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Board Game Review: ‘Krosmaster: Arena’

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Cute is in, and arena-style combat does not get any cuter than in Krosmaster: Arena. The premise is the same as other arena combat games with richly created characters battling it out for prizes. What sets Krosmaster apart is just how awesomely adorable these characters are. In a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, Japanime Games brought to life this excellent new take on a time-tested style of gaming.

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The most striking feature of the game is Krosmaster’s fantastic aesthetic. The game features very high production value and great art on its brightly colored board and tokens and, especially, its even more brightly colored figurines. The set comes with eight characters, two as bonus crossovers from the MMORPG worlds of Ankama. Each of the characters receives a quick background on its character card, such as the villain Kassius Kaos who dreamed of being a minstrel but was so awful he became a fighter. Other characters carry special powers, like Lil Healey who can cure wounds, or Bill Tell with his enormous range, or Anna Tommy with her abilities in teleportation.

Some players may be skeptical of arena-style gaming due to the history of intricately precise calculations and rules-lawyering war gaming that are often associated with the genre. It is true that the instruction manual for Krosmaster is 32 pages, but the vast majority of those pages are illustrations and examples of the surprisingly easy rules. In seven boxes on a single page at the end, the entire set of rules is summed up in straightforward fashion.

Each player gears up, plays out effects, and carries on attacks based on their character’s listed Movement Points and Action Points. Then, it is the next player’s turn. Krosmaster is as simple as that. Within these bounds of simplicity, the game designers give each character its own special powers that move opponents, cause area affects, and even summon familiars. Slightly manipulating a solid system gives each character its own strategy, making fights between differently powered characters very different indeed.

For such game quality it is surprisingly inexpensive, especially compared to other combat miniatures games in which players may spend hundreds on plastic pieces they have to paint themselves. Thanks to the connections with Ankama and a wide online following, Krosmaster also features bonuses for play via the Internet, allowing players to duke it out internationally. Expansions sets each with four new characters are already on their way, boosting the number of collectibles into the dozens, each with their own unique powers-set, background, and, best of all, style.

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Krosmaster: Arena is a game for two to four players ages 14 and up. The box lists 45 to 60 minutes for games, but they can be shorter or longer depending on the skills of the players involved. Even outside of the game, the beautifully designed characters are well suited for collectors and toy enthusiasts to display.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.
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