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Subject: Is Mistfall for you? I thought it was for me rss

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Jacob Rosenoir
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I wanted to love this game. Some other reviewer compared this game to Mage Knight, my favorite game of all time, and it was enough for me to buy the game.

People compare Mistfall to Mage Knight because of the complexity but mostly because of the many possible card combination you may pull out and because the quality of this game is fabulous. The artwork, the component, the cards, everything is there for this game to be on the top list of every serious gamer.

I love complicated games where you have a lots of options, a good theme and what got me into buying Mistfall is that the game mechanic is somewhat unique in a sea of games that all have the "Drafting" mechanic that we're getting all bored to play.

First it took me a good 3 hours to learn how to play this game and only because I listen to 90 minutes of gameplay on youtube and got the "learn to play" document in the file section of Boardgamegeek was I really able to grasp everything.

But so far, I expected that. Many review here warned me about that. But the main problem of this game, that I found after 3 games, is that... you do not play this game... You work this game. There is no fun. There are so many things to keep track of, to remember on doing and to check on every cards that you completely forget about the theme. You do not play the role of heroes in an adventure fighting a beast in a Desecrated Temple. You are trying match cards together and keep track of everything.

This game is also very hard. You always have this feeling that the game is tipped against you and there is a pressure to always find the perfect combination to play each time. Do not miss on too many of them otherwise you'll get killed. This aspect might be appreciated by gamers who love a challenge but the problem comes with another kind of pressure that ruins the game. The "Do not forget this..." pressure

There are so many things to read on each cards and each phase is influence by so many conditions that it is hard to keep track of everything and you always have the feeling that you have forgotten something. And when you do realize that you forgot something for the last two turns, it's too late to correct it and everything is so tightly balanced that you suddenly realize that your game just became too easy or too hard because of this mistake and that, for me, was the killer point.

Another reason why I will sell that game is that, if you're like me, you have a ton of games and you buy many more each year, therefore, it may take weeks before you will play again a game that you liked. Mistfall is not the kind of game you can wait weeks to play because you will simply forget how to play it and the effort to re-learned it, will make you pass on it for another game that you liked and could play right away.

So, sorry Mistfall. Good game mechanic, great artwork but no fun.

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Jonathan Rowe
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Fair points all... but I don't see how that is different from Mage Knight, which you love.

Mage Knight is also difficult (especially when you start out), a game that's tipped against you with the pressure to find an optimal deployment of cards to scrape through to the next bruising encounter.

OK, Mage Knight doesn't have a lot of text on the basic cards, but many of the advanced cards and spells do and then there are all the conditions attached to the monsters, working out how much damage you take from a cold fire attack if you block half of it but then factor in swiftness and... only at the end do you remember you'd not been applying the damage bonus for the Blue City the whole time.

But of course, you get better at Mage Knight so that you start winning more often then not, then most of the time, then your scores on Solo Conquest push towards 200.

I think you get better at Mistfall quicker than you do at Mage Knight; for better or worse it's just not that involved and it takes half the time to play.

So, I kind of agree with your criticisms... but I love Mage Knight too and it seems to me it has all the same drawbacks plus some, but its strengths make up for it.
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jacobderosenoir wrote:
the main problem of this game, that I found after 3 games, is that... you do not play this game... You work this game. There is no fun. There are so many things to keep track of, to remember on doing and to check on every cards that you completely forget about the theme. You do not play the role of heroes in an adventure fighting a beast in a Desecrated Temple. You are trying match cards together and keep track of everything.


I agree with deadmarlowe that the majority of things you list can be said of Mage Knight. In fact, lots of criticism of Mage Knight goes along the lines from your review quoted above. I think remedying the above is a matter of getting used to the mechanics and being able to play without constant rules references. Which for both games takes time but it's not unreasonable.

This doesn't mean you should like Mistfall, of course, just that there's probably some other reason for your dislike that didn't make it in the review.

