Ever had a game (or anything else) you really wanted to like? Maybe even believed you were supposed to like?
Where on paper, everything just added up. Sort of like online dating. (Okay, it was a very brief adventure that didn't go as planned.)
I feel a bit like that with Mistfall. There are so, so many things I like about this game. But not every guy — I mean game — can be for me. That doesn't make it bad. But it makes it hard for me to explain. Here goes anyway.
Mistfall is an adventure card and board game designed by Blazej Kubacki with art from Enggar Adirasa. It's for one to four players ages 13 and up, and it plays in about 30 minutes per player once you understand the game. (That's important, since it has a bit of a learning curve.)
It started life in March 2015 as a Kickstarter project by NSKN Games, and it hit retail stores in the U.S. the following October via Passport Games Studio.
In Mistfall, players work together to defeat monsters at various locations, racing against a time clock and their own declining health.
How it works
The base game comes with four quests, each with its own setup and special rules.
But the basics are the same. A board is made of tiles, which are placed face down, except for the starting tile, which is the players' base, and the end tile, where the most difficult battle will be fought.
Players choose one of seven characters to play. Each character has a basic deck of cards and starting gear, which includes at least one weapon. They also have a deck of cards they can buy abilities from using the group's pool of resolve.
Players decide whether to travel to a new location, where they draw an encounter card. That brings out enemies to fight. Players must meet the requirements card or risk a penalty for retreating.
Enemies attack individual players, and players take their turns separately, fighting enemies in their own area and in their opponents' areas, if they want.
When they meet the requirements of the encounter, they get rewards, which are cards that help them during the game.
To win, they must defeat the most difficult enemy.
Why you might like Mistfall
Kuback wrote an incredible story to go with the game. There are six and a half pages of background about the world, the heroes, and the enemies. It pulls you into the world and allows for some role-playing if you choose. It's fascinating, and I would read a whole book about this legend.
The art is beautiful and evokes the world. On a side note, it's nice to have so many female heroes, and to see them fully dressed.
This is a game with lots of customization. Each hero plays quite differently, and each has different cards to upgrade skills. So even though there are only four quests in the base game, there are lots of characters to try out. And the location tiles will be different for most of the quests, as well.
If that's not enough, the Valskyrr expansion adds more. And NSKN has more expansions planned.
The rulebook provides lots of options for making the game easier or more difficult, depending on your taste and group.
Mistfall is all about combining cards to optimize a character's abilities. If you like that, this is a good choice.
Why you might not like Mistfall
If you're not a fan of games that have you combining cards to fight enemies, the world of Mistfall probably won't be enough to hold you. The cards are full — and I do mean full — of text, and each can be used in several ways. So while the world is there, you may feel more like you're trying to decipher the best move than you are swinging your hand axe at a beast.
Mistfall is a game where you'll need to be familiar with your character and his or her deck of cards. You'll have to decide if that's appealing or not.
The rulebook is very complicated, and it feels like it could have been streamlined to make it clearer. There are also some significant mistakes in the rulebook and on the cards. You can find official corrections at NSKN Games.
The two-player game is very difficult. The game works much better with more players because you can work with the strengths of each character. Some combinations of characters are much tougher to use than others, as well.
As I said, I really wanted to like this game. The story is so deep and interesting, the art is beautiful, and I like that battles aren't fought with dice.
But I discovered it just isn't for me. Minus the problems with the rulebook, there's nothing wrong with the game. The problem is with me: I just don't like fighting an onslaught of enemies every turn with card combinations.
Lots of people do. If you're one of them, Mistfall is worth a look.
Other reviewers' opinions
Joel from Drive Thru Reviews wishes the cards had more artwork to get you into the actions instead of relying so heavily on the text of the cards. He also said some setups will be easy to win, and others are impossible. He described the card play as rich and rewarding.
Rahdo gave a Kickstarter preview of the game. He praised the "cool combo chains" of cards you can play. He'd like to see more variety in what you can buy each game. He also said it can be very frustrating to play for two or three hours and then lose. But overall he liked it.
Not really. The cards and monsters aren't especially creepy, but it's tough to play. If your slightly younger kids want to play, you could let them have a shot.
What I got wrong
So much. It's been awhile, so I don't remember exactly, but I remember restarting a few times and becoming very frustrated trying to understand the game. Once I got it, I was okay.
What my husband wants to do to the game
Add more adventure with the battles. He wants more missions (there are a few), and he also wants lots less text.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Mistfall from Passport Game Studios. That doesn't affect my ability to write an honest review. If it did, I wouldn't have taken the game.
And a note: Much of this review first appeared on News for Shoppers, where I wrote it.