Create the most powerful potions possible in this addicting, quick-playing solitaire game.
Android & iOS
# of Players
Miracle Merchant is the latest game from Tiny Touch Tales, creators of the very popular Card Thief, Card Crawl, and Enyo. Like the first two, Miracle Merchant is a card based solitaire game. Players must combine ingredients from four different stacks to create potions of varying strengths that meet customer requests. A full game can be played in under five minutes and ends when you run out of cards/customers or you fail to meet a customer's demands.
Four different stacks of cards are laid out each game, one for each of four different colors: blue, green, yellow, and red. Each card on its own provides one point. Mixed in with these color cards are black card which provide negative points. Four cards are played for each customer. It must meet the primary color demand for the customer and total at least one point to be a success.
The challenge in the game comes from using the card powers to create stronger potions to earn more points. Many ingredients will have modifiers which allow it to gain points when paired with other ingredients. Some of these bonuses are only activated when placed adjacent to specific colors while some do so regardless of position. The bonuses add the value of the cards providing the bonuses, so there is a snowball effect that you must take advantage of to reach truly high scores.
A simple example is placing a red ingredient with a yellow bonus symbol. If the yellow card, already on the table, is worth two points, then the red card has its point total increased from one to three once placed. If the next card placed has a red symbol and is placed properly, it would have a value of four.
There are a few other ways to gain points. Playing multiple ingredients of the same color, or optionally satisfying the customer's favorite color will give more points.
The game is straightforward and fairly easy to get through without losing. You will occasionally run out of the color the last one or two customers need, which ends the game in a loss, but if you play it safe and leave cards of each color, you will usually complete the game. The fun and challenge comes in trying to get high scores. Taking chances to increase the score of your concoction to beat your best is what will keep you coming back to this app.
Miracle Merchant is a super quick, incredibly simple game but it is also a ton of fun. Although it only takes a few minutes to play, I usually find myself glued to it for 15+ minutes at a time, chasing high scores is addicting.
Note that the iOS version is paid upfront with access the full game, but the Android version has a limited feature version with ads, the full version is unlocked via in-app purchase. All features discussed below assume you have the full version on either platform.
Barrier to Entry
Miracle Merchant has a quick tutorial that will play the first time you launch the app and is later accessible through the settings menu. The game is easy to pick up so the short tutorial is plenty to explain things. After the tutorial I had a few uncertainties about scoring, but those are quickly answered after a game or two.
Look and Feel
This app looks amazing. The art for it is simply fantastic. The cards and, especially, the customers have great detail and colors which really make the app pop. You can see from our screenshots, every aspect from the game to the menus and leaderboards is incredibly detailed. The only controls in the game are drag and drop of the cards, and that is handled well.
There is no multiplayer, this is a solitaire game. There are, however, online leaderboards which show the top thirty players in best overall score (for one game), best single potion, and most tasks completed. The only minor complaint here is that you can’t easily find your personal numbers in those three categories. After completing a game you will see your top scores, but it seems like those should be in a menu somewhere.
The app consists of two play modes: the basic game, as described earlier, or playing a daily challenge. The daily challenge is a preset deal of cards that everybody playing the app will get, you can play and see how your score stacks up to the rest of the players. You only get one chance to play this challenge, however, so use it wisely.
The main motivation for the basic game, besides the fun aspect, is to chase points. The online leaderboard mentioned earlier is one way to track that. The other is your own potion book the app keeps. For each of five types of point multiplying ingredient layouts, the app will track your best single potion scores. For example, the most basic of these five is the Twin. This is simply placing two of the same color ingredient next to each other. There are five colors so there are five possible twin potions. The app will track your highest score for each of these five twin combinations.
Some of my potions
Miracle Merchants joins Age of Rivals as our second digital-only game review. Much like Age of Rivals, Miracle Merchants is a supremely polished product with an extremely fun underlying game. We are happy to see board game mechanics head straight to digital when the resulting apps are this good. As such, we will continue to cover select digital-only apps which fit within the board game genre.
As mentioned earlier, the Android version is free to download and play a limited feature set. Without buying the full app you can play the basic game and one of three daily tasks. You can’t play the daily challenge, the other two tasks, or use the scorekeeping features. There are no other in-app purchases at this time. iOS is a paid app, once downloaded you have full feature access.
The Wrap Up
Miracle Merchant is a tremendously well executed app. The underlying game is nearly perfect in fitting the super short game niche. There are many times I find myself with two or three minutes free and my phone in hand. Since starting playing Miracle Merchant, I find myself choosing it over <social media app of choice>. The beauty is in the simplicity here. The game can be picked up and played once, or it can grab you for ten or more games as you try to get higher scores.
There isn’t a ton of depth, but it wasn’t meant to be that kind of game. It’s tough to find faults in a game that executes three minutes of addicting, point-chasing gameplay so well. We would like to see better access to our own stats from the menus and let us know where we rank vs the community on the online leaderboards, but those are just nitpicks.
Helping another customer
Miracle Merchant nearly perfects three minutes of board game-inspired fun on your mobile device.
What we like
- Quick playing, addictive gameplay
- Point chasing will keep you coming back
- Daily challenge and tasks are a nice touch
What we don't like
- Lack of access to your high scores except after a game