(This is an excerpt of a review posted by Board Game Guará II on the Brazilian board game website Ludopedia. The original Portuguese article can be found at http://www.ludopedia.com.br/topico/9252/bgg-ii-psychomachia-...)
A battle will be fought between the deadly sins and heavenly virtues in search of a soul. Powerful entities (the players), having seven different virtues in heaven or seven different sins in hell, imprison a poor soul and win the game. The game's name, Psychomachia, was inspired by the work of the poet Prudentius which narrates an allegorical struggle between vices and virtues. In this strategic card game, the principal mechanics are card selection, hand management, set collection and action point allowance.
Game Components (Facebook)
The principal cards in Psychomachia represent Sins, Virtues or both. It is through these cards that you will invoke distinct powers to hinder other players and protect yourself, because the objective of the game is to put seven different virtues in heaven or seven different sins in hell. These cards, however, can be removed from the table or sent back to earth. The first player to fulfill the conditions for victory triggers the final round, and any remaining players still have a chance to achieve the objective and activate tiebreaker criteria.
But just how do I put cards in heaven and hell? First, we must understand how the layout of each player's table works. The arrangement of the cards on the table indicates each location, as follows:
HEAVEN is represented by cards placed above earth (positioned vertically, with the virtue facing upwards).
EARTH is represented by cards that are rotated horizontally and will be situated between heaven and hell.
HELL is represented by cards placed below earth (positioned vertically, with the sin facing upwards).
Player Table (Game Manual)
To put cards on the table or move them between locations, you must use your sinful and virtuous action tokens. During their turn, the player will throw action tokens, draw a new card from the deck or the discard pile, use their tokens to invoke powers or move cards, and finally discard a card from their hand.
Powers can be invoked with cards situated in heaven or hell and by using the respective action token. Where the card is located must be respected, that is, if a card is in heaven only its virtue may be invoked, even though the card also has the representation of a sin. Another way to invoke a power is by using a card in your hand and an action token. But you must discard this card, so you will have to assess if it is well worth performing this move, as you may need it to complete your objective.
The Fate cards are like wildcards in the game, that is, they can become any card that is represented by a sin/virtue pair. Moreover, invoking its power by spending one action token allows you to flip over the remaining tokens not yet used in that round.
Getting to know the Sins and Virtues
From left to right:
Wrath – Remove a Sin\Virtue card from the table and put it on top of the discard pile.
Patience – Remove a Sin\Virtue card from the table and return it to its owner's hand.
Gluttony – Take the top card from the draw deck and add it to your hand.
Temperance – Take the top card from the discard pile and add it to your hand.
Pride – Don't discard at the end of one your turns.
Humility – Discard a card from your hand and take the top card from the draw deck or the discard pile.
Envy – Take a Sin\Virtue card from another player's table and add it to your hand, but only if you don't have any cards of that color on your own table.
Kindness – Doubles the effect of all virtues activated for the remainder of your turn.
Greed – Doubles the effect of all sins activated for the remainder of your turn.
Charity – Give tokens that haven't been spent this turn to other players. For each token given, you can take any card from the discard pile and add it to your hand.
Sloth – Move a Sin\Virtue card from heaven or hell to earth.
Diligence – Keeps all players (yourself included) from using Wrath, Patience and Envy against you for one round.
Lust – Look at the cards in another player's hand. If you wish, you may exchange one card from your hand with one from the other player's.
Chastity – Keeps all players (yourself included) from using Patience, Sloth and Lust against you for one round.
We played various games of Psychomachia and we can confirm that it's lots of fun! It works great on the table. It's a card game with several layers of strategy and with several differences compared to other games on the market.
– The game's art is very current, with funny illustrations of daily life. Just look at the card that represents Wrath (a person who's angry because his phone has no signal inside an elevator).
– Throwing tokens to determine action points in place of dice or cards is very cool! Not to mention it has everything to do with the theme of the game!
– Each time you play, you will discover different ways to combine cards in order to win the game, keeping you coming back for more.
– The combination of earth, heaven and hell using the layout of the cards on the table is very interesting and thematic.
– It is difficult to master fifteen powers during your first games. You will have to pause to consult them, or even feel lost trying to decide which to invoke. It sometimes causes the infamous analysis paralysis.
– The game may take a long time at a table with experienced players, as everyone will focus on the person who is closest to winning the match, creating a bit of a Munchkin effect.