Masters of the Universe: The Board Game Designer Diary – Episode 2


What does it mean to you? Is it something to be used for your own advantage? A method of crushing those that stand in your way? Or is it something that must be paired with restraint, used only for good in defense of the defenseless, and to make the universe a better place?

That question lies at the heart of the struggle between good and evil, and Masters of the Universe excels in bringing it to the forefront in an action-packed, epic way. Whether it was He-Man’s valiant efforts to protect the power within Castle Grayskull, or Skeletor’s ruthless thirst to control the universe, power was always at the center of these conflicts. And on the tabletop, it’s no exception!

Michael Shinall here, co-designer of the Masters of the Universe: The Board Game, and today I’m going to talk about “power” and what it means for the game. While the above paragraph might have dealt with the more, let’s say, philosophical aspects of power, in this context we’re using it to describe one of our core gameplay systems we’ve implemented!

As we’ve mentioned previously (in the first Designer Diary, which you can read here), the characters are our primary focus when it comes to the game, and a key aspect of each character are the struggles and conflicts they must face. The constant push-and-pull these of the opposing forces of good and evil makes for some incredible power dynamics amongst and between the characters. It is in this regard that we have implemented what we’re calling the “Power System” into the game.

Essentially, Power is expended by the characters in a variety of ways, but typically it’s used to activate their unique skills and abilities and boost their normal actions to heroic levels. Picture all those heroic (or nefarious) moments where a character pushed themselves above and beyond to achieve something seemingly impossible (or just downright cool). That’s a display of Power!

Power is not just a simple resource, however. As we mentioned, power lies at the heart of the conflict between good and evil, and these opposing forces always rise to match each other! When one side, whether it be the Heroic Warriors or the Evil Warriors, draws upon Power to achieve their goals, the opposite side responds in kind, escalating the struggle. In this way, the tone of each game is directly set by the players and their actions. Will they cautiously approach a situation, exerting only what is needed to achieve their goals? Or will they draw upon the full potential of their characters, unleashing their might but knowing that their opposing force will act in kind?

As the scenario progresses, however, all characters will grow in strength, directly related to how close each side is coming to winning the overall game. When either side advances towards their goals, the overall capabilities and power of each character likewise increases. Characters get stronger, more skills are unlocked, the conflict grows. Like any good story, there is a sense of growth leading up to the high-point of the story- and this is experienced by all sides. Should the forces of evil grow ever powerful, good will rise up to meet the challenge, but the same will be said if our heroic forces prove to be outwitting our evildoers – they will rise in kind to become even more of a threat.

So what side will you choose when it comes to the fight for Eternia? Will you join the valiant Heroic Warriors, or devise evil schemes as part of the Evil Warriors?

Masters of the Universe and all related characters, names and locations are ™ and © 2020 Mattel Inc.

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