Visitors And Quests

  • Document recovered from MagicRealm.net; Author John Frenzel?? (well it was written using his copy of MS-Word for sure).

The Mission and Campaign Chits

The Visitor / Mission chits in Magic Realm are one of the least used aspects of the game. Not without reason – they can be difficult to discover, and offer seemingly marginal rewards. While the Visitors are well understood as sources of spells and gold, the 2 missions and 6 quests are rarely used. This article will propose some reasons and benefits to integrating these into your strategy or game.

Missions

The Mission chits, FOOD/ALE and ESCORT PARTY, are a good way to get some gold in a fairly short period of time. This is especially true for those characters not really able to handle the monsters in the game. In smaller games, where players can place several tiles and 1 or 2 V/M chits, it is possible to actually build your entire game strategy around the missions.

We’ll work backwards through this, and start with the reward for completing a mission. In a standard game without weather, the payout is 2 Gold per clearing. A careful character (1 HIDE per day) can therefore expect 6 Gold per day while working a Mission. That’s 5 days to acquire a single VP in Gold, typically.

Having any sort of move advantage (horse, extra phase, or the ability to fly), an extra Hide phase, or being able to travel through safe areas (Valleys and Woods) make the Missions more attractive. All these increase the daily value of the Mission. Since it doesn’t take a phase to pick up a chit, and since you may pick up a chit directly after dropping it off, it is possible to spend a great majority of the game running back and forth between two dwellings – there’s no overhead.

Consider that if you have a workhorse, can travel entirely through Valley and/or Woods tiles, and have managed to discover and pay for a Mission in the first week, you would wind up with 210 Gold. Assigning 5 VPs to Gold nets you a final score of +12 (basic: 2, bonus: 10). Not too shabby for playing FedEx man. And when using the Weather rules, the Missions can be even more lucrative.

That’s a rosy example. Aside from being a terribly boring strategy to actually have to play, there are some big ‘ifs’ involved. Missions are therefore more common for opportunistic characters, or those who are stuck. Let’s look at the downside next.

The main hurdle to overcome is actually getting a V/M chit to appear on the board. Only two of the chits are summoned like anything else on the Setup Card, namely the chits placed in the Altar and Shrine boxes. The others require the character to summon a native first, then the character and the natives summon the V/M chit. This double requirement is unique to the Setup Card, and is a major reason why the chits are rarely taken.

A patient player can achieve this, though. A tough character can head for the Altar or Shrine and wait, and loot the site in the meantime. Otherwise, you’ll be hanging around the dwellings. This is not so bad for characters who tend to do that sort of thing anyway, such as Swordsman, or spellcasters who like Grey magic, such as Witch, Wizard and Magician.

Mission Chits

The Mission chits provide an opportunity for two types of player: one with a Gold VP requirement, and one with a need for extra Gold for a purchase or hire. Let’s focus on those character’s who are most likely a member of one of these two groups.

Many players assign Gold VPs as an afterthought, or a hedge, or because it seems fairly likely they will acquire enough through treasure finds or native killing to make it a sure thing. Rarely is the Gold VP the primary concern of the player. But this can be an effective strategy, when combined with other aspects and strengths of the character.

Swordsman has many methods for acquiring Gold, and is likely to have a Gold VP. With his Barter advantage, he is apt to spend more time at the dwellings. Although he has no benefits to his movement, he does benefit from being more likely to cause a mission chit to appear.

Witch is another who can benefit from the Missions. Consider parking her in a Valley, enchanting the tile, and working as a purveyor of utility magic. The Broomstick spell allows her to complete these missions quickly. The Gold can be used to either fulfill a VP, or to purchase scrolls or artifacts.

Wizard, who can benefit from enchanted Valley and Woods tiles, and Magician, who must usually play a more opportunistic game, are also good candidates for prowling the dwellings and summoning the missions. Wizard also benefits from always being able to take the shortest route.

Amazon, with her extra Move phase, could consider bashing natives, and pulling the occasional mission.

Missions are a consideration for characters who benefit from having an army, like Black Knight and Captain. One mission will usually generate a war chest sufficient for a single native group.

Campaign Chits

The Campaigns in Magic Realm, while so appealing in idea, are rarely used, and with good reason. They are difficult to find, expensive to pick up, risky to undertake, and devoid of any direct benefits. So what’s the point?

The silver lining is in the rulebook: “The only reward he gets is this increased friendliness and the use he can make of it while he has the chit.” Which really begs the question, “What use is that?” At first look it may seem there is none, since it is common, at least in larger games, for most of the natives to die at the hands of the other characters. Having dead allies isn’t much of an advantage.

The way around this is by seeking campaigns whose chit is associated with an allied group. In other words, the RAID chit in the Lancers or Woodfolk box is beneficial, and you are guaranteed some benefit (if they were dead the chit wouldn’t appear!), but the RAID chit in the Bashkar box is worthless.

Hopefully, your character is at least Neutral with your partners, so you can use the Ally table to trade with or hire them. It is better to trade, since you don’t have to give back any items after the campaign is complete. Play for boons; if you were Friendly or Allied with the partner before taking the campaign, you can get multiple boons. If you have the means, take everything they’ve got. Ponies, the Medium Bow, warhorses, Heavy weapons, and spare armor are always valuable (to someone), not to mention whatever treasure cards they may be harboring.

Hiring your new partners is most common, though, since you still have to make sure the campaign is completed. This seems logical, but it is a better idea to undertake the campaign with another character.

So it is the same crowd that benefits from the campaign chits – the Opportunists and the Warlords. The Opportunists can stockpile choice items, and can get some protection and a way to deal with monsters. The Warlords were probably going to crush the natives anyway, and may as well get some free equipment and cheap henchmen to do the job. The drawback for this type of character, though, is that with so many Enemy groups, the tactic of selling items to the targeted group just before destroying them is no longer feasible.

From a strategy standpoint, given the nature of the game, the Mission and Campaign chits are not compelling enough to be of real value in a standard length game. The difficulty in locating a chit, the high price and risk, and the short time frame allowed make it too uncertain to depend on. In addition, natives are more often viewed as predictable monsters with easily accessible lairs (which is how they act), which greatly reduces the trade and commerce aspects of the game. This in turn greatly reduces the value of any character’s trade relationships, and that is the only benefit the campaigns offer.

In a longer game, a development game, or for players who prefer an “RPG” style of play, the campaigns and missions are a nice change of pace from the usual treasure and spell hunting, and they add flavor to the game.

I would love to see the V/M chits more active in every game. In order for this to occur, though, several things would have to happen:

  1. The “sucker punch” needs to be fixed, to help the natives stay alive longer. This will help increase the value of the trade relationships, and encourage players to deal with the natives in some manner other than at swordpoint. Making the natives tougher (more of them, or smarter) would accomplish the same thing.
  2. The chits should appear more frequently. For example, eliminate the requirement that a character be in the clearing. If a native leader is on the board, or the appropriate Site or Treasure Site is displayed, the chit moves to the board, even if no character is present.
  3. Provide a more lasting or substantial reward. For example, the trade relationships could be altered permanently (up 1 for the partners, down 2 for foes), or an award of Gold could be paid. Perhaps each campaign chit could be dealt a small treasure in addition to, or in place of, a Gold award. The treasures could be pulled one each from the non-garrison natives and the Scholar. Better still, some of the treasures from Robin Warren’s expansion could be mixed in.