Werewolf (or Mafia) is a classic party and youth group game. But it has its problems: Sometimes people get carried away with the backstory, so it takes forever. Sometimes people have a "boring" role, so don't really have much to do. And finally, people are eliminated from the game, so they get to sit out and wait. But what if you could eliminate those problems, and boil the game down to its essence and play for just one night? What if...?Read More
DONOVAN: What... is... happening...? (His skin turns brown and leathery and stretches across his bones until it splits. His skeletal hands reach for Elsa's throat, choking her. Indy rushes forward and pushes Donovan away. As he falls the BODY BREAKS INTO FLAMES, then SHATTERS AGAINST THE WALL.)
KNIGHT: He chose... poorly.
- Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade
Today we take a look at Looney Labs' latest party game, Choose One! The decisions you make during this game will stir up conversation at your game night, party, or other social gathering.
Let's take a look!
The box includes a small board that is really more of a score track, with a start space, 1-10 spaces and a finish space. It's a bi-fold board.
300 Choose One Cards--These are the main/only mechanism to the game; they all have two choices on them: One choice has a white background while the other is purple.
20 Voting Cards--10 white, and 10 purple,and each player receives one of each at the start of the game.
10 Pawns--These are random pieces, everything from a from a wooden car to a plastic hot dog.
1 Felt Bag - To store the pawns in.
Setup is quick and easy: Each player selects a pawn and takes 2 voting cards (one white, one purple). Players place their pawns on the "Start" space of the board and you select a beginning player.
The first player assumes the role of the "Chooser" (yes, that's what they call it in the rules), and the Chooser chooses a card, looks at the two choices on the card, and places a voting card that indicates their choice face-down. All the other players reveal their vote (we always did it on a count of three, so that players wouldn't have an advantage if someone knew the Chooser better than others). After the votes are revealed, scores will be tallied and pawns will be moved. If no one guesses the correct (matching) choice, the Chooser scores 2 points. If at least one player guesses correctly, each player who chose correctly gets 1 point (including the Chooser), but if everybody guesses correctly, then no one scores.
Once a player moves into the Finish space, he or she wins. If there's a tie, play enough extra rounds to declare a winner.
Jeremiah--The components for this are really quite simple: The cards are a little thin, but the design is colorful and the colors for your choices are quite easily distinguished. I like the hodge-podge of items that are used for the pawns and the little felt bag is a nice touch. If I had one small complaint about the components, is that typically games of this type also come with a smaller box within the larger box to hold the cards. This does not. So you find yourself passing the game box around or leaving it on the table, it was a little clumsy at times, but definitely did not ruin the experience for me.
Firestone--I agree. The different pawns are fun, and certainly in keeping with Looney Labs' aesthetic. And I agree about the box, too. Even a functional divider would have been helpful, but this was just "Here's a box full of cards. Good luck keeping them organized!" Not a deal-breaker at all, though.
Jeremiah--The concept of this game isn't terribly original, but it's still fun. This game makes for a perfect ice breaker for social gatherings. I don't know that it's all that great for a gamers' group, unless it's used as a filler for a group of gamers who don't know each other all that well.
Firestone--This didn't work with gamers at all. We ran through a round, realized it was an ice-breaker game and not really a how-well-do-you-know-your-friends game, and quit. The problem is that the questions aren't equal. I know...I know... I'm overthinking the cards in a party game. Maybe. Some of the questions create genuine unknowns, where even friends wouldn't know which you'd choose. "Flower Garden or Vegetable Garden?" or "Butterflies or Fireflies?" Those are choices most of my friends won't know. But then there are ones such as "Mac or PC?" or "Rock or Country?" Well anyone who knows me is going to know the answer to those.
So overthinking? Sure. But I don't think this is a good game for people who already know each other. It would be a fine icebreaker game.
Jeremiah--This game actually came at the perfect time for me: It showed up right about the time I took my new position in youth ministry. I've used it to get to know students a little better, strike up conversation and had some good laughs around the table with it. I've even pulled random cards from the box and used them during a youth service as an ice breaker to get everyone talking.
Firestone--I can see it working well for that type of situation, but not many others.
Firestone's Final Verdict--This game is just too niche for me to recommend it. As a game where you're supposed to gauge how well you know people you already know, it doesn't work for me. In an ice-breaker situation, it would work fine. But it's just not my favorite party game. Unless you just took over a youth group, I have to recommend leave this one on the shelf...
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--This is a fun game for the right settings. It's definitely a light party game, but at the same time it's pretty flexible so those settings are easier to find than you may think. Overall It's a fun little party game that will strike up great conversation and shared laughter with both strangers and friends! Put this on the table!
We'd like to thank Looney Labs for supplying us with review copies of Choose One! This in no way influenced our opinions.
Have you played Choose One!? Do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments!
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By Firestone I've never been a big Mafia/Werewolf fan. It can be an incredibly fun time, but the player elimination means some people are always sitting on the sidelines waiting. And the bigger the game, the longer you're waiting... So when The Resistance came out—and there was no player elimination—I jumped at it. And it's now my favorite game.
