Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Blazej Kubacki

NSKN Games

No. of Players:
1 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Do you like fantasy games? Do you also like playing the role of a hero, fighting for fame and glory against evil humans, undeads and beasts? If the answer is "yes", you are right by choosing Mistfall! The new game by NSKN GAMES takes place in the world of high fantasy. Inspired by role-playing games and coming with a long background story of the Mistfall, the players form a party to fight against a bad mistake of a vain goddess who had created mighty beastmen and their supporters, undeads and evil men. Various quests must be solved to succeed, and so I hope you are prepared. No? You are not? And you are not impressed by the story, because all this sounds too familiar? Well, that doesn't count: When the real hero in each of us is called to ward off evil, there is no excuse: we at once have to choose a hero, perhaps a mighty warrior, a cleric or better a mage, take our dice and begin our adventure. But wait! Where are the dice? I cannot find a die in the gamebox of Mistfall. Weapons, armour and spells, skilfully illustrated on cards with a lot of text, but no dice. So how does this work? How can we kill our enemies without dice? Intrigued? Let's see…

First thing we have to clarify at this point is that Mistfall is a fully cooperative game. You win as a team, if you have finished one of the four available quests that come with the base game, and you lose also as a team at the moment one hero of the group dies in the battles. So far, so good.

The basic concept of the game is to send our group of heroes to a region, as given by the quest and consisting of different locations: borderlands, deadlands and wildlands. None of these locations sounds really excessively good, and believe me, they aren't. It is the quest book that tells us how the region is built. In the introduction scenario it is a 4x1 grid of location cards, two scenarios demand a 3x3 grid and the last one a 4x2 grid. All quests have in common that the party starts at the one end with the destination location on the other end of the region. The location cards between these two points are drawn randomly, so even playing the same quest again and again will result in different landscapes and different difficulty levels, so every new game is a new challenge.


Next to the region there is a quest charter with a time track and a reinforcement track, showing us how many enemies are arriving in the next round. The time track on the other hand is the game's clock, so there is only a limited time to succeed. Once the time is up, the game is lost. Finally each player has its own hero charter, with a track of the hero's enemy focus level. This track determines the order in which new enemies are assigned to the individual heroes. And in addition, the charter tells us about the hero's starting gear, his special abilities and his own restoration level (which is important when it comes to a resting phase). Each hero also receives an individual deck of cards which he will be using during the game.


A round of Mistfall follows a strict structure. First of all, in the reinforcement phase, new enemies come into play as indicated on the reinforcement track on the quest charter. This track is on zero at the beginning of the game, but will advance soon after the party has found their first encounter.

Each type of landscape has its own type of encounters, and each encounter demands different enemies. So, if there is an active encounter and you have to add new enemies, you must draw from the corresponding enemy draw pile and must check if the enemy fits to the encounter. If it does, it comes into play, if not, you are lucky.

For the reinforcement phase these enemies are still set aside, they are assigned to the heroes only after they had a chance to escape. So, what follows is a travel phase, in which the party can be relocated to an adjacent location, but if there is an active encounter, they have do take a retreat penalty. Like in every good fantasy game, the whole land is overrun with enemies, and by entering a new location, a new encounter card is drawn and with this card new enemies will surely enter the game, too. Every encounter also has its own special rules and a rule for progression, because encounters have to be ended if you do not retreat. Only by playing an encounter to its end a location can be made safe, giving the party a possibility to rest and recover there, plus the possibility to freely enter the location without drawing a new encounter in later rounds.

What follows after the travel phase is the pursuit phase. In this phase those unwelcome enemy guests are assigned to the heroes depending on the enemy focus of each hero. How does this work? It is a simple mechanism: The first enemy in the queue is assigned to the hero with the highest enemy focus. Then, after adding the enemy to the hero area, his enemy focus is divided in half. The next enemy goes to the hero of the now leading enemy focus and so on.

