A curse has befallen the Valley of Life. What was once an unspoilt, untainted land has begun to decay. You hear the spirits crying out for help and you are determined to use your blessings to restore the land to its former glory and bring peace to the spirits. But you must be wary, wield too much power and you could be overcome with power yourself. Welcome to Mystic Vale: Harmony.
Mystic Vale is a two to four-player "card crafting" game designed by John D. Clair and published by Alderac Entertainment Group. The card crafting system feels like a deck builder. But instead of adding new cards into your deck, you upgrade the cards. This is done to make them more powerful. You never increase the size of your deck but rather how powerful it is. The card crafting system is wonderfully implemented in Mystic Vale. This is one of the main draws of the game for me.
In Mystic Vale you draw cards from your deck one at a time. Then, place them face-up on top of your draw pile. You can then choose to add the card to your "field". If you have a certain number of decay symbols displayed then you go bust. You'd then place all your revealed cards into your discard pile. You can stop at any time before spoiling and activate your cards. Certain cards give you immediate victory points, end game victory points or mana (i.e. currency) to spend to acquire new abilities and cards.
These new abilities come on transparent plastic sheets with the ability positioned on the card. These are then slotted into one of your available cards in your field. This makes that particular card more powerful the next time it is drawn. If you spoil, you get to flip over your mana token. This gives you additional mana to spend the next time you acquire new cards.
Some advancement cards also have spirit symbols on them which, when displayed in the right combination, can be used to purchase Vale cards. These vale cards can grant you end game victory points, one-off abilities or ongoing bonuses.
Pool of Points
A victory point pool acts as a timer for the game and the amount in this pool is dependant on player count. When the points are depleted the end game is triggered. The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
There are a lot of different advancements in the game and they come in three different tiers (I, II and III) so there is a decent amount of replay-ability.
There is also a lot of expansions currently released for the game and in this review, I am going to talk about Mystic Vale: Harmony.
In Harmony with the Game
The Mystic Vale: Harmony expansion adds a load more (105 to be exact) advancement cards which can be used as a replacement for the existing advancement cards from the core game or shuffled in with them. This adds a load more replay-ability and variability into the game. Whilst some of the advancement cards are fairly straight forward there are some additional new rules and mechanisms that are implemented.
Advancement cards with the "eclipse" symbol may be covered over by another advancement, not something that was possible in the core game. This will cover the advancement but may leave the bonus ability visible. This new mechanism, whilst not groundbreaking, does offer some additional strategy to the game. It offers more customisation and opportunities to create some fun and interesting cards. It is a small addition and a rule that is easy enough to grasp but I really enjoy the way the designers have expanded the game space with this new mechanism.
A Little Bit Here and There
Other advancement cards can be added to cursed lands offering more ways to tweak and refine your deck as you see fit. There are advancements that apply when you "Harvest", which is the term used when calculating your mana pool as well as additional "when played" advancement cards. More of the same card crafting goodness is never a bad thing in my mind.
On top of the standard advancements, which take up either the top, middle or bottom row of the card, Mystic Vale: Harmony adds Legendary advancements. These take up multiple slots but follow similar rules to the standard advancement cards. These are powerful abilities but obviously, take up more space on your card and are harder to add to incorporate into your deck.
Wait, There is Moreharmo
Another new feature is the Leader cards and Amulets. These are drafted at the beginning of the game and add some asymmetry to the game. Leaders are powerful cards that take up a full sleeve and are added to your deck at the beginning of the game. They can also be upgraded to a more powerful version of their starting side for a mana cost. Amulets are used in place of the standard mana tokens.
When a player spoils they flip their amulet over to its active side and it can be used on a future turn. Instead of granting another mana, these offer unique abilities which can be used as per the stated ability. Both of these new additions can be mixed into the game of left out depending on your preference. For me, both of these are always included in my plays. After playing with them included there is no going back. I love the fact that you have a different starting deck and amulet than your fellow players. It adds a level of asymmetry to the game which I thought was missing from the core set.
Mystic Vale: Harmony also comes with an additional 36 Vale cards.
I think Mystic Vale: Harmony is a great expansion. It adds more of the familiar Mystic Vale goodness that I love with a few additional mechanisms. Yet it is not overly complicated and easy enough to teach the game to new people with the expansion included. The new advancement cards and vale cards can be used as a replacement or combined with the core game. You can play with or without the Leader and Amulets if you want but for me, they are an auto-include. The expansion adds more variety to the game and if you have played Mystic Vale a bunch and want to change it up a bit then I highly recommend this expansion