There is a childlike joy in playing Mystic Vale for the first time: if your childhood was like mine, you created several of your own card games (my first card game was called Peekawoofta). This game lets you make cards too, and drawing a fully powered card can be so satisfying. However, unlike my childhood games, not all of these crafted-cards are created equal. So let’s talk Mystic Vale strategy.
If you’re a vetran of the game, these might seem pretty obvious, but hopefully you’ll leave with something to think about too.
It’s bad strategy to put multiple decays on a single card
One of the fastest ways to shut down a turn is to have multiple decays on a single card (unless those cards are accompanied by a card that cancels them out). Doing this will give you some turns where you only draw a single card and overall, it will make too many of your hands too poor to afford anything.
So its always a better idea to spread out your decays whenever you can.
Getting growth symbols is one of the most powerful thing you can do
In the base game, the best strategy by a long shot is to get as many growth symbols as you can. The other strategies just can’t keep up, even when everyone is gunning for the growth symbols. (Mystic Vale strategy in the base game is a little linear, but the expansions really do mix it up!)
You start the game with 9 Cursed Lands, and therefore 9 decays (out of 20 cards). If you can get 6 growth symbols in your deck, you can draw your entire deck every turn.
However, there are some tactical considerations for how you do that. The biggest of those being:
Put your growth symbols on cards with decay symbols
When your growths and decays are together, there is less risk of drawing too many decays before you draw your growths, since you will always be drawing them together. It just means your hand will be consistently bigger every turn.
Generally, don’t put advancements on your Cursed Lands
However, other than adding growth symbols, you generally don’t want to upgrade your cursed lands if you have other options available. Since some cards allow you to discard other cards you’ve flipped, you want to be able to discard an empty Cursed Land, not an upgraded one. On top of that, you want to leave space on your cursed lands to fit growth symbols on them.
However, upgrading Cursed Lands makes risking spoiling a little better when you succeed (and worse when you don’t). Overall though, keep these cards empty whenever you have a chance to upgrade anything else.
Track the Decays in your deck
A big part of Mystic Vale strategy is going through your deck as quickly as possible: the more cards you see each turn, the better the cards you’ll get to upgrade will be, the more money you get each turn, etc.
Risking spoiling is actually a pretty powerful way to manage how quickly you get to make it through your deck. Since you’ll always take out a decay (it will always be the top card of your deck when you stop drawing), sometimes you’ll leave very few decays left, which will often make for a powerful next turn, even if you lose out on this turn.
For example, if you have seen 6 of your 9 decays, and the 7th is on top of your deck, pushing for bust will guarantee your next turn you draw the remaining deck, which can lead to a super powerful turn.
If you’ve seen 8 of the nine decays, and the 9th is on top of your deck, you can push through your entire deck without fear of spoiling at all.
It can only benefit you to know how many you’ve seen, how many you’ve got left, etc. It’s one of the most important things to consider in the game!
Put all your helms onto empty cards or other cards with helms
When you’re buying a card with a helm, you must be intentional with where you put it. If you have a card with a helm already in your hand, you want to put the helm on that card. Stacking helms is really powerful because there are lots of helm payoff cards.
When you don’t already have a card with helms, put your helms on a blank card.
Any number of helms with a Grovetender (Grovetender has 1 growth for each helm on that card) will quickly become the best card in your deck. Two helms and a Grovetender can mean a draw 7+ cards during your draw phase. And this isn’t the only powerful helm synergy in the game!
So in order to maximize the chances that you’re able to pull that off, put helms on empty cards, so you can have maximum odds to pair it together with a powerful payoff!
Upgrade your spirit generating cards with more spirit generating advancements when possible
A single spirit (the icons to purchase vale cards, such as the bear claw or leaf) in your draw will do nothing since all the vale cards cost two or more spirits. When you draw two of them together, odds are you’ll get to buy a vale card. So you want to maximize your chances of drawing spirits together in the same hand to more consistently buy powerful vale cards.
At the very least, you want to stack two spirits on each of your cards that make spirits.
Know when to risk spoiling
When you push, you should consider the following things:
- How many decays are left in your deck, and how many cards are left. If you have many cards left, but only a few decays left, getting a decay out of the deck now will give you a great turn next turn.
- If your “extra mana token” is flipped or not.
- If the additional mana would let you do something powerful this turn.
Some players never risk spoiling when there are any cards they can afford, but that attitude is wrong. Spoiling isn’t the end of the world, and taking an extra decay out of your deck can be really powerful, as is getting the flipped mana token.
If there is interest in a more in-depth guide, please let me know.