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Subject: Upon Completing Mice and Mystics rss

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Kenny E
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SPOILERS FOLLOW in the discussion of Chapter 11. You can skip that section when you get to it, or read to reveal underwhelming details!

My girlfriend and I recently finished the last chapter of Sorrow and Remembrance. I wanted to provide some of our perspective on the last chapter as well as the game in general.

For some background:
- I am a 26 year old male, college educated, professional engineer. I play board games primarily with my girlfriend a couple times a week, and we mostly enjoy games which are thematic and/or cooperative and play in under an hour. Mice and Mystics is clearly a major exception.
- My girlfriend is a 25 year old female who is a student/waitress/bartender/dance instructor and choreographer. She has no gaming experience prior to me roping her into this crazy hobby.
- I’ve played no other dungeon crawlers but have played Pathfinder. I have experience playing video game RPGs, specifically Final Fantasy X, Skyrim, and Borderlands.
- According to my play count, it took us 20 plays spread over 12 weeks to beat the campaign. We did replay some chapters with other friends, but I’d say there were about 18 “storyline” plays.
- We both enjoy this game immensely.

CHAPTER 11 – Filing for Bankruptcy… of Boredom!

We normally played through chapters in about 1.5-2.5 hours. This chapter took us the better part of 5. Why?

We didn’t include Maginos in our party during Chapter 8, so we couldn’t free the king in that chapter and get the King’s Token (If you don’t free him in that chapter, the token is required to free him in Chapter 9, which I think must have been a mistake in writing). That adds a tile to the adventure. Therefore, this adventure included seven tiles to explore, which is a little above average.

In addition, this chapter requires a party of 6 mice and each encounter gets two encounter cards. Basically, there are about 50% more turns on any given tile, and significantly more options to consider on any given turn.

The chapter started without much incident. Collin was towards the top of the initiative track, and with the assistance of the Inspire ability, was able to take off two of Vanestra’s cards on his first turn. The party cleared the tile without sustaining much damage. The next few tiles were pretty standard fare, the only notable hurdle to overcome was taking out three elite rats in an inconvenient section of the Pipes tile.

We took a break upon entering the King’s Chamber and made a cake for our celebration we hoped would arrive after successfully saving the king and escaping.

With the king in tow, we discussed how we wanted to escape – quick and dirty, or with pause ot get out of the water every tile to fight off the minions. We decided to play it safe and go with the latter, trying to get our whole party to the next tile in a logical manner.

Along the way, Filch got into a statistically notable confrontation with a rat and was captured, robbing him of a fantastic setup. Shortly after, we somehow made a mistake and Lily ended up taking an assault from three elite rats all on her own. She fortunately survived, but that was the one major mental error. My girlfriend was controlling both Lily and Filch.

Before starting the chapter, I decided to set up a digital camera to do a time lapse of us playing. At this point, the look on my girlfriend’s face was somewhere between “someone stepped on my puppy” and “do I want to burn the game in a pile or as individual pieces?” My goal was to find some good frames of the video to use as a photo, but I don’t know if I could stand going through so many pictures of my girlfriend quietly crafting a shiv under the table.

Everyone survived, and we finished the chapter. My suggestion for celebratory music is the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z66wVo7uNw

FULL REVIEW – In Rebuttal to People More Influential Than Me

After years of near universal acclaim, this game recently received a couple negative reviews from prominent reviewers. The important observations from those reviews and others who comment on them:

- This game doesn’t do any one thing especially well. It’s too light for a RPG player or dungeon crawl genre fan. It’s too complex for a casual gamer. It’s too long for someone with only an hour to play.
- If you don’t like mice as a theme, the theme is forgettable.
- There are few meaningful decisions, as play is all combat and therefore “move and attack”.

I find truth in all of these, and would like to briefly address each of them.

It doesn’t do any one thing well, but a game doesn’t have to

My girlfriend and I enjoy this game because it incorporates a story without having to role play. Neither of us are talented enough to create believable dialogue, nor do we possess the incredible patience and determination to manage a RPG session. The written stories were enough to add a purpose to each tile and a personality to the characters.

