Divinus Board Game Review – Lucky Duck Games

Divinus Board Game Review Front cover

Demigods eh? You think every thing is going well and life is nice and quiet, then all of a sudden you’re reminded that you’ve actually got to go and prove yourself and show how powerful you are in order to ascend to some kind of Pantheon type thing. Well, in Divinus you need to.

Now, I don’t want you to cringe when I mention this game, but Divinus from Lucky Duck Games seems to have crawled from the same evolutionary pool as Charterstone. Now that might be enough to have some of you wince slightly but hang fire. I’m very aware that not everyone had the best time from that game and time has seen it as more an experiment in gameplay than a direction to forge ahead with. What if I said that Divinus also seems to have inherited its mother’s love of Carcassonne. Does that make you feel any better? I hope so. I really do.

Divinus board games set up for two players with land tiles and main board on display

Divinus is another entry in the application based games that Lucky Duck Games are quietly and regularly producing from their studios. They seem to have carved out their own specific niche with the Chronicles of Crime and Destinies games of late, and while personally I always saw the apps as a way to add storytelling and narration to a game, Divinus is trying to take the use of the mobile app even further with its use and trying its hand at a legacy game.

Legacy games are a pain in the ass, not because of what they do, but because it makes reviewing a tricky prospect. I want to be able to fully tell you want I think and give examples, but to do so would potentially spoil the experience and so I need to be vague and non specific while telling you whether or not I feel this is worth your time and money.

Unlike Chronicles and Destinies, I would argue that Divinus is a board game as opposed to an experience. It plays like a miniature campaign game that requires a bit of commitment in order to see it through to the end. At that point just like Charterstone, you then have your own unique version of Divinus that you can then carry on playing as a game for as long as you would like to.

Dinivus board game in play with dice and land tiles displayed

The big difference to me is that Divinus builds on the mechanical aspects of the game but in a very controlled manner. Gameplay within the first couple of games is very simple. You play characters who have chunky dice to roll, in order to claim one of twelve tiles on the main board. You can add and subtract dice results to claim specific tiles or play any number of dice on the space. If you roll a three and five, by adding and subtracting them you can potentially claim one of the tiles sitting in spot two, three, five and eight. To do so, you place your dice on the spot and take the tile. At some point, you’ll run out of dice and then you’ll have to collect your thrown dice and reroll them and replace the tiles. All of the tiles have types of territory on them, and are divided into two main sets with shrines on one and helmets representing the two factions of Gods that are facing off against each other.

Collected tiles are added to your own small tableau, and at the beginning you’ll be trying to build a 4×4 grid making sure all the tiles connect nicely together in a Kingdomino type way, while keeping an eye on the quests and deity demands that sit on the main board. Some of the quests require to to have certain helmets in certain territories, while the Gods themselves will be pouring favour on those who are building the biggest connected land masses, or the most number of smaller areas, depending on the God. It’s a hint of the future for how Divinus is going to play out as the rounds progress, sticker sheets are used and the tuckboxes opened.

Tuckboxes you say? Yup. Containing trinkets and stickers and little extras to enhance the game. In every mission the game will expand in terms of some of the base mechanics and the choices that are on offer. Sticker Sheets? Again, Yes. Divinus is about changing a lot of the game. From dice faces to the main board to even the tiles you’ll be placing, the stickers range from permanent changes to your character, to removable stickers that will change some of the game right up until you want to make further alterations. The end goal is to give you something unique though you have no idea how stressful things are when you place a sticker and it is two millimetres off..

Then there is the rulebook, which I can only imagine caused some of the biggest debates during the design process. In essence, the game that you start playing is a seriously diluted version of the final full game. So part of process of playing Divinus, is adding rules to the rulebook. It is one of the strangest gaming mood killers I’ve experienced. Not because of how the rules were added, but when the rules were added. It’s early doors in the game and you’re grasping the base mechanics, rolling dice and claiming tiles and placing them down and then you discover that you’ve done enough to complete a quest. So you modestly make everyone aware that you’re going to claim the quest card and then use the app to find out what your reward is. Turns out, your reward is to then spend the next fifteen minutes digging out the appropriate sticker sheet from the sticker envelope and then place the long peely stickers in the rulebook. Then have to explain to everyone what the new rules mean while you’re in the middle of the game. It happens really early on in the game, and it actually made me wonder if it wouldn’t have been better just to the have those rules in from the start. I’m just hoping it doesn’t put too many people off.

On a much more positive note the app itself is helpful, easy to navigate and adds a wonderful narrative to the overall story which takes into account your decisions and your journey through the world of Divinus. It makes the end scoring relatively hassle free, keeps you one the right path regarding the growing side quests and is an essential part of the game rather than a tacked on type gimmick. The artwork across the game helps to tell the story of the game without being too busy and helps to create the world you are building.

Like most campaign games, Divinus’ biggest enemy isn’t the fickle gods but that behemoth that is commitment. You’ll need to put in twelve sessions in order to fully unlock the potential of all of the tuckboxes on offer. In its favour, most games aren’t going to take hours to play through and it’s entirely possible to play through a couple of boxes in a single session. You’ll need to make sure you’re playing with the same players as there is a real sense of ownership of your character once you’ve been playing with them for a period of time. Overall you feel like your decisions matter, but there has been a conscious effort to make sure that game ends up following a certain path and that while there are winners, you don’t end up a situation where the player who wins the first couple of games will run away with the game without the chance of other players catching up.

Divinus aims to take the hybrid app game in a new direction. It occasionally fumbles in the execution which is only to be expected in something fresh within the genre. Overall it’s another example of the potential that app based games can offer cardboard adventures. To be honest, I’m liking the cut of its tiles.

Designer  – Filip Miłuński

Artists – Matijos Gebreselassie, Karolina Jędrzejak, Mateusz Komada.

 

This review is based on the retail version of the game provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid monetary compensation for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the game may be mentioned.

 
The majority of the games that we are play are going to take a reasonable number of sessions and playthroughs to fully understand every possibility that they offer. We hope this write up gives you an idea of whether or not this game is something that you will consider playing or even add to your collection. 
 
Even if we don’t like something, hopefully it helps you to decide if it is something that you should find out more about. We always suggest you check out a gameplay video to give you a better understanding of the game as it is played. 

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