WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-8
Published by: IV Games
Veiled Fate is marketed as a strategic deduction game. Blending tactical decisions more commonly seen in 'Ameritrash' style games with the table talk and bluffing of a deduction game. On paper, this sounds like a great idea, and in reality... it absolutely delivers!
Veiled Fate looks gorgeous. The team behind IV Games would be expected to make something that looks as lovely as this after the stunning production seen in Moonrakers. But that doesn't mean it should not be appreciated. It really is a phenomenal production. That said, FOR FULL DISCLOSURE this was a free review copy provided to me for my unbiased opinion, and I have the upgraded components, minis, and game trays that do not come with the basic retail edition. Although the standard components are all very good. But the main thing that really catches my eye about this game is the board art.
Just look at it...
It feels quite Autumnal to me. The colour scheme takes my mind to those long cold nights, with evening fire pits, and warm blankets. And it's all largely irrelevant. You don't really need the board. You could just put cards in a circle around a central tile and have the same game. But it certainly adds to the theme, table presence, and drama. And I am all in for that!
Getting Veiled Fate to the table is very simple. Lay out the board and place all the minis or standees (whichever you have) into the central space. Place the scoring markers onto the bottom "zero" score space. Then lay out three Age cards, drawn randomly from each separate age deck, one city card, and one more Quest card than there are players randomly onto any of the location spaces.
Each player is then randomly dealt five fate cards and one Demi-God character card, which they must look at but keep hidden from all other players. Each player will be secretly rooting for that Demi-God, and scoring for that Demi-God at the end of the game, but they can move and control any Demi-God at any point in the game. Players must try to keep their own personal intentions hidden for as long as possible.
How to Play
Players will then in turns, take two actions each. These are as simple as moving any Demi-God character one space to any adjacent area or onto an available quest spot. Areas next to each are considered adjacent, and all areas are adjacent to the central City space, apart from the Abyss and the Pools. The Abyss is only adjacent to the Pools and the Pools are only adjacent to the City.
The second action is to enact a god power. Which I won't go through in full now, but you can read more about here. They mainly allow you to move the Demi-Gods in rule breaking ways or play extra fate cards. Doing so costs either one, two, or three fate cards. Discarded so you can take the god power action. The reason you may want to do this, I will come to now.
The way you win Veiled Fate is by moving your Demi-God to be in the highest scoring positions at the end of the third age. The main way you score points is by including your Demi-God in the available quests each age. When you place a Demi-God onto a quest you must add a fate card to that quests fate pile. Voting essentially for either the right or left side of the quest card to come into affect when the quest is completed. You do this by playing either a feather or scorpion card.
Once all of the available spaces for Demi-Gods on the quest is full the quest immediately activates. On the top of the quest card, it will show how many extra cards need to be added, in the above example you can see that this is one card. The player who triggers the quest by adding the final Demi-God to the last open space must choose any other player to add one more card to the pile. In a two-player game the extra card comes from the stack. All cards are then shuffled and revealed. The majority vote triggers an affect on all gods included in the quest. Either to get the reward or punishment based on where they are placed on the quest card.
For example, in the above quest, on the bottom space, if the majority was with feathers, the Demi-God placed there would gain two points. If scorpion gained the majority, the Demi-God placed there would loose one point. Another affect that happens here is a Demi-God can be banished, which means being sent to the Abyss. The destiny of the Demi-God can also be left to the flip of a coin, usually resulting in a point being gained or lost, which is what happens in the above example in the top row for the scorpion side.
This is the crux of the game. As you play, you will want to get the Demi-God you are secretly hoping will win into as many quests as possible. Without making it obvious that this is your Demi-God by over using them. You then of course need to try and affect the vote to work for you. Being involved in a quest is not simply enough. However, another way to play is to focus more on getting the other Demi-Gods to loose points so they fall behind you, which perhaps is a more subtle and easier way to hide your full intentions. But of course, this means you have to try and affect many more Demi-Gods destiny rather than just one. And not all votes will go your way!