We are both casual gamers, and while the rules certainly have a lot of exceptions and special cases, we didn’t have too hard of a time learning to play. I recommend the small cards you can print out as player aids.

Our average playtime lasted about two hours, and that was enough to fill the better part of an evening without having to set up or tear down multiple games. We agree we’d rather play one two hour game and forgo the variation with two 45 minute games if it means we don’t have to set up and tear down an extra game.

The game may not do any one thing well, but neither do people who race in triathlons, and they’re terrific athletes. The mixture of all the mechanisms in small doses during Mice and Mystics makes it a fun overall experience.

Mice are only the primary theme

While the characters of the game are mice, the story really revolves around people of different backgrounds coming together to help the group. We see this in every cooperative game with unique player abilities, but Pandemic doesn’t tell you the Operations Expert had a military background or the Medic is a 20 year old recruited our of an elite college in South Africa.

There are as many decisions as you want to make

Any chapter can be played by simply moving all your characters towards the minions and attacking. To be the most effective through the game, a player has to make more important decisions. I’ll admit these don’t occur more than once every few turns, but that’s what helps make this game casual. Here are the most important and most frequent ones we made:
- Which ability should I use?
- What weapon should I use?
- Should I move to help a mouse in case they don’t defeat their minion or help with this crowd nearer to me?
- Before exploring: should we go through the initiative order another time so more mice successfully search, even though it adds a cheese to the minion wheel?
- Should we use [party item/trick] now, or wait for another character’s turn, or maybe a different tile?
- Should I save my cheese to level up?

In some ways, this game doesn't challenge your mind from a decision making standpoint as much as it does from a memory standpoint. Every encounter can be altered from character cards, weapons, armor, initiative cards, abilities, chapter rules, and tile rules. We never found these things to be obscure, but just very numerous. Not remembering them usually results in a disadvantageous position for the players, so being thorough only helps. Playing the same characters helped us remember these things more easily.

FINAL THOUGHTS - Why it All Works Well
Mice and Mystics keeps players engaged because it tells a story which allows the players to fill in the blanks, not create the framework. The characters grow after each chapter, but don’t burden players with optimization puzzles. Its rules are simple enough to keep play moving while offering enough complexity to give a good amount of freedom. If you are a player that likes influenced dice battles, a narrative to your game, the ability to customize your character, and simpler rules in exchange for a sacrifice of flexibility, Mice and Mystics is probably for you.
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Michael
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Nice write-up! Now have fun (and good luck) in Heart of Glorm!
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Richard Ham
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CLICK THIS BEAGLE if you're looking for in-depth gameplay video run-throughs! :)
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Kboejoe wrote:
My goal was to find some good frames of the video to use as a photo, but I don’t know if I could stand going through so many pictures of my girlfriend quietly crafting a shiv under the table.


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Aerwiar
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...the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
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We forgot Maginos too! While it was a pain in the butt, I was pleasantly pleased to see lasting story effects because of earlier campaign decisions.
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Ken Marley
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Good Job Kenney. Excellent point about a game that tells a story.

This is not a game for everyone, but the amount of enjoyment this game gives to the people it is for is beyond count. The high ratings for this game show its universal appeal.

For myself the 50+ hours of this game that I have played with my children brings a joy that is "priceless". Note that my wife does not like this type of game, again it is not for everyone.

(My daughter and I are on our 4th play through of the campaign. We have also played the expansion.)


Side Note:
Sometimes I think some reviewers become jaded after playing 100's of games and are looking for neat mechanics that are new rather then games that are fun. I don't blame them. I am sure that I would also have different tastes after playing 1000 different games.


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Greg
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Nice review Kenny.

You gave it a fair shake. You recognize that this game creates the narrative for the players and that it helps those that don't want run an RPG game. You recognize that while there aren't a ton of tough decisions, there are more decisions than just roll and move and fight and roll and move and fight. The game is not presented as a deep strategy game or deep dungeon crawl. It's a light family dungeon crawl, but has some neat elements of variable abilities and a leveling up to an extent in order to get more abilities. It has a good number of cards in the search deck to offer plenty of variety in things that can be gained, as well as some negative event cards.

