Review: Mushroom Eaters – under influence of the shrooms
When I was first introduced to the shaman as a child, I was really scared. I had no idea, that I would be the one chosen of all adepts by old man as his successor. For the second year together, we will practice breathing exercises and rituals, that must each shaman be able to do perfectly. Only then will I help my people and I will be the one he truly wants in his place.
Board game Mushroom Eaters tells a really unusual and interesting story. Its author is Nate Hayden and this is a true gem, because its a handmade game. We were introduced to work of art by their company Blast City Games in Essen. Whole range of authors contributed to its psychedelic illustrations, among them were Gary Beauvais, Kate Awake or Toll Nocholas. Author is very well known primarily due to his previous game – Cave Evil.
When player sits alone and takes the box (lid made by Joseph Lunderse with people sitting around the fire), we can almost look into shaman´s mind for a while. The picture is very captivating and even after some time, you discover new things in it. Inside hides foldable game board with the route for one single piece (and this folding will be part of your experience!).
But there is more boards. One of them will be placed aside and shows a map of the nervous system and it also includes a pair of camp boards, one of which serves as a clock and other as a shamanic drum. Three decks of cards are environment, talking (sharing feelings) and personal paths. In the box are also mood cards for players, different tokens (mantra, wisdom, paradox, awakening or face) and a pile of wooden focus cubes and octagon for personal trips. But we´ll find something, that none of us expected, right at the bottom – 3D glasses! Why? Read on!
At the beginning of the game, each player receives eight mood cards, one breating token, cubes, one help card and a pair of wooden octagons. All this is in his chosen color. Everyone additionally places two small cubes to nervous system board – the starting position is indicated in red on both scales: intensity and moving forward.
Board of the nervous system should lie on the far left and to the right, starting board is placed unraveled to show only one fifth of the true size. Above and below board of the nervous system are placed other plates concentration and decks of cards. Next to them, supply of most tokens is created, of which only mantras are sorted by letters into five stacks. Players then put action pawn on the starting field and path for spiritual equilibrium can begin.
A game itself takes place very simply. Players take turns, choosing one mood card from their hand. According to its value, player shifts action token ahead on the trail on common board. In many cases, the movement will not match exactly to played number, but shaman himself can not decide about this. Earlier stops can occur, if pawn steps onto mandatory section marked with a frame. Conversely, he can add some motion points by sacrificing this power from nervous system board.
Field, where pawn stops moving, represents an experience, that is waiting players this round. Sometimes, it is a shared experience, other times is action only for one player. This can be determined based on icon – box contains a number or not. As a result of the action, players can also come lose some of previously acquired objects.
On his way in altered state, players consciousness gets sometimes hit by intense moments. The sum of the dice and value on that field will determine real power of the experience. Then everyone checks his readiness to intensity on nervous systém board. Players with sufficient power get one paradox token, while those unprepared lose an item. Then everybody lowers their readiness level by one step. It is possible to prepare and increase readiness for intense moments through actions. But players always have to choose, which part of the nervous system they want to improve raises (resistance intensity or moving forward – used to alter number of spaces for a pawn).
Actual objects, that are based on currently explained rules players only losing, can be obtained from the boxes with letters, that represent mantras. If a player at that moment is already in possession of the appropriate letter, he gets objects, which are shown next to the box. Other events are environments and sharing experience. Both can bring objects to players depending on the revealed cards from the deck. In the case of sharing, player has to give one of these items to other player. When the event of environment occurs, everyone will play one mood card and thus determine, what is gain or lost.
Similarly, but still a little differently, also works talking. Here, players always draw a card from the deck and choose opponent, which still did not get any card during talking. He takes it, performs desired effect (loss or gain of an item), takes a new card and selects another target. Event continues until everyone receives one card and evaluates it.
Throughout shared experience, players may encounter also their personal paths. They allow them to visit special places on the board. When this happens and player has some movement points left, he can draws one personal card and place his octagon on it. He will travel separately there.
The game continues until a joint action token arrives at the end of its route. Now all participants summ up accumulated experience. They receive them for various accumulated token (paradoxes, wisdom, face and awakening tokens). The player with the highest point gain becomes best traveler on plains of altered states of consciousness.
Mushroom Eaters is a game experience hard to describe. I bet the rule explanation seems strange and not very interesting to you. But everything changes, when you sit down to play, understand it, and you start to get acquainted with it. From every inch of it breathes great atmosphere, that will engulf the entire two hours, which are usually needed to complete your journey.
Game is full of original and unique concepts. From beginning to end, it is designed to set in front of you THE experience, you will never forget. Players have impact on everything, that happens in the game. And it starts with the joint action with pawn, that is moved along the board. But sometimes, players are forced to evaluate actions step by step before passing the word further. In addition, game also includes options to turn away from the main road, fall behind the rest of the players and experience your own adventures.
Individual elements of gameplay are complementary and creates a monolithic whole. Everything is thought out to the smallest detail and tuned to be extraordinary. Thanks to its depth, this game is certainly not for everyone, because it is a truly challenging fun. But if you got curious from our description, then it will inspire you.
Result of everything, of course, revolves around points. But there are many way to collect them. And all make sense. In addition, most of the activities are experienced y players together and they can get all the points. It depends only on how well they are prepared for the actual experience. And that talking action is absolutely great, because players give cards to each other, until everyone has received one. Excellent small board to make talking easier may be downloaded from BoardGameGeek.
The game is about profits and losses. Its not hard to lose items, you already own. But above all, it is necessary to constantly balance your position on both routes of nervous system. With them are related also adjacent two concentration boards full of your tokens. There is not anything extremely difficult strategically, only just enough to ley you enjoy your journey and fight for victory by clearly-cut means.
The only drawback is the fact, that cards start to repeat . But this does not spoil impression, because overall the game is always a bit different and has refreshing look. In addition, it is a really intense experience, that you just hide for the right days. This is not a game, that should be played every weekend, because you will enjoy it more in the rare occasions with correct people.
It is not easy to learn to play the whole thing. Various fields of actions, their consequences and terminology. Everything needs first to pass into your blood, so you can really enjoy the game. The rules are also demanding to read and full of variety of terms. Fortunately, there is a glossary to help them explain at the beginning and clarify their importance for the whole game. It´s just another step towards perfect experience.
Game has a unique graphic design, that becomes more surrealistic as players sink deeper and deeper into the experience. It should be noted, that they are handmade and therefore each game is unique piece in a sense. Everything is finished with presence of 3D glasses, that allow you to see the board differently from place, where you sit!
Mushroom Eaters is a very courageous board game, that creates a unique experience, providing truly memorable matches. Game really exudes charm and feeling, that you had licked a mushroom. The slogan at the beginning of the rules captures it all: „Plants are talking to us now.“
Review: Mushroom Eaters – under influence of the shrooms
In the game Mushroom Eaters, plants show you the world through their eyes. You have to fight with it and get out of it as deep understanding as possible. The road has clear rules, but you never know, what exactly is prepared for you and when. Theme of this game is absolutely unique, as is the overall experience. The game takes longer, but it only deepens your living inside game´s world. No need to beat around the bush, because except for minor problems with replayability, Mushroom Eaters is a BANG in the truest sense of the word. This is art in form of board game. And as such, one group may like it and other not, but for us, this one is a real treasure.