Ted Alspach and Bezier Games recently released Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition, which promises some of the hidden roles and gameplay of Werewolf, with no player elimination. I'm intrigued. Will it knock The Resistance off the throne? Let's see...
Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition is part of the line of Ultimate Werewolf games that are coming out under Ted Alspach's Bezier Games. It plays 3-12 players, and is for ages 8 and up. It takes 30-60 minutes to play. One "side" will win—either the werewolves, or the good guys.
12 Inquisitor cards, with either a Werewolf or a Villager on them.
19 Hut cards, which are the "houses" that belong to the Residents in the game. Each one imparts some special action.
19 Resident cards, which match up with the Huts—there's one person card for every Hut card.
1 Grand Inquisitor meeple
50 wooden voting cubes
There's a distinction between Residents and Villagers. All Villagers are Residents, but not all Residents are Villagers—some are Werewolves...
First you'll hand out Inquisitor cards; this will vary depending on the number of players. A 3-player game has 1 Werewolf and 2 Villagers, up to a 12-player game, which has 5 Werewolves and 7 Villagers.
Then you decide which set of Resident/Hut cards you'll use. There's a whole section in the rulebook that recommends sets based on number of players, or if this one of your first games. The Resident cards also have positive or negative numbers on them, which allow you to try and find a good balance of cards (in which case the numbers will add up close to zero), or to skew things one way or the other if you find one side winning too often—higher numbers to help Villagers and lower numbers to help the Werewolves.
You'll set up two areas of your chosen sets. One grid of four across and three down with the Huts—faceup so the Huts and their powers are visible. Then you shuffle the Resident cards and create another four across and three down grid—facedown, so you have no idea which Resident is under that card. The important thing here is that there is one Resident for every Hut card, but their orientation in the grids is NOT identical.
Choose a random player to get the Grand Inquisitor meeple, and then give each player two voting cubes to start the game.
On the First Night, whoever the Grand Inquisitor tells everyone to close their eyes, and has the Werewolves open their eyes so they know who the other Werewolves are—this is skipped in a 3- or 4-player game since there's only one Werewolf.
For the Day Phase, each player, starting with the Grand Inquisitor, chooses a hut and either does the action on the hut, or takes two voting cubes. Either way, that hut is no longer available to choose that turn. As the game progresses there will be fewer and fewer huts, thanks to people being killed, so if there are no huts available, you just take two voting cubes. After everyone has chosen a hut, everyone gets a chance to vote on which Resident to kill. Starting with the Grand inquisitor, everyone who has a voting cube has to place one on a Resident; if you don't have a cube, you don't vote. Whichever Resident has the most votes is killed—remove the Resident and the associated Hut from the game. If there's a tie on votes, the Grand Inquisitor breaks ties.
If two columns have a single Resident left in them, they're combined without changing their orientation. (Some actions on Huts will change the orientation from vertical to horizontal.)
Now come the Night Phase. The Grand Inquisitor chooses a column that has two or more cards in it, and removes any votes on them. He picks them up and puts them in a stack keeping them in a strict order—we always have them stack the top card of the column on the one below it, and then those on the one below that (if there are three). This is important because now everyone closes their eyes and passes this stack around the circle. The person to the left of the Grand Inquisitor starts with the stack. If she's a Villager, she keeps her eyes closed and just makes some shuffling noises with the cards but doesn't change the order in any way. If she's a Werewolf, she can open her eyes and change the order of the cards. Each person will say the name of the person they're passing to—or just say "Passing," or whatever—and for a brief moment those two can open their eyes just to make the exchange, but then Villagers have to close their eyes, lest they see a Werewolf turn the cards over and start rearranging. The cards will eventually make their way back to the Grand Inquisitor, who will shuffle or rearrange or not, and then everyone opens their eyes. The Inquisitor then places them back facedown in the column in the same order they were taken: bottom card on the bottom of the column, then the next above that, and the next at the top.
All of this keeping-things-in-order stuff is important because whatever Resident is at the bottom of that column is killed. The Werewolves set it up.
The actions here are admittedly very clunky. This phase shouldn't be a way for Villagers to figure out who the Werewolves are, which is why everyone makes noises and shuffles the cards around as though they were rearranging them. In essence, everyone should "act" like a Werewolf so that no one is outed as a Werewolf because they made noises or took longer than anyone else or whatever. Clunky.
If a Werewolf is killed in this phase, remove votes from all vertical Residents and shuffle them together and deal out a new grid. This is because if a Werewolf is killed at Night, then it's because that column had nothing but Werewolves and they had no choice but to kill one of their own. So the shuffling evens things out again.
A new day starts with the Grand Inquisitor getting passed to the left, and columns with only one Resident getting combined. The game ends when either all of the Werewolves are dead (the Villlagers win), or of there are more Werewolves in the village at any time than there are Villagers—in which case the Werewolves win.
I'll go over the Huts and their special abilities. The number in parentheses is the number you use when you're trying to balance (or not unbalance) your choice of Residents in the game—high numbers help Villagers, and low ones help the Werewolves.
Villager/Werewolf (+0)—Take two voting cubes from the supply, and place one of them on any Resident.
