Riot have announced Mechs vs Minions - a co-operative boardgame based on their mega-popular MOBA, League of Legends [official site]. The game will launch in October (October 13th, to be exact) which makes sense given October is the month of the League of Legends World Championships so millions of eyeballs are on the game at that point. But what does a board game that riffs on Summoner's Rift look like?
The idea is four of the Yordle characters from the game - Corki, Tristana, Heimerdinger and Ziggs - can take charge of and program mechs which they then use to combat a sea of marauding minions. The board itself is consists of modular pieces which can be rearranged according to the mission, and the characters each have a command line board on which they can queue up moves and attacks and the like which they then execute to (hopefully) advance the mission and deal with the minions.
It's a co-op experience for 2-4 players so it's less about trouncing and backstabbing the people around the table with you and more about working out how to use your resources together. I tend to prefer co-op games as I'm not very good at needing to obliterate opponents - I feel too guilty!
The ten missions come together to form a story-driven campaign which is described by Riot as follows:
"Rumble has invited Heimerdinger, Tristana, Corki, and Ziggs to his soon-to-be-mega-prestigious school. Without giving away too much, things quickly go sideways, and the Yordles are forced to work together to fight off the minion menace."
One of the most interesting things to me is the idea of recreating skills from the game in a satisfying physical way that won't get bogged down in working out variables. You can see some of the finished cards in the tutorial video and you get moves like Scythe where your mech must turn by a certain amount but you also take out one (or more) minions within one space distance from you. The Cyclotron card also forces you to turn but you can take out minions that are diagonal to you. Ripsaw takes out targets in a line in front of you. Chain Lightning takes out a minion in front of you but can then jump diagonally to more targets. Upgrading the cards by stacking elements makes them stronger.
There's definitely a component of trying to work out how the movement and attack components will work out as you chain them up and then hoping you've got it right and not, say, forgotten a quarter turn that will see you stomping backwards, leaving the minion wave completely unscathed.
The other thing I'm interested in is what the player base for the game will be. League now claims an estimated 100 million active monthly players so even if the board game's appeal was limited to LoL players it's not like they'd be floundering for an audience, but given how it riffs on MOBA concepts and abilities as well as incorporating bits and bobs from the lore when it comes to characters and so on I'm wondering how someone unfamiliar with the game might fare.
It's also $75 plus shipping (£57.50 in UK money). That's not actually much more than some other games I own. I just looked on Amazon and Star Wars: Rebellion is north of £60, while a bunch of others on my shelf hover in the £35-£40 bracket, but it's still a significant chunk of change and more than most people would fork out on a whim so I'm curious to see what the pick-up will be like.
Anyhoodle! 13 October. Mechs Vs Minions. What do you reckon?