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This FAQ contains two types of information:
Chapters 1-7 answer common questions about the rules of Terra Mystica. If a rule is ambiguous or lacking in the rulebook, sources to posts by either Helge Ostertag, Jens Drögemüller (the designers), Frank Heeren (the publisher), or Grzegorz Kobiela (the translator of the rulebook) are given.
Chapter 8 is about playing Terra Mystica online.

If you're looking for online resources to get better at playing Terra Mystica, there's the Basic Guide to Terra Mystica and tons of strategy threads for about every faction in the strategy sub-forum for Terra Mystica on BGG. If you're confused by the terminology used in these discussions, this article will help you: Terra Mystica Terminology Reference.

List of game FAQs

1. Errata

1.1 Errata for Scoring tile setup

New setup, not in the first edition rulebook: "Shuffle the Scoring tiles and place them face-up on these spaces one after another, beginning with space 6. If you draw the Scoring tile with a Spade on its left side for spaces 5 or 6, put it aside and draw another one instead. Then shuffle it back in."

According to the publisher: "The reason for this update is the danger of an exploit of the transforming bonus as our tests are showing." (source)

This, as it is written, will lead to the Spade Scoring tile having a 12.5% lower probability of showing up in a game than any of the other tiles. An unofficial suggestion to avoid this is to draw the 6 Scoring tiles first, then shuffle and place those tiles according to the above instructions. (source)

1.2 Errata for Mermaids' Stronghold

The first edition rulebook says: "After building the Stronghold, immediately and only once move forward 1 space on the Shipping track. Neither pay 1 Worker, nor 4 Coins for this movement."

This should say: "Neither pay 1 Priest, nor 4 Coins for this movement." (source)

1.3 Errata for Cultists' ability

The first and second edition rulebooks say: "Whenever at least one of your opponents decides to take Power due to your building activity, advance 1 space on a Cult track of your choice. (You only get to advance 1 space in total regardless of the number of opponents taking Power. If all of your opponents refuse to take Power, do not advance on a Cult track.)"

To this is added: "If all of your opponents refuse to take Power, do not advance on a Cult track, instead gain exactly one Power." (source)

(If none of the opponents would be able to take Power, you don't gain anything. source)

1.4 Errata for Riverwalkers' and Shapeshifters' ability

The rules for the variable factions (from Fire & Ice) have been updated. (source)

  • You have to pay 1 Coin when you unlock a new terrain on your Terrain cycle — 2 Coins if it is another player's Home terrain. (Your Starting terrain is free.) As normal, sacrificing Power to get Coins is only permitted in Phase II (Actions). If you gain a Priest in Phase I (Income), you can unlock a terrain with Coins you earn as income now or Coins you have saved from a previous round. If you gain a Priest in Phase III (Cult Bonus), you can only unlock a terrain with Coins you have saved from a previous round.
  • The cost of using the Stronghold ability is increased to 5 Power / 5 Power tokens.
  • Using the Stronghold ability (changing your Home terrain into another terrain type) no longer gives you any Victory points.
  • You must pay one VP when you receive a new Power token using your Faction ability. So when another player takes Power during your build action, you may choose to pay 1 VP and get a new Power token into bowl III. If you choose not to pay 1 VP, you get nothing. (When other players refuse to take Power, you gain 1 Power as before, and this is free.)

2. General Rules

2.1 Transform and Build action

How exactly does the Transform and Build action work?

You may only transform or build on a Terrain space directly or indirectly adjacent to one of your Structures, and normally only one Terrain space. Either transform the space, or build a Dwelling on it, or do both. You don't have to transform it into your Home terrain, but it has to be your Home terrain before you can build on it. (source—thumbed by designer)

Is 3 the maximum amount of times you can transform one Terrain space in one action?

No. When you transform, you can follow the Transformation cycle in either direction, not necessarily taking the short route to your Home terrain type. You cannot change directions in one action, so the maximum transformations in one action is 6. However, you have to stop transforming when you have reached your Home terrain. (source, source, source, source)

Can I transform a Terrain space that is already my Home terrain?

Yes, but only if it is your Home terrain at the beginning of your turn. In this case you could transform it a maximum of 6 times. (source)

What's the difference between taking a Power action that gives free Spades vs. taking the Transform and Build action directly?

A Power action, Bonus card or Faction ability that gives free Spades, also immediately gives you a Transform and Build action.

