I had seen Krosmaster Arena for sale at PAX Prime and I immediately loved the art on the box. I wasn’t able to pick it up at the show but when I saw it again this week at a game shop near the office I had to grab it. The little figures were so awesome I even picked up a set of them as well before I had even played the game. I figured worst case scenario the game sucks and they will just look cool on my shelf. The good news is the game is fucking awesome. The bad news is now I have to buy a lot more of these little bastards.
Krosmaster Arena is a physical version of a digital game that you can play inside the games Wakfu or Dofus. I know that’s strange but it’s sort of like how you can buy and play a real life version of Tetra Master from FF IX. I personally had no experience with the digital version as I had never played Wakfu or Dofus before.
So what sort of game is it? To me it’s sort of like a tabletop MOBA similar to League of Legends or DOTA but without the tower defense. It’s about choosing a character from a diverse roster of heroes and battling in an arena against your friends. You could also describe it as a PVP version of Super Dungeon Explore or If you’re not sick of comparisons already it also feels a bit like a turn based Power Stone.
Each Krosmaster comes with a card explaining their unique abilities and special powers. They are all beautiful little models and each of them plays very different. You assemble a team of these Krosmansters as does your opponent and then you place them in the arena. The arena board that comes in the box has two sides and each side offers a different experience. LIke any MOBA I’d say the game is less about the map and more about the Krosmasters you bring to it and how they interact. Scattered around the arena are little piles of money. Your Krosmaster can choose to pick these up on their turn and then use that money to buy various buffs and equipment to help them during battle. Once again you can think of this as the item shop in a MOBA.
It’s also worth pointing out that Krosmaster Arena has one of the smartest instruction manuals I’ve ever seen. It’s a game that is designed to teach you how to play as you play and the book does a marvelous job of this. When you open it up each page will have a rules section on one side and a little map on the other. You place the book between you and your friend and play the scenario as you read the rules. The first couple are simple little battles that teach you the fundamentals. They slowly become more elaborate as they start adding in more of the rules until at the very end you’re playing on the actual game board with full character cards. It’s a brilliant design that feels very much like a video game tutorial.
We’ve played a few games here at the office now and even tried a team game of two vs. two. No matter how you come at it this game is a blast. A game like this is really only as good as the heroes you play with and these little characters are incredible. Each one feels totally unique but as a group they all feel well balanced. That’s no easy task but they have managed to pull it off here. I also can’t say enough about how gorgeous the game is. From the little figures to the board and its “papercraft” style decorations the game is just beautiful.
I wasn’t familiar with Wakfu or Dofus before playing Krosmaster Arena but I was so impressed with the world and the art that I installed Wakfu a couple nights ago. It’s fair to say they’ve got me hooked.