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D Jenner
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Mythgardia is a limited edition "Game of Heroic Adventure" that is currently only available through direct purchase from the author Robert Harris, and as of this report less than forty copies remain available. Many, including the author, describe Mythgardia as a follow up to the author's seminal work Talisman, but that is too facile a description. Mythgardia is quite a different game that reuses many of the same mechanics, and at its core is a pickup and deliver game as opposed to Talisman's race to the middle game play. The main goal is to discover the location of three treasures and return them to one of the three "sanctuaries" scattered about the map, while along the way drawing "Legend" cards which describe the various enemies and encounters that occur. Most of the time players will be focused on their own goals, but PvP becomes commonplace near the end of the game when one or more players are going for their last treasure.

Players begin with one of nine characters each with a unique set of skill values. The board is a map of the five continents of Mythgardia, a land that is more or less a distorted view of Europe, Asia and Africa. In general each turn involves rolling two d6 and moving up to the higher number of the two along fixed paths on the map. Each continent has one or two looping paths with "Locations" scattered along them. These locations do not have anything special about them but when a player lands on a non-location/non-sea space a legend card is drawn from a continent specific deck and the encounter or event listed is handled. Additionally each player has a hidden card listing one of the locations and when a player arrives at there they may look at yet another location card hidden under the next available treasure. They may then go to that location to collect that treasure. After a treasure is picked up then it must be dropped off at one of the sanctuaries before another player steals it. When a treasure is delivered a new set of location cards are dealt out and the search for the next treasure is begun. The game is won by the first player delivering a total of three treasures.

The legend cards are fairly simple in that they consist of flavor text and a hand drawn illustrations. Most are encounters, and they are resolved using a familiar system that involves taking the basic character skill listed on the legend card, adding to it one point for each item or ally listed in the text, and finally adding that number to a single d6 roll. In addition it is possible to add a certain amount of "Luck" points to the roll, but in practice luck is in limited supply and should be used sparingly until the end of the game when players begin attacking each other. All encounters are resolved using a simple results table, with eight and above a resounding success and four or below abject failure. Middling totals have differing rewards or penalties depending on the encounter type. Most often rewards consist of extra moves, additional money or luck, or a random "Fate" card (a helpful item, a companion, or a special one time event.) Penalties involve lost turns, retreating one or two spaces, or in some cases losing "Stamina". Note that is is impossible to be eliminated in this game, and in the event of running out of stamina the penalty is a few lost turns as you recover.

Player vs. Player combat is done with roll-offs of two d6 plus one point for each companion a player has, and each player may secretly bid up to five luck points before the roll to add to their total. The winner gets to take from the loser a treasure, item, companion or fate card OR simply move the loser away back along the route the came a total of two d6 spaces. A simple and direct system which doesn't give a runaway leader too much power in any given fight.

Much has been made of the low end quality of the game components given the high price tag (which is even more dear with shipping to North America), and to be sure the components are more what you might expect from a home made prototype set instead of a retail copy. Mr. Harris has gone through small scale printing house (GetMeInPrint.com) and it shows, but it shouldn't be used as any excuse to dismiss the game out of hand. So what if the artwork is amateurish, the map is printed on heavy poster paper and the pawns and other bits are generic? In practice the components are perfectly serviceable. The bits that will experience the most wear and tear, the various cards, are printed on decent stock equal in quality to most games published not that many years ago. It is safe to say that despite all possible drawbacks Mythgardia still represents a good value. Think of this as a second opportunity to play one of the early draft copies of a highly regarded adventure game before it hit the big time. There are quite a few hours of enjoyment contained in that flimsy and awkwardly illustrated box, and don't miss out on a chance to experience it.

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