Today we’re taking a look at Minion Masters, a card-based Strategy-game by BetaDwarf! It’s a free-to-play-game with some interesting mechanics and while I’m not sure if it counts as Indie, it certainly isn’t a triple-A-title!
In Minion Masters you play as a Minion Master against others, increasing your rank when defeating them and dropping in the leaderboard ranks. Each Minion Master has a unique way of attacking units and three different abilities that are unlocked whenever you level up. You increase your level by gaining enough experience points, to do that you have to control the bridges on the map that connect the enemy-territory to yours.
To do that, you need to play cards that cost mana. Mana is generated passively and is consumed upon playing a card. There’re three different types of cards: Spells, Minions, and Buildings.
Spell Cards range from AoE-damage to buffs for your minions to spells that summon minions. Buildings can do all kinds of stuff as well from summoning minions overtime to healing nearby units to damaging enemy buildings or generating experience points.
So, when you want to take control over the bridges you need to summon Minions that then walk onto the bridge. There’s also a variety of Minions (just like in every card game) with flying and ground, normal and siege, and ranged and melee units. To win a round of Minion Masters, you need to destroy the enemy Master Tower where the Minion Masters are standing on.
As for modes, there’s Solo-Battle, Team-Battle, Draft, Challenges, Expeditions, and Mayhem. As a beginner, you should go for the Challenges since you’re then playing against NPCs that reward you with cards upon winning. That way, you’re able to build a decent deck relatively early on. The Expeditions and Mayhem are only temporary modes, meaning that they rotate every few days and are only available for a few days.
Expeditions, on the one hand, are sort of like a story-mode where you go into an area and have to defeat enemies to gain glory. Once you have enough glory you can then challenge the bosses that all have unique spells and get harder the less glory you have. When defeating “normal enemies”, you’re presented with three “missions” that grant you bonus-glory if you achieve them before winning. These games are against actual players as well, so you’re always against people in your skill-bracket, except when facing off against the bosses. At the end of every expedition, you receive a certain reward, based on that expedition.
Mayhem, on the other hand, are modes with extra-rules, like a group of minions spawning on every side of the map every half minute or you summoning a minion whenever you use a spell. In this mode, you get a free entry once and after that have to pay 750 Gold to enter again. After losing three times, you’re out of the “run” and need to pay the fee again but are rewarded based on your performance. The best reward is awarded at 12 wins, giving you a card. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort, so you should always check the rewards beforehand.
Draft gives you a random deck and a random master when you attempt it. In the Draft Queue, you get to choose from one of three cards for your first card and so on. There’s quite a lot of RNG involved in this queue, so I usually don’t go for it at all.
Solo- and Team-Battle are the Queues that I usually go for. Here you build a deck, choose a Master and are facing off against enemies in your skill-bracket. Between matches you can also change up your deck a bit to improve it. Team-Battle is divided into premade and random since it’s harder to play with someone random than with someone you know. You also get to make up for each other’s faults when you’re playing premade, which I like quite a lot, strategy-wise.
Each season lasts for only one month. After that, you get a season-reward based on your rank for every queue. In the next season, you start at Wood again but are rewarded with points towards the next division based on your last rank. In the May-season for example, I ended up in Platinum 4 in solo Queue, I think, giving me quite a lot of points in the June season, so that I had to start from Silver 1 only if I remember correctly. That way I didn’t have to grind too many ranked games again before reaching the previous rank and possibly climbing higher.
Speaking of ranks, there’re different ranks in Minion Masters: Wood, Stone, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster. Each rank has five divisions from 5 (lowest) to 1 (highest).
Before I’m going into strategies and the deckbuilding, I wanted to talk about the game’s business model and the resources that you get in-game. There’s gold acquired from Missions, playing the game and free tokens. It is used to buy cosmetics in the shop as well as some cards and new power tokens. Every day you gain a free token, that awards you with either rubies or gold. On top of that, there’re season and power tokens. Season Tokens award you with a certain pool of cards depending on the battle-pass-theme. Power Tokens can be purchased for gold in the shop and grant you one random card. Via this mechanic, you’re able to get powerful cards even when you’re low on shards. Shards are awarded in different ways in the game and are used to craft cards. And then there’re the previously mentioned rubies. You’re able to buy skins and other kinds of cosmetics with rubies but have to invest real money into the game to get these. The game only funds itself with DLCs (like the All Masters DLC) and ruby-purchases but is other than that free to play. There’s a season pass in every season that rewards you with rewards in every tier if you buy the season pass of the game for rubies. The free season pass only grants you rewards on every few tiers, similar to other games BUT Minion Masters also grants you rubies now and then that you then can use to buy the season pass. The season pass itself kind of pays for itself if you achieve most ranks, meaning that you get new cards, gold, shards, avatars and skins on top of rubies, so I would say that players should keep their free rubies and then buy the season pass to gain even more rubies off of that.
