Game Review:   The Vale of Eternity

The Vale of Eternity comes in a small box and seems simple at first.  There is some luck involved, but because it is a card drafting game, everyone gets to implement their own strategy.

It is refreshing to see a new game that is easy to set up and that you can start playing in less than five minutes.  Vale of Eternity has that simplicity, but also combines enough mechanics to make it a compelling strategic game that you immediately want to play again after you finish.

Game Review: The Vale of Eternity

What is The Vale of Eternity?

This game is a contest between monster tamers to build the best stable of up to ten creatures which will help you gain points.  The most points wins.  This game won the 2024 Mensa Select Award, so you know it involves some thinking!  The award is given to board games that are original, challenging, and well-designed.  The Vale is all of those things!

The Vale of Eternity is a simple board game that doesn’t really need a board!  The Game Board is just a way to divide the cards in each draft round by their elements.  Since each element has a different color you don’t really need to do that.  The only other thing on the board is a list of sale prices for each element type.  That could just be on a card, the box or in the instructions.  The second board is just a scoreboard and a round marker, which could be done on paper if you didn’t bring the board.  

Other components include player score markers, the first player marker, round marker, and 42 magic stones that are really money in denominations of 1, 3, and 6.  There are cards for 70 creatures to be drafted.  Each one has special skills.  The final piece of the game is a small standee of a dragon that you put in the middle of the board.  It serves no purpose other than looking cool.

The Vale of Eternity game set up

How do you play The Vale of Eternity?

The game is played in ten rounds. The first player token rotates each round and designates who gets first and last pick in the draft. In a round there are three phases:

  1. Hunting Phase:  Players draft two cards from the game board.
  2. Action Phase:  Players can do the following:
    1. Sell cards (get the gem value shown per element type)
    2. Tame a creature (put the card in your hand)
    3. Summon a creature (place the creature in your summoned stable)
  3. Resolution Phase: Use any active effects of summoned cards

There aren’t many rules to memorize, since most of the conditions can be read from the cards, but these rules guide the play:

  • You can only have four gems at a time.
  • If you gain a fifth gem, you can discard any of the four you hold.
  • When you summon a creature you pay the gem cost, but there is no change given.
  • The number of cards in each draft is equal to double the number of players.
  • Some cards can override other rules.
  • After the draft, which is the Hunting Phase, the First Player completes phases two and three, then the play rotates until all players have completed that round.
  • Each round has a summoned creature limit equal to the round.
  • The winner is the first to get to 60 before round ten or the Tamer with the highest point total after round ten.

How much of this game is luck and how much is strategy?

Since the deck is randomized, there is certainly luck involved in this game! Everybody can see all of the draft cards. Although the first player has an advantage by picking the first card, they also get the last card, which means that if there are any combos on the table that would work well together, the first player probably won’t get them.  

You can try to build a stable with creatures that have synergy. Some creatures will give you points for each elemental type you hold, so diversity can also be a strength.  Another strategy is to play spoiler and prevent the other player(s) from getting the cards they want.  This is difficult since the first player token rotates each round.

To put it simply, even though this game has a relatively low boardgamegeek.com complexity rating of 2.09 (out of 5), it involves more strategy than luck!

Closeup on the dragon of the Vale

Is this a game I would recommend that people buy? Yes!

In a time when you can easily pay more than $60 for a board game, this one costs around $24-30.  It is simple, but easy to learn and you can play 10 rounds quickly and be ready for the rematch.  I would take this one off of the shelf over and over! You could leave the boards behind and travel with 70 cards and 42 gems, which would easily fit in one sandwich bag.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Have you ever played this game before?
  2. What other games have you played that utilize card drafting systems?
  3. Based on this review, will you buy Vale of Eternity or try it out in a game shop?

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