Home > Games > The elf has escaped with his wand!

The elf has escaped with his wand!

January 12, 2014

Many years ago I got introduced to Mystic Wood, which was a really cute game where you get to be a knight on a quest and explore a forest by flipping large, randomly arranged tiles representing paths and glades within the wood and drawing cards to see what you encountered on your journey. It had most of the good elements of Talisman, and played in a fraction of the time. Plus it was so big you generally had to play on the floor, and my friend, whose game it was, had blinged his set by replacing the uninspiring pawns with painted up 15mm wargames miniatures of mounted knights.

Modelling the game today is Miss B, playing the part of Britomart, who looks uncannily like Red Scorpion.

Modelling the game today is Miss B, playing the part of Britomart, who looks uncannily like Red Scorpion.

Anyway, I’ve had an eye open for this long out of print game ever since (and more recently I thought it might be something Miss B would enjoy), until over the Christmas holidays I found a second hand copy in good condition in a shop in Oxford, so bought it right away.

We got to play the game a few days later, spreading it out on the sitting room floor and, at Miss B’s suggestion, using miniatures from Runebound to represent our characters.

The game plays as quickly and easily as I remember, and although there are times when you miss a turn or have nothing to do but trudge across the map or roll a die to escape captivity, turns generally take so little time that it doesn’t matter too much. We did implement a house rule or two to reduce some of the duller “miss turns” effects, but there aren’t many of those. Probably our biggest problem was when one magical effect rotated half of the map tiles, meaning that our previous routes around were no longer possible, causing some very minor frustration for a while until Miss B found a way to start getting herself teleported around.

There is another potential problem in that the quests of the knights can be scuppered by the others. For instance, Miss B was on a quest to find the Prince, but I located him first and could, possibly, have persuaded him to come along with me, meaning that Miss B would have had to catch me and joust in order to steal the Prince from me. This isn’t really a problem as such, but we chose to sidestep this by deliberately evading the objects of each others’ quests. Maybe next time we will play the game a bit more as intended.

In the end, Miss B won easily, with me stuck trying to get past a nasty monster that was blocking off a whole section of the wood while I tried to complete a side quest. It probably took us a little over an hour of actual playing time (we paused mid-game due to a visitor arriving), and felt fun and engaging throughout. Hopefully this will come out a few more times in the next few months. I’m definitely happy with this find.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 7): “I think it was really good, I would give it a 9 out of 10. I give it a 9 because there is a bit that could be improved. I’d give it a 10 if it didn’t have the mystic objects like mystic horn and mystic fog. If I compared it out of Runebound and Talisman it would be good if you mixed them together. Out of the three, I’d think the best would be Runebound because you get special abilities and some of the quests you get are special so I’m always really lucky because I usually get a card that says that if I defeat it then I can defeat another card that has a word saying Ferrox. The card was Mistress of the Ferrox.”

The game: Mystic Wood (Ariel), 2 to 4 players aged 9+.

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  1. January 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Sounds like an awesome game 🙂 great post, will have to try out one day.

    • Rob
      January 12, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      It’s definitely great if you like that sort of thing. 🙂 Sadly long out of print, but keep your eyes open and you may find a reasonably priced copy somewhere.

  2. Barnetto
    January 13, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Ahh, nostalgia! I recently bought on ebay a copy of a game called Exploration. I have very fond memories of it as it was the one game my parents would play with me occasionally (when at the caravan with no TV!). My boys have enjoyed it, predictably, as the theme is exploring wrecks, mountains, lost temples or faraway islands – though it doesn’t quite live up to my rose-tinted memories. There are a couple of novel elements to it – a movement dice and spaces on the board which require particular equipment to navigate, meaning there is a bit of a trade off between time spent setting up your expedition and its actually execution.

    Interestingly, given it was quite a strong memory from my childhood, I took the game up to my parents when we visited over Christmas. My father had no recollection of it whatsoever and my mother didn’t recognise it until I actually laid out the board. To say that they weren’t into playing games is a large understatement!

  3. Rob
    January 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

    This one?: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2854/exploration

    I think I’ve managed to re-acquire most of the games I fondly remember from my youth/childhood. A couple that are on the shelf and I really would like to try again are Campaign and Game of Nations. Maybe soon, though I doubt Miss B would be interested right now.

    • Barnetto
      January 14, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Yes, that is the one!

  4. January 14, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Could you post the house rules you used?

  5. Rob
    January 14, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The main rule we used was that if an effect caused a player to miss more than one turn (basically a storm) we made it so that it was just one turn missed. I can’t remember any other details right now, but there wasn’t much.

    If Miss B had been having worse luck with challenges, we would probably have made the tower easier to escape too, but this didn’t turn out to be necessary. This game would have been a good candidate for using Wil Wheaton’s Rule 17b, but we forgot.

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