From the epic series written by Brandon Sanderson, comes the new hit board game, Mistborn: House War. This semi-cooperative game is set in the timeline of the first installment of the Mistborn series. Focusing on resource management, use your role as one of the main factions in order to gain favor of the Lord Ruler by solving the Problems of the Final Empire. Brought to you by Crafty Games, Mistborn: House War (MHW) is for 3-5 players, ages 13 and up, and lasts anywhere between one and two hours. Those of you who have experienced the books will already have a baseline knowledge of the game’s storyline and overall gameplay. For those who are new to the series, fret not, for the game caters to a variety of audiences.
Each player takes on the role of the Lords of the Great Houses, who ultimately serve the Lord Ruler. Throughout the game, Problem cards will be revealed that need to be solved in order to save the Final Empire. These cards will have to be dealt with before they reach the “Problems Erupt” space on the board (i.e. you can’t just keep ignoring problems). Should this happen, the consequences vary and are outlined on the Problem card that reaches the Problems Erupt space. Players must also beware of the Unrest track on the board, so as to ensure that society doesn’t collapse during the game.
The game utilizes an assistant character deck that can help players mitigate the aforementioned risks. These are to be used in conjunction with the resource cards you collect at the outset of your turn. How you use your turns will ultimately determine how much favor and/or disgrace you receive form the Lord Ruler throughout the game. The victory conditions at the end of the game vary depending on the social unrest of the empire. Should society not erupt in revolution, the player with the highest score (or most favor from the Lord Ruler) wins the game. However, if social unrest is too high and the empire collapses at the end, the player with the LOWEST score actually wins. The idea is that if revolution is imminent, the player with the highest score (i.e. most favor with the Lord Ruler) is actually the loser, as most revolutions don’t deal too kindly with the current ruler and those they surround themselves with.
MHW brings a unique take on tying the theme of a game to the story from which it’s built. A lot of games based off of books (or movies, or other sources of media) can largely be hit or miss. Luckily, MHW is great as a standalone game. Mistborn readers and newcomers alike will enjoy the mechanics and theme that this game has to offer. The player roles might seem a bit ironic (for those who have read the books) relative to the storyline of the series, but that doesn’t take away from the gameplay. Resource management is definitely key in this game, and the unique victory conditions really make you think twice before making any significant moves. Going from first to last in a matter of seconds at the end of the game certainly brings a new element of surprise and stress all at the same time. Couple that with the 1-2 hour playing time, and you can find yourself either weeping with joy or cringing with angst. However, this is one of the main goals of games: to elicit emotion while building community through entertainment.
Mistborn House War is a great addition to any gamer’s library. It’s meatier than most games that have come out in 2017, and the theme to mechanic relationship is better than most games of this scope. Considering the game is the natural result of a successful book series, readers and non-readers will be pleasantly surprised that the game is good enough to stand on its own. This is coming from someone who hasn’t read the books personally, though I’ve heard they’re great. Regardless of where you stand regarding the series, Mistborn House War is a game that lives up to its predecessor’s success.
Until next time,