Seer (+8)—Look at any vertically oriented Resident, and place it back in the same spot, but oriented horizontally. Neither the Seer (in subsequent turns) nor the Apprentice Seer may look at this card until something changes its orientation back to vertical.
Apprentice Seer (+5)—Pay one voting cube to look at any vertically oriented Resident, and place it back in the same spot, but oriented horizontally. Neither the Apprentice Seer (in subsequent turns) nor the Seer may look at this card until something changes its orientation back to vertical.
Bodyguard (+2)—Protect one Resident by removing all voting cubes from it, and placing the Bodyguard Hut on that Resident. No more votes can be placed on it this round. Remove the Bodyguard at the start of the Night Phase before a column is chosen to pass around.
Hunter (+1)—Take three votes from the supply and place them on one Resident.
Mason (+3—Pay two voting cubes to look at the Inquisitor card of another player. You can't show the card, but you can say whatever you want about it. (This role shouldn't be used in games with fewer than 5 players.)
Minion (+3)—Take two votes from the supply and place both of them on a Resident card that already has at least one vote on it.
Mayor (+1)—Immediately give the Grand Inquisitor to any player (including yourself). This changes who will start voting, and who picks a column of cards to pass around. The Inquisitor gets passed to the left at the end of the turn, as usual.
Prince (+3)—Take four votes from the supply.
Sorcerer (+5)—Look at any horizontally oriented Resident, place it back in the same orientation, take two votes from the supply, and place them on the card you just looked at.
Witch (+1)—Move all votes from Resident card to any other Resident card.
Cursed (-1)—Take four votes from the supply. If someone uses the Cursed Hut during the day, and that Resident is killed that night, it becomes a Werewolf. That column's cards (and the Cursed) are shuffled and placed back in the column. The Cursed acts as a Werewolf from that point forward—including determining numbers of Werewolves for victory.
Troublemaker (-5)—Pay one vote to shuffle a row or column of Resident cards. First, set aside votes on those cards, but keep them near the spot they were on. Shuffle the cards, place them back vertically, and then place the votes back onto the card that is now in the spot.
Wolf Cub (-2)—Take three votes from the supply. If the Wolf Cub is lynched on the day someone uses the Hut, the Werewolves get to kill two Residents that night. You do one round of picking a column, passing it, and killing the bottom Resident. And then you do that all over again. The Wolf Cub is not considered a Werewolf.
The Verdict—I like this game—probably more than I should, honestly. The game plays any number between 3 and 12; I've played with as few as 4 and as many as 10, and there are upsides and downsides with those extremes. It actually plays surprisingly well with the low number; you can't play Resistance with 3 or 4, but you can play this. With the higher numbers, it's cool because there are more Werewolves, and more interesting Residents, but it also has its own problems. In our game, one player was a player or two to the right of the starting Grand Inquisitor. And then, because of where we'd figured some Werewolves were, we kept taking the Mayor and keeping the Inquisitor in that area. It worked well for the Villagers, but over the course of the game that guy had very little to do on his turn. Early in the game, the only Residents left were the generic Villager/Werewolf Huts, so he was forced to take those. Then as the game progressed and people died, when it would finally get around to him there wouldn't be any Huts left, so he just took two voting cubes. He was pretty dang bored, and it wasn't the group trying to keep him out, it was the game's mechanisms creating that for him. It could have happened to anyone, and it probably won't happen every game, but it happened that game, and his experience was poor.
It's very interesting that—unlike a game such as The Resistance, where getting outed means you're essentially done—getting outed as a Werewolf here (or even outing yourself!) isn't the end of the world. There are times where revealing yourself is necessary to save one of your Werewolf residents. But you're still in the game, and there are still things to do and ways to mess with the Villagers. They can't shut you down, but now they have to adjust their play to keep you away from certain powerful Huts, such as the Mayor. It feels weird that being revealed isn't bad, but I think it's interesting.
I've noticed that every single game seems to come down to the wire, and I think the game sort of forces the game to even out and stay close until the end. I'm not sure how it does it, or even if its intentional, but we haven't had a blowout in any of the half-dozen games we've played. The downside of this is that a couple of times the win has come down to mostly blind luck and guessing. That hasn't always happened, but when it does, it feels a little unsatisfying.
As I said, the Night Phase is clunky. Having to have everyone shuffle the cards around, and spend extra time doing it, and making noise just feels weird, but I have no idea what else they could have done. So while it's not great, it's fine in the end.
I do feel I should make mention of the artwork. Most of it is fine and completely innocuous, but the Witch and Sorcerer look more like two ladies who just went shopping for Halloween and decided to grab the "Sexy Witch" and "Sexy Sorcerer" costumes. The Sorcerer especially looks like Kate Upton in a black wig. They're not terrible, but it's just something to consider, and I felt I needed to point out. It's disappointing to see a publisher going that route on what should be a family friendly game. And if they bother you that much you can always choose not to include those roles in your game.
