Mouseguard: Swords and Strongholds (2P abstract strategy)

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Mouseguard: Swords and Strongholds (2P abstract strategy)

Postby blackfly » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:56 pm

First off, Mouse Guard: Swords and Strongholds is based off the Mouse Guard world. Its a comic created by David Petersen, and I'm already quite a fan of his work. Its wonderfully illustrated, and contains some well told adventure tales of a group of warrior mice who protect their world from enemies such as cats and cobras and things. If you're not a fan of anthropomorphic comics, this may not be for you, but I'd still recommend giving it a chance if you like good graphic novel stories and lovely art.

Okay, now that thats out of the way, the game:

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The first thing I have to say is that aside from having little mice for the meeples, thats about as much as this game pays homage to its heritage. And (again, looking at you anti-animal-people people) the meeples are actually sculpted to look like mice, not mice being people, so it should be less offensive to those sensibilities. This is also a subtle point, but one that I really appreciate. They didn't take a random world, license the IP, and then try to make a board game that hardly relates to the IP - such as- "Here is this spaceship flying game with Nathan Fillion cardboard cutouts so we can call it Firefly even though its just a crappy space game you wouldn't play otherwise". The creator of the comics actually worked on this, and instead of having it evoke the Mouse Guard world externally, they actually designed it to feel like a game that would get played by the mice IN the world. It feels like a little pub game that the guard might play while trading stories over a pot of ale. This is born out by the game pieces looking like rough hewn mice chipped out of rocks and well worn by lots of use. Anyway, I think its a cool little aspect of the game and I appreciate it, but I digress.

Gameplay:

The game is a pretty straight forward 2 player abstract strategy game about board control and capturing pawns. Sort of like a chess/checkers game with some variety added due to cards. It's quite tidy, small sized, and easy to set up:

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You each get 4 mice to set up on your side of the board. There are two victory conditions: Either get one of you pieces to a far back corner on your opponents side of the board, or capture all your opponents pieces.

On your turn you must move one mouse one place in any direction.

After than you may or may not make a special move. To make a special move, you have to have the corresponding card in your hand of 3 cards. If you do, you play the card, make the move, redraw, and then your turn is over.

The 3 special moves & cards all have different strategic opportunities.

1) Stronghold: A defensive move that stops your mouse from moving, to defend a square. No mice can move past him on adjacent lines, so it locks up a good area of the board, and defends the lines of approach to your target squares.

2) Sword: Offensive. This allows you to make a 2-part move like a knight in chess. One up, one over. If you contact another mouse, you push them back along the direction of your move. This can be you own mouse or an enemy, so it can be a good way to get your 2nd mouse into a new location. If you push an enemy off the board, or push it into a mouse who has build a stronghold, you capture the piece.

3) Diplomacy. This card has two options, that effect the nearest enemy mouse. If the nearest enemy is out in the open, you swap spaces with them. If the nearest enemy is holed up in a stronghold, you pull him out, and the strong hold is no more.

The other option is that if you have a complete set of all 3 cards, you can forgo your move, turn in the cards, and bring a captured mouse back into the game.

The variety of the various cards and board placement of mice leads to some pretty good complexity through out various stages of the game. I've never seen anyone come back from a serious defecit like only havging one mouse left, but I did see someone who was down 2:4 turn it around and win. I appreciate a game where skilled play can still come away with a win when things are stacked against them.

This game has a bit of a learning curve due to some of the ways you can apply the rules, and so a new player might feel like they're getting beaten via ignorance once or twice as they see their mice get captured by a move they forgot they had available to them, but its not so much that it would likely scare too many people off thinking the game is too complex. In my experience, Its just complex enough to make you want to try again now that you know that new trick, so you can watch out for it , and hopefully use it your self.

Game time varies between 10-20 mins I'd say, depending on how much you're a 'must think out all possibilities before making any move' type of person.

If you want to see the creators walk through this, they made a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2UbvdWnEwc


There was a kickstarter that offerred metal mice and a wooden box, that I wish I'd known about, but even the off the shelf version still has a nice wooden board, and the cards are reasonably good quality. I am considering doing some RTV silicone casting with scrap white metal just for the fun of the experience, and because I think having some nice hefty metal mice might be a nice personalized addition to the set.

Unfortunately for the majority of you, it seems to be pretty expensive via amazon UK, but I found it for $20.00 at a local game store. Its a small production, so maybe you're more likely to find it in a specific board game store than on a generic online retailer.

Also, if you do like a good comic, I seriously recommend picking up the collections he's put out. They're a great read, and the kind of thing that makes you (well, me, at least) feel happy to be able to support an independent artist with the drive and skill to be able to put out something that is meaningful to them.

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Re: Mouseguard: Swords and Strongholds (2P abstract strategy

Postby countersunk81 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:37 pm

Thanks for the heads up, the comic and the game look ace!
You weren't kidding about the \uk amazon price though :shock:
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Re: Mouseguard: Swords and Strongholds (2P abstract strategy

Postby blackfly » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:48 pm

countersunk81 wrote:Thanks for the heads up, the comic and the game look ace!
You weren't kidding about the \uk amazon price though :shock:


If you want me to bring a copy for you to Salute, LMK. ;)
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Re: Mouseguard: Swords and Strongholds (2P abstract strategy

Postby countersunk81 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:12 pm

:shock:
Will ping you a message, cheers!
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