If you use these free Spades to transform by the shortest route towards your Home terrain on the Transformation cycle, you may also spend Workers (according to the current Exchange rate) to transform the Terrain space further. (source)

If you use these free Spades to transform the Terrain space into your Home terrain without spending Workers, you may apply any unused free Spades on one additional Terrain space. If you have leftover Spades after also transforming this Terrain space into your Home terrain, you may do so again (only currently possible with the Halflings' 3 Spade ability). You may build a Dwelling on one of these spaces. (source, source)

When using several Spades, can I transform a Terrain space, build a Dwelling, and then transform another Terrain space adjacent to the new Dwelling?

No, you have to do all transformations before building. (source, source)

Can I choose a Terrain space that is already my Home terrain, use zero free Spades on it, and then apply the unused free Spades on another Terrain space? In this way I could build on the initial Terrain space.

No. You can't apply unused free Spades on another Terrain space unless you actually transform the initial (chosen) Terrain space to your Home terrain. This means that you can never build on a Terrain space you didn't transform in the same action, unless all you do is build. (source, source)

2.2 Spades from Cult bonuses (Phase III)

Can I spend Workers for additional Spades? Can I build a Dwelling?

No. This is not a Transform and Build action.

Where can I apply these Spades?

You may apply the Spades on different Terrain spaces, as long as the Terrain spaces are unoccupied and directly or indirectly adjacent to one of your Structures.

Also see 2.7 Bonus cards and 2.3 Indirect Adjacency.

2.3 Direct and indirect adjacency

What's the difference between direct and indirect adjacency, and when does each apply?

Direct adjacency: Adjacent hexes, as well as hexes connected via a Bridge.

  • In order to found a Town the Structures must be directly adjacent.
  • When upgrading to a Trading House, you get the lower cost if an opponent's Structure is directly adjacent.
  • When you build or upgrade a Structure, opponents may gain Power if they have Structures directly adjacent.

Indirect adjacency: Terrain spaces that are not directly adjacent but that can be reached with Shipping (if your Shipping value is high enough).

  • When transforming Terrain spaces and/or building Dwellings, indirect adjacency is sufficient.
  • Area scoring in the final scoring only requires indirect adjacency.

Tunneling (for Dwarves) and Carpet Flight (for Fakirs) give indirect adjacency for the purposes of the Transform and Build action, and for Area scoring in the final scoring. However, you can't use these abilities when using free Spades from Cult bonuses.

2.4 Gaining Power when someone builds next to you

What happens if I get 3 Power, but I'm only able to gain 2 of them? Do I still have to pay 2 VP to gain the Power?

No, if you aren't able to gain all the Power, you only need to pay VP for what you gain. In this case 1 VP.

Can I voluntarily choose to take less Power than I may gain from my Structures, in order to save VP?

No, you have to gain all you can or nothing.

May I gain power when someone builds next to me as a Special action?

Yes. You may gain Power whenever someone builds a Dwelling or upgrades a Structure next to you (directly adjacent to your Structures(s)). The rules say it happens in Action #1 and Action #4, but it can also happen in other Actions, e.g. when a player uses a Special action (#7) to build or upgrade next to you. (source)

How does playing with Variable Turn Order change the sequence of gaining Power?

The play order of the current round is used. I.e. the players decide whether to gain Power in the current turn order, beginning with the next player after the active player. (source)

2.5 Advancing on Cult tracks

What is required to reach the top space of a Cult track?

To reach the top space (space 10) of a Cult track, you need to already have a key (Town tile). You get a Town tile when founding a Town. You need one key (Town tile) for each top space on a Cult track.

Is it allowed to send a Priest to an order of a Cult, and place it there, even if I can't advance the full range?

Yes. (source)

Can I send a Priest to an order of a Cult and return it to my supply to advance 1 space, even if all Priest spaces are occupied?

Yes. You can advance only 1 space regardless of whether all Priest spaces are occupied or some are still open. (source)

Also see 2.10 Timing.

2.6 Founding Towns

How are Towns founded?

A Town is automatically founded when at least four of your Structures with a combined Power value of 7 are directly adjacent to each other. If one of the Structures is a Sanctuary, only three Structures are needed, but still a combined Power value of 7. However, the Favor tile "2 Fire" lowers the Power value requirement to 6. Taking this tile might mean that one or several Towns immediately are founded.

Also see 2.10 Timing.

What is the meaning of the triple hexes which become visible once the Sanctuary has been built?