So who would I play this with? Well, it often goes as long as a game of The Resistance, and I would always choose The Resistance over this. If I only had 3 or 4 players, I could see pulling this out with my game group, but we're big-time Resistance fans, so that wins. I would bring this out with nongamers, though—in a heartbeat. The Resistance is very different, and takes some time to understand what you're doing and how much you should be talking and voting and just so much... But this would be a GREAT game to ease people into that sort of game. There are hidden roles, but it's not a disaster if you play it "wrong" and out yourself. And the gameplay is fairly straightforward. And it's short. All of this means that this is going onto my short-list of games to play with nongamers, newbies, and youth groups.
And if your group really likes to play Werewolf, they'll probably like this! It's maybe not as purely social as traditional Werewolf is, but it has some of the feel, and there's no elimination.
The Final Verdict—Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition isn't perfect, and it will never replace The Resistance for me or my game group. But I like it. I like what it tries to do, and I like what it accomplishes, and I have a fun time while I'm playing it. It's at a perfect level for nongamers, and it will be the game I use to ease my family into this style of game before I eventually spring The Resistance on them... And since there are only 4 of us in the family, we may never get to The Resistance, so this may be it. And that's okay, because it's a solid game.
We'd like to thank Ted Alspach at Bezier Games for providing a review copy of Ultimate Werewolf: Inquisition. This in no way affected our opinion of the game.
Ugh. Do we really need another charades game?
Yes. Yes we do.
Reverse charades is like charades...in reverse. Instead of one person trying to get multiple people to guess a word or phrase, Reverse Charades is multiple people trying to get one person to guess a word or phrase. And it's a ton of fun.
- 1 timer
- 360 double-sided cards
- 1 set of rules—the easiest, simplest rules card we've seen in a long time.
Players are divided into teams of at least 3 or more players. When it's a team's turn they choose someone to be the lone guesser and the rest of the entire team takes the stage! The other team then holds the cards and reveals one at a time so only the actors can see them, and then the zaniness commences! The team of actors has to act out as many of the clues as they can, scoring a point for each card they get the guesser to correctly guess. The one strict rule in the game is that you can not make a sound, you can't mouth words to another actor, or to the guesser. But you are certainly allowed to use objects, and people as objects, to get the guesser to shout out the word(s) on the card!
Play continues until a point goal is reached, or until everyone is laughing too hard and can't go on any further!
- Parties/large gathering
- Youth events
- Team-building exercises
Jeremiah—We really enjoyed playing this game; we had some teenagers over and I busted it out—what a hoot! It takes about 45 seconds to explain, and we had some great laughs.
Firestone—I played it with our adult small group from church—4 vs. 4, Guys vs. Girls. When I told them the premise, they were interested. When we got done playing, they wanted to know where they could buy their own copies...
Jeremiah—If there's one downside to the game it's that it requires a larger group (at least 6 people or more) to get a game going. And that's not much of a downside, it's just the nature of how the game works. Anything less and it's just plain old Charades.
Firestone—My one complaint is that the two sides of the cards are identical. They should at least be different colors so we can easily track which words we've run through. I can't believe no one thought of that. It's my only complaint, and I can just put used ones upside-down. But come on, guys! :)
Jeremiah—I love that there are a ton of words/cards included, I'm very interested in checking out the expansions. (Especially the holiday edition! I think this would be a great game for a Christmas party!) I will say that the best and most fun clues were ones that required a team effort. Things like clothesline, assembly line, etc.
Firestone—Yeah, some of the words didn't lend themselves well to the group doing anything together ("Moustache," for instance). It was much funnier when the words did, and the majority of the words were that way. I fear I will never be able to wipe clean the mental image of the guys acting out "Baby Powder"... *shudder*
Jeremiah—The concept is such a simple twist on (what I feel is) something that is kind of worn out. But that twist makes it about a million times more fun than the original. We found that folks who wouldn't normally feel comfortable playing charades in a traditional format—getting up by themselves and feeling singled out—jumped right up when there were other victims involved in the public ridicule!
Firestone—Being alone up there giving clues can be terrifying. Being in a group somehow makes it way easier. One of the quietest people in the group dove right in and was hamming it up.
Jeremiah Final Thoughts - We had a TON of fun playing this game! It definitely takes a party atmosphere to get it going; it's not your typical Board Game Night type of game. This is a top-notch party game, a very well done spin on something that has been public domain for some time. Reverse Charades will be a part of my party game collection and find its way out to many parties and large gatherings!
Firestone Final Thoughts—This is definitely going to every party with me for the foreseeable future. Everyone had a blast, and we laughed A LOT. If you're sick of Apples To Apples and Scattergories, give Reverse Charades a try; you won't be disappointed—unless you're at the bottom of "Dog Pile." Ouch!
Thanks to Gryphon Games for providing review copies; this in no way affected our opinions on the game.
Thanks to you for reading!
Do you like card games for crowds? Do you like games with shifting-roles? Do you like manipulating a game in order to straight-up kill your friends? Kill The Overlord, by APE Games, gives you the chance to do just that in a take-that game for 4 to 8 players. Components
The game comes with:
- 16 character role cards (two sets of 8)—These are oversized cards that are double-sided. They have a male character on one side, and a female on the other. Functionally, they're identical, but it's a nice touch to think of the women gamers (admittedly a minority) who might want to have a matching character. The artwork is done in a sort of anime style.
