Reviews

Growl, Masque of the Red Death & Trogdor!!

We apologise for the hiatus during the Summer months but sadly, life, work and all that other stuff sometimes takes over from playing new games as you get stuck in the same old routine. We have been playing Siege, Overwatch and other titles that we are familiar with rather than getting involved in new releases. However, we have also managed to take some time to finally get stuck into and test out some of our ever growing Kickstarter collection of tabletop titles and we wanted to share our thoughts with you on how they played and maybe encourage you to try them out!

Growl – Vigour Games

There are many Werewolf based tabletop games around these days (namely the One Night games) but when we backed Growl, we liked the fact that it was a little different to relying on being deceptive and more about turning as many people into Werewolves as possible. The premise is that there are Werewolves and Humans, once a Human has been bitten 3 times, the become a Werewolf too. However, if a Human works out who a Werewolf is, they can inflict wounds upon them to try and kill them off to reduce the Werewolf population. With add on packs that offer spells and other items, bonuses or even Curses, this game is one you can play a few quick rounds of or spend a couple of hours with.

We took Growl to the local board game cafe, Dice & a Slice as a ‘if people fancy trying it out’ game and it ended up being one we played more than a couple of rounds of. As a group of 8, initially we didn’t use enough cards (our fault entirely) as we forgot to add in the extras for larger groups. Once we added these in though, the rounds felt much better and eventually we added a couple of the expansions into the mix to see how it changed the game play. Initial set up took a few minutes to arrange but between rounds we swapped night cards to keep things fresh.

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We found that as a Human, we were juggling trying not to let others Wound us by accident and trying to avoid Bites as much as possible. When a Human receives a bite, they can’t pass to another player when Night falls but once they are a Werewolf, they can start handing those out to try and get the other Humans turned. Luckily, there are Salves to negate Wounds and Charm cards to cancel out those pesky bites but some cards can add extra bad things that mean you might die if you aren’t careful. As you pass the deck, you opt to hand the cards to other players, so if you suspect someone is a Werewolf, you’ll probably want to be handing them the Wound cards and try to protect your fellow Humans or hand them some Gold. There are 3 Night cards in the deck too and these will have instructions to follow which may hinder or help you and the other players.

During the night, you will choose a card to give to each of your neighbours which is a good opportunity for Wolves to Bite people and for Humans to try and take out the Wolves. While there are times where there is no talking, we found that saying we had been bitten or that we were looking pretty rough (when Lefranzine had two Bites she opted to say things were starting to get a little Hairy which seemed to be a good hint). We may have talked a little too much but this allowed some of the Wolves to lull the Humans into a false sense of security which made for an interesting result at the end when we thought those we trusted were on our side. On the Final Night, things can change drastically with the potential for players to vote to kill one another, publicly accuse people among other things. At the end of the Night however, everyone reveals if they are Wolf or Human… if there are any Humans left then they win and get the Gold but if none of left then the Werewolves win. We found that Wolves didn’t win often but as we got used to how to play, we started to find that the Wolves were turning more people and doing a lot better.

The expansion packs throw some good and bad things into the mix which make the game a little more interesting. These can have a positive effect sometimes but we started finding that players started dying a little more frequently which really starts to change up the game. With Spells, Curses, Undead and 7 Sins to throw in, rounds can be a little more drawn out (in a good way) and change up the dynamics of the game. If we didn’t do the best job of describing Growl to you, here’s the ‘how to’ video for a better idea!

The group responded positively to Growl which was great as we only took it as a little game to try out if we were struggling to find available titles for big groups such as ours. I personally thought it was enjoyable and as someone who is terrible at lying and therefore not that great at One Night, I enjoyed the change. It still had moments where things were a little tense and there were some nice surprises. We certainly look forward to playing again and introducing more people to Growl but if you’re interested in playing it yourself head on over to https://joeyvigour.com/shop/ and get yourself a copy! We backed the Howly Growly box (yes there’s a fluffy bag with it) and made sure to get all of the expansions but there choice is certainly yours!

