Mystic Vale is a deck building card game much akin to the likes of Hearthstone and MTG (Magic the Gathering). Though unfortunately, doesn’t meet what most consider the base line for engaging deck building games – at least online. Right from start, going through the tutorial I was left with more questions than answers. It felt more like reading a manual than learning how to play a game through creative use of storytelling or challenging foes.
The game itself has a fairly easy goal of building points through ‘buying’ cards through currency called ‘mana’. Mana is built through purchasing smaller cost cards to upgrade your existing cards. As the game progresses you can buy more expensive mana cost cards with varying effects to bolster your deck or build a different kind of currency to purchase the ‘vale’ cards. Vale cards allow you to build victory points faster and give higher potency effects. Once the predetermined victory points have been used up from the pool created at the start of the game, the game ends. The faction or player with the most victory points wins. In this way it is similar to games like Ascension.
I found the gameplay to be somewhat weak.You can choose to see the other players hands to try and glean what they are trying to build, however, everyone seems to be building similar ways most of the time. The strategy is a fairly straightforward, one with players trying to build their cards up early to give more mana and vale points later on to purchase game ending vale cards repeatedly. While you can take chances to get more cards through pushing another card into your deck during the first phase, this usually ends up with you ‘spoiling’ your turn and basically losing your turn to buy anything. This is a huge setback that has very little uses within the game; unless of course you have specific cards to protect yourself against it. The cards themselves in your deck are extremely basic and 2/3rd’s of the cards are blank until you build them up. Meaning that in the beginning the game looks very boring and doesn’t grab your attention until the mid game/late game.
As a multiplayer deck building game, it does have merit as games are generally short in length. Around 10-20 minutes for 2 player and slightly longer for up to 4 players. While the PC version has some issues (namely the lackluster tutorial and no clear rewards for winning/losing) it does have smooth animations and very few issues in terms of bugs. The problem is that the game board is so cluttered with everything going on and the gameplay is so straightforward in comparison to other titles, that it is easy to quickly get bored. This is a game better played with a group of friends around a table than on a console or PC. Even then, the amount of card draw and lack of impact for turning over that one big card degrades the experience.
In addition, the ease of access for this title (being 17.49 CAD) at time of this writing means that it has a price point for entry where better games like Hearthstone/MTG Arena are free with options to buy card packs to enhance gameplay but that are available with proper strategy and winning in game currency to buy said packs.
After everything is said and done I would say if you’re looking for a deckbuilding game that is engaging both online and in person I would not recommend Mystic Vale. It’s worth playing but it falls apart when compared to other, better titles in the genre at a better price point.