Also, it was nice to see that two people played through this without having a major issue with having to control more than one mouse.

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蓝魔
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youperguy wrote:

This is not a game for everyone, but the amount of enjoyment this game gives to the people it is for is beyond count. The high ratings for this game show its universal appeal.


Good job at contradicting yourself. whistle
 
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Ken Marley
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moocifer wrote:
youperguy wrote:

This is not a game for everyone, but the amount of enjoyment this game gives to the people it is for is beyond count. The high ratings for this game show its universal appeal.


Good job at contradicting yourself. whistle


No game is for everyone. Shrug.

The high ratings for Mice and Mystic suggest that a lot of people like this game.

But like all games, Mice and Mystics is not a game for everyone. Shrug.

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Ian Allen
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If you love the story about the mice, you aren't as bothered by the ho-hum mechanics, repetitive style combat, and lack of meaningful decisions.

I couldn't care less about the mice and the story.

My favorite genres are fantasy and sci-fi, but I don't care for silly fantasy like Harry Potter and Discworld Terry Pratchett/Piers Anthony Xanth kind of fantasy, including Brian Jacques or whoever it is that writes about the mouse heroes.

Since I didn't care for the story, the rest of the game fell flat for me. After only 1 or 2 plays I threw it on the trade stack.

Just my personal take on it. I can see why people love Harry Potter and I can see why people might enjoy this mouse story - its just not for me.
This game seems to be all about content and very little about mechanics.
Reminds me, in that way, of Tales of the Arabian Nights or Agents of Smersh except in a more contained, dungeon-crawly environment instead of bopping around the country working on your story.

The artwork looks great, although I am not impressed with the variety of the minis. I think the mice are well done but I think the cockroaches are small and lame and I own better spiders and centipedes already in some of my plastic painted miniatures sets.

The whole package looked good to me at first but then was just very underwhelming and disappointing upon playing.
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Kenny E
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glookose wrote:
...ho-hum mechanics, repetitive style combat, and lack of meaningful decisions.


I really want to make sure my reply isn't interpreted as insulting, so please understand my main point is this game will probably be appealing to people who aren't primarily interested in great mechanisms.

I took a brief look at your game collection and noticed you own around 1000 games, and have around 1000 listed as previously owned. Clearly, you've played a whole lot of games. In addition, your top rated games seem to be more complex, longer games or games with bluffing.

It isn't a surprise you find Mice and Mystics to be monotonous and uninspiring. You've owned roughly 40 times the number of games I've played my whole life. I would think that even if Mice and Mystics did have great mechanisms for a light game, light games as a whole would become dull for the sole fact that they're not especially mentally taxing. Being a cooperative game also means you can't use the challenge of another experienced player to counteract the simplicity of a game.

One day, I will have played four digits of games (first I need to get to three digits), and I will look back and think "How did I play so much of that game when there were options with much better mechanisms?"

The answer will be, of course, because it was fun for my girlfriend and me, and we didn't have the experience to seek out or enjoy something else.
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Michael Carter
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I found Mice and Mystics to be too slow. It just ends up being really tedious for me.
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Ian Allen
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Kboejoe wrote:
glookose wrote:
...ho-hum mechanics, repetitive style combat, and lack of meaningful decisions.


I really want to make sure my reply isn't interpreted as insulting, so please understand my main point is this game will probably be appealing to people who aren't primarily interested in great mechanisms.

I took a brief look at your game collection and noticed you own around 1000 games, and have around 1000 listed as previously owned. Clearly, you've played a whole lot of games. In addition, your top rated games seem to be more complex, longer games or games with bluffing.

It isn't a surprise you find Mice and Mystics to be monotonous and uninspiring. You've owned roughly 40 times the number of games I've played my whole life. I would think that even if Mice and Mystics did have great mechanisms for a light game, light games as a whole would become dull for the sole fact that they're not especially mentally taxing. Being a cooperative game also means you can't use the challenge of another experienced player to counteract the simplicity of a game.

One day, I will have played four digits of games (first I need to get to three digits), and I will look back and think "How did I play so much of that game when there were options with much better mechanisms?"

