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  Expect to pay about:  Base Game MYSTIC VALE$ £24.95  Expansions £24.95 Check out your Local Game Store

MYSTIC VALE is a fairly unusual deck building game where instead of adding cards to your deck to make it larger you slip cards into a clear plastic sleeve so that it is possible to have a deck that is three times larger than it was at the beginning and yet have the same number of cards. The cards that slip into the sleeves are called Advancement cards and have one third that contains the advancement and two thirds that are blank, thus you end up with a card made up from a Top section, Middle section and a Lower section, all of which are available for you when the card is drawn. You may not overlay a section that already has an advancement unless the Advancements feature an Eclipse symbol which has text written (sideways) from top to bottom on the card. Eclipse cards still have only one advancement section and it doesn't have to cover a same section on the card it is being sleeved into, but it may.

VALE of the WILD is, I have just discovered, the second expansion for MYSTIC VALE, and it contains 24 level one Advancements, 18 level two Advancements and 12 level three Advancements, 54 new Advancements in total; plus 18 Vale cards, ten level one and eight level two. Finally it has 8 Leader cards which, like the Eclipse advancement cards, are unique (at the moment) to the VALE of the WILD expansion.

  

To be integrated into the base game the new Advancement cards are shuffled into their respective Level decks as are the new Vale cards; the Leader cards are different and should be added into your game after you have played a couple of times and are au fait with the differences the newly added cards make. The rules booklet for the expansion is very clearly written with all new Advancements and Vale cards fully described and detailed. There is a new (to me - it may be in the first expansion) ability amongst these Advancement cards, the "While on Deck" ability which means if you leave it as your on-deck card after drawing (and not spoiling) then its ability takes effect - when moved into your Field its ability is lost, though naturally any symbols on it - spoilers, mana etc - are still counted. Gaia's Outcast has an "End of Game" ability, this isn't a new ability but it is newly named.

  

The LEADER cards are full sized, single illustration, cards that are double-sided and have abilities that can be used throughout the game. At the beginning of the game the players should decide whether to use Leaders and my experiences have been that they are good to use on occasion but not for every game. If Leaders are to be used they are shuffled after the game is set up and two dealt to each player, who then choose one each and all the remainder are returned to the box. The Leader card is then slipped into one of the 8 blanks the players have and shuffled into their deck (facedown/gold side down) with all the other cards. During play you may not introduce Advancements to Leader cards but Leader cards may be upgraded (from the silver bordered side to the gold bordered side) during the Advancement buying phase and counts as one of the two buys you can make. On the turn you upgrade it there are some abilities you may use from the Leader card and some you may not. There are eight Leader cards, all are double sided but only Guilduin and Hempero have no front side ability.

  

As with the original game the artwork is stunning under the direction of John Goodenough and the graphic design of Kali Fitzgerald. The artists, too many to list have brought John D Clair's game design concept to life through their splendid illustrations and colouring.

Apart from the cards already mentioned there are no other distinct changes to the rules of playing MYSTIC VALE. Some of the new cards add extra enticements and work well with previously owed cards especially the Vale cards which truly enhance the game play. Obviously you need the base game to use this expansion, that's the nature of expansions, which is really good because this is a game of natures powers.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015