Quick Look: Cult of the Deep
Designer: Sam Stockton
Artists: Maura Elko, David Li, Liam Peters, Janette Ramos, Charles Walton
Publisher: B.A. Games
Year Published: 2022
No. of Players: 4-8
Playing Time: 45-60 minutes.
I was drawn to this project by the art as well as the impressive group of people involved in the project and those that had covered it on social media channels which included several that I follow regularly. B.A Games very generously sent me a full production copy after their Kickstarter campaign and I brought it to my favorite local game store to test it out.
From the Publisher:
Cult of the Deep is a hidden-role dice game for 4-8 players where you are a cultist trying to establish your faction’s rise to power. Battle for control of rituals and mythical monsters as you seek victory and control of the Cult.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided the copy of Cult of the Deep. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.
From the high quality, inlaid box to the enlarged, embossed cards, and the gorgeous custom dice, this title went all out on the production quality. I don’t have a single complaint about the components which were well above an industry standard quality. I was also drawn in by the theme and art design. I’m giving top marks for this category.
Base Game – List of Components:
My favorite is that if you die, you come back as a wraith, so there is no player elimination. Even though you may be out to kill your fellow players, everyone gets to play until the game is decided.
Depending on your group’s love of mischief and/or skill level, this game could easily drag on for much longer than intended if they keep attacking, healing, or preventing damage to players. This is also dependent on their character abilities and/or any rituals they manage to be the keeper of, but it can happen (and did for a playtest that I was a part of). That said, it’s both situational and subject to a player’s choices.
There were a lot of small mechanisms that melded together to make the game possible. See below:
– Variable Player Powers
– Hidden Roles and Deduction
– Push your Luck
– Dice Rolling & Re-roll/locking
– Die Icon Resolution
– Once-Per-Game Abilities
– Roles with Asymmetric Information
– Sudden Death Ending and Traitor Game
– Take That
The rules are a bit wordier than I think they need to be. I believe I’d be able to streamline them without too much trouble. To sum up, the rules are complete but not as smooth as I would like. They might seem intimidating but once you got it figured out, the game itself is very simple. Here’s a quick summary:
You each get a role that has a specified win condition based on which roles are dead and which are still alive. As the cultists you are performing rituals to summon mythical creatures that provide single use and/or lasting powers for the player that finishes them. Each turn you roll dice with special symbols that you must use to heal, attack, or put towards rituals. Other players get a chance to affect those dice, then they resolve. Players can die but are not eliminated, when they die, they become wraiths unless game end is triggered by someone completing their secret goal (specified by their role card). The game ends once a role card’s secret goal has been satisfied.
Areas they did well:
• Excellent quality components
• Nice art and interesting theme
• Good community interaction and coverage
• Custom dice and multi-use icons
• Player kills without player elimination
• Hidden roles/goals
• Variable player powers as well as single use powerful abilities
• Balance of damage and healing
• Limited control of players preventing run-away victory
• Large amount of components
• Multiple cards of the same type for variety
• Plays well with a large group
• Interactive for everyone on all turns
• Tension building
• Rituals that push the game forward
• Option rule adaptations for different gameplay
Areas they could have improved:
• Some limit of controlling multiple powerful abilities that players can use to drag on the game
• I think the game should have been 5-8 players instead of 4-8 with a 4-player variant setup
• Clearer rules and examples
• Double-sided life tokens to have 1 and 3 instead of 1 and 5 which had to be changed anytime you took a damage with the token instead of slipping as a double-sided token is intended.
• It’s unclear if “once per turn” abilities are intended to be once per round, but if not, I feel they should be once per round, specifically referencing the Librarian II as an example.
• Rituals that didn’t use both tracks could have a little x on the bottom right of the card to symbolize only using one track.
Despite hidden role games not being my favorite, the game wasn’t bad. It had a couple of balance issues, but overall, held on to the experience it was trying to deliver. Hidden role games, more than other genres, tend to lean heavily on the gamers that you take to the table and their personalities. I think that’s the biggest suggestion I can give for this and similar games. Make sure you choose a group that are interested in the style of game or are the glorious “down for anything” type of gamer. Let’s stamp this one “Better than expected” for gameplay, and “Way better than expected” for production quality. Surprising me in both categories and earning themselves my interest for any follow up titles from this publisher.
I am grateful to B.A. Games for sending along this game and for putting so much effort into putting it together. It’s always a wonderful thing to open a game and knowing right away the effort that had gone into it. This is a great example of how to nail a first-time campaign and how that level of attention allowed them to enjoyed a satisfying conclusion of nearly 3 times their funding goal.
I’ll see you next time, back here at The Game Table,
Brad Hiscock, aka Zerility
Here’s a link to their website:
After reading Brad’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Cult of the Deep is available to purchase HERE for only $45. Check it out and get yours HERE.
Find out more at BGG.
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Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”, is a construction project manager and electrician by trade who was the owner of a 6-time award winning electrical company. His passion for board games has led him from playing hundreds of original titles to creating a design and publishing company of his own, Convivial Games. As an up and coming collaborator on many projects, he is always eager to try new games and meet new people.
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All of Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”‘s reviews can be found HERE.