- 1 execution order card—This is the same size as the character cards; it gets passed around a lot.
- 44 plot cards—These are normal-sized cards that let you do things, such as give the Execution Card to someone else, or take the Execution Card yourself, and many others.
- Gold tokens—Punchboard money in denominations of 1's and 5's. They do just what they're supposed to do.
- Elimination Tokens, numbered 1 through 8—Punchboard tokens.
- Rulesheet—It's a sheet with rules. Good info, and examples. At first I thought they were overdoing the emphasis on Giving and Taking the execution order. Then you play the game and realize there's a reason they do that...
So the game starts with you taking a number of character cards—this will always include the Overlord card, and then the others will vary depending on numbers of players. The game comes with two full sets of character cards—8 "basic" ones and 8 "advanced" ones. You can mix and match them however you'd like. Each card has the character's name, a number in a shield, an amount of gold that character gets each turn, a description of that character's special power, and then the picture of the character. For example, the Squire, who is ranked #3, gets one gold per round, and his special power is that his hand size is increased by two and he gets to draw a card at the start of every execution. (He's one of my favorite characters...) The Captain is ranked #5, gets three gold per round, and when you give the Execution Order to a player, that player has to discard a plot card if able.
You deal out the roles and give everyone 5 gold. The first thing you do is draw up to two plot cards, up to your maximum hand size, which is four unless you have something that changes that.
Then you collect income (skipped on the first turn since you already have money). The higher ranked your Character Card, the more money you'll collect—up to 6 if you're the Overlord!
Next comes the Coronation phase, which is just a simple check to see if the person who is currently the Overlord has 30 gold. If so, that person automatically wins.
Then we have the Executions phase—this is when most of the game's action takes place. The Overlord chooses a character to take the Execution Order. The game makes this distinction because there are a number of plot cards and character special powers where something happens when you give the card to another player. But here, the Overlord is choosing someone to take the card—not give. It's a little hard to explain at first, but soon everyone gets what you're going for in the distinction. The player who gets the Order then tries to give it to someone else—generally through the play of a plot card. People keep playing cards and passing the Execution Order around until someone gets it who doesn't have any way to ditch it. That player is "executed" and out of the round—he or she puts their character card into the middle of the table and takes the lowest-available Elimination Token.
This continues until the Overlord is eliminated this way, which ends the round—and yes, it can happen that the Overlord is the first person killed. Once that happens, there are a few steps that determines how the character cards are distributed for the next round.
- First, any players who were still alive at the end of the round get new cards. The highest-ranked character alive takes the highest-ranked character card on the table and places his or hers down. (This will always be the Overlord card, since the death of the Overlord triggered the end of the round.)
- Now in descending rank order, any other players still alive do the same thing.
- Finally, any players eliminated in the round take new characters in the same way—except now you go in order from the lowest-numbered Elimination Token up to the highest. So the first person eliminated in a round will end up with the lowest-ranked character card for the next round.
You shuffle all used and unused plot cards together and play another round. As we said before, anyone with 30 gold and the Overlord card will win. Another way to win is to be the Overlord and be the last person executed in a round. If that happens, you automatically win—though this won't happen often as the other players will work together to make sure the Overlord isn't the last person left alive.
And that's the game!
Youth Group Game? Yes! This is light enough—and accommodates enough people—that it would work well as a youth group game.
Family Game? Sort of! Not with our young kids, but surely when they're older. They'll need to invite friends over, though, as this is better with more.
Gamer's Game? Maybe! If your group loves lighter, take-that games, this is just the ticket. If your group likes deeper games, this can fit in as a filler—though it's a bit long for a filler.
Firestone—I'll be honest. No one in my group normally likes these type of games. But every single person (other than one guy who wasn't feeling well) thought it was really good "for what it is." That sounds like damning with faint praise, but for a group of people predisposed to dislike a game, the fact that we all enjoyed it says something.
Jeremiah— There are folks I game with who really enjoyed this game; it fell right in their wheelhouse. I too enjoyed the game, but could see how it may not be for everyone.
Firestone—The components are good, especially for the price-point. One small complaint about the plot cards: There are gauntlets on these pointing in different directions to help you figure out who exactly would be affected by you playing the card. Unfortunately, the drawing of the gauntlets is super-stylized, and most people at the table (myself included) had no earthly what they were. Once someone pointed it out, it was obvious, and you realize that's really helpful. But this was definitely a case of choosing form over function, IMHO.
Jeremiah—I thought the components were well made. I enjoyed the stylized look and detail of the character cards. The male/female option is a nice touch, although some of my group noted that the anime style in which they were drawn made some of the characters look rather androgynous. But fortunately this is a purely cosmetic function of the components, and has no bearing on the gameplay itself. We also had a few folks who didn't realize that the plot cards had gauntlets on them.
Jeremiah—I guess I would describe the game play as "light-hearted cutthroat". If you're the Overlord for a round, you can be sure that everyone else is going to gang up on you, but that's okay because you'll be ganging up on the new Overlord in the next round. It's light-hearted in that you can have a pretty good time playing it and killing off your friends without investing a lot of brainpower into strategizing your moves. Which isn't to say there aren't advantages to having a few (albeit loose) strategies.
