Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.
If you run a quick poll on least favorite board game mechanisms, you’ll likely find that “take that” is going to be mentioned somewhere on the list. But most people don’t love multiplayer solitaire either. There is clearly room for both as Munchkin has shown that take that can be incredibly successful.
Mini Steel may not be exactly Munchkin—it features some very different mechanisms and dwarves and goblins generic fantasy theme. But it has a similar aspect of playing cards against your opponent. Does it do so in a way that is fun to play and doesn’t wear out it’s welcome… let’s see…
Mini Steel consists of 100 cards and a few tokens to track health and statuses. Each player will start with 10 hit points and are eliminated when they lose all of them. The last player standing wins, easy peasy.
On your turn, you’ll draw up to 6 cards and take two actions. Generally speaking, an action is playing a card to the table. Those often will be attack cards and will deal damage to another player. But you can also have healing potions, equipment to power up your future attacks, or utility cards that give you a special ability.
You can also play two attack cards together as part of a combo. That will deal more damage and potentially inflict some poison on your opponents. Poison, as you might guess, will cause them to lose hit points at the beginning of every turn.
You have to be careful though, players can play a defense in response to your attack. Some defense spells could even reflect that attack back on you. So saving up your big combo attack might just lead to you knocking yourself out if you aren’t careful.
It’s worth discussing the form factor of Mini Steel. The box is roughly a 2.5 inch cube. This game is made to travel and be the type of game you can play at a party, brewery, or really anywhere you might be. From deciding to play to stuffing everything back in the box should only take you about 20 minutes. For me, that’s what sets Mini Steel apart from some other games that can drag on (and on… and on.)
The combos are a nice touch as well. You can realistically play four cards on your turn and perform two combos, dealing a bunch of damage. But you might find yourself with a pretty big target on your back since you only have two cards left to defend yourself. Not that those attack cards can provide much defense, but the ability to bluff that you have something to play in response.
Mini Steel has a good mix of luck of the draw and light tactics as you have to make the best of what you’ve been dealt. Some games you may have some poison cards and develop your plan around that, while in other cases you may load up on equipment and go for extremely strong attacks. Each requires just reading the situation and making the most out of your six cards each round.
There is player elimination in this game, but generally, I’ve found that mostly after the first elimination the rest of the game only takes about five minutes.
Mini Steel is quick, portable, and fun. You’ll sling cards around, knocking around your friends, and saving up big combos and hoping they don’t get deflected back to you. Obviously, this isn’t the type of game to really dig into heavy strategy or take super seriously. But for a lighthearted game you can play in 20 minutes and stuff in your pocket, it certainly is worth a look.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review. This post was a paid preview, you can find out more information here.