Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great Treasures

Although Avalon Hill's Magic Realm is a competitive multi-player game, victory is not achieved through the defeat of other players.

Instead, victory depends on how much fame, notoriety and gold you collect, how many spells you discover, and how many Great Treasures you control.

In Magic Realm, each player pre-selects their victory conditions. They can choose any combination of victory conditions, from five categories: Great Treasures, Spells, Fame, Notoriety, and Gold.

At the end of the game, each player's performance is measured against their pre-selected victory conditions. If they meet or exceed their pre-selected victory conditions, they win.

Players can select Great Treasures as one of their victory conditions. However, while there are roughly 80 magic items in the Magic Realm, only seventeen of those are "Great Treasures". Great Treasures have a large red spot on them, to denote their Great Treasure status.

Let's have a look at the some of those Great Treasures.

The Cloven Hoof is coveted by the Witch and Witch King (Warlock), as the Cloven Hoof acts as a continuous supply of Black magic. It is worth 40 notoriety points if kept, and subtracts 20 fame points from your final game score.

The Cloven Hoof is a boon for the Witch and Warlock, but for the rest of the characters, its in-game effect (of adding one to die-rolls) is a bad thing ... the equivalent of walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror. That's because lower numbers are usually better than higher numbers in Magic Realm. Since the Cloven Hoof adds one to your dice rolls, you'll never roll a 1, and will more often roll a 6.

And once you have discovered the Cloven Hoof, you can't turn off it's in-game effect: you are saddled with back luck for the rest of the game. So unless you are playing the Witch or Warlock, the best thing to do with the Cloven Hoof is trade this to the Witch or Warlock, or travel to one of the safe valley clearings (no dwellings and not in the valley with the ghosts) and discard it.

You may think that selling the Cloven Hoof to the natives and collecting 4 Gold is preferable to discarding it. The problem is, you (and every other character) must add 1 to your dice rolls when subsequently interacting with that native group, so selling this is really not worth it, unless you intend never to visit those natives again, or wish to impede the other characters' interactions with them.

The Sacred Grail is sought after by both the White Knight (Magic Realm's version of the Paladin) and the Pilgrim (the equivalent of D&D's Cleric). For those two characters, the continuous supply of White Magic provides a way to activate their otherwise moribund spell-casting abilities.

The Sacred Grail is also a Large Treasure. This has no in-game effect: Large Treasures are simply the treasures that, during game set-up, are placed at the bottom of the treasure hoards, and are therefore more difficult to obtain.

For characters other than the White Knight and the Pilgrim, there is no reason to hold on to this Great Treasure, unless you need it for your Great Treasure victory conditions. Selling the Sacred Grail to the Order provides you 12 Gold and 50 Fame, while keeping it, instead, actually costs you 25 Notoriety.

Whenever I think of the Golden Icon, I think of the image from the front of the AD&D Players Handbook, or the primitive but valuable statues described in any number of Conan and other pulp fantasy tales.

The Golden Icon is a Tremendous weight treasure. Unless a character has tremendous strength, or a horse that can carry tremendous weight, she cannot move nor take possession of this Great Treasure.

That will be doubly frustrating for those weaker characters, as this is also the most valuable treasure in the game, worth 100 Gold if sold to any of the native groups.

The Druid, the Magician, and the Wizard would all benefit from the Golden Icon's continuous supply of Grey (Nature) magic, but none of those characters have tremendous move chits to carry the Golden Icon with them.

This is where cooperation in the Magic Realm becomes important: when cooperating with the Dwarf, Berserker, and perhaps even the White Knight, all of whom can carry the Golden Icon, the magic-using characters gain access to Grey Magic, while the fighters benefit from having a potent spell-caster at their side.

Because the Golden Icon represents a more primitive religious sensibility, you gain notoriety but lose fame in the possessing.

Let's call the Dragon Essence, "Cloven Hoof Junior".

Like the Cloven Hoof, the Dragon Essence has a baleful effect: it acts as a SMOKE chit, thus attracting dragons to your location. That is not entirely bad, for those few characters that can defeat Dragons; nor for the Sorceror, Witch and Warlock, all of whom have the ability to possess the Dragon so arriving.

As the Dragon Essence supplies continuous Purple (Elemental) magic, it is much sought after by the Sorceror, who can thereafter more easily rain down fire and lightning, storms and hurricanes, disappear, transform himself into monstrous creatures, and provide underground lighting to assist him and his compatriots.

Another notorious Great Treasure, Dragon Essence reduces your Fame by 10 points, while simultaneously increasing your Notoriety by 20 points.

This last treasure, the Flowers of Rest, is really not a Great Treasure at all, as you can see by the absence of a red "Great Treasures" spot.

However, in the interest of completeness, I wanted to include all of the five treasures that supply magic. In this case, the Flowers of Rest supply continuous Gold (Faerie) magic, of considerable value to the Elf and the Woodsgirl.

For the rest of the Magic Realm characters, the Flowers of Rest are more annoying than useful. The Flowers are annoying because they cause any fatigued character in the same clearing as the Flowers to fall asleep at the beginning of their turn, and wake up, fully rested, the next day.

That would be convenient if your character was seriously fatigued. But when the character has only minor fatigue, and the player loses her entire planned turn to the unavoidable effects of this magic item, it can cause some frustration.

Well, there you have it. Four of the Great Treasures, plus one. Many of the above Great Treasures are of specific benefit to one or more characters. We will look at the rest of the Great Treasures, in subsequent posts.

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