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Terra Mystica was already a pretty exciting game for us. Then I got the Fire & Ice expansion for my birthday.

It includes a new board – which includes a reminder about the end game conversion of coins into Victory points – new Factions (with boards, Terrain tiles, and buildings), Final Scoring Tiles, Faction Tokens, and a Turn Order Board.

We haven’t used all the new features of the expansion. For example, the Turn Order Board changes the order of turns every round. Whoever turns in their Bonus Tile goes first (as with the base game), then whoever turns in second goes second, and so on. We haven’t had the chance to play the expansion with more than 2 players, so there’s no reason to use this. This means we also haven’t needed the Faction Tokens which are placed on the Turn Order Board.

We have played with 4 of the 6 new Factions, though: Ice Maidens, Shapeshifters, Yetis, and Riverwalkers. The Ice Maidens, Yetis, and Shapeshifters get a ring to place on the starting Terrain of their choice (unless that Terrain is already taken). After they make their choice, no subsequent player can choose the race with that home territory.

The first game Professor was the Ice Maidens and I was the Shapeshifters. The second game Professor was Yetis and I was Riverwalkers.

Ice Maidens and Yetis turn Terrain into Ice. So if their home Terrain is Mountains, instead of transforming Forest into Mountains with 1 Spade, they turn the Forest to Ice with 1 Spade.
Ice Maidens start with a Favor Token of their choice, and after building their Stronghold, they get 3 Victory points for each Temple in play at the end of each round.
Yetis pay 1 fewer Power to use one of the Power actions on the board (like 2 power instead of 3 Power for 1 Priest), their Stronghold and Sanctuary have a value of 4 instead of 3, and after building their Stronghold, they get to use the Power Actions on the board even if they’ve already been used.

Professor prefers the Ice Maidens mostly because they start with the Favor Token and also their Stronghold ability.

When Shapeshifters build next to another Faction (a neighbor) two things can happen:

  1. 1. The neighbor(s) takes Power, which means the Shapeshifters can sacrifice 1 Victory Point to add 1 Power from the general supply to Bowl III.
  2. 2. All neighbors refuse to take Power, which means the Shapeshifters gain 1 Power per the normal Power movement rules.

After building their Stronghold, Shapeshifters can change their home Terrain to any Terrain not already taken. They pay 5 Power either the normal way (moving from Bowl III to Bowl I), or by sacrificing 5 Power from any of their Bowls. As long as they have Power, they can do this. The Shapeshifter ring is moved to indicate the new home Terrain.

Riverwalkers also choose a starting Terrain of those not already in play. All the other Terrain spaces on their board get a Priest. All structures built by them have to be adjacent to the river. Riverwalkers have +1 Shipping which can’t be increased unless they use the +1 Shipping Bonus Tile. When the Riverwalkers would gain a Priest, they can instead remove a Priest from a Terrain space which then allows them to gain the ability to build on that Terrain. So they can start with Forest and then unlock Desert. It also costs coins depending on the other Terrains in play. If the Terrain they wish to unlock is already in use by another faction, it costs 2 coins, otherwise it’s just 1. They can do this whenever they gain a Priest. This means Riverwalkers can’t use Spades. After their Stronghold is built, they immediately and only once build 2 Bridges for free.

I think I liked the Riverwalkers better. Because you have to build your Stronghold to unlock the Shapeshifters’ nifty ability, it took a while for me to be able to shift my home Terrain. I felt like I was able to do more with the Riverwalkers.

The second game we did have a little bit of trouble building next to each other (mostly so that Tradehouses were cheaper). Professor decided to hop across the river and start building which allowed me to build next to him, but I had already started building out in another direction. If I had waited on those buildings, I could have had another city and beaten him. As it was, I lost by just 3 points!

Since we can’t both play as Fire Factions, we’ll have to play at least 2 more times to test those out. It should be fun!

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