Connect Four, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. These are the games of our childhood and man were they boring! As parents, we’ve been entrusted with raising the next generation of geeks and they deserve better than passing Go for the hundredth time. Family game night doesn’t have to be a tedious exercise in frustration. So grab your cheese wheels and needle rapiers because this week we’re diving into the fun and whimsical role-playing game Mice and Mystics.
Role-playing. Now, don’t be nervous. This game is not your typical dungeon crawl. There are no monsters or frightening themes that will scare young children. There’s no need for sheets of paper and number crunching. In fact, this game feels built to introduce this genre to young children.
Duration: 60-90 minutes
Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
Genre: Fantasy, Introductory Role Playing
This game revolves around a wonderful story and the last thing I want to do is spoil that content. With that in mind, I’ll just say that the story begins with your family playing Prince Collin and his friends who through magical trickery have been turned into mice. Your foes are the cockroaches, rats and spiders that inhabit the castle as you make your way through the circumstances surrounding the mysterious illness of Prince Collin’s father. Along the way, your mice will gain skills and friends that will carry on throughout the game.
The original game comes complete with a prewritten, 9 chapter campaign/story and spins an interesting and, more importantly, age-appropriate tale. Each chapter takes 60-90 minutes to complete. The game board is actually 12-inch by 12-inch tiles that can be arranged to fit whatever chapter you are playing through. The game pieces are 3 dimensional figurines coupled with a variety of tokens and cards. Basic encounters are settled with special dice. They are fairly straightforward and follow a simple set of rules. Mice can level up and learn new skills as they acquire cheese rewards throughout the game. Each mouse has a certain class such as scamp, warrior, archer, mystic, and healer. It has all the basic mechanics of more complicated roleplaying games without overdoing it.
This Mom’s thoughts
Overall, I think this is a great game. The figurines are incredible and the accompanying artwork on the cards and tiles is beautifully rendered. As with most games that are worth playing, this game has a bit of a learning curve. During our campaign, we replayed chapter 1 a handful of times before successfully completing it. There are tons of intricacies involved in this board game. It’s not something younger kids can pull out and play without an adult. At 10 and 12, my kids needed gentle reminders about skills and abilities until about chapter 4. At any given moment there are 3-5 different game elements that need to be monitored so although it can be done with one adult, when you factor in the additional role of storyteller (DM), I’d recommend two adults if possible.
Gameplay on the box states 60-90 minutes, that’s per chapter. There’s no getting through all 9 chapters in that time frame. Even with the great story being told, both my kids started fidgeting at about the 45-minute mark so while the box states 7 and older, I would exercise parental judgment.
The price is steep, but for the sheer amount of gameplay you’ll receive it’s more than worth it. In addition, Plaid Hat Games has a great website full of video tutorials and FAQs for this game. There are bonus chapters available for download, one expansion was released in 2013 and another is slated for late 2014 so this is a family board game that will last.
All that aside, what’s best part about Mice and Mystics? It’s entirely cooperative play. That means a family board game that doesn’t generate any negativity or animosity between family members. Now how’s that for a big sigh of relief?
My children love this game, my husband loves this game and I love this game. It’s the impossible trifecta that most mothers only dream about. It’s like the urban legend about the family that always agrees on pizza toppings. I absolutely recommend this as a perfect game night addition for families although I would caveat this by saying that seven seems a bit young. Although the content is completely appropriate, the time needed to play through a chapter and some of the actual mechanics may be difficult for that age. In the end, whether we’ve achieved victory or failed to meet the chapter goals, I still consider the night a success because of the ability of this game to bring my family together for some excellent quality time.