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Terra Mystica» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Terra Mystica - Mini Review rss

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Marty Strubczewski
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Scythe (my favorite game) was inspired by two games; Terra Mystica & Kemet. I have already played Kemet and love it. It only made sense to try Terra Mystica next. I put Terra Mystica on hold for quite some time. The reviews were all "It's great, but super heavy!". Over time I have learned to ignore when reviewers coin a game as "heavy". TM is not heavy. It's actually quite easy to learn and pick up. The mechanisms make sense and are learned in a matter of minutes. Are there some rules nuances? Of course! but every game has them. If there is anything heavy about Terra Mystica it is the weight of the box and the brain burning decisions you have at your disposal.

As you become familiar with Terra Mystica; there is a beautiful balance you didn't think could be possible in a game with so many paths. And when you boil it down to its core; Terra Mystica is an area control game. There is some engine building but as you improve your buildings; the engine suffers. As you gain power you have to masterfully manage it amongst three tiers. Balance in progression is the name of the game. And how you manage that balance will be the rise or downfall of your territory.

The base game include 14 factions. This is a wonderful quantity to help keep variability up. Each faction changes a game rule ever so slightly. This slight change forms an identity for the faction and drives focus in an otherwise very open game. Along with variable scoring and bonus tiles; no two games should play the same.

Don't get me wrong, this game is not perfect. There are actually quite a few things I dislike. The power bowl is clever and interesting. But I can't help but think its a silly gimmick. It may have been more fun to acquire power and use power. Keep it simple.

Building around opposing players is semi encouraged (cheaper trade houses and the chance at getting a power boost). The "power boost" mechanism of acquiring power at the cost of victory points is ok in the early game but really costly later in the game. Victory points shouldn't be used as candy if you really want to win. This could be something I appreciate more over time.

Building a town is a difficult feat. And I'm rewarded with sizeable victory points (Yay!) and something small like a priest or some coins (Boo!). Kinda sucks the excitement right out.

The cult track only makes sense from the point of view that it's something else to consider over the game. You get bonuses as you progress and each round rewards you for reaching a certain level in the cult de jour. It does add another layer, but I can't help but see it as strange and a little out of place.

Terra Mystica is a divisive game. You will either love it or hate. This game is as brilliant as it is mysterious. But I love it for what it is and any game that makes terraforming land and building dwellings so fun is a keeper. For euro lovers this is a staple game and I urge you to try it. If you need theme in your games then there is always Pandemic.

10/10
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I H
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I like Terra Mystica a lot, but I agree that the Cult track and Power bowl feel extraneous and somewhat vestigial. Those the two elements I dread explaining to new players; though they're not particularly complex, they detract from the strategic theme of the game ("build the right buildings in the right places at the right times"). I almost wish there was a "family" variant where the Cult track and Power bowl were removed or streamlined, but both mechanics are so deeply woven into Terra Mystica's structure that such a variant would require extensive reworking of the game altogether.

On the other hand, I find the town bonuses to be quite significant. I love being able to grab just the right one to set up my next turn.
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Dániel Lányi
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emagius wrote:
I almost wish there was a "family" variant where the Cult track and Power bowl were removed or streamlined, BUT BOTH MECHANICS ARE SO DEEPLY WOVEN INTO TERRA MYSTICA'S STRUCTURE ...


I'm tempted to say you just defeated your own arguement there I admit it looks bad in theory but it works sooo great in practice. The cult track gives you alternate ways to score points, get spades etc. I think that in other games the cult track (and the factions) would have been an expansion, and then it would have been just an afterthought, but not in TM. The power bowls just give you some more decisions, burn or not to burn, when to do things, etc. One thing that's great about TM opposed to many other eurogames is it really cares about timing. You don't just have endgame goals, you get points for this and that only this turn. The power bowls are merely another element where timing is important.
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Robert
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Martystrub969 wrote:
Scythe (my favorite game) was inspired by two games; Terra Mystica & Kemet.
Really? I understand how Kemet may have inspired Scythe, but I have a hard time to find Terra Mystica ideas in Scythe (a map using hexes and the presence of player boards seems not enough similarity ). Do you have some pointer connecting Terra Mystica to Scythe?
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Marty Strubczewski
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DocCool wrote:
Martystrub969 wrote:
Scythe (my favorite game) was inspired by two games; Terra Mystica & Kemet.
Really? I understand how Kemet may have inspired Scythe, but I have a hard time to find Terra Mystica ideas in Scythe (a map using hexes and the presence of player boards seems not enough similarity ). Do you have some pointer connecting Terra Mystica to Scythe?


