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Madcap Mosaic Review

Madcap Mosaic Review


It’s distressingly easy to disregard any game with simplistic visuals. Steam has poisoned the well, so to speak. Take a gander at the new release page at any given time and your eyes will be assaulted by low-effort asset flips and a disturbing amount of hentai. The thing is, there are some gems buried in that rubbish, but few people are willing to shove their hands into that sewage to fish them out.

You can find a video version of this review on my YouTube Channel.

A battle versus rats in Madcap Mosaic
Don’t be fooled by the game’s simple visuals, it’s a clever game.

Madcap Mosaic is one such gem. The very simple visuals serve to manifest one of the most unique spins on deck building that I’ve ever seen. Let me be clear, the simplistic visuals aren’t truly a bad thing. They do exactly what they need to do. It makes the game feel like a cherished fossil of the past, rather than a poorly made game.

In Madcap Mosaic, you fight monsters and build a deck of abilities while you play. The deck, however, is neither cards nor dice. Instead, they make up the tiles of a Mosaic. You navigate your Mosaic during battle to activate the abilities on each tile. Between battles, you replace two tiles of your Mosaic with new ones.

This twist completely changes the formula of how a deck builder is normally played, in both the moment-to-moment gameplay and how you plan your strategy between fights.

Gideon’s BiasMadcap Mosaic Information
Review Copy Used: YesPublisher: 1Classydude
Hours Played: 8+Type: Full Release
Reviewed on: PCPlatforms: PC
Fan of Genre: YesGenre: Rogue-lite Deckbuilder
Mode Played: N/APrice: $6.99


While it can take a few runs to fully grasp every mechanic in Madcap Mosaic, you can hover over pretty much everything to glean information about it. The game does a pretty good job of teaching you the basics too.

A battle against Medusa in Madcap Mosaic
You “move” onto the tiles of your Mosaic to activate abilities.

Essentially you battle through a semi-random set of monsters. When the battle first begins, you start on the home tile. Tiles adjacent to you are always revealed.

You “move” onto a tile to activate it. At first, your entire Mosaic is made up of swords and shields, swords deal damage, and shields block damage. You have three moves per turn, and any tile you step on is drained and can’t be activated again. You can spend two moves to reshuffle your Mosaic, and begin on the home tile once more.

After the battle, you choose two tiles to remove and are presented with a random lattice of tiles. You once again “move” across this lattice, but this time you’re adding new tiles to your Mosaic.

The Lattice menu
New tiles are added to your Mosaic using a randomized Lattice. You can only pick tiles adjacent to the ones you have already selected.

Now the kicker is. During the battle, the location of all of your tiles on your Mosaic are randomized and covered by a fog of war. Tackling Madcap Mosaic’s challenge is twofold. You have to carefully plan out how to navigate the Lattice to acquire tiles to fit your strategy. Then you must navigate the Mosaic in battle to actually activate those tiles to beat the monster.

The game doesn’t pull any punches either. Madcap Mosaic is a very challenging game and one that feels great to try and overcome.

Tiling Away

Each turn the monster generates a certain amount of Hit and Save, just like you. Hit deals damage, and Save blocks it. You have to navigate your Mosaic to generate Save to protect yourself and Hit to overcome the monster’s Save and deal damage. However, you have to carefully plot your route around your Mosaic to try and prevent yourself from wasting precious moves on already drained tiles.

You can shuffle by spending two moves, but you have to time it carefully to avoid taking a big hit. Damage is a big deal in Madcap Mosaic. You have a very limited ability to heal. The four corners of your Lattice heal some HP rather than give you a tile, but you have to reach them, and the tiles en route to them may not fit your Mosaic building strategy. You really have to think ahead of time.

The lattice menu, the wild swing tile is highlighted.
The four corners of the lattice always heal you, getting to them takes some effort though.

Early battles start simple since you only have swords and shields, but with each new tile you add, your gameplay evolves. There are a ton of tiles in the game. Some grant you additional movement, others can grant backtracking, allowing you to move across drained tiles without spending movement.

Many tiles are large attacks or hefty defensive abilities. Some are activated when they are revealed, others provide constant bonuses while they are revealed, but not drained. The combo and strategy potential is massive, but it also forces you to be flexible. Not only is the Lattice randomized every game, but half of the tiles are also a mystery until you add them to your Mosaic.

