Mezo is an area control game inspired by Mayan mythology for 2-4 players. Each player controls a specific God with special abilities, a single Champion, and crews of Shaman and Warriors. These figures will help control regions and win battle, but most strength is not the only thing rewarded for. Control regions, build pyramids and glyphs, and battle for ultimate supremacy. Who will reign victorious after the 3rd Age?
Getting started is not an overly challenging feat with Mezo. Compared to other, similar, area control games, Mezo is somewhat lighter. The depth comes in the strategy involved, not the rule-set. Teaching this game to the uninitiated might have a bit of a learning curve, but for seasoned gamers, you will be able to pick up and play with little trouble, if any.
Players start by placing their Champion figure in a specific region. You cannot place your Champion in a region with another Champion present. The number of regions played with is the player count +1, giving you one left over region each Age. This region is considered, “blessed”. Each region begins the game with an Altar bonus for having the most strength. In the “blessed” region, the bonus is merely Victory Points. Once the Champions are on the board, each player takes a turn placing their Warriors on the map, as well as their Shaman and their God miniature.
Each God has a unique deck of 5 cards, but all sharing the categories of: Edict, Fervor Legacy, Task, and Vengeance. These will skew your turn towards that specific play style. When combat begins, you will draw 3 of your God cards and choose 1 to play that turn. On each God card you are given 3 action selection choices; only 2 of these will be available to play.
In combat, not only is strength compared, but also the total number of each Shaman and Warrior figures present. The Calendar is where the selected Shaman will go to receive its’ player’s bonus; the Codex is where the selected Warrior will go to receive the bonus. Any tie is determined by the Champion present.
The God cards contain keywords that conveniently have explanations on a tribe (player) board. The player board also contains a set of 3 God bonuses for each Age. The bottom action on every God card will offer the ability to Appease. This will allow players to sacrifice units to Xibalba (think: Valhalla) in order to activate a God bonus effect on the player board.
After 3 rounds have been completed, end game points are tallied and victory is determined.
The theme is more present here than in a great game like Blood Rage. When selecting God card actions, you feel as if you are the God, commanding your army in battle. Your God will not grant you strength in battle, but will affect the battle regions with the chosen action on the tribe board, if Appeased. The Codex/Calendar give an added layer of depth to the thematic nature of the battle, giving your Warriors and/or Shaman something to specifically contribute to. The pyramids and glyphs add yet another layer of thematic depth, creating a domino effect of theme blended with mechanics.
Every moment of this game has an element of fun/wonder. Starting with not knowing which God card your opponent(s) will play, to making sure you select the appropriate bonus on your tribe board, to having the most efficient allocation of Shaman and Warriors in every region, to utilizing the Altar bonuses, Codex and Calendar in the best way possible. The sculpts of the God miniatures are amazing. I cannot begin to imagine what will be unveiled, as far as stretch goals during the Kickstarter. The blend of deep action selection and area control is a treat that I was not ready for when expecting my typical area control game.
The prototype base game alone is worth buying as a full priced board game. The Kickstarter (starting Tuesday, September 25th) will surely add more Gods to the mix, enhancing and adding variability to gameplay. There is tension in deciding where to place your Champion, there is tension in deciding where to place Shaman/Warriors, there is tension in deciding whether or not to Appease, as well as which bonus action you will select. From moment to moment you have interesting choices to make, which is a sign of a good game. Making this game even better is the fact that, almost a week after playing, I am still in constant thought about how neat the blend of action selection and area control was. And how fun it was deciding between God cards and revealing them together.
It will be interesting to see what tweaks, if any, are made between now and final production. The building of the pyramids is not something to glance over. If you play this game strictly focused on area control, you will have a tough time winning, as the action selection mechanisms are unassumingly important.
Mezo is an “instant back” game. The table presence is outstanding, the mechanics blend smoothly and the gameplay feels fresh and fun. This is not your average area control game.
Go check out the Kickstarter here: Mezo Kickstarter Page