It is time to indulge in your God complex. Here, no one will judge you as you seamlessly control other players’ pawns. Quarterbacking? Never heard of it. This is
Mystic Grail, Tainted Veil, Fate of the Elder Gods, Veiled Fate.
Veiled Fate is a game of deduction, deception, and hand management for two to eight players.
In Veiled Fate, players take on the role of gods with a vested interest in the success of a specific demigod. The goal is for a player’s demigod to have the most Renown (points) at the end of the third round. At the start of the game, each player will be given a secret demigod that is assigned to them. They will also receive a hand of fate cards. Most fate cards have a feather or a scorpion on them. Some have two feathers or two scorpions and some call for two random fate cards to be drawn from the deck. Throughout the game, players can take actions that control any of the 9 demigods in the game.
On a turn, players can take one of two actions. They can move any Demigod or use a God power. When moving a Demi, there are multiple options. They can be moved onto an adjacent location, into the city (often gaining a benefit), out of the pools/Abyss, or onto a quest in an adjacent location.
When a Demi is added to a quest, it must meet any requirements for the quest space it’s moving onto. Additionally, the player who moved the Demi there must play a fate card face down into the Quest vote pile. When all of a quest’s spots have been filled, the quest is resolved. Depending on if there are more feathers or scorpions, each Demi on the quest will resolve the result for its particular space. Results can include moving up on the Renown track, moving down on the Renown track, being smited (smote?, smitten?), or flipping a coin to determine the final outcome.
God powers allow players to smite demigods, freely move demigods anywhere on the board, switch demigod locations on a quest, add extra cards to a quest, or view current votes on a quest. These powers cost one action and a specified amount of fate cards to use.
Players will continue taking turns throughout the round until they rest, usually because they are out of fate cards. The round can also end when all quests on the board have been resolved. At the end of the round, players use fate cards to vote on an age card. After three rounds, the game is over, and the player with their demigod farthest along the Renown track wins the game.
Veiled Fate is a recent entry into an emerging genre of games in which players are attempting to advance the interests of a particular character/faction/color/etc. without their opponents catching on. This was done pretty successfully in War of Whispers. My favorite example so far has been Turncoats. A key difference in that game is that you can change factions throughout the game, so if your plans go awry, you get caught early, or another faction is pulling way ahead, you still have an opportunity to adjust and compete in the game. That’s not an option here. If another player can even make a lucky guess about who your demigod is early in the game, they can effectively tank your demigod, leaving you no chance. I would have enjoyed it if players controlled 2-3 demigods or had the ability to switch at some point in the game. Instead, the game feels restrictive.
Fate cards are a hugely important asset in the game. Possibly too important. A lot (and I do mean A LOT) of turns are spent trying to get different fate cards. Not running out of these cards is so important, and there are limited opportunities to get more. If there’s a Demi that can be moved out of the Abyss or a city card that allows a player to draw more fate cards, you can bet that’s going to be a priority for whoever’s turn it is. Not to mention, gaining a fate card can sometimes be the only way to stay in the round at all. To me, that removes player agency and interesting decision making for far too many turns. Furthermore, the God powers (which are more interesting on paper than in practice) require fate cards. More often than not, they are not worth the cost.
Much of the game feels arbitrary. There are random elements here that minimize the clever planning and deduction that could be done otherwise. Some quest results still come down to a coin flip with either side providing an opposite effect. There are also fate cards that add random cards to the vote piles. That adds pure chaos to results that may be game-changing. Like the clever planning, the deduction is often made meaningless. Either someone did something to help their demigod or they did something to make you think they have a different demigod. You can clue in on some patterns, but ultimately if you’re protecting your demigod’s identity, your demigod isn’t likely scoring much. In other words, it’s difficult to not reveal who you are and advance your agenda. I know that’s the point, but is that fun? It’s a balancing act that I just didn’t find much joy in.
I do like the voting that takes place at the end of each round. It requires resource management if you are particularly interested in the outcome of the Age Card. Usually, you will be. It’s another balancing act because a lot of information can be revealed during this phase, especially if you add several votes and others do not. You can really tip your hand for the worse even if you get your desired outcome. It’s often best to position your Demis with others, so nothing is too obvious. There is a caveat to all of that. More often than I’d like, nobody at the table really cares about the results of the vote, so no votes are cast and the tie result occurs, which is often less impactful to the game state by default. That could be a player problem, but it’s just not interesting when that happens.
Despite all of my complaints, there were a decent amount of stand out moments and plenty of player interaction. I enjoyed the first half of each game before it started to feel like it was dragging on. I want to believe some groups would get a kick out of this and maybe even build an interesting meta. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for any of my groups. For what it’s worth, the production is wonderful, and I love the art style.
I was honestly not that interested in Veiled Fate from reading the description. While reading the rules, I got excited about it. I imagined clever plays and thoughtful deduction with lots of interaction. After playing at multiple player counts, including team mode, those hopes did not pan out. There is a solid amount of player interaction here, but it’s a bit hollow in its content. The clever plays and deduction were diminished by random elements. I’m quite disappointed. However, I do think there’s an audience for this. If you like bluffing and maneuvering with a solid dose of chaos, maybe give this a shot. I had the best experience at 5 players, where everyone controls their own demigod.
Final Score: 2.5 A hidden role deduction and hand management game that is dragged down by random elements and inflexibility.
• No ability to change roles
• Fate cards are too valuable
• Random elements make many decisions arbitrary
• Deduction elements are not that deep or interesting