Recommend
6 
 Thumb up
 Hide
21 Posts

Terra Mystica» Forums » General

Subject: Help us understand the popularity of Terra Mystica rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Brian Pierce
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My goal with this thread is to get some insight into the huge popularity of this game. As of today it is ranked #3 on BGG and that is what drove me to post.

Background:
My wife and I are avid gamers and have owned Terra Mystica for 6 months or so. In that time we have played it 4 times as a 2 player game only.

Our initial reactions:
The game is beautiful and we love all of the components and quality. After playing the game we both thought it was a fun solid game. We were glad we bought it, but that was about as far as the excitement went. We don't find ourselves reaching for it too often and both of us have other games we would want to play first.

The question:
What has made a Terra Mystica the #3 ranked game on BGG? I'm hoping some people can help us better appreciate this game because as of right now we just feel that it is OK. Do we need to play more games to really "get it"? Does it really shine with more players? What sets it apart and makes it one of the best? We want to get more out of the game and I'm hoping some opinions will help us appreciate it more.

Any comments, advice, or opinions would be greatly appreciated.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben Greig
Australia
Kelso
New South Wales
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
i've played it once as a two player and its not something i'll personally play again with two, i'm not even a massive fan of 3 players.

For me extra players makes more competition for power slots, cult tracks and of course spaces to build, however its also easier to leech and often presents tough choices about when to sacrifice and when to pass which is much less of an issue in lower number of players
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gareth Newton-Williams
United Kingdom
London
London - South East
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Terra Mystica does a number of things well. I'm not sure any of those things are done exceptionally well, but it delivers the whole package in a consistent and professional bundle.

Pace:

TM is reasonably quick. It's not over in five minutes but, when considering the gaming experience it delivers, is set up, played and put away again in a relatively short space of time. This goes down well in my gaming groups.

Depth:

There are strategies here. Where many games lead you relatively firmly towards an optimal route or decision(s) TM provides an opportunity for players to test, experiment with and develop strategies and tactics.

Options:

There are plenty of them. Terra Mystica captures the idea of a series of good choices, all of which present benefits and tools for your faction. There is likely to always be a 'best' option. But 2nd and 3rd place are seldom far behind and playing the way you want to rather than in the most optimal way won't be punished harshly.

Variation:

The use of 14 distinct factions is a key part of what makes TM tick. You need to play the game a few times before you get the hang of proximity to other players, the cult track, uses of each type of building and balancing your income. The factions compound this by being sufficiently different to one another that you need to learn to emphasise your play style in quite different ways to succeed with each faction.

Taking three goes with each faction gives you a very reasonable 45 games before you might feel you've explored it fully.

It's probably worth pointing out that there are more factions on the way?

Components:

TM is a good looking game too. Good quality components, reasonably well written rules, varied pieces, and an attractive colour palette.

Currencies:

TM uses three currencies. Workers, Power, and Cash. Balancing these is an enjoyable element of the game and there are a large number of threads addressing proper power management in TM which illustrate the interest many players have in the economic elements of games like this one.

Theme:

Who doesn't like building a mini-empire and beating others at the same time?

Wrap:

I'm not sure there's any individually amazing element here. The bowls of power mechanic is very cool though... Taken in sum however Terra Mystica is a great game.
35 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Florian Trabert
Germany
Düsseldorf (34 km south of Essen)
NRW
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very good points made by GDMNW. I think the great popularity Terra Mystica enjoys especially among the bgg-community is due to possibility to endlessly discuss the different strategic approaches: Which race is stronger, which one is weaker, under which circumstances and so on. And the expansion will give us new stuff. Compare the game in this respect to Android Netrunner.

Well, and even if I like TM as a two-player experience, it really shines with four players.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bri Izuhara
Switzerland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi there!

Basically, you NEED to play it with 4 or 5. NEED. :-)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rollo Tomosi
United States
San Juan Capistrano
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
All the folks that are chiming in with the number of players issue are spot on. With 2 its a pretty open board-you play almost anywhere you want, but that sparseness gives rise to a dearth of moves of the little purple "Power Pills" which has the net effect of reducing the number of things you can do in a turn-and since this is a true engine builder, that dearth multiplies turn after turn.

With more players you are constantly getting the "you can take 3 power for 2 points" query thrown at you as all the cities and pre-cities build up, and this just doesn't happen with 2 players....well, it DOES but instead of once or twice per round it happens once or twice per game.

