Middara is a huge anime based campaign adventure game, set over three story acts, of which the first act only is available currently to play. The game is similar to a dungeon crawler but like Gloomhaven is actually more a scripted set of scenarios to try and overcome, driven by a giant storybook, where you undertake pre-set up missions as linked adventures, and where success or failure may result in slightly different story paths. There is a crawl mode included in a separate book if you would like to play a shorter series of one off missions.
The components in this game are excellent, from the huge storybook with lovely colourful well drawn artwork, the character and monster cards look great, although the card stock for these is relatively thin, and tiles come with a shine effect in places to reflect water or other features. There are lot of models including some some larger weird monster boss models too, and of a good production standard albeit slightly more rounded in their fine detail than some competing games, but you can argue this is in keeping with the theme of the game style.
This is a dice driven game, and designed for four characters to be playing, so lower player counts need to pick up additional roles. Enemies have really nice intelligence cards to provide their actions, and these do compete well with the best around such as Sword & Sorcery. Character development in this game is a real strength, and while heroes start with a slight skill emphasis, such as the warhammer heavy hitter, sword dual wielder or more nimble dodger, over time they can be customised how you prefer, via new skills, weapons and equipment. Monster battles are dice driven, rolling coloured dice related to the weapons you are using, but also adding combo effects from symbols too. The damage dealt is related to over hitting the required defence of the enemy and does involve some calculations to be made after rolling.
The campaign storybook is immense, as is the box with enough game here, like Gloomhaven, to last many players almost indefinitely if they wish to complete it all. There is a huge amount of writing, more than any other game and with hidden reveal areas to keep new spawn areas a surprise which is really nice, but i have to say is also very hard to read within the tiny red read screen provided. The artwork is excellent, but could be considered over sensualised at times for some.
Why i chose not not keep it …
For a lot of players, this may be a perfect one box adventure mission campaign game, and it stands up really well in terms of content and is excellent for production, but for my personal taste the anime theme is less appealing than the more generic fantasy. The story book is immense but there is so much background and character dialogue to read out between missions, which can leave players getting fidgety, and the storyline passages writing is aimed towards a younger audience, and while decent enough can be tiresome. In terms of mechanics i found the combat dice calculations made for very swingy results due to the high dice variations, which can easily cause one hit deaths on either hero or enemy sides. Overall though as a campaign game this offers a huge amount of content and is a really neat product, but for me it was competing with Sword & Sorcery which i ultimately preferred.