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Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Dreadful Double Feature

This week we attended Books and Brews which was having Live Music Night and showing the classic horror film The Shining, all while serving free popcorn and Halloween themed drinks! You should check out their website for the remaining movie schedule because this is not the last time that they'll be showing horror films in October!  On this night, we are reviewing two games, the dark humor story-telling game known as Gloom and the ever popular social deduction, bluffing card game, One Night Ultimate Werewolf.  Now lets shake things up a bit with terror-inducing stories and wildly-hairy accusations with some craft beer, or Dracula's blood as it's known tonight.

Gloom is a very disturbing, yet hilarious story-telling game with take-that mechanics, except executed in the most unique way.  In this 2 - 4 player game, you choose a family from the character deck up to 5 members.  It is your job to see that your family members suffer the most despair, repeated torture, and eventually death.  This picture provides an example of two of the families that Claire and I had chosen.  Each card has a member of the family with a name and description of that person.  You essentially read off and describe each of your family members to everyone at the table so that the personalities come out and the creative ideas can begin turning in your heads.  This is also assisted by the cards that you will draw from the main deck.  
As you can see, the cards are actually a plastic matte material that is transparent for you to be able to see through.  When you play your cards, you lay down the endeavor cards onto your family members providing a quick little narrative for each play that you are making.  You can "assist" your opponent/s by providing them good fortune cards which give positive increase to their scores, which will actually hurt them and help to prolong their lives.  This is great for you since you are trying to kill your family off as quickly as possible.  In this picture I am killing off my family members one by one.
I actually purchased this game for Claire on Valentines day.  She absolutely loved it and was delighted to torture and kill off her family members.  I'm such a romantic.  Gloom is a macabre, dark humor game and that may not be for everyone.  Aside from that, this game does not have any vulgar language, or any other off-color content.  If it did, we wouldn't have purchased it.  We're very serious about what is brought to the tables in our home, and in terms of any kind of questionable games, this one is about as far as we are willing to go.  The overall gameplay is very interesting and is designed to feel backwards which is one of the things that makes Gloom so unique and different.  The quality and execution of the cards is definitely very well thought out.  I like how they are plastic rather than cardboard, and transparent for the nature of the gameplay.  The artwork of Gloom carries a very Edward Gorey style and is delightfully grim and gothic.  This is one of the first things that we noticed about this game back when we first started doing our research on it.  We love Edward Gorey's style of artwork so it naturally pulled us in.  Your imagination can really come out in this game, and it is designed to be a story-telling game however, it is technically not required.  You can play this game and not do any story-telling at all.  If you choose to not do the story-telling, the excitement of the game is considerably reduced, but is still a good game regardless.  I would say if you're with a group of people that can execute good creative thinking through story-telling, this game will be all the more fun.
The next game is One Night Ultimate Werewolf.  For those of you who are not familiar with this one, it's based off of the social deduction, bluffing card games known as Werewolf which are based off of another game called Mafia.  In this game you can choose between multiple roles.  This picture only shows several of the roles you can choose from, but there's more you can add to the game depending on how many players you can get.  The difference between One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Werewolf is that in the one night version, you don't have to worry about multiple day and night phases, but only one night phase for one round, so it's really quick!   One Night also has considerably less players than Werewolf due to only having the night phase.  This one is a 3 to 10 player game so you can still get a decent number of people involved if you have a party, and even more roles if you purchase the Daybreak version.

For a four player game, you begin by shuffling the tiles, distributing four of them out to the players and placing three in the center.  There is a really great app that you can download for free which will guide you through the game.  Every step is also provided within the quick instructions manual should you be in a place where the app would be inappropriate to use.  Essentially at the start of the night phase, every player closes their eyes and performs a night action which can greatly determine the course of the deliberation phase.  Once everyone has performed the required tasks, everyone opens their eyes and through deduction try and find who the werewolf is.  The app provides a timer which will begin automatically after the night phase is over.  Everyone will discuss who the werewolf could be, but some people may be on the werewolf's team and use bluffing to try and steer them away from the werewolf.  This is the same thing that the werewolf will do to not get caught.  The question is, are you good at bluffing your way out of a sticky situation where the rest of the people at the table are trying to find out who you are?  The quality of the components should not be overlooked in One Night.  Rather than the roles being printed on thinner cards, these are actually thick, durable tiles which is really nice!  The cartoon style artwork is very well done, the deliberation tokens are very good quality as well.
You can use tokens during the deliberation phase to keep track of what everyone is thinking and accusing the other person of being.  These tokens can be switched around at any time in any way the group sees fit.  This example shows that both werewolves were in fact in the center so no one actually won this round.  The fact is, not everyone likes social deduction games.  They've been known to be more confusing especially if you have never played them and being put on the spot isn't something that everyone will enjoy.  I love social deduction games, but Claire doesn't share my enthusiasm for this game.  She loves Coup, which is actually much more aggressive than One Night due to the fact you not only have social deduction, but almost constant bluffing and player elimination.  One Night Ultimate Werewolf does not have that same aggressiveness with player elimination.  It's much more focused on the social deduction side of things and trying to find out who the werewolf is.  I would say the social deduction games we own have caused a split down the middle with our gaming groups.  I've equally seen the same amount of people dislike social deduction games as well as those who love them, so it's a tough call to make.  For me, I will keep playing One Night Ultimate Werewolf whenever I can, because over time, I've really gotten into these type of games and I firmly believe they can be a big hit at game nights or just party settings in general.  As far as both of these games go, it's a real toss up.  I think their both perfectly solid games!  The issue is that Gloom carries a……well, gloomy theme and One Night Ultimate Werewolf is social deduction and bluffing which is also not for everyone.   As I've mentioned before, we are very cautious about what we allow in our house, and I gladly pass over these if no one else is in the mood.  I for one will be playing these games for a long time.  Both games have great quality components, the artwork is exceptional, and the portability is perfect!

Overall Pumpkin Ratings:
Gloom: 6.5/10

One Night Ultimate Werewolf: 7.5/10

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