One Run Through Megaland

DISCLAIMER: I work for Target and was able to play Megaland at a recent board game event held for employees. Megaland is a Target exclusive which will be available starting August 2018. I believe it was a production copy but I’m not 100% sure on that. Below are my own thoughts and in no way represent Target.

Overview

Megaland is a family friendly press your luck game from Ryan and Malorie Laukat published by Red Raven Games. I am familiar with Ryan’s prior work on Above and Below as well as Near and Far. The art in Megaland is in the same vein as his previous games. Ryan’s artwork has a great way of drawing people into his games. This is why I’ve only been able to play Near and Far once. Near and Far has been in rotation in my game group but the games fill up pretty fast so I’ve missed out a couple times.

Even though the artwork feels similar other Red Raven Games, Megaland’s theme is completely different from them. Megaland has a light video game theme in that each player is enters the level of Megaland to fight monsters and collect treasures along the way. Players will need to decide if they want to continue adventuring or take their treasure and leave the level. If a player loses all their health they will lose the treasures they acquired in the round. Players are collecting treasures in order to buy buildings,  which provide power-ups, or purchase additional health . The winner is the player with the most coins at the end of the game. The game end is triggered when one or more players accumulate 20 coins.

Check out the Watch It Played video if you want the nitty gritty details on how to play.

 

Initial Thoughts

The artwork and the reputation of high quality games from Red Raven were the two things the drew my attention to Megaland. Both those delivered once I was able to test out the game. The added bonus was the insert that was included with the game.

There is not much that I can add to what has been said about the Ryan Laukat’s artwork. Megaland’s  artwork is reminiscent of his prior games so I had initially assumed it was all part of the same world created for Above and Below. As I learned more about the game, I was surprised to hear the theme was a video game world. Players get to choose for a selection of whimsical characters to represent themselves on the game. If you are feeling animalistic (not a word, I know), you can choose between a frog or cat. Both dressed for adventure, of course. If you want to keep it human, you will have a choice of 3 characters which run the gamut of young adventuring female to old male scientist. Not sure if those tropes are the right description, but that is what my group called them. Nice to see a variety of skin tones and genders offered as part of the game. The minimalist treasure cards serve their purpose by providing important distribution info on each card. The player boards are identical to each other and offer the card distribution of monsters. This is a nice touch which allows players to know how dangerous the remaining monsters are. One improvement related to the player board adding a way to match a player to their character. There was some confusion toward the end of the game as players were trying to figure out how much treasure each person was collecting. This could have been address by adding the character image to the otherwise identical player boards. The monster cards are in line with the character cards with them feeling a pleasant mix of fun and danger. I’ll say it again, but I’m a huge fan of Ryan’s artwork and Megaland provided a new

I had some hesitation after watching the rules video from the friendly Canadian, Rodney Smith. There seemed to be a lot of rules for what was being touted as a family game. My wife has a low tolerance for intricate rules so many games get pushed aside for the Qwirkles and Skip-Bos. This fear was eliminated after I learning to play the game. Megaland falls into the category of games that should only be taught by playing. The game teaches all the rules as you go through the different parts of a round. Players only need to know two things when they start the game: 1) Collect as much coins as possible and 2) Game ends once someone has 20 coins in total. After introducing those two concepts to the players,  the game starts right away. The decisions that you have during the game change depending on what phase of the round you are in. The first choice that players are confronted with is to continue into the level or run home with the loot they’ve already collect. At the start of the game, everyone has the same amount of health so many of the group made similar decisions. However, as the game played out and players purchased buildings and extra health the decisions made by each person differed. This first phase of the game was where most the fun was had due to the friendly smack talk. There may have been some encouragement for players to stay in the level and then some laughs as the next revealed monsters took away their last health causing them to lose all the loot they had.  The next decision players had was how to spend all this loot that had been acquired.  The purchase phase had a great way of encouraging people to stay in the level longer by the cost structure of the buildings and extra health. Buildings had to be purchased with unique sets of items while the extra health was by sets of items.  The health was an increasing costs so the first extra heart was only a pair, but the 2nd heart was three of a kind and so on.  These costs will drive players to stay in the level a little longer if they don’t have the cards needed to purchase what they wanted. Another incentive, or maybe dis-incentive, is that all the treasures spoil at the end round unless you store it in the basement of the building. The spoiling of treasures has a lower impact later in the game due to the storage capacity of the buildings. This storage ability offers the option for players to collect treasures and leave the level to effectively bank the treasures in order to setup a purchase of an expensive building the following round. The simple decision of stay or go  at the start of the round becomes more complex over time as you accumulate buildings that provide additional powers and increased health. The game comes with a set many types of buildings and you will only use a subset of them each game. This leads me to believe that players will be able to explore strategies based on the combination of buildings that are available to buy.

 

The one item that is usually overlooked at games carried by the mass market retailers is the insert. Megaland has an awesome insert that allows the cards to be easily sorted in the box. This makes setup easy since you don’t have to dig through a stack of cards to pull out the subset of buildings being used for the current game.  There is also a smaller insert that holds the tokens that are used during the game. This is a great addition since you can just place this out on the table and it doesn’t take up much room. I guessed that a gamer must have been part of the insert discussion because they were so cool. This was confirmed when I looked closer at the insert and saw the GameTrayz name on both inserts. This company is the one behind the awesome insert for the behemoth of a game, Mechs vs. Minions. I hope that this is a start to a trend across the industry to consider how setup and tear-down of games can be made easier by designing a good insert.

 

Ryan and Malorie Laukat have delivered a great push your luck game that I’m looking forward to playing with my family after it is release later this summer. The engaging artwork and simple rules make it a great way to spend an evening with the family. Through the progression of the game, the decisions become more interesting as the options open up so it does provide fun for those who enjoy a meatier game. This would be a great option for an appetizer or a nightcap game where you have 30 minutes to burn at the start or end of the night.

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