Firestone—Light-hearted cutthroat is a great way to describe it. Yes, you're trying to kill everyone, but oddly enough it doesn't feel mean-spirited. The end game is interesting. In our game, many people had enough gold to win, so everyone was working to keep those three people from getting the Overlord card. That can be hard to do, since you can only work with the plot cards you have. One of the reasons we liked this particular version of this particular type of game was that it did feel as though you have some control over what happens. It's certainly not all luck.
Jeremiah—The plot cards act as a good equalizer. You can have a great character role for a round but if your hand isn't that great you'll probably get picked on by the Overlord until you are executed. It's important to note, that everyone starts with 4 cards. And certain roles can draw up to a higher hand limit when the time comes. We weren't too clear on that from the instructions, but a quick search on the interwebs cleared it up for us.
Firestone—My biggest complaint with the game was that it had some "Kill Dr. Lucky Syndrome"—which means that if player A is about to win, then player B has to stop that from happening. But if player B does that, he weakens his position, leaving the door open for player C to end up winning. I'm not a fan of that AT ALL, but this didn't seem as bad—possibly because you're not going strictly in seating order, but rather in rank order.
Jeremiah—Final thoughts and ratings: If you've read any amount of our reviews, you know that I'm a fan of games that involve lots of cutthroat, competitive, out-smart-the-game-AND-the-other-players elements. And this has a good deal of all of that. There are tons of characters so the replay-ability with the different combinations of characters is pretty high, and I like games that a gathering of 6-8 people can all sit down and play together. I'm giving it a solid 8 overall, for the different groups of folks that I play games with it hits a pretty wide audience.
Firestone—Final thoughts and ratings: This feels like a 7 to me. I like the variable characters, and extra characters, and I felt I had interesting decisions to make. I'll probably keep it in my bin for a while for game nights, and I think we'll pull this out when we need a filler. Will it be there 6 months from now? Not sure. It'll definitely stay in my pile of games to play with youth group or in "party" situations.
Thanks for reading!
By Firestone Dixit is a little game that came out in 2008. Since its release we've seen half-a-dozen sequels, expansions, offshoots, and weird siblings—and with good reason: It's a clever, fun game for a crowd.
There are numerous versions floating around out there, but for now, each of them plays basically the same. The box is full of cards with whimsical and interesting pictures on them. It's not really possible to describe what's on the cards, but that's kind of the point. Each person has a hand of these cards. Each person in turn order is the Start Player; they choose a card from in hand, say a phrase or word that describes what's on the card, and place the card face down. The phrase/word can be as literal, obvious, or abstruse as you want. Then every other player chooses a card from their hand that they feel that word/phrase could describe—because they're trying to steal votes and points from the active player.
Everyone secretly votes on which card they think is the Active Player's card, then you reveal which one is the right card, and score. If everyone guesses the Active Player's card, they all get two points and the active player gets none. If no one picks the Active Player's card, everyone else gets two points (plus another point for each vote on the card they put down) and again, the Active Player gets none. If at least one person picks the Active Player's card, the Active Player gets three points, every person who chose the correct card get three points, and each person gets a point for any votes on the card they put down. So as you can see, you want to choose a word or phrase that's not too obvious, but not too esoteric, either. It's an interesting challenge.
<-------- Let's take this picture on the left. You wouldn't want to say, "Rushmore" as a clue. Everyone would pick correctly and they'd all gain two points on you. You probably wouldn't want to say Chevy either, thinking "Chevy used to have commercials where they sang 'Like a rock,' and Rushmore's made out of rock, so..." But maybe something like, "The eyes have it..." It might just be middle-of-the-road enough to get some-but-not-all of the votes. Plus if someone else has a card with eyes on it, that helps you even more. The first player to 30 points wins.
You can find Dixit: Journey at your local Target. Consider picking this up for a fun, creative family, youth group, or party game.
Filler: A short game, played at the beginning or end of a game session—or while waiting for other people to finish their game. Get Bit is an excellent filler game: It’s short, the rules are easy, and it’s not too mentally taxing.
The original game is five years old, but it’s been reprinted recently by Mayday Games. The game can accommodate 4-6 players, and plays in about 15 minutes. Each player gets a set of colored cards numbering 1-7, and a matching cute plastic robot with removable limbs. The original edition of the game only came with a shark card, but the new one also comes with an actual plastic shark—but aesthetics is the only difference. As soon as my kids saw the robots and shark , they were begging me to play.
If two or more people choose the same number, their swimmer stays in the same position. All other players move their swimmer to the front of the line—going from lowest number to highest shown.
Then the shark gets to chomp a swimmer. Whichever one is at the end gets a limb ripped off—if it’s the last limb, that player is out of the game. Otherwise, the owner of the bitten robot gets all of his or her cards back. (If a player only has two cards left in hand, that person also gets all cards back.) Discards are left on the table, so you know exactly which cards are left in people's hands. This creates an interesting tension as you try to figure out which of that person's two cards they're going to play. If you guess wrong, you might get chomped.
