The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Board Games

Review — Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit

An expansion for the hit pocket-game Micro Dojo.

A great-looking cover image! Both sparse & expressive.

Micro Dojo’s theme is already quite attractive. I love the cartoonish art and components. Of course, being able to fit it in the front pocket of my jeans was a nice perk! I’ve played the base game several times as a filler between heavy games with friends, and they’ve all said that it’s deeper than they expected.

I enjoyed it most as a solo experience. I was even able to play it on an airplane tray table! I found the variable difficulty levels of the solo game thinky enough for me to enjoy the game by myself.

Naturally, I was keen to see what a future expansion would be like. I took a look at the early updates and liked what I saw. The designer — Ben Downton — was kind enough to let me try out a prototype.

New components

The expansion adds a lot to the original game! There are 2 new tracks called Loyalty and Deceit. A player can unlock bonuses by advancing up the tracks first. This symbolizes that they’ve gained favor with a particular faction.

There is also an advanced mode which provides a longer game experience. This was the most welcome addition as one of my objections to the base game was that it could end too quickly if the automa player drew the right cards early. With the longer VP track, I feel more confident spending my resources on buildings that provide benefits beyond pure VP. Now it feels like there will be enough time to build a resource engine.

The expansion adds a lot of new buildings to buy, as well as different bonus tiles to compete for. This makes for a variable experience and adds replayability. There are also 4 new characters with their own unique abilities.

Micro Dojo — Loyalty & Deceit offers as much fun as board games 10x its size…and 20x its price.

I love the box art!

I believe the game will be offered as a standard and as a deluxe game. The deluxe game will likely have meeples to replace the cardboard characters. The first Kickstarter was a very well-run operation on all accounts. The product shipped lightning fast and the price was cheaper than any game I’ve ever seen.

The two players who enjoyed the 1v1 experience the most were the two heavy-euro players in our group. Both of them lost to me quickly in the first game and then in the second game slowed down and respected how consequentially a simple movement can be in Micro Dojo.

One of the best things I can say about a minimalist game is that it has high replayability and that the decision points confront the players with non-trivial forks in the road. “Should I buy that building and try to out-resource my opponent, or should I go straight for the VP?” “If the game goes long I’ll wish I had the building, but if my opponent cuts it short I might not be able to gain enough value from the purchase.”

Upgraded Character Meeples!

For some players, this game will feel too small. It can be difficult to move some of the components around at times. It’s very easy to knock a component off of a track or to mess up the game state. That never created a problem for me, but it’s something to be aware of.

This is a 1–2 player game. If you usually play 3 or more player games, this might not see play for you. Also, this game has a low luck factor. The better player will usually win. If that bothers you, then this game might not be the best fit.

In all of its glory!

Final Thoughts

I think Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit is a great addition to the base game. It gives players an impressive array of variability rarely seen in small box games. For people who consider such things, the $-to-fun ratio is hard to beat. The chance to have a game like this in your collection is really worth considering.

Follow the campaign on Kickstarter. Here is the campaign link. You’ll receive a reminder email upon launch of the expansion. And here’s a link to the Micro Dojo group on Facebook if you want to speak with the designer and play-community directly.

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A board game enthusiast and author.