Recommend
35 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

Divinare» Forums » Reviews

Subject: I Am Psychic! - A Review of Divinare From The Future rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
TC Petty III
United States
Carlisle
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
badge
XENON PROFITEER 2015!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Magic

This game is magical. It's not just the look of the box with it's ripped and crinkled, antique mysticism or the Tarot card-styled art within; it uses Mathematics to create a system of prognostication that works every time like a charm, but feels like it shouldn't. And within that limited framework (36 cards in 4 suits), every game is different from the last, sometimes by such a wide variance that it seems eerie. This seemingly simplistic game of guessing numbers has entranced me. With it's combination of bluffing, hidden information, screw-over, and real magic, Divinare is one of the most odd surprise hits of this year.

I was drawn to the game because of its art and components, which are extremely over-the-top considering the actual gameplay requirements. Each of the four boards are basically placeholders for player tokens with a set of numbers corresponding to the amount of cards in each suit. In thematic terms, they represent different devices used by mediums to predict the future. And these four characters have made it to the final table at a tournament of mystics sometime at the turn of the century, which unavoidably translates into beautiful, gorgeous, pretty, stylistic art.

Mathematical

The 36 tarot suit cards are shuffled, 12 are then removed and the remaining 24 cards are distributed evenly to all players. Depending on the number of players, each player passes a certain amount of cards to the player to their right. And later in the round, a few more cards are passed. On a player's turn, they play a card face-up beside the proper colored board and must move their player token from the center of the board to a prediction, or if they are already on a number, they must move to a new number or back to the center.

At the end of a round, when ALL cards have been played, players see if they predicted correctly. Count up the face-up cards by each board. If player's token is on this number they receive 3 points (blue gem), if they are adjacent, they receive 1 point (yellow gem) and if they are more than 1 space away they receive -1 point (red gem). If a player token is on a space with an open circle on it, they receive 1 extra point; a closed circle nets 2 extra points.

Normally, I don't explain gameplay, but seriously, this is it. Repeat this for as many rounds as there are players and game over. The magic part, or at least the part that mesmerizes me, is the confident lack of certain numbers on this scale. It's very apparent that the math is correct, because it seems to work perfectly every time, providing enough variety, but also enough excitement with early guesses. But, still, it has the potential to not work and yet it always does. Creepy.

Also, I love that in the rules it mentions that scoring gems are supposedly kept face-down to keep their values secret. Problem is, the back of the token is colored as well. Oops. And I love that it specifically states to be careful about red gems since they are worth negative points. Oh, I thought that the "-1" printed on the backside meant I get a Cool point or something.

Illusion (of control)

I'm not really into magic or tarot, but at least it doesn't have zombies or some sort of deck-building mechanic. Luckily, I don't really care about the theme of a game (unless it's annoyingly overdone, i. e. Space Zombies), and in this case, the graphical presentation is so impressive and focused that I have suddenly begun donning a monocle in real life and speaking in ethereal riddles. Next time I'm at Wal-Mart, I'll have to pick up a swami hat with a big gem in the center for my next formal event.

I think this game is revolutionary. It's an inspiration for a crazed mind like mine that is always dreaming of new game designs and mechanics, to see something so inventive, yet so accessible. It channels Sid Sackson's style in it's tight, mathematical simplicity, and it bucks the modern trends to create a timeless game experience. Possibly other games exist with a similar "prediction" mechanic, but its streamlined rules and ease of play allow it to feel like a "classic" game in a class of its own among the herd of releases this year.

After one round, players suddenly "get it" and it's fun to watch. There is more to the game than randomly picking a prediction. Players can bluff others by predicting low numbers then switching to a high number later in the round. They can withhold passing certain cards to deprive other players of important information. And there is this balance between revealing too much information early, and causing a cascade effect later. Sometimes, no cards of a certain suit will be revealed for more than half the round, until one player decides to predict low and suddenly five more cards of the same type are played in succession. It's this variability that makes the game entertaining each time.

I love the balance of early predictions that can survive to the end of the round versus the strategy of holding onto one final card of a suit to slide into the right spot at the very end. Or in a 4-player game, the risky final card pass where you have to weigh the value of guaranteeing that one of your predictions will survive. And the rule where you MUST move your player token when playing a card is so frustratingly key. Will that dick to my left pass me an extra card of a certain color just to cause me to move back to the center at the last second? It's agonizing to be one turn away from the end of the round and because you have a final green card in your hand, be forced to move away from a perfect prediction. But, that is certainly part of the game.

