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On today’s installment of Tabletop Games: Reviewed, we take a look at a few expansions/sequels and the single saddest game I’ve ever played. Here we go!
I mentioned in my review of Coup that it was hogging all of my lunch hour game time at work. Ever since we bought Coup: G54, I don’t think we’ve looked back. Coup: G54 builds on the original Coup and keeps a lot of the rules: roles have different actions, you can lie about anything and call people out on those lies, and the last person standing wins. What sets G54 apart are the 25 available roles in it. Each role falls into one of four categories: communications, force, finance, and special interests. To play, simply pick one role of each category (two from special interests since there are 10 of those and only five of each other), and off you go.
Communication roles deal with cards in the deck and in other player’s hands, similar to the Ambassador in normal Coup, but also include roles like the Telegraph Network which lets you pay $1 per card you draw from the deck, allowing you to look at as many cards as you can afford. Finance roles deal with gaining money, like Coup’s Duke. My favorite finance role is the United Fruit Company, which gains you $4 but you have to give $1 to each other player who claims that role. Roles in the force category remove cards from play, just like the Assassin in normal Coup. In G54, the Judge pays someone $3 to kill them rather than paying into the pot in the middle. Special interest roles have a wide range of abilities from gaining money when you lose a card (Intellectual) and moving money from the richest player to the poorest (Communist).
With so many possible role combinations, it’s easy to see why Coup: G54 is a smash hit among my previously-vanilla-Coup-playing crowd. It’s so popular that Indie Boards and Cards recently had a (very successful) Kickstarter campaign for a re-theme of the game to bring it into their Resistance/Coup universe. Yes, I backed it and I will report back once I get my copy in September.
Gloom is, by far, the saddest game I’ve ever played. In it, you control a family of five with the goal of depressing them as much as you can before killing them. Each family member has a backstory that you must make up and tell the table as you play. For example, if you play a card titled “terrible thunderstorm” on one of your characters, you have to continue that member’s story and fold in a horrible storm.
I use the term “play a card on” very literally here. In Gloom, the cards are see-through plastic and are literally played on top of each other. Cards have six icon slots which can (and will) be obscured by cards played over them. Whatever you can see by looking at a card’s stack is it’s current state. Some cards may add to a players emotional state while some take away. Your goal is to make your characters’ score as low as possible before killing them while subsequently making other player’s characters happier. The player with the lowest score wins.
Gloom was a riot to play, but I can’t imagine playing it very often. Weaving a story as the game goes on is about as random as it gets, but I can see it getting boring if you play too often. The see-through cards are a really cool and unique element, too.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf Daybreak
The vanilla version of One Night Ultimate Werewolf is already one of my top tabletop games, but the Daybreak expansion brings it up a notch. Daybreak adds 14 new roles to ONUW. Some of my favorites are the Witch, who looks at a card in the middle of the table and swaps it with another player’s card, the Mystic Wolf, who is on the werewolf team but doubles as a Seer during his own separate phase, and the Paranormal Investigator, who looks at up to two player’s cards, but must stop if he sees a werewolf or a tanner and becomes that role if he does. I think my favorite win of all time is when I stole someone’s Paranormal Investigator, figured out that they saw a wolf which means I was a wolf, and let him do the vote persuading for me. That was one sweet victory.
Daybreak isn’t a completely new game like Coup: G54 is. Well, technically you can play it on it’s own, but I recommend mixing it in with vanilla ONUW for a whole slew of new combinations. More ONUW is never a bad thing in my book.
Dwarves like gold. Everybody knows that. Saboteur used that knowledge to make a fun hidden-role game. Saboteur 2 expands on the original Saboteur in just about every way, making for what I think is an even better time. Saboteur 2 doesn’t just have good guys and bad guys. The non-saboteur team is comprised of dwarves on the blue and green teams, a boss (blue shirt and green pants), a profiteer, and geologists. If a blue or green dwarf uncovers the gold at the end of the game, only that team wins. The boss wins if either the blue or green team wins. The profiteer always wins, but is trying to maximize his income. Geologists don’t care at all who wins. All they care about is placing cards on the map that contain blue crystals, which nets them one gold per card.
The winning team payouts aren’t the same as they are in the original Saboteur, where you would receive a random amount of gold based on how many one-, two-, and three-nugget gold cards you drew from the deck. In Saboteur 2, the winning team members receive gold depending on how big that team is. If only one dwarf wins, he gets five gold. If two dwarves win, they each get four gold. This continues down to a five or more dwarf team in which each player gets one gold. The boss receives one less gold than the winners while the profiteer receives two less, to compensate for them both having an easier way to get gold.
Saboteur 2 introduces a bunch of path new cards, as well. Blue and green doors only allow those colored dwarves through them, effectively blocking part of the digging team. Ladders create new possible start points, giving the non-saboteurs a save point, for lack of a better term. Bridges act like four-way intersections but can only be traversed horizontally or vertically, no turning. There are also new action cards like swapping hands, changing out your role, stealing gold from another player, or becoming trapped and unable to gain gold at the end of the game. Saboteur 2 fixes just about every gripe I had with the original game. It’s not a standalone game, but since both can be found on Amazon for $15 each, I have no problem recommending the pair.