It means that you only need three (instead of four) Structures to found a town if the Sanctuary is one of the Structures. You still need four Structures to found other Towns. See above: How are Towns founded?.

2.7 Bonus cards

What happens with Bonus cards in the last round?

Bonus cards that give a bonus when passing, also do so in the last round. You don't take a new Bonus card in the last round.

Can I use the Bonus tile that gives +1 to Shipping when using Spades from a Cult bonus?

No, Cult bonus happens in Phase III, and this tile gives +1 Shipping in Phase II (Actions) only.

2.8 Conversions

If I gain more Power than I'm able to (because it's all in Bowl III), can I convert Power to Workers/Priests/Coins in the middle, so that the excess isn't lost? What about if I gain more Power than I'm able to and it's not my turn?

No, you can only convert Power/Workers/Priest/Coins on your turn, before or after taking an action, not in the middle of an action. (You can also do it during final scoring.) (source)

2.9 Final scoring

Can I sacrifice Power during final scoring to get more to convert to Coins?

Yes. (source, source)

In Area scoring, can I score points for several areas of connected Structures?

No, each player only scores once, for his biggest area of connected Structures. (source—thumbed by designer)

2.10 Timing (getting Favor tiles, founding Towns)

The "2 Fire" Favor tile means that to found a Town I need Structures with a combined Power value of only 6. If I'm on 8 on the Fire Cult track and don't have a key, can I take this Favor tile and at once found a Town and use that key (Town tile) to advance to 10 with the 2 Fire influence from the tile?

Yes, if a Town would be founded by taking this tile, you get the key immediately, and may use it to reach 10 on the Fire Cult with the 2 Fire influence. (source)

If I'm Chaos Magicians and get two Favor tiles, can I choose in which order to resolve them? This could matter for the "2 Fire" tile mentioned in the previous question.

Yes, you can resolve the Favor tiles in either order. (source)

If I'm Darklings and found a town by building a Stronghold, and I take the Town tile giving 2 Workers, can I use these Workers to convert to Priests with my immediate Stronghold ability?

Yes, you can resolve the Town tile and the Stronghold ability in either order. (source)

If I found a Town by upgrading a Temple to a Sanctuary, can I use the freshly acquired key (for the town) to advance to 10 in some Cult using the Cult influence from the Favor tile I gain from the Sanctuary? E.g. I'm on Earth 7 and take the "3 Earth" Favor tile.

Yes, if a Town is founded, you get the key immediately, and may use it to reach 10 on any Cult with the Favor tile influence. (source)

If I'm Riverwalkers (from Fire & Ice) and have no Priests in my supply and get two Priests as income, can I first unlock a terrain, thereby moving a Priest to my supply, and then get that Priest from supply as my second Priest income?

Yes. Income is given one resource at a time. (source)

If I do a build or upgrade action which offers Power to other players, and my build/upgrade also results in additional decisions by me (e.g. pick a Favor tile, pick a Town tile), which occurs first: the decision by the other players or my additional decisions?

The other players first have to decide whether they gain Power from your action or not. This way you can take their Power gain decisions into account when making your additional decisions. (source)

2.11 Taking Power Actions

When you take a Power Action, you must spend the appropriate number of Power tokens, but you don't need to actually take the resources (Bridge/Priest/Workers/Coins/Spades). This means you can take a Power Action even when you're not able to take the resource. (source) (This is different from taking Special Actions, see below.)

Riverwalkers (from Fire & Ice) are an exception to this. They are not allowed to take Spade Power actions. (source)

2.12 Taking Special Actions (from certain Strongholds, Bonus Tiles, Favor Tiles)

Special Actions can be taken from two of the Bonus Tiles ("Spade and 2 Coins", "Cult step and 4 Coins"), one of the Favor Tiles ("2 Water"), and the Strongholds of some factions (Auren, Chaos Magicians, Giants, Nomads, Swarmlings, Witches). Special Actions are free; after taking one you just cover it with an Action token. You're not allowed to take a Special Action without being able to perform the effect, and you have to perform the effect once you take it. (source) (This is different from taking Power Actions, see above.) For instance, the Special Action from the Spade Bonus Tile can only be taken if you're able to terraform a Terrain space; and then you have to terraform.

2.13 Sacrificing Power

When “sacrificing” Power from Bowl II to Bowl III, does Bowl I have to be empty (as per usual when moving Power from II to III)?

No, you don’t have to wait until bowl 1 is empty.

