Tabletop Review: Buy, Sell, and Swap Potion Ingredients in ‘Mystic Market’

Entertainment Games

Over the past few years, ThinkFun games have become a regular feature of our tabletop collection, especially for our kids. While I’m used to ThinkFun being one pf our go-to brands for puzzle style games, I was definitely interested to take a look at their board game offerings, especially when I first came across Mystic Market. ThinkFun recently sent me a copy of the game to review.

What is Mystic Market?

Mystic Market is a buying and selling style-game with a quick gameplay mechanic, but just enough strategy to really keep things interesting. The game is designed for 2-4 players ages 10+ and takes around 30 minutes to play. It has a MSRP of $19.99.

Mystic Market Components

Components for ‘Mystic Market.’ Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Mystic Market contains the following:

  • 1 Instruction Booklet 
  • 6 Ingredient Vials
  • 1 Value Track
  • 66 Ingredient Cards
  • 20 Potion Cards
  • 6 Supply Shift Cards
  • 4 Reference Cards
  • 75 Coins 

Overall, the components are pretty decent and what I have come to expect from ThinkFun for quality.

All of the cards are playing card thickness with gorgeous artwork that incorporates color coding to make things easier to identify. I really like how the Potion Cards and the Ingredient Cards are different sizes which makes them a lot easier to sort out and keep track of while playing.

The Value Track is solid plastic, made to look like wood and has numbers clearly marked on the outside. The potion bottles are also done in hard plastic that is made to imitate glass, which definitely creates needed durability. The “contents’ are brightly colored sand and glitter, but the shades are easy to identify from one another.

The coins are a thick cardboard and use both color and size to help differentiate them from each other. They should hold up well through lots of game sessions.

The instruction booklet isn’t anything special on its own, but it’s worth noting that it does do a great job of incorporating diagrams to help understand how to play or set things up.

How to Play Mystic Market

Goal

The goal of Mystic Market is to earn the most coins through buying, selling, and trading potion ingredients and crafting potions. 

Setup

A game of ‘Mystic Market’ set up to play with one Player’s starting Cards and Coins. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Setup takes a little bit of work, but isn’t too bad overall. The biggest challenge is making certain that the cards for the Potion Deck and Ingredient Deck get shuffled well since all of the matching cards are right next to each other when you first open up the deck. Otherwise, just follow the following steps:

  1. Select a Dealer. The Dealer gives each Player 4 Ingredient Cards, 5 One-Value Coins, and 1 Reference Card.
  2. Make an Ingredient Market by dealing 5 Ingredient Cards face-up in a row. 
  3. Mix up the 6 Supply Shift Cards and draw 3 of them to be spread through the Ingredient Deck. Reshuffle the Ingredient Deck and Place it face-down next to the Ingredient market. The remaining Supply Shift Cards are to be returned to the box.
  4. Make a Potion Market by dealing 5 Potion Cards opposite of the Ingredient Market. Place the remaining Potion Cards face-down beside the Potion Market.
  5. Leave room near the Markets for Discard Piles and a Bank of Coins.
  6. Assemble the Value Track by placing the Ingredient Vials in the correct spaces. The Purple Pixie Powder goes at the 15 Mark, The Blue Mermaid Tears at the 12 Mark, the Green Kraken Tentacles at the 10 Mark, the Yellow Orc Teeth at the 8 Mark, the Orange Phoenix Feathers at the 6 Mark, and the Red Dragon Scales at the 5 Mark.  

The Value Track

  • The positions of the Vials determine the current value of each type of Ingredient Card. 
  • These Vials will change positions during the game, which changes the Ingredient Card Value.
  • The dots determine how many Coins the Ingredient Card costs to buy, the numbers determine how much a complete set sells for.

Gameplay

The game rounds are pretty simple and straight forward, but deciding what to do with your turn is where the real sense of strategy comes into play. 

Player Turn

Play goes clockwise from the dealer. On a turn, the Player does the following:

  • Buy, Sell OR Swap Ingredient Cards (Players must choose only one of these and cannot pass on their turn).
  • Craft Potions if desired.
  • Discard any Ingredient Cards over eight.

Buying

Two cards bought, one selected face-down from the Ingredient Card Deck. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Players can buy up to one Ingredient Card from the Ingredient Deck on their turn and one from the Ingredient Market. Deck Cards cost two coins. but Market Cards get their price from the Value Track. The number of dots represents the number of coins an Ingredient Card costs. After a Market Card is Purchased, replace it with a new one from the top of the Ingredient Deck.

