Overview: Terra Mystica is a territory building game set in a fantasy theme. Players take the role of different factions, which have different starting resources and in-game powers. At the start of each round, players take turns choosing one action, and continue until every player has passed. These actions can be terraforming/building, progressing on the cult track, using a special action token, and many others. There are 8 actions total that one can choose from each turn. There are six rounds total, and each round has different affects depending on what the players do, such as extra victory points for building a dwelling that turn. Players can also upgrade their buildings, which give more workers, coin, power, priests, and favor tokens, which can help boost your points or give extra resources per round. Game is finished after 6 rounds, players count up end points. Whoever has the most victory points, wins.
Terra Mystica is a heavy game that is actually not as complicated as one would think when opening the box for the first time. There are hundreds of components, mostly wooden pieces that are very high quality. Each player also gets a thick board for their faction, which it detailed with building costs and gorgeous artwork. While the set up and rulebook seems intimidating, the gameplay itself is intuitive and logical. There are reference cards for each action, and it’s also helpful to print out gamer made reference sheets from Board Game Geek. Because there isn’t a plethora of player interaction, it is easy to plan out two or three turns ahead, as your opponents can’t block or stop your plans very easily. However, players still interact with each other when building, because cost is cheaper when adjacent to another player, however, they have a choice to gain power, which can be converted into money, workers, priests, or used for a special action token. This gives each turn strategic thought, since one must balance helping their opponents while helping themselves.
Once players get used to the different actions and rules, Terra Mystica can be played with 30 minutes per player or less, especially if players are planning ahead their turns. This makes Terra Mystica not as heavy as one would presume, since even Lords of Waterdeep can get to 3 hours with the current expansions. Terra Mystica also has amazing replay value because of the different factions each player can choose every game. The factions all yield very different strategies and since points can be earned in several ways, a player doesn’t feel stuck not being able to perform his/her main strategy. Also, because of the limited resources each round, players must plan carefully to perform all the actions they need. This causes a constant tension, because there are 8 possible actions and each player can usually only do 3 or 4 each round. There are so many mechanics and actions possible in Terra Mystica, that it can’t be covered in just a review. Only after playing the game itself, do players understand why it is so highly rated.
2 Player Experience
Two player in Terra Mystica works surprisingly well. It’s especially helpful when first learning the game, as there is more space on the board and therefore more options. The cult track doesn’t feel as important as getting continuous home terrains, but it honestly depends on what faction you choose which can make one or the other easier to obtain. There is less tension in planning turns for two player, but it is still difficult to do more than 3 or 4 actions per round. The game does feel almost too short with 2 players, with experienced players finishing in under an hour. For such a heavy game, however, Terra Mystica is definitely worth playing with two players.
4 Player Experience
Four player for Terra Mystica is challenging, but fun. The board gets filled up quicker which makes the shipping track (able to skip a river space to continue home terrain) more important. Placing first dwellings is key to four player, making sure you have the ability to terraform without huge costs but also keeping in mind where other players are trying to expand. Four player can be done in less than two hours with four players, which feels like the right pace for this game. It’s more interesting and challenging with four players, and should be introduced to any experienced gaming group