Not everyone has the time or patience for Dungeons & Dragons, or other tabletop role-playing games. Meeting week after week for 6 to 7 hours at a time, plus several more hours just to build a character… it can be pretty daunting for the average gamer. It’s no wonder that so many people prefer video game RPGs to their pen & paper cousins.
Myth Review | Board Game Brawl
Nick reviews Myth by MERCS. This one went long; feel free to skip ahead (I usually don’t allow that).
Myth Review | D&D in a Box?
In the world of board gaming, many games have tried to make the RPG experience more accessible, completable in a shorter time frame and without the commitment. Descent: Journeys in the Dark is the poster child for this type of game, giving you the “D&D in a box feel”. One player controls an overlord who runs the monsters, while the others just grab a character and hit the dungeon.
The new game Myth, from MERCS, is also a dungeon crawl, but tries to bring much-needed innovation to the genre. The game originated on Kickstarter and made over $900,000. All of that money went towards blinging out the game from top to bottom: dozens and dozens of intricate miniatures, high-quality game boards, card sleeves, metal character badges, and more. They even made alternate gender miniatures and artwork for every character. But what is the actual game like?
Myth Review | Overview
Myth takes place in a generic fantasy world, where you go on quests and complete story segments by mowing through orcs, goblins, insect monsters, and other nasties; all of whom are summoned by The Darkness. Your party is made up of a soldier, an acolyte (cleric), a brigand (rogue), an archer, and an apprentice (mage). Other characters will be released in time, such as the skald (a bard) and the trickster (a gadget user).
Myth is fully cooperative. No player has to be the overlord or dungeon masters. Rather, the monsters and other random dungeon effects work on auto-pilot. Whenever a new dungeon tile is placed, it will dictate what comes out on the map, whether it be monster lairs, monster hunting parties, traps, treasure, merchants, or quests. The players do have a lot of choice here, however; you choose which tile comes out when a new one has to be drawn, and the specifications of what gets placed are often up to you.
Myth Review | Mechanics
Your character takes action through a unique card system. Each character has their own deck of cards, each of which can be played down to their player board to give them a unique action. It could be something simple like moving, or it could be a devastating attack. Each character class has unique abilities that come out through the cardplay: the soldier can rage and become a tremendous threat to foes, the brigand can hide in the shadows and strike, the acolyte can heal, etc. There is also no traditional turn order in Myth; players decide which actions they want to take on the fly, fluidly switching from one character to the next. You can play five cards before you have to reset during the refresh phase.
This is balanced in two ways. First, many of the cards in players decks will require the use of Action Points. As AP is spent by the group, The Darkness track moves up. When it fills completely, the bad guys get their turn. They will spawn, move, and attack– all by using programmed actions on their stat cards. This means that the heroes have to make a decision: take a lot of actions to devastate the enemy, knowing they will activate faster, or play conservatively and delay the inevitable.
The good guys also generate Threat, which is bad. Every damage a hero deals move their own personal Threat track up one. If this ever fills up, and the Darkness then activates, the heroes are hit with a devastating effect for the rest of the game. This could be anything from drastic increases to the amount of spawned creatures, to a penalty of all future actions. It’s important to strike a balance in this game between all-out hacking and slashing, and careful strategy.
Fortunately, the players can gain a number of helpful items in their quest, like any good RPG. There’s also precious Serendipity points, gained from quests, which can give you a number of beneficial effects. Traveling will be happy to take your earned gold and give you the stuff you need, as well.
Myth Review | Negatives
Myth has a number of wonderful and innovative mechanics, but it is hampered by some serious flaws. In its current incarnation, the rulebook is terrible. It looks pretty, but many of the rules are ambiguous and, much like in the game itself, left up to the players to decide. Trying to find specific bits of information can be a nightmare.
The game play itself is just too freeform. With so many choices left up to the players, the game becomes long and drawn out as you discuss the best ways to lay a tile or spawn a monster. There is not nearly enough direction as to what a monster is actually supposed to be doing on their turn. There is also a tremendous amount of what we call “fiddliness” to the game: lots and lots of tokens, markers, and cards to keep track of. Nothing is ever simple or easy in Myth, including figuring out what the heck you should be doing in the first place.
Myth Review | Final Thoughts
Do I recommend Myth? Yes and no. If you absolutely love dungeon crawls, this might be a no-brainer. If nothing else, the game’s components are wonderful, and can easily be used for actual tabletop RPGs. For traditional board gamers, I suggest a wait and see approach. MERCS has been refining and updating the rules in an effort to make the game more accessible. One day everything might come together nicely.
There is a great game somewhere in Myth. Like any good dungeon crawl, you just have to explore the game to find it.
3 out of 5
by Board Game Brawl