Open Seat Gaming: Mystic Vale: Harmony expansion
Disclaimer: This review is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by AEG to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Mystic Vale: Harmony expansion
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Design: John D. Clair
Art: Víctor Pérez Corbella
Mechanisms: Deck/pool building, Press your luck
Number of Players: 2 - 4
Game Time: 45 minutes
Description: Mystic Vale: Harmony at its core is a "more of the same" type of expansion. It doesn't introduce any new card/token types or game-level mechanics (like rules or functional changes such as the initial introduction of leaders and amulets, or the totems and Equinox mode from Conclave), but provides more of things that are already in the game. New advancements, vales, leaders, and amulets can all be found in the box.
Each spices things up by having new abilities and effects and can be mixed with previous content in any combination. New eclipse enhancements bolster that mechanic and provide additional combo options while more Legendary Advancements are included as well, which take up two slots instead of one (either top/middle or middle/bottom). Harmony also can be used as a "base replacement," you can play Mystic Vale using just the advancements and vales in Harmony (you still need the player decks and Fertile Soils from the base game).
Review: Expansions usually fall into two categories: "More of the same" and "adding some new stuff." Harmony definitely falls into the former category. As mentioned, they spice things up with some new amulets, leaders, vales, and advancements. Nothing added to it felt too imbalanced, but we did enjoy the way that they interacted with the content we already have (and we have everything).
The integration with the previous content was seamless. While it added more decay symbols to the mix of advancement cards, it never felt overwhelming when mixed with the other content. It added some pretty cool options for manipulating your cards and ensuring that things go in a manner that can propel you toward victory. There were also advancement cards added that let you cover up cursed lands, which breaks one of the main overarching rules throughout all of the content available for Mystic Vale, in regards to crafting your cards.
As with all of the Mystic Vale series, the components are fantastic. The amulets are made of sturdy cardboard and are easy to read. The cards are made from the same heavy-duty plastic and the art is beautiful - even when it's showing the creepier parts of the Vale. The Vale cards and Leader cards also have amazing art - I love seeing what they come up with for the new leaders in terms of abilities, and some of these new ones are really fun to build your deck around.
I know that both Twilight Garden and Harmony can be played on their own as long as you have the decks and such from the base game, but honestly, I didn't find Harmony to be that strong of a contender to do so. We played it by itself first, and I missed the variety of strategies that you get by mixing everything together. It definitely can be done, but the game feels a little empty without the goodies from the previous expansions. Harmony definitely rocks as an expansion, though. Mixing and matching everything is how we enjoy playing Mystic Vale overall.
Try, Buy, Deny: Do you love Mystic Vale? Then this is definitely a buy. It gives you more cards, more abilities, and more things that you can mix in with everything else that you've got. Or, as mentioned in the description, you can use it instead of the base game for a "base" playing experience.
That being said, if you haven't caught the Mystic Vale bug like we have, then this isn't likely to change your mind, either. Like Twilight Garden, Harmony offers more variety to add to the replayability of this title, without adding entirely new mechanisms to the game.