I have been seeing him since I was a child. He comes and goes as he pleases, but no one dares to doubt his existence. He usually hides in a shaman’s hut and together they figure out how to get even more territory. Not only for our tribe, but also for the worshipers, which will make our deity even stronger. Today I know, that power is paid for not only with courage and strength, but also with blood.
Players will become members of the unique Mayan environment thanks to the game Mezo, which was created by designer John Clowdus and he tested interest among fans on the Kickstarter server under the banner of Kolossal Games. The game was illustrated by Daryl Toh Liem Zhan and the final product is being brought to Europe thanks to Esdevium Games.
The game will reach you in a monstrous box with the motif of a solar eclipse and four Mayan deities. Inside, a large folding board awaits the player, where each altar receives one token.
From the six area options, players randomly select one, which is marked as desolate at the beginning of the game with the help of a token. The age indicator in the upper left corner then starts measuring time with the arrow pointing up. To the right, there is room for tiles of vengeful gods, which players will draw and place three on the scale.
Individual players each choose their tribe and receive their equipment. For the time being, they will keep most of them in front of themselves, only placing indicators on their scales – points and devotion. The latter needs its own board. In their color, players put up two pieces (one shaman and one warrior) in Xibalba, which can be seen as a game cemetery (from which return is possible). Above all, everyone chooses their starting god, gets his specific miniature and a set of action cards.
The whole game has a total of three ages, which contain a number of phases. But everything always starts with the currently active tile of a vengeful god, who belongs to a specific age. Then the individual players gradually each choose ability of their tribe, which they want to use within the age. Their selection is available on the devotion board and the choice is marked with a round token.
After that, the players will gradually place their champion pieces and up to three units in any region with the highest number of victory points. The restriction is only the presence of the enemy hero, but the limit does not apply to ordinary soldiers. On the contrary, the players are trying to strengthen them in the locations. Gradually, they place soldiers one after the other, while the player in the last position (with the least points) has the advantage – he knows the final distribution of forces of all opponents for this round and can use it to his benefit. In addition, he has the opportunity to mark one region as blessed.
This is followed by a phase of the gods, who always have their location on the map connected to several territories. The player can move his piece and then activate its fixed calling ability. However, its strength varies according to the age, at which the game is currently located.
And then it’s time for a conflict, in which players choose from the cards of their gods. But first they have to determine, which of all the regions will host the fight at the moment (one at a time, with the help of tiles). Players always pick three from the deck, select and plan one of them face down. The rest can return to the draw pile, giving them a chance to plan for the next rounds. Together, they all reveal their intentions and choose one of the actions available on the card and mark it with a token.
Individual actions may be limited to specific locations or may affect all players. It is about recruiting units, the possibility of landing other fighters or trying to please the gods. A surprise, however, is the possibility of construction in the region, where large pyramid buildings can be gradually completed together.
In general, however, even at this stage, players are trying to gain an advantage or greater strength in some locations. Only then will the conflicts be evaluated, where the strengths of all participants and bonuses add up and the winner gets the bonus of the given region. But that’s not all, because there are other non-combat comparisons that will give successful players different abilities to activate.
Gradually, players go through all areas and evaluate their dominance. Nevertheless, there is one exception. In a blessed region, on the other hand, players can sacrifice their units on the altar of the gods, gaining one devotion point and also one strength bonus point. Then there is a moment at this point for the conflict, which will be affected by the already mentioned bonuses.
After the conflicts unfold all over the map, the game continues for another two ages. Before each of them, however, players will receive a reward in the form of victory points for their share of the built pyramids and for their position on the scales. At the end of the whole game, players will be rewarded for the level of devotion on their own scale. Then the one with the most points wins.
Mezo is an interesting looking majority game that would like to follow in the footsteps of great classics. The game offers an excellent theme of Mayan civilization and promises spectacular battles where people and gods stand side by side.
The game offers an interesting approach to actions and their planning. Even the one who is in the last place in amount of points has the opportunity to go back. But he must make good use of his advantage in the game order of the next round. There are not so many of them, because most of the action takes place within the conflict phase of each of the three ages.
And here everything is controlled by the action cards of the gods, which the players disassemble in setup. This is another unique element, because the individual gods are each completely different. Their calling abilities, as well as the cards themselves, are different, so the experience varies depending on which god you choose in the beginning. They affect all areas with which their position on the border is adjacent.
So the strategy itself is really solid. Players have everything under their control, only the planning of actions takes place in secret. By choosing two cards in each round, the opponents gradually plan their tactics for the army, which does not move around the map. Each of the soldiers fights for his territory, but he can also lay his life on the altar of God, for example. There are quite a few ways to get victory points this way, and it’s also tempting in the game.
But unfortunately we will not be able to always praise. First of all, players may have to adjust various scales, indicators and move pieces too much. This stands out especially with a long playing time, which can exceed two hours. In a great game of civilization, that would be quite appropriate, especially when we are talking about a game in three or four opponents. In two, the game is weaker because the plan is too empty, despite the special variant.
But the real problem is the rules. First, they are not well organized at all, but above all they do not contain a sufficient description of a number of principles. According to them, it is not practically realistic to learn the game without having to find an online resource or help in the form of a video. And this is bad especially when there is some ambiguity within the game. The game will usually stop and it will completely ruin your experience. In addition, the processing is not as precise as it might look. The miniatures are large, but they are not as detailed and nice as you would expect. And unfortunately, some tokens are unnecessarily small.
Mezo is a game that wanted to join along with other giants in which you are fighting for supremacy on the map, whether we mean for example Rising Sun or Cyclades. But the hopes of graphics and theme will soon wane as you begin to try to learn the game. The rules are bad, but even if you try them, you won’t win. The game is full of interesting ideas, but many questions still do not have a clear answer and you will have to look for them. Mezo is a game of Mayan origin, and that is also the main reason why you might be interested in it, even if it is full of unexpected and unnecessary problems.
Mezo is not a completely mediocre game, it could just be much better. It was enough to fine-tune the rules better and simplify everything a bit. The game offers interesting ideas, which are overshadowed by a great Mayan theme. This is the main decoration, but unfortunately it is not enough for you to want to play Mezo regularly.