This was the gem of Origins for me.  I have had my eye on this game since I watched a couple videos on it.  I’m intrigued by the concept and was hoping for a good result.  I was not disappointed!

In Mystic Vale, by AEG,  you are all a representative of a clan of druids who band together to rid the land of the curse that has plagued it.  Throughout the game you will be fighting off corruption using your druidic powers.  The druid who has the most influence towards this fight at the end of the game wins.

So, we have heard of deck building or bag building games before, Mystic Vale has a very similar system only you are building cards or “crafting”that are plastic.  Every player starts with the same number and kind of cards, they are actually clear cards in a sleeve.  20 cards of varying icons and that is it, you will not add more cards to your deck.  Each card has icons on it to get you started.  Some cards will be just blank.

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Examples of your starting cards. Notice that they are in sleeves, not necessarily to protect them, but to allow you to add to them.

The cards are the real gem here.  There are 3 different areas that a card can hold.  A top, middle and bottom.  With these areas, there will also be icons on the far left letting you know the abilities for that card or area.  There is also an area between the icons and the lands for a special ability.  At the start of the game, you might have a basic card that only has a bottom area, or a middle, or nothing at all.  Throughout the game you will be buying other cards to add to the sleeve to enhance that card.

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Upgrades for your cards that can be purchased throughout the game to make each card have more and additional abilities.

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On your turn, you will draw cards until you have 3 decay symbols visible, the red symbol above.  Once you have 3 showing you can then choose to add another card hoping to get more blue icons, which represent mana for buying.  BUT if you ever have 4 decay icons showing, then you have become spoiled and your turn ends immediately losing any accumulated mana.  This is a really nice “press your luck” element of how far you want to push getting mana, to get better cards.  It was also fun to think of how many decay icons you have already seen in your deck in your previous turns and that can help make your decision easier on whether or not to “press your luck”.

We only got to play a couple of rounds of the game as it was only a demo but I have to say I really wanted to take it home.  Now, after thinking about it, it seems like it might be too generic of a theme to keep my attention.  I mean all you are doing is gaining victory points….hohum.  Maybe future expansions can add various elements like battling, etc. to up the interest level and get away from only going after better cards for more VP. But, if you are looking for a light, smooth card game similar to Valeria: Card Kingdoms this will be for you.  They also told us there is already an expansion in the works.

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There is so much variety to the abilities you can add to your cards through the crafting process.

I am not sure if this game has the longevity or re-playability that I want it to have but this new mechanic of crafting your cards within your deck has so much potential.  Think of putting something like this in say Mage Knight or Pandemic or any game where there is fighting of monsters.  Using this in an RPG style game of building your character and giving them armor and weapons would be fantastic.

I am pretty sure Mystic Vale will be on my shelf before long as it is a unique concept that is well executed.

Thanks for coming along on my adventure to Origins…..Hopefully Gen Con will be next!

-Tim