Masque of the Red Death – IDW Games

It’s terrible that we received Masque of the Red Death (MotRD) quite a long time ago now and have failed to getting around to play it until now (sorry IDW Games!). Not only did the Kickstarter come in a beautiful box, but it’s artwork really needed to be appreciated and it turns out the game needed to be played too! As someone who appreciates Edgar Allen Poe and thoroughly loved an immersive theatre production of MotRD many years ago, Lefranzine didn’t hesitate when she spotted this Kickstarter.

You are cordially invited to attend the Prince’s party and mingle with other nobles, but at midnight, the Prince dies and the Red Death arrives. The aim of the game is to gain popularity while trying to find out where the Red Death will appear during 6 rounds of danger from midnight… can you survive the Red Death? If you aren’t familiar with the story, it’s included within the rulebook so you can either read it to the party before you begin, or just read in your own time so you get a feel for it… either way, I would recommend reading it!

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For our attempt at MotRD, we had 4 players out of a possible 7, the set up was relatively straight forward and while not an overly complicated game once you have played once, we would recommend keeping the rulebook handy for the first playthrough. Prior to the Red Death appearing, there will be 12 rounds in which all nobles will mingle and take an action, the Prince and players will move rooms and continue until the clock strikes midnight (there is actually a clock that you can change the time on to keep track which is a nice touch). When the nobles start to gossip they will have opportunities to check rumour cards in order to gauge which rooms are safe come midnight, to gain popularity, to mock other nobles to knock their popularity down or look at other players accumulated rumour cards to stay in the end game, players may even be able to look at cards coming up at midnight to find out what rooms they will need to avoid to stay alive. Players also get Personality cards which may help them during the mingle phase or maybe even the end game.

We felt that this game benefits from a full consort of players. During our playthrough, we were rarely in the same room or some players weren’t picking up cards which led to some of the gossip cards not getting used at all. It wasn’t necessarily a major issue as it just meant some people were less equipped with knowledge in the closing stages of the action phases. The whole idea is to try and work out where the Red Death is likely to be so that you can work to avoid getting caught out so it’s ideal to try and find out as much information as possible from the deck, the Red Death track and other players. It’s also a really good idea note down the cards you have seen in case someone steals them and so you remember where the Red Death will appear… it could mean a quick exit if you don’t have a system.

While gaining popularity is great and you can gain this by playing cards or ending up in the same room as the Prince, you need to stay alive to win the game… and be the most popular living player! The other thing to think about while you try and steal and build up the popularity, you also need to think ahead to midnight because if you aren’t ready, you may find yourself in a really bad spot. When it came to the final movement phase, Lefranzine thought she was ready with the only unknown being where the Red Death would be at 12.30… so she would take a gamble. Players plan out their moves on their boards using clockwise and anti-clockwise titles (so pay attention to make sure you don’t end up going the wrong way!) but you also have the option to stay by leaving the time slot blank. When you have planned your moves and all players are ready, you will reveal your board and the end game begins.

The end game felt pretty tense and Lefranzine felt fairly confident but was foiled by 12.30 when my gamble to stay in a room didn’t pan out and she was dead, we were all dead. The Red Death had won. Nevertheless, the game was enjoyable and it is certainly one that I would be interested to play with 7 players to see how everyone behaves. I would also like to try and paint the lovely characters miniatures that were also included because it seemed a shame not to use them but it’s nice to have the option of the player standees or minis. There are a few lovely touches in the presentation and the contents of the game and it’s a lovely game to have in the collection.

