There are a ton of MOBA’s out there and I’m not currently playing any of them anymore. Why? Well that is due to the long-winded nature of the genre. It’s not that I don’t have the time to play a long game, but the single match length is a bit much. I used to like watching the League of Legends matches and I still can enjoy them at times, but playing them is a whole other can of worms. I loved LoL‘s Dominion mode and was grateful when they introduced it with its shorter, quicker matches… until they eventually canned it. I know that grinds are part of the meta and how the games work mechanically, but I feel it’s tough to make a grind fun in any game. Does Minion Masters fall into the same trap? Well… that’s a difficult question, let me break it down for you.
It’s important to note that while this game is very polished, it is technically an Early Access game and they mention that they are testing for balance and the like. Things could and probably will change in the future.
Minion Masters from Beta Dwarf (the makers of FORCED and FORCED SHOWDOWN) are entering the MOBA scene and doing things quite a bit differently. They taken some of their characters from past games and are recreating the concept of the MOBA and so far, I’m mostly liking what I see. (That seems vague, but I’ll try to make it more clear.) On the surface, if you’re a fan of the traditional control your hero, kill minions for money, level up and buy skills and gear, Minion Masters will turn you on your head. In this game, your hero stands on a pedestal and with your help, aids the minions that get sent across the arena over one of two bridges. It’s small, it’s quick, it’s simple and it’s quite ingenious.
I’m not one to jump into multiplayer because of MOBA skill reasons so I chose to take the single player route. Naturally, this route teaches you the basics of the game and how it all works. You pick ten cards(minions) before the match and start. As the match goes, your mana bar fills and you can start to place minions on the board if you’ve attained the required mana. They proceed to the other side of the board and violence ensues. Some units can attack only ground or air while others can attack both or none and will make b-lines for your enemies base. It’s play and counter the whole match. Having a well-balanced team is difficult to have in the beginning so most will create a deck that plays a specific way and try to make it work or try the next round. After said round, you are rewarded with experience, Gold and rank.
As you gain in experience your account will level up and you’ll get Gold, new units that can only be attained by leveling and also Rubies and Shards. There are a lot of variables in play here and it can be kind of daunting. You’ll figure it out fairly quickly with some back and forth in the easy-to-use menus. Money buys you chests which give you Power Tokens which then gives you a roulette of randomly selected cards. There can be duplicates of ones you already have and duplicates in the selection itself (which is admittedly rough since there is only eight). You’ll get a free token every day for a chance at more Gold, Shards or Rubies. New heroes (some inspire different builds) and arenas(all of which are cosmetic) can be purchased with either Shards or Rubies. Shards are also used to craft new cards/minions and duplicates/unwanted cards can be scrapped for pennies-on-the-dollar Shards (but at it’s least something). Rubies can also purchase two or ten packs of Power Tokens (with ten being the better deal of course). All this to say, if you play long enough, you will eventually be able to get everything without dropping a dollar and/or supporting the developers.
You can plunk down $20 and get double Gold for a year, 50% exp for winning forever and 2500 Rubies and 500 Shards for their Premium Upgrade. $20 isn’t much so I won’t scoff at the price at all. In fact, I think it’s rather fair. On the same note, play it for about two weeks or so and that will give you a few units from the random draws, the units you get from leveling up and you’ll have some experience on what you like/want and what you don’t care for from playing with others online. At that point, your money will be better spent because you’ll have played with multiple heroes and seen more minions. The only thing you’re really buying here though is the Rubies and Shards because the money from winning is terrible so getting double 20 Gold when you need 1,000 to get a box feels like a drop in the bucket and you’re better off leveling and showing up for dailies. Experience is cool, but to be honest, if you like this game, you’ll level up eventually. As a bit of a warning, you can play directly against your friends, but you get nothing for it unless it’s a daily.
All that said, the action is fast and the concept is cool. The grind isn’t seen in the game, it’s out of the game. The game will be free to play and can stay like that. However, if you are not friends with cranky old Mr. RNG, then the grind can appear for you outside of the core gameplay. If there are units that you want, but can’t afford, the ability to obtain enough can take some time. If there are multiple units that you want, it will take even longer. This has led some to call Minion Masters a wallet warrior friendly game. I don’t feel this is too true, but I can see where they are coming from. Everything is attainable, but developers have to tease you with a carrot(or Ruby) in some form or another even if you can’t buy a unit directly with real world money. With RNG being king though, you’ll encounter a lot of people with some crazy good cards early on. Not all of those people paid money, some of them got lucky, but people will say what they will say.