Masters of the Universe: The Board Game Designer Diary – Episode 4

I don’t like to feel good. I like to feel evil!” – Skeletor

It’s often said that the villain is what makes a good story. But I beg to differ – it’s the dynamics of both villains and heroes, and the ups and downs of those two forces rising to match each other, that make for the best, most memorable tales. Both sides of a story’s conflict must be filled with interesting, memorable characters and motivations (even if it is “rule the universe”). Lucky for us, Masters of the Universe happens to have some of the best heroes and villains around! And there are endless ways to mix-and-match them.

Michael Shinall here, co-designer of Masters of the Universe: The Board Game, and today I’m going to talk about the dynamics of Heroes and Villains and how those roles function in the game.

As we’ve spoken about before, Masters of the Universe contains heroes of every type: whether it be He-Man, the Strongest-Man-In-The-Universe, the tactical strategist Man-At-Arms, or the reality-shaping spellcaster Orko (ok, small exaggeration there), or the dozens of other heroic allies, there is something for everyone. But not everyone wants to play the good guy, right? And I totally get it: being heroic is great and all, but sometimes you just want to concoct nefarious schemes and unleash an army of minions to do your bidding… And is that really so much to ask? No, I don’t think it is… So, let’s explore that aspect as it relates to the game…

Masters of the Universe: The Board Game is a competitive co-op game which sees a group of players banding together to achieve their goals, all the while facing off against the Controller, a single player acting as the leader of the opposing side. When you and your group begin the game, the first choice you’re going to make is exactly which side is going to play, well, which side… As the group of players, you can elect to select characters from among the Heroic Warriors… or you could go the opposite route and play as the Evil Horde, effectively making Skeletor and his cohorts the “main characters” of this particular game.

Whichever side is not selected by the players will go to the Controller. Each player in the group will then select a singular character to play as, each with their own unique set of skills, abilities, and attacks. So during one game you and your friends could team up as He-Man, Teela, and Stratos to take on the forces of the Evil Horde (including their “loyal” Hover Robot minions, one of my personal favorites), and the next you could find yourself playing Evil-Lyn, Beast Man, and Trap Jaw attempting to conquer the mighty Heroic Warriors (and their brave Eternian Soldier reinforcements).

Throughout the game these characters will “Power Up”, unlocking new skills and capabilities. It’s the unique dynamic that each Characters brings to the table, combing efforts across the entire team, that will define your play-experience in eachgame. You’re going to need to rely on your teammates just as much as they rely on you if you are to achieve your goals!

Meanwhile, the Controller acts as the mastermind of the opposing force, using an asymmetrical, but very similar, set of rules. Like the team, you will control a group of characters as well. You won’t be unlocking skills or abilities with them as the game progresses, but that’s not to say you won’t have your own unique capabilities.

Plus, the Controller has access to the loyal Minions/Allies (Recall those Hover Robotsand Eternian Soldiers I mentioned before?)! While they are not nearly as strong as the iconic Heroes and Villains, they are useful in their own right, and always willing to aid the cause!

And most exciting of all, each team will have access to a, oh, look I’m out of time for this week. They really have me on a tight schedule.

So, what role will you choose when it comes to the conflict? Will you rise to meet the forces of evil and protect the innocent? Or will the draw of absolute power prove too strong to resist? The choice is yours!

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