Miremarsh from Room 17 is a game all about becoming king of the swamp. Playable either Solo or in groups of upto 6 players there is something rather disturbingly charming about this game.
So starting out your journey in Miremarsh can seem a little time consuming as you have to set up the board for play. While this isn’t to long a process. If you don’t organise things as you pack up it can take a bit longer than necessary. Although it is well worth it as each space should technically change every game so you dont know which routes are safe and which routes aren’t. Even the quests you need to complete are randomly drawn each game.
The aim of the game is to complete one quest (two if you are playing solo). To do this you will have a draw deck of goblins which randomises which charactor you will use. This is a very finite resource, probably the most limiting in the game. It acts as a ‘life pool’ for your game, but is shared amongst all players. A legitimate tactic which I used twice was to burn through the goblins available and then just wait for my opponent to die. It worked the first time around but back fired dramatically the second time around.
So once set up and you draw your first goblin you take the associated model and set up your dashboard. Each goblin is different and may or may not be suited for some, all or none of the quests available to complete the game. Fear not though as you are able to ‘upgrade’ the goblins to give them more of a fighting chance to complete your quests.
Inside the Box
Inside the core box is everything you will need to play. The ruleset comes in a slim pamplet stlye book, yes we all know that I hate these booklet style rules. In this case though it is definitely more suited as the rules are incredibly easy to get to grips with and the rulebook has plenty of explanations in it to help get you going.
The miniatures are in form fitted plastic which makes storing them and displaying the box much easier. I wish more companies, especially those that produce the ‘all in box’ style games would do this. Back to the miniatures each one is easy to identify with their charactor board and are a joy to paint and look at. With Miremarsh, Room 17 have really hit a home run with their miniatures production here. Small enough not to be excessively fiddly to get a decent paint job on. Yet not large enough to take away from the immersion of the game.
The game board is nice and thick card job, necessary due to the recessed sections for the tiles, which are equally good quality card stock that will really take a hammering. The tokens are much thinner more akin to other cardoard tokens, however there is an upgraded token set available seperately. The cards required for play are a bit on the thin side and there arent many of them at the moment but hopefully more stuff will appear in expansions.
That’s pretty much it for the contents of the box. Playing the game is an interesting affair of resource management, questing and upgrading. Made a lot more tense by the fact that just about everything can take out your goblin in an instant, Miremarsh is not a frindly place. Every action in Miremarsh requires using symbols to complete these are generated at the start of the turn using your goblins dice pool, this is generally one of the most important things to upgrade. You are able to reroll dice but only unspent dice not the entire pool.
With each dice having different combinations of symbols on them its important to get a good variety as you never know what challenge you will face next as the first time you move ont a space you have to flip it, it could be safe it could give you a nice bonus. More often than not it will trigger an encounter with some horrible resident of the Marshes.
If you dont complete the first challenge, you die, if however you do beat the first challenge you have the option of going further. Trying to kill the beast which will give you better rewards and in turn uncover the tile beneath which could give your goblin a boost. Or you could move off to another tile. However if you do this the encounter will remain and if you anyone goes back on the tile they have to start the encounter from the start again.
All of this is to the backdrop of the food you carry in the form of fish. At the end of the your turn you need to discard a fish. Run out of fish and you die, and restart with a new goblin. If there is one available if not you are out of the game.
Although it can be incredibly frustrating to loose many games in a row and then be beaten by your nine year old child (I am honestly not bitter), Miremarsh is incredibly fun to play. Maybe not as deep as other games on the surface. However with multiple resources to manage and the upgradability of the goblins definitely makes each game very different. Even with the limited tiles provided each game is totally different.
I may get tired of dying a lot and need to buy some more dice as the ones provided do not like me. Other than that I have really enjoyed every game I have played. There has always been a glimmer of hope that I could possibly become the King of Miremarsh. The fact that it has rarely happened yet is testimant to each games uniqueness. Usually loosing 7 games on the trot is enough to really make me rethink a game. Miremarsh however just keeps drawing me back in. I have one of the expansions to review as well. Although I have sworn not to play that one until I have become the king. Despite how cool it looks.
Despite having a 14+ age rating on the box my 9 year old managed to get to grips with the game quick enough to force me into defeat a few times. On the whole as a solo game its challenging enough to be difficult but fun enough to keep replaying. As a multiplayer its just as challenging but it is a lot more fun. Some of the quests may raise an eyebrow but are all really thematic. The component quality is really good and we are hoping to see more adventures in Miremarsh. It is a truly great unique and thematic IP.