Quick Look: Deliverance
Designer: ANDREW LOWEN
Artists: Yoann Boissonnet, Dan Maynard
Publisher: LOWEN GAMES
Year Published: 2023
Deliverance is a co-op tactical adventure board game for 1-4 players with a “Christian Fantasy” theme of angels vs demons. The game features angels working together to protect saints and defeat the forces of Darkness through tactical combat and the power of Prayer.
Rules:To view the rule book, check out the publisher’s website www.playdeliverance.com
Deliverance is set in a fantasy setting with a real town in the state of California as the backdrop. The game is played in Fallbrook, a quaint little town that does not appear to have any real significance. As you first venture into Fallbrook all seems as should be, but as the darkness starts to come, you and your companions realize this darkness is different. In deliverance you and your fellow players take on the role of a group of angels that have been dispatched to Fallbrook after demonic forces have moved in. You and your angel band of brothers and sisters set out to protect the town and the citizens residing in Fallbrook.
Mechanically Deliverance is a dungeon crawl at its heart. Players will take turns moving their angel mini around the game board that is made up of several tiles that you place to make a procedurally built game area. As you move you will encounter and defeat demons, while saving the souls of the oppressed saints. However, the meat of the game comes in the RPG (Role Playing) elements presented to players as the game progresses.
Before going deep into the mechanics of the game it should first be said that Deliverance has two different modes. The First is a 14-mission campaign that can be played both solo and with other players. The second is a skirmish mode that allows players to essentially set up their own missions and helps to keep the game fresh and with a lot of replayability.
Each of the mentioned modes plays a little differently when it comes to upgrades and leveling up your angels. In the skirmish modes the players will randomly select what demons will populate the play area by using the battle deck, a deck of cards that have the demons name and how many to place on the board. This makes every skirmish different. Along with the random demons all players start at level zero basically with no weapons or armor or special upgrades, called talents. As the skirmish is played and each demon is defeated the angels will build a community pool of experience points, allowing players to upgrade and equip their angels. As the skirmish progresses the angels become stronger leading to a final showdown with a prince demon.
In the campaign the story is set out in front of you, the board set up, placement of demons and the reward for winning is all laid out for players in an included campaign book. Throughout the campaign the angels will move around the town of Fallbrook defeating the forces of darkness and gaining experience points and equipment preparing you for the final battle. Unlike the skirmish mode the rewards and experience points are static and only achieved at the victory of a mission. There is no leveling during the mission.
The campaign and skirmish mode have a wide range of difficulties; the missions can be customized to fit the play experience and desired difficulty of the players at your table. You can play the vanilla Adventure difficulty which I found was just a little too easy or the brutal Infernal difficulty that will test your strategy and gaming ability. At the highest difficulty level, I found my group being defeated several times. Have no fear though if you do lose a mission in the campaign, the game has a mission plus a mechanic that allows players to add upgrades to you angel in the way of prayers cards to help you have a head start in the mission. Or you can always lower the difficulty level for the next play through. Even with the many different difficulties your experience may vary based on your own ability to strategize and how well the dice favor you.
A small part of the game but can sometimes affect the outcome of a mission. Dice is mainly used to select the action the demons will take, which can swing the game if a demon’s particularly strong action keeps being rolled. The other time the dice are used in the game is for tests. These tests will help the angels remove darkness, or negative effects and help in gaining resources particularly courage coins. Courage coins are the currency the angels will use to pay for some of their more powerful actions. On a couple of occasions during my time with Deliverance the dice have seemed to hate me, but overall, the dice have not been a factor to the point of ruining game play.
Deliverance is an amazing piece of art. The minis included for the angels are some of the best minis I have seen in a board game. The minis are very detailed and the sculpts give a sense of action. The minis are so good that my play group has even started using them in our Tabletop Role playing games. They fit in nicely in our Dungeons and dragons’ campaign, beyond the mins even the cardboard standees included in the box for demons and angels have amazingly detailed artwork and the quality is superb, I have around 15 hours of playing the game with the standees being placed in and out of the acrylic stands with no signs of de-lamination or wear. Both the rulebook and included campaign book have great artwork and graphic design making them easy to read and follow. Throughout the books are images and diagrams that assist in understanding the rules and gameplay. Each angel and demon will have their own stat boards that is beautifully illustrated with clear text and laid out allowing for easy determination of what action is being played and what stat to use for that action. The cards for the game are mini cards but that doesn’t hinder the information being displayed on them. The cards have a great layout and are a good quality cardstock.
With all the great components and art in Deliverance there is one place I feel falls flat and that is with the status tokens. They are functional and do the job like they should, but I feel with all the other artwork of the game the tokens just feel plain. But that is a matter of opinion and does not distract from the game.
