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Card Game Review: ‘Banishment’ from Dark Mirror Games

Banishment from Dark Mirror Games uses straightforward mechanics as the foundation for an engaging game rich with aesthetics. The premise is eerie in its simplicity: one player serves as a Demon while the others act as Exorcists, and the stakes are left up to the imaginations of the players.

The asymmetrical nature of Banishment is perfect for gaming groups who have some players who want to journey on their own path and others who prefer to cooperate. For Banishment, the cooperating players all draw from the Exorcist deck, which offers items that hold special powers, such as Incense allowing players to peek ahead in the deck, Grimoire giving players a chance to pull from the discard pile, or Pentangle being a free draw. As the game begins, players draw out a series of Ritual cards, each of which require a combination of symbols matching the items from the Exorcist deck. The base mechanic is symbol-matching, but players will have to decide whether to rush to resolve a Ritual or use the powers of the cards instead.

The single Demon player in Banishment has a unique deck with particular powers that work against the Exorcists. After each of the players has moved, the Demon finishes the round with his or her own turn, dealing out direct blows to Exorcists like Bane that limits them to playing cards only to resolve Rituals and Corrupt to make a player miss a turn, or slowing their progress with cards like Defile to remove a component from unresolved Rituals. The Demon Dice acts as a ticking clock for the game, counting down ten rounds. The Exorcists must resolve all of the Ritual cards before then; otherwise, the Demon player wins.

Banishment offers flexibility with its two roles for players to fill and wide assortment of possible actions through the cards drawn, and it goes even further with a whole new game through the Cult War expansion. In Cult War, two teams race one another to Summon the Dark One through a special ritual to be done after completing their own array of Rituals, something like two games of Banishment happening at once. Each team is three players: two Exorcists and a Demon. The Exorcists rush to resolve their Rituals, while the Demons torment the Exorcists of the other team to slow them down. A special Sigil deck raises the stakes even more by adding new requirements to Ritual cards. With so much randomization, no two games of Banishment “Cult War” will likely ever be the same.

Banishment is a card game for two to five players with a sixth player available through the expansion. Although the subject matter may be sensitive for some, the gameplay itself is clear enough for younger players to join in as well. Games of Banishment are quick, lasting only about fifteen minutes, depending on how quickly players make their decisions. Games with the Cult War expansion go much longer, almost an hour, while the teams battle one another. As players become accustomed to the options behind the cards, play will become very fast, making it perfect for repeated games while maintaining a low learning curve for new players.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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