Sometimes, including your Demi-God in a quest will mean it loses points, and other Demi-Gods that have been randomly placed there as a decoy will overtake you on the points tracker when they gain points against your wishes. Not reacting to these moments, audibly and in your facial reactions is hard, but crucial to keeping your Demi-God identity hidden. But in truth, where a lot of the fun and laughter comes from when players visually are happy or left frustrated by the result of a vote and the other players start to make a guess as to who they are secretly controlling.
The reason why you want to keep your identity hidden as long as possible, is generally, unless you are playing a full eight player game, there will be more Demi-Gods in the game than players, and so it will be a lot harder for other players to make your Demi-God loose points, when they don't know which one it is! But as soon as people start to deduct who you are, they can then start trying to make your Demi-God loose points.
There are two other ways the Demi-Gods can gain or loose points. Each time you move any Demi-God into the central City space, you must move the tracker on the city card one space. This will trigger various effects, some of which are to gain points for the Demi-God that just moved into the City. It can also be a chance to draw more fate cards, or banish a Demi-God. Banishing a Demi-God is not necessarily that bad. It just means they are now at least three movement points away from joining any Quests. As to get out of the Abyss, you must move into the Pools and then City. But doing this allows the player who moves the Demi-God out of the Abyss to draw another fate card. And then the player who moves the Demi-God out of the Pools can swap a fate card from their hand with one from the top of the deck if they so choose.
The final way you can score points is through the age cards. Once all quests are complete, or all players have rested, the age ends. All players can now add any remaining fate cards they may have into the age card vote. This will be a vote whereby one of three affects takes place. These are different each age, and seen by each players at the start of the age. You must decide at the beginning of each age if you feel you need to keep any fate cards back for this vote, and also if you you need to manipulate the board in anyway prior to the vote. This is because the result of the vote may affect Demi-Gods in specific position on the board when the vote occurs. The vote is a majority one, either by the most feathers or scorpions. But there is also a tie affect which may benefit you more.
At the end of the third age, all players will reveal their identity and the player with the most points wins. When Demi-Gods win points, they move to the next scoring space at the front of the line. If there were two other Demi-Gods in that scoring space already, they would place in front of them and be in the lead. So this game is not just about scoring points, but about scoring points at the right time. Gaining a few final points, right at the end could take you from last place to victory!
I absolutely love the interplay in Veiled Fate. Being able to control all Demi-Gods, but secretly trying to manipulate just one of them into a leading position is a lot of fun. Trying to hide your intentions, and manipulate a busy board with eight different Demi-Gods is so entertaining. It feels deceitful, mysterious, and amusing to try and trick the other players into thinking you are trying to achieve one thing, when in fact you are doing something else. All eight Demi-Gods are in the game, no matter the player count. So, you can always hide within the crowd. However, I have found in lower player counts, players often focus on just five or six Demi-Gods and two are left languishing on the same space all game. Simply as their minds focus on the same few each quest. This is fine, but the game certainly shines with more players. It works well in a two and three, but from four and up it starts to get very good.
I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a flexible game that works with multiple player counts, and that plays quickly and simply for most ages and experiences, but that still delivers a satisfying and thought proving game experience. This game is all about the art of bluffing, deduction, and observation. But it has no accusations like other hidden role deduction games, and players do not need to act as any roles. So, it is a little easier for those that don't enjoy the limelight that this can bring, or the sense of failure when they cannot hide their role.
I can see this game getting a lot of plays in my household. It is so quick and simple to teach and set-up, and very accessible in terms of the rules and strategy. The only hard part is hiding your intentions in the game and not revealing who your Demi-God is, which some younger gamers may struggle with. But even if you have your Demi-God guessed correctly early on, this does not mean you cannot or won't win. Or that the game won't be fun that time.
All in all, this is a stunning production, with a fresh and brilliantly executed rule book. The game flows incredibly smoothly. Everything feels highly polished, well thought-out, and thoroughly play tested. IV Games sure do put a lot of care into their games. It is seen in every aspect of their marketing and production. That does not always result in a good game experience. But in Moonrakers and Veiled Fate I have found two games which have both leapt into my top 20. The two games are very different but have similarities with the table-talk and human interplay that is crucial to each games success. It will be interesting to see what IV Games do next and if they stick with this formula. But I for one will follow their work very closely after this and look forward to seeing what they come up with.