Aug 30

Cancelling the Apocalypse: A Review of Mech vs Minions

Quick Board Game Reviews That Pack a Punch. No Rules, Just Opinions. 

Mechs vs. Minions is a cooperative tabletop campaign for 2-4 players. Set in the world of Runeterra, players take on the roles of four intrepid Yordles: Corki, Tristana, Heimerdinger, and Ziggs, who must join forces and pilot their newly-crafted mechs against an army of marauding minions. With modular boards, programmatic command lines, and a story-driven campaign, each mission will be unique, putting your teamwork, programming, and piloting skills to the test.

There are ten missions in total, and each individual mission will take about 60-90 minutes. The box includes five game boards, four command lines (one for each player), four painted mech miniatures, ability and damage decks, a sand timer, a bomb-like-power source miniature, 6 metal trackers, 4 acrylic shards, 4 dice, and 100 minion miniatures. There also appears to be some large object trying to get out of that sealed box…


Cooperative games draw a lot of criticism. Gamers tend to want to win on their own ability more than they want to lose as a group, and I like cooperative games as long as it’s not that one person telling everyone what to do. In this aspect Mech vs Minions did a great job. The timer on the card drafting, the damage cards flipping your command line on end, and the state of the board changing keeps everyone focused on their needs and abilities. The gameplay is simple and the missions are easy to grok.

Though it's tied to to popular MOBA League of Legends,Mechs vs Minions feels oddly 8-bit. Because the goals are simple, the commands are rigid, and the artwork cartoony, it's almost like dusting off an old Nintendo cart and spending a rainy afternoon revisiting a forgotten classic of the era with a buddy next to you manning controller #2. But like a lot of musty games of that era, sometimes the scenarios feel a little more frustrating than challenging, and even though further levels appear to add new and exciting experiences, the longer you play the more repetitive it seems

I like programming games for the most part...cough RoboRally...and I think it’s a great mechanic for cooperative play. The card drafting and planning on how you place them in the command line board is a lot of fun for me. The rest of the game plays itself out based on those decisions. Mechs vs Minions has a fair amount random effects and movement, but there’s just the right amount of mitigation too. Overall it’s a really balanced design. Unfortunately, the depth of the game petered out about two-thirds through the missions and it got a bit boring.
Mechs vs Minions keeps programming fast and fun by kicking off each round with a timed card draft. You won’t have time to hem and haw over your choices because if you wait too long, you won’t get one. There are 12 different cards in the deck, each one granting an ability such as movement or offense to keep the minion horde at bay. Each card will be slotted into your command line, and as you stack them, the abilities become more powerful. Or, instead of just adding to your abilities, cards can also be used to repair damage or swap slots on your command line.

When we first started to play, I was into the characters and story on the mission briefings. There are 10 missions, and towards the end there I was a bit bored by it. Overall it’s uses the League of Legends theme well, and the text on the cards is fun. If I were more into League of Legends I imagine I would be more immersed, but not much to complain about here. It’s very solid on theme integration.

I’m not a League of Legends guy. I have a surface familiarity with it but I’ve never actually played. That might be why I found myself not really attached to the theme much at all. Riot Games creates a little self-contained world in this giant box, with fun little flavor bits here and there, but I honestly could not tell you the name of my character because there isn’t any story involvement for them at all and they don’t carry much personality. I may as well have been playing ‘Generic Red Mech’.

The art is great and cohesive throughout the game. The sculpts on the mini’s and even the prepainted main character minis are all fantastic. I don’t know how much work went into all of this but it’s top notch. When you first open the box the whole production value is off the charts. I am seriously impressed with Riot Games.

The main character and boss figures are outstanding, painted nicely with nice details. The cards have cool illustrations on them and the map tiles are charmingly detailed. It looks amazing on the table. It’s an outstanding production from top to bottom, filled with thoughtful details such as uniform wells that will hold any sculpt of minion figure. I hope Riot Games keeps producing tabletop games with this level of quality.

Riot Games is charging $75 for this game and there is very little doubt about the value you are getting with this game. It’s incredible. The storage system alone is a marvel, and it still impresses me how much they fit into an admittedly huge box. It’s more than you’d think. The metal coins, crystal shards, and metal cogs were all unexpected, not to mention the Boss miniature which is awesome. They could charge me twice as much and I wouldn’t bat an eye at spending the money.
The amount of high quality components you get for $75 is staggering. The markers used to track kills and rune activations are huge and metal. There are dozens of minions in the box with several unique sculpts, and colorful, pre-painted minis. You get 10 missions plus a tutorial mission, so you’re probably looking at 12-15 hours of play. Creative types will be able to use the components to craft their own missions. It’s an excellent value for the price.

In the beginning, I was enamored with the game. I like the mechanics and the novelty of it all, but by the last few missions, I was ready to be done. At some point Mechs vs Minions added rules and conditions that seemed geared to making the game harder but not adding much new. The very last envelope gives you a few more cards and rules to make it more difficult, but again the game just becomes more challenging without being more fun in my opinion. I felt like I was trying to run a mech through a maze and the reward was the same bit of cheese we started with except moldier. At first, this was a 5, but I think I am going to settle on a 4 due to the high production quality and low replayability. I may end up getting rid of it though unless there are plans for an expansion.
The dirty little secret of Mechs vs Minions is it’s a campaign game only in the most basic sense of the word. This game has a lot going for it -- amazing production values and frantic, fun tactical gameplay that’s easy to learn, all at a steal of a price. But somewhere around Mission 7, my enthusiasm started to fade quickly. The story, such as it is, never seems to go anywhere and the stakes are never really raised. Instead, the game just has you do the same couple of things over and over again, amping up the difficulty by adding more rules. I hope the success of the game will spawn a sequel, one with more story to tie it together and richer mech customization options. That’s the game I really want to play. With a healthy bonus for production quality, this one is a 4 for me.
The Dukes of Dice Rating System
1 = Poorly designed but playable. Not necessarily fun.
2 = Game has some merit but has significant detractions.
3 = Game is okay, not exciting. Will play in the right situation.
4 = A good game. Worth playing, just not all the time. Belongs in the Duchy.
5 = A great game, will rarely turn down a play of it.
6 = An all-time favorite that is a contender for the top 10

If you want to connect with us you can find:

Matthew on Twitter as @uncouthtooth or matthew@dukesofdice.com

Matt on Twitter as @matosowalker

Join the discussion in our Board Game Geek Guild on this review HERE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>