Welcome esteemed settler, to this lush land of… wait, what? You say you were looking to visit Catan? You must have taken the wrong turn. Catan is right over there. This is the mysterious land of Terra Mystica, where we welcome all sorts of settlers from merfolk to witches to nomads to giants.
Terra Mystica is a board game for 2-5 players. Each player chooses a race; in addition to some of those already mentioned in the first paragraph, there are also fantasy races like dwarves and gnomes, halflings, fakirs, swarmlings, chaos magicians and alchemists. Every race is associated with a certain terrain type, like giants who are associated with the mountains or swarmlings who dwell in the swamps. After choosing your starting location, each player will then seek to terraform the land around them into their race’s preferred terrain type to expand their presence on the board. And by expanding, I mean build new dwellings, upgrading dwellings to trading posts, and then turning trading posts into a stronghold or a temple which can then be turned into a shrine. Confused yet?
But wait, there’s more! In addition to all this building and economic management, you also need to manage your people’s religion. There’s a separate religion track that you can also try to rank on. It’s an important part of the game that you’ll ignore at your peril.
So beware. There’s going to be a lot of competition over territory as you decide which areas to terraform so that you can settle there and build your dwelling. You see, unlike in other games, you kinda want to build close to your opponents, but you don’t want to constantly be building too much or else your opponents will benefit from your actions. You also want to make sure your opponents don’t terraform a tile that you dearly need to expand. Finally, you’ll be competing with them for once-per-turn actions that are available on the board. Using them can make all the difference in the world in terms of being efficient settlers, but that will require you to manage those mysterious bowls of power really really well…
Core Mechanics: Area control, resource management.
Victory Condition: Like many games of its ilk, Terra Mystica’s winner is the one with the most points. How points are generated can be interesting. First off, there are reward tiles that come up turn after turn that reward you for taking a certain action. For example, there are ones that give you points for using your shovel to dig and terraform tiles. There are others that give you points for building dwellings. Sometimes your race will give you points for taking certain actions. Certain buildings or chaining buildings together to create towns can also give you points. All of those pale in comparison to end-game scoring where the person who builds the longest chain of buildings is rewarded with a lot of points. And as I mentioned above, the religion track can also be an avenue with which to get points, so don’t ignore that while playing.
Ease of learning: Somewhat hard to learn. Oh my god, I love this game, but it’s really rough for new players (especially new board game players) to have a go at because of how many moving parts there are. Probably about as much if not more than Agricola. Unlike Agricola, there isn’t a cohesive theme that ties those disparate parts together so you really have to compartmentalize well, or this game will be an ogre to deal with on your first playthrough.
|Basic Terra Mystica Strategy Guide|
|Terra Mystica Review|
|Terra Mystica Video Guide|