Veiled Fate from IV Studio is a game of deduction and strategy for 2-8 players. It's designed by Max Anderson, Zac Dixon and Austin Harrison (the team behind the excellent Moonrakers) and it's set amidst a fantasy world where demi-gods roam the earth in a quest for the most renown. As with IV Studios' other games (Moonrakers and Fractured Sky), the components and Harry Conway's artwork are exceptional. The circular board looks impressive on the table, with each of its seven sections depicting a different area of the world. There is an extremely neat, practical insert that makes game set up a breeze.
Each player will take on the role of one of nine demi-gods after being dealt a secret identity card; in games with 6-8 players it's advised to play as teams with two players taking on the role of the same demi-god but with the twist that players don’t know who their partner is... A number of Quest cards are placed in the various locations on the board, each player is dealt a hand of five Fate cards and all nine demi-god miniatures are placed in the central city space.
The game is split into three Ages, with each Age having a card randomly drawn from its decks offering a small variation to the rules and so an extra level of replayability. An Age will last until all players have ‘rested’ or all the quests of the current age have been completed.
Mechanically, a player's turn is very straightforward: you perform two actions - either move any of the demi-gods to an adjacent area, which may be onto an open spot on a Quest, or spend some of your precious Fate cards to perform one of the god powers that let you manipulate the positions of the demi-gods.
Each Quest has several open spots to place demi-gods but certain spots may only be occupied by specific demi-gods. When you take a spot you also have to add a Fate card face down to the pool of cards next to the Quest. Choose wisely because when the Quest card is full, the votes will be tallied and either the white/feather side or black/scorpion side will win, and where on the Quest card the demi-god was placed will determine if they lose/gain renown or are sent to the Abyss.
Managing your limited hand of Fate cards is key: opportunities to gain more cards are fairly sparse, and running out means you are forced to rest for the remainder of the Age. Moving demi-gods who have been smote to the Abyss or returning to the central city offer the reward of more cards and might also possibly reveal more about a players identity.
The fact that your identity is hidden and that you can move any of the nine demi-gods is where the fun begins. How much can you afford to bluff? Are you inadvertently helping your opponents by placing their demi-gods on favourable spots. If you concentrate too much on your own demi-god others will quickly deduce your true identity and you'll probably pay the price...
The first two Ages are very much a case of trying to work out who your opponents are and which demi-gods aren’t actually player controlled. Deducing that information is not easily done with the amount of misdirection that is possible. However, in all our plays at Board's Eye View, most players had a reasonable idea of who was who by the time we hit the third Age. At the end of each Age, there is a final vote, with each Age card offering a different option, so throughout the round the relative positions of demi-gods becomes important, both for scoring extra renown and revealing players' motives.
The game plays very well at the various player counts, although with eight players the time between turns can start to add up. Even so, you will still be very much engaged with what is happening on other players' turns, and the hidden teammate dynamic also spices the game up.
Veiled Fate offers a great balance between strategy and deduction and should appeal to fans of both genres and to players of all ages.
(Review by Greg White)