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Robin Warren
United States
Temecula
California
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Truly an excellent game that very nicely captures the essence of role playing in a board game. Though the rulebook can be daunting at first (make sure you get the 2nd or unofficial 3rd edition!), a little patience and practice will make anyone who likes a little adventure, a longtime fan of Magic Realm. The game itself plays well with as many as 16 players, and as few as one (contrary to the description of the game at the top of the page), in a surprisingly fun and engaging solitaire game.

Sitting down to a game of Magic Realm is quite involved (expect more than a couple of hours playtime!), and has a setup time of around 20-60 minutes, depending on your experience. The most time consuming and tedious task is the arrangement of the monster/treasure setup card, where you sort and shuffle treasure/spell cards, organizing them into pseudo-random piles on multiple treasure locations and dwellings. Monsters are laid out based on their "prowling" terrain, and mystery visitors/quests are laid out in player-chosen locations. Because this process can be completed by one person, it is usually a good idea for the host to do this before the players arrive!

Once the treasure layout card is ready, the next task is the game board. The board consists of 20 double-sided hexagonal tiles that are "dealt" evenly to the players, and laid out in a round-the-table fashion. The players are limited to a few layout rules, but can otherwise put the tiles anywhere. This part is actually quite fun, as everyone gets a chance to affect how the map will twist and turn. Once the map is finished, each tile gets one or two hidden chits, placed according to a pseudo-random scheme, that determines what monsters, treasures, dwellings, and natives will reside there. Since these chits remain hidden until discovered by players, no one truly knows what lies beyond. There is some predictability to the setup, however. For example, all players know that the Lost Castle can be found somewhere in one of the five Mountain tiles, looting the Vault is a guaranteed Large treasure (providing you can open the door!), and hanging around the caves too long can bring Goblin trouble in a hurry. The nature of the setup process makes it impossible to play the same game twice, making for fun exploration possibilities for everyone, including the host.

Once each player has selected a character, chosen a start location, and selected their own personal victory conditions (fame, notoriety, treasure, etc), the game begins. The game play involves recording moves in secret on a player record sheet, and after choosing a player at random, executing the moves in order. It is not unusual for recorded moves to be interrupted by encountering other players or (gulp) monsters. Provided you can stay alive through stealth and/or combat, your job is to seek out your victory goals in a timely fashion, as you have only 30-days to win. Of course, the game can be extended to any length as agreed on by players, and some games can play unlimited.

The combat system plays like a story ("I'll dodge to the side, and hope the dragon doesn't get me on a side swipe... my jab speed should undercut the Giant no matter what happens!"), and works well with any number of combatants. Players can hire natives to fight on their behalf (with or without their Character's help), and can even fight amongst themselves.

Magic is handled very nicely, but is not recommended for the Magic Realm beginner. In short, spells are cast using a combination of color magic (available from various color sources) and invocation techniques, which depend entirely on the Character. A good variety of spells make for an interesting array of choices when building your initial character, and can significantly change the way you play.

Though you cannot buy this game in stores, it continually appears as a sale item on auction sites like eBay, usually running the buyer around $40.00. As the game has many pieces, it is important that you get a game that is complete. Despite what some sellers claim, every piece is important for the game, and even one missing treasure card or Monster chit can leave you unable to accurately set up and play the game. It is possible, however, to recover some lost/missing items by simply visiting the download areas of one of the three or four Magic Realm dedicated web sites out there (see the links on this page). An e-mail discussion group is also available that can serve as an excellent source for figuring out difficult game situations. Information for joining the group can be found on one of the web sites.

All in all, this is my favorite of Avalon Hill's board games. Every time I play it, it's like a new experience, and I'm never disappointed. If you haven't already, I would recommend you check it out!

-Robin
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Robin Warren
United States
Temecula
California
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Re:User Review
I reposted this review after hearing that BGG has somehow lost the original. After rereading the review I posted, I realized that my statement in the first paragraph ("contrary to the description of the game at the top of the page") is no longer valid. BGG correctly displays the number of players as 1-16.

Robin
 
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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Re:User Review
warrenra8 (#68897),
I always want to have a copy. I was slow to get it because it was a long game and not solitaire friendly. Is it true in your opinion? From your review above, looks like it can be played soliatire and quite the same excitment as multiplayers game. Also, its production is quite old by today's standard. Just hope Hasbro could release this title right to someone for a reprint.
Lawrence
 
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Steve Malczak
United States
Fairfax
Virginia
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Re:User Review
Lawrence Hung (#69119),

I'm not the author of the review, but I can tell you that the solitaire value of the game is pretty high. When playing alone, you are pretty much racing against the clock to accomplish your goals rather than against the other players. This can lead to some interesting challenges.

It also means that you can adjust the level of difficulty by adding or subtracting either the number of points required or the number of days played.

Obviously the game plays better with a group of people, but the mechanics lend themselves quite nicely to a relatively quick and enjoyable solo game.

Hope it helps!

Talenn
 
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Davido
United States
California
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Re:User Review
Lawrence Hung (#69119),

If you're concerned about the 'older production values' of MR, please check out the 'new and improved' components linked from Steve McKnight's site located at:

http://www.geocities.com/n_and/mr00.htm

Everything you need and more.
 
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Steve McKnight
United States
Needham
Massachusetts
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Re:User Review
davido (#69328),

I do need to give credit where credit is due. The site at:

http://www.geocities.com/n_and/mr00.htm

is not run by me. It's produced by Nand (Andrea Nini). Andrea has kept his site current for over six years, and he was kind enough to post my correspondence with Richard Hamblen as a series of Magic Realm Q&A's

--Steve
 
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Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Re:User Review
mcknight (#69363),

A very great and rich site! That's what I need exactly! I'll need time to absorb it. Once again, thanks!

Lawrence
 
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