The different Minion Masters can be unlocked with both Shards and Rubies but to win the game you just need a good deck and skill, so while getting rubies makes it easier with the battle pass and the faster-acquired masters, it’s not pay-to-win, which I like quite a lot.
As for strategies, you have a huge amount of cards from all kinds of factions to chose from to build a deck that consists of ten cards. I used to play quite a lot of Apep, a Minion Master that gains a free minion card with his first and third skill, and used to run a deck with even more cards that summon minions of a higher cost or grant me more mana, so that I could save up mana and have an advantage of the enemy. The downside was that I didn’t have much control over my deck and could technically just lose due to bad RNG.
After that I used to play a deck focused around “Morgrul’s Ragers”, a card that gives all minions on the battlefield increased damage when a Void-minion has damaged the enemy’s Master Tower. So of course, I would run a deck with the Rammer for example who only attacks buildings (including the Master Tower) on top of Swarmers and other fast units that come in packs and can deal significant damage as well as ranged ground units that could deal with flying units.
And right now I’m playing the latest Master, Morellia, who’s got a Necronomicon that can either summon skeletons, give friendly units more health, harvest health from enemy units that heal the own Master Tower or decrease a 4+ mana spell’s cost, which in itself is quite strong, but her third quirk gives her “The Queen Dragon” as a card which summons Nyrvir, an undead dragon that has plenty of health and damage. On top of that Nyrvir also has a Quest going where you need to collect spectral essence from units to gain a bonus effect. So my deck is focused on Accursed units that all give you spectral essence. At 20 spectral essence, I gain extra effects as the quest is finished. Also since Morellia’s early game is not as strong as some other Masters’ I’m also running an experience-shrine that gives you bonus experience passively. Therefore I reach level 3 faster and can finish at that point most of the time.
To combat different enemy units, you need to play certain other units. There’s a unit called “The Cleaver” which costs 6 mana, for example, and does huge amounts of damage but has low attack-speed since its cleaver gets stuck in the ground after every swing. To combat that one I’m running the Skeleton Horde. For flying units, I have some ranged units, for hordes of enemies I have the Blastmancer and there are even more cards that can be used in certain cases. Every unit has a counter of some sorts!
Usually, you want to gain an advantage on the enemy by answering enemy minions with minions that need less mana. There are also other mechanics like pushing units with other units so that slower enemies get faster to the scene of action. Small features like that add quite a lot to the game since it makes the game “Easy to learn, hard to master“.
My favourite part of the game, however, is the fact that the rounds are fast-paced and only last 2 to 4 minutes on average. The longest rounds I played were 8 minutes long, which is still not that much. So when you’re running low on time, it’s a great thing that these games are really short and can be fit into every schedule – while other games need more time quite often.
But even if I’m praising this game so much, there are a few things that bother me. For instance, you’re gaining shards slowly, meaning that you can only craft up legendary cards that cost 2000 shards after quite a while. The other thing is that the announcer is sometimes really delayed with his commentary and that the music of the game isn’t that great. That is why I’m usually listening to music on Spotify while playing the game. Also when your teammate leaves the game, you automatically lose the game, no matter if you were winning or not. I would like a feature where the game is paused and you’re either able to “surrender”, hence losing the game, or “Fight on!” having both decks available and playing for two alone. Your teammate would then still lose since he left, but you could at least save yourself from possibly losing your rank.
All in all, Minion Masters is a good game. It has some flaws to it but those may be changed in the future since the devs are active on the game and publishing a new patch with balancing-changes and other features every few weeks. The game has quite a lot of replay-value especially since it’s a competitive game with short rounds. There are also 38 achievements on steam that you can go for. Since it’s free, you should check it out for yourself if my review wasn’t enough for you.
This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.