I hope everyone is doing well today. Thank you for being patient while I took some time off from this blog. This will be my first post in quite a while and full disclosure, the body of this post is all my husband’s doing. As you will notice, my cute kitty is not a star in this post… he just got fixed last night so he is cranky and needs his rest, but I promise he will be featured in the next Mice and Mystics post as we are nearly done with the first expansion of Mice and Mystics.
Mice and Mystics is one of my favorite games, however, I find it difficult to explain it to its full potential which is why my amazingly well spoken husband is taking over for this post. His description is a wee bit long, but please stick with it. It’s most definitely worth it.
–Mice and Mystics by Plaid Hat Games–
Let me preface this by saying: 1) This is as closest product I’ve ever seen to an “RPG-In-A-Box” style game. 2) That’s a good thing. 3) Actually, that’s FANTASTIC.
With loads of personality and terrific presentation, Mice and Mystics is an extremely approachable game. Everything from the box, to the game board (which is a hearty stack of tiles with beautifully rendered art!), to the (shockingly nuanced and durable) miniatures were made to entice and immerse the gamer. Readers, this was no small undertaking. The components in this game were clearly well thought through and were battle-er, I mean…play tested to ensure this product could be more than a pretty trophy for your shelf (or gaming mantle, whatever floats your boat.)
Now let’s mention the art, oh my, this game should not feel so epic and immersive. From the front cover, one gets the feeling of epic (current word-of-the-day) quests heralded by these massive, battle hardened mice. That is most definitely an impression I can get behind! When you get to your rulebook and campaign book, you see that this quality and impression weren’t without merit. Beautifully rendered miniatures and set pieces hoist some fantastically realized tomes. Seldom do I play a game where I spend such an exorbitant amount of time observing aesthetics, that’s my seal of approval!
Now, it is with lots of (pardon me, all of the RPG purists out there) boilerplate role-playing games that the setting can (and usually does) dictate the overall direction of a game…and that’s not always a bad thing. A medieval castle setting (*GASP* like in Mice and Mystics, no less!) can evoke certain expectations, I’m certain one could imagine a dungeon and quite possibly even a (Dare I say it!?) dragon fitting nicely with this backdrop. And you’d be right! Certain tropes and recurring themes/elements pop up more often because they ARE fun to play. They become familiar, dripping with nostalgia and a well treaded path to guide the player. Let me be frank, M&M’s setting and theme isn’t particularly original, but it’s use of its theme leaves NOTHING to be desired. From room tiles like “The Forge” or “The Alchemist’s Chamber”, this game takes advantage of its tiny (fought the urge to say “mousie” :-D) perspective to highlight the minutiae of its setting.
Now, let’s talk about gameplay. It’s easily the least inviting part of its package, that said, it’s still GREAT!
Now, let’s talk about gameplay. It’s easily the least inviting part of its package, that said, it’s still GREAT! You may be wondering: “That last statement was contradicting as I’ll get out, what is this guy on about???” To which, I’d reply with: “Shut up disembodied voice, I’m getting to it!” Gameplay is the most uninviting because of its complexity, and is great because of its complexity. First off, this whole game is a single campaign, broken down into 11 chapters. This gradual roll through the story, really does wonders for making the game feel epic in scope, the narrative advances at a brisk pace in order to keep you sufficiently hooked and yearning for the next chapter. The gameplay allows for well-defined battles/battle strategies, which is something more in line with your standard board gamer. For instance, you begin any battle rotation by shuffling all of the player characters (hence forth referred to as PCs) and enemies initiative cards, and placing them on an initiative track in order to determine the order play at the outset of a battle. When one of the characters you control comes up on the track, a standard turn consists of rolling anywhere from one to upwards of (though unlikely you’ll roll THAT high) 5 dice to determine things like movement, attacks, defending, and searching for items. There’s a decent amount of rules I’m omitting, but, I’m trying to summarize here, gosh dernit. However, in contrast to these more well-defined battles, comes a much more RPG approach to things…equipment/character classes and non-linear exploration. Each chapter you play comes with preset tiles effectively present the PCs with a defined set of areas to explore in order to complete a chapter end goal as well as the occasional side quest. “*GASP* Side quests?! That doesn’t sound like a board game!” Once again, disembodied voices, you need to give me a moment to explain. Some chapters have branching side plots that can actually effect/affect story and gameplay later on in the campaign. This serves to really invest players in the story, as well as giving you a feeling of control over the experience as a whole. For instance, when advancing toward an end goal, the PCs are advancing toward their destination, when they hear cries of terror from an adjacent tile on the board…do you advance in order to complete the chapter safely??? Or do you the chivalrous thing, and save whoever was in distress? Decisions, dear player, decisions. So, now that we’ve covered that, lets move onto the other RPG-esqe element of this game: equipment! The customization of your characters really caught my eye, right off of the bat. Each PC starts (most) chapters with set starting equipment that help denote things like attack and defense. You also begin with an ability of your choice, that allows you to do a wide variety of things, from increasing your to attacking more enemies, heal, set traps, et cetera. Abilities can be assigned to PC based upon their class, for instance, one of the characters you are able to choose is named “Collin,” he is a “Leader” and a “Warrior.” This means that he can only use abilities for these classes, et cetera. Upon receiving enough in-game currency (cheese) during battle, you can “level up” and donate said currency to gain a whole new ability. Hold your gasps, it is as awesome as it sounds. Of course, this is just me glancing over the choice bits, I know.
What about the bad parts, you say? Lets start with the worst culprit, the learning curve. I won’t even touch on this one long, suffice it to say, I consulted with a youtube link
provided by the game’s publisher “Plaid Hat Games” to better understand the game. …the video was almost 30 minutes long. Though it did accomplish its task, I had more than a decent base of knowledge to start the game with. Next up, was the price point. Though clearly I got more than what I paid for, it was still expensive, retailing at around 55 dollars. Beyond those two sticking points, I don’t really have any qualms with the game sans a couple of nitpicky points.
Overall, Plaid Hat Games has developed EASILY one of the finest games I’ve EVER played and the one of the only games I’ve played that rivals my love of Castle Panic. Folks, this game (and world) has captivated me and my family for over three months. I cannot recommend this game more, please, support this publisher and go out and buy this game!
As usual, my husband has blown my words out of the water. I do agree with everything he said, although it would have been much less epic from me. I had SERIOUS doubts about this game when we first got it, but my mind was changed very quickly. The characters and their stories really make you fall in love with the game. Sorrow and Remembrance is the first of three games in the Mice and Mystics realm, thus far. There are also the “Lost Chapters”, you can purchase and download these via Plaid Hat Games. In a day or so I will post a mini review of the Lost Chapter that came directly after Sorrow and Remembrance, but before the second game, Heart of Glorm. We are two chapters away from finishing Heart of Glorm, when we do so we will also post a review for it. Downwood Tales is the third game, but I imagine it is going to be a while before we get to that one.
I would highly suggest supporting Plaid Hat directly by buying the game from their site, but if you’re like me and like to save money, I would not blame you for heading over to Miniature Market
for a better price. They also have adorable plushes available. Do be warned, however, there are promo cards that you get with the game when you purchase from Plaid Hat Games. The promo cards from the first game can be found elsewhere, but it is really difficult to find them. Another thing I adore about purchasing from Plaid Hat’s site is you can buy spare parts, even dice!
If you liked this review and want to be kept up to date please follow my page
and like me on Facebook
. Until next time… Live by the Board.