iOS, Android •
Terra Mystica is a tabletop behemoth and, even though it sits at #4 on BGG’s list of the best board games ever made, my group likes it about as much as a fart in an elevator. As such, my pimped out copy with acrylic everything lies dormant in my basement, silently waiting for me to man up and get a new game group. Sorry, cardboard monstrosity, but you’re going to be waiting a long time. First of all, I kind of like my game group and, secondly, in a week I’ll be able to play as much Terra Mystica as I want without any eyes rolling or noses turned up in disgust. Actually, I’ve received a pre-release copy, so I’m playing TM right now, you damned old box filled with wood and plastic. Take that!
Don’t worry, I talk to my games quite a bit. It’s a combination of being alone all day and staggering levels of mental illness. I’ve taken my pills, and I think it’s time to share a bit of how the digital version of Terra Mystica is shaping up. That, and we have the trailer just on the other side of the jump.
Terra Mystica is a bewildering game when playing the first time. The basic rules aren’t too hard to figure out, but there always seems to be one more rule that needs to be added. You understand terraforming and building? Good, but did you realize that if you build next to someone, you’re helping that other player? Oh, we didn’t mention the concept of towns yet? Sorry! Don’t even get me started on moving magic around in those three bowls. I don’t want your head to explode. There’s shipping, and terrain types, and so many different races to play that the entire package can be overwhelming.
It’s not as bad as it seems when you actually start pushing pieces around, but TM is definitely not light game to play while waiting in line for your Acyclovir prescription to refill. Even Agricola looks at TM and wonders what the hell the designer was thinking. It’s a deep game, but it’s also a great one. DIGIDICED seems to know this and isn’t taking any chances with their digital port.
The port is pretty snazzy with beautiful graphics, especially the factions which are all animated, and the music. Yes, music, that thing I usually turn off immediately upon downloading a game. Each faction has their own music which plays when you open their menus. Nice touch.
All the information and side boards are conveniently tucked off to the…um…side, leaving the board wide open and easy to see. Actions can be taken either by selecting your faction and choosing from a wheel of options (with options you cannot afford being grayed out), or by interacting with the board directly.
There is solo play against three levels of AI, although only the easy AI is currently available. You can also add AI players to a pass-and-play game, if that floats your boat. There’s also online multiplayer, either through ranked games which will pair you up randomly with someone with your skill level or with your friends via a friend list. The games are asynchronous with an added rule change that you must announce how many VP you are willing to convert to Power should someone build next to you on their turns. This prevents the game stalling during someone’s turn after they build next to an opponent. If you don’t like that rule, you can play with the standard rules as well, but the new rule is an option to speed up play.
The Fire and Ice expansion isn’t available in the pre-release version, but should be ready to go via IAP when the game launches next week.
And now for that trailer. Take a look and we’ll have more to say about Terra Mystica when it releases for iPad and Android tablets on April 20th.