I love board games. One of my newer favorites is Mice and Mystics from Plaid Hat Games. It’s a cooperative game, meaning you and your fellow players work together to “win” against the game. You win or lose together.
Instead of choosing to play the race car or the red pawn, you pick a character. The characters were a prince and his followers who, before the game starts, have been turned into mice by an evil sorceress. The full game tells a story about how the mice sneak around the castle and gather information on the evil about to befall the kingdom.
The story (called Sorrow and Remembrance) plays out across 11 chapters. You could jump in and play whatever chapter you want, but I’m playing it as a campaign, starting from the murine transformation through (what I’m guessing) is the defeat of the sorceress.
I’ve been playing Mice and Mystics with only one other player, each of us taking on two characters. You can play with up to four people, though. I’ve made it through some chapters on the first try, while others took a few run-throughs. Playing through a chapter once can last around an hour; sometimes more or less depending on how much you want to explore and how well you fare.
Each player character brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the game. Filch is your sneaky thief; Tilda’s your healer. Nez is the veteran soldier. Throw in your archer, mage, and the fighting Prince Colin and you’ve got yourself an adventure. Along the way, your characters pick up items and develop new skills that will help them in future chapters.
Each character has different base values for attack, defense, lore (which is used for scrolls), and movement. You roll dice to determine how successfully you attack or defend. The dice also have cheese symbols, which, when rolled, grant cheese wedges to you or your opponents.
You can spend cheese wedges to activate special abilities or save them to level up and earn new skills. Your enemies can collect cheese, too. And if they get enough on the cheese clock (yes, there’s a cheese clock; how awesome is that?), you have to fight an even more powerful enemy.
Since the characters are turned into mice, the enemies are things like rats, centipedes, spiders, and roaches. Oh, the roaches. They tend to turn up as enemies the most. We’ve taken to speaking for them while playing: “Oh, Lily, I’m coming to get your cheese,” the roaches will say in a sing-song voice.
Lily wonders what’s so special about her cheese that the roaches always want it.
The storybook of the game begins each chapter with a narrative section that’s truly fun to read out loud. And because I am a geek, I continue to use voices as I announce what my characters are going to do or as I scold my fellow player about searching for loot instead of fighting the rats.
I’ve grown attached to the characters I usually play. When Maginos (the mage) found his magical companion Meeps being held prisoner by the sorceress’ minions, I reacted as if freeing Meeps was the top priority. Forget the chapter’s goal. I had to free Meeps!
You don’t have to approach Mice and Mystics as a partial role-playing game, but I find it adds to the fun. When you’ve completed the 11 chapters in Sorrow and Remembrance, you can replay it to see how different character combinations affect the outcomes or play it with different people to see what choices they make.
Plaid Hat Games has extra chapters that are free to download. You can also download (for a fee) MP3s of the narrative moments. And there are expansions that introduce new player characters and new minions.
A bonus for me for the game is the figures. As you can see in the pictures, they’re a taupe-ish plastic. I find them to have a nice amount of detail. And they’ve led to a new hobby for me of painting miniatures. I’m still learning the best techniques, but I’ve got all the minions from Mice and Mystics painted so far. That’ll be a future blog post, I’m sure.