A curse has been placed on the Valley of Life. Hearing the spirits of nature cry out for aid, clans of druids have arrived, determined to use their blessings to heal the land and rescue the spirits. It will require courage and also caution, as the curse can overwhelm the careless who wield too much power.
In Mystic Vale, 2 to 4 players take on the role of druidic clans trying to cleanse the curse upon the land. Each turn, you play cards into your field to gain powerful advancements and useful vale cards. Use your power wisely, or decay will end your turn prematurely. Score the most victory points to win the game!
Mystic Vale is sold as a "Card Crafting Game" which it very much is. The game uses the concepts found in Deck Building games and spins them on their head, meaning the cards themselves change and adapt, rather than be replaced. Like the system that inspires it, there is always a percentage of luck involved in deck based games.
Similar to games like Splendor and Jaipur, Mystic Vale awards players that are able to think ahead a few turns and move towards an end goal. While the game doesn't have an immense amount of strategic thinking in any given turn, blindly picking whatever you can will rarely get you the victory over someone with a carefully thought out plan.
The game may seem scary to anyone that has never taken on the Deck Building genre before but overall this is a very simple and easy to understand game. A turn consists of simple income and purchasing mechanics and there is no player interaction, and this is probably Mystic Vales weak point, this game is essentially a race to the end where efficiency will get you accross the line, not combat.
This game is a delight to play, I find it both relaxing and thought provoking, which is the same feelings I get from games like Splendor. Now while I find the game a joy to play, you will never find me playing it back to back. It isn't a super long game, but it's certainly not one that will have players begging for another go round. There is also some downtime due to the need for sleeves which we will talk about in the next section.
This is where Mystic Vale shines, the game uses a mechanic seen in the game Gloom but turns it into a true masterpiece. The game comes with 4 decks of cards with sleeves for all of them plus a few left over. The clear plastic inserts that are purchased go inside the sleeves and voila you have a completely new (if not slightly thicker) card. This returns to your deck and the next time it comes out it has a completely different effect. The one downside, and its minimal, is the unsleeving that takes place after every game.
As the game all happens turn by turn, and because there is nothing to do outside of your own turn, the game is reasonably easy to teach. Players simply need to understand the concepts of 'in play' and 'on deck', and when their turn is at risk of being over due to 'spoil'. Once they have been taken through a single turn, most players should be able to make their own decisions and work out how to play the game.
The Theme of the game is solid, you play as Druidic clans trying to safe their way of life. The game is centered around nature and the gorgeous artwork and thematic mechanics set this alive. There isn't much in terms of story to flesh out and while each players deck respresents a different clan, there is little to no difference to be found outside of cosmetic alterations.
Mystic Vale scales quite well from 2 to 4 players, as do many games of this type. Because the game has no player interaction, the scaling that takes place is simple to do with how long the game goes on for. This is a wonderful game at any player count as long as you accept it for what it is, essentially a competitive solitaire game, which isn't a bad thing.
Mystic Vale is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced games in a long time. While the game itself isn't going to set your world on fire, its certainly a fitting introduction to the new Card Crafting System that AEG has developed. Should you get this game? Well if you are ok with a simple game and want to experience the new system that AEG has yes, but if you are looking for some kind of highly competitive strategic game then maybe give this one a miss.
Have you played Mystic Vale? Do you agree with our review? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and please like us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram!