App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Miracle Merchant is the third single-player, fantasy-themed card game from TiNYTOUCHTALES. Where the games that came before it had players living our more traditional power fantasies (dungeon-crawling, thieving), Miracle Merchant has players combining ingredient cards into potions for their patrons. In a lot of ways, it's a step back from the intricacies of things like Card Crawl and Card Thief, which has both advantages and drawbacks. Either way though, it's still a pretty great game.
In Miracle Merchant, you play as a potion brewer who must fulfill the wishes of each customer as they come through the door. Every customer wants and needs specific ingredients to go into their brew, and you have to combine four ingredient cards so as to best meet their demands. This sounds simple in theory, but it can get a little complicated considering you can only draw the top card off of a stock of ingredients and there are “spoiled” ingredient cards to contend with.
From a purely mechanical perspective, this makes Miracle Merchant feel like an exercise in risk management. Although you always want to combine cards to match your customers' desires, you also have to stay aware of what the next customers will want, how many spoiled cards you may come across, and how many of each ingredient that you have left. Successful games end with you using all of your cards to satisfy all customers in your line, and you fail if you can't make a potion that a patron wants.
In addition to purely surviving a day at the potion shop, Miracle Merchant is a bit of a score chaser. You can earn bonus points by combining ingredients that customers want, but you can also discover recipes in the form of certain card combinations and layouts that can net you bonus points in your playthrough.
These combos are really what give Miracle Merchant most of its replayability. The game has side objectives you can aim to complete using these combos, and there's even a Daily Challenge where you compete against other players for a high score.
A simple potion-maker
Miracle Merchant's core mechanics are rock solid, but the game feels just a tad thin compared to TiNYTOUCHTALES's previous games. There are no unlocks here or new scenarios to uncover. Every game is the same setup every time.
If you're a score chaser, this might sound like the ideal game for you, since you don't have to worry about whether some unlock might net you a higher score ceiling. You can just jump right in and set respectable scores right away. That said, if you're looking for something to work toward beyond score, discovering new potion recipes is about all there is for you, and that's not a particularly compelling system to keep you on the hook.
The bottom line
If you were looking for a follow up to Card Crawl that is less complicated, this is the game for you. It doesn't hide anything behind unlocks, and presents a perfectly enjoyable solo card game that way. For fans of Card Thief though, Miracle Merchant could prove a little less satisfying.