Do you play solo or coop? If you find the game too difficult you might try playing Arani and Venda a couple times before you give up on the game.
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Ryan DeLano
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I agree with everything that has been said so far, but wanted to point out that Allies are also a great way to tone down the difficulty.
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Alexander Wartner
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Hi

Did you buy Mistfall or Mistfall: Heart of the Mists?
Because you could also try the Heart of the Mists Rules for Mistfall.
In my opinion it has less "Do not forget this.." pressure.
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Scott Yost
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I had a similar experience - really interested in the character-specific deckbuilding and like the coop/solo mode and theme. But for me, the complexity in the game did not carry its own weight. The complexity in mage knight mostly 'fit in' with the theme and was easy for me to remember. The complexity in mistfall didn't seem to pay off, and was difficult for me to remember. There's a lot of iconography, and it makes it hard to even read out loud in your mind what a card is going to do. IMO the game would benefit from shaving off a few systems - the threat track for example felt like I had to fiddle with it a lot but it didn't really make the game any more fun. I haven't tried Heart of the Mists, but I didn't really want to buy another Mistfall after my experience with this one.
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Dillon Flaherty
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Yostage wrote:
I had a similar experience - really interested in the character-specific deckbuilding and like the coop/solo mode and theme. But for me, the complexity in the game did not carry its own weight. The complexity in mage knight mostly 'fit in' with the theme and was easy for me to remember. The complexity in mistfall didn't seem to pay off, and was difficult for me to remember. There's a lot of iconography, and it makes it hard to even read out loud in your mind what a card is going to do. IMO the game would benefit from shaving off a few systems - the threat track for example felt like I had to fiddle with it a lot but it didn't really make the game any more fun. I haven't tried Heart of the Mists, but I didn't really want to buy another Mistfall after my experience with this one.


For what it's worth, Heart of the Mists came with a better-streamlined set of rules and removed the Time Card mechanic to replace it with a "Time Charter" mechanic that will make time move faster as you spend a lot of threat.

I think the comparisons here to Mage Knight are fair in many ways, and also can see areas where Mage Knight's complexity is spread out differently, making it difficult to pick back up as well.

I played a lot of Mistfall, and the rules were a lot of work, but when I picked Heart of the Mists back up - most everything came right back (rules-wise) aside from some of the changes and new rules. In contrast to your experience, if I try to pull Mage Knight out after not playing for a while, I have to re-read constantly. Every monster has some crazy icon that requires referencing. In that respect, I believe Mistfall makes things easier by putting all of the monster-specific information right there in English on the cards.

That said, I can easily see someone liking both of those games, or finding that one of them fits with their gaming-personality more. While I do love both of them, I enjoy Mistfall and Heart of the Mists a little bit more due to mixing different heroes together and the fun of finding synergies.
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deadmarlowe wrote:
Fair points all... but I don't see how that is different from Mage Knight, which you love.

Mage Knight is also difficult (especially when you start out), a game that's tipped against you with the pressure to find an optimal deployment of cards to scrape through to the next bruising encounter.

OK, Mage Knight doesn't have a lot of text on the basic cards, but many of the advanced cards and spells do and then there are all the conditions attached to the monsters, working out how much damage you take from a cold fire attack if you block half of it but then factor in swiftness and... only at the end do you remember you'd not been applying the damage bonus for the Blue City the whole time.

But of course, you get better at Mage Knight so that you start winning more often then not, then most of the time, then your scores on Solo Conquest push towards 200.

I think you get better at Mistfall quicker than you do at Mage Knight; for better or worse it's just not that involved and it takes half the time to play.

So, I kind of agree with your criticisms... but I love Mage Knight too and it seems to me it has all the same drawbacks plus some, but its strengths make up for it.



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Alexander Wartner
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As far as i know u can download the print and play for the new time and threat tracks.
The rules should be online aswell.
So you should be fine with testing it without buying Heart of the Mists.
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Jonathan Rowe
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Yostage wrote:
The complexity in mage knight mostly 'fit in' with the theme and was easy for me to remember. The complexity in mistfall didn't seem to pay off, and was difficult for me to remember.


It's odd to see people trying to put their finger on how Mistfall and Mage Knight differ. It's not easy to do.

Most critics of Mage Knight (there are many) moan that it's more like filling in your tax form than going on a heroic adventure. They have a point.

Now I don't mind Mage Knight's complexity, but it's hard to argue that mental arithmetic and analysis paralysis is 'thematic' for a game in which super powered immortals reave cities and delve dungeons in the war-torn ruins of Atlantis.