The answer will be, of course, because it was fun for my girlfriend and me, and we didn't have the experience to seek out or enjoy something else.


Nice review btw!

Your reply wasn't insulting and I hope mine wasn't either.

I am glad you guys enjoy it. One day I may even force myself to play it with my kids - I'm sure they would love it since they don't know one mechanic from another at this point and the story would appeal to them.

I love dungeon crawls, but I don't know of that many that I think are really good. It seems like a simple enough concept, but the execution is frequently lacking.

If you think I gave M&M a hard time here, you should see my last review of the Myth dungeon crawl system.

I can see how lots of people would enjoy M&M due to the content and artwork, but Myth should sail itself into a black hole from my perspective.

I'm also hard on Descent 2 but in spite of how hard I am on it I would rather play it than many other similar dungeon crawls, due to the mechanics.

At this point in my life I like a good theme, good components, and good mechanics. For the story element I read about a book a week and watch sci-fi series's on Netflix/Hulu.
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Kenny E
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glookose wrote:
Myth should sail itself into a black hole from my perspective.


I actually laughed out loud when reading this, from imagery alone. A game solemnly drifting into an unspeakable force of destruction, propelled only by its shame.

It seems we understand each other, and again, I respect your perspective and opinion as an experienced gamer. In fact, I may be coming to you with advice on dungeon crawls once I'm done with Heart of Glorm. I'm still trying to find a way to try out Descent 2 (which sounds to be the genre's benchmark at this point) and see if that opens my eyes to bigger and better things.
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Eric Etkin
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glookose wrote:
Kboejoe wrote:
glookose wrote:
...ho-hum mechanics, repetitive style combat, and lack of meaningful decisions.


I really want to make sure my reply isn't interpreted as insulting, so please understand my main point is this game will probably be appealing to people who aren't primarily interested in great mechanisms.

I took a brief look at your game collection and noticed you own around 1000 games, and have around 1000 listed as previously owned. Clearly, you've played a whole lot of games. In addition, your top rated games seem to be more complex, longer games or games with bluffing.

It isn't a surprise you find Mice and Mystics to be monotonous and uninspiring. You've owned roughly 40 times the number of games I've played my whole life. I would think that even if Mice and Mystics did have great mechanisms for a light game, light games as a whole would become dull for the sole fact that they're not especially mentally taxing. Being a cooperative game also means you can't use the challenge of another experienced player to counteract the simplicity of a game.

One day, I will have played four digits of games (first I need to get to three digits), and I will look back and think "How did I play so much of that game when there were options with much better mechanisms?"

The answer will be, of course, because it was fun for my girlfriend and me, and we didn't have the experience to seek out or enjoy something else.


Nice review btw!

Your reply wasn't insulting and I hope mine wasn't either.

I am glad you guys enjoy it. One day I may even force myself to play it with my kids - I'm sure they would love it since they don't know one mechanic from another at this point and the story would appeal to them.

I love dungeon crawls, but I don't know of that many that I think are really good. It seems like a simple enough concept, but the execution is frequently lacking.

If you think I gave M&M a hard time here, you should see my last review of the Myth dungeon crawl system.

I can see how lots of people would enjoy M&M due to the content and artwork, but Myth should sail itself into a black hole from my perspective.

I'm also hard on Descent 2 but in spite of how hard I am on it I would rather play it than many other similar dungeon crawls, due to the mechanics.

At this point in my life I like a good theme, good components, and good mechanics. For the story element I read about a book a week and watch sci-fi series's on Netflix/Hulu.


I generally bought M&M for future play with my daughter, so I think you more or less pegged it as a "play with casual gamers" game. And in that aspect, it shines.

Out of curiosity - what dungeon crawler would you recommend? Are there any that hit the "casual gamer" demographic while simultaneously maintaining a level of challenge and not having a "kiddie fantasy" theme?
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Ian McCarthy
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I found Mice and Mystics to be a pleasant solo experience and I'm not usually a solo gamer. I played through about 90% of the campaign solo.