With the enemies assigned, each Hero with at least one enemy can show the group what he has been hired for: it is battle time! So now let us see how this works without dice: This hero phase is the most important and the longest one of the whole round. In this phase the players use their hand cards, cards in their hero area and their special skills to get rid of the enemies. The available actions are given by the active cards that have already been played on the hero charter and cards that come into play from the player's hand. In a normal turn a hero can resolve up to one regular action and as many fast actions and reflexes as he wants (at least, if he has suitable cards in play). Most cards can be used for multiple actions, but you must choose which one is best for you in a given situation, for once a card is used, it goes to the discard pile, to the bottom or top of the drawing pile or it is even buried. Basically, the regular action is the strongest one. Fast actions are weaker and - as the regular ones - can only be played in this hero phase. Other for the reflexes: These actions can be played in almost every situation. So each card gives the player various actions, so for example a stunning hammer gives you two different regular actions and one fast action. It is extremely important to choose the best cards in every situation. A lot of actions lets you discard more cards from your hand to increasing the amount of damage you make. But you must choose: if a card is used for this purpose, it cannot be used for its normal effects anymore, since it is sent to the discard pile, too. As there is no luck factor, there is no use for playing cards that do more damage than you need to defeat an enemy.


To win the game you must be extremely careful not to waste your cards. The reason for this is that these cards are the hero's life points, too. Enemies that survived the hero phase strike back in the next phase, and for every point of damage dealt, a player must send a card to the burial pile. He can do so from his hand, his discard pile and the drawing pile, but once all cards are on the burial pile, the hero dies and the game is lost. However, to give the heroes a chance to recover, the group collects additional treasures during the adventures, and for these a player can buy advanced action cards to add them to his deck.

Mistfall uses a clever deck building mechanism. Unlike a lot of other deck-building games, the deck of a player is only shuffled at the start of the game. During the game, players normally play cards either on their discard pile or they go under the drawing deck again. But by special actions and by resting it is also possible to bring a card back on top of the drawing pile again. So, it is possible to build some combos for mighty powers.

But let's continue with a round's structure. The second last phase is the encounter phase, in which it is checked if the party has completed the active encounter. If they were successful all enemies are discarded and the party can rest. The same applies to a round in which the party is in a safe location and there is no active encounter. While resting, each hero can restore a number of cards equal to the restoration level of the location plus the individual restoration value of the hero. For every restoration point a player may move a card from the burial pile to his discard pile or from the discard pile to his drawing pile. So, it is often wise to go back to a safe location to restore some cards which otherwise would be lost in the burial pile, but that is not too easy because there is still the time factor. So, in th time phase at the end of every round, the a time card is drawn that tells us how much the time tracker is moved on, sometimes triggering even more unwanted effects.

Mistfall is a rather complex game. There is really a lot going on, and to be honest, it took me three attempts to fully read through the rules and four full games to get into the rules and the procedures of the game. Admittedly, there are a lot of aids on the different charts and cards, and all special rules and abilities are written on the cards. But Mistfall uses quite a lot of symbols and as said there is really a lot to take into account. You really can say that you have to work hard for getting into the game.

However I wouldn't say that Mistfall is difficult to play once you have understood the game flow and you start to remember the various symbols on the cards. It even can be played relatively fast after this point. At the moment a single quest takes me about 90 minutes to finish, but I think that you can even be faster.

The individual hero decks and abilities differ a lot, and so the heroes must be played very differently, too. Even if Mistfall can also be played alone, it is much more fun to build up a group of different heroes and use their individual strengths. Some heroes are extremely good in fighting undeads, other can cure themselves and other heroes and still others have a lot of actions to attack not only enemies in their hero area but in other hero areas, too. There is really a huge amount of different actions you get from the equipment, skill and spell cards that will influence your game play, and so there is a lot to discover, thus ensuring high re-playability. This observation is further intensified by the fact that the quests are not easy to master.


Mistfall is some kind of a mixture between Pathfinder, Mage Knight and The Lord of the Rings - LCG. Maybe at first glance it is not as outstanding as the three other games, but if you are willing to work your way into the game, you will be rewarded by a hard, but well balanced game with a great background story and nice illustrations. Even if it is difficult to master (I have lost quite a few times), I did not felt miserable or even frustrated when struck back like in a lot of The Lord of the Rings - LCG scenarios. To conclude I would say that Mistfall is no easy game and it is definitely a gamer game, but if you have a partiality for complex fantasy games and perhaps are even an old RPG gamer like myself, you definitely should cast an eye on it.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany