The deck builder hits another platform...now!
Mystic Vale was a well made port of the unique deck builder/card crafting game that released in 2019. You can check out our full review of the mobile version here for all of the details. The game has already hit Android, iOS, and Steam, but now it is releasing on Nintendo Switch, following a recent pattern of some forward thinking developers adding their board game ports to Nintendo's eShop.
We will have the full press release with all of the details and also a short Switch-specific review with our impressions of the game on Switch.
If you just want the link, click here to see Mystic Vale on the Nintendo eShop.
The Valley of Life has been corrupted by an evil curse. When the spirits of nature cry out for aid, clans of mighty druids answer the call. Working together, the clans battle to heal the land, while trying not to succumb to the curse themselves…
Mystic Vale is the award-winning digital adaptation of the Mystic Vale board game from AEG. Featuring the first use of the innovative Card Crafting System, Mystic Vale is a deck-builder unlike anything else on the Nintendo Switch. Players take turns drafting advancements for their cards, creating unique combos and improving their cards as they play. Nomad Games has taken the beautiful artwork from the physical game and brought it to life through stunning and bespoke animations.
In Mystic Vale, you start with a 20 card deck, with each card having three slots for ‘advancements’ which add new effects to your cards. More powerful advancements offer greater resources and rewards, but come with added decay – if you get more than 3 decay in your turn then it’ll end immediately! Do you play it safe or go for the riskier advancements to stop your opponents getting them first? It’s all up to you!
Nomad Games have also worked to bring the expansions available for the physical game to life digitally. Included for free with Mystic Vale on Nintendo Switch is the first expansion, Vale of Magic. Also available for purchase are the Vale of the Wild and Mana Storm expansions, giving players new strategies, combos and game mechanics to discover and experiment with.
Mystic Vale features online and local multiplayer for up to 4 players, and can be played cross-platform against PC and mobile users! Expansions can also be shared with other players – as long as the host has an expansion, all the other players will be granted access to that expansion as well. Challenge your friends no matter what platform you choose!
Again, check out our full review of the game for details on the game itself. Here we will be discussing things specific to the Switch version. To be clear, as far as features go the game is identical on Switch as it is on other platforms. Those features are covered in our review and mostly in the press release copied above.
Mystic Vale is the first board game I've played on the Switch. There have been a few others make their way onto the platform, but it simply hasn't been something I've personally been interested in trying. Nomad Games was kind enough to provide a download key for the Switch version to allow us to try it out for a little while before the official release. A lot of this section will take the form of "how do board games work on Switch", so be prepared.
The game comes with the first expansion, Vale of Magic, included. Vale of the Wild and Mana Storm will be available as additional DLC. Navigating the menus with controllers works fine, a small nitpick being that it is sometimes difficult to see where the highlighted/active part of the screen is. There is only small emphasis placed on the button you are currently on and it took a little bit for me to figure out what was going on initially.
After that initial, very tiny, hiccup, I was off and running. The game played really well once I started. In handheld mode you can tap the screen to mimic the exact type of controls you get from the phone version, or use the controllers to navigate. The controls were my biggest concern going in. I'm happy to say that they worked really well. I'm certainly used to tapping, but I had no trouble adjusting to using a joystick. For Mystic Vale, in particular, the screen space where you need to work is typically limited to the bottom half of the screen and the controls make this a very easy jump going from the action buttons to your played cards to the purchase rows.
One thing that I would have liked to see is a bit of a shortcut for switching between the various purchase rows. It would have been nice to tap into the right joystick (unused in the game) to allow a quick scroll through the purchase rows. Small things like this where the port is adapted to specifically fit the platform would go a long way to providing a better experience.
Overall, the game plays really smoothly on the Switch. Seeing it on a big screen in docked mode is a fun experience. It doesn't seem overly optimized to run on the Switch, there is some minor framerate slowdowns when cards get shuffled off of your screen. Nothing major, and it is probably similar to the mobile version, but it is more noticeable when playing on a television.
All in all, Mystic Vale plays well on the Switch. I don't see myself returning to it much but that is 100% a personal preference. I would rather play console games when I have access to my Switch and I would rather keep my digital tabletop to my phone and occasionally tablet. I recently held a poll on Twitter and of people who owned a Switch, the majority of them were excited about board games on the Switch. I'm in the minority here, and I'm fine with that, the more ways great digital tabletop games can get into hands of users, the better.
If you are looking for a fun board game to add to your Switch collection, Mystic Vale will fit that bill.