I think since this, Dominant Species, Brass and a few other true "10"s really NEED more than 2 players, that we guys who like to play games with our wives should start lobbying for polygamy to be legalized in our various states so we can play all these great games with our wives.
9 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Young
United States
Orange Park
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
To echo other's sentiments, TM really shines as a 4P+ game.

Beyond that, there are layers to understanding the mechanics and decision making of each race. It provides tons of replayability on that alone. With 6 new races and a new map (I wish it was modular) on the way, you're getting a lot of value for your money.

As for the game itself, it's a sandbox empire builder. It scratches my brain without being overwhelming. There are lots of little decisions to be made which makes the rounds brisk. There's a little screw your neighbor but not enough to detract from the enjoyment (frankly, constantly denying your opponents will end up costing you he game). It can feel heavy but it's surprisingly easy to learn and fast to play.

Easily my favorite game at the moment.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jan B.
Germany
NRW
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
All the above and the great plattform terra.snellman.net with an awesome community. Thanks a lot to Juho for that.

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rhett Morgan
United States
Washington
Dist of Columbia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
kent_bro wrote:
All the above and the great plattform terra.snellman.net with an awesome community. Thanks a lot to Juho for that.

thumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsupthumbsup

Here here, couldn't agree more.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Pierce
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks everybody for the insightful and informative replies. You sure have inspired me to get it back out on the table and try again (especially with 4 players).
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Doc Rene
Germany
Sehnde
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
May be it is just my group, but I would not Play it again with 5 Players. It took us more than 4 hours excluding rules Explanation. So I think 4 players is the sweetspot!
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Deignan
United States
Fremont
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Docrene wrote:
May be it is just my group, but I would not Play it again with 5 Players. It took us more than 4 hours excluding rules Explanation. So I think 4 players is the sweetspot!


It doesn't take us that long with 5, but I agree that 4 is the best game. 5 seems to end up with someone crippled or locked in (probably their own fault of course, but still) which can spoil a player's enjoyment of the game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate Smith
United States
Alpharetta
GA
flag msg tools
mbmbmb
As others have said, the game is much more competitive with four or five players, as the map, and all other shared spaces fill much more quickly. I enjoy TM. This game showed me what elegance of rules can look like. The fact that removing a building from the player board quickly shows you what your income per turn is blew me away. Furthermore, about the elegance, there are only a few actions you can take, yet it is a deep, deep game. So I love it, and am always glad to play it. My biggest drawback is that it is a very easy game for players to get stuck in analysis paralysis, and people will take far longer than they should.

Finally, games are subjective. There is no game that will scratch everyone's itch, and it's fine if you don't like it, or understand why others like it.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Milena Guberinic
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
flag msg tools
badge
Mina's Fresh Cardboard
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I was in a similar situation when I first bought this game around December last year. It was ranked so highly on bgg and was so highly regarded but my partner and I just didn't get it. I felt constrained by the game and the scoring didn't make sense to me for 2-player games. I tried modifying the scoring (posted on the variant page http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1130382/a-two-player-scoring...) to make it more appealing. It did help but there were many other games I preferred. Since I play 2-player games 99% of the time, I put the game away for a while and only played it very occasionally after this.

I decided to give TM another try a couple months ago and that was when I began to see the depth of the game and the breadth of decision-making involved. And with more plays, it has become my favorite game of all time. I LOVE IT as a 2-player game!!! The game is incredibly deep. There is so much to explore between the powers associated with the different races, the variable set ups, and the different features of the map. It is tough but that is what makes it interesting.

I think that when you first start playing this game (unless you are some sort of gaming super genius), it is hard to take in all the available options, to see the best races for the scenario, and to play effectively in general. When you've played a good number of times, the options start to open up and the game starts to reveal its beauty. These things are more readily apparent with more players (i.e. you are forced to build close to each other and thus see more opportunities to gain power though you opponents' actions and thus open up more opportunities to take power actions, some races (cultists) become more viable options, and there is just more competition for limited space). HOWEVER, once you've played TM with 2-players a good number of times (I would say I started to TRULY appreciate it only after a good 12 or so games), you start to see how good the game truly is.


I hope that helps. Please let me know if anything I've written is unclear. I just love this game so much now that I think it would be a crime for anyone to dismiss it without giving it a fair shake. I would advise you to keep playing. The world of Terra Mystica will surely unveil its charms.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert
Germany
Bocholt
flag msg tools
badge
I paid 100 Geek Gold so that you can read this! :-)
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Indeed it's the 3p/4p/5p player experience which makes TM shine, with 4p as the "sweet spot".

