defeat the monsters and escape with the most gold from the treasure chests. Adventures could be played individually or as a collective campaign, with the Hero figures having 5 "levels" that were attained with experience from adventuring. All figures (Heroes and Mage Spawn monsters) were still fully compatible with regular Mage Knight rules. The Dungeons format featured two expansions of its own, Pyramid and Dragon's Gate, and two fixed 5-figure sets with special characters, maps and scenarios titled Heroic Quests. In addition, WizKids released 3-dimensional plastic floor tiles, walls, doors, and objects which could purchased to build a full scale dungeon.

In November 2003, WizKids released a new "base" set (their third, after Rebellion and Unlimited), colloquially referred to as "Mage Knight 2.0," with many rules overhauled or expanded, which introduced new strategic possibilities to the game, including capabilities to customize Unique warriors and battles via styrene cards called Items, Domains, and Constructed Terrain. Later expansions introduced more options via Spellbooks, Spells, and Adventuring Companies. The two "versions" can be distinguished by their logos; the original Mage Knight sets feature a straight short sword through the logo while "2.0" and its subsequent expansions have a curved scimitar.

Mage Knight saw a total of 14 expansions in booster packs, as well as prepackaged sets of figures in the Heroic Quests, Conquest, and Titans supplements, and special holiday-themed figures ("Santa Claus" and "Frosty the Snow-Minion") released in 2001 and 2003. The Conquest version had a number of large castle wall and fortification pieces, including 2 unique figures. Several Army Packs were released, with one random figure and 8 fixed figures from a specific faction. In addition, the Unlimited set released a special "Painter's Edition" which featured miniatures which were unpainted and removed from the bases for customizing purposes.

Expansions

The expansions are (in order of release):

Other Products

Videogames

A full PC game title (Mage Knight: Apocalypse) was published in September 2006 by Namco Bandai Games America and developed by Interserv International. A handful of new figurines, now amongst the rarest, were released as tie-ins to help promote the PC game. Another title for the Nintendo DS (Mage Knight: Destiny's Soldier) was released in the same month.

Novels

There are five novels published by Del Rey/Ballantine books. The first novel is Mage Knight 1: Rebel Thunder written by Bill McCay. The second novel is Mage Knight 2: Dark Debt written by Doranna Durgin. The third novel is Mage Knight 3: Stolen Prophecy, written by Christopher Stasheff. The fourth novel is Mage Knight 4: The Black Thorn Gambit, written by Josepha Sherman. The fifth novel is Mage Knight 5: Khamsin's Heir, written by Doranna Durgin.

Comic Book Series

Published by IDW beginning in 2002, the Mage Knight comic book series was written by Todd Dezago based on a story by Jordan Weisman. The covers were illustrated by J. Scott Campbell and Alex Garner (Danger Girl) and the interiors were illustrated by Dave Cabrera. Issue #1, released in October 2002, came with a certificate that could be redeemed for an exclusive figure of Maren'Kar, one of the characters in the comic book.

Board Game

The Mage Knight board game was designed by Vlaada Chvátil and released in December 2011. It sold out in 20 days and a reprint was released in April 2012. It was one of the top ten nominees for Dice Tower’s Annual Best Game of the Year Award for games released in 2011, and a finalist in the General Strategy category of the 2012 International Gamers Awards. It received a 10 out of 10 in Playing Appeal from Spielbox Magazine, and was awarded the 2012 Golden Geek Award for Most Thematic Board Game from Board Game Geek.

An expansion to the board game titled Mage Knight: The Lost Legion was released in December 2012.

Factions

The land of Mage Knight is split among several factions. Several of these factions split from Tezla's original empire, and others have organized and grown since Tezla's death. Based on the outcomes of various official storyline tournaments held at comics and gaming shops and major gaming conventions, when 2.0 was released most of the major factions were renamed, and also further divided into one or more subfactions, each of which possesses its own unique ability.

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