While that might seem frustrating, it prevents you from forming alpha builds that allow you to win every game the same way. Meanwhile, it still allows you to form a coherent playstyle at the same time. After all, you can always replace tiles you don’t want.

A monster prevents the player from moving North in Madcap Mosaic
Some creatures have abilities, such as preventing you from moving in certain directions.

An additional wrinkle is your character starts with two random traits each run that can have a large impact on your strategy. You might have a trait that makes Swords stronger, for example, so perhaps you don’t want to trade in too many of them. Another trait might allow you to pass through an edge of your Mosaic to appear on the other side, opening up a bunch of new possibilities with how you navigate it.

Monster Mashing

Both of Madcap Mosaic’s core mechanics are intriguing on their own. Building a “deck” from Lattice tiles where you have to plan your upgrade path ahead of time is clever and unique. The concept of moving around a Mosaic to activate abilities, as opposed to playing cards is brilliant. You not only have to think about the effects of your tiles but solve a spatial movement puzzle in the process.

The past run menu
You can view the result of previous runs you have played to look for ways you could have done better.

Combing both together, however, is what makes Madcap Mosaic truly special. You have to plan out what tiles to replace and what new ones to add. This directly alters how you solve your own spatial movement puzzle when battling enemies. It’s a deeply layered strategy experience and one that has a ton of variability thanks to the massive number of unique tile types and traits.

Madcap Mosaic is all about planning, and you also have to factor in the queue of enemies to your strategy. When you’re choosing tiles from your Lattice, you can also look at the list of enemies you will encounter for that run. The enemy design is simplistic but extremely effective in putting pressure on you.

Each enemy type will strike you with various amounts of Hit or Save you have to deal with each turn. A Swordsman, for example, will alternate between having a massive defense, then nothing. Other enemies have abilities, such as one that can prevent you from moving in specific directions on your Mosaic, or another that punishes you for building up to many moves in a single turn.

A list of monsters the player will encounter
Planning ahead for the specific monsters you are going to encounter in a run is part of the strategy.

Factoring in the specific strengths and weaknesses of each enemy as part of your strategy is another satisfying facet of the game’s overall challenge. You might wipe the floor with one monster with a specific build, only to get wrecked by the next one. More so than most deck builders, Madcap Mosaic puts a heavy emphasis on planning ahead, in addition to adapting in each battle, and it works very well.


Madcap Mosaic is a poster child of indie game innovation, the type that larger games often lack. Not only does Madcap Mosaic feature a twist on the deck-building genre unlike anything else I’ve seen, but it’s also not a gimmick that exists for the sake of being different.

The Mosaic and Lattice mechanics are designed cohesively and work gracefully to make for a brilliant new type of deck builder that still ticks all the boxes of what makes the genre attractive in the first place.

Deck builders also tend to have a flaw where maintaining a thin deck is the most effective strategy, even though building your deck is incredibly fun. Since you always have the same number of tiles in your Mosaic, and simply replace them, that flaw doesn’t exist. It’s a neat side effect of the game’s unique nature.

The chest unlock menu with tows of chests that require tokens to unlock.
Chests can be opened to reveal new tiles, traits, or cosmetics.

It’s a bit light in the meta-progression department. Each time you defeat a boss, you get a token. You can use two tokens to open a chest that can add new tiles, traits, or cosmetics. It’s lighter than most progression systems. But honestly, I’m always excited to open one because defeating two bosses is no joke. So, it feels special when I get to finally open one.

I only have one relatively small gripe with the game. There is a bit of monotony when starting new runs after you have already played for a while.

You have to fight two or three early-game monsters with a Mosaic almost exclusively made of Swords and Shields, and that can become grating, a small chore to perform before you can have your dessert, so to speak.

Madcap Mosaic is one of those indie games that depressingly flew under the radar of most people when it deserves so much more attention. It’s a fantastic game with some true deck-building innovation baked into its gameplay. It’s also very inexpensive at just $6.99 on Steam, it even features a demo for those interested. If you are a fan of any type of deck builder, you definitely want to check out Madcap Mosaic.

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  • A fresh new spin on the Deckbuilding genre
  • The concept of navigating a Mosaic and Lattice to build abilities and battle is brilliant and works great
  • The focus on long-term planning and strategy is satisfying
  • Tons of variability and replay value
  • Inexpensive price


  • The early part of a run can get a bit repetitive