Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Board Game Review: One Night Ultimate Werewolf

One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a social deduction game designed by Ted Alspach and Akihisa Okui and published by Bezier Games.

If you have ever played one of the classic "social deduction" games such as Werewolf or Mafia, this game is very similar. Basically, each player is assigned a specific role--a villager or a werewolf (or mafia). Then, each turn, there is a "nighttime" where the werewolf mafia don kills someone, and then everyone votes on who they think the werewolf is. The discussion over the vote, and how people vote, gives clues as to who may be doing the killing. Usually, there are other roles, such as a Doctor who can save people from dying, or a Sheriff, who can arrest someone. This continues until either all of the werewolves or mafioso are dead, or if the werewolves outnumber the villagers.

One Night Ultimate Werewolf takes all this and reduces it down to one turn. There's only one "night" where someone dies and only one "day" where people vote. This is all accomplished via an intricate maze of conflicting and supporting roles that maximize the amount of clues given by the discussion made after the day.

Because of this, games are by definition short--under five minutes, most likely.

What I Like About The Game:
  • The design of the game is pretty impressive--they managed to take a whole host of different roles and make it so there's a genuine amount of information that can be gleaned only by conversation. 
  • While all of these roles are relatively complex, each player only really needs to know their own role. Eventually, the discussion afterwards will reveal all the relevant information. 
  • The game has almost no setup time and only takes a few minutes. It's a perfect party/travel game.
 What I Don't Like About The Game:
  • Because of the complex interactions between the roles, there's a rather involved processed needed to play out throughout the night. Players need to go in a specific order based on their roles. There's a very handy--and I say necessary--application that will narrate all of this for you. It's free, and it's not bad, but keep in mind this game almost requires an app to play. 
  • This isn't a knock against this specific game, but social deduction games in general require a specific type of person to play effectively. If you play with people who aren't good at reading a room, or are bad picking up social cues, they aren't going to have a good time and could mess it up for people who otherwise would

Of all the Werewolf variants, this is probably one of the best--it's clean, it has some depth to it, and isn't overly onerous on the player to remember a bunch of stuff. While some people may prefer the successive turns of voting--I kind of do--it's a perfectly reasonable version of the concept. While I won't say it's my favorite social deduction game, it's up there.

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