Do you think you are a brave leader? Do you like challenging board games? Are visual stimuli important to you in a table game? Then could the strategic board game Monster Lands from Second Gate Games will be the perfect title for you. The Dice Placement board game is the first self-published by the Spanish developers who started with the game B-Sieged, published by Cool, Mini or Not, have already achieved a respectable success.  Board games with dice placement mechanics do not appear as often in good quality as they should, because the basic idea of ​​such titles is terrific: Instead of using dice as a result calculator, they become valuable resources with dice placement. The luck factor of thoroughbred dice games is not only softened, but also creates a completely different gaming experience in many game situations.

We visited Monster Lands by Second Gate Games even before the official launch of the campaign on Kickstarter and reveal in our board game review why this title should probably be on every strategy fan’s game shelf.


Monster Lands: Tremendously strategic dice placement

One might think that dice placement mechanics are old hat that board game authors have been using since ancient times. This is not the case: Dice placement is a comparatively young game mechanic that is used repeatedly, but not particularly often. In contrast to classic worker placement board games such as Agricola the management of cube resources feels playfully different. It's a mixture of influenceable strategic decisions and an inexorable luck factor. That makes dice placement board games not only exciting, but also challenging. In order for the concept to work despite the noticeable luck factor, authors must be particularly careful with the basic rules. Board games like Bora Bora from Ravensburger or In the footsteps of Marco Polo impressively proven by Hans im Glück in the past.

The creative minds of Second Gate Games now want to join in Monster Lands Bring a similarly good quality of play to the tables. The basic ingredients are extremely harmonious: a colorful fantasy world provides the framework, the furnishings are impressive and the pretty illustrations inspire with their unmistakable style. The full pack Monster Lands weighs around 1,7 kilograms of play. In addition to the game board, four player tableaux and a mix of cards and tokens, it is above all the 80 dice that make up the playful structure of Monster Lands support. In terms of rules, the division of the types of dice is based on the conditions of classic fantasy board games. Players roll different colored strength, magic, conviction and monster dice to bring the action to the home gaming table.    

Board game review: Monster Lands (previously M-Lands) from Second Gate Games

Monster Lands is a strategic board game for 1 to 4 players, ages 12+, which entertains for 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the size of the group of players. That he Monster Lands Can also play completely alone, is a great feature for lonely board players or strategy lovers who occasionally want to pass the time in solo mode. 

For the first part stands by Monster Lands a tutorial setup is available to help players familiarize themselves with the basic mechanics. Once internalized, three further levels of difficulty provide a good helping of long-term motivation. The detailed (in our case English) instructions are clearly laid out and convey the rules in a comprehensible way. Additional strategic tips help beginners in particular to expand their playful repertoire in further games. 

What Second Gate Games gives the brave strategy fan as a playful framework deserves praise. 

Via Second Gate Games, Spain and Kickstarter

You haven't heard much about Second Gate Games, at least as an average player. For frequent gamblers, on the other hand, the company name comes from the board game B-Sieged be known, which attracted attention not only because of its good material quality. The fact that the visual charms of board games from Second Gate Games are so convincing is partly due to the fact that the game development originated in a design agency. Second Gate Games was created as a spin-off of the Dracma 3D agency. Aesthetics and style are thus firmly anchored in the creative process. With the game market firmly in view, Second Gate Games pursues the goal of realizing first-class game mechanisms with harmonious settings in front of a grandiose backdrop. The two authors Gorka Mata and Victor Fernandez are responsible for the implementation, supplemented by the German Daniel Schloesser and the in-house technology guru Sergi Sole.

While the young company's first board game was still being sold by Cool, Mini or Not (CMON), the Spaniards have now changed their business model. Instead of relying on foreign distribution channels, Second Gate Games markets the strategic board game Monster Lands now yourself. And because you won't survive long as a rabbit in a lion cage, more high-class games are to follow. As a business sidekick, Second Gate Games also wants to localize board games for the Spanish market. 

To finance game projects, the small publishing house based in Barcelona uses a tool that has already become established in the game industry: crowdfunding.

The funding campaign too Monster Lands has already started on the Kickstarter platform - and is extremely successful. The financing target is a moderate 25.000 euros. At the time of this board game review, over 1000 fans have indicated their support and have invested around 74.000 euros. If you want to contribute one or two euros yourself, you can find the project on Kickstarter under this one Link. The campaign will run until November 15, 2017, so undecided players have time to think about it. To anticipate it at this point: Monster Lands is worth an investment! 

This is how Monster Lands works: Everything flows

Despite a playing time of up to two hours there is a game Monster Lands limited to only six game rounds. This fact alone shows that there is more than enough to do for the individual participants to live up to their role as leaders of a warrior clan. The stated goal of the game consists solely of the fact to subjugate other clans, or at least to be better than their opponents. The successes are recorded in the form of reputation and fame on a progress board with numbers up to 30. If a player reaches the maximum number of fame prematurely, the game ends immediately. A red marker (reputation) and a blue marker (fame) illustrate the current intermediate results. Points are awarded in the manner of a role-playing game for any warlike action such as conquests or victories over creatures and can also be accumulated by completing tasks. Above all, it is the reputation points that expand the repertoire of tactical possibilities in the game: more reputation leads to more mercenaries and the larger the war machine of a clan, the more varied the playful actions.

