There are just not enough games that celebrate the mythology and ancient culture of India. I don’t know why – the country is overflowing with people. You would think some of them would be gamers. But I guess they’re too busy answering the phone when you try to call your bank or telling you to restart your computer when you just want to find out why the TV won’t come on.
Maha Yodha aims to fix that oversight (the not-enough-Indian-games oversight, not the miserable-customer-service oversight) by presenting a collectible card game based on Hindu mythology and lore. You might think it’s what Luke Skywalker sounds like when he bites his tongue, but that’s not it at all. It’s all about terrifying demons whose blood spawns clones, gods of destruction and life, ancient warriors with legendary blades, and tons and tons of bloodshed. Who knew India was so into violence? No wonder they keep coming to America to go to grad school. We have the coolest revenge movies (though they do have chicken vindaloo, so that’s a good reason to visit).
I played a prototype of Maha Yodha that was basically two preconstructed decks built to oppose each other. These decks are not especially dissimilar, which may lead to some concern over customization, but they did a great job of letting me know how the game works. And it works great.
The thing is, Indian mythology is weird. Just pasting Hindu superheroes onto Magic would have been a disservice. So the game, too, is weird. But weird good, like you’ve-never-seen-this-before weird. You’re trying to beat up your opponent by summoning warriors and giving them weapons… which, OK, sounds just like Magic. But the crazy part is that at the beginning of every turn, you have to pick up the warriors you played last turn and put them back in your hand. And you don’t have mana or resources or whatever, you just get five valor a turn to buy your heroes, and you might end up spending it to play the same guys you just had out there.
Now, if you’re clever, you may see a flaw here. If you put down the same cards every turn, isn’t the game going to devolve into an endless series of ‘here look at my guys,’ followed by ‘here look at my guys’? And yeah, it might, except that Maha Yodha also has scrolls. These little spoilers do a fantastic job of taking the whole thing and screwing it up for everybody. You might steal guys from your opponent, leaving him glaring an evil glare as you kick him square in the nutsack. You might make him wipe the board and leave him with nobody to fight his battles. You might find ways to play extra guys for free, or reclaim the scrolls you used last time. Frankly, it’s kind of genius, and if you think the same play you used last turn is going to work again, you could be real surprised.
The other neat feature of Maha Yodha is that even though it’s got plenty of tricky tactical plays and surprise combos, it’s also incredibly easy to play. You know how the current rules for Magic are like 146 pages? These rules can be summed up in six, and that’s because there’s a ton of white space and pictures. It’s uncomplicated, with all the rules printed right on the card. There’s even a bunch of flavor text that is actually good for something, in case you want to know who the crap-in-a-can Karna is supposed to be (he’s supposed to be Karna, by the way – that was a dude).
The art in Maha Yodha is great. All the warriors are painted in a very cool, very modern style, and if Indian dudes made D&D, this is how it would look. It’s bad-ass, is what I’m saying. The weapons are mostly just pictures of the individual weapons, which is actually a great idea because it means you won’t accidentally play a whole bunch of weapons who you thought were warriors because they had pictures of ass-kickers on the card (there are exceptions, and they are nearly uniformly confusing). The scrolls feature classic Indian art, which pictures cool guys doing stuff like wearing other people’s intestines for necklaces or riding four-armed eagles. There are exceptions there, too, and those can also throw you for a curve. Hopefully the designers pick a horse and back it, because an art style that’s all over the map is just hard on the eyes.
I really only have one complaint with Maha Yodha, and I’m pretty sure they’ll fix it – the white deck has yellow lettering. And it’s small. In case you’re not a graphic designer, yellow on white is incredibly hard to read. My wife had a headache when the game ended. Right now, I’m assuming they’ll fix that, and I hope they do, because I mean to back this Kickstarter when it starts. But not if the text is still yellow on white. It might look great, but it’s not much good if I can’t read it.
I still dig the odd CCG, and I especially like the wallet-saving LCG format where you don’t have to buy a truckload of boosters to be competitive. Maha Yodha, though, is the first collectible card game I’ve seen in a year or three on which I actually want to spend some money. The Kickstarter project hasn’t launched yet, but I am really looking forward to it.
Hindu mythology is kind of cool and thoroughly bizarre
Lots of very cool art
CCG-style concepts that are unlike anything I’ve seen before
Easy to learn and still really smart
The varying art styles can throw you for a curve
Yellow text on white, and not even that, if they fix it
This Kickstarter is live now, so you can go get some. As in, you can pay, and then get some cards in six months.
4 Responses to “Card Game Review – Maha Yodha”
- Maha Yodha Press | Thought Process - [...] “Maha Yodha is the first card game I’ve seen in a year or three on which I actually want…