It’s not often that I get to be the bad guy. In “Master Plan”, players will all be assuming the roles of supervillians hellbent on claiming the ultimate prize before their fellow colleagues do. Unlike most card games I’ve played, this one actually makes use of a “real space” mechanic that forces players to strategically place the cards they play. Players will be laying down cards in an attempt to be the first one to get their pawn to the prize. Before we get into how that all works, I’d like to thank Brad Talton from Level 99 Games for sending me a free review copy. While the game is still about a week away from being released to the general public, the pictures you’ll see in this article represent the final components.
Starting Cards – There are six starting cards, one for each player that plays the game. This is where players begin their journey in their race for the trophy card.
Trophy Card – This is the card that players will be attempting to reach with their pawns.
Space Cards – These forty-seven space cards are primarily used to get players from their starting point to the trophy card. Each card has a similar, plain back while the other side has some sort of unique effect.
Pawns – There are six players pawns, one for each player. It’s important to note that pawns are not included if you buy this game separately from the collector’s pack. My review copy didn’t come with pawns, so I used pens and sharpies…because I could.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player chooses a supervillian starter card and decide as a group whether or not they will include the superpower variant, giving each player a unique power. The starter cards are then flipped to the appropriate side, based on what was decided. The starter cards are arranged in front of players in such a way that they are about one card length apart (long ways). It’s important to have the starter cards near each other because players will be able to make use of other people’s paths, should they wish to. The trophy card is placed about two feet from the starter cards, as equally distant from each as possible. The starting player is the one with the starter card in the right most position, with play moving to the left.
On a player’s turn, they will be able to perform three actions, in this order:
1. Move – A player can move their pawn to an adjacent card. An adjacent card is a card that is less than one card length apart (using the shorter ends / not long ways) from the original card. A player cannot move on their first turn, as there are no adjacent cards to move to. Moving onto a card that is face down requires that the player flip it and follow its instructions. Moving onto a card that is face up has no effect and allows the player to make one more additional, free move.
2. Add – A player can play cards from their hand, face down, at an angle, anywhere on the table. They should keep in mind the distance required to move from one card to the next.
3. Draw – A player can draw one card from the deck. There is no hand limit.
Should a card be destroyed that contains a player pawn, the player is sent back to their starter card, loses all of the cards in their hand, and draws four new cards. The card that was destroyed is discarded. A player who “falls” on their turn loses the rest of their turn. Sudden death begins when the space deck runs out. In this instance, the discard pile is shuffled and used as the new space deck. This time around, however, players who fall are eliminated from the game. Players continue until one person reaches the trophy card or is the land one standing.
The above is simply an overview of the game and doesn’t touch on all of the rules, but should give you an idea on how it is played. For more information, you can check out the manual, here:
I don’t get a chance to play a lot of real space games, but when I do, I generally have a good time. They introduce new ways of looking at strategies that one wouldn’t normally consider. This game turned out to be no different in that regard. Placing cards anywhere I liked allowed me to create traps for others while ensuring safe passage for myself. By the same token, I had to be cautious of cards laid along my path by others. I was constantly guessing whether or not the card was there to trap me or if it was there to simply block my path, my opponent hoping that I would perceive it as a trap and leave it alone. “Knowing that they know that I know that they know” is quite the brain teaser, in which solution ultimately comes down to a player’s personality. It was fun to see the different strategies (and bluffs) employed by the kids.
The overall theme of the cards was well liked by all involved and the effects were pretty well-balanced. No one card stood out too much, despite them all being different. That’s not to say they weren’t fun to think about, but I didn’t feel like any particular one would break the game, which is a good thing. The cards were also pretty easy to read and I enjoyed being given the option to employ super powers, though I recommend you forgo them until you get your feet wet with the basics. I don’t like that pawns aren’t included in the game if you buy it separately from the collector’s pack. Perhaps if there was a way to include a small bag during shipping…though that wouldn’t solve the issue with retail copies. I don’t have experience on that end of it to offer suggestions, but it’s worth mentioning to you paying customers nonetheless.
In the end, the kids and I enjoyed our time with “Master Plan.” It was easy to play and didn’t take long to set up or clean up. Gameplay never lasted long than thirty minutes, making it an ideal game for travel and busy school nights. Vinnie (11) didn’t require any coaching on my end and Anthony (16) enjoyed ruining everyone else’s day with trap after trap. The box and the cards themselves were of good quality, which makes its $12.00 price tag (as of 1/4/12) a fair one. The three of us recommend it if you happen to be in the market for that new, quick card game.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Master Plan” by visiting the official website, here: