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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Make Room for Mushrooms in Mycelium, Mycelium, Mycelia, and Mycelia

by W. Eric Martin

One of the games I included in a December 2022 crowdfunding round-up was Mycelium: A Mushling Game, the first title from designer Eric Yadvish of YadCo Games. The short pitch:

Use a hand of mushling cards to construct a network of mycelium pathways linked to nutrient trees, attack other players’ paths, and manipulate where the nutrients will appear at the end of the round. Ideally your gatherer mushlings will be in the right spot at the right time as the first player to gather ten nutrients wins.

Little did I know at the time, but we’re in the midst of mushroom mania in the game industry!

Mycelium: A Mushling Game raised $240,000 in its Kickstarter campaign, which is an impressive amount for a first campaign, and when it’s released in Q4 2023, you can place it on the shelf next to Mycelium: Descubriendo el reino fungi (“Discovering the Fungi Kingdom”), a late 2022 release from designers Chilo and Dany Varela and Chilean publisher Within Play.

Here’s an overview of this 2-4 player game:

Players participate in all fundamental stages of a fungus’ life cycle, from a small spore floating in the air to the creation of the first mycelium, which will grow and feed from substrates. Once the environmental conditions are favorable, they’ll manifest in the form of mushrooms to restart their cycle.

Each player places their spore token on the board and starts spreading their mycelia, placing hex tiles through the forest to build a mycelial network to get nutrients either from substratum tokens scattered all around or by making symbiosis with the trees to gain bonus nutrients during play.

The game can be played competitively or co-operatively, with the goal in the latter set-up being to reach a certain point total against one of three difficulty levels. A 2v2 team-game mode is also available. In a competitive game, the first player or team to reach the respective point goal wins.

• Should you favor triangular tiles over hexagonal ones, look instead to Mycelia, the debut game from UK publisher Split Stone Games and designer/artist J.J. Neville.

This 2-4 player game is scheduled to appear on Kickstarter before the end of 2023. Here’s what to expect:

Mycelia is a dynamic game of tactics in a competition for space and resources to create your own mushroom kingdom. The game follows the life cycle of fungi, a journey of creation, expansion, death, and rebirth — in game terms, growing mushrooms to score points, sporing them to expand your mycelial network, and eventually seeing them decay to unlock special actions.

On a turn, a player has two actions to perform from the six options available. Using your decay actions, stealing spores, and blocking other mushrooms are just some of the ways to get ahead in the game. Players can evolve their own playing style, perhaps playing more aggressively to steal other players’ spores or disrupt their mycelial network — or perhaps playing more defensively to try to protect their own area and spores.

Prototype components

The board is made up of triangle tiles that represent different environments and nutrients that the mushrooms need to grow. These tiles can be added to the board by the players, so the board is always growing and evolving.

Mycelia incorporates beautiful and accurate botanical style illustrations with over 69 mushrooms that can be found in the wild.

• And should your tastes lean more toward the cartoony, Ravensburger will release Mycelia — yes, the same name — from first-time designer Daniel Greiner in late 2023.

This game is for 1-4 players and has only a bit of information available at this time:

Each player starts with the same set of cards in Mycelia, improving their deck with better cards over the course of play as they race to clear their playing field of dewdrops first.

In this deck-building game, you need the support of mysterious forest dwellers to improve your deck, develop new and better skills, and bring the sacred dewdrops from your forest to the Shrine of Life in order to receive the forest goddess’ support.

The game includes double-sided player boards for increased variability, and it features a mysterious die-rolling, dewdrop-dropping device.

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