You either like this sort of brain-y, puzzle-solving game or you don't. But if you do, then it can't be Mistfall's brain-iness of puzzle-someness that puts you off. It's something else. But it's hard to say what.

Yostage wrote:
There's a lot of iconography, and it makes it hard to even read out loud in your mind what a card is going to do.


OK, that's a fair point. Mistfall's iconography isn't particularly complex or convoluted - it's no different from M:tG in that regard - but it is UGLY. Just little wingdings-style fonts embedded in the text. It'd be lovely if the game's cards got a makeover in the style of Mage Knight, favouring evocative art and finding some way to minimise the text and make the icons immediately informative.

Yostage wrote:
IMO the game would benefit from shaving off a few systems - the threat track for example felt like I had to fiddle with it a lot but it didn't really make the game any more fun. I haven't tried Heart of the Mists, but I didn't really want to buy another Mistfall after my experience with this one.


I can't agree with you there. Few games get more lovely by being simplified in that way. OK, there's "Nations" simplifying "Through The Ages" but that's exceptional. OK, maybe "Eclipse" simplifying "Twilight Imperium".

Err. I'll start again, from a different angle:

The whole point of Mistfall - and here it DOES differ from Mage Knight - is coming up with effective "runs" or "volleys" where cards chain off other cards, producing effects far greater than the original mechanic.
You play a card that lets me draw a card which I can play to retrieve a discarded card which grants you a token you can use to charge a power that kills a monster that generates Renown that I can use to buy an advanced feat that places a progress token that wins the Encounter. Bam!!!

There's nothing like that in Mage Knight (though there are ingenious ways of deploying your cards to optimise your their powers). Mistfall's interactivity needs some sort of limitation on it. A game like this would be less fun, not more fun, if you didn't have to watch your Focus creeping up and up as you added more and more cards to your insane manoeuvre.
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Dillon Flaherty
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deadmarlowe wrote:

OK, that's a fair point. Mistfall's iconography isn't particularly complex or convoluted - it's no different from M:tG in that regard - but it is UGLY. Just little wingdings-style fonts embedded in the text. It'd be lovely if the game's cards got a makeover in the style of Mage Knight, favouring evocative art and finding some way to minimise the text and make the icons immediately informative.


I think this is a subtle point, but totally agree and think that a facelift could go a long way to tightening up the initial shock of trying to understand Mistfall's iconography.
 
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Scott Yost
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deadmarlowe wrote:

The whole point of Mistfall - and here it DOES differ from Mage Knight - is coming up with effective "runs" or "volleys" where cards chain off other cards, producing effects far greater than the original mechanic.
You play a card that lets me draw a card which I can play to retrieve a discarded card which grants you a token you can use to charge a power that kills a monster that generates Renown that I can use to buy an advanced feat that places a progress token that wins the Encounter. Bam!!!

There's nothing like that in Mage Knight (though there are ingenious ways of deploying your cards to optimise your their powers). Mistfall's interactivity needs some sort of limitation on it. A game like this would be less fun, not more fun, if you didn't have to watch your Focus creeping up and up as you added more and more cards to your insane manoeuvre.


What you describe sounds totally fun. I was surprised how disappointed I was.

We're maybe way off into the weeds now, but as long as we're just brainstorming, another dimension we haven't talked about is that I found I needed to know both the full contents of my player deck, plus I needed to pace the consumable stuff in there with the length of the scenario. Compare to Mage Knight where you're (mostly) looking at what you have right now in hand, and trying to solve the immediate problem in front of you. It's true that you do need to save enough good stuff per day to beat the city, but you can sort of see those deck reloads coming at the top/bottom of each cycle. In mistfall I felt like there were some combos built into each character and I needed to figure out how to pace them to deliver at the right rate to get the big burn for the boss - holding that problem in my head as well as optimizing the current state felt like having to do both tactics and strategy, where I would prefer to focus mostly on tactics.
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Didier Renard
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I completely relate to the OP's opinion after recently trying Mistfall Heart of the Mists -- and shortly parting with it! Mage Knight is my #1 solo game and I see where they can be compared (brainy puzzles of card combos).
Where cards in MK are simple (one action and its advanced version) and relate to concrete actions (moving, attacking, defending, healing, etc), they feel convoluted (2-3 types of actions, tiny text, iconography) in Mistfall. This game is mainly (tempted to say "only") about building good card combos whereas MK also offers interesting board exploration. In the end Mistfall felt way too dry and abstract and this was for me the big difference between an enjoyable puzzle in MK versus a boring one in Mistfall. I just couldn't get my head around it after two days trying!
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Keith Jones
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I have enormously enjoyed playing two-player Mistfall with a regular gaming partner, but that does not mean that it didn't take a sizable investment of time, effort and patience to achieve our present understanding and enjoyment of the game.

