Board Game App Review: Mystic Vale

8/10 A good, high-production app

Available on:
Steam for PC — $12.99
Apple — $4.99

Google Play — $5.99

This week, I’m reviewing several different board game apps. These reviews are primarily looking at the quality of the app and content. Previous reviews:

Mystic Vale is another I’ve not played at the table; I’ve always been cautious about the price for the complexity and replayability. To keep the price down, Mystic Vale sacrifices a lot to be able to use plastic cards and include sleeves. For comparison, Dominion has the same price ($45 MSRP) and has 500 cards to Mystic Vale’s roughly 230 (which can be mixed, of course, but many cards are just varying amounts of currencies and points).

The tutorial in the app is okay but leaves you to figure out some things on your own, teaching you only the basics needed to play. Luckily, it’s a pretty light game and relatively easy to figure out the rest. There are 4 levels of AI, but like Through the Ages, the AI difficulty isn’t particularly strict (or both games are simply highly volatile?), as I’ve seen lower AI beat higher AI. There is a lot of randomness to Mystic Vale, though.

The UI is clean and easy to read, and I appreciate the full cards, which are actually larger than the real game because these are displayed as full art until added to a card (something you can’t do with the physical cards). I do wish there was a way to display your Field and your special cards at the same time. It’s easy to forget you have an ability to activate when it’s off-screen, despite the glow on the side, indicating you have an ability you can activate. There is also no full explanation of complex cards during the game. You have to go find them in your collection in the main menu to get the full rules for each card. Once you familiarize yourself with the cards, it’s fine, but it does make the learning curve steeper than it needs to be. Though most cards are very straightforward anyway, an option to turn on detailed tooltips would have been nice to have.

Mystic Vale is fun, though card variety is lacking. Many of the base game cards lack interesting interactions, so only certain cards will feel different. On the upside, there are already 3 expansions available for the digital game (and several already made for the physical game), and there’s a season pass for $9.99 that unlocks them all, adding a lot more cards to the pool and some new things. At full price, the base game might not have enough replayability depending on how often you play, but it might be worth it if you already like the game and know you’ll want the expansions with it.

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