Are you somebody who would like to make a deal with a very scary demon in order to gain the ultimate power in the universe?
If you are, please forget that you know me.
However, if you would like to pretend that you are one of those people, have I got the game for you.
Quick 2-player card games are becoming quite interesting to me because I have co-workers who love to play games at lunch.
Mephisto, designed by Dylan Mangini with art by him as well, meets that need to a tee. Not only is it a quick 2-player card game, but it’s actually a good one as well.
That always helps.
In Mephisto, you and your opponent have made a deal with…well…Mephisto to gain ultimate power.
But you can’t both get that kind of power, can you?
Hence the struggle for supremacy and to please Mephisto by giving him monster souls.
Mephisto will be coming to Kickstarter on January 15, 2019.
Dylan graciously sent me a copy of the game. While the artwork is final, the card quality is still not finalized and may be upgraded based on stretch goals, so I won’t be commenting on that aspect of the game.
Let’s see how it plays.
Each player is given a Favor Tracker to track their Favour with Mephisto. This Favour is “unholy power” that can be used to boost your strength for attacking monsters.
Each player is dealt three cards and then a 2×3 tableau of cards is dealt into the “dungeon”. These are spell/item/weapon cards that you can loot or monsters you can kill.
On a player’s turn, they draw one card and then play as many cards as they want to/are able to in front of them.
For a weapon or item, there is a cost to playing them, which is the number on the top left flag (the Mallet below has zero cost). This is how many cards you must discard from your hand in order to play that card.
You can have a maximum of two cards played in each lane. These can be any combination of items or weapons.
In this phase, you can also activate any items you have already played. For example, you could invoke the Talisman to copy the activated ability of any other item or weapon that you have in play.
Each item and weapon have a certain number of uses, called its “durability.” This is the small number in the top right corner.
When you use something, you turn it clockwise to show the new durability number. If there isn’t one, you discard it as it has been used up.
After all cards have been played and all items used, you can do one of three actions mentioned on the card player aid:
Loot: Draw one non-monster from the Dungeon or the top card of the deck
Fight: fight one or both of the monsters in one lane of the dungeon.
Summon: summon a monster that’s in your hand into the Dungeon. This lets you take any card in the Dungeon and replace it with a monster in your hand. You then gain three favour.
Fighting monsters is how you get soul points, as any defeated monsters are placed in front of you and are worth the points in the blue diamond on the right side of the card.
How do you fight?
You will be playing weapons in front of one of the Dungeon columns and these weapons have a certain strength.
You add up the strength of the weapon(s) and any Favour that you want to spend and you must beat the monster’s (or monsters’) strength (the big red number!). If you do, take it and place it in front of you.
Some monsters have ongoing effects/abilities that you can use as well.
At the end of your turn, replace any holes in the Dungeon.
Once the deck has run out, total up your soul points and whoever has the most is a winner!
Is Mephisto a benevolent demon who will make good on his ultimate power promise? Or is he an evil demon who will screw you in the end?
I really enjoyed Mephisto. It’s the perfect game for a lunch-time game or perhaps at the beginning or end of your normal game day. It’s easy to learn and teach but yet does offer some interesting tactical decisions as you see what the deck of cards presents to you.
Do you Summon a monster from your hand into the dungeon to make it so you can kill him next turn with your deployed weapons? That gets you Favour, which is very important.
Or maybe there’s a cool item in the dungeon you want but you’re not sure if that monster you want to kill will be there next turn. Which do you do first?
The artwork strikes a fine balance between demonic evil and cartoon. The items are clearly distinct at a glance from monsters and spells, which is definitely an added bonus. The dark colours of the monsters certainly give that demonic dungeon feel, but the light-heartedness of the artwork shows that this is definitely a family-friendly game.
I really like the card play aspect of the game. I played an earlier version of the game where weapons had a range and you could only have one weapon of each range in each column. This has been streamlined to just “two items in each lane” and you have to play items in the column as well as weapons (the previous version had the items just played in front of you).
I think this is a nice limitation so you have to really decide what items you want to play and where.
I also like how you can use Favour to help you in combat. It’s like petitioning Mephisto to help you kill the monsters that you will then be feeding him. But if you haven’t done anything to impress him, he’s not going to help you at all. Considering how tough some of these monsters are, you really need to build up that Favour when you can.
An interesting aspect of the game is how some of the monsters have effects on the game, either ongoing effects when you kill it or an instantaneous effect when it enters the dungeon. Some of the ongoing effects can be quite lucrative and can help guide your tactics as well.
Mephisto is a fairly light game and as a card game it is fairly luck-dependent. Keep that in mind when you’re playing. It’s not a very deep, thinky game. Sometimes you don’t want that, though, and that’s when Mephisto shines.
When you’re in the mood to obtain ultimate demonic power, Mephisto is the game for you.
Check the game out on Kickstarter when it launches on January 15!
Edit: And now it’s live!
This review was written after 4 plays