The last time I played it was in a 3 player game where we did not get to finish (as it took a really long time) and I only had a rough idea of the game. At that time my impression was still average and could not see what the hype is about.
So I decided to setup the Solo conquest game and after spending about 10 minutes or so setting up I was ready to begin. Gameplay wise it is rather straight forward and I did benefit from my previous play but I had to refresh myself again with the rules. I often have to flip between the scenario booklet and the main rule book to see what I have to do for the dummy player, what I have to do in the scenario and my general game play. I did get some setup wrongly because I took some rather handicapping rules from the first patrol and placed them into my Solo conquest scenario. That is the main reason why I think I could not win (and that's my story and I'm sticking with it! :D)
In anycase I got started off in a steady pace and manage to hire my first minion. Along the way I started to clear the mobs around the area so I could gain experience points and get more minions and better skills. I was getting quite good cards and good plays but once the Cities appeared, I was floored. The minions were so powerful that I doubt I could dent them without getting a lot of wounds. At the end of 6 rounds (3 days and 3 nights) I could not make a dent at the cities. Here are the images at the end of the game.
A few takeaways from the game:
1) It is a fun game but be forewarned it does take a LONG time. All in all i spent almost 4 hours setting up, checking the rules and actually playing. So I can imagine if we played the other scenarios and with more players it will take a very long time. That is kind of a downer for me as it will mean I need to find dedicated gamers to spend the time to play this.
2) The artifacts and spells are very very powerful. I did not see that in the previous game and they gave me a lot of benefits during this game.
3) Cities are really powerful to defeat. I will need to figure out a way. Also after checking up on the better mobs that I could hire if I used the packs correctly, I realized that it is possible. But i will need to be more daring to get more artifacts and spells to prepare myself for the city battles.
4) Ranged attacks are very useful because they allow you to defeat the enemy before they can even attack you. Best is if you can obtain siege attacks so that enemies with fortifications can be brought down easily.
5) Table space. This game requires a rather big table space so that you can lay out everything nicely and have a good view of what's happening. I doubt my current table can take more than 2 if we were to play comfortably.
I can see why this game has such appeal and rated so highly. However I will need quite a few more plays to appreciate all that is Mage Knight. There are several aspects which I have not tried yet (like PVP) and there are still a lot of scenarios to try. I will probably try a few more round of solo play before I am comfortable enough to play this with others. With the Friday group though there are a few experienced players already so perhaps we can get one of the epic scenarios going in another session.