Oct 7, 2015

[Games] Three Cheers For Master

With the increased availability of board games thanks to gaming cafes like Ludo and online sellers like Abubot and Gaming Library, our trips to Singapore no longer feel quite as gaming focused, at least on the surface. But despite all the games that we get to buy through local merchants, we still end up spending an arm and a leg when we visit Paradigm Infinitum. I guess there's just something about seeing such a wide variety of board games all immediately available instead of just looking at an online catalog or something.

It was during our most recent Singapore trip that we came across Three Cheers for Master. We had never heard of the game before the premise of the game sounded interesting plus the art looked rather endearing as well. And the game promised to support up to 6 players, which is pretty impressive for any game, what more a card game. What can we do, right? Games seem to just naturally optimize for 4 players for some reason.

And while this is hardly the greatest game ever made, it's certainly amusing and worth a play or two. Just be sure to prepare a lot of table space in order to cover all your bases and make sure everyone's towers go up without a hitch.

Three Cheers for Master is a card game created by Daniel Windfield Schmidt, who also created the distinct art for the game. The game is published by Atlas Games and supports 2-6 players.

The premise of the game is that the Master isn't feeling happy and his lieutenants or "Foreminions" have decided to put up a sort of cheerleading competition to brighten the Master's spirit's upon his return. But all they have to work with are volatile minions who are just as likely to attack one another as any other enemy.

The way this cheerleading competition goes, each player will try to create the tallest tower of minions. This is done by playing minion cards in an increasingly high stack while also playing minions or orders on other players to disrupt their towers. The foreminion token represents how high your tower legitimately is and you'll need to keep him safe from other players.

In the game, players have three cards in hand and must play two of them every turn. Cards can either be minions with their respective abilities or orders that can move minions around or trigger certain effects. After you've played your two cards, you then decide if you want to keep or discard the third card, then draw back up to three cards. As you draw, you may trigger a Big Hairy Fight, which causes the various minions to attack based on the symbols on their respective cards.

It's the various minion abilities that really make things interesting. At its most basic, each minion can have arrows that indicate where it will attack when the order is given or a Big Hairy Fight is revealed. The more arrows in one direction, the faster the attack is. And since you can play minions on other towers, you can set things up such that your minion ends up derailing the plans of the opponent when the fight is triggered and everyone attacks all other legal targets.

Additional symbols on the minion can indicate special conditions like how weak minions will take damage if they fall or how there are claustrophobic minions that will die if completely surrounded by other cards. There are ninja minions which are played face-down and are only revealed during the next fight or assassin minions which take the place of other minions when played. There's a fair diversity of minion abilities and a minion can have more than one symbol / ability, which makes things even crazier.

Finally, the draw deck is seeded in such a way that the Master card is randomly placed towards the bottom of the stack. You'll first encounter "The Master Is Coming" card until finally you get the Master himself. And when the Master arrives, three Big Hairy Fights take place before scores are tabulated. Then all towers are scored based on the two cards in the tower, the height of the tower and where the Foreminion is. Needless to say that it is in your best interests to get your Foreminions as high as possible.

The game is pretty fun and scales well enough with more players. It's rather tricky to determine if you'll solely play cards on your own tower or if you should decided to become more aggressive in your play since attacking other players means less cards in your tower. And even if a minion played on another tower can influence the final outcome, it also means that you've still added another minion to a rival and that minion will eventually score points at end of game.

But the clever minion names and adorable art go a long way to really giving this game a fun vibe. More players can lead to some pretty creative tower efforts, assuming you don't lose your own tower to rival attacks.

Three Cheers For Master is a nice bridge game to add to your collection and the limitation of the draw deck as a timer makes for rather concise games. The already has an expansion and I'm quite curious to see how it plays. For now the game gets a good 3.5 crazy minion cards out of a possible 5.


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