Hey howdy hey, it’s time for another board game blog!
Today we are going to take a look at one of my favorite games ever!
“Mice and Mystics” by Jerry Hawthorne and Plaid Hat Games.
The game plays 1 to 4 players, in which, you play as one of six mice heroes, each with a different class, stats, and starting items. This is a story driven (literally) role-playing-game (RPG) in a box. You play through one of eleven chapters from the storybook, each with it’s own setup, and special requirements. Important to note, this game does follow a contiguous story as you progress through each chapter, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t play the chapters in the order you see fit.
You begin by selecting a chapter, setting up the board (from the eight double-sided tiles), picking a mouse hero (with their starting items, and hero reference cards), selecting an applicable ability card for your mouse, and setting up the first encounter (either through special setup dictated in the storybook, or by encounter card).
You then shuffle up the hero and villain initiative cards and place them on the right side of the clock shaped story tracker, place the hourglass marker on the left side of the clock on page 1, and “The End” marker on the space dictated by the storybook. You also place the encounter and search decks on their designated spaces on the clock as well. Place your miniature (minis) hero figures on the starting space, and the villains on their spaces (following either the special setup from the storybook, if noted, or on the minion spawning spaces, marked by little footprints).
You then take turns according to initiative order, following through each hero individually, and villains as a group. You may move around the board, take one main action (in either order, but you cannot move, then take an action, and move again), and any number of minor actions on your turn. Your movement is determined by your mouse’s movement ability (footprints on their reference sheet), modified by rolling a die (1-3 at most, in the top left corner of the die), and adding the two numbers together (important to note, you must roll for movement before you do anything else on your turn).
The major actions you may take are: Scurry (taking an extra move action), Battle (fighting minions), Search (for useful items, equipment, and tricks; can only be performed once per encounter if successful), Recover (from any status ailments like stun, webbed, etc…), and Explore (to a new tile, provided that the current encounter is finished). The minor actions may be performed as many times as you like, and they are: Share (cheese, equipment, and items with mice sharing a space with you, or adjacent to you), Equip/Unequip (the items you choose to wear or use from your pack), and Level Up (by spending 6 cheese to gain a new ability card). Once per turn, you may also choose to use only one of your current abilities by spending the appropriate amount of cheese (which is gained through battle).
Of course the main thing you are going to be doing in the game is battling minions. You may use a melee attack if the targeted minion shares a space with, or is adjacent to, your hero, you roll a number of dice dictated by your battle value (sword icon on your character sheet) plus any additional provided by your weapons and items. The target then rolls dice for defense (shield icon on the minions initiative card). Every sword you roll equals one hit, minus one for each shield rolled by the minions. You may also make a ranged attack on a target (provided you have a weapon with a bow icon, or a ranged spell ability) except that instead of sword icons you want to roll bows, and then the target rolls defense as usual. Again, each bow is a hit, minus one for each shield rolled in defense. You can range attack any character that is not blocked by a wall. After the hits and blocks are totaled, you apply a number of wound tokens to the target.
On their turn, minions (controlled by the players as well) will also try to move towards the nearest hero, and attack the mouse at the highest point in the initiative order and continuing down the line until each hero has been attacked. However, each minion may only attack once per turn per figure (3 rats, 3 separate attacks). They roll a number of dice equal to their battle value, as dictated on their initiative card. Swords hit on melee, bows on ranged. You then roll a number of dice equal to your defense value (shield icon on your character sheet), plus any dice for armor, shield, and helmet cards your hero may have equipped. Each shield rolled, will subtract one damage. Then adding wound tokens as necessary. If ever you have a number of wounds equal to the number of hearts on your character sheet, you are captured and removed from the board until the encounter is over. At which time the hourglass moves one page up the story track.
You and your foes may also acquire cheese from attacking and defending (if a cheese face is rolled), heroes add the cheese to their stash and may use it to level up (gaining new abilities) or use one ability on their turn. Minions however, add the cheese to the “Minion Cheese Wheel” on the story tracker clock. When the clock fills up, a “surge” is triggered, adding more minions to the encounter, and moving the hourglass one page up the story track, making future encounters more difficult the further the hourglass is on the story track.
Once the encounter is finished (by defeating all the minions) you may explore to a new tile and start a new encounter. But do so quickly, as each time you reach the end of the initiative order with no minions on the board, you must add one more cheese to the wheel. Which could trigger a surge, adding more minions, and moving the hourglass again!
As with most cooperative style games, there are a number of ways to lose the game, but only one way to win. If the hourglass marker ever reaches “The End” marker, you lose. If all mice are ever captured in a single encounter, you lose. But, if you have reached your goal, and completed your objective, as detailed at the beginning of the chapter, you win! At which point you may choose to play the game in more of a campaign style, by keeping any unlocked abilities, and one search item (excluding starting gear) found in the chapter previous.
What first stands out, is the beautiful artwork by John Ariosa, from the characters, the villains, the cards, the boards, even the storybook is choc full of his gorgeous art. And the game designer Jerry Hawthorne is no slouch in the writing department either. Each chapter will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting for your heroes to complete their quest to victory! Plus, the minis are AMAZING!!!
You can check it out here: Plaid Hat Games: Mice and Mystics
The game retails at $74.95, and comes with a ton of stuff (everything needed to start your adventures), including 22 minis (pictured above), and the 11 chapter “Sorrow & Remembrance” storybook. And if you have played through the story and find yourself clambering for more, there are two expansions available.
“Heart of Glorm” is the first, retailing at $29.95 and adding a new 6 chapter storybook, a new hero (with mini), new villain (with mini), new search cards, encounters, abilities, and more…
And “Downwood Tales” being the second, retailing at $74.95 and includes a new 12 chapter storybook, 23 minis, 3 new heroes, a bunch of new villains, 8 new double-sided tiles, 5 more dice, new search cards, encounters, abilities, and so much more…
If you would like to see a play through of all 11 chapters of the base game (with some creative liberties taken by the host and players) you can find a playlist here: Well Played: Roll/Play Book 1 on Youtube.com
I give it 3 out of 3 blind mice.
Until next time, keep playing games, and FLY YOU FOOLS!!!
-Trevor L. Cooper
More Info: Mice and Mystics at BGG
For awesome “Let’s Play” style videos of some of your favorite board games, and to see this game played on season 1, check out Well Played on Youtube.com