Cheaty Mages is a betting and bluffing game where players are trying to accumulate the most money after 3 rounds of play. Each round, 5 combatants and 1 judge are placed face up on the table. Players are then dealt a certain number of cards depending on the number of players. Before any action begins, each player must then place one to three bids on any of the 5 combatants. Each player may not place more than one bid per combatant. The catch for the bids is this, if you place only one bid, you will receive double the face value if you win, of you place two bids, you will win the face value, and if you place three bids, you will only win half the face value rounded up. So bidding on more combatants is not always the best way to go.
Once all bids have been placed ( in secret of course ), the action begins.
Players may then in turn order, play a spell on any combatant to affect the combatants power. The type of spell will determine whether it is played face up or face down. Some spells are instant effects that can change the complexion of the game in varying degrees.
Determining the winner of the round is very simple. It is based purely on one stat, and that is the combatant's power. The combatant with the most power after all spells are taken into account is the winner of the battle ( round ) and will pay out accordingly. As expected, the combatants with higher base power will pay out less than those with a weaker base power.
All this sounds very straightforward and merely ok, but the way that the game and each round is changed is by the presence of the judge.
The judge for each round is different and he/she helps to determine a few things. The most important is the maximum mana level. Players can play all the spells they want but if any combatant's mana level exceeds the amount stipulated by the judge, that combatant either loses their spells or worse, gets ejected from the battle. Because each spell cast has a mana amount, so casting too many spells on a combatant may eventually be detrimental. The judge also determines whether some spells are illegal and cannot be played. This will reduce the range of choices for each player and might force a player to take less ( or maybe more ! ) risks.
All of this combines to create a pretty fun game for me. I enjoy the bluffing and reading of the other players. Sometimes a player may drive an illusion of supporting one combatant only to turn around and reveal that they bid on the character that no-one aided or depleted. All in all we all enjoyed this one as well. It took slightly longer than I hoped though as my two friends suddenly had caught a case of AP trying to read and perhaps over read each other. Haha
Well, I faired TERRIBLY. Each player starts the game with 2 coins, and me, I ended the game with... 2 coins. Hahaha. I spent 3 rounds in absolute futility and came away with nothing to show for my efforts. That's what happens when I push my luck. Going for one bid wins. XP
I'm quite hesitant to compare Say Bye to the Villains with Cheaty Mages as both are very drastically different games really. I enjoyed both and am looking forward to my next plays of each. But having said that, the best game of the night ( in my opinion ) was saved for last...