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This is the third in a four part series on Terra Mystica. In today’s entry I’ll talk about playing Terra Mystica on Tabletopia.

Professor and I have played around with Tabletopia a few times. The first full game we played with it was Dinosaur Island. It took a little getting used to. Thankfully there’s a feature that lets you have hotkeys to zoom in on different parts of the game, which also helps with moving around a larger game space. Once you get the hang of the clicking and dragging, that’s no big deal, though I do think that lengthens game play a bit. There’s a little bit of an issue with pieces locking into place. I was trying to put three workers on a space, but apparently there wasn’t enough room to lock them all in, so one locked on the space and the other two went flying across the board! It was really funny, but I can see it getting frustrating.

We also played around a little with Terra Mystica, which I found easier to navigate. It could be because I’d already played another game with Tabletopia, and I’ve played Terra Mystica multiple times, but the biggest thing was that I didn’t feel like I needed to zoom in. I could move my pieces and get my resources and see everything at once. I really liked that.

We were able to play a full game of Terra Mystica with President Gamer and Shutter, who now live across the country from us. This was really exciting, since it had been almost a year since the last time we’d gamed with them. We sent them the info on Tabletopia and Terra Mystica and set up a gaming date.

Since Tabletopia doesn’t have voice chat (which is fine), we called. (Editor’s Note: Tabletopia includes a link to Discord which can be used for voice chat.) This turned out to be a good thing because it helped Professor explain different aspects of the game, and any questions they had were quickly answered. Additionally, it was more like hanging out.

Professor and I play on Tabletopia using desktops, so this experience taught us that if you are using a laptop to play, you absolutely need an external mouse. Otherwise all the clicking and dragging you have to do becomes a real challenge.

Tabletopia sets the game up for you, but otherwise you do everything as though you were playing the actual board game. This time around we did a lot better at remembering to put money on the bonus tiles and to take favor tokens.

We weren’t able to finish the game in the time we’d scheduled. The only time that worked was during our son’s nap, so we had a 2 1/2 hour window to play. Perhaps if we’d chosen a game everyone was familiar with, we could have finished in that time frame. But we were a bit ambitious, so we had to continue another day. That happens to us IRL, so it wasn’t a big deal. The nice thing was we didn’t have to take pictures and then set the game up again the next time. All we did was pause the game in Tabletopia and then resumed it when we were ready to play again.

For this game play (which used the introductory setup):

  • Professor: Mermaids
  • Chubby Unicorn: Halflings
  • Shutter: Witches
  • President Gamer: Nomads

This was the first time I’d played as the Halflings, and I discovered (with some help from Professor), that upgrading my terraforming cost was key. Not only did this make it cheaper to terraform, it also meant my race bonus kicked in a lot more. Each time I performed a terraforming action, I received one victory point. For a good portion of the game I had the lead point-wise.

When you play with four players, two things seem to happen. Either you get boxed in and can’t get a city going, or you end up having to build where you aren’t adjacent to anyone (which makes Tradehouses more expensive). I got boxed in a couple of times, so I upgraded my shipping in order to get another settlement going. Thankfully in the last round I was able to found another city.

The cult board can also get a bit crowded. Only 4 priests can be dedicated to each track (fire, water, earth, and air). Once those spaces are filled, a priest can only move you up one space. So if you have a plan to dedicate priests, sooner is better than later.

There was some confusion as to where victory points come from, and that’s probably because that changes from round to round and game to game. Some races (like the Halflings) get points for certain actions. Points can also come from favor tokens, bonus tiles, and round bonuses. This means there’s a lot to pay attention to during the game.

Points consistently come from upgrading terraforming and shipping. At the end of the game points are awarded for placement on the cult tracks, size of settlements, and leftover money (1 VP for every 3 coins).

Things were looking really good for me as we were totaling up points at the end, but because Professor had upgraded his shipping so much, he managed to get longest settlement, beating me by 1!

Since Professor and I have played quite a bit more than President Gamer and Shutter, we had an advantage, but I still found the game to be pretty challenging.

Final scores:

  1. Professor’s Mermaids: 109
  2. Chubby Unicorn’s Halflings: 100
  3. Shutter’s Witches: 59
  4. President Gamer’s Nomads: 54

In the final entry, I’ll be doing a compare/contrast.

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