The elf has escaped with his wand!
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.
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+.