Author: Terrence Donnelly

Publisher: Avalon Hill

Awards: none



"Mystic Wood" is a fantasy boardgame for 2 to 4 players. During the game, each player takes the role of a knight who has to enter a forest full of different creatures in order to fulfil a quest. These knights and their quests are:

  • Roland: Leave the Wood with the Princess.
  • Guyon: Spend 3 full turns in the Cave.
  • George: Slay the Dragon.
  • Perceval: Leave the Wood with the Grail.
  • Britomart: Leave the Wood with the Prince.


At the beginning of the game, the gameboard is prepared. It consists of 45 woodland-tiles, 21 forming the "Earthly Wood", 21 the "Enchanted Wood", 1 Tower, 1 Earthly Gate and 1 Enchanted Gate. The cards of each wood are mixed and then placed-face down on the table. At the nexus between both forests stands the Tower, and at the end of each forest a Gate is placed. The players start the game at the Earthly Gate.

In his turn, a player may move 1 wood-space horizontally or diagonally. If a player enters a space which hadnīt been entered yet, he may turn it around and inspect it. If it has an entrance at the direction the knight is coming from, he may place the wood-space face-up and enter it with his figure. In case the space contains a Glade, the player may draw one of the random event cards. The other possibilities for a wood-space are a simple passage (nothing happens; player enters it and ends his turn) or a special Place. There are about 8 special places in the forest: A castle, a spring, a chapel etc. At these, a player must/can follow special rules: So he might add to his strength as long as he stays here, he might have to draw an additional random event card, or a denizen might be stronger here.

The heart of the game is the deck of random event cards. These cards mostly consist of denizens, which are different inhabitants of the forest, but there also are a few random events. The denizens may be foes, which have to be slain by a knight using either strength or prowess or both, or they may be strangers. Loosing against a foe results in the knight losing his items, but keeping his companions. The Knight is sent to the Tower from which he may escape in a subsequent turn by rolling a "5" or "6". If a foe is slain, the victorious player gains a benefit. He turns the foe card by 180 degrees and places it under his knight, showing that he gains an item of strength or prowess. If a stranger is approached, the player has to roll a dice and has to compare his result with the table printed on the stranger card. He now gets one of several results:

  • Remains: The player is ignored. He may try again later, but has to find another denizen first.
  • Transports you: The player is transported to the corresponding space in the other wood.
  • Transports self: The denizen transports himself to the corresponding space in the other wood.
  • Creates Storm: The space may not be left for 3 turns.
  • Betrays you: The knight is sent to the Tower.
  • Befriends: The stranger will follow the knight now. The knight may add him to his party and benefit from his strength.
  • Runs: Leaves the space in a random direction.


There are many different denizens in the wood. Thus a player may encounter a monster which he has to slay, or a magician who offers help, or a damsel in distrell which must be delivered to a special point in the forest before that player may end the game. Interesting is the way the card-engine works. For each new forest-tile with a glade turned around by a player, one or more of the event cards comes into play. So, when all tiles are turned over, all cards are in play. This is very good since it becomes foreseeable that each card will come into the game sooner or later, and thus each player has a chance to fulfil his quest.

Concerning interaction between the players, the game offers rules for all different situations. So the players may fight each other to get an item or a companion from the other player, or they may simply trade items. Itīs even possible for two or more players to team up against a monster or another player.

A player wins the game by completing his quest and reaching the Enchanted Gate at the northern end of the forest. To complete his quest, a player has to wait until the card he needs appears from the event-card-deck. If he draws the card himself, he can simply speed of to the gate - otherwise he will have to hunt and defeat the player who has drawn it. The game also offers an alternative to win. Apart from Britomart, all players also can win by defeating the King (a very strong denizen) and occupy the Castle-space for one full turn.

If you look at the woodland-tiles and event-cards included in the flat box of the game, you wouldnīt think that there is a game with a very nice concept behind it. Being inspired from two romantic epics from the 16th century - Ariostoīs Orlando Furioso and Spenserīs The Faerie Queen - the author has created one of the best fantasy boardgames I know. Itīs easy to learn, short to play and it also offers a very good atmosphere during play. I was quite happy when I found the game when I was just looking for a fantasy-boardgame, and it directly found a way into my top-ten.

By the way, my edition of the game contained a blank-card instead of the "Dragon"-card. So I want to give special thanks to Tim Kelly for hearing my desperate call and giving me the contents of the missing card !

The game is available from fgu@magpage.com, together with Sorcererīs Cave.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2003 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Trier, Germany