Mysthea: From Floating Islands to Expressive Miniatures
Advance through the eras in a world of floating islands and roaming monsters against a powerful foe in Mysthea.
With the way my solo collection has expanded over the years, a lot of new arrivals are limited to the games my husband is most interested in for playing multiplayer. No complaints from me, because most of them include a solo variant! So it was with an air of surprise that I opened Mysthea for the first time, not quite sure what to expect from Maliath…
Over the course of 3 eras, troops and golems travel across floating islands. Encounters offer interesting choices, as do a plethora of different ability cards. However, Maliath is the solo opponent who acts to control as much as she can… And watch out for the giant monsters in battle!
November 3, 2023
November 3, 2023
36" x 32"
An Interesting Concept
As I read through the standard rules, I could see a clever sort of game. Floating islands can move during gameplay, and their locations affect movement options. Neat!
The round tracking cards also act as a way to award bonuses at the end of an era. However, this is also where any monster cards are shuffled in for their own actions.
Effectively, a lot of information is open and clear to plan out how to attune for victory points or gather more cards.
It was already getting a little lengthy in terms of the way the main rulebook was laid out, but I was still excited!
The 55-Page Solo Rules
Nope. Remember that I knew nothing about this one before it arrived, so I didn’t know what to expect with the solo variant. A 55-page rulebook wasn’t what I wanted.
Granted, it’s a smaller size with large text and examples, along with plenty of reference material. That wasn’t my problem. It was all the flipping around for procedures.
Additionally, this is one of those solo rulebooks that says to use the main rules for a step, but then add exceptions.
I could tell this was going to be frustrating for me. Still, I forged on to give it a chance and learn how it played.
Imitating Real Life
Without actually trying to, a pair of my troops ended up on the board and seemed to act out my exact reaction.
On the left was the promise of this cool solo variant in a game not many had heard of… And then the right was my expression after digesting all of the rules. Procedures!
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit that there was a big disconnect. This isn’t for me, and that’s not a bad thing.
Yet I would caution anyone that the solo mode requires a full understanding of the multiplayer game. I don’t know if it’s really designed to be enjoyed solo for a new player.
A Rare Incomplete Play
I was having a vague sense of fun during my turns, even putting out a cool upgrade that allowed me to deploy newly constructed troops. There was a lot of potential!
However, I did what I don’t always do… Near the end of era 1 of 3, I had played for 40 minutes. And that was enough.
Each turn for the solo opponent required me to look things up, flip around the rulebook, do this, but then maybe do that, look up symbols, and lose my own place.
Too complex? Not really. It was just a jumble of steps that made the game feel like running the solo opponent.
Isn’t Abandoning a Play a Terrible Thing to Do?
Early on in my solo game life, I would have stuck this out and played for around 2-3 hours. In that event, this post would likely be completely sour! Instead, I’m happy knowing when a solo game or variant just isn’t for me. More than likely, it would have been unfair to simply not play the game and assume it was going to be awful. That’s not my style.
But there’s also the idea that time is limited, and the sunken cost fallacy is an important concept not to be ignored. In essence, it’s the idea that you need to see something through to the end, even if it’s not enjoyable. The base time and effort was already expended, so even if it might be better to not continue, it can feel like it was all for nothing.
This can happen with board games and video games. I know I’ve done it before! Rather than pack up and move onto something fun, I force myself to keep going for a few more hours. It’s not fun. So although I know it doesn’t sound great that I quit in the middle of this play, it gave me some time back and helped me appreciate the multiplayer game.
So many cool miniatures! This falls right in the realm of games my husband enjoys, and we played it together. Much better and rather fun! I think the solo mode could be enjoyable for the right player who’s familiar with the game and doesn’t mind putting in extra effort to simulate a realistic solo opponent. As for me, I’ll stick with playing this one multiplayer and let Maliath guard my copy!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- All of the miniatures are really neat with multiple sculpts for the troops and golems, adding a little personality.
- Champions are all very different with unique abilities, and building up a deck provides a ton of variety.
- Only 3 main actions are available each turn, which makes it somewhat easy to plan ahead and form a desired path.
- Moving islands can help or hinder travel, but in a way that can be very interesting without a lot of dead ends.
- Each era progresses in an open way so that monster movement and attack are known ahead of time for planning.
- More powerful and interesting cards come out during later eras, adding more decisions and interesting abilities.
– Cons (Negatives)
- The solo mode is a sea of steps and references that require flipping around the rulebook for all sorts of details.
- With the amount of effort needed to understand the solo opponent’s turn, it can be easy to lose track of a strategy.
- Gameplay isn’t very complex, yet there isn’t a clear way to do well, making solo not a great mode to start with.
- Updated cards provide a lot of text on cards, but there is so much iconography that requires looking up all the time.
Score the Most Points
- Overall Goal Progress 0% 0%
Goals and Milestones
Win at least 1 game.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Mysthea? Are there other games you tried solo but decided were best enjoyed multiplayer? I appreciate the attempt to expand a game’s player count, and this may very well be the right choice for some. In the end, I’ll take it as a valuable learning experience and ensure that my husband’s game choices don’t always need to have a solo mode!