If you look at the Scythe Kickstarter page it states "Scythe blends an engine-building system inspired by Terra Mystica"
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Eric Hogue
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Martystrub969 wrote:
DocCool wrote:
Really? I understand how Kemet may have inspired Scythe, but I have a hard time to find Terra Mystica ideas in Scythe (a map using hexes and the presence of player boards seems not enough similarity ). Do you have some pointer connecting Terra Mystica to Scythe?


If you look at the Scythe Kickstarter page it states "Scythe blends an engine-building system inspired by Terra Mystica"


Terra Mystica has a digging track and a shipping track that have upgrade actions (for most races), Scythe has an upgrade action that improves 4 different tracks on top and 3-4 tracks on the bottom.
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Robin Zigmond
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Both have asymmetric player powers, and both have strong area control elements alongsid the engine-building core. Both these elements are rarer than you may think among moderen Euros.

Sure, Scythe and TM are very different games, but I can definitely see howbthe one influenced the other. (Both are great games, in so far as I can tell from 2 plays of Scythe - but TM is definitely better )
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Matthias Reitberger
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Terra mystica family variant:
1. no cult track, no power, no cult income
2. The power actions are now priest actions, you need a certain amount of tp on the board to use them (they no longer give pw so they need an aditional use) and spend some priests for them.
Act1: have at least 2tp, spend p to build bridge.
Act2: if you have 4tp get a p
Act3: have at least 1tp, convert p to 2w
Act4: have at least 1tp, convert 2p to 7c
Act5: have at lest 1tp, dig 1 for 1p.
Act6: havev at least 2tp, dig 2 for 2p
Additional move:
If you have a tp on both sides of a river you can build a bridge for 1p.
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Robert
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Martystrub969 wrote:
If you look at the Scythe Kickstarter page it states "Scythe blends an engine-building system inspired by Terra Mystica"
Thanks. If the designers themselves say so, there's little place for doubt.
 
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Dániel Lányi
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DocCool wrote:
Martystrub969 wrote:
Scythe (my favorite game) was inspired by two games; Terra Mystica & Kemet.
Really? I understand how Kemet may have inspired Scythe, but I have a hard time to find Terra Mystica ideas in Scythe (a map using hexes and the presence of player boards seems not enough similarity ). Do you have some pointer connecting Terra Mystica to Scythe?


I always thought the only thing really connecting the two are the covering and uncovering of parts of your board thingy. But that was done before TM. Scythe felt more like a rondel game to me (even if you have your own custom rondel, and one of the factions can just do the same action again) but it never came close to the feeling of building TM has.



1869 wrote:
Terra mystica family variant:


I'd just play Catan instead. Seriously.

 
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Matthias Reitberger
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The upgrade action in scythe has nothing in common with tm. It does make top actions more powerful abd bottom actions cheaper, nothing of that happens in tm.
Yes there are different factions in scythe but their special abilities are rather meaningless compared to tm. The differences in the action mats is a bit like scoring bonus but differentiated by player instead of by round.
Area control?
I don't see tm as an area control game. You occupy hexes by building and nobody can take them away. Scythe has area control, you can fight for it, defend it and it is the second most important scoring factor, much more than network in tm that can give you 18pts while you will need > 130 to win.
 
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James Wolfpacker
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wallwaster wrote:

I'd just play Catan instead. Seriously.


Hey, I find Catan with expansions a lot of fun.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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I never want to play catan again and Puerto Rico.
There are games I played way too often 10 years ago.
 
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Anthony Heitzinger
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Seeing as you still gave the game 10/10, I'm assuming your few complaints are very minute, but I feel like responding to them anyways.

The power bowls are awesome. They give you the additional question of whether you should burn power to get something now? Should I permanently damage my board for a benefit now, or hold off? It also asks just how much damage you can do. Should you go down to 6 tokens? How about 3? If you burn all but one, csn you win without power actions for the rest of the game?

The town bonuses are the great. I'm usually picking my bonus based on the present rather than the victory points. There's been plenty of games where I desperately need the money bonus, and founding a town saves me.

Also, I love the constant question of should you pay victory points for power when opponents build near you. Early game you want every single power you can get, but what about late game?
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Dániel Lányi
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JamesWolfpacker wrote:
wallwaster wrote:

I'd just play Catan instead. Seriously.


Hey, I find Catan with expansions a lot of fun.


Oh don't misunderstand me I love Catan and I think it's the only game that comes close to TM in the sense that I build stuff, and it gives me income and that's just supersatisfying. I just meant we don't need to make a simple version of TM when we have Catan. I find the big expansions only bloat the game though. The helpers and events mini-expansions make it way more strategic, less lucky, and not a minute longer (in fact they make you get more stuff, so it's even faster).
So to come back to the original topic... I agree Scythe doesn't feel like TM at all. Catan is the closest I can think of. Are there any other games of building and income anyone can think of?

1869 wrote:

I never want to play catan again and Puerto Rico.
There are games I played way too often 10 years ago.


That's a good point sadly. Many people overplayed Catan.
 
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Eric Hogue
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1869 wrote:
The upgrade action in scythe has nothing in common with tm. It does make top actions more powerful abd bottom actions cheaper, nothing of that happens in tm.


The digging upgrade does not make digging cheaper? The shipping upgrade does not make shipping more powerful?

1869 wrote:
Area control?
I don't see tm as an area control game.


Limiting where other players can reach (particulary the Riverwalkers)is not area control?
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James Wolfpacker
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Many people overplayed Catan BASE GAME. It has a lot of luck and it get boring after 30+ plays even with random boards. Catan has less luck involved when Cities and Knights (C&K) is added. When you play Catan with Explorers and Pirates (E&P) there is even less luck involved because you receive gold when you don't get a resource (2 gold = any resource), and it came out in 2013. Traders and Barbarians (T&B) also makes Catan more strategic.

A lot of T&B and E&P actually make Catan a much different game. So anybody who has not tried Catan a few times with either of those elements does not have a clue when they don't think Catan can be fun anymore.

I can agree to some extent that Catan expansions can bloat Catan some, but it does makes the original game elements fresh again because you have more choices and paths to win than road, settlement, city, dev card. I enjoy playing T&B in real life because those expansions (except The Caravans) was not on PlayCatan at all. I still have not figured out really great consistent strategies for many of those scenarios. When it comes to Seafarers and C&K scenarios, I know most of the strategies for those already and many times between really good players it comes down to luck.

I have been trying to get the best Catan players online to come to snellman because I think they could dominate in TM also. However, the biggest barrier to them joining on snellman is that they prefer playing games in real time. Catan is super fast online compared to real life. I've only played a few live TM games on snellman and the fastest ones were about the same time as real life. Sometimes they can be even slower than real life including setup and pack up!

---------------
ETA: Also in a long enough tournament with Seafarers and Cities and Knights the best players will still win out in the end. This is why Kal-El and Cyd have made the online Enziel-CM tournament finals and won for several of the past few years. Those in Germany will probably know what I am talking about.
---------------

Regarding building, expansion, and upgrading, Agricola has some of those elements.

ETA: The minor and major improvements are a lot like FAVs and power conversions and the board actions for Agricola are like the power ACTs. The expansion difference is that you are not fighting for the same spaces against all of the other players. However, you are fighting for the actions that allow you to use the space assigned to you.
 
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Matthias Reitberger
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EricHogue wrote:
1869 wrote:
The upgrade action in scythe has nothing in common with tm. It does make top actions more powerful abd bottom actions cheaper, nothing of that happens in tm.


The digging upgrade does not make digging cheaper? The shipping upgrade does not make shipping more powerful?



1869 wrote:
Area control?
I don't see tm as an area control game.


Limiting where other players can reach (particulary the Riverwalkers)is not area control?


Yes there is a little upgrade possible in tm but it isn't typical for this game. Indonesia would be a game that I associate with upgrades.

No you don't control the area you just block someone and if you have more than one opponent there is no control at all. You will not directly gain something for doing it. It is also rather untypical for tm where neighborhood is something desirable and riverwalkers are a strange expansion faction.


 
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Chris Kubik
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There are quite a few positive reviews of this one which ultimately led me to try it and I have to agree with the reviewer that this is a very decisive game.

To me the game really overstayed its welcome. It was a long and complex game. The problem is that the length is unnecessary as most games are resolved about half-way through This game ends in a very anti-climatic way becoming largely a formality counting up points in the end.

While simultaneously the complexity and depth are there because there are a lot of moving parts, lots of cube pushing for points. You could have cut half the stuff out and the game would have only benefited from being shorter. The whole mana cycle, elemental track thing.. its all just kind of action - push cube - score more cubes of another type or score points.. rinse repeat except instead of being straightforward and to the point like say Stone Age its convoluted by over-developed mini-engines.

Plus the theme is virtually dead, this quasi layer of fantasy realm in which nothing particularly fantastic happens. Your a fantasy race with a special power but players have virtually no interaction so in the end your just a color. That whole Asymmetrical system strangely does absolutely nothing to make the game more interesting because its so under-utilized.

I was very disappointed yet there were a couple of guys who immediately put it on their best game of all time lists in my group. Sadly with the disparity - Split in the group it will be a cold day in hell before this game hits the table again.
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Grant
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xguild wrote:
There are quite a few positive reviews of this one which ultimately led me to try it and I have to agree with the reviewer that this is a very decisive game.

To me the game really overstayed its welcome. It was a long and complex game. The problem is that the length is unnecessary as most games are resolved about half-way through This game ends in a very anti-climatic way becoming largely a formality counting up points in the end.

While simultaneously the complexity and depth are there because there are a lot of moving parts, lots of cube pushing for points. You could have cut half the stuff out and the game would have only benefited from being shorter. The whole mana cycle, elemental track thing.. its all just kind of action - push cube - score more cubes of another type or score points.. rinse repeat except instead of being straightforward and to the point like say Stone Age its convoluted by over-developed mini-engines.

Plus the theme is virtually dead, this quasi layer of fantasy realm in which nothing particularly fantastic happens. Your a fantasy race with a special power but players have virtually no interaction so in the end your just a color. That whole Asymmetrical system strangely does absolutely nothing to make the game more interesting because its so under-utilized.

I was very disappointed yet there were a couple of guys who immediately put it on their best game of all time lists in my group. Sadly with the disparity - Split in the group it will be a cold day in hell before this game hits the table again.

Figured all that out from your single play of the game, did you? You've sure got this game's number. Nothing gets past you...
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Dániel Lányi
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xguild wrote:
There are quite a few positive reviews of this one which ultimately led me to try it and I have to agree with the reviewer that this is a very decisive game.

To me the game really overstayed its welcome. It was a long and complex game. The problem is that the length is unnecessary as most games are resolved about half-way through This game ends in a very anti-climatic way becoming largely a formality counting up points in the end.

While simultaneously the complexity and depth are there because there are a lot of moving parts, lots of cube pushing for points. You could have cut half the stuff out and the game would have only benefited from being shorter. The whole mana cycle, elemental track thing.. its all just kind of action - push cube - score more cubes of another type or score points.. rinse repeat except instead of being straightforward and to the point like say Stone Age its convoluted by over-developed mini-engines.

Plus the theme is virtually dead, this quasi layer of fantasy realm in which nothing particularly fantastic happens. Your a fantasy race with a special power but players have virtually no interaction so in the end your just a color. That whole Asymmetrical system strangely does absolutely nothing to make the game more interesting because its so under-utilized.

I was very disappointed yet there were a couple of guys who immediately put it on their best game of all time lists in my group. Sadly with the disparity - Split in the group it will be a cold day in hell before this game hits the table again.


For most of your criticism I feel the exact opposite so I think a way we could see why you feel like this is if you can provide some counterexamples, like games where being complex is not "convoluted" for you, eurogames where theme is not dead (for you) and player powers you consider to be working and so on.
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Robert
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xguild wrote:
It was a long and complex game. The problem is that the length is unnecessary as most games are resolved about half-way through This game ends in a very anti-climatic way becoming largely a formality counting up points in the end.
That's a crazy thing to say after one game. Fact is that most games are decided in the last round.

xguild wrote:
That whole Asymmetrical system strangely does absolutely nothing to make the game more interesting because its so under-utilized.
I'm (almost ) speechless. No two factions play the same - the asymmetrical system does everything!

xguild wrote:
I was very disappointed yet there were a couple of guys who immediately put it on their best game of all time lists in my group.
At least you seem to be playing with some clever folks!
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Chris Kubik
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Quote:
For most of your criticism I feel the exact opposite so I think a way we could see why you feel like this is if you can provide some counterexamples, like games where being complex is not "convoluted" for you, eurogames where theme is not dead (for you) and player powers you consider to be working and so on.


Fair enough questions.

Complex Euro Games with theme that aren't convoluted

Eclipse
Through The Ages
Viticulture
The Voyages of Marco Polo
Age of Empires III
Archipelago

Just to name a few. Most of these games have pretty involved strategies, but they are thematically rich and despite the complexity of strategies and decisions players have to make the rules remain streamlined.

I have played Terra Mystica several times at this point and my conclusion hasn't changed. I think much of the love for Mystica is that it has a complex engine that can't be solved like a puzzle, a predicament most Euro games find themselves struggling with. That said I still thing the Asymmetrical element of the game is quite dull and un-thematic, especially considering that so much effort made into making each race unique yet there is virtually no interaction between players.
 
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Robert
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xguild - 24-Aug-2016 wrote:
I was very disappointed yet there were a couple of guys who immediately put it on their best game of all time lists in my group. Sadly with the disparity - Split in the group it will be a cold day in hell before this game hits the table again.
xguild - 8-Sep-2016 wrote:
I have played Terra Mystica several times at this point and my conclusion hasn't changed.
Several cold days in hell in the last two weeks?

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James Wolfpacker
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xguild wrote:
especially considering that so much effort made into making each race unique yet there is virtually no interaction between players.


No interactions! That's that's the same issue I have with terra Mystica! I proposed a trading variant for it!
 
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