Atheneum: Mystic Library – Feeling Bookish
You weren’t supposed to be in the library!
A security guard caught you red-handed sneaking into the school library late at night for some before-the-final cramming. Your penance is to sort and reshelve all the books that need to be cleaned up!
Athenenum: Mystic Library is a drafting and spatial planning game for 2-5 players ages 10 and up. It takes between 30-45 minutes to sort and shelve all of the the mythical volumes.
Each player picks a book color and take the corresponding main shelf, player token, and two wand tokens. Put a spider token in each section of their main shelf.
Shuffle the objective cards, place four face up at the bottom of the central library board, and keep the deck handy. Put the remaining wands on the library board.
Separate and shuffle the “A” and “B” decks. Deal each player six cards from the “A” deck.
The last player to have read a book goes first!
Atheneum: Mystic Library takes place across two phases: “A” and “B”. Players interact through drafting cards during these phases. Each turn has four parts:
1. Play a Card
Select a card from your hand and place it face down. Each card contains three sections. One benefits you; the other two benefit your neighbors at the table.
2. Resolve Benefits
All players simultaneously reveal their cards. Each player receives the benefit at the bottom of their own card and the benefit of the cards of the players to their left and right in the appropriate sections.
Once you’ve gathered your benefits (books, points, wands, bonus tokens, re-shelve actions), shelve your books. Arrange them matching the colors and/or locations on the currently visible objective cards to earn extra victory points.
Shelving and Reshelving Books
As you shelve (or reshelve) books they must always be touching a “support” on the bottom and at least one side. A support can be the shelf (bottom and sides) or another book.
No “freestanding” books are allowed!
A reshelving benefit (on a card or a bonus token) allows you to pull 2-4 books off your shelves then shelve them as if they were new. When removing books for reshelving, remaining books cannot be left without support!
Some cards provide a bonus token; pull one from the bag at random. Every bonus token has a candle on one side, but the other can give more books, a reshelve action, a wand, or a side shelf.
Before the turn ends, decide which benefit you’ll use from the token: candles get placed in scoring positions on top of your bookshelf, books inside the shelves. For anything else, discard tokens after using them.
Side shelves are exactly that – they add more space to a player board. You may add a maximum of two; one on each side.
At the beginning of the game, each compartment in your bookshelf has a spider. When a you fill up a compartment for the first time, capture the spider. Turn in the spider token to the supply and choose a magic wand, bonus token, side shelf, or a book of any color. You must do this immediately.
3. Score Objectives
Once all players have shelved (or reshelved) their books, you may claim one or more objectives by putting a wand on the appropriate card.
Verify the required placements and award the points (and any other benefits) from completing that objective.
Objectives are not exclusive; all players can complete the same objective, but each can only complete it once.
4. Clean Up
Move played cards to the discard pile for phase “A”. Then, slide the four objective cards to the right, discarding the rightmost objective. Place a new objective in the leftmost spot on the board.
Players pass their cards to the player to their left and begin the next turn.
Repeat this four times, then discard the last card of the phase.
Repeat the process of Phase “A” but passing the cards counter-clockwise (see the back of the cards!). Once Phase “B” completes (ten turns across phases A & B) the game is over!
End Game Scoring
Each compartment scores points only if it is full, indicated on the side of the compartment.
Candles grant points according to their placement.
Score one point for every book you have in your “favorite subject” (matching the book type/color you chose at the beginning of the game). However, each of these books only score if they are touching at least one other book of the same subject.
Finally, add a point for each magic wand you have left over. Who will be the librarian’s favorite helper?
Atheneum: Mystic Library seemed like a lot of game when we first opened the box. Primed by other library-themed games such as Ex-Libris and Fire in the Library, we were sure this would have a rather steep learning curve.
We were delighted to see the gameplay come together very smoothly, however. The clear symbology and obvious, rotating objectives made the game much simpler than it first appeared.
The gameplay loop in Atheneum is very simple and allows for simultaneous play. Each player chooses a card, all reveal, and everyone works at the same time to gather their rewards and perform actions on their boards.
Anyone who has played a drafting game a la Sushi Go! or Draftosaurus knows how drafting games work; the desire for the next drafting opportunity propels most players through their actions quickly.
We were also pleased at just how little space the game took up. The central board is the same size as the game box, so we just put it on top of the box to play. All of the spare supplies and even the bins took up very little space, and the player boards were the only other element.
With games seeming to take progressively more space on the table, it was nice to not be overwhelmed.
Book Storage: A Mixed Bag
It may seem like a small nit to pick, but we are frustrated with the book storage containers. They’re a nice feature during gameplay, but without covers (as in AEG’s Ecos: The First Continent), it was a hassle to load and unload the bins every time we played.
Art and Graphic Design
The gorgeous art in Atheneum is also a bit of a tease. There are two or three standout pieces, but the rest is relatively mundane. We appreciate the different shapes for each color on the scoreboard, but the rest of the components are fine, not amazing.
You will, however, very much enjoy reading the spines of the books. Who knew you could read a book about Griffin Behavioral Science?
We really enjoy the spatial puzzle in Atheneum. The gameplay is easy to understand, making this a game accessible a little bit younger than the 10+ listed on the box.
Find Atheneum: Mystic Library on Amazon or at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers were provided a promotional copy of Atheneum: Mystic Library from Renegade Game Studios for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Atheneum: Mystic Library
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 30-45 minutes