Swapping

The Orange Phoenix Feathers are being swapped with two other Ingredient Cards. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Swap one or two Ingredient Cards from your hand and replace them with the same number of Ingredient Cards from the Ingredient Market.

Selling

A full set of Yellow Orc Teeth Cards are sold and the Vials are shifted. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Players may sell as many times as they like during a turn.

Complete Set: Each Ingredient Card tells you how many cards of the same kind you need to make a set. Sell it for the amount on the Value Track and then perform a Value Shift.

Single Cards: Collect no coins but perform a Value Shift.

Value Shift: Move the Ingredient Vial for the Ingredient being sold from it’s current position to the top of the Value Track at the 5 Mark. This causes all the Ingredient Vials to move and the prices to shift.

Supply Shift

A Supply Shift is activated and the Vials will all move from the 15 Mark to the 5 until the Yellow Vial is at 5. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

If a Supply Shift Card is drawn, it is immediately resolved, The Ingredient Vial on the card must move to the 15 Value position. Do this by moving whichever Ingredient Vial is at the 15 Mark to the 5 Mark until the correct Ingredient Vial is at the 15 Mark. This can dramatically shift market values. Once the Supply Shift is resolved, the Player should draw a new Ingredient Card for themselves. If they draw another Supply Shift Card, they should resolve it and draw again so that they have a new Ingredient Card.

Potions

A Potion is crafted. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

Potions can be crafted at any point during a Player’s turn and Players may craft as many as they like on their turn. When crafting a Potion, Players pay the cost in Ingredient Cards to the Discard Pile and collect the Potion Card. Potion Cards may be played at any point, even during another Player’s turn. Once resolved, the Player who played the Potion Card collects the number of coins marked under Profit and discards the Potion Card. If the Potion Deck is depleted during the game, it is not replenished.

Game End

Winner from a shortened game. Photo by Elizabeth MacAndrew.

When the last card from the Ingredient Deck is drawn, the current Player finishes their turn. ALL Players then take one last turn to Sell Ingredients, Craft Potions, or Play Potions. The Player with the most Coins wins. 

For a shortened game, play until one Player earns 30 coins first. The Ingredient Deck does not need to be used up for this game.

Why You Should Play Mystic Market

Overall, Mystic Market is a nice little game that hits that sweet spot between quick to catch onto and just enough strategy to create a fun challenge.

The components are nice, solid, and have not just visual appeal but are easy to differentiate from each other during the game. The number of components and quality fall right in line with the game’s price point. I’m particularly fond of the little Ingredient Vials themselves, especially as they are something that gets moved throughout the game and I really like the Value Track they go on. Sometimes components like Value Tracks are made from heavy Cardboard that has to be reassembled and small kid hands tend to damage the edges that slide together, so I’m glad this one won’t have that problem. 

Setup wasn’t too bad, especially since the Instruction Book comes with a full-color diagram that shows exactly where everything should go. My ten-year-old could probably set this up on his own without any fuss as long as it’s easy for him to find the Refence Cards and Supply Shift Cards to pull out. It does not take ridiculously long to get from setup to play, which is nice for games designed to be played with my kids.

Gameplay really does go quickly and isn’t too hard to catch onto. If you’re really worried about time, the shortened version might be a nice game option for you. Sorting out which action to do when really does bring in a nice strategy element which isn’t topo tricky for kids, but will be appreciated by older players. Figuring out when to buy and sell full sets before the Market Value shifts is a very careful game, and riskier when you have a higher number of Players in the game. A player can easily sell a single Ingredient Card just to force a market shift and thwart an attempt to make good money. The fact different Ingredients need different numbers to complete full sets also plays heavily into this. Don’t underestimate what a Potion can do though. My kid derailed my beginning efforts by playing a card that took all my starting funds right from the get go and that seriously threw off how I started my game. A clever Potion Crafter can really wreck havoc on other Players. The random Supply Shifts can also catch everyone off guard, so there certainly is a little bit of luck involved in the game as well. The target age of 10+ is probably about right, although you might be able to drop it by a year or two if you have one of those kids that regularly plays games marked at a year or two above their age. Too much younger and they’ll be struggling with sorting out enough strategy on what to do on a turn. On the other hand, that strategy will help keep the game appealing to older players who may want something fun and light to play.

Mystic Market is now available and has a MSRP of $19.99. You can buy it on Amazon for $20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Make a Potion Market by dealing 5 Potion Cards face-up opposite of the Ingredient Market. 

 

 

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