The original rulebook was very difficult to decipher. Apart from the sometimes confusing structure, there were a number of important ambiguities and apparent contradictions. These have now all been resolved in these forums, but formed a significant obstacle to our initial enjoyment of the game.

However, by far the most difficult aspect of Mistfall for us was grasping the round structure, let alone keeping track of where we were in that structure during play. We then discovered some downloadable round summaries in the "Files" section of this site. The one we have been using is gbeason's "Mistfall Round Summary and Tips" (for which our profound thanks). This totally transformed the game for us. Not only did it very clearly delineate the flow of the game, but it also enabled us to effectively plan our tactics, using the round structure to our advantage.

The other difficulty we encountered was in keeping track of damage and focus simultaneously when conducting a complicated attack with embedded actions and reactions. I don't know why, but although we could easily keep track of a single running total, trying to simultaneously track two different running totals proved irksomely difficult. We have tried using different coloured 20-sided dice as an aid (one for damage, one for focus), but found that a "pencil and paper" approach was most successful for us (although slightly humiliating!).

We have also played and thoroughly enjoyed Mage Knight, but that game hits the table far less frequently because of the large overhead (for us, at least) of having to substantially relearn the game after even a few weeks' layoff. However, we recently played a full Mistfall campaign after a layoff of around 8 months with only minor reference to the rulebook. But we certainly needed the round summary and our notepads!

One final suggestion. Some characters can only mount one significant attack per round, albeit an increasingly powerful one. If you only play with such characters, you are likely to be overwhelmed by enemies. We'd strongly advise including at least one character who can mount multiple attacks each round.

If you haven't yet tried using a Round Summary when playing Mistfall, I'd strongly urge you to do so. It certainly worked for us, transforming Mistfall into one of our favourite, most immersive and ultimately satisfying games. Is it fun? Oh yes!
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Jonathan Rowe
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boulou wrote:
This game is mainly (tempted to say "only") about building good card combos whereas MK also offers interesting board exploration. In the end Mistfall felt way too dry and abstract


I think this is a good distinction. In Mage Knight you have your (OK, crudely) painted miniatures and your expanding board of modular terrains. There are mountains and lakes viewed for the air. It's a sandbox and you can strike off in a variety of directions. Mage Knight has HORIZONS.

Mistfall is by contrast essentially a card game. The board is a prop or scoring track. The biggest navigational choice you are usually offered is "left or right?" The cards themselves have fairly limited art on them, though the monster cards are nicer than Mage Knight's simple disks.

So I agree, Mistfall is more abstract. The battles and discoveries are going on in your head, not on the board.

However, Mistfall certainly has a more evocative and mystical setting, with a more coherent cultural backdrop and some darker themes. But such things do not make a difference to how the game is played.
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Jonathan Rowe
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Yostage wrote:
I found I needed to know both the full contents of my player deck, plus I needed to pace the consumable stuff in there with the length of the scenario. Compare to Mage Knight where you're (mostly) looking at what you have right now in hand, and trying to solve the immediate problem in front of you. It's true that you do need to save enough good stuff per day to beat the city, but you can sort of see those deck reloads coming at the top/bottom of each cycle. In mistfall I felt like there were some combos built into each character and I needed to figure out how to pace them to deliver at the right rate to get the big burn for the boss


You're absolutely right. You can't function properly with Mistfall till you've figured out the "engine" contained in your character deck.

If you're playing Fengray, you need to realise that you only get to strike one blow - but if you pick up "Counterblow" you can strike a second during the Defence Phase, but only if your shield and weapon are ready. The trick becomes to use your weapon then retrieve it, ready to use it again in the Defence Phase.