There's also a variant where you play discards facedown, so people have to remember what's been played, but I think that would slow the game down way too much. If you want a longer game—maybe you don't want to use this as a filler game, but as the main game with a group of nongamers—you can lengthen it by removing half of the arm or leg when a swimmer gets bitten. (The legs and arms are articulated, so you can take the whole arm off, or just off at the elbow.)
You keep going until there are only two swimmers left; the player in the front wins!
Other than the slightly rude name, there’s nothing questionable about this game. Yes, robots get their limbs ripped off by a crazed, metalvore shark, but it’s very cartoony. As far as ages go, this one is probably for 8 and up. You could maybe go a little younger but they'd need some help determining which card to play.
Get Bit! is a terrific family game, and it would be a great game to play with your youth group. It’s super fast, super easy, and if you don’t mind some super randomness, it’s super fun. Thanks for reading!
(Theology of Games would like to thank Mayday Games for providing us with a review copy of Get Bit.)
It's no surprise that we love The Resistance here at TOG. So a new version with some special powers sounds great. Is The Resistance: Avalon as good as it sounds? Well let's find out. We're not going to explain the mechanisms of the game. You can read our review of The Resistance here, where we explain the game in detail. The new game is identical in basic gameplay; the difference is that there are roles in this game.
The whole thing has an Arthurian legend theme, so the roles are characters from the mythology. The game seems to assume you'll play with at least the Merlin and Assassin cards. Merlin gets to know exactly who the Minions of Mordred are. When everyone's eyes are closed, the evil players raise their thumbs, and Merlin opens his or her eyes. So they have perfect knowledge in the game...but, they can't be too obvious about letting their teammates know who the baddies are, because at the end of the game, if the Servants of Arthur have won, the Assassin gets one last chance. He can talk things over with the other baddies, and then he assassinates the person he thinks is Merlin. If he's right, the bad guys win.
Ever since I heard about that, I was troubled. It seemed awful that the baddies could win based on a complete blind guess. After playing, I'm less concerned. Usually the Assassin seems to be basing the decision on the way people acted, but there have been a few times when it's a blind guess that happens to be correct. It's really frustrating. Yes, the Loyal Knights who aren't Merlin need to be doing more to make themselves seem like Merlin, but that doesn't take the sting away.
There are some other roles, too.
Percival is a Servant of Arthur, and he gets to know who Merlin is.
Mordred is a Minion of Mordred (duh). He doesn't reveal himself to Merlin at the beginning of the game.
Oberon is a Minion of Mordred, but he doesn't show himself to the other Minions—nor does he get to know who the other Minions are.
Morgana is a Minion of Mordred, and she gets to show herself as Merlin when Percival is in the game. So both Merlin and Morgana will have their thumbs extended, but Percival won't know which of them is Merlin and which is Morgana.
The Kickstarter copy also came with Lancelot, who might change allegiances halfway through the game.
Firestone—The first thing I have to comment on are the components. First, a couple of the cards have a misprint on them: the word unknown is spelled unkown. This is a small mistake that doesn't affect the game at all. It's just shocking that it wasn't caught. The other problem is this: Instead of voting cards, as you have in the original Resistance, you have tiles you vote with. After just one game, these were showing considerable wear—and after many games they're in awful shape. I'm not sure why they went with tiles over cards, but it seems like a terrible idea in retrospect.
Jeremiah—I couldn't agree less! The first thing that I loved about the new version of the game was the tactile feel of the new voting tiles; it seems to streamline the hands-on feel and it's easier (along with the Leader tile) to keep track of each different component and stage of a round. With the first version, cards always seem to get shuffled into the wrong pile or mixed up, etc. The durability of the tiles is questionable, but even my sleeved cards from the first set are showing signs of wear (and they don't fit in the box as well). I also really enjoyed the new set of tableaus that are included. There is now a separate tableau for your game dependent on the amount of players, and each quest is labeled with how many knights are to go on that particular quest. It again streamlines the gameplay and requires less squinting from across the table to see how many folks you are selecting for the next quest.
Firestone—Madness! :) But I do agree about the tableaus. Those are super helpful and convey just the sort of info they need to.
The roles are interesting. I like the uncertainty Morgana creates. Percival seems hard to play well; there are times when he really should reveal himself—or help in some way—and new people still seem hesitant for some reason.
Oberon creates some fun situations: In one game I was Merlin, so knew the baddies, but didn't know who was who. At one point a baddie put two Minions on a mission and I realized he had no idea he'd done that because one was Oberon. Of course, I voted that mission to go because I was more than happy to see them both on it; even if it failed they would almost certainly both vote to fail it, and now the group had a lot of information. The problem was that everyone noted that I'd voted for the failed mission to go forward, so now I was suspect! At any rate, I liked the mayhem that character caused.
