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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ales & Vales

Today we return to Heady Hollow Brewing Company in Fishers to review the 2 - 4 player card crafting game known as Mystic Vale.  Claire enjoyed the New Day South Cider and I had my usual 60 Horses Scotch Ale, both of which we highly recommend.  Before we played Mystic Vale, we had never heard of the Card Crafting mechanic before.  This game introduced us to a whole new approach of card games.  The idea of card-in-hand modification had never entered my mind before.  Through the use of clear plastic sleeves, you can place other transparent cards within cards to stack abilities.  Even though we already reviewed this game in our Gen Con segment, we take a closer look now at how the game is laid out and executed.  Follow us into the land of Gaia as we forge our strengths to heal and restore the land.

In this story, centuries ago, a dying wicked king pleaded for help from the Druids of Gaia.  When the king died, he uttered a curse that desolated the Valley of Life. This valley is sacred to the druids and it is your job to help the druid clan restore the valley to it's verdant beauty.  Mystic Vale introduces a new mechanic known as Card Crafting which is modifying your hand as you build it.  It has an element of deck-building, but you are performing it in sections by purchasing different cards using mana during the harvesting phase and adding a new element to your cards as long as the appropriate slots align.  You slide the cards down inside of a clear sleeve which is able to fit two more clear sleeves with pictures on three different levels.  This is what allows you to add more elements to your cards, but only as long as they do not overlap with existing elements.  As you gain mana, you also have the option of purchasing cards that grant you abilities.

Essentially you are pressing your luck as you draw and play cards because you cannot spoil more than three cards otherwise your field is ruined and you then have to discard your hand and draw again on your next turn.  The end goal of the game is to gain the most mana and purchase the highest valued cards or cleanse the land earning you the most victory points.  This game is very light, but the card crafting system is very unique and really adds a new innovative approach to hand-management.  All required sleeves for this game are already included in the box along with a number of extras in the event that you need more.  The sleeves are good quality so you will most likely not need to replace anything.  The artwork is very good, vibrant and provides an excellent fantasy setting for the game.  We can play this game over and over again.  I love how quickly it flows.  As other players are performing their actions, you can actually prepare your field or path of cards ahead of time before your turn even begins, which is just awesome!  It really helps the flow of things.  There's more to this game when you really get into using your abilities, but I can tell you if you like card drafting mechanics and having the ability to actually modify and build your cards, you should try this one out.  After we demoed it at Gen Con, we went right up to AEG's checkout line and picked up a copy of Mystic Vale!

Mystic Vale
Overall Meeple Rating: 7.5/10

Game Mechanics:
1) Card Crafting
2) Hand Management
3) Press Your Luck
4) Deck Building

Have any questions or other thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

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