Parents' Guide to


By Dwayne Jenkins, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Strategy card battler is a perfect mix of challenge and fun.

Game Windows 2023
Mahokenshi cover features the four playable characters representing a different clan.

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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The strategy and deck builder genres have seen many collaborations in the wide world of gaming. But Mahokenshi is in an entirely different league all on its own. Now, the opening hours of this game will be excruciating – and not necessarily in a negative way. You'll lose many, many battles as you learn the game's mechanics from how decks are built and optimized, to how certain terrain on the grid-based map works to your advantage (or disadvantage), to how your enemies will always find new ways to surprise you – forcing you to pivot from what you believed to be a well-executed plan. The four samurai houses you can choose from to start any one mission all have different playstyles, as well as variations in their own card pools to experiment with as you level characters up and gain more upgrades to carry into battle. There are so many options that it's almost overwhelming, and part of the sublime give-and-take of Mahokenshi is having the patience to be knocked down and humbled so you can attack a seemingly hopeless situation with a new character (or deck direction) and a renewed determination.

The missions themselves are also more than you would expect as there's always a shifting objective to complete. Though the core of each mission indeed boils down to "go take out these bad guys," the game structures its challenges with enough nuances to force players to always change the manner in which they engage with the game. You have little choice but to take on a slower, more methodical pace in order to succeed, and sometimes, it's simply a matter of not getting the right cards at the right time that will prove to be your undoing. While you can earn crystals that will give characters permanent minor benefits between missions, you will mostly always begin from the absolute bottom – with basic cards and a need to get a lay of the land fast or risk a swift defeat at the hands of your rivals. Mahokenshi not only reinvents the strategy/deck builder hybrid style of gameplay, but makes it an endlessly fun, challenging, and thoughtful experience that players will find utterly undeniable.

Game Details

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