I played my first game of Deus this weekend. It has one elegant mechanic I’d like to discuss.
You have five types of buildings in Deus (plus temples, which are irrelevant for today’s topic). You build them by playing (and paying for) a card. You place your building, put the card in the appropriate column on your board, and (here is the interesting part) activate every card in that column, in order from oldest to newest. When you build your first production building, you get one production effect, and then the same effect triggers every time you build another production building.
That simple mechanic drives a lot of the action in the game. Because you can have only five buildings of the same type, that is both a snowball and catch-up mechanic. On the snowball side, someone with a good start can quickly capitalize on one good building to get several good effects. Specialization pays off. On the catch-up side, after you complete that tower of cards, it is done. You have placed your five buildings of that type, and you can no longer capitalize. Also, building temples (late game victory points) requires having cards in every column, so a certain amount of diversity is both incentivized by temples and required by the piece limit.