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Deus Ex Machina

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

From the theme and title, you might think that this game was a reprint of AlcyonCreative's 2016 Deus Ex Machina game. This new game shares the same design team of Harry Haralampidis, Konstaninos Iovis and Lefteris Iroglidis, and artists Mike Katoglou and Giota Vorgia, but its full title is Deus Ex Machina: The Card Game, and this is a lighter, simpler game.

The 2-4 players each have one of four Heroes from Greek mythology. The cards for these show their Might and Cunning, and these will be needed to fulfil Quests, of which three are always displayed. To match or beat a Quest's requirements, you'll need to call on one of the two Comrade cards displayed (adding more Might and Cunning to your total), and you can also choose to call on the support of one of the gods. Each Hero and Comrade has a Greek god who favours them and so gives them additional Might or Cunning, and there are gods that can be used for other effects (for example, Hephaestus can be used to switch a Quest card's Might and Cunning requirements). When you satisfy the requirements of a Quest you score its points value (ranging from 2 to 4 points) but whenever you call on a god for support, it scores you a negative point.

The game is essentially a race to accumulate the target number of victory points for the player count (14 for the four-player game; 17 for the three-player game; and 19 points with two players) but the Quests all have one of five coloured symbols on them and you'll have the additional objective of collecting at least one of each of four of the five colours before you can claim victory. Tho' we've shown the objective cards in our Board's Eye View 360, you should play with these concealed so that opponents cannot be sure which symbols you need to collect. That said tho', we found in our Board's Eye View plays that in order to collect enough points to meet the victory requirement, players almost always had Quest cards with all five coloured symbols.

Your Hero card flips each turn so alternates between its Strong and Weak side. This acts as a catch-up mechanic because you may very well be unable to succeed in a Quest on your Weak side, even with the support of a Comrade and god.

Deus Ex Machina is a light, easy-to-play card game. There aren't a lot of decisions to be made. Tho' there's a downside to using a god's powers, the -1 point penalty is a small sacrifice if it means you achieve a Quest you otherwise wouldn't because even the lowest value Quests are worth 2 points. We experimented with house ruling variants for the negative scoring to make the choice of when and whether to summon the support of the gods more of a dilemma. We ended up playing with triangular scoring for the god cards' negative values (ie: -1 point for your first god card, -3 for your second, -6 for your third, etc). We found this increased player agency and choice but without adding unduly to the complexity of the rules for a game that is designed to be easy and accessible for family play.

Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Deus Ex Machina. Alcyon Creative is bringing this game to Kickstarter in October packaged with two other light Greek-myth themed card games (Argonauts and Troy). Click here to check out the KS campaign.

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