3. Faction Abilities

3.1 Tunneling (Dwarves) and Carpet Flight (Fakirs)

Can I use Tunneling or Carpet Flight to a Terrain space that is adjacent to one of my Structures, to get the VP?

No, you can only do so when needed.

What about if I Tunnel or Fly from a Structure that isn't adjacent to this Terrain space, even though the space is adjacent to one of my other Structures?

Still no. You can only do so when needed. (source)

Can I Tunnel or Fly several times when I take the Transform and Build action?

No, you can only do so once per action. Fakirs with Stronghold can skip up to two spaces, but these skips can only be done to reach one Terrain space (even when using the 2 Spades Power action). (source)

Can I Tunnel or Fly to a Terrain space without transforming it or building a Dwelling?

No, you must take the Transform and Build action to use this ability and get the VP, which means you must transform and/or build.

Can I use Tunneling or Carpet Flight to transform the same Terrain space several turns in a row, just to earn VP?

Yes, that's allowed.

If my Structure is connected to a Terrain space via a Bridge, can I skip that Terrain space and so Tunnel to a Terrain space one space further away?

No, Tunneling and Carpet Flight, just like Shipping, start from your Structure, not from the Terrain space you reach with a Bridge. Note that you can neither Tunnel under the Terrain space that is reached by the Bridge, nor Tunnel to it (because the Bridge makes it directly adjacent). (source)

Also see 2.3 Indirect Adjacency.

3.2 Halflings

Do I get the VP when I get a Spade even if I'm unable to use the Spade?

No, you have to use the Spade in order to get the 1 VP. (source)

3.3 Alchemists

Stronghold ability: Do I get the Power when I get a Spade even if I'm unable to use the Spade?

No, you have to use the Spade in order to get the 2 Power.

3.4 Mermaids

I can skip a River space when founding a Town. I place the Town tile on this River space. Does this River space block adjacency? Does it count as a Structure?

No, the skipped River space (with a Town tile on it) is not considered to be a Structure. It counts as a normal River space, e.g. for the sake of adjacency. However, it's considered to be part of the Town. (source, source)

I want to found a Town by skipping a River space, but this River space already borders on my existing Town (which of course is not connected to any part of the new Town I want to found). What happens?

In this case you cannot found this Town by using the Mermaids' ability. (source)

I want to found a Town by skipping a River space. When can I do this? Can I do it on an opponent's turn?

The Mermaids can form a town in their turn only. (source)

3.5 Auren

About Stronghold ability from the first edition rulebook: "you may advance 2 spaces on a Cult track of your choice (or on space 10 if you have a key)." What does the parenthesis mean?

It simply means that you may only advance to space 10 if you have a key. (This is made clearer in the second edition.)

Can I use the Stronghold Special action to advance on two different Cult tracks?

No, you must advance 2 spaces on the same Cult track.

3.6 Giants

Can I transform my Home terrain, or transform a terrain into something different than my Home terrain?

No. The Giants' player mat only shows that they can use two Spades to transform any of the other terrain types into their Home terrain. They have no other possibilities to transform.

Stronghold ability: What does "a reachable Terrain space" mean?

A "reachable" Terrain space means that it's directly or indirectly adjacent to one of your Structures. This is different from the Nomads' Stronghold ability, which requires direct adjacency (but doesn't work over Bridges).

3.7 Darklings

Do I get 2 VP whenever I use a Spade to transform a Terrain space?

No, you only get 2 VP when spending a Priest to transform a Terrain space, not when getting Spades in other ways.

Also see 2.10 Timing.

3.8 Cultists

The rulebook says I can advance on a Cult track when an opponent takes Power due to my "building activity". Does this also include when I upgrade Structures?

Yes, both when you build a Dwelling and upgrade a Structure. (source)

Also see 1.3 Errata for Cultists' ability.

4. Terra Mystica Promos

4.1 "4 Town Tiles" promo

(Regarding promo 4 Town Tiles.)

If we play with all Town tiles, are the number of Towns still limited to 10?

No, now it's 14. (source)

Does the Town tile with two keys give the Witches 10 VP? Does it give me 10 VP if I take it on a round with the Scoring tile that gives 5 VP for founding a Town?

No, only 5 VP. (source)

5. Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice

(Regarding expansion Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice.)

5.1 Final Scoring tiles

Can I score for largest area with one cluster of Structures, and choose another cluster to score for the Final Scoring tile?

Yes, these are two different scorings. (source)

Can I score points for a Final Scoring tile even though I score zero for the requirement (such as having zero Structures on border spaces for the tile "Outposts")?

