Published by: Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
# of Players: 2 to 4
Mystic Vale has some rather unique components due to the card crafting system. All the cards are tarot size and beautifully illustrated. Each player will have a deck of 20 cards that will be in sleeves that are provided. The sleeves are thick and AEG provides extras in the box for replacements. The enhancement cards are clear plastic with the enhancements printed on them similar to Gloom. These will be inserted into one of your 20 cards after you purchase that enhancement. Mystic Vale also comes with cardboard victory point tokens and mana discs. The rule book for Mystic Vale was important due to learning a new mechanic. The rule book was very well written and explains the details of the game and also of the new mechanic. There are lots of colorful illustrations and the paper is a little glossy so that it is durable to handle lots of paging through. If you have read my previous reviews, you know that there is one component that I always hope to find when I open the box for the first time. When I opened up Mystic Vale, the insert was there to provide good storage of everything. The insert does a great job of organizing cards into their separate areas, but the cards do move around due to extra room. A quick warning, due to the clear plastic of the enhancement cards, they may warp if left in a hot car all day. Keep that in mind when storing this game.
Since Mystic Vale is introducing a new mechanic, I wanted to do a separate section of this review to explain how it works. Those familiar with deck-building mechanics will see lots of similarities between how the two mechanics work. Card Crafting is a mechanic that takes a card you already own and changes it permanently for that game. Instead of buying a new card and adding it to your deck, you are enhancing the ones you already have. For Mystic Vale you will start off with blank cards and some with one of the 3 areas of card having content. Mystic Vale allows a player to add enhancements into 3 areas (top,middle,bottom) and once placed you can not put another enhancement in that area of the card. You may start off with a card that has a mana value of 1 in the middle section. During your turn you can buy enhancement cards to slide into that card for future turns. For example you may add a bottom enhancement that gives you 2 mana and victory point when harvested. That card the next time it is played will be worth 3 mana and a victory point. The card crafting mechanic feels very familiar, but I am excited to see how it is used in future games. AEG published Mystic Vale as a way to introduce people to the mechanic for there future game called Edge of Darkness. Edge of Darkness will combine this new mechanic with worker placement, deck-building and a combat system.
Mystic Vale has players taking turns pushing their luck with their fields and then harvesting them to gain enhancements and vale cards. The goal is to be the player with the most victory points at the end of the game. At the start of the game, each player will have 20 sleeved cards. These cards will either be blank or have 1 of 3 sections filled with a picture and symbols. A blue circle is mana and that is used as the games main currency. A red circle is a decay symbol. If you have 4 of more decay symbols in your field (play area) or on deck (top card of the deck) then you will spoil. Spoiling ends your turn before you can buy any cards or resolve any harvest abilities. Before your turn starts, you will place cards in the field and on deck till there is 3 decay showing. The first step of your turn will be to decide to keep planting or to move onto the harvest phase. If you decide to plant, you will be choosing to add the on deck card to your field and flipping over a new on deck card. If that on deck card has a decay symbol you will have spoiled. The on deck card only counts towards decay during this turn. Any other symbols or mana are only earned when it is in the field during the harvest phase. Once you reveal the new on deck card you may choose to either pass or push your luck further. I failed pretty horribly at pushing my luck.
Mystic Vale does a great job of introducing the card crafting system. I heard lots of comments from the people that played with that they enjoyed it a lot more than they thought they would. I found the art to be amazing and the quality of all the components to be excellent. The clear cards can be hard to read on some tables and from further away. Once everyone understands the mechanics, the game time will progress very fast. The rule book is very well designed to help understand the game fully. The game is not overly complicated and is very easy to teach others. I think the card crafting system is very interesting and a good off shoot of deck-building. I am very excited to see this system used with other mechanics, as I feel Mystic Vale only scratched the surface of what the system can do. If you enjoy deck-building games, but want something that feels fresh and new, I recommend picking up this game. If you are not into deck-building or card games, then this will probably not be something you want to own. You will definitely want to play Mystic Vale because it does a great job of introducing the card crafting mechanic. Mystic Vale will be staying in my collection because it is something fresh and currently unique.
+ Beautiful Art
+ Card Crafting system is a interesting new game mechanic
+ Easy to teach and play
+ Nice insert
+ Push your luck element is well done
- Possible heat damage
- Enhancements can be hard to read on certain tables
- Clean up takes awhile for each game
- May feel bland to some that want more complexity