Mystic Vale is one of my most-played games. I love this card-crafting game where you have this deck of cards that you continually upgrade throughout the game. The theme is something about lifting a curse from the lands and replanting/replenishing life, though the theme only comes through in the art, not the game play. The solo variant was introduced in the Nemesis expansion, so you’ll need that to play by yourself.
For the solo play, you set up the game as usual with the three levels of advancements and two levels of vale cards dealt out in a market. For the solo game you use 12 level-one advancements and use 23 point tokens for the pool. In addition, you’ll need the nemesis board — the “corruption track” in the rules — nearby with the hourglass marker placed in the first spot.
When you set up your deck, it’s recommended that you play with a leader. In addition, you’ll choose one of the nemesis cards and sleeve it over one of your Cursed Lands. The nemesis card has a decay symbol in the upper left, which is treated as any decay symbol on one of your cards. The number in the upper right is a number of points they’ll gain at the end of the game, in addition to the points on the advancements and vale cards they claim. Finally, on the bottom of the card is a bad effect that will happen when the card comes out of the deck — it may not trigger until a certain turn in the game, though, which is indicted by a number below the hourglass symbol next to the text. You’ll know what turn it is by the position of the hourglass token on the corruption track.
The game can’t be played with cards or advancements that affect or are affected by other players — I just replaced any as they came out of the decks.
Your turns proceed as normal with the planting, harvest, discard and prep phases playing out as they do in the base game. Then, after each of your turns you’ll advance the hourglass marker on the corruption track. The space you land on will show some combination of advancements, vale cards and point tokes to take and put into a stash for the nemesis.
The game ends as soon as the pool of points is gone. When that happens, you finish the current turn, including resolving a final nemesis phase. Then you count up your score as usual. The nemesis scores points for the vale cards and advancements they claimed throughout the game, the point tokens they collected, and the points on the upper-right corner of the nemesis card. If you score more than the nemesis, you win.
How did it work?
The nemesis track works really well, and doesn’t require a lot of up-keep. Just moving the token and collecting a card or two and points into a pile for the nemesis.
I’ve been enjoying my solo plays of Mystic Vale. I like that the nemesis doesn’t add a lot of overhead to the game, and it keeps the card market moving so that there’s usually fresh cards to choose from. Of course, there’s the danger that the nemesis will get something I’ve been eyeing, but I have plenty of warning so I can try to push a turn or two to get enough mana to buy it before it disappears.
In my early solo games, I would let the corruption track get to the end, which gives the nemesis a ridiculous number of cards and points each turn. In more recent games, I’ve been trying very hard to get point tokens more quickly to end the game before the nemesis reaches that last spot. But I’m still playing on the easy side of the corruption track — there are fewer spaces on the advanced side, so we’ll see how I do once I have the courage to turn it over.
In the games I’ve been winning, I have been making an effort to see which cards the nemesis will take next to see if I want them before they disappear. I also keep an eye out for high-scoring cards that they’ll take, and try to get to them first; however, I don’t always have the resources to grab the cards first.
So far I’ve only won against the three easiest nemeses, and I’m looking forward to trying the harder ones. Hopefully I can continue my winning streak!