No, you need at least one in order to score points. (source)

5.2 Factions for auction

When I win an auction round and pick a Faction token, can I choose which side of the token will be my Faction?

No, the side of the token is fixed, so there are only as many Factions up for auction as the number of players. (You pick a Faction, not a Faction token.) (source)

Does the winner of an auction round immediately get to choose a Bonus card?

No, the winner chooses a Faction and a starting position. When the auction is finished and everybody has a Faction and a starting position, follow the normal rules for placing the first Structures and choosing Bonus cards. (source)

5.3 Dragonlords

When I get a Spade, the rules say I can't use it to transform; instead I get a Power token. Can I still transform using my ability (by removing Power tokens)? And can I still build?

No, you can't do anything else when you get a Spade. You just get a Power token. The same applies for the other Volcano Faction, Acolytes: When getting a Spade they only get a step on a Cult track. (source)

5.4 Acolytes

I've reached space 10 of a Cult track, which requires a key (Town tile). If I move back down because of my ability, how can I use the key?

You can use it to gain access to space 10 of the same Cult track or another Cult track. You are at any one time allowed access to the top of one Cult track for each key you have. (source)

Do I start with four extra power because I start in space 3 in all four Cults?

No, you just start with the power indicated in the Bowls on your Faction board. (source)

Also see 5.3 Dragonlords regarding getting Spades.

5.5 Riverwalkers

Where are the Riverwalkers allowed to build?

When you build as Riverwalkers, direct adjacency doesn't matter. You must use Shipping to build. This means you can only build on spaces reachable from one of your Structures through Shipping. However, these spaces may still be directly adjacent to one of your Structures. Founding Towns and final scoring still follow the normal rules.

When I gain a Priest and choose to unlock a terrain, do I get to keep that Priest?

No, the Priest is taken from your Terrain cycle and returned to your supply. If you instead choose to gain the Priest from your supply (not unlocking a terrain), you get the Priest as normal and can use it as a resource later. (source)

Can I take a 1 Spade or 2 Spades Power action?

No, the Riverwalkers are not allowed to take these Power actions. (source) Also see 2.11 Taking Power Actions. (They are, however, allowed to take the Bonus card "free Spade and 2 Coins". – source)

Also see 1.4 Errata for Riverwalkers' and Shapeshifters' ability and 2.10 Timing.

5.6 Shapeshifters

See 1.4 Errata for Riverwalkers' and Shapeshifters' ability.

6. Official Variants

6.1 Variable Victory Points depending on Faction

I heard that the designers made an official variant which introduces variable Victory Points at start depending on the faction.

Yes, there's an official table of variable starting Victory Points depending on the faction. So far there is only one such table, and it's meant to be used for games on the base map. The starting Victory Points (which are 20 for every faction in the normal rules) range from 15 (for Darklings) up to 33 (for Fakirs). You can find the full table here: source.

Besides the limitation to the base map, is there any additional dependancy on the game setup?

No. The numbers in the table do not depend on other setup parameters and are the same for all player counts and for games using Fire & Ice factions and/or Final Scoring Tiles (from Fire & Ice), etc.

7. Terra Mystica: Merchants of the Sea

(Regarding expansion Terra Mystica: Merchants of the Sea.)

7.1 Move Ship Action

Can I use the Move Ship Action even if I have no ships?

No, you need to have at least one ship to take the action. (source)

Can I use the Move Ship Action but not move any of my ships?

No, you need to move at least one ship at least one hex. Note that you can move a ship away and back to its initial position if your shipping range is at least two (or is one and you pay a power to increase it). (source)

I'm playing Terra Mystica with both the Merchants expansion and the bonus landscapes. There are various interactions which may happen between these two expansions. Where can I find official answers how such situations shall be resolved?

There's a thread in the BGG forum which covers several such questions. The link to the thread can be found here: (*click*).

8. Playing Online

8.1 Playing online against computer players

Where can I play Terra Mystica online against computer opponents?

Lode Vandevenne has written an online version of Terra Mystica (plus many features of the F&I and bonus landscape expansions) which allows you to play against one or more computer players - free of charge. No registration or some such is required. You can find it here:

Also, you can buy a Terra Mystica app (available for Android, iOS and PC), which allows playing against both computer and human opponents.

How good are the computer opponents?

