Mysthea Review

27 March 2023
Don't myth out on seaing this one

There are good looking games and then there is Mysthea. Artist Travis Anderson painted a hauntingly stunning world that is both magical and futuristic but also distinctly otherworldly.  The game’s artwork is at the forefront of every element, ensuring it is showcased to the fullest potential. To give the artwork its space to breathe, the game ties all of its rules and abilities to iconology, which at first can feel a little overwhelming. All abilities are covered in the rulebook and reference sheet, but it can feel a little clumsy to have to check them for every card. Yet the icons are fairly intuitive and easy to remember, requiring players to turn for assistance less and less as the game progresses. Ultimately, a little of initial discomfort is worth the staggering visual feast that Mysthea creates when all of its components are laid out on the table. 

Designers Marta Ciaccasassi and Martino Chiacchiera had quite a task to ensure that their gameplay could reach the high bar set by the visual presence of the game. To their credit, they have stuck the landing.

In Mysthea, players are vying for the control of the five floating islands and are occasionally teaming up together to fight powerful primordial monsters. Many rules of area control games remain true Mysthea. Superior strength in numbers tends to win both in combat and for the control of the territories. Spreading yourself too thin may be risky but having access to resources of several territories could provide a valuable boost in victory points. However, Mysthea also breaks many area-control staples, becoming a much better game for it.

Despite its initial impression, Mysthea is not a combat heavy game. Units are mainly used to get a foothold in territories. Even though players can try to kick out an unwelcome intruder through combat, in many cases their forces are much better spent elsewhere. For example, in joining the aforementioned intruder so together they can take down one of the monsters. The combat mechanics are quite bland: compare the number of units, play cards to boost your power and biggest strength value wins. This makes combat the least interesting aspect of the game, which normally would be a negative, but here makes the game more interesting by incentivising players to seek out other, less aggressive, strategies to earn victory points.

Mysthea is also incredibly dynamic. Here, the tactic of turtling up – taking control of an area and defending it with most of your forces – won’t work. During the Mysthea’s eras (rounds), each terrain is worth a different amount of victory points. A forest that may have earned you a juicy eight victory points last round, might only be worth half this much in the current era. Therefore, players will need to constantly manoeuvre their forces to take a more advantageous position. In addition, your champion – your most powerful mini on the map – may want to complete encounters, which give victory points and other bonuses. The encounter token moves after every activation, ensuring that your champion is always island-hopping chasing after them. You may also want to place your forces in position (or maybe get them out of the way) of the monsters, whose movement patterns are always known. Finally, you can swap islands around because what is the fun of having floating islands if you can’t fly them where you want? Add to that various card powers that give bonus actions and special abilities to players and units, and you have a game board always in motion. This dynamism is only slowed down by the downtime between players’ turns, which feels more pronounced the more players are in the game.
Yet, even with those stops and starts, the hours of Mysthea fly by. It’s easy to be tempted to return to this universe that offers both a visual spectacle and a gameplay that is not afraid to break away from established boundaries.



Mysthea is a masterclass of world-building through art, but its merits do not rely on looks only, supported by dynamic and challenging gameplay.

Buy a copy here


If you liked your area-control games to have a distinct sense of style, you can’t go without the otherworldliness of Mysthea and end-of-worldliness of Ruination.

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Read the full review here

Designer: Martino Chiacchiera & Marta Ciaccasassi

Publisher: Tabula Games

Time: 90-120 minutes

Players: 2-5

Ages: 12+

Price: £95

What’s in the box?

  • Game board
  • Events board
  • 5 Floating islands
  • 5 Player boards
  • 7 Champion miniatures
  • 4 Monster miniatures
  • 20 Golem miniatures
  • 40 Troop miniatures
  • 7 Champion cards
  • 4 Monster cards
  • 5 Regional cards
  • 1 Storm card
  • 5 Attunement cards
  • 30 Encounter cards
  • 80 Command cards
  • 5 Game summary cards
  • 60 Tokens
  • 5 Glory cubes
  • 65 Coloured bases
  • 5 Card references


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