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Vale of Magic Review – Too Little For Too Much?

Mystic Vale may have been the most innovative game to be released in 2016. However despite this it still had some small issues, the key one being a lack of variety in the cards. It was evident immediately though that more cards would be released in expansion form, but to have one released so quickly afterwards it makes you wonder why it wasn’t just in the base game to begin with. I kid you not, this got released in the summer and the expansion came less than 2-3 months later.

It’s not like this is the only time that’s ever happened though, publishers have to make money at the end of the day like the rest of us. And to be fair we still buy them anyway so who’s the bigger fool? But whenever you want more variety, it’s good to receive expansions that help with that. But does Vale of Magic change anything else?

valeofmagic-game-cover

Designer: John D. Clair

Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Age: 8+
Players: 2-4
Time: 60-90 minutes
RRP: £27.99

From BoardGameGeek:

Mystic Vale: Vale of Magic introduces 54 new advancement cards and 18 vale cards to the Mystic Vale base game, expanding player’s options and opening up new crafting combinations. This expansion is designed to be mixed straight into the base game, introduces effects that trigger “when bought” on some of the vale cards, and has a slight emphasis on Guardian power on the card advancements.

DELVING INTO GREATER MAGIC

Vale of Magic contains 72 new cards matching the same quality and card stock as seen previously:

54 x Advancements broken up into:

18 x Level 1
21 x Level 2
15 x Level 3

18 x Vale cards:

9 x Level 1
9 x Level 2

It sounds like a lot of new additions, but remember, each type of advancement has three cards, one for each position on the cards (top, middle, and bottom). So in reality there are only 6 new Level 1 advancements, 7 new Level 2 advancements and 5 new Level 3 advancements. That’s not a great deal extra to be honest as you have to have all the positions present anyway. It’s not like it adds to the variety in a big way.

And because the format is exactly the same, aside from a couple of new abilities, which aren’t that complicated, you can basically throw this into the mix and teach it to new players right off the bat. And to be honest you don’t have a choice as the cards don’t distinguish between base set and expansion, which is odd. Not an issue right now, but further down the line as cards get more and more intricate it could be a concern.

valeofmagic-game-cards

NEW PAGES IN YOUR SPELLBOOK

There are only two new types of abilities that were not present in the base game: “Discard” and “When Bought”

Discard abilities trigger during your discard phase. If it isn’t the first card in your field, then you leave it in play as the first card of your field for your next turn, essentially using the ability twice. It’s almost like the Duration cards we got in Dominion: Seaside and best of all, they still function even if you spoil, so it’s not a completely wasted turn.

 valeofmagic-game-discard

Bought abilities happen immediately when you purchase the card (typically only on vales). We’ve seen this in other games before and examples include extra mana or flipping your mana token over. You can use them to add to your combo turn, but they’re not game changing by any means.

valeofmagic-game-bought

FIXES AND MIS-CASTS

There is no replacing of cards so you simply add these new ones in. This does lead to a little dilution within the game, but it’s not even really a flaw here. It just means that because you can’t count on a particular advancement being available to purchase that you have to react to what’s out on the table. I don’t see how that’s a bad thing especially as new players won’t know what cards exist anyway and I’m certainly not going to memorise them all. If anything it actually improves the replay value as now the Level 1 advancements in particular have a greater influence in how the game will progress – remember you only use so many of them in one game.

However as much as new cards is never a bad thing, they don’t really change up how Mystic Vale plays in general. Now I love expansions that basically give you simply more of the good stuff so I’m not faulting it for that, but some of the bigger issues with the base game still remain. I was hoping for more interaction among players with some of the abilities but Mystic Vale still remains a multiplayer solitaire experience. Game length can also drastically vary depending on what decks players construct or how much AP is produced. If someone manages to churn through their whole deck in one turn, you’re going to be there for some time.

 valeofmagic-game-grove

VERDICT ON MYSTIC VALE: VALE OF MAGIC

There’s not a huge amount to say really. If you enjoyed Mystic Vale for what it is, you’re getting more of the same here. Extra cards to boost the variety, which was one of the key weaknesses of the base game. I would have liked to have seen more different advancements though in each level as the amount presented here I feel could have been included in the base game, especially as it’s demanding an RRP of £27.99 which is enough for a whole game by itself. It’s not the best value for money.

However the new abilities do not do anything to change up how Mystic Vale plays in general. So if you weren’t a fan of it before, this expansion is going to do nothing to sway you back. I wished that more was done to address the lack of player interaction, but I guess we’ll have to accept that Mystic Vale is multiplayer solitaire.

BROKEN RATING – 6 SPOILT PINE TREES

YOU WILL LIKE VALE OF MAGIC IF:

You enjoy the base set and simply want more of the same – more cards!

You don’t want new abilities that are overly complicated.

YOU WILL NOT LIKE VALE OF MAGIC IF:

You think given the additional cost that this really should have been in the base game.

You were hoping it would fix the issues with the base set including player interaction.

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Luke Hector

I'm known as The Broken Meeple, a blog, podcast and YouTube channel devoted to board and card games. I live in Portsmouth, UK, working as a Chartered Tax Advisor and I enjoy playing games of many genres and varieties with as many people as possible.

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