Familiar Games recently launched Mageling on Kickstarter and was kind enough to send me a prototype of the game to get a feel of what the game plays like. Familiar called the game a “dice activation” game and says it plays like a deck builder without all the shuffling and sorting of cards. This is pretty spot on.

Mageling has you trying to beat 5 different locations by rolling dice, allocating the dice to earn Power, Mana, or buy cards, and using the powers on those cards to make yourself more and more powerful. Power is the currency used to purchase cards, while Mana is a type of banked power. Managing these two resources becomes critical, especially late in the game.

As far as cards go, players may have a Grimoire of up to 8 cards in front of them. These cards are always in play and can be activated by rolling their symbol one the dice during a turn. Cards can be damaged by location text of abilities from other cards which mean they have to be healed by a die roll, thus lowering your turn’s effectiveness. There’s also Spawns that attach to you that prevent you from beating locations and can have other adverse effects through the game. These must be removed by spending 2 Power.

The best way to wrap your head around all this is to watch a playthrough here.

The first person to beat the 5th location is the winner.

I played this with my 11-year-old son, the deckbuilding fan of the family, and we both had an amazing time playing. The game initially felt slow to ramp up, but I blame that on the learning curve since we decided to read the rules as we went along. Once we got the hang of things turns were really quick. The whole experience took about 45 for the two of us and that would probably drop to 30 now that we know how to play.

Mageling is almost funded. A pledge of $10 will get you a print-and-play copy of the game once it’s funded, while a pledge of $22 will get you a print copy. In my mind, the latter is the way to go. It’s an excellent price for an excellent game.

A prototype copy of Mageling was provided free for this preview by Familiar Games

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