If you’re a fan of messing with your friends and possibly having to leave it up to chance, then MofRD is a good tabletop title to get involved in. The artwork is lovely, the concept and underlying theme is great and the game lasts a good amount of time of around an hour to 90 minutes so it’s not too short or too long. You can see more at https://www.idwgames.com/shop/masque-of-the-red-death/

Trogdor!! – Homestar Runner

What is better than a good board game? A good board game that scratches that nostalgia itch! Even better when it is a particularly niche nostalgia itch. For those unfamiliar with “Trogdor”, it is a… creature from a pre-YouTube flash animated video series called Homestar Runner from the mind of Joe Peacock that my I enjoyed immensely at university with my housemates in the early 2000’s.

Needless to say, I was very excited when I saw that there was a Trogdor board game on Kickstarter, while Lefranzine was confused as to what a Trogdor was, I had already backed the Kickstarter with a heart full of joy. Before then trying, and failing, to explain to Lefranzine just what Trogdor is, but found the best way was just to show this video:

Now that we’ve clarified what Trogor is, and where Trogdor has come from, we can all continue on and get excited about the fact that there is a Trogdor board game!

Fully titled “Trogdor!! The Board Game”, it is best described by the game’s ‘blurb’:

Take turns controlling Trogdor the Burninator as you attempt to burninate the countryside, the peasants, and the thatched-roof cottages in this cooperative area control game from The Brothers Chaps and James Ernest. For 1-6 players! 45 min.

Which, as a ‘blurb is supposed to do, sums it up nicely. Trogdor is a cooperative game where each player is an acolyte of Trogdor The Burninator, as you take turns drawing cards which allow you to instruct Trogdor to different actions with the goal of “burninating” everything on the board.

The ‘board’ is made up of 25 double-sided tiles that can be laid out in a variety of ways to make the game easier or harder, each card has an “Un-Burninated” side and a “Burninated” side. The game starts with everything “Un-Burninated” and, as previously mentioned, the goal is to end up with all of the cards, aka countryside, the peasants and the cottages “Burninated” before Trogdor runs out of hit points.

The game starts with 3 cottages, “Un-Burninated” of course, 3 Peasants, 3 Knights and 1 Archer on the board. The first player draws an action card, and takes their turn – at the end of their turn it is their job to take the turn for the peasants, knights and archer by drawing a movement card which dictates what they’ll all do. The Knights and Archers can damage Trogdor, and in some cases repair “Burninated” things, while the peasants can be eaten to replenish health or, hilariously, can be “Burninated” where you must place a “Flame Helmet” upon the Meeple’s head, and watch as the peasant runs in terror, setting everything in their path ablaze before dying a firey death.

One of my favourite things about the game, which might sound stupid, is just how very Homestar Runner/Strongbad’s Email it all is – the rule book, the text on the cards, the lot just make me crease up chuckling and recalling those carefree university days. This is also translated fantastically to the marketting, Kickstarter Campaign as well as some of the useful bits and bobs that they have put out to help and/or improve gameplay.

There are a selection of YouTube videos on the Homestar Runner channel which tell you about the game and how to play it. SA well as, another blast from the past, a full web-based soundboard with everything from soundeffects to use while playing, to background music, to songs on how to play the game.

A lot of the games that Lefranzine and I play with friends are Player vs Player based games, from the games above, to the One Night games, to Blood Rage – the goal is too often to beat the other players and emerge victorious. Trogdor!! The Board Game is a, relatively, short co-op game, which made for a nice change of pace. While I might have been laughing a little bit hard, the entire table was chuckling away at the rules being read out, the text on their cards and the usage of the “Flame Helmet” when we set our first peasant on fire.

There was the option to have either wooden Meeples, or for a little extra money to get more detailed plastic miniatures – I actually preferred the Meeples, because their chunky 2D style reminded me more of the animation style of Homestar Runner – there was also an incredible selection of backer-tiers featuring the incredible woodwork from Wyrmwood Academy, from game boards, to gameboards that double as game boxes etc.

Trogdor!! The Board Game will likely be an instant get for anyone who enjoyed the Homestar Runner animations way back when, but for everyone else I urge you to try it out, even if you’re unfamiliar with the “IP” – the game is a blast to play, and has a lot of variety for replaying time and time again!

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