Board game review: Monster Lands (previously M-Lands) from Second Gate Games


Mercenaries are symbolized in the game by special playing cards that correspond to a character board. The cards provide information about the most important information about a warrior, for example about his costs or special bonuses that give him advantages in certain elementary environments. The unique talents of a mercenary, which can only be triggered once per round, are also exciting. So that you even get the chance to put your clan together according to your wishes, players start with a leader and another warrior.


The strength of a clan is represented by its members. Strong clans then have a correspondingly large dice pool at their disposal. Hired mercenaries bring their dice directly into the pool. The fame bonus generates additional dice:

  • An additional red die at 1 to 10 points
  • One red and one yellow die each with a score of 11 to 20 points
  • As well as a red, blue and yellow die with 21 to 30 points

The dice are rolled at Monster Lands whenever there is a reasonable possibility in terms of control technology. And there are more than enough of them. The colorful probability squares are used not only inside the citadel but also in the outside world. Each type of cube, represented by its color, has its own mini-rules. While red strength dice are easier to manipulate (e.g. rerolling), magical blue dice can influence battles against monsters before the result is rolled. Yellow dice, on the other hand, are the ideal resources when it comes to our board game review Monster Lands The aim was to influence the market in the individual businesses of the citadel.

At this point at the latest you should know that the game board consists of several areas that are roughly divided into the citadel and an outer area. Within the citadel, players will find seven buildings that offer themselves for interaction during the course of the game. Two pieces of land and the mission area, on the other hand, ensure plenty of action on the gaming table in the wilderness. at Monster Lands it is nice to see the progress of the game. The busier the players deal with their clans, the more physically the actions are reflected on the table at home. This is particularly impressive because the illustrations on the individual game materials simply look terrific. The partly overdrawn sketches establish a style that Monster Lands makes it visually unique. The strategic board game from Second Gate Games noticeably stands out from the crowd and is reminiscent of eye candy such as Iello's pirate adventure Sea of ​​Clouds. The board game review too Sea of ​​Clouds can be found if you are interested here.


The dice placement worked excellently during all of our game games as part of the board game review. Unclear situations did not arise. The luck factor is also pleasantly limited and serves to build up a basic tension - in contrast to board games, which use wild dice as a pure entertainment mechanism.

The bachelor of the monster games

Even if TV formats like The Bachelor want to convey other values, the average educated viewer knows that looks alone shouldn't be everything. at Monster Lands The inner values ​​are also convincing. Despite the comparatively simple basic rules, the tactical options for action are numerous. Overloaded Monster Lands on the other hand at no point in time. Every action is more or less playful, but never completely irrelevant. Even small changes can turn out to be powerful as the game progresses. Planning the strategy at least in the medium term is therefore advantageous. 

Monster Lands plays refreshingly different and stands out noticeably from classic worker placement board games. As a player, you don't have to look for employment opportunities. On the contrary: When things happen at the table, you are literally asked to be active or to think along. 

Board game review: Monster Lands (previously M-Lands) from Second Gate Games

There are few board games that can walk the tightrope between simplicity, complexity and playful flexibility as easily as they can Monster Lands. You can literally notice in the board game what conceptual thoughts the authors might have had during their creative process. The deeper you dive into the subject of the game, the more intensely you become with the details of the rules Monster Lands occupy. This sometimes interrupts the flow of the game, but at the same time makes this board game a journey of discovery.

What stands out positively is the fact that you as a player do not suddenly become overwhelming and fights are only dealt with because the rules provide for it. Even the monsters gain strength, so combat situations remain exciting. You have to Monster Lands Search long and hard until you can note negative points on your list. 

In many worker placement board games, the entertainment value disappears as soon as the player performs actions almost automatically. The replayability of Monster Lands however, it is extremely high - which is partly due to the commendable cube mechanics.

Images of Monster Lands

Infobox

Number of players: 1 to 4 players
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 60 to 120 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: high

Publisher: Second Gate Games
Author: Gorka Mata, Victor Fernandez; Daniel Schloesser, Sergi Sole 

Year of publication: 2018
Language: German
Costs: 50 to 84 euros (Kickstarter)

Summary

With the flood of miniature games that are currently flooding the crowdfunding platforms, it took a certain courage to dare to play a euro-style board game and to forego an escalating plastic battle. This courage paid off for Second Gate Games: Monster Lands is (in the form in which we played it) just terrific.

The strategic board game convinces from the first second. This is not least due to the ingeniously simple basic rules, which are modified by different levels of difficulty and the “trick module” in order to bind players to the gaming table in the long term. The overview of what is happening is always available, despite the increasing display. Responsible for this is the excellently designed game material, which keeps important information present for players.

That the optics of Monster Lands convinced, cannot be said often enough. From the art work of the packaging to the graphics on the tokens, the illustrations almost seem like independent but coherent works of art. Because art is also a matter of taste, the cartoonish style may not amaze every player. However, the fact that the optics are on an excellent level should be undisputed. In recognition of this achievement, we are happy to award an additional award in the form of a golden one Spielpunkts.

As a player, you can sink a lot of money into a modern board game. In terms of price, Second Gate Games remains fair and currently offers players around 50 euros more than you get with other titles for double the amount of money.

Monster Lands combines all the components that one would expect from a good dice placement game: clear rules, strategic options, forward-looking planning options and noticeable influence.
The game not only deserves the highest rating, but has also worked through the fine coordination of the perfectly interlocking game elements.

The bottom line of the board game review too Monster Lands in one word: excellent!




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