What is this game about?
Mice and Mystics is a story game in which you follow the adventures of Prince Collin and his friends—humans who are currently trapped in the bodies of mice. They are trying to figure out how to rid the kingdom of Collin's wicked stepmother, and only by progressing through the tale can you find out whether they succeed.
Mechanically, M&M is a light dungeon crawler in which you move miniatures around a board, roll dice, and deploy useful skills that you have acquired along the way. You also need to complete each "chapter" in a limited amount of time. Run out, and you lose the scenario and have to repeat it. When you complete a scenario, you get to read another chunk of text from the storybook to find out what happens next—and to set up the next part of the adventure.
How does it play solo?
Mice and Mystics is a cooperative game, which means it is definitely solo friendly. However, you will need to control four mice in a typical scenario. You will also need to operate all of the enemy characters, who move and attack according to a set of enemy rules.
The game is not complex enough for this to be a major problem, but if you prefer "pure" solo games in which you play only one character, then be aware that M&M won't provide that experience.
Mice and Mystics has a very charming theme, especially if you grew up loving Brian Jacques books, Watership Down, and The Secret of NIMH. This game also reminds me of Mouse Guard, and that is by no means a bad association. The story is cute, and it's fun to progress through the adventure to see what will happen next.
I would not, however, say that Mice and Mystics is a great game. The mechanics are very heavily influenced by die rolls with little opportunity for mitigation. More importantly, though, combat feels very repetitive—even with different enemies, the "gameplay" parts of Mice and Mystics feel samey, and I find myself itching to get to the next part of the story. Also, while Mice and Mystics is not a difficult game to play, it is still surprisingly fiddly. I mentioned in my last post about this game that I occasionally just house rule things as I go rather than look up that one little combat detail in the rules. I hate interrupting the fun of a game over a technicality.
That said, I have a tremendous emotional attachment to Mice & Mystics, and I own both expansions. It won't be leaving my collection anytime soon. This is because my boyfriend has a lot of nostalgia for stories like Watership Down, and this is one of the few games that he gets excited to play with me. When you play Mice & Mystics with another person and really get into the gameplay, the game comes alive because you're sharing the experience with someone else. I have fond memories of Mice & Mystics date nights, and that smooths over many of the game's flaws for me.
Do I recommend it?
For solo? No. There was a time when there were fewer options out there, and Mice & Mystics was a commonly recommended for solo. But there are so many really interesting solo dungeon crawls on the market now... I wouldn't commit to M&M specifically for the solo play.
I would, however, recommend Mice & Mystics to families and also to groups with players who are either new to dungeon crawls or able to really get into a fun story. Those are the fellow players you need if you want to get the most out of this game.
Overall Rating: 2 stars (3+ stars for group play, depending on your group)
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.