On September 09th, the crowdfunding campaign for Ice Make's new deduction game MORPHO went live on Kickstarter. The indie publisher is known, among other things, for Eila and the glittering something that recently had to be financed in the game company. MORPHO is supposed to be a deduction game, which should work very well with three or more players. In this review you will find out whether the game keeps its promise and whether the game is ultimately to fall asleep.

The underground organization MORPHO and his rebels plan one last-ditch operation called "X Day" to finally liberate the people from the Empire's long rule. However, since there was contact with interstellar diplomats, humanity has been divided into two camps. Some want to keep the old way of life. The others want to introduce and discover the new opportunities brought by the diplomats. Even underground, people are undecided on which side to take.

Not a real story, but a fitting topic

In this conflict, depending on the number of players, each end of the game plays 1 or 2 agents of the eponymous underground organization Morpho, who are in the middle of planning Operation "X Day". The agents' identities and goals are represented by cards laid face down on the table in front of us. An additional agent card is placed face down in the center of the table. Which identities are used in a round is dictated by the game and varies depending on the number of players.

Game structure of Morpho for four game ends. Each end of the game receives two agent cards, one is placed in the middle. The die represents a marker intended to remind players of certain actions.

Game structure of Morpho for four game ends. Each end of the game receives two agent cards, one is placed in the middle. The die represents a marker intended to remind players of certain actions. Photo: Karsten

During game turns, players can examine the identities of other agents, swap one of their identities with the agent card in the middle, or resolve an active ability of one of their identities. Once an agent's active ability has been activated, the player can only use his agent's abilities.

The player whose mission is completed first wins the round and receives the associated victory points. If several players have the same goal, they all receive the respective victory points of their mission. The first player to collect a total of 10 victory points wins the game. However, in fulfilling your goal, you should always be careful not to have a conflict between your two identities. Because a killer who is against the underground organization would never work with a loyal agent of Morpho, for example.

A good overview is the be-all and end-all

In MORPHO it is important to have a good overview of the positioning of the opposing agents, because once you reveal your role you are open to attack.

Example: The killer's goal is to kill Morpho's leader. However, the leader can be protected by the protector's passive ability and kill the killer instead. Accordingly, the killer's task is to find not only the leader but also the protector to make sure that his attack is not interrupted by him and thus loses the round. If one of the players to the left and right of the leader has the protector, the attack fails. Once the killer has located the protector, they can choose to kill them or block the protector ability and then eliminate the leader.

The Technician associated with the Morpho (blue) and the Deserter (yellow) do not conflict. Here, the Morpho faction won the round as the leader was able to achieve his goal of finding the Technician.

The Technician associated with the Morpho (blue) and the Deserter (yellow) do not conflict. Here, the Morpho faction won the round as the leader was able to achieve his goal of finding the Technician. Photo: Karsten

The threat of his own goal being disrupted by the identities of the other players creates that certain tension that good deduction games bring. You're always a bit suspicious and as soon as you know which player has which role, it becomes all the more exciting how this person deals with the role. Does she push the role in the middle or does she leave it with her? If she doesn't switch roles, what does she need to fulfill her goal?

To help with these questions, there is always an overview of all identities that are in the current game, as well as help cards for all agent abilities.

Short but surprisingly tactical

MORPHO can be played with 3 – 9 people. We tested it with four or three if someone was eliminated. And even with such a small number of players, the game of deduction went surprisingly well. When there are three or more players, there are special rules that keep the game playable. In this case, both of the neighbor's cards no longer trigger the passive ability, but only the card that is first next to the player in question.

The game was surprisingly tactical. The only luck factor comes from the agent cards you get at the start of a round. After that, as a player, you have all the strings in your hands. Through skilful observation and dealing cards, you could change a lot in the game without having to talk too much, for example to win the game for the group of Morpho fans. However, there was a feeling that the target for a round was often already predetermined by the two identities you are initially given. Most of the time you won a game with one of your two starting identities. However, the playing time of a round is also decisive for this. Our longest lap lasted eight minutes, with much confusion from the frequent swapping of identities. On average, however, a round lasted only about 3 to 5 minutes.

  Information about MORPHO

 Number of players: 3 to 9
 Age: from 14 years
 Playing time: 20 minutes
 Difficulty: easy - medium
 Long-term motivation: low
 Classification: Higher family game
 Core mechanisms: deduction game

 Authors: Jeffrey CCH
 Illustrations: Pagas Chan, Roxy Dai
 Publisher: Ice Makes
 Official Website: Link
 Year of publication: 2023
 Language: English

 Kickstarter campaign: Link
 Cost: around 25 euros for the basic version; 30 euros for the deluxe version (+ shipping costs)

Opinion on Morpho

Ice Makes delivers on its promise with MORPHO and delivers a deduction game that works well even with a low player count. Thanks to the small packaging, MORPHO can be taken to game nights or meetings, for example in cafés or bars, and can be used for short rounds in between or as the start or end of a cozy evening. However, the game principle wears out quickly, since the fixed specifications of the roles per player hardly give you the opportunity to make the games more varied. There is a so-called "expert mode" with the associated special roles, but you can only choose one of these roles and replace it with a deserter. Due to this limitation, the special role hardly comes into its own and is completely lost in the game. Only once in our test rounds was a special role able to win the round. Additionally, there was a feeling that adding the new role reduced the chance of winning as a deserter.

Another sticking point is that the victory points awarded at the end of a round make it feel like the game length is being artificially lengthened. Victory points make sense insofar as several players can get victory points in one round and it is only decided after further rounds who will be the final winner. However, in my opinion, there doesn't always have to be a single winner. In other deduction games, several players can win together as a faction, which would also be completely sufficient here.

The quality of the game material was not the best. The cards were quickly worn out, as they were often ripped off to check identities. However, our tested version was still a prototype of the basic version. There may still be minor quality changes before the final release of the game. Up to this point, however, we recommend that you put the cards in card sleeves to avoid scratches. According to Ice Makes, a better quality will include the deluxe version on Kickstarter, as it should contain scratch-resistant premium cards.

The Kickstarter campaign to MORPHO runs until October 1st. There you can purchase the basic version for 25 euros or the deluxe version for 30 euros. While the game isn't bad, the price is pretty steep for what you're getting. However, if you're looking for a good deduction game that works well with a low player count, you can't go wrong with MORPHO.

Last updated on 1.12.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API