Some really great games have been played lately! In this edition Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft, Jenga Quake, and Mystic Vale are played.
I have been looking forward to this game for a while now. Mystic Vale is a card crafting game which is similar to a deck building game, except the number of cards in a player’s deck never changes. There’s always 20 cards, but those cards become more powerful over the course of the game.
Each player starts with 20 sleeved, tarot-sized cards. Incidentally, the sleeves are included in the game. Advancements, which are clear inserts that fit into the sleeves and augment a card’s usefulness and power, can be purchased on a player’s turn. The next time the enhanced card comes up it will add some more powerful combination of buying power, negation of negative effects, victory points, and/or special abilities.
Trudi, Jason, John and I played this game for the first time at our Board Game Night at The Jester’s Court. Everybody had their own idea of the best strategy to implement and so all of our decks played pretty differently. I chose to target advancements that would give me more buying power while Trudi chose advancements with a Growth symbol on them. This symbol negates the negative effects of the Decay symbols. These are very important to game play, so more on them in a moment.
While a player is prepping their hand of cards for the next turn he/she must be wary of the number of Decay symbols visible amongst the cards. If a player reveals 3 Decay symbols it is a safe bet to stop dealing cards because a 4th Decay symbol basically means that the player forfeits their next turn. However, a player has the option of pushing their luck and continuing to draw additional cards. It’s risky, but it can pay off big time with more buying power and other special effects.
Depending on the number of players a set number of victory point tokens are laid out. The depletion of these victory points (through card effects) signals the end of the game.
Trudi, with her Growth symbols canceling out most of her Decay symbols, kept amassing monster hands. With these large hands came a lot of buying power and victory points. I fared pretty well with most of my turns being fruitful, having spread out my advancements between my cards pretty evenly. Jason was experimenting a lot with the different card types and John pushed his luck too far a couple of times and missed several turns.
Mystic Vale is amazing. We had a blast and the game was made even more fun because of the limited downtime between turns. If you like deck builders, innovative game play, and truly fantastic art you will not be disappointed.
Outcome – It was a massacre. Trudi absolutely decimated us. To give you an idea of how bad it was I came in second place with 25 victory points. Trudi had 45. She cut off one ear from each of the losers and strung them on a necklace to hang beside her cash register as a warning to other gamers that would challenge her supremacy.
I grew up playing Jenga, as I’m sure many others did. When my kids brought home Jenga Quake I was simultaneously nostalgic and instantly bored. Jenga was one of those games that we played once or twice and then forgot about for years at a time. The boys were excited though, so I gave it a chance.
Well, to Hasbro’s credit, Jenga Quake is definitely a new spin on the game! This version of the game has a base that vibrates and causes the tower to shift dramatically. There is even a seismometer that spins and lights up. It’s actually pretty cool!
Players try to quickly and carefully remove a plastic piece from the tower and place it on the top, just like in the classic version of the game. Unlike in the original, players contend with random quakes (ranging from short and almost unnoticeable to long and devastating) that threaten to topple the tower. And that’s on top of unsteady hands!
My sons, Ayden and Dagon, challenged me to approximately 7,386 straight games of Jenga Quake that first night. There was a lot of laughs during the course of the games and we had a lot of fun. This is a good one for people with kids, and I imagine it would get raucous laughter as a drinking game as well.
Outcome – We each won a few games and we had fun during each game, win or lose.
“Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft”
Holmes is a worker placement and set collecting game where two players face off, taking on the roles of the famous sleuth brothers. There’s been a crime and the brothers Holmes are hired onto the case, one trying to exonerate the defendant and the other attempting to gather damning evidence against him. This is achieved by getting the most points through set collecting.
The game has some unique elements, the primary being the way in which it handles the worker placement. Each player has 3 pawns that must be moved from its position last turn to a new position, represented by cards. The cards are characters from the Sherlock Holmes universe and each has a unique ability, like gaining Magnifying Glass tokens, switching cards already possessed, or gathering new cards to name a few. If both players end up on the same non-starter character card that card is unusable during the following turn. This adds a little bit of caution to placement.
1 new character appears each day/round and adds a new ability that the players can take advantage of. Something else that is unique is how the characters that appear can be drastically more or less useful from one game to another. For example, some characters have abilities that cost more or less depending on which day/round he/she is revealed on.
Magnifying Glass tokens are the primary currency for the game and are used for the set collecting. The cards that are gathered from a combination of character abilities and tokens are grouped together by their type. Some are revealed to the opponent and others are kept hidden. Players score a set number for each set (denoted by the rarity of cards of that set) minus the number of that type that the opponent has.
Trudi and I sat down to play Holmes: Sherlock & Mycroft and we had a good time with it. Since some of the collected cards are hidden it’s difficult to judge the final outcome, and the worker placement aspect is well executed. It was a unique twist on a set collecting game that would be great in any fan of 2 player game’s collection.
Outcome – I won, but it was close. It certainly doesn’t make up for the beating I received at Trudi’s hand playing Mystic Vale.