Other games reduce the map size when being played by only 2 or 3 (either by providing smaller maps, or by declaring parts of the map as off-limits).

It's an interesting question whether reducing the map for 2 players (maybe even for 3?) would make the 2p/3p games feel "more similar" to the 4p/5p experience.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sabine S
Germany
Dülmen
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Maybe it is an option for you to play two factions with each player? For me, that worked pretty well.
I have only once played with 4 players and most of my 2 player games (> 20) were with each player controlling 2 factions. Either you play that only the lowest scoring faction of each player counts at the end or you have to make sure that each player does not favor his / her other faction concerning decisions like where to build and which action to take first.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
HenningK
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree that the game is not at its best with just 2 players. However, I think shrinking the map is not the solution. The problem is the end-game scoring. You are always first or second in the area scoring and in each of the cult scorings. Thus, there is a lot less competition and no incentive to pursue one of these scorings anymore if it is clear that you won't win it.

With 3 players, you can at least fight for second position, resulting in much more indirect player interaction in the form of positioning for scoring, making the game much better. With 4 and 5, it's even better because someone will likely not receive any points per scoring. And I agree that 4 players is ideal due to the more crowded board and increased playing time for a 5 player game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nick Saribekov
United States
Staten Island
New York
flag msg tools
mb
TM is a unique game that has 2 very important factors:

1. Besides randomly choosing who goes first TM has ZERO luck factor - no dice rolls, no random abilities, no drawing random cards from a deck. NONE. What this means is that game is 100% deterministic - you can PLAN your entire game from your very first move till last round. Race chosen and starting location will obviously factor in, and everything else calculable. This does start to sound like this could get boring quickly - you pick race A, choose best possible starting location and then announce: I will finish the game with VP score of 114.

But this is where 2nd factor comes in:

2. Other players - whatever perfect scenario you have in mind will be completely violated by the actions of others. What race did they pick? Which starting hexes? How did they developed? And this unpredictable human factor will grow to infinity with each extra player you add.

Think Chess - everything is 100% deterministic. Yet number of combinations that lead to victory is infinite. Now multiply that by 4 players instead of 2.

TM could indeed be boring as 2 player game simply because there would be too little competition from others. Play at least with 3 or 4 - and see how people will be fighting to the death for every spot on the board.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeffrey Drozek-Fitzwater
United States
Houston
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
bpierce72 wrote:
The question:
What has made a Terra Mystica the #3 ranked game on BGG?


Communist plot.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert
Germany
Bocholt
flag msg tools
badge
I paid 100 Geek Gold so that you can read this! :-)
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Chaosslayer wrote:
TM is a unique game that has 2 very important factors:

1. Besides randomly choosing who goes first TM has ZERO luck factor - no dice rolls, no random abilities, no drawing random cards from a deck. NONE. What this means is that game is 100% deterministic - you can PLAN your entire game from your very first move till last round. Race chosen and starting location will obviously factor in, and everything else calculable. This does start to sound like this could get boring quickly - you pick race A, choose best possible starting location and then announce: I will finish the game with VP score of 114.

But this is where 2nd factor comes in:

2. Other players - whatever perfect scenario you have in mind will be completely violated by the actions of others. What race did they pick? Which starting hexes? How did they developed? And this unpredictable human factor will grow to infinity with each extra player you add.

Think Chess - everything is 100% deterministic. Yet number of combinations that lead to victory is infinite. Now multiply that by 4 players instead of 2.

TM could indeed be boring as 2 player game simply because there would be too little competition from others. Play at least with 3 or 4 - and see how people will be fighting to the death for every spot on the board.
Good stuff!

TM as a 2-player game could indeed be taken on just like Chess, with some "Deep Thought" super computer calculating the optimal game trees.

But TM really shines with four players (3 or 5 also good), and that's where the simplistic rule of a 2-player game ("everything which hurts my opponent is good for me") is no longer true. In a 2-player game, you have one opponent, and you need to beat him, be it 95:94 or 140:139. Playing against somebody in a 4-player game is just going to help the other two. And that's not even taking into account emotions ("she took that important hex away from me, so I'll take revenge and take the bridge power action she needs, even though I don't really want it, just to show her").
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Belinda Messenger
United States
Unspecified
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I love TM and play it incessantly with my husband. It started to feel too easy so we started playing two factions each. That's when all the great interplay and competition for resources started.
I wouldn't suggest doing that until you've got the game down solidly. It can be confusing when you're running two factions!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.