The Lancelot promo comes with a few variants, and we've only played one so far, but I didn't like it. Two people are dealt Lancelot cards—one of which is a Minion and one of which is Loyal. You play as your card, just like normal, but starting on the third mission you draw cards from a deck and there's a chance the loyalties will switch. Sounds cool, but if you're on the last mission, and your side is about to win, and you suddenly have to switch to the losing side because of a card flip? Blech. What should have been interesting was just frustrating for whomever was winning (and now suddenly wasn't), and a cheap victory for the person who was losing, and suddenly wins.
Jeremiah—We haven't delved too deeply into the different roles; it is stressed very clearly in the rules that you shouldn't start adding more roles to the game if there are too many new/inexperienced players in the game, and as of yet, every time I have played there have been several folks new to the game. And grasping the roles, along with Merlin and the Assassin and how to play off of those roles, is quite the task, without muddying the waters too much.
Firestone—Overall, this is a mixed bag for me. I like this version better than regular Resistance. But I don't think I like this better than regular Resistance with the plot cards. You can play Avalon with the plot cards from the original game (we haven't done that yet), but it makes no thematic or aesthetic sense to mix the two. I'm not sure why they didn't create plot cards for Avalon that fit that theme. They could be the same exact ones, just with new names and art.
I'm glad I have both, and we've certainly been playing Avalon exclusively since we got it, but I wouldn't be surprised to see us return to the original over time.
Jeremiah—With this I agree; I thought I would be more excited about this game than I actually am. I enjoy the level of strategy that Merlin brings to being a good guy; in the original it becomes a chore to hide your disappointment when you've been dealt an operative role. Trying to figure out who Merlin is, and then act as if you are Merlin definitely makes it fun for everyone at the table. The absence of the plot cards is palpable, even more so is the stark contrast in the theme when you try to add them in. The way the plot cards are played is a HUGE part of my strategy when playing a baddie, so I would LOVE to see them re-themed and offered as an add-on sometime soon.
At its core Avalon is The Resistance, with more options and different aesthetics; I have yet to introduce the game to someone who didn't want to play again as soon as the first one was over. And Avalon is no different.
Thanks for reading!
Firestone Update—Well, we've played this a bunch more, and have had no desire to return to the original yet. Still lots to be explored with just the roles, and we're having a great time. I recommend this completely.
By Firestone Remember the classic youth group game Spoons? What's it known for? Bloodshed... Well if you like Spoons, you'll probably like Jungle Speed—which plays up to 10 people. Once it's out of the now-unnecessary box, it's a simple cloth bag, a set of rules, a deck of 80 square cards, and a plastic "totem." The goal is simple: Get rid of all of your cards. Like Spot It!—which we reviewed a few weeks ago—there are a few variants that mess around with how you deal out cards and how the game is played and so forth. In the basic game, you place the totem in the middle of the table, shuffle the 80 cards, and deal them out as evenly as possible to everyone playing. In turn, players flip over the top card of their stacks—using only one hand—to create a face-up discard pile. The cards feature various designs of various colors. Whenever a just-flipped card matches the design—not the color—of another card on the table, those players are now in a duel! Both players try to be the first one to grab the Totem. The loser takes the winner's cards, their own discard pile, and any cards that might be in the middle of the table (from other card effects I'll get to), and place them face-down under their draw stack. Play continues as before, with the loser of the duel starting.
The insidious thing (and I mean that in a good way), is that the designs look VERY similar. So often people will incorrectly grab the Totem—and in that case they have to take all of the face-up cards on the table. That's the same penalty you take if you accidentally drop the Totem as you're trying to grab it. There are a few special cards, such as one with a bunch of arrows pointing in, and everyone is basically in a duel as soon as that comes up, with the winner placing his or her discards in the middle of the table under the Totem. There's also one that changes what triggers a duel to matching colors, rather then designs—so one more chance for you to accidentally grab the Totem and mess yourself up.
That's basically it. So let's talk about the Totem. It's just a plastic piece that you grab. You're not worshiping it or praying to it or anything else related to the traditional Totem you think of in other religious traditions. Since it's just a name, if you felt strongly about it, you could easily change the name of your Totem. Call it the banana, or the grabby stick or the whatever.
Bottom line: It's not the best party game I've played, and it's certainly not the worst. But it's a fun, party game that everyone can play, and would be great for a group of teenagers.
Thanks for reading!
Well, we're not sure why it happened, but it was a record-breaking week here at Theology Of Games! And we couldn't have done it without you. (No, seriously. That's how it works.) Thanks for reading. Here's the week's wrap-up. First we told you about the 2nd Netrunner pack that's coming (we haven't even seen the first one!).
We reviewed that great, cheap, fun, and easily-found-at-Target game Spot It!
We gave you a bonus interview, with the folks behind the Extra Life benefit.
Then we interviewed the folks behind the upcoming deck-builder Pixel Lincoln—both Jason Tagmire and President Lincoln himself!
We gave you the news that Looney Labs is launching an iPhone version of their popular card game Fluxx.
This week's Kickstarter spotlight was We are Dead, a zombie game—from the zombies' perspective...
And finally, we revealed that the GenCon exclusive adventure in the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is now available as a print-and-play deck.
Again, thanks so much for giving us a chance. We're doing everything we can to bring you fun, interesting, thoughtful, and useful posts regarding this crazy hobby of ours. Have a great weekend.