Every Hero has a similar engine built into their deck and some Heroes have several different engines. The engines in Heart Of The Mists are, if anything, even more complex and nuanced.

Now, of course, once you get your head round this it becomes IMMENSELY satisfying. Like most deckbuilders, you are building a "victory machine" and honing it into something lean and efficient. But in this game, each deck is an utterly distinct machine that works in a different way from the others.

(In Mage Knight, all the decks are essentially the same - even Lost Legion doesn't customise them that much - but they start differentiating once you add Spells, Artifacts and Advanced Feats. However, this differentiation is organic and opportunistic; it's never the same twice. In Mistfall, the options are built into the deck from the outset: development is programmed into the deck itself and the variation comes from how you interact with other players' decks and to a much lesser extent which Rewards you add to yours.)

This does mean that Mistfall is harder to break into. If you miss out on how a Hero's deck engine works, the game is an uphill trudge and everything seems difficult. I put together some Players Guides to help people with exactly this issue - because not everyone wants to go through several hours of trial and error figuring out how the cards interact. Some people want to unbox and play.
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deadmarlowe wrote:
You play a card that lets me draw a card which I can play to retrieve a discarded card which grants you a token you can use to charge a power that kills a monster that generates Renown that I can use to buy an advanced feat that places a progress token that wins the Encounter. Bam!!!

Best description ever in this thread.

deadmarlowe wrote:
Mistfall is by contrast essentially a card game. The board is a prop or scoring track. The biggest navigational choice you are usually offered is "left or right?" The cards themselves have fairly limited art on them, though the monster cards are nicer than Mage Knight's simple disks.

Yea, I think the navigational element is not that decisive enough, since player is limited by time tracking. There's not that important to navigate back... What I mean is maybe player just put all the geographical tiles as one deck, then just pull out one after another... Maybe I'm not 100% correct, but, just a thought.
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Joke Meister
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kfjones wrote:
However, by far the most difficult aspect of Mistfall for us was grasping the round structure, let alone keeping track of where we were in that structure during play. We then discovered some downloadable round summaries in the "Files" section of this site. The one we have been using is gbeason's "Mistfall Round Summary and Tips" (for which our profound thanks). This totally transformed the game for us. Not only did it very clearly delineate the flow of the game, but it also enabled us to effectively plan our tactics, using the round structure to our advantage.


gbeason's round summary is amazing and, like you, I don't think I could play this game without it. It's so good that I think even the designers drew inspiration from it when they created their HotM round summary.
 
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Jokemeister wrote:
gbeason's round summary is amazing and, like you, I don't think I could play this game without it. It's so good that I think even the designers drew inspiration from it when they created their HotM round summary.


Yes, they have

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Jerry Tresman
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The first few games can be overwhelming , like any new system. Mistfall is worth putting the time in , as you learn the characters it becomes much easier. It may not seem intuitive at first but trust me it is, the theme will start to overtake the learning curve. Discarding a weapon and recovering from the discard to the draw pile , will feel like swinging the great sword and readying it for another blow.

Remember how difficult it was when you first learnt to drive ,especially the manual cars. The car controls, breaking distance , obstacles, other cars ,signals, hills, road conditions... Yet now you just hop in and drive in complex situations.

Mistfall learning g curve is similar but it does all click into place eventually and when it does the mechanics become second nature and the game theme takes over.

Like a good book or good film you fill in the gaps , Mistfall creates a backdrop and you colour it in :-
deadmarlowe wrote:

So I agree, Mistfall is more abstract. The battles and discoveries are going on in your head, not on the board.

However, Mistfall certainly has a more evocative and mystical setting, with a more coherent cultural backdrop and some darker themes. But such things do not make a difference to how the game is played.


I don't find it more abstract than MK , the hero charter and. cards are less abstract as they can translate to weapons, armour, items etc. that are readied and used in a controlled way. In MK its always a random draw and often you just see the numbers, in Mistfall you see the potential actions a subtle strike or a huge blow etc.

The main Mistfall play area is a little more abstract but if you think of how each terrain tile compares to a hex it is not really any different.


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