Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

You May Also Like...

O
oliverkinne
December 14, 2023
Hot

Mycelia Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
December 07, 2023
Hot

River Wild Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
November 30, 2023
Hot
J
Jackwraith
November 29, 2023
Hot
O
oliverkinne
October 09, 2023
Hot
O
oliverkinne
October 06, 2023
Hot

Outback Crossing Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
October 05, 2023
O
oliverkinne
October 02, 2023
Hot

Forests of Pangaia Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
September 29, 2023

Bagh Chal Review

Board Game Reviews
AL
Andi Lennon
September 28, 2023
Hot
O
oliverkinne
September 25, 2023

Castle Panic Review

Board Game Reviews
GS
Gary Sax
June 21, 2023
Hot
O
oliverkinne
June 09, 2023
Hot
O
oliverkinne
June 02, 2023
Hot

Ahoy Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
May 26, 2023
Hot

Village Rails Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
May 19, 2023
Hot

The Spill Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews

Mistfall in Review

Hot
MB Updated May 23, 2019
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
8887 0
Mistfall Board Game

Game Information

Game Name
There Will Be Games

Mistfall, a new game from Polish designer Blazej Kubacki published by NSKN, is quite a piece of work. I think it’s very good and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone that enjoys the Lord of the Rings LCG but doesn’t care for the dec construction, that thinks the Pathfinder ACG is too simplistic or that enjoys the intricate puzzle-solving of Mage Knight. We’re in similar territory, design-wise, as those three titles but the setting is a very well-crafted Eastern European-tinged fantasy setting that nips some of George Martin’s chilly atmosphere and creates a cool context for its unique characters to quest, battle and improve over the course of its scenarios.

However, there is one big wall separating the masses from engaging with Mr. Kubacki’s intricate, quite complex creation. The rules. This is one of those games where you might read the rules and respond with a colloquialism common in the American south- “do what now?”

It is also one of those games where the rulebook does a marvelous job of making the mechanical structure seem harder to grasp than it really is, even though this is hardly a simple design. Once you clear the hurdle of the badly organized but absolutely thorough rules-writing and arcane Euroglyphics, the gameplay itself turns out to be quite challenging to come to terms with. Once the process is nailed down, actually playing the game effectively is the next gate, and players should expect to completely fumble around for the first few games. Each character’s small deck of Basic cards provides a starting point with key combinations and abilities, and you’ll want to master- not dabble with- the heroes to get the most out of playing them. There is a definite learning curve.

But Mistfall, if you stick with it, is absolutely worth it. This is a compelling card game that leverages some standard fantasy gaming concepts to provide a unique experience full of tough choices, meticulous management of capabilities and some smartly implemented features that ratchet up tension and create interesting situations for both the co-op and solitaire player. Be warned that it is a game, much like Mage Knight, that I think excels as a solo offering because a lone player can really dig in and take their time to appreciate the gameplay and also work through the processes at leisure, without the pressure of entertaining a group. I would regard three or four players to be the maximum you would want to seat although more are supported.

Once you’ve got the characters sorted- an arcane archer, a frost mage, a shieldbearer and other setting-specific types- you pick a scenario from five included. They aren’t particularly detailed or complex, serving really more as a framework than an actual narrative. Each sets up a number of face-down location tiles, objectives and usually a boss-type antagonist. You’re also up against a time limit to complete whatever goals are laid out for you.

From a starting tile- the Hearthfire Inn, you move a party marker into an adjacent tile. It might have a special function affecting encounters there. You draw an encounter card matching the tile type (Wildlands, Deadlands or Borderlands) and follow the setup instructions, drawing appropriate enemies from three different decks. Each character has an enemy focus rating, which abstractly represents their threat to the bad guys. A Pursuit phase follows encounter set up, and the enemies that were drawn go to the hero areas of the characters with the highest focus, which goes down by half each time.

Once the skeletons, Ghoren, wolves and brigands have picked their targets, each hero gets to play a round to try to kill or relocate enemies out of their area. There is no dice. Weapon cards deal physical or arcane damage versus like resistances and also increase a character’s focus. Other cards can be played from hand or the ready area to increase damage or provide additional effects, but there again you might be increasing the amount of attention that the baddies are giving you and you might even convince them to call for reinforcements.

Once each hero has had a round, the enemies attack and players can use gear in the ready area or cards from hand to mitigate damage. All dealt damage comes straight from your deck- you must bury cards from your hand or discard pile, putting them out of play until you can rest. Run out of cards and you’re dead. After enemies attack, an encounter phase determines if you’ve done all that you need, if it is going to continue another turn or you can choose to flee. If you pass the encounter, there are rewards including draws from a deck containing “transient” rewards (read: potions and magic stones) that is also seeded with one or more special equipment cards for the heroes in the game. This is how the game manages progress- by adding cards to the heroes’ limited decks. You can also earn Resolve points and buy advanced cards, so there is a minor deckbuilding element in play.

The thing that makes all of the above especially interesting is how the cardplay works. You’ve got a five card hand, and cards such as gear and weapons can be placed into your hero area, usually as a “fast action”. Most items have multiple uses, so you might use a bow for lower damage and keep it in play or take a higher damage (and higher focus) option at the cost of discarding. And there is no reshuffle. But you might have an ability or Feat card that lets you place an “exhausted” card back on top of the deck. So if Crow the Seeker throws his dagger at an enemy, he might use his Utility Belt to put it back on to top of the draw deck. A big part of the game is learning how to manipulate and alter card states and to use them to your advantage.

As stated, burial is effectively wounds. Since there is no reshuffle, so the discard pile effectively represents fatigue. When characters rest at the end of an encounter, they get to move cards around- from discard to the bottom of the draw deck (refreshing used cards), from burial back into discard (healing injuries). This element feels sort of like Pathfinder, where you also had small decks and lots of manipulation, but in Mistfall it feels more strategically rewarding and diversified.

On top of the complex hand management, there is also the matter of puzzling how do X damage to Y monster while also planning for the defense phase and working out how you are going to move another enemy out of your hero area. All without running your Focus up and increasing the reinforcement value for the encounter. And then there is the brutal tick of the time cards that move the hourglass on down the line, sometimes enraging certain monsters and accelerating your doom.

It’s a lot to deal with, and it is not made easier by the ghastly rules and byzantine layout. There are also errata, misprints, omissions and plain old bad writing with which you’ve got to contend. This is a game that you are going to play with both the rulebook and and an online FAQ open at all times, especially in the early sessions. But trust me, after you get through two or three games where you’re not even sure you are playing it right, Mistfall clicks and reveals itself to be a sophisticated, unusually engaging design.


Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Log in to comment

dfour's Avatar
dfour replied the topic: #213457 27 Oct 2015 12:20
Man, you've got me so torn on mistfall. I'm really wanting it but it sounds like I want the second version after they've ironed out the kinks.