Overall, the artwork fits the theme and the components are top notch quality you can tell the publisher took pride in the quality when it came to manufacturing. Beyond the box components there are add on components that add metal coins and acrylic standees at the time of writing this review both are sold out, hoping for a reprint soon so I can get my hands on them they look like they will add a lot of value to the game visually.
Setup is easy; everything is well organized in plastic inserts in the box. All the tokens are stored in a removable tray making them easy to get to the table. On initial setup it will take some time to punch the components out and organize them in the tray. It took a little trial and area as the tray is not labeled on what token goes in what space. Also, during gameplay, it can be harder to find the token due to no label on the tray. This is easily remedied by making your own labels for the tray.
When setting up either a skirmish or a campaign mission you will place on the table several map boards that will make up the main play area for the game. In the campaign you will use the map boards the campaign book instructs you to use and set them up according to the campaign instructions. In skirmish mode you will randomly select one map board for each angel in the game, then place them how you desire on the table. Each player will select what angel they wish to use and collect the mini or standee for that angel and the Angel card for their angel. The demons are placed on the board according to the corresponding card that was drawn during setup.
Gameplay starts with the darkness phase when a player draws several darkness cards according to the number of angels in the game. One for each angel. Then each angel and demon taking a turn in an alternating fashion, one angel then one demon and so on until all angels and demons have taken a turn. The demons’ turns are arranged on an initiative track indicating the turn order of the demons.
In the skirmish mode after all turns are taking there is a level up phase, when angels can level up if there is enough available experience points. In the campaign mode the round starts over with a new darkness phase. There is a limited amount of slots for darkness cards so make sure during your turn you try and cast down the darkness to avoid taking damage when the darkness cards are full. Gameplay will continue in this loop until the victory conditions are met in the campaign or all demons are defeated I the skirmish mode.
Deliverance is a breath of fresh air in the dungeon crawl arena. With the simple set-up and rules, it makes it easy to get to the table on a regular basis. The rules are such that I have been able to teach the game to novice gamers and have them play without assistance in a turn or two. Not only are they playing but making strategic decisions and being viable to the campaign. In other dungeon crawl games like this when new players are introduced the experience player tends to carry the team,
The depth of Deliverance is a big selling point. From the wide range of difficulty to the stack of talents available for each angel to use, making no two angel set-ups the same unless you specifically go choose the talents. Speaking of angels there are nine of them and each one has their own specific actions and play-style. When using the random set-up as stated in the rules each play through in the skirmish mode will be vastly different. In the campaign each game will carry some similarity but that is what you expect when it comes to the campaign. With each mission you can noticeably feel your angel getting stronger. But as you get stronger the campaign ramps up to keep pace.
The theme while unapologetically Christian, is not a turn off. The game is not trying to preach at the player it is simply using the theme of the bible as the backdrop of the story. Which is no different than using other themes to push a narrative. Deliverance handles the theme very well, if you are a player interested in the Christian theme you can dive into the bible verses. If you are not a Christian, you can still enjoy Deliverance and not feel like you are being evangelized or preached at/to. I have had both Christians and atheists play the game and both parties have enjoyed the game and came out with a positive experience.
If you are a fan of dungeon crawl games, Role Playing Games, or fantasy boss battle games then I cannot recommend Deliverance enough. The game is fun from the start and with each stressful roll of the action dice the fun mounts until bitter defeat or triumphant victory. Either way though you will be ready to reset and play again.
With each play of Deliverance, I have found I improve and find new ways to use the angels. I have used all nine angels some I enjoy more than others, but each one has their place in battle and with so many there is bound to be one that fits your play style. I love using Uriel who is like a tank moving around the board and causing large chunks of damage. But you have support, fighters’ stealth they are all there. After playing the game many times, I still find I’m excited to play and set it up. I am currently 9 missions into the campaign and must force myself to pack the game up after I finish. I want to instantly set up the next mission or retry the one I just lost. I see Deliverance being in rotation for a long while even after the campaign is finished. The campaign itself could be played a second time because of the variety of angels, talents, and heavenly treasures. Which his more than I can say for some of the other popular dungeon crawl games on the market. If you can approach Deliverance with an open mind and see past the Christian theme if that doesn’t appeal to you then you will have a great time playing a solid game. If you are a believer looking for fun Christian games then you will find it with Deliverance. Deliverance is a great game at the core with a fun theme to go with it. Without a doubt recommend.
After reading Steven Foster’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Deliverance: The Game of Spiritual Warfare is available for purchase. Check it out and get your HERE.