Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Mystic Vale

 

Product-Mystic Vale

Producer– Alderac Entertainment Group

Price– $45 here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DMZR1QU/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 60 minutes (2-4 players)

Type- Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR-Not perfect but amazing none the less.90%

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Basics-  Only you can save the vales!  In Mystic Vale each player takes the role of different druid clans attempting to restore the world after a magic calamity.  Each player has a deck of sleeved cards.  At the start of each of a player’s turns, he or she reveals cards until three spoils symbols are revealed.  The last card with a spoils symbol is placed on top of the player’s deck of cards and is “on-deck.”  Players can also push their luck and harvest their on-deck card.  If they do, they can continue to reveal new cards on-deck, and place them in their field.  If they do, they may get extra points, but if they reveal another spoil symbol, then their turn is over.  This game has a built in bonus for when a player does this however.  A player has a token that if they spoil, they get to turn this token over and it allows them to use it as an extra mana, or purchasing power, in a future turn. The on-deck card is not part of a player’s “field” or cards a player can use to buy cards or gain points.  

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Here is where the game gets interesting.  Each card has a number of symbols on it.  These symbols are mana (money for extra card pieces), victory points, growth to counter spoils, and spirits (a second currency to buy vales or permanent cards).  If a player doesn’t spoil, that player gains victory points, and then can spend mana to buy card inserts or spirits to buy vales.  A player can buy two of each, each turn.  Vales are placed in front of a player and provide a constant benefit and inserts are inserted into cards in a player’s field.  Here is the major strategy of the game.  A player doesn’t build as many intercard combos, but instead crafts intracard combos as new inserts unlock new abilities based on the symbols on the card.  Additional symbols called guardians provide benefits only if a card has an ability that triggers off guardian symbols.

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This game uses a victory point based mechanic to determine when it ends.  Each game starts with victory point pool.  When the pool is empty, each players receive an equal number of turns, but now take victory points from the box.  After everyone has the same number of turns, players count count victory points on their cards, their vales, and the physical victory points they earned during the game.  The player with the most points is leader of the best Druid clan and reigns supreme!
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Mechanics-The card crafting mechanic of the game makes this an amazing game.  I had a blast building different card combos.  In addition, the nature of building your field means you can build off turn and have almost no down time.  I’ve seen games take as little as 20 minutes when four experienced players hit the table.  I also love any game that has two different markets.  I get bored when the victory strategy is build the biggest card to win, and this game doesn’t have that at all.  The drawbacks of the game are player interactivity and a runaway victory.  I am basically running a race against myself. Other other players steal cards from you, but only from the buying pool.  I really don’t need the other people at the table.  Furthermore, if someone has the best card inserts due to the available cards, then that person will win.  There is strategy, but if they play better, they will win and nothing you do will stop them.  You can only just be better at the start and not fall behind.  It’s not a bad game, but know that going in! 4.25/5

Theme- Mystic Vale has a ton of theme, but it is a theme you must find yourself.  The game can be simply played as deck builder with a new mechanic of building cards instead of decks, and this will not detract from the game at all.  However, if you are like me, you really want to have a massive amount of story to your game.  It’s here, but you need to dig for it.  From the terms like field being where you harvest your mana to the idea of spirits revitalizing the mystic vales, you get a story as you play.  But, that means theme is not front and center. 4/5IMG_20160630_172022720

Instructions-This is an awesome game that teaches quick, plays fast, and masters instantly.  You don’t feel stupid stepping up to this game as you get a quick intro with enough introduction to get you gaming quickly.  By the end of turn two you have the game down pat.  Also the helper cards are amazing!  They really do get you gaming faster. 5/5

Execution-I love everything in this box, but the game’s execution suffers from its main mechanic.  The art is amazing.  The cards are good quality.  The box has beautiful dividers.  This game is almost everything I want to see in a deck builder.  But, every card has three sections.  Since you want to have the new cards inserts work in each spot, you have to divide the card insert pool by one-third.  That means the game can grow a bit stale semi quickly.  Luckily two expansions have been announced already.  It’s a minor problem, but it’s one worth mentioning.  If you want to see a full unboxing check out our video here https://youtu.be/cPVRTU2h5bk 4.75/5

Summary-Mystic Vale is one of my new favorite games.  It’s fun to get to the table. It’s phenomenally fast to learn and play.  It’s gorgeous, and it’s fun to insert cards into sleeves and unlock their power.  That said, it’s not without it’s faults.  The game doesn’t fix common deck building problems.  The theme isn’t as strong as I’d like, and you might get tired of seeing the same card after 10 plus plays.  But if you play a game over 10 times, then the game is a win as it keeps you coming back for more.  It does for me.  Despite the faults, I’d recommend this over many other deck builders out there.  90%

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