Both Lode's AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the AI of the app are on beginner level, so it's great to check out various factions in various settings, and to try new strategies. But you shouldn't get all excited and consider yourself a TM expert just because you always beat the AI. :)

I think that Lode's online TM has a bug / does not correctly implement a rule! Where can I report the problem?

There's a support thread on BGG here. However, the likelihood that you found a problem which nobody has reported before is very low, so please make sure before posting that indeed your understanding of the rules is correct while Lode's implementation has it wrong.

8.2 Playing online against other humans

Where can I play Terra Mystica online against other humans?

Juho Snellman has written an online version of Terra Mystica (plus most features of the expansion) which allows you to play against other players from around the world - free of charge. Registration is required. You can find it here:

You can play it on Guest accounts are valid for 24 hours, you can register free of charge.

You can play it on

Also, you can buy a Terra Mystica app (available for Android, iOS and PC), which allows playing against both computer and human opponents.

I'm playing in a game on Juho's moderator but don't know how to do X. Where can I get support?

If you've checked the help page at and didn't find your answer, you could go to the support thread on BGG here.

I think Juho's moderator has a bug / does not correctly implement a rule! Where can I report the problem?

There's a support thread on BGG: here. However, the likelihood that you found a problem which nobody has reported before is very low, so please make sure before posting that indeed your understanding of the rules is correct while Juho's moderator has it wrong.

I have a cool idea how to further improve Juho's moderator! Where should I report it?

There's a "feature request" thread on BGG here. Please check the suggestions already made before repeating something which Juho already commented.

Juho's moderator changes some of the timing sequences regarding when Power should be gained!

Yes. For the sake of game speed, the moderator doesn't wait for everybody's Power gain decision before requiring the active player to decide on additional benefits from a build or upgrade action (e.g. selecting a Favor tile after upgrading to a Temple or Sanctuary, selecting a Town tile after founding a Town).
The moderator also doesn't enforce that Power gaining happens in player order, but a player can give a "wait" order in case his/her Power gain decision depends on the Power gain decision of a player before him/her.
In case of a game using Variable Turn Order, the second and further passing players are sorted in behind the first passing player, also regarding Power gain decisions.
The other timing topic which the moderator handles differently is that Cultists don't need to decide on their Cult step (if somebody accepted to gain Power from them) immediately. In an extreme case, this may allow another player to reach Cult step 10 before the Cultists can use their Cult step to get there. The only way to correct this is by having the game admin (the player who set up the game) change the sequence.

In addition to the timing topic (cf. question above), I've found some other minor deviation between Juho's moderator and the official rules!

Yes. On, you don't play "Terra Mystica as defined in the official rules", but rather "Terra Mystica as defined by Juho's moderator software". Some game administrators are interested to reduce the slight deviations and will undo actions which the moderator allows, but which can't be done according to the official rules. Others take the view that "if the moderator allows it, you can do it". Tournament games have no admin and thus default to the second approach.

People on the BGG forums for Terra Mystica use strange abbreviations like "FAV11", "BON3" or "hex C1" when discussing Terra Mystica. What are they talking about?

Juho's moderator uses abbreviations to uniquely describe the various tiles which come with Terra Mystica. E.g. all favor tiles are sequentially numbered from FAV1 to FAV12. You can find it all (and more) explained in this thread: Terra Mystica Terminology Reference.

Where can I play Terra Mystica competitively?

There are two online events for Terra Mystica: a tournament organized by Daniel Akerlund and a ladder organized by Chris Harris. Daniel's tournament uses the base game (plus mini-expansions and Variable Turn Order), whereas Chris' ladder uses the Fire & Ice expansion and old and new maps.

The link to Daniel's tournament is here: New seasons start every two months on the first day of even months (Feb, Apr, Jun, ...), and each participant plays four games in parallel. Signup for a new season usually starts 7-10 days before it starts. The signup is usually announced in the "Organized Play" forum. New players start in the lowest division (currently no. 7); by winning your league you will get promoted to the next division, and so on.

The link to Chris' ladder is here: Participants are assigned to a game every other Sunday. New players start at the bottom of the ladder and can improve their position by doing well in their games.

I want to improve my game play by replaying / analyzing games played by expert players. Where can I find them?

Games in Division 1 of the online tournament for Terra Mystica (see question above) are guaranteed to have experts playing each other. Checking out their games is often enlightening.
Rafael Lima programmed a Chrome extension which allows you to replay a given snellman game move by move. You can find the link here: TMTools: a chrome extension for Snellman site

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