Describing Minion Masters in a single word is impossible. Part-MOBA, part-tower defense, and part-card game, this hybrid mashup defies genre standards to bring something unique and addictive to the gaming table.
Here's the setup: 2-4 players face off against each other on a horizontally fixed arena board with two bridges on the sides. The titular Masters are one of many you select to lead the minions - each master has a special attack and three different perks that unlock as the match goes on. Your goal is to destroy the enemy Master or tower.
Minions, spells, and buildings are all cards, which is where the deck building aspect comes in. Any Master can use any cards, so there are no limitations. Each card has a mana cost from 0-10, and you have to wait for your mana to tick up to play the appropriately costed card. There is a minor delay in summoning units or using spells, so positioning and anticipation is a necessary skill.
While some Masters encourage specific playstyles, you never really know what you're facing until the game starts, and your opponents start summoning. Here is where the depth of play happens as, with nearly 200 different cards, you can mix and match all kinds of strategies. Rush decks, control, all-air/ranged, building heavy, swarm spam, the list goes on. For someone who loves digging into a game and learning, Minion Masters has a lot to offer.
Minion Masters is a free to play game, so you get a default Master, the excellent Stormbringer who excels at all ranged combat. The rest can be unlocked through in-game currency (Shards) or purchased with real money conversion in the form of Rubies. There's also an "all Masters" pack available that's attractive. However, there are always 2-4 different Masters in free rotation each week so, you can try before you buy.
There's a host of other things that are tough to explain in detail, but the game is generous with rewards, and no pay-to-win options exist. There are daily quests, a battle pass, Guilds, Conquest mode, and more bonuses and incentives to keep you playing if you want more stuff. Fortunately, despite the number of things to do, the game doesn't feel unfair or grindy.
Typical games last 2-5 minutes, team modes commonly last longer, up to 6 or 7, but I've never seen anything close to 10. This makes it a great pick up and play game if you only have a short amount of time to on the computer.
Right now, there are almost 200 cards in the game, and the devs seem to add more through mini events every month or two. If this sounds daunting, don't worry - There's a fantastic tutorial that is both wholly informative and entertaining. The cheerful and cheeky announcer keeps you company throughout as you learn how to play. I've also found other players in global chat or the official Discord to be very friendly and helpful if you have questions.
The best part about Minion Masters is how it caters to both the casual and hardcore players. I've seen friends throw random decks together and still see success. Those who are more strategically minded are rewarded by theory crafting and refined experimentation to bring them further up the ranked ladder.
If you want to mix it up, there are tons of game modes to keep you entertained: Battle, team battle, premade team battle, AI challenges, Draft, Expeditions, and Mayhem. The only thing that's missing among this glut of options is an unranked mode where you can still compete against other players without your precious points on the line.
The main battle modes all sport separate rankings, so doing good in one mode doesn't automatically mean you're successful in another. In typical fashion, the higher the rank you are at the end of the month, the more rewards you will get. I've found all the modes to be engaging, and if you want something different, another game mode is just a click away.
Overall I found 2vs2 battles to be the most engaging. 1vs1 is excellent to finish your daily quests but less compelling for grinding. The number of strategies you can pull off increases exponentially when you suddenly have two masters and two decks to play with.
As far as teamwork goes, there is no in-game chat, but you can ping and use emotes. Your teammate's cards are always available to see as well as where they might summon minions or cast spells, so coordination isn't too tricky.
I have but a few gripes about the game in the nearly 30 odd hours I've sunk into it so far. The main one is that the card collection views are a total nuisance. One view is too far zoomed out, forcing you to squint, and the other is too close, forcing you to scroll through many rows of cards unnecessarily. There's a reason all card games use a view that's precisely in the middle that lets you see everything nicely.
Otherwise, the game is a total resource hog. While running, the game seems to use 100% of your CPU/GPU power, meaning if you try to do anything else while playing, your computer functions at a crawl. Inside the game seems to have no performance concerns, it's only when you toggle outside of it. This problem isn't Mac-specific as I've seen many PC players complain about a similar issue. The universally poor optimization is odd and hopefully fixed down the road.
Minor grumbles aside, Minion Masters is a terrifically fun game, that you can enjoy for 2 minutes, or 2 hours at your leisure. The sheer variety of game modes and strategic depth leave it a game that you can experiment, collect, and have fun with for a long time, by yourself or with friends.
Rating: 4/5 Stars!
- Quick games
- Deep strategic possibilities
- Generous rewards
- Card collection views are a nuisance
- Resource hog
- No unranked mode