I had the chance to play Mysticards with the creator at GAMA 2006 and, after having played a few games, I'm very impressed. The game is a cross between some well-known trick-taking card games like Spades or Hearts, with a fantasy element and powers thrown in. The game is balanced very well, the cards are colorful and easy to read, and the game is quick, cheap, and fun.
The basic game is a four player partners game. Each player sits across from their partner and all the cards are delt. The deck is made up of 6 different colors of cards ranging from 1 to 10. Six cards, one of each other, come with the game with a picture of a large gem on it. One of these cards is chosen randomly, and that becomes trump. The person to the left of the dealer leads. Like many trick-taking games, every player has to follow suit (color) if they have it. If they don't, they can play any card. After each player plays a card, you determine who wins the trick. Highest card of the lead color wins unless trump was played, in which case the highest trump card wins. Play continues until every player has played all the cards out of their deck.
At the end of the game, points are totaled. Each team recieves 50 points for every trick they took, plus 250 points for taking the most tricks.
The twist comes with the special powers and abilities of the cards. Each card has an ability that comes into effect right when the card is played. Each 10 (the highest cards) have effects that change the players score at the end. An interesting mechanic is that if you take a trick with a Dragon (the 10s are Dragons) that wasn't played by someone on your team, you get an additional 100 points at the end for defeating the other team's dragon. There are many warrior cards who have steeds or warrior friends or other things that can change them into higher numbers to help take down a big 10 Dragon. There are also weather effects that can lower the numbers on other players cards. Another fun set of cards are the gems. There are 2 different kinds, ones that give you bonus points if you take the trick, the others that give you penalty points if you take the trick. However, most of the gems are on the 1s and 2s of the deck, so although you get to help play with the points, you're very dependant on your partner, as well as smart playing, to get the gems you want and pass off the gems you don't want.
There are also a few cards that change trump, or take it away entirely. These cards need to be played smart in order to make sure you're not making your opponenets entire hand of useless cards into a bunch of trump cards.
Mysticards fills a very interesting niche. Many people grew up playing spades or hearts, or enough card games that they are familiar with tricks and trump and following suit. Mysticards is the perfect game to get these people into a different kind of gaming. It introduces powers, combos, and special rules, while keeping the trick-taking, following-suit rules that people are so familiar with. The price is good and the game is different every time so there's a lot of gaming to be had for the money.
Overall, Mysticards is a simple game with basic rules that many people will already be familiar with, but introduces powers and combos and interesting partner mechanics. The cards a good quality and the tin they come in is beautiful. I reccomend this to anyone who loves hearts or spades, to anyone who is looking for a fun and simple family game, and even to the die-hard gamers who enjoy partner games, card games, or is looking for a great filler game. Pretty much, to anyone.