It’s a Kind of Magic…

Those who regularly follow this blog will know that I’m not usually the sort to buy boxed games. Not only do they tend to be somewhat pricey, but they also don’t really represent good value for money, in my opinion. And as I don’t have a huge gaming budget, they merely represent ‘nice ideas’ rather than potential purchases.

However…

Sometimes you come across, purely by chance, an absolute bargain and just have to snap it up…such as this:

This is the Magic The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers boxed wargame, which contains 35 plastic miniatures and 6 interlocking cardboard tiles to create your battlefield, which has a recommended retail price of £29.99. However, Amazon in the UK are currently selling this game for £8.48…

You read that correctly…£8.48 for a boxed wargame with thirty-five plastic miniatures…even if you don’t actually ever play the game, that works out at approximately 24p per figure. Bargain!

However, as I’m not known for knee-jerk purchasing, why exactly did I get this game?

Well, whilst it may be branded “Magic the Gathering”, this is just a variation of Heroscape. The only real difference I can see from reading the rules is that your hero character – the Planeswalker – can cast a certain number of spells per turn, as well as having special abilities like a standard Heroscape character. The movement, dice rolling and general look of the ‘army cards’ is very reminiscent of original ‘Scape, which is unsurprising really, as this game was written by Craig Van Ness, the chap responsible for the original game.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t aware of this until after I’d got it. I bought it because you got 35 figures for under a tenner and each one is an individual sculpt. But you also get these:

Six interlocking cardboard tiles, that cover an area of just over two feet square. The tiles feature pre-printed artwork depicting desert wastes with water features, and can be rearranged is several different configurations, depending on the particular scenario you’re playing. You also get two cardboard ruins (not shown) and two 3-hex sand tiles and 2 1-hex sand tiles – which ARE actual Heroscape tiles, but in a solid yellow colour.

But let’s move on to the figures. As Magic the Gathering has five different types of mana, unsurprisingly there are five factions, one for each colour. Each faction gets a pre-painted Planeswalker figure and two squads of three figures, representing the forces that particular faction can bring to bear.

The White Planeswalker has a squad of Rhino men, which are the weakest sculpts in the whole box and a squad of desert tribesmen types. I could look up the actual names, but it’s the actual figures you’re interested in, so you probably don’t really care what their “official” names are…

Next we have the Black Planeswalker, and her two squads of Undead – three axe-wielding skeleton/zombies and three ghoul/ghast types.

Next we have the Green Planeswalker and her elven archers and nature elementals.

The Blue Planeswalker and what it apparently illusionary doubles and “Leyline Phantoms” – which are the four-armed demon-types.

And lastly, the Red Planeswalker and her squads of phoenixes and firecats.

Each individual figure is a unique sculpt and is cast as a one-piece in a the relevant coloured plastic, except for the Planeswalkers themselves.

Other than the Rhino-men, who could have been cool – but just aren’t, all the figures are pretty decent sculpts. Some of the bases don’t sit flat, due to how they’ve been shipped, but as they plastic is fairly flexible, the old hot water/cold water trick should restore the slightly warped back to their correct poses.

Whilst the overall theme of the set is Fantasy, I think it’s fairly obvious that once you’ve got these figures, what you do with them is up to you. I’m currently trying to decide if the ghoul types would be better used as minions of Skeletor or some kind of Aztec tomb-guardians.

Lots of figures, lots of possibilities, not much outlay – typical Jez-type post.

Should you want a box yourself, it can be found here.

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21 thoughts on “It’s a Kind of Magic…

  1. What an absolutely fabulous find. The value is incredible and…. well too good an opportunity to miss isn`t it? Seeing as they only had a few left on Amazon I went ahead and ordered myself one… NOT for myself, though it is sorely tempting, but no… I will be good: I already own enough minis (though the terrain is lovely). This will make a perfect present belated Birthday pressie for the daughter`s fiancé. Thanks for sharing this Jez. I`m really chuffed.

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    • Too much of a bargain not to get, Stevie, and whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, I thought I’d let people know, in case they wanted their own copy. Glad I was of some help. I can see the battleboards being used for various other games too, as they’re convenient to set up.

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          • Absolutely Jez. With my second blog looming ever closer (starting it in second half of this year) and the whole thing themed to focused on a couple of complete (long term) fantasy campaigns, this is e-x-a-c-t-l-y what I can see it being used for. Three DM`s each adding their own input and collections to the pile to create an uber game, This precious find is the sort of nice inexpensive thing I like to convert and add to my games.

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    • I’ve had a good look at the expansions and whilst not yet as good value as this set, as one of them has a huge-arse monster in it, I will be keeping an eye on it.
      I hadn’t considered doing BatReps, as the game reads very much as a variation of Heroscape, but should I give it a trial run, I may publish my thoughts.

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        • Should they drop a bit more in price, I might consider getting them. I do try to only encourage people to buy stuff they can actually use AND is a reasonable cost. This set had enough potential bits in it that I immediately started considering how each part could be used elsewhere – which shows that it has a use for me, rather than just buying fir the sake of it.

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          • .. and that`s why I listened. I know you only post this sort of review when its something useful.. not just a flavour of the month.

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    • Sorry Steve. Certainly received the last one, with the “Don’ts of Ireland” video link. But only picked that one up last thing last night. I think I did receive the previous one too, but it’s only recenrly that I’ve got a bit of ‘breathing space’ and have had time to start doind things.

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  2. Very interesting stuff as usual Jez, not really in the market for figures at moment but a very good and cheap find, I especially like the “firecats”.

    Also really sorry to hear you are selling off some of you comic collection, there isn’t any Micronauts, 80’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy, Star Hunters, or Skull the Slayers up for grabs is there? (Cheeky sod that I am!) 😉

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Glad to see you back in the digital realm. Roger – you have been missed.

      Yeah, a bit of a bargain with a fair few useful miniatures. I’m considering using one of the firecats as some kind of Oriental beastie, as I think it woyld work quite well. But I may be able to spare one for you, if you would have a use for it.

      And needs must when the taxman comes knocking. However, it appears my particular taste in comics represents good reading, but not necessarily high value. And I don’t unfortunately have any of the titles you mention.

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      • Thanks so much for the kind offer of a “firecat” but nice as they are IU don’t really have a use for one myself, so best you keep all three (I could see Scooby or the Ghostbusters, being troubled by these too 🙂 )

        The taxman can be a bit of a bu**er at times can’t he, sadly we aren’t rich enough to get out of paying him though!!

        I’m not surprised you didn’t have any of the comics I’m currently seeking (I’ve recently got back into it ), it tends to be the slightly more obscure sci/fi titles that attract me at present. best of luck with selling what you have to get rid of at the best prices.

        Cheers Roger.

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  3. Pingback: Ghostbusters – Evil-ution | Carrion Crow's Buffet

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