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MAHOU SHOUJO Early Review: Card Battler Offers Alternative to Magic

Most people have had some exposure to the magical girl anime genre through classics such as Sailor Moon or the more recent Puella Magi Madoka Magika. But outside those circles you would be far less likely to run into the tropes seen in most magical girl romps. Deerfox Games hopes to combat the lack magical girls in tabletop with Mahou Shoujo, a card game where you take the role of a magical girl squad fighting for control of gems.

The game is meant for two players and each set will come with two decks so players can get started straight out of box. Each deck of magical girls has its own theme and transformation catchphrases to match. The game recently had a successful Kickstarter and, at the moment, there are two decks available for to download: garden deck and bakery deck. So far, announced themes for later packs will include nightmares and daydreams alongside cosmos and digital.

Gameplay

As the leader of a magical girl squad, the player controls up to four magical girls; only one can be active at a time and the rest are on standby. Before the game starts, each players chooses 3 “alter egos” from their deck; these are everyday girls with traits like “cheerful” or “aloof” that influence their abilities once transformed. Players then shuffle the rest of the deck and draw four cards to create their first hand. After this, there are four main phases of play during each player’s turn. First, players draw a card. After this, they have the chance to play an alter ego to their squad on standby.

Next is the action phase. During this phase players may either transform an alter ego into a magical girl, temporarily transform a magical girl into a grand magical girl, summon a familiar or switch out their active alter ego with one from standby. Alter ego cards combine with magical girl cards (signified by a big + sign) to represent transforming into that magical girl. Similarly, grand magical girls can only be combined with alter egos that have already been transformed into magical girls. When standby alter egos are transformed into magical girls, the magical girl card is placed face down.

Finally, as the final action on their turn, players may choose to attack. The magical girl and alter ego’s stats add together to determine health, attack, and magic points: magic points determine how many times a magical girl can attack, each attack costing 1 mp; attack points represent how much damage a magical girl can do to an enemy; health points show how close a magical girl is to being defeated. When health points reach zero, magical girl and alter ego are “banished” and discarded. The attacker gains a gem for the defeat. Banishing an alter ego who had yet to transform, however, is only worth half a gem.

The final type of cards, event cards, can be played at any time. Players continue to go back and forth until one acquires three full gems and wins. A video tutorial can be found here.

Components / Rulebook

Each set will come with two ready-to-play decks, gem cards and an instruction booklet. As of yet an official rulebook is not available for the game. According to Mila Pokorny, head designer of Mahou Shoujo, there will be a few minor changes in the future regarding the overall terminology used in the rulebook. Even so, the print and play versions include a single explanation page that manages to address the majority of questions a new player could have.

The print and play versions also include a play mat page to use for set up that shows where each card should be placed. Besides the cards themselves, a few dice will also be handy to keep track of magic and health should you choose to play.

Overall

As a card-based game, Mahou Shoujo is easy to set up and playtime can range between 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending how distracted you get by the cute designs. The humor of the development team is obvious and enjoyable as many cards, such as the event card “Ending Credits” which forces a turn to end early, parody the magical girl genre in a loving way. Mahou Shoujo would be a good way to introduce younger games to the type of battle systems seen among popular trading card games such as Pokemon or Magic.

As long as the core game stays the same when it goes to print, Mahou Shoujo promises to be an enjoyable addition to anyone’s collection, provided you’re willing to “fight like a girl.”

3.5 out of 5 stars

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

Cover image via

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Categories: Tabletop Reviews

Author:Brittany Pressley

Brittany loves tabletop games. She can be found on twitter: @brittpressley.

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2 Comments on “MAHOU SHOUJO Early Review: Card Battler Offers Alternative to Magic”

  1. 05/19/2015 at 2:10 PM #

    Love hearing about new tabletop games! Thanks for the coverage; I’ll have to try this out at my regular board game night :)

  2. Brittany Pressley
    06/24/2016 at 9:44 AM #

    So it has been a while since I originally posted this but the first card sets are supposed to be shipping soon! Let me know if you ever get your hands on one and what you thought!
    -Brittany

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