How many times will I be able to play this game before I'm sick of it? The gameplay is limited, and the rounds are static with no build up or carry-over between them (with the exception of points). So, a bad round can be made up for by the end of the game through luck of the draw. But there is no catch-up mechanic. This is the problem with "classic" games as they usually punish players consistently without providing any sanctuary. Sadly, our first game was a good indication of this issue with one player scoring in the negatives after four rounds. A few bad rounds, and you're sitting there with a half-grin waiting for the game to end. But, since the game lasts about 45 minutes or less, the torture does end.

Mysteries Revealed

I do find the game to be interesting and very fun. But I could be blinded by the newness of it all and the sense of wonder and the prettiness of the components. Certainly, this game is not going to be for everyone and the play-time does not make it a substantial or meaty offering. And it's a card game, so it's inherently different each time and luck-based as far as card distribution.

It's also not the type of innovation that inspires imitation. If I look into my crystal ball, I do not foresee a sudden influx of mathematically sound divination games next year. It's no worker placement or role selection or deck-building.

But, for a fun, lighter, card game with strategic decisions that feel meaningful and a whole lot of bluffing and smiling as a plan comes together in the very end, this game fits the bill. I am enthralled with it and will play it anytime. I plan on bringing it with me to game nights for the next few months and viciously taunting my opponents with astounding displays of my inexplicable clairvoyance. This is a solid game and definitely worth having in your collection.



EDIT: For rules screw-up.
29 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Knauer
United States
Heathrow
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review- quite enjoyed this as well.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin G
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Don't fall in love with me yet, we only recently met
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review of a game I'm really enjoying too.

Quote:
If a player token is on a space with an open circle on it, they receive 2x as many points; a closed circle nets 3x as many points.

Actually, it's just one extra point for the open circle and two extra points for the closed circle. You get 5 points, not 9, for a correct prediction that's on a closed circle.

Quote:
The magic part, or at least the part that mesmerizes me, is the confident lack of certain numbers on this scale.

Not quite sure what you meant by that, but I had a round recently where there were zero of the VI card suit in play, so that board was completely untouched.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Valerie Emerson
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review. I played a demo of this game at Gen Con and bought it right after.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
TC Petty III
United States
Carlisle
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
badge
XENON PROFITEER 2015!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
qwertymartin wrote:
Quote:
If a player token is on a space with an open circle on it, they receive 2x as many points; a closed circle nets 3x as many points.

Actually, it's just one extra point for the open circle and two extra points for the closed circle. You get 5 points, not 9, for a correct prediction that's on a closed circle.

Oh hey, you're right! Thanks. I misread that portion. I must have been blinded by the mention of anti-clockwise versus counter-clockwise.

qwertymartin wrote:

Quote:
The magic part, or at least the part that mesmerizes me, is the confident lack of certain numbers on this scale.

Not quite sure what you meant by that, but I had a round recently where there were zero of the VI card suit in play, so that board was completely untouched.

It's exactly that. The VI suit is designed to have zero as a possibility. But, it's possible that something other than the VI suit could be missing enough cards to make it playable but not "scoreable", but the likelihood of that occurring is next to nothing... so it's maaaaggiccc.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brett J. Gilbert
United Kingdom
Cambridge
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time — Funforge / Passport Games
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for a great review. It's great to hear from players who have enjoyed the game, and nice to hear the same from other designers too!

TheCrippledWerewolf wrote:
qwertymartin wrote:
Quote:
If a player token is on a space with an open circle on it, they receive 2x as many points; a closed circle nets 3x as many points.

Actually, it's just one extra point for the open circle and two extra points for the closed circle. You get 5 points, not 9, for a correct prediction that's on a closed circle.

Oh hey, you're right! Thanks. I misread that portion. I must have been blinded by the mention of anti-clockwise versus counter-clockwise.


Of course, you can play that way if you like! Those were the original scoring multipliers, and was something that changed as the game developed. Not that it makes a huge difference, although getting 9 points for a risky but accurate divination would be a fantastic coup for any player!

TheCrippledWerewolf wrote:
qwertymartin wrote:

Quote:
The magic part, or at least the part that mesmerizes me, is the confident lack of certain numbers on this scale.

Not quite sure what you meant by that, but I had a round recently where there were zero of the VI card suit in play, so that board was completely untouched.

It's exactly that. The VI suit is designed to have zero as a possibility. But, it's possible that something other than the VI suit could be missing enough cards to make it playable but not "scoreable", but the likelihood of that occurring is next to nothing... so it's maaaaggiccc.


There is some carefully calculated maths behind the card deck and board structure, and I like very much that the game can essentially hide all of that from the players; the maths has been done for you!

Of course, it is possible for any of the boards to have no cards in play, although it's not possible for *two* of them to have no cards. The (calculated) odds are small though: 1 in 1500 or less. The odds of the XII (astromancy) board having no cards is a staggering 1.25 trillion to 1!
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.