Most helpful positive review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Surprising depth, strategy and replayability in this little gem.
on 16 January 2015
So Terra Mystica is a board game that seems to have looked at Settlers of Catan and decided that less luck and more strategy could work in a similar vein and expanded on that general idea and it works beautifully.
In a nutshell, each player plays the role of one of 14 possible races such as Dwarves, Nomads, Mermaids etc split on seven double sided boards. Each board has a colour, each colour represents a terrain type that race can build dwellings upon on the main game board map. If a terrain doesn't match, using a terrain wheel on each player board as reference you can "transform" (terraform) that terrain to change it to the type you need to build, though others can if you aren't quick enough, change it back. Each dwelling can be upgraded through set routes to trading posts, sanctuaries and Strongholds giving each player access to extra resources and abilities.
Each building, upgrade and most actions take a mixture of money, workers, priests and power to perform meaning to get the most out of your turn you must plan your resources, decisions and which order very carefully.
The power section of the board is rather unique in it's mechanics worth mentioning though it's hard to explain. Each player gets a set amount of power points represented by wooden discs located in one area split up into three sections (1, 2 and 3) all discs need to move from section 1 to 2 before any can move to 3. Once in 3 they can be spent either on powerful one use a turn actions available on the main board (money, more workers, free terraform action etc) or used from your own board for similar powers at a far worse ratio. Once used, the power goes pack to pool 1 and the process starts over. It seems pretty unuseful at first but by the end of a game it becomes really powerful especially if you play into it from the start.
The end of the game is won on points once the final round ends that are scored up in various ways from round specific goals that randomise eash game, race specific abilities, as well as other chits, rules and tracks. Needless to say the game is far more complicated than I have explained and with so many different races, randomised goals and abilities it has a lot of replay value to go with it.
The components are of high quality all in a nice reasonably sized cardboard box. There are solid wooden pieces, some of which are unnecessarily large like the Stronghold (it's awesome). The boards are all pretty thick, nice and flat and the artwork on them is colourful with excellent iconography making it pretty easy to play once you get over the initial sense of being overwhelmed.
Overall Terra Mystica is a well thought out good looking game with a fair amount of strategic depth and replayability. It offers some unique mechanics yet is surprisingly easy to play after a couple of rounds.
+ Nice strategic options.
+ Power mechanic is original and clever.
+ Decent replay value.
+ Quality components.