Theurgy is an upcoming fantasy themed, area influence game designed by Oliver Josiah and Charlotte Dowling. The game supports 2 - 6 players with a playtime of around 30 minutes per player.
The game will be launched via Kickstarter on 10 March 2020. In this preview my aim is to provide an overall summary of the game and my initial impressions. We'll explore the setup and gameplay in greater detail in a later article.
In Theurgy, each player will take on the role of a deity, now all but forgotten by mortals. With their power fading and influence on the mortal realm mostly spent, the deities seek a path back to greatness. But only one can hope to reclaim the reverence and glory long since lost, claiming dominance over all rivals.
Players each have a secret objective, but ultimately the aim is to orchestrate a renewal of faith in your deity. If you plan well, your actions will culminate in enough influence to have temples built in their honour. The first player to have the necessary number of temples in play will claim victory. The victor will gain a resurgence of their divine power and ultimate glory. To the losers, oblivion awaits.
Whilst the objective is to build temples, there will actually be three win conditions available in any game:
- Establish the official Faith: Build X temples, including one in the Capital.
- Fulfil Your Calling: Build X+1 temples and meet the requirements of your secret objective.
- Spread Across the Land: Build X+2 temples anywhere on the board.
The value of X is dependent on the player count.
Unable to meddle directly in mortal affairs, the deities must rely on corporeal agents to pursue their objective. Enter the acolytes - the last of the faithful. Each deity has two to command. Acolytes can travel between settlements and interact with the world. They can perform miracles, convert neutral or opposing followers and summon mythical creatures such as the Hydra, Kraken, or Minotaur. These creatures can be used to hinder the acolytes of another deity or help further the player’s own strategies.
To stand a chance at victory, players will need to work out the best strategies for deploying acolytes and creatures.
Playing The Game
On a turn, the active player will take one action and then pass to the next player. Play continues in this manner until a player can satisfy a win condition. At that point the game ends immediately. There are four actions available on a turn; a player may not take the same action twice in succession:
Allows the player to move their acolytes to adjacent hexes. Acolytes can convert opponent’s followers or fight undefended creatures.
Spread the Word
Allows the player to place a faith token on the board, raising their influence. This will be important when attempting to build temples.
Allow the player to perform a miracle. In this case miracles are represented by a deck of event cards. Each player will begin with three cards and can acquire more during the game. When a card is played, the effect is resolved immediately.
Alternately, the player can take this action to summon a creature. There are 30 creatures available, each with different attributes and abilities.
Test the Faith
Allows the player to build a temple, potentially! Test the Faith is the action players will be planning towards. When this action is taken, a hex is selected by the player. Every player with influence in that hex can convert neutral followers to their faith. Once this action has been completed, the player with the greatest influence can place a temple. If an opponent already has a temple present, it's destroyed. Losing a temple isn't as disastrous as it may seem; the ruins still count for 1/2 a point. Also, the player may regain influence during a later turn and rebuild.
Early Thoughts On Theurgy
I have had the opportunity to play Theurgy ahead of its launch. On a cold February evening, Olly and Charlotte braved the weather to meet me at my friendly local game store.
I was immediately impressed with the game - it has table presence. It looks the part of a meaty mid-weight strategy game that you would plan a games session around. More importantly, it plays the part too. Gameplay is well thought out, thematic, and highly engaging.
I felt an influence from Scythe in the gameplay, and some elements bring to mind games like Deus and Rattus. All three are games I really enjoy, and I feel that fans of Scythe in particular may like Theurgy.
Whilst the board can look chaotic at times, especially to an observer, it's not hard to track the state of play. The temples stand out clearly, as do the other key resources (acolytes and followers). Some players will still be put off by the perceived complexity, but the game is surprisingly easy to learn. Olly and Charlotte have developed an efficient method to introduce new players to the game, which is detailed in the rulebook.
I would highly recommend it as a way to introduce new players to Theurgy. It effectively demonstrates each of the four actions in turn and introduces key game mechanics. It works so well that players can transition smoothly into a game that will flow through to completion.
Coming Soon To Kickstarter!
I really like Theurgy. It has a lot that I look for in a game: cool theme, interesting mechanics, high replayability, and depth. Strategy fans will enjoy the challenge Theurgy presents.
As stated at the top of this article, Theurgy will be launched via Kickstarter on 10 March 2020. In the meantime, if you're interested check out the Theurgy Website.