Before I begin, I was sent a prototype (containing the first two scenarios) of the game, and may receive a copy of the game should it fund, in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather watch a video of this preview you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
I have three tile laying games in my collection. That’s it. Three. One of them has slid to the edge of the games that are about to be culled for space. Another, I like, but I can never get anyone to play, cause of its specific gimmick that my gaming group doesn’t like. They are wrong, but the result is that it just sits on my shelf. The third sits on my shelf, and I regularly say “I should take that out again and play it!”, then I never do. So needless to say Tile Laying games and me have a tense relationship.
On the flip side. I rank Lucky Duck games as one of the publishers that I will try just about anything that they put out, cause I have yet to play one of their games that I did not, at the very least, enjoy.
So what am I supposed to do when Lucky Duck offers to send me a copy of their new tile laying, legacy game? Well similar to when someone asks if you are a god…I said yes. Cause the combination of mechanics in this one sounded fascinating. Competitive tile laying, app driven, and legacy. I don’t care who ya are, that is interesting.
In Divinus you take on the role of a demi-god who finds themselves in the middle of a conflict between the Norse, and Greek gods. This is a conflict that will play out over the course of 12 scenarios, with points and story, tracked and revealed respectively by the app. As you play through the scenarios you will be given new mechanics that will drastically change the way each game is played, until the end when you are left with a unique copy of the game that can then be used for one off games.
Each game is a deceptively simple. You will take your dice, which have been rolled prior, and then using basic math try to make the numbers match a tile on the shared board. In other words if you want tile 3, you can use your 4 and your 1 with some basic subtraction to select it. Then you leave your dice on the board and take the tile, placing it into your map, making sure that the land types match up on all sides of the tile. The other action you begin the game able to take is the rest action, which allows you to recover and reroll your dice, and then fill the now empty spaces on the shared board with new tiles.
Now the reason you are building your map is to fulfill two things. You are attempting to accomplish end game scoring conditions from the active gods. The first two revealed in the game are looking for either very large land areas of specific types, or a bunch of small areas of specific types. Or you are attempting to fulfill carious quests during the game. These quests are usually fulfilled by having specific things on your personal map during the game, which again will give you points for the endgame.
However, what both of these are also doing are changing the path of the story. You see based on who does what in the each game the app will give those characters choices that they can make which will effect the story moving forward. As these story events happen you will start altering the board. You will place stickers on tiles, that will activate any time they are drafted moving forward, you might remove cards from the game permanently, or you might earn relics (powers) and titles that you can use moving forward. Or you will place stickers onto the dice themselves which will begin to dramatically change the way you play each time you roll the dice.
Each game will continue until a player has a 4×4 grid on their personal map completely filled in, and then you move to end game scoring. At which point the app will continue the story and reveal the new rules and tell you what stickers to put where, including the rule book.
So what do I think?
The game looks great, and at least through the first two games it plays quickly and simply. The dice/math part of the game is a fun variant on traditional drafting, made only better by the ability to doctor the dice to fit your preferences. The core gameplay of the tile placement is simple, fun, and surprisingly thoughtful considering its simplicity. I particularly enjoy the various gods and quests, and seeing how they interact as you play through the game.
The app is really well done. I think it is just awesome that they have gotten rid of the QR codes for something more thematic, as well as given you the option to type in a number. It also parcels out bits of story at a good clip and does an excellent job of making sure you know what it is that you are supposed to be doing.
A lot of my enthusiasm for this game is based on the promise that it offers. I simply do not know what will happen over the last 10 games of the campaign, will the momentum of awesome reveals keep up? Will I want to keep playing all the way through to the end, and then keep playing my new unique copy? I have no idea. If it keeps dropping bombs that change how the game plays then it will be amazing, if not, then it might not hold your interest.
Also, just keep in mind that though there is a seemingly deep story filled with combat and intrigue, it is still a tile laying game. This is not a dungeon crawl or an adventure game.
Bringing it all together
Divinus is the peak of Lucky Duck’s app driven games. It takes everything the the COC series does well and kicks it up a notch. The tile laying is clean, simple and delightfully puzzle-y. The way the game changed between scenario 1 and 2 was just awesome, and I am excited to see what it could do as the game continues. Keep in mind that this is a tile laying game, not an adventure game despite how adventurous and epic the story feels.
I am one of those muscle bound demigods, I am not really into reading.
* Game looks great on the table
* Simple rules to dive into, and the complexity shift between games is very satisfying
* The app integration is excellent
* Epic feeling story, that ties in well with the tile laying mechanics
* Definitely not an adventure game, though you might think it is based on the story line
* Love the way the game grows as you place the stickers, and alter the tiles and your dice