Mice and Mystics has some of the best minis in a board game that I've ever seen. The heroes and rats are fantastic. The spider is as good as any other board game spider figure. The Centipede is pretty great, too. I've seen one pretty bad centipede in the D&D line and I haven't seen any centipede figures in any other board game. The roaches are passable. I'm glad that they're not cardboard tokens. And painting all of these figures was rewarding. The biggest issue that I have with figures is that there isn't enough variety.

Regarding mechanics, M&M is a mashup between HeroQuest and Warhammer Quest. Unlike Descent, these types of games don't focus on tactical movement and positioning on a grid. That can be part of the decision making, but that's not the focus. Most of the time, you're just moving where you want in close quarters because of the rule that you can't explore a new tile before you've cleared the current one, so positioning is usually simply a matter of choosing what enemy you want to attack this turn. Because of this simplicity, playing the Overlord in HeroQuest can be boring, so both Mice and Mystics and Warhammer Quest do it better.

HeroQuest's big strength is providing a wonderful sense of exploration. A big part of the fun is discovering what's behind the next door or around the next corner. I haven't played Warhammer Quest, but it doesn't look as interesting as Mice and Mystics, with combat being mostly a static affair, with players literally being forced to stand next to randomly generated monsters and whack them repeatedly. Also, there is no story in Warhammer Quest, only a random deck of dungeon room cards and some flavor text.

Mice and Mystics has taken the concept of HeroQuest and automated the boring Overlord role very cleverly. The chapter timing system, initiative track, and the cheese wheel are all brilliant. They keep the pressure on the players without having an Overlord checking a secret map all the time, although you lose the wonder and feeling of dread that a good Overlord can bring to the table, not to mention the excitement of uncovering secrets and solving puzzles. The deck of monster cards and the way that the monsters spawn is somewhat reminiscent of Warhammer Quest. And doing away with Combat Resolution Tables is highly appreciated.

For a lightweight, casual dungeon crawler for two adults, I recommend Claustrophobia.
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Ian Allen
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I agree - for 2 players - Claustrophobia is really good.
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Kboejoe wrote:
FULL REVIEW – In Rebuttal to People More Influential Than Me

After years of near universal acclaim, this game recently received a couple negative reviews from prominent reviewers. The important observations from those reviews and others who comment on them:

- This game doesn’t do any one thing especially well. It’s too light for a RPG player or dungeon crawl genre fan. It’s too complex for a casual gamer. It’s too long for someone with only an hour to play.
- If you don’t like mice as a theme, the theme is forgettable.
- There are few meaningful decisions, as play is all combat and therefore “move and attack”.

I find truth in all of these, and would like to briefly address each of them.

...

There are as many decisions as you want to make
...


I've been watching several of these negative reviews over the last few days. What strikes me as odd is that oftentimes those who are complaining about failing a chapter several times are the same people complaining that there are no tactics involved in the game.

I'm just thinking, "Well... maybe if you utilized some tactics, you wouldn't be failing the chapter and so negative!"

I also think that many of these reviewers are veteran gamers reviewing it for the "pro-gamers" or elitists. People who have played thousands of games or been gamers for decades. Or maybe they just don't let themselves become immersed in the story. Or maybe they want to be the "stand-out" review and be negative when this game has received so much acclaim. Either way, they don't seem to recognize this is a game for the casual, the beginners, or the family setting. I've only ever played a few board games before, and my wife has never played any RPG in her life, but she is absolutely in love with M&M (namely Tilda and Lily)!

It's not a perfect game, but it has been perfect for us.

I can say that after 10 years of not painting mini's (used to play Warhammer and 40k in highschool), I broke down after three weeks of owning this game, bought all new paints/gear, and have painted everything but the rats (pictures to follow soon-ish).

I even bought the Cheddar Golem and Meeps by user Roolz (http://www.shapeways.com/model/1737660/cheese-golem-ladybug....). They look incredible, and I can't wait to paint them.

Fantastic review, by the way. I don't think I could summarize my thoughts well enough to write anything like this! That, and my wife and I haven't finished the base game yet (Chapter 11 tonight!).

Enjoy the Lost Chapters and the Expansion!

Thanks,
KVF
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Ken Marley
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KVF,

Good luck with chapter 11. Go get her .
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