Malki – Journal Entry #7

 
Get ready to join the fantastic world of Malki, where Watchmen and Warlords will fight each other to protect their King on his way to glory, while Sorcerers will enchant your army to join their side!
 
Created by Luc Van Overschelde, a small game designer from Belgium, Malki is a handcrafted abstract strategy game that will charm you with its minimalist design!
 
Full disclosure: A copy of Malki was provided by the game creator.

How to play

Malki plays on a 9×9 chess-like board with a specially marked center. Each player has 13 pieces of different types. At the start of the game, each player controls nine of his pieces placed in a triangle-shaped formation on his side of the board, while the other four are spare pieces, used for enchanting.
Setup at the beginning of a game – 1 army for each player instead of two armies
Each piece can move a different number of spaces  and can capture different enemy units, based on its shape. It’s pretty easy to forget who can capture who, so the game comes with 4 reference cards that can be used during the match to check if the move that you’re planning to make is a valid one.
 
The main goal of the game is to conquer the center of the board with your King. You are supposed to protect your King on his way to victory using your other pieces, the Watchmen, Warlords and the Sorcerer, by capturing and enchanting enemy units. You can also win by capturing the enemy’s King.
Game play varies based on the number of players:
  • 2 players: each player will have two colors to play with
  • 3 players: one player controls two armies, while the other two will each play with one colour, although they will be allies
  • 4 players: each players controls one color, forming alliances of two from the beginning of the game
If two players are allied, it is enough that one of the two kings that are part of the alliance to conquer the center of the board to win the game.
The winning condition – capture the middle of the board with your King

Thoughts

When I first laid my eyes on Malki, I was mesmerized by the gorgeous design of its pieces. The sharp edges of the hand made pieces and the beautiful colors make it look stunning and I knew I wanted to play it.
 
After first reading the rules, you may think that winning the game is pretty easy, right? Just move some pieces around until your king reaches the center. But what do you do if your enemy blocks the center of the board with a piece that you can not capture because he ate the pieces that are able to defeat it? Or if you are two moves away from winning but you suddenly realize that the enemy got you in a trap and cornered you so well that any move you make, you’ll either lose or you have to sacrifice a piece in order to keep moving?
 
There are so many tricks that you can play on your enemy and so many different ways to place your pieces in order to trap him or avoid to get trapped that the game soon becomes a huge mathematical problem that you have to find the answer to. “If I move this here, I’ll be able to eat his piece, but then he’ll get closer to the center, but I have it covered by my other piece, but he can capture it if I do this move…” is what will be going on and on in your head while playing Malki.
Black player wins by cornering the white player’s King and not letting him get to the center of the board
After 5 or 6 matches I realized that in order to win you have to think at least 2 or 3 moves ahead, taking every move into consideration. It may sound difficult, but you will get used to it the more you play, as you will soon get used to the movement and power ratio of all pieces and you will be able to predict enemy moves easier.
 
You will often be forced to choose between playing an offensive strategy and pushing for the center or taking it a step back and use a more defensive, diplomatic approach to the game in order to secure your win. Sometimes both ways will be viable, and that’s when you really have to start thinking ahead, so you don’t get your pieces captured due to lack of attention.
 
I recommend this game to everyone who is attracted by games that involve abstract strategy. It is easy to learn but hard to master, and it will make you feel very satisfied if you win.
 
If you want to hear more about it in the future, you can follow it on Instagram or you can check their Website. If you are interested in buying it, you can also place an order on their website.

Useful info

Designer: Luc Van Overschelde
Publisher: Self published
Players: 2-4
Time: 20-40 mins
Times played: 17
 
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