Mages Of Mystralia: PAX East 2016

Make your own spells,’ was the only line I really needed to see in my inbox for PAX. Boasting a totally unique magical-spell crafting system with the possibility of 1,000,000 spells and spell variations, Mages of Mystralia is looking to set the bar very high for itself. The first game from the new game company, Borealys Games, Mages is already shaping up nicely.

You take over the role of Zia the young mage who, ‘strikes off to train and learn to control her magical abilities.’ Her lack of control as well as the power of the magic she wields has apparently exiled her from her home town. With no home, no control, and nothing to lose, Zia sets off in search of wisdom, encountering plenty of adventure, villains, and mayhem along the way.

Zia’s journeys may seem like a typical, ‘hero goes in search of stuff,’ scenario, but Louis-Felix Cauchon, CEO of Borealys, was happy to boast that her journey will be anything but ordinary as it will be written by Ed Greenwood. Ed, for those who may not know, is the best-selling author behind several great stories in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world. Ed’s presence on the story team looks to be a major victory for Mages’ potential success.

What will make or break Mage is its highly hyped magic-construction system. The system has four different aspects (elements and specializations) but each aspect uses a hexagonal grid system. The spell-crafting grid is laid out akin to a Chinese Checkers board with sockets and lines and players lay down nodes in open spots, forming chains which create new spells. A fun twist to just a simple, ‘lay and play,’ setup is the fact that each node also has a word on it. These words tell the player what spell aspect the node affects. One of the nodes called, ‘multishot,’ makes a single shot turn into multiple shots. Another node, ‘homing,’ gives your shot the ability to hone in and follow targets. However you can potentially link both nodes together, giving your spell both the ability to split into multiple shots and then have all the shots zoom towards a single or potentially multiple targets. The trick to spell node linking is that each word node has as series of arrows coming from the node. Depending on how you place the node onto the hexagonal board and what directions these arrows point determines what spell abilities can be linked. If there is no corresponding set of arrows between two nodes, you will wind up breaking the spell chain on your board and be unable to create the spell you wish.

Spell construction was an absolute blast to goof around with and even left some of the developers in awe of some of the PAX patrons. My interview with Louis-Felix was interrupted several times as a new play tester to Mages discovered a new combination of nodes in the game. “This is so cool! I’ve never SEEN that combination before,” he would giggle at times. “And honestly, that’s what we are hoping for! We want people to try and break the system to discover something new that we at Borealys have never seen before! We want to see what the players can come up with!”

The down side to Mages of Mystralia is that Louis-Felix and his team are incredibly dedicated to Mages’ success and, because of it, refused to give a solid release date. “The magic board setup alone took us a whole year,” reports Louis-Felix. “It will be ready when it’s ready. I would say another year at least, sometime in 2017.” I personally hope it’s sooner than that because I can’t wait to start spell crafting again.