Mystic Paths

Mystic Paths

RRP: 39.99
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In the deduction game Mystic Paths, players are challenged to navigate paths through a labyrinth called the Eternal Forest. Each player’s path is unique — and only you know the way. However, you cannot traverse the forest alone. Your teammates are needed to open the sealed portals along each step. Give clever clues, hope your teammates can read your mind, and complete your j…
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Category Tag SKU ZBG-RRG397 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Plays very quickly even with six players
  • Lots of fun discussion when guessing the next space
  • Huge amount of replayability

Might Not Like

  • Disappointing minis, especially considering the effort put into the tokens
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Description

In the deduction game Mystic Paths, players are challenged to navigate paths through a labyrinth called the Eternal Forest. Each player's path is unique — and only you know the way. However, you cannot traverse the forest alone. Your teammates are needed to open the sealed portals along each step. Give clever clues, hope your teammates can read your mind, and complete your journey!

To complete the journey, each player takes a turn providing clues about which portal is their next step. Each step can have up to five different portals, but only one is the correct one, so players give clues that relate (hopefully) to the correct next step.

The challenge is that the only clues available are cards that have been dealt, so sometimes the clues may not relate to the next portal of a journey, which means you have to get creative. This is where you need to try to read the minds of your teammates. For example, the next portal on your journey could be the word "anteater", and your clues are limited to cards you are dealt, like scary, or tall, or handsome. Which would you choose as your clue?

The game takes place in five rounds. Beat the game by having everyone complete their own journey before the five rounds are over.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Codenames. It’s one of the rare games that I know I can always get to the table during family gatherings that everybody loves. Even the kids – who are often reluctant to put down their phones and tablets – get excited to play. I love word games in general, simply because it means all that time and money I spent studying English comes in handy! As a long-time staple of my gaming table, Codenames has seen a lot of play. Just One is also excellent, and I enjoy the cooperative nature. But I’ve been itching for something a little different – something that scratches the same itch, but with a little something else going on. Enter Mystic Paths, from R&R Games for 2-6 players.

Overview

Unlike any other word game I’ve ever played, Mystic Paths has a plot. The players are apprentice wizards that have been teleported to the Eternal Forest and have to find their way out to complete their final exam. Luckily, each apprentice has a unique map that shows the path they must take to escape. On the downside, their paths are blocked by magical portals that only the other apprentices can close by speaking the correct words of power.

Gameplay

Okay, so the plot of Mystic Paths is completely superfluous. The point is that you have to move along a specific route on the board known only to you. Each space contains a word or two – usually a noun or proper noun – randomly chosen at the start of the game. The goal is to give your teammates clues as to where you need to go. This is done by playing three cards in front of you. Each card contains two words, one of which you will cover up.

You can also use ‘not’ modifier tokens to negate the word you’ve played. For example, on my turn I need to move to the space marked ‘Statue of Liberty’. The other possible spaces I could move to read ‘Napoleon’ and ‘Baby Animals’. I play a card and reveal the word ‘small’, then add a ‘not’ token to it, indicating I need to go to something that is not small. Hopefully my team mates will realise that Lady Liberty is pretty big!

On a successful guess, the team can guess my second word by looking at the clue on my second card, and the third if they get that right too. As soon as they miss one, my turn is over and I place a ‘not’ marker on the incorrect space, so they know not to try to send me there next turn. The craftiest players will look at all three words and try to figure out the path in advance to eliminate incorrect guesses on the earlier cards.

Once everybody has played, discard all the cards that were correctly guessed and draw new cards until you have four in hand. If any of your words were incorrectly guessed you can now add a second card to one of them. This means your teammates have two clues (or more, in later rounds) to steer them in the right direction. You also play cards from your hand until you have exactly three in front of you, providing clues for your next three steps.

It’s important to note that your map will never make you immediately backtrack to a previous step. As a result, you’re advised to leave the base of your apprentice mini behind to show where you came from. It is possible to need to loop over your path though – and of course you discarded your previous clues, so you’ve got to come up with something new! The game takes place over five rounds, and each path requires ten spaces to complete. This means it’s possible to finish in the fourth round if you’ve been doing well. Though that player no longer moves, they can still contribute to guessing the path of others.

Your final score is the number of spaces you’ve moved plus two points for finishing in round four, or one point for finishing in round five. Add up the scores of all players and divide by the number of players to get your team’s final score.

And That’s It

Mystic Paths has very simple rules, which is what everyone wants in a word game. There’s a decent-sized stack of word tokens to slot into each space, each of which has a different word on each side. This ensures there’s plenty of randomisation to keep things fresh.

Also included are a handful of blank word tokens to add in your own if you like. There are a whole bunch of maps, all unique. Though the card stock for the board and the tokens is pretty good, the minis are a little bit disappointing. They do the job well enough, but they’re all the same sculpt. Mine came with their magic staffs drooping to some degree. The tokens the players use to mark the words on their cards (numbered one through ten) each have a different colour – and a different font, which is a nice touch. The white wizard gets roman numerals on their tokens!

For the competitive gamers amongst you, there is also a versus mode for 3-6 players. Instead of everyone guessing your path, only the player to your left may guess. Your score is calculated by adding your own distance travelled to that of the player on your right (i.e. the one you were guessing for). So not only do you have to play good clues for your own path, you’ve got to try hard to help someone else move along.

If you have 4 or 6 players, you can split into two teams. This plays the normal cooperative game, except only your teammates guess your path. Finally, there is an ‘everyone against the game’ mode. In this mode, one player gets a map and 20 cards, ten of which they play in front of them. It’s everyone else’s job to guess the entire path in a single guess in order to win. R&R games state that they’ll put you and your friends in the ‘Hall of Fame’ on their website if you manage to accomplish all ten steps in one go!

Conclusion

My regular pub-gaming group had a blast with this one. We managed an A- for our score, but given that we’re all seasoned Codenames players we’ve gotten pretty good at word-association. Though I’ll admit that we had a heated debate over some clues… does ‘artificial’ refer to “Golden Gate Bridge” or “Diaper”? I’ve yet to try the alternative modes, though the competitive mode sounds especially interesting. This is a very fun, fast and lightweight game suitable for the family, and there is a tonne of replayability since no two games will ever be alike. Mystic Paths is highly recommended for fans of word association games like Codenames and Just One.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Plays very quickly even with six players
  • Lots of fun discussion when guessing the next space
  • Huge amount of replayability

Might not like

  • Disappointing minis, especially considering the effort put into the tokens