The wildly popular magical world of Terra Mystica terraforms itself into digital terrain. How will the factions fare in this new land?
# of Players
Terra Mystica is daunting at first and haunting my purse at $9.99. Yet, I’ve become addicted to the challenge; and the challenge is MIGHTY. Your job as one of the 14 factions is to develop the landscape more effectively than your opponents. Pay attention to the details and you’ll be rewarded with the spoils of victory. The app provides the mystical feeling of another world through the light hearted animations and in-game sounds. I particularly love the low hum of a slow flowing brook that plays throughout the game. Do yourself a favor and play with the sound on.
This is not a game for the weak minded nor the attention deficit disordered. Mind your cults, develop your towns, and thwart your opposing faction’s next move. At the end of the game, the player with the most Victory points wins the game. Victory points are awarded primarily through developing your towns, Scoring Tiles, Bonus Cards, Special Abilities, Shipping, and progress along the Cult Track.
A turn in Terra Mystica consists of choosing one or more of the 8 actions available to you. Most actions cost something; whether it be Coins, Power Tokens, Workers, or a combination thereof. The app does a wonderful job guiding you through what actions are available, and the cost associated with each one. Turns are played within the six rounds of the game. Each round offers rewards for certain actions through Scoring Tiles. In the end, the player who advanced their faction the best wins the game.
Barrier to Entry
TM has a full, interactive tutorial as well as a link to a full color, 20 page pdf Rule Book. The manual is specifically for the board game version, however it does offer insight to the flow of play and phases of the game that translate to the digital version. The Interactive tutorial took 10 minutes to run through, and the Rule Book about 45 minutes to comprehend. As your first game starts, follow along with the turn-by-turn text updates at the bottom of your screen. These handy notifications really help in understanding the actions taken by the other players/factions.
Obviously, playing the Terra Mystica board game would immensely decrease the learning curve for this app adaptation. However, first timers to TM will really enjoy the steady pace of play found in the Local Game against the A.I. I've played over a dozen games against both online opponents and the app A.I. I'm still very much at zero wins so far, but my grasp on the objectives is clear. I feel the true mark of a TM champion will be spending Coins, Power and Workers at pivotal points in the game to maximize Victory points and Cult Tack advancement.
Be patient with the game and try to learn the absorb the phases: Income, Action & Cult Bonuses/Cleanup. These are not announced nor shown but more a naturally occurring part of play within the app. I recommend watching replays of your games. I find it helpful in determining how opponents accrue Victory Points, develop towns, and climb up the Cult Track.
Select Your Faction Wisely!
Faction Board Showing Attributes
Look and Feel
The developer, Digidiced nailed the graphics; they’re incredible. Each faction character is well thought out and include small animations that bring them to life. The music during the opening sequence and during play is pleasant. There are periods of a low hum sound almost like running water that works well with the civilization building theme of the game. New turn sounds grab your attention in case you've dozed off watching the coins, workers and power tokens fly across the screen. The detailed hexagons give the game board a great look, but the structures are very much lacking in any kind of detail. This is true to the board game version, but I think the app should have made improvements.
The game screen has everything you need to track the progress and status of of all turn related items. Along the top and sides of your screen are buttons to toggle Town Tiles, Leader Board, Scoring Tiles, Favor Tiles, and many more options. Use the "slow" game play option at first so you won't be overwhelmed by the actions of the other players. To recap, the lovely sounds of the game and the slow movements of the faction art make for a delightful eye and ear feel during game-play. Played on a tablet, the game really comes to life, and the playing field expands as you would expect it to given the larger screen.
Terra Mystica allows for a few Multiplayer versions of the game. You may invite a friend for a casual game, or join the queue for either a ranked or fast game. Unfortunately each of the ranked games I've joined & began to play have timed out due to inactivity of other online players. Frustrating. With only 1,000+ downloads to date, and a hefty price tag for an app, it may be a hot minute before the online universe is large enough to facilitate quick, reliable games.
I hope, having found this review, you may be in a position to play friends online for a fun game with comments and continue old rivalries from the board version. My TM screen name is Pixel Mack, so feel free to send me a game invite.
New Turn Notification
Choosing an Action During Your Turn
Moving Up the Cult Track
As of this review, the single player vs. A.I. is quite limited. Although still difficult for brand new Terra Mystica players, more advanced players may not find the A.I. not very challenging. This Local Game option against the A.I. has 4 opponents to choose from; each of which are of the easy variety. You may choose to play against 1 or all 4 of the other A.I. opponents.
Founding towns and creating connected areas I think is the most rewarding aspect of the game. It takes half a halflings life to figure out the strategy born from direct/indirect Adjacency, Power Values and Spade exchange rates. But therein lies the fun of mastering towns (connected areas) in Terra Mystica. A hard copy, color rule book will come in very handy for new players; this will be something you'll need to print yourself however.
The Fire & Ice Expansion has been Coming Soon since the app launched last month. This expansion will bring along a new game board and SIX more factions - Yetis, DragonLords, Ice Maidens, Acolytes, Shape Shifters & River Walkers! I can't wait to be demolished by more factions in a different Mystical hexagonal landscape with menacing Yetis. Yikes!
Selecting Bonus Cards
Favor Tile Selection
Town Tiles are Key to Development
The Wrap Up
Whoa! Terra Mystica is deep in strategy, infinite in game replay-ability, and as challenging as the Mermaid Faction is beautiful. The screenshots shown above are just a peek into the depth of this adventure. No two games will ever be alike, which extends the life of this app indefinitely. Choose to quickly advance your Priests along the Cult Track and sacrifice transforming terrains & you'll miss out on the spoils of town development. Focus solely on upgrading your Structures, and your shipping prowess will fall to ruin. The key here is a healthy balance of each aspect during each round of 6.
For me, a Terra Mystica newbile, I'm infatuated with the nuances of the tiles. Selecting the appropriate tile(s) given your place within the game/Leader Board is crucial to success and enjoyment of feeding your faction's hunger for victory. I will be purchasing the board game soon to gain an advantage in what is bound to be a huge online multiplayer database.