27 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 8.4 hrs on record (7.8 hrs at review time)
Posted: Feb 8, 2019 @ 12:12pm
Product received for free

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Mystic Vale is a board/card game in reality that has been converted to a digital format here on Steam. The premise is simple, the rules are easy to learn, but the gameplay is dynamic with deep strategy, especially if you get to play with other players. What is really nice about the digital version is the better-than-reality animations that are attached to individual cards, wonderfully soothing music, and the ability of the computer to track scores, which will be quite a bit more difficult, in my opinion. Most importantly is that the game is a ton of fun to play, and I keep wanting to go back for more.

There is a "Learn to Play" option when you start the game. This is a tutorial that walks you through the basic phases of each individual turn and tells you in general how to proceed with playing the game. This tries to explain everything that you need to progress, but it’s not done too well. And the best way to get familiar with this game is just to get in and play a bunch of times. I definitely recommend any new player who is unfamiliar with the game to go through the tutorial, it will take you about 5-10 minutes, just to learn the basics. Don’t worry about the details because while it seems dense from the tutorial, it all makes sense when you play it more.

I have logged 7 hours into the game so far, and I managed to get all of the achievements (one with the help of a friend--online win), they are all pretty reasonable, and many you will just get through playing the game as you normally would. They are all fair and the challenge for a couple of them makes getting them fun too. (The game interface just changed today to have a choice of a victory point pool before each match. That was not an option before. This makes some of these achievements a lot easier to get. It threw me for a brief loop before I just got back into the game. Nothing changed about the gameplay.) I have managed to beat all of the AI difficulties except for the hardest setting, but I will keep going at this game for a while.

Each match takes somewhere around 20 minutes, and there is a way to speed up the animations in the options menu, but this is hardly necessary. I enjoy the way the UI is set up. But if you are pressed for time, you can really just get to the meat and bones of gameplay with that option.

There are 3 expansions in the works, as the Collections show you that in-game. This is also something that popped up while I turned my head to go do something for a couple of hours earlier today. It’s very amusing to see a game change in between launches/runs.

Here’s a video I made shortly after I got into the game. The menus and interfaces are slightly outdated, but the gameplay remains the same. I got slaughted by the AI on Hard in the first game and I overwhelmed the AI on Easy in the second.

https://youtu.be/eIBNRC5UNyY

Gameplay
You and your opponents (AI or other MP online--currently available up to 4 players) take turns with automatic card draws in the initial phase of the turn (Planting). The mana obtained plus other tokens can be then used during the (Harvest) phase to purchase upgrades to your deck cards plus some other permanent/semi-permanent upgrades to your “Vale” by adding victory points or giving you token/mana boosts. There is a total number of available victory points in a pool that is blue colored, Once this is depleted, the game ends (with each person having a fair final turn). Your total score is dependent on the Blue + Grey (extra victory points) that are obtained throughout the match.

The card/deck crafting component of this game is really interesting. Even though every person starts with the same base deck, with most of the cards being blank, your choices every step along the way will then build and make your deck more powerful. So the 20 cards in your deck are constantly changing and you will find that the more you play, the deeper the strategy will be for your own method to win.

There are multiple approaches to winning this game, and that is what is interesting. If you are playing against other human players, you can see how they are trying to approach the game as well and decide if you want to pursue other paths or try your luck at out-competing each other. Of course the result will still be a tallying of scores when the blue victory points are depleted. There is more strategy to this game than what appears at the surface, especially if you play against other human players who are all familiar with the game.

Controls
Mouse

Graphics
Really wonderful animations of beautifully drawn cards. Nothing spectacular or over the top, but the animations brings just a bit more life to a real-life board/card game.

Music
This can get a bit repetitive if you sit down to listen to it. But for me, I was so engrossed in the gameplay that I felt the music gave a nice tone to the atmosphere while playing. There are plenty of sound effects with the different cards too.

Audience
I think this game is a good family game if you want to teach young kids how to play. For people who may think that the actual board/card game gets a bit messy, the computer arranging and points tallying that is done automatically makes the digital version rather ideal.

Pricing
It’s priced at $14.99 USD base, which is about 1/3 of the price of the physical board game. I think this is totally worth it. (If you are going to play until you get all of the achievements only, then you may not get too many hours.) If you have a few friends who want to join and play a match once in a while, this is a really fun game to play.

Conclusion
Mystic Vale is a wonderful digital form of a really fun board/card game that we are now fortunate enough to enjoy on Steam. The achievements are all fairly straight-forward to get now that there’s been an added option to choose your starting victory points pool. The most challenging AI difficulty may be a bit too difficult to handle, I keep losing by leaps and bounds. I would definitely recommend this, especially if you have a group of friends who want to play together from time to time.

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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3 Comments
kevnicky Jul 21, 2019 @ 7:41am 
YQMaoski your reviews are AWESOME!!! My first port of call before purchasing something is to read your review and if you don't have a game that I am interested in buying then I watch Youtube videos of other reviews. But, yours are so well put together and this is why I have you as my friend. :-)
YQMaoski Feb 15, 2019 @ 10:10am 
You are welcome! :-) I do think this game is best played online with friends, if you get it, let me know if you want to play head to head some time.
American Tragedy Feb 15, 2019 @ 5:41am 
Thanks for the review, feels like a great game, wishlisted!