The Average Gamer

Friday Night Unplugged #20: Mice and Mystics

Welcome, Mouselings, to another week of Friday Night Unplugged. Last week saw an epic battle take place across the realms of Terrinorth to secure its future. This week we’re thinking smaller, much smaller.


The Basics

Mice and Mystics is a 2-4 player, narrative-driven, RPG-lite. Players take on the role of a team of kitted-out mice as they fight through sewers, kitchens and gardens on an epic quest to save the world.

As Mice and Mystics is narrative-based, it’s actually pretty rules-light. Each player chooses a mouse to play, from the current chapter’s selection. RPG staples such as the Cleric and Rogue are there in one form or another so it’s easy to put together a well co-ordinated party. The initiative track determines what order everyone takes their actions in. This is reshuffled and dealt every time new minions (enemies) are added to the board. Players can gain cheese when attacking or defending, which can then be spent to activate abilities, or saved and handed in to level up and gain a new ability.

Player turns are simple:

  • First the current player rolls a die and adds its result to their movement value. They can then move their figure that many squares.
  • Next they can take an action – exploring marked squares, attacking minions, searching for items, etc.
  • Most actions are decided on with the dicem pictured below. If you want to perform an action you need to roll the relevant symbols for it to be a success. If you roll a cheese symbol you gain 1 piece of cheese.
  • Players can then take 1 minor action; scurrying moves them an extra few squares, levelling up can exchange cheese for new abilities and so on.
  • Tiles are two-sided, representing an over and an underside of the location. Exploring a flip square turns over the tile and moves all mice to new tile. When a new tile is explored this way or by moving into it from one tile to another, a new encounter is drawn and new minions are placed.
  • Every so often the Page marker will move up the track. Each chapter of the storybook (the core of the Mice and Mystics experience) has a set number of pages. Players have until the marker moves to the relevant page to complete their objective or they fail that chapter.
The Action Dice dictate the ebb and flow of..well everything.

The Action Dice dictate the ebb and flow of..well everything.

Let’s Play (or not)

The storybook is the core of Mice and Mystics. Throughout each game you’ll be developing your characters. meeting new friends of enemies and coming closer together as a team. For this reason we’ve decided not to run a play-through of Mice and Mystics with this week’s FNU. In our testing myself, Fi and Josh have been running through the storybook missions and it’s just laden with juicy narrative we’d hate to spoil for you. I know, it sucks but trust me you’ll thank me for it later.

What Is It?

Mice and Mystics was released way back in October of last year to critical acclaim from the industry. Coming in as the second game from Plaid Hat Games, producers of Summoner Wars, it cemented their position as one of the best new entrants to the scene. Plaid Hat Games are also producing the Bioshock Infinite board game that’s coming later this year.

Room tiles are atmospheric and beautiful.

Room tiles are atmospheric and beautiful.

Mice and Mystics is a game for 2-4 players and takes anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 2 to play a chapter depending on how slow you play as a team. The box comes with a set of gorgeous miniatures and thick cardboard tiles. Custom die and tokens complete the board package. There area also stacks of cards for the search, encounter and skill decks. Everything is high quality and the only things I can see happening by the end of the campaign is one wrinkled storybook and slightly scuffed cards.

What We Think

Mice and Mystics gained a ton of hype when it launched. Stores ran out of stock as soon as it came in and it was constantly recommended to me. Now it’s back in its second printing and I have to say it was worth the wait.

For a start the miniatures are amazing, everything from cockroaches to spiders and centipedes have been crafted in really sturdy sculpts. The scale is wonderful and seeing your little mouse stare down a giant centipede in preparation for battle is ridiculously cool. The idea of an RPG – miniatures hybrid is one that could go either way but Mice and Mystics pulls it off perfectly. Stats are easily handled by increasing the number of dice you roll and turns are simple enough you can teach them to a child.

Image from -

Image from Paste Magazine

This is where Mice and Mystics excels. With a grown group of adults it’s already a flexible and charming game. Put it in the hands of children and you have an amazing experience waiting to unfold. The heavily Redwall-inspired world Plaid Hat have created is the perfect tool to capture the imagination. Room tiles like the kitchen are covered in huge utensils, giant tables and oversized cheese. The weapons you find are makeshift from bits and bobs, sewing needles and forks. Everything is put into crafting the perfect background for the story which is really where the fun is at. The Storybook has ten chapters to play though, each with plot points, optional objectives  and its own setup. More so, it has sections of story to be read out loud by the players. By removing the GM from the RPG mix, Mice and Mystics manages to place the story firmly in the paws of the players while still maintaining a well-paced narrative.

This makes my job difficult. I want to write about how the mechanics are amazing but I can’t because they’re nothing revolutionary. I want to write about how you should buy it as a miniatures game when really, that’s not what it’s about. It’s not about the turns, it’s not about moving your pieces from one space to another. Mice and Mystics is about a world. A world which myself, Fi, Josh and every player I have spoken to loves and wants to jump back into.

Put away Arkham Horror for a while, stop playing Gears of War or Call of Duty or whatever. Pick up a copy of Mice and Mystics, grab some friends and explore a world where everything is bigger than you. Mice and Mystics wants you to relive that childish wonder. You won’t regret it.

Mice and Mystics can be picked up for £59.99 over at Travelling Man and it’s worth every penny.

Next Week

Next week on Friday Night Unplugged I’ll be looking at the Penny Arcade: Gamers vs Evil deckbuilding game. In a separate article I’ll be sitting down with a few new guests and going a little more in-depth into the world of Magic the Gathering as we review next Fridays new release of the Dragons Maze expansion. Enjoy.