Difficulty (Low = Easy)
Duration (Low = Short)
Some of you may recall back in the distant time of last year when I sat down with 10-year old Ethan Erickson and his dad Ken to discuss their Kickstarter campaign: Magicka Mayhem. Inspired by entrepreneurs on the popular show Shark Tank, as well as the mobile game that Magicka Mayhem is based on, Ethan decided to put together a fast-paced and fun card game, with his initial prototypes being scribbles and rough drawings on pieces of paper.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Ethan and Ken got to work bringing Magicka Mayhem to life, and last month I finally got my hands on my final copy of the game. We had previously published a review of it, in fact, only to have an unfortunate data SNAFU magically erase two months worth of content. However, I didn’t want my thoughts on the game to disappear forever, so it’s time to re-conjure our review!
The premise of Magicka Mayhem is pretty simple: you play as opposing wizards with a set amount of health points. By combining raw elements you can cast spells and summon familiars to deal damage to your enemies and hopefully emerge victorious, all while subjected to the possibility of Mayhem derailing your spells.
Each time you cast a spell you flip a coin. Depending on the flip, your spell may go off without a hitch, or it may be subject to a Mayhem card. Mayhem can either cause the spell to blow up in your face, fizzle, be re-directed, or some combination of the three. The element of chance also helps to keep games from being dominated by more seasoned players.
A way to side-step the possibility of mayhem is utilizing your gathered elements to cast “snap spells”. By combining two or more of the same element, you can cast an aligned spell without being subjected to mayhem. For example, playing two ice elements allows you to fire off an ice blast, while two shields can help you reduce incoming damage in a flash. If you’re able to play 3, 4 or 5 of these elements, the spell gets progressively stronger.
Early on in our beta testing the snap spells were a bit borked, but to Ethan and Ken’s tremendous credit, they took our feedback (and the feedback of others) and made the appropriate changes.
In playing the game, you’ll get a distinct feel of Magic: The Gathering, but in lite mode. Certainly the art and flavor text contribute to this environment, and Ken’s influence definitely provides some more…adult humor for those of us who catch on.
The game is tremendous fun, and the rounds go by pretty quickly as well. There are different levels of complexity that you can journey into, including more involved spell and counter-spell mechanics, but overall it’s a very accessible game for kids and adults.
I really enjoyed the art quality and build of the cards themselves, with detailed illustrations bringing to life the air-crackling intensity of a lightning spell, or the comically disastrous mayhem effects. My only gripe about the game is in the packaging: the box is fairly flimsy, basically the size of two standard size cards side-by-side. Other games such as Boss Monster featured sturdier boxes with more options for organizing and alluding to future expansions. I think Magicka Mayhem could have benefited from similar packaging.
Overall, Magicka Mayhem is a blast. Featuring fantastic art, fast-paced gameplay and an expert blend of themes that appeal to kids (fart jokes) and adults (fart jokes…I mean, come on)…Magicka Mayhem deserves a spot on your game shelf. Thanks again to Ken and Ethan for your continued communication and taking our feedback to heart during development!