Put the Game board in the middle of the table and the Cult board next to it.
Assignment of factions
For your first game, we recommend you play Terra Mystica with predefined factions. Depending on the number of players, take the recommended factions and distribute them among the players:
- 2 players: Witches (green), and Nomads (yellow)
- 3 players: Witches (green), Nomads (yellow) and Alchemists (black)
- 4 players: Witches (green), Nomads (yellow), Halflings (brown), and Mermaids (blue)
- 5 players: Witches (green), Nomads (yellow), Halflings (brown), Mermaids (blue), and Giants (red)
Components in faction colors
Each Faction board has a Transformation cycle. It shows the seven types of terrain with the Home terrain of a given faction highlighted by its larger size. (The color of your Home terrain matches your faction's color).
Take all the tokens in your faction's color: Priests, Structures, Markers, and the Bridges.
Put the 7 Priests and the 3 Bridges next to your Faction board.
Put the Structures on the corresponding spaces on your Faction board.
Distribute the 7 Markers of your color.
Place one Marker on the leftmost space of the Shipping track (value 0).
(Only the Mermaids start with value 1. The Fakirs and Dwarves do not have Shipping and therefore do not need this Marker).
Place one Marker on the bottommost space of the Exchange track of your Faction board - this is the space where 3 Workers equal 1 Spade.
(The Darklings do not need this Marker).
Place another Marker on space 20 of the Victory point track on the Game board.
Distribute the remaining 4 Markers on space 0 of each of the 4 Cult tracks on the Cult board.
The setup for each faction is depicted on its Faction board.
Collect your starting resources. They are depicted at the top right corner of your Faction board, under your faction's name:
Take the depicted resources and place them on your Faction board. (On top of these starting resources, you will get your income for the first round).
Your Faction board depicts some Cult symbols next to the starting resources. For each such symbol, move the corresponding Marker on the Cult board up one space.
Bowls of Power
Your Faction board displays three Bowls of Power at its top left corner. Distribute a total of 12 Power tokens (occasionally simply called Power) between Bowls I and II as indicated on your Faction board.
Game and cult board
For your first game, we recommend you play with the following setup. What follows is the setup for a 4-player game explained in detail. The setup for a different number of players follows afterwards.
Randomly draw 6 Scoring tiles and put them face-up on the Game board in random order. Each tile corresponds to a round. Put the remaining two tiles back into the game box.
Cover the right half of the uppermost Scoring tile with the Game end token.
Shuffle the 9 Bonus cards. The number of cards needed in the game depends on the number of players.
For two players you need 5 bonus cards, for 3 you need 6, for 4 you need 7 and for five players, you need 8 bonus cards.
Randomly draw the required number of Bonus cards and place them face-up next to one another. And put the remaining cards back into the game box.
Choosing a Faction board
The Starting player chooses a faction and takes its Faction board. In clockwise order, each other player takes one of the remaining Faction boards and chooses which side to use.
Note: Alternatively, randomly assign the factions. (Take one Dwelling of each color and randomly distribute them among the players). Then choose one of the two factions: the front or back of the corresponding Faction board.
Once each player has decided on a faction, proceed with the faction setup as explained for the introductory game. Also, distribute the components of your color as explained there.
However, do not place your Dwellings on the Game board, yet.
Placing the first Structures
Skip this section when reading for the first time. In the introductory game, the first Structures are placed on predefined spaces.
Beginning with the Starting player and in clockwise order, place one of your Dwellings on an existing Home terrain. Then, with the last player and in counterclockwise order, place a second Dwelling in the same fashion.
The Nomads place their third Dwelling after all players have placed their second one. The Chaos Magicians place their only Dwelling after all other players have placed all of their Dwellings - if necessary, after the Nomads have placed their third Dwelling).
Dwellings may only be placed on a faction's Home terrain. Other than that, there are no restrictions.
All Structures, incl. the Dwellings, are taken from left to right off your Faction board.
Choosing the first Bonus card
Bonus cards provide additional income, unlock Special actions or award Victory points for certain Structures at the end of a round.
Beginning with the last player and in counterclockwise order, each choose and take one Bonus card.
Place 1 Coin from the general supply on each of the leftover Bonus cards. (The purpose of these Coins is to make the less frequently taken Bonus cards more attractive in later rounds).
At the end of each round, there will be 3 leftover Bonus cards that each get 1 Coin.