What: An epic game of programming cartoon mechs dolled out at a manageable pace
Players: 2-4
Time: 60-90 minutes
People: Great for couples or a committed group of friends to play over several sessions
Available: Pre-order the next print direct from Riot games here.

The Gist

Why we recommend it

Some games shouldn’t exist. Those games with an origin story so unusual that makes their very existence incredibly unlikely. Riot games have made billions of dollars from the stupidly popular video game League of Legends. Amazingly, it is also the only game they have ever made.

Until now.

Now they’ve decided to make a board game. I guess when you have all that cash it’s the fun thing to do. It’s probably what Best Play would attempt to do if we suddenly became hyper-rich.

Mechs vs Minions is clearly a love letter to their fans, but even if you aren’t one (which I’m not really) the sheer wealth of stuff and attention to detail is sure to catch your eye.

This game is big. Really damn big. It is by far the biggest game anyone at Best Play owns, and we own the Escape Big Box. Honestly, I can’t get over how much stuff is in the box. Just look at it all.

We all know that quantity does not equal quality. It doesn’t matter how many bits ‘n’ bobs you get in the box if the game isn’t any good, but then I wouldn’t be recommending it if it wasn’t.

I think everyone would agree the worst thing about board games is learning the rules. It’s tiresome and is often the thing that puts us off trying something new. Mechs vs Minions gets around that with something they borrow from their video game expertise: a tutorial.

Just like a video game you learn how to move around the environment (I was surprised it didn’t tell me to crouch or sprint) before you move on to your actions, and then how enemies work. It means from the minute you open the box you can start playing without one of you having to spend 30 minutes reading a rule book and then declaring “right…I think I get it.” before finding out you almost certainly don’t.

But what is the game actually about? Well it’s a cooperative game in which you … well, it depends.

You see, every time you play you open up one of the sealed envelopes containing new mission details. In that way, it’s a little like Best Play favourite Pandemic Legacy. It adds new cards and rules to the game, upping the complexity at a pace that’s easy for anyone to keep up with.

It’s also changing the rules of the game, sometimes subtly but always in ways that require you to play in a new way. This includes a mysterious and dangerous looking box.

Again you ask, but what is the actual game? The game is about programming your colourfully cartoon mechs around the board, destroying waves of minions in the process. There are 100 minions in the box that, in theory, could all be on the board at once so you really will be clearing through them rapidly. You do this by playing cards that tell your mech what to do: to turn, to shoot, to move and so on.

It sounds simple enough, but like another Best Play favourite – Colt Express – your plans might not quite go as you expected. When minions damage you they mess with your cards: changing the order or meaning you might not get the turn card you need in time.

In our games this has left mechs running in the wrong direction away from the action or comically smashing into the other mech, and this throwing their entire turn off course as they’re now out of line. Sometimes these simple moments of chaos lead to an even better turn than you expect. More often than not though, it becomes infinitely worse. The butterfly effect has never been more pronounced in a game.

What amazes me about MvM is that despite looking overwhelming when you open the gigantic box, it’s actually spoon fed in a way that is easy to follow. Nothing feels cheap, everything is deliberate.

The box is perfectly laid out to fit the most stuff in the smallest possible space. The rule book is ordered logically and very readable without jumping around.

There’s a little reference manual for those questions you might have mid-game. It all just makes sense. It’s a game that feels like it has come into the world fully formed, which in reality means it’s something that has had hundreds of hours of love and passion put into the creation of it.

There are very few games you will play that will feel this epic and grand, but remain so considered and approachable. Best Play thoroughly recommends Mechs vs Minions and so would many others given how quickly the first printing has sold out.

Pre-order the next wave of Mechs vs Minions on the Riot games website here.