As the druids work to restore the Mystic Vale, leaders have appeared, offering new approaches to their clans.
What Is Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild?
Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild is the second expansion to Mystic Vale; it’s for 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 45 minutes to play. It retails for $29.99 and is available in game stores, from Amazon, and directly from AEG. You must have the Mystic Vale base game to play.
Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild Components
- 54 Advancement cards:
- 24 Level 1 Advancements
- 18 Level 2 Advancements
- 12 Level 3 Advancements
- 18 Vale cards
- 10 Level 1 Vales
- 8 Level 2 Vales
- 8 Leader cards
The advancement cards, as in the base game, are clear plastic cards, with images and card effects printed on one third of the card. The vale cards match the base game—the two different levels are distinguished by the backs of the cards.
The leader cards are new to Vale of the Wild. Each is double-sided, and depicts one of the druid leaders. The images on both sides of a leader card are the same, but the effect text is different.
All of the components are nice quality, same as the base game. The expansion comes in a fairly small box—you’ll most likely just add it to your base game box.
How to Play Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
Since Vale of the Wild is an expansion, I’ll refer you to my original review of Mystic Vale for how the base game works, and just explain what’s new in this expansion.
The primary difference in setup—aside from shuffling in the new vales and advancements into the appropriate decks—is that everyone starts the game with a leader card. Randomly deal each player two leaders; each player chooses one and discards the other. You sleeve your leader card over one of your blank cards, making sure that the side with the blue cost icon in the upper right is showing.
Your leader card has some combination of symbols and powers on it—when the leader card is in your field during Harvest, you may use its powers and symbols. You may not sleeve any advancements over your leader card.
During harvest, you may pay the cost shown at the top right to flip your leader card to its upgraded side, which will make it stronger and increase its point value. For instance, GinGan the Shapeshifter (above) starts with 1 mana, 1 curse, and allows you to discard your on-deck card during harvest. He’s worth 7 points at the end of the game. If you pay 5 mana to upgrade him, GinGan provides 1 point and 1 mana, and also gains a growth symbol that cancels out the curse. His harvest power now allows your neighboring players to discard their on-deck cards, and if they do so, you gain points. His end-game value more than doubles to 15 points.
There’s a new type of advancement: the eclipse. Each eclipse advancement has the eclipse symbol in the lower left section of the illustration, showing two cards overlapping, and the common feature is the vertical stripe, which might have some symbols or other abilities, as seen above. Eclipse cards, unlike regular achievements, may have other advancements sleeved over them. Typically that would replace the eclipse advancement, but still retain the symbols or abilities on the vertical stripe (as long as the new advancement does not have its own stripe). Note that you may not sleeve an eclipse advancement over anything, including another eclipse advancement. Also, if you cover up an end-game points symbol, that symbol is no longer worth anything.
The new vale cards just offer a different variety of effects, though there aren’t too many new rules involved. As in Vale of Magic, there are some “when bought” effects that trigger immediately when you buy the vale. There is also one “end of game” effect, which scores points if you have the most curse symbols at the end of the game. And finally, there’s a whopper of a scoring opportunity in the Throne Room, which gives you 12 points but has a high cost to purchase.
Why You Should Play Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild
I’ve played with the Vale of the Wild expansion a few times, in conjunction with the Conclave‘s equinox setup so that we could accommodate more players. I really like the leader cards because they give each player a unique ability, and allow each player to take a different approach to victory. They remind me a little of the totem cards in Conclave, but since they are shuffled into your deck, you don’t have access to them every turn—and you could miss an opportunity to use your leader if you spoil while it’s in your field.
The leader cards have a wide range of point values and abilities, making for a good mix. When playing with the equinox setup, though, there aren’t enough leaders for everyone to be dealt two and pick one, so we just got one randomly dealt—it may be preferable to use this expansion with only 4 players, so that everyone gets a little more of a choice in which leader they end up with.
The eclipse cards are a cool idea—typically the eclipse advancement itself doesn’t do anything except perhaps provide an end-game point, but the vertical stripe effects can be extremely useful. For instance, if the stripe gives you an extra guardian helmet, you can then add other guardian-triggered to your card. It’s almost like having four spaces on a card, if you can line things up the right way.
I did find that our plays with Vale of the Wild were a little longer than usual, though we used a mix of cards chosen using the conclave cards. I think a lot of the point-harvesting cards also have curses on them, which should be paired with other advancements or vales that prevent spoiling, but my gaming group was largely curse-averse, which meant that we did not run out the point tokens supply as quickly. There’s even an advancement, similar to the Haunted Hollow vale card, that gives you extra points if you have the most curses in your deck at the end of the game. I think it would be a good set of advancements for players who can stomach a little more risk in the press-your-luck aspect, but will be more of a challenge for those (like me) who like to play it safe.
Overall, I liked the leader cards and the eclipse advancements, but I would recommend making sure you have enough other points-scoring advancements in the mix so that the game doesn’t drag. I plan to experiment with other mixes of advancements to see how the leaders play with those. I’ve also got the next expansion, Mana Storm, so that will provide more leader cards so that I can use the equinox setup and still give everyone a